The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) was established in 1895 and today ranks second in the world for the social sciences according to QS World University Rankings (2015-2016). LSE is part of the University of London and is located in the West End area of London, the primary commercial and entertainment district.
The LSE study abroad program is a full academic year from October to June with breaks in December and March-April. It is called the General Course and is open to Juniors and Seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.3/3.5. During this time, students earn 12 credits in economics and other social sciences, there are over 250 courses to choose from.
In addition to study, there is a general social calendar that allows students the opportunity to meet people and explore the UK and other parts of Europe. Students live in apartments or dormitories and there are no language prerequisites as the classes are taught in English.
Read more about this program and other study abroad options from the Center for Global and Intercultural Study.
Email Olga Mustata if you are interested in studying abroad at LSE.
Peter Bell attended LSE during the 2014-2015 year. He graduated with a double major in Economics and Mathematics (2016). Peter provided some insight into the program:
What are your thoughts on the General Course?
I enjoyed all facets of the General Course (social, academic, living in London, etc.), and would definitely recommend the program to someone else. There were probably around 300 to 350 kids on the course, with the majority (probably a few more than 200) being American. People were from across the U.S., and the geographic distribution was pretty diverse. Perhaps even more diverse was the range of schools that people attended. Schools of all sizes across the country were represented. Most schools only sent a couple of kids (I was actually the only one from Michigan), but some schools sent quite a few (I believe DC schools such as GW and AU sent more than 15).
The General Course was certainly an inclusive environment. There were a number of social events at the beginning of the year, as well as a few (I believe subsidized) weekend trips for GC members. The fact that the General Course is a yearlong program also allows you to participate in the overall LSE community (clubs, athletic teams, etc.) to a degree that I don’t think is possible in just a semester long program. I was hesitant about committing a full year to study abroad, but it was definitely worth it in hindsight. Most of my friends were from the General Course. We all lived in the same dorm (High Holborn, would definitely recommend it), which was very inclusive.
How did the classes compare to U-M?
Academics were probably just as difficult as Michigan, and slightly harder in some areas such as economics. One of the quirks of the LSE system (and most British Universities I believe) is that classes were yearlong, and a final makes up the entirety of your grade. Thankfully, as a General Course Student, your grade is split about 50/50 between the final and coursework over the year (I think it depends on your home university). Another advantage of being a GC student is that you have much more flexibility in what you can study. You are assigned to a department based upon your preliminary class choices, but only have to take a few from the department (LSE students have to take almost all classes within the department).
The General Course is on the competitive end of the spectrum for a study abroad program, but I didn’t think the application process was too difficult. Because of the LSE’s reputation for academic difficulty, I think the applicants are largely self-selecting in that those who are willing to devote a year at LSE are more often than not strong candidates. I think that you will be well prepared coming from a good school, especially one in which there aren’t a large amount of kids in the program (I met one person from Duke but I assume there were probably a couple in my year). I did pretty well in my economics classes in my first two years, which I believe helped my application.
How was the overall experience?
I thought the General Course was the perfect blend of academics, social life, and experiences in London and Europe. Going into the experience, I was skeptical of committing a full year to study abroad, but, in hindsight, am very happy with my choice. I would definitely recommend studying abroad at LSE.