Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program

Freedom to Choose / Freedom to Create / Freedom to Travel

The Study Abroad Component

Why Study Abroad?

In order for the United States to remain a leader in science and technology, an educated workforce is needed capable of working in an international research environment and in a global market. By participating in study abroad, students can acquire the international experience they will need to compete in the job market, while at the same time gain valuable cross-cultural skills and, when relevant, learn another language. In addition, such international experience promotes flexibility, autonomy, leadership skills, innovation, maturity, ambition, and independence, which are highly desired by many employers.

The LAES program provides students with a global perspectives component to their study best fulfilled by having students participate in one quarter/semester of a study abroad experience, with the further opportunity to work on an overseas research/development project during that time. Students pursuing the LAES degree will work with a Program Director and the Cal Poly International Center, so they may be individually matched with study abroad programs specially designed to meet their project-based needs.

Study Abroad Procedure

Students traveling abroad are required to complete International Travel Authorization paperwork and secure international insurance through Cal Poly. All paperwork should be submitted 30-90 days prior to travel, according to the Cal Poly International Center's specified timeline with approval received before airfare is purchased.

Planning Tips:

  1. Fall quarter of Junior or Senior year is the best time to study abroad.  Fall offers the greatest flexibility because you won’t be missing 2 quarters the way you would by going in Spring.
  2. For programs that offer transfer credit, it will take approximately 2 quarters before it shows up on your DPR. Keep ALL copies of approved course forms, course syllabus, unofficial transcripts, and the course catalog description.
  3. Study Abroad Financial Aid and Scholarship resources are available, but will depend on the program selected.

Program Selection

1) Explore Options By Attending A Study Abroad Information Session.

Begin your search by reviewing Study Abroad Program Options and attending an Information Session to find out about which programs are available and when, application deadlines, financing options, and more. Much effort is required to appropriately plan and manage study abroad details, so attend a session 6-9 months in advance of your desired travel dates.

2) Meet With A Study Abroad Advisor.

A Study Abroad Advisor can provide specific program information, explain the application and preparation process, discuss how the credit you earn abroad will transfer to your degree requirements, guide you through the International Travel Authorization process, and answer any questions you may have. View the advising drop-in hours or schedule an appointment with a specific advisor.

3) Meet With A LAES Advisor to Obtain Approval.

Once you have explored your study abroad choices and have a few in mind, request an appointment with a LAES advisor. The LAES Advisor will help you select the program that is appropriate to your curriculum plan and inform of other options that may work best for your situation, such as receiving credit for an Internship, Cooperative Education Experience, or Independent Study.  Additionally, the LAES Advisor can discuss alternatives for those who may not have the resources to go abroad, such as selecting Global Perspectives courses, which alternatively satisfies the LAES study abroad requirement.

Once you and a LAES Advisor have agreed on a program, obtain official approval before applying or paying any fees or deposits. Submit Part 1—Program Course Approval of the LAES Study Abroad Approval & Information Form electronically to Part 1 approval provides notification of your time away from campus and helps to ensure that the education received is suitable to receiving LAES degree credits.

4) Complete Study Abroad Program Application.

Once you have selected a Cal Poly CSU or Affiliated program AND have received approval on Part 1 of the LAES Study Abroad Approval & Information Form, contact a Study Abroad Advisor for access to your selected program-specific application.

If you and your LAES Advisor agree that you should go abroad independently to complete LAES course work, it will be necessary to review the Guidelines for Non-Affiliated Study Abroad. Independent educational programs vary, but students must select a program that  provides a U.S. accredited university transcript.

Pre-Departure Approval

5) Complete Travel Authorization Documents.

Review the International Travel Authorization approval process and timeline for documentation submittal. This process begins at least 60 days prior to travel and requires extensive review, approval and documentation to ensure compliance with Cal Poly and CSU travel policies.

Once you have been accepted into your preferred program, proceed as follows: 

  1. Forward a copy of your Study Abroad Program Acceptance Letter to the LAES Program Office.
  2. Complete the Individual Student Travel forms noted in steps #1-3 and then bring the printed packet to the LAES Program Office.
  3. The LAES Program Coordinator will obtain Department Head and Dean approvals, which will satisfy steps #4-5. The Dean's Office will then forward the packet electronically to the International Center.
  4. Work with the International Center to complete the documents in step #6 in order to obtain step #7 final approval.
  5. If you wish to receive LAES study abroad travel aid, forward your confirmed Travel Itinerary, listing airline flights and confirmation of payment to the LAES Program Coordinator.
  6. If you will be away for more than two consecutive quarters (including Summer quarter), a Leave of Absence form must be completed and approved before departure.

It is very important that the above be completed and copies forwarded to the LAES Program Office prior to travel and within the required 30-90 day timeframe. Failure to do so may forfeit approval for course credit and/or study abroad travel aid.

Post-Travel Actions

6. Transcripts.

Upon return to Cal Poly, you may need to request an official transcript be sent to the Admission’s Office. LAES degree credit will be given once the transcripts are received. You are responsible to request and follow-up on it’s status. Transfer credits may take quite awhile before they show up on your Degree Progress Report (DPR), so for this reason, we recommend students complete their study abroad program 2-4 quarters prior to graduation. Review the Study Abroad FAQ for further information on transcript policy.

7. Review Discussion.

After you have returned to Cal Poly, request an appointment with a LAES Advisor to discuss your experience and how it may influence your studies and future work.

8. Travel Aid Request.

Each academic year, LAES students vote on how to spend College Based Fees. These fees make available a certain amount for reimbursement of student expenses, including study abroad travel aid. To receive travel aid, students must have completed all the above requirements, and provide original receipts to the LAES Program Coordinator within 10 days of return to the USA, per the CBF Reimbursements instructions.

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LAES 301 Class

Engineering and Art unite in LAES 301 project-based introductory course.

The class is open to all second year and above Cal Poly majors and provides innovative hands-on work, in a team setting, for real-life projects.

Contact us for a permission number.

Class Info (pdf)


The LAES Club exists to bring together students interested in creative technologies, to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects and learn about and network with members of the industry.

Stay tuned for their Fall 2016 meeting schedule.

About the Club

About LAES

The B.A. degree program in Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies (LAES) is jointly offered by the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Engineering.

The program prepares students for a wide range of innovative careers in emerging professional fields that combine skills and interests in the arts, technology, and culture.

About LAES

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Please help LAES continue to provide quality interdisciplinary education for our students.

Your gifts will help foster this unique program and extend its impact by enabling more students to collaborate with each other and faculty, in innovative ways, in the area of expressive and emerging technologies.

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