Global Experience

Global Experience

Discover opportunities. Collaborate worldwide. Make a global impact.

There are so many ways to become globally engaged. In addition to the McMaster Exchange Program, our global experience programming is your chance to enhance your community engagement, leadership, and global impact through work-related, real-life learning.

Complementing your academic studies with an international experience is the perfect way to ensure that you are prepared to thrive in today’s globalized workforce and can help you build the 21st century skills required to launch your career or move into your chosen post graduate field of study. Through our key partnerships with employers, students and recent alumni can gain experience at a range of organizations, from corporations to non-profits.

Students and recent alumni can engage through some of the following:

  • International Co-ops, Internships and Practicums
  • Academic Placements and Field Trips
  • Research Projects
  • Service Learning
  • Community Engagement and Volunteering

We can ensure that your experiences complement your academic studies while also enhancing your global awareness and perspective.

There is so much to gain from a global experience.

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Foreign language skills
Experiential learning
New Language Skills
Applied Research Opportunities

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Increased self-confidence

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Global networks
Global career development
A competitive edge

"I volunteered at the Eunice Akosa Foundation medical mission June 2018 and June 2015 in Nigeria. I learned a great deal about issues that could lead to heart problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, hyper/hypoglycaemia, kidney diseases and their impact while also understanding how to prevent and treat them."

Jennifer, McMaster Student

Take it Global

Our Programs

Interested in taking your learning global? Whether it be through the McMaster Exchange Program or a work, volunteer or research abroad experience, the Student Success Centre is a reliable place for you to gain support at any stage in your planning. We offer:

  • One-on-one appointments with a student or our Global Experience Coordinator
  • Scheduled information sessions
  • Opportunities on our OSCARplus listings
  • Global experience fairs; including Career Fair in September and the Exchange Fair in November

To schedule an appointment or attend one of our sessions, visit OSCARplus.

Why participate?

We want your global experience to be successful, which means providing you with global opportunities that are safe and valuable learning opportunities. All of our global experience locations have been approved by our team and wider university network, who periodically conduct program evaluations of our current partners. We will also send mandatory checklists to ensure that the facilities and housing arrangements are comfortable and safe for our students.

For more information regarding Emergency Assistance while abroad, check out McMaster’s International Travel site.

"I travelled to Manipal, India to attend a Global Health Symposium in April of 2017. I think this experience enabled me to become more culturally sensitive and cognizant of the strengths of a multicultural team. For many of us, this experience helped us develop the intuition and communication habits conducive to effective teamwork in an international setting."

Kaiyang, McMaster Alumni


McCall MacBain International Fellowships

Available for up to ten McMaster University students, with up to $23,500 granted per person.

For one year, immerse yourself in another culture to learn the language, enhance your academics, and gain employment experience that will develop your curiosity, grit, resilience, and understanding of the world around you. The McCall MacBain International Fellowships make this possible for McMaster students. This experience involves:

  • Language Training (one term)
  • Academic Study (one term)
  • Work Experience (one term)

If money or access is a barrier to having a global experience, the McCall MacBain Foundation encourages you to consider yourself for this opportunity. Applications are due November 21, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Graphic that says "Make the world your classroom." This graphic features a photo of Japan along with a hand holding a piece of chalk, pointing to a circle that reads: "Up to $23,000 per person."

Why you should apply:

  • Travelling is something you want to do.
  • You’ve always wanted to learn a new language.
  • Learning about people, places, and cultures interests you.
  • You like to challenge yourself.
  • You want to improve your employability.
  • Gaining a new perspective is exciting to you

Online Information Sessions:

To attend any of these online information sessions with the McCall MacBain Foundation, register on Zoom.

  • Friday, October 11, 2019, 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. EDT
  • Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EDT
  • Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. EDT
  • Friday, November 1, 2019, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT
  • Monday, November 4, 2019, 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT
  • Thursday, November 14, 2019, 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. EDT

We encourage you to think of opportunities broadly – do not exclude a place or a job because it appears irrelevant to your three year plan. Examine a placement beyond the title and think about what it can offer in terms of transferable skills. This can include the opportunity to learn a new language or way of working or problem-solving, new approach or perspective on a project that you worked on at school, or a different way of running a non-profit or doing business.

These opportunities can take you outside of your comfort zone, pushing you to work with change, adapt to a new environment and work culture, and work respectfully with others from different backgrounds all while managing your identity and not losing yourself. All of these skills are highly respected by employers.

Further reading from a Science grad: “When in doubt, saying ‘yes’ leads to a more exciting story.”

International Co-ops, Internships and Practicums

Interested in an international co-op, work term or internship? Here are some ways you can get started:

  • Check OSCARplus daily for live listings. These are tagged “global.”
  • Download the “Opportunities for Paid Global Experiences Abroad” Tip Sheet.
  • Download the “Research Opportunities” Tip Sheet.
  • My World Abroad: This website provides country specific listings and guidance. It is free for McMaster students and alumni. (You can use this site without a login if you are on-campus).
  • Going Global: A database that provides information on job and internship resources, employment trends and industry profiles for 24 countries. Going Global also includes interview and cultural advice, and country specific information on getting a work permit and visa. It is free for McMaster students and alumni. (You can use this site without a login if you are on-campus).
  • Book an appointment with our Global Experience Coordinator through OSCARplus.

International Experience Canada (IEC) Program

International Experience Canada (IEC) offers Canadian Citizens aged 18-35 the opportunity to work and travel abroad. It provides a path to a work permit or visa allowing you to explore in one of over 30 countries and territories.

Under IEC agreements, work permits are:

  • Easier to get
  • Flexible
  • Less expensive
  • Processed more quickly than other types of work permits

Visit the IEC website here.

Teaching English

Teaching English abroad provides real international work experience that employers value. Not only are you developing the resiliency and adaptability from working, you also gain cross-cultural communication skills and competencies. Here are a few sites to consider if you plan to teach English.

From the Blog: Patricia shares her experience teaching in Austria and Italy through The English Camp Company.

“Overall, it was incredible to have people make you feel so at home wherever you are. As an example, since we were located in very small villages and towns, tourists were nowhere to be found. Therefore, people were so excited to meet me wherever I went and to learn about my life in Canada and who I was as a person. These strangers went miles out of their way to ensure I felt safe, comfortable and was happy being there. I’m so thankful for all of these individuals who have become family in such a short time frame.”

Making the Most of your Exchange

It is best to try and arrange a work experience opportunity in the country where you are considering taking an academic exchange.

Plan ahead and reach out to companies in advance for a possible package opportunity. If you are considering research, write personalized emails to researchers letting them know that you will be at their institution for the McMaster Exchange Program, and would like to explore the possibility of doing research while there.

It is also important to know that McMaster holds partnership agreements with world class institutions. As an exchange student, you have access to career office resources and can search local opportunities post-exchange. Here are some of the ways you can get started:

  • Attend career fairs and employer information sessions
  • Attend sessions on job searching and resume writing
  • Book one-on-one meetings with career advisors and counsellors
  • Network with other students and ask about employment opportunities

Learn more about our exchange partnerships.

Financial Planning

Whether it be through the McMaster Exchange Program or a work, volunteer or research abroad experience, there is funding available for Mac students. Available funding includes:

Global Experience Award (GEA)

The GEA is a new award developed to promote global engagement opportunities and the development of intercultural and personal growth.

This award is available to all undergraduate and graduate students wishing to participate in an international work opportunity (including research, co-op, internships, placement), volunteer, service learning, or leadership development opportunities (conference, job shadow). Preference will be given to approving non-traditional cultural experiences.  Applications will be accepted all year, no later than 1 month prior to the travelling date.  This award is open to returning students completing their academic studies.  Opportunities must be a minimum duration of seven days. Applicants will be notified within five business days of a complete application submissions.

All Students receiving GEA will be required to provide a Personal Reflection on the experience and may be called upon as Ambassador to promote Global Engagement.

For specific questions on this award, please contact Faith Ogunkoya, Global Experience Coordinator at


To apply for GEA, students can do so via Mosaic self-service. Under Finances, select Apply for Financial Aid.

Apply on Mosaic and submit a signed application and supporting documents in person or by mail to Student Financial Aid & Scholarships, Gilmour Hall, Room 120, at least one month in advance of your travel and no later than April 30.

McMaster Exchange Program Funding

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, 80% of students identify financial assistance as the greatest barrier to studying abroad; luckily, we can help. There are a number of opportunities to receive financial support as an outgoing exchange student.

On the McMaster Exchange Program page, we have identified opportunities that are available for students. Check out the full list of funding opportunities here.


There are many ways that you can save money while abroad:

  • Open an overseas bank account
  • Buy a local SIM card
  • Smart food shopping
  • Savvy socializing
  • Thrifty travel
  • Make cut-price visits to other cities

We also recommend checking out Mac’s Money Centre. This is a free resource for McMaster students and alumni. Services include workshops and one-on-one money coaching.


You are strongly advised to have comprehensive travel and health insurance cover when you go abroad. Hospital and medical bills can be a significant cost, even for minor problems, so it is essential that you get adequate and appropriate coverage. You should tell us what your insurance arrangements are prior to leaving Canada.

Some host universities have policies which may seem expensive but will cover all items relevant to the country. If your host institution doesn’t have a compulsory policy you should purchase a comprehensive policy designed for the country you are visiting.

We can’t recommend specific insurers, but suggest you include specialist student insurance companies in your research, alongside any of your existing policy issuers. You should also make sure that the policy covers the whole period you are away, including any additional travel plans you have.

Keep us informed as you plan your global experience. McMaster University may provide a comprehensive medical and travel cover. We will inform you about this cover once you have been allocated a place for your internship or volunteer period abroad.


Cultural Adjustments

Adjusting to a new culture and re-entering your own is not always an easy or seamless process. It can include a wide range of experiences and emotions that you may or may not have to adapt to over a period of time – often longer than just a few days. Please remember that these potential cultural challenges will make your time abroad more memorable and rewarding. We will also hold open, safe space pre-departure and post-departure sessions and ensure that you are fully aware of the transition challenges that some students face.

As you prepare for your global experience, it is important for you to research information about cultural expectations and societal norms. Here are some resources to help you get started:

  • My World Abroad: This website provides country specific listings and guidance. It is free for McMaster students and alumni. (You can use this site without a login if you are on-campus).
  • Going Global: A database that provides information on job and internship resources, employment trends and industry profiles for 24 countries. Going Global also includes interview and cultural advice, and country specific information on getting a work permit and visa. It is free for McMaster students and alumni. It is free for McMaster students and alumni. (You can use this site without a login if you are on-campus).
  • Global Graduates: Advice, answers and opportunities for young people with global skills.
  • Culture Crossing Guide: A community-built resource for cross-cultural etiquette and understanding.
  • The World Factbook: Provides information about different countries from around the world.
  • Lonely Planet: Includes tourist information and advice for when you arrive.
  • Travel Advice and Advisories: Government information to support you before you start your global experience.

Need help? Book an appointment with our Global Experience Coordinator through OSCARplus.

Communication Abroad

Some locations abroad may not have the comforts that you are used to at home, such as consistent internet access and cell phone coverage. You will need to plan ahead and identify alternative ways of communication while away on your global experience. Consider landlines and internet cafes; also remember to have all numbers with you at all times (home phone, cell phone, email address, work phone, etc.)

In the case of an emergency, McMaster students have access to International SOS and they can also call the Government of Canada emergency phone line at 613-996-8885 (outside of Canada) and 1-800-267-6788 (in Canada).

Here is a list of phone numbers and for Canadian Consulates. 

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA)

The Student Success Centre is required to adhere to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). We recommend that you advise your parents and loved ones of this. We also recommend that you let us know if you want our office to release information about you to your parents (particularly in an emergency situation).