Freshman Fall Abroad Programs

Where will your heart take you?

Freshman Fall Abroad Semester Programs


Starting college – and moving away from home for the first time – is already a big step. Students may wonder if they are ready to consider studying abroad. For students who are open to meeting new people, curious about the world, and interested in bonding with a core group of SHU friends through a shared experience, we encourage them to learn more about the program. They just might surprise themselves! One thing is for sure, students who study abroad learn as much about themselves as they do the larger world. They find confidence, maturity and independence that they didn't know they had. Developing these qualities early on, and becoming comfortable with new people and experiences, will help students to get even more out of the entire SHU undergraduate experience.
The Freshman Fall Abroad Program

The Freshman Fall Abroad (FFA) program is a signature experience of Sacred Heart University. During the FFA program, we challenge our students to be fearless in their curiosity by making the world their classroom. A semester studying abroad is an exciting and intellectually stimulating way to begin one’s college career. FFA students spend their first semester enrolled in SHU classes, in either Italy or Ireland, and then enroll in classes on the SHU Fairfield campus in the spring semester.  

The FFA program provides students with an international foundation early in their academic careers. With programming that supports a broad range of educational, professional, and personal objectives, there is no better way for students to learn about themselves, expand their worldviews, acquire marketable skills, and develop the habits of mind, heart, and spirit that will prepare them to engage purposefully in a global world.

This program provides:

  • An opportunity to forge strong bonds with fellow SHU freshmen
  • Small class sizes and specialized curriculum tailored to SHU core graduation requirements
  • Carefully-chosen, university-managed living arrangements
  • The opportunity to travel, volunteer, and to participate in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities
  • Full-time staff members, in both Fairfield and abroad, to assist with your transition to college life abroad

Students may be a good candidate for the Freshman Fall Abroad program if they:

  • Wish to study abroad immediately, rather than waiting
  • Possess intellectual curiosity and are ready for a transformative experience
  • Love to learn through seeing and doing
  • Have a keen interest in international travel
  • Are open to immersing yourself in a different culture
  • Have the maturity to balance academics, travel, and living abroad


FFA students spend the first semester of college in one of two places - Dingle, Ireland or Rome, Italy - before enrolling in classes on SHU Fairfield campus in the spring semester.  

Freshman Fall in Dingle

At our Dingle campus, students have the unrivaled opportunity to dive into Irish culture in the heart of the Irish-speaking Dingle ‘Gaeltacht’ region. They not only read about Ireland; they live the Irish experience through hands-on seminars led by accomplished scholars and local experts using Dingle as the campus classroom. All of our courses feature active participation and immersion – both in and out of the classroom.

Freshman Fall in Rome

Our partner campus in Rome is at John Cabot University (JCU), located in the historic center of Rome along the Tiber River. Take a tour of the Trastevere neighborhood! JCU has a long history of hosting study abroad students from the U.S. and around the world, and offers the small classes and hands-on education that SHU students are seeking. It is an American University, as such students have access to all campus resources in English, and all classes are taught in English as well. Campus facilities include a library, Wi-Fi, digital media and studio art facilities, computer labs, a cafeteria, and a student center.

Student Testimonials

Gabrielle Garcia “Being abroad taught me to go with the flow and take things as they come. It taught me how to deal with the unexpected and break free of the comfort zone I was so confined to…I have gained independence, adaptability, confidence, memories, and more moments of pure awe than most people do in a lifetime—and that is truly the best kind of souvenir. “ ~Gabrielle Garcia, Freshman Fall in Rome participant, 2015


With a few exceptions, students who are accepted to Sacred Heart as an incoming freshman are automatically eligible to participate in an FFA program*. All you need to do is complete the FFA enrollment process for the location of choice. 

To learn more about Sacred Heart’s FFA programs please contact Undergraduate Admissions or the Office of Global Affairs.

We look forward to speaking with you soon, and the entire Sacred Heart community looks forward to the start of your SHU undergraduate experience, wherever in the world that may be!

*Students receiving scholarships for participation in varsity athletics are not eligible for the program. Students receiving a merit award for participation in performing arts programs will not receive their participation grants during the fall semester abroad. Non-scholarship varsity athletes should discuss with their coaches the impact that participation in an FFA program may have on involvement in the sport upon return to campus.

Program-Specific Information

FAQs are available on our program brochure web pages:
*You must be 18 years of age by June 15th to participate in the Rome program and by August 15th to participate in the Dingle program.
Information for Parents
The FFA program is a great fit for students who would like to engage in a challenging and academically integrated experience.  Spending the first semester abroad is an exciting and rewarding opportunity, and the FFA program is committed to maintaining an intellectually challenging, safe, and stimulating environment for all students. Before committing to this program, both students and parents should take the time to gather the information they need by visiting the Fairfield campus, speaking with our staff, and evaluating their own goals and feelings towards studying abroad. While this is a unique and exciting opportunity, it is designed for a certain type of student, one who is open to change, both culturally and academically, and to the possibility of new experiences.

Register Now!

The registration deadline is May 15, 2016. Applications open in December.

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