What is Coherence?


Coherence is a key component of the International Plan. "Coherence" refers to the connection between the country/ies chosen to complete the 26+ weeks abroad, the language chosen to satisfy the language requirement, and the student’s discipline or career goals.  While some students' plans are inherently coherent through language, other students may choose to structure their plan thematically (an "intellectually coherent" approach). 

There are two basic types of coherence in the IP:

  1. Linguistic coherence – The chosen IP language is a national language of the country/ies used to satisfy the IP's 26+ week international experience requirement.
  2. Intellectual coherence* – The international destinations chosen to fulfill the international experience requirement do not share the same language but allow students to explore a specific aspect of their major or anticipated career path.  Students going abroad on the sole basis of intellectual coherence must be studying and/or working within a specific aspect of their field in both terms abroad. Being able to take classes in one's major does not automatically constitute intellectual coherence. The IP language should still align with one of the international experiences. The exception is if both countries have English as a national language or if Georgia Tech does not teach the official language of either location.

    Examples of intellectually coherent plans include: 
  • An INTA student wishing to study the British influence in the politics of Commonwealth nations, studies abroad on exchange to Australia, including at least one course on Australian history and politics, and completes an internship in India with a political organization. Capstone project/paper also focuses on Commonwealth politics. The chosen IP language does not have to align with either country because both countries have English as an official language.

  • An ISYE student interested in working in logistics interns in a logistics hub in Dubai and spends a summer abroad on the Beijing/Singapore Program taking coursework in logistics & manufacturing. Capstone would include a supplemental research paper on how processes for his/her project compare in the countries where s/he studied and interned. The student's IP language is either Chinese or Arabic.

  • A BCHM student who aspires to be a Spanish/English bilingual doctor spends one semester studying in Spain and a second semester studying in England. The semester in Spain fosters biochemistry-specific and medical Spanish language skills and the semester in England is spent at an institution in which exchange students can enroll in one or two medical courses with students studying to become physicians. The student's IP language is Spanish.  

*Plans that are characterized solely by intellectual coherence must be approved via an International Experience Approval Form and 1-2 page written argument for their plan's intellectual coherence. See the Language Proficiency Requirement page for more information about the IP language requirement.

Amman and Teotihuacan

Planning Coherent IP International Experiences