Academic Opportunity Abounds in Florida

Of the many potential US destinations for international students, Florida has always stood out due to its excellent climate, beaches and tourist destinations. But there is more to studying in Florida than sunshine and Disney World. Top-notch academic programs, such as those offered by Saint Leo University, allow students to experience a high-quality academic environment while living in one of the most desirable places on the planet.

Let us see why studying at Saint Leo can be the perfect blend of beautiful surroundings and top-class education.

High-Quality Academics

Saint Leo University is home to over 2,200 students and offers over 50 undergraduate degrees, programs and endorsements as well as master's, doctoral and certificate programs in the School of Arts & SciencesSchool of Business, and School of Education & Social Services.

Some of the University’s top programs include: biology, business, computer science, criminal justice, international tourism, education, and sport business.

One particular course has attracted plenty of interest from international students, and that is Saint Leo’s Global Studies Program, which has allowed recent graduates to forge career paths as wide-ranging and intriguing as the degree program itself.

The global studies major is based in the Department of Social Sciences. Students take required courses involving the understanding of complex systems, globalization, ethics, conflict resolution, sustainability, program evaluation, plus foreign language study and an internship. For electives, students select from a broad range of courses that fit their interests, from business to criminal justice, international relations, world history, and global development. Students leave with a Bachelor of Arts that can prepare them for careers in international business, diplomacy, military service, international aid, or teaching English as a second language.

Some students combine global studies with a second major to pursue their interests in a specific discipline while exploring its global dimensions. Another option is to pair a major in a field such as history or biology with a minor in global studies, requiring 18 credit hours of work. Students also participate in experience-based learning opportunities such as the Global Studies Club-hosted Oxfam Hunger Banquet at University Campus, or the Model Arab League conference in Tampa, in which students take on assigned roles of government delegates of nations in the Mideast. 

For Dr. Patricia Campion, who directs the Global Studies Program, it has been rewarding “to see our graduates flourish in incredibly diverse fields and locations, for instance, in the Peace Corps in Senegal, or working as an English teacher in China. Few other majors offer this kind of flexibility and opportunities for our students to spread their wings.”

A graduate from 2017, Shelby Grosvenor, went on to earn a master’s degree in finance from the University of Miami and will start her business career in Houston.

Ashley Reynolds, a graduate from 2016, also pursued a major in English and is an online content editor. She will study next in Venice, Italy, at the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation for a master’s degree. She ultimately wants to put her writing and communications skills to work in the human rights field.

Grace Lederer graduated in 2018. She stayed beyond the traditional four years because she added an economics major to her Saint Leo education. She is now at work in the private sector in Washington DC, employed at a global company in the media analytics field.

Jeff (Sable) Wilson just graduated in 2018 and has been accepted with financial support into the PhD program in global and sociocultural studies at Florida International University in Miami. He will work as a teaching assistant as well. He is interested in pursuing possibilities in media analytics or a governmental agency.

Another program of note is The Saint Leo University Center for Cybersecurity Education (CCE), which was established in 2014 by the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems in the School of Business. The main objectives of the center are:

·    Enriching cybersecurity education by strengthening the undergraduate and graduate curricula.

·    Creating knowledgeable and skilled workforce to supply a steady stream of cybersecurity professionals to serve various sectors including government and private industries.

·    Encouraging and supporting faculty and student engagement in applied cybersecurity research.

Their academic programs include both undergraduate and graduate degrees, which are supported by a state of the art cybersecurity lab, a cyberforensic lab, and two traditional computer science labs. Graduates from our programs are equipped with knowledge and experience to pursue careers in the IT industry or advanced research degrees.

Faculty and students conduct research on a wide range of topics including cryptography, database security, information systems security, mobile security, and network security.

Part of the reason this course is so notable is that The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated Saint Leo University as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) through 2021. This is because the center is useful to both public and private organizations by providing training and research on current cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities.

The Surrounds of Saint Leo

Saint Leo University is located in the town of St. Leo, Central Florida. Less than an hour from the vibrancy of downtown Tampa, the peaceful campus is surrounded by rolling green hills, dazzling orange groves, clear-water lakes and all the entertainment, shopping and dining you'd expect from the state of Florida, one of the world's most popular vacation destinations.

Of all the universities in Tampa, Saint Leo can most offer both a cosmopolitan culture and friendly campus that feels like home. Head into nearby San Antonio for fish tacos, pork tamales and homemade chili at Pancho's Villa, or pick up a deli sandwich at the Jiffy Mart, or even grab a coffee at the shop on the corner. On the way back, stop at the local farm stand-open year-round for tree-fresh produce. The Abbey Tavern, adjacent to the Abbey Golf Course, does a killer buffalo chicken dip. Eddie's Roller Rink and the nearby motocross track offer some surprisingly fun old-school entertainment.

If small-town charm and hospitality are your thing, make sure to check out Historic Downtown Dade City, where classic architecture provides the backdrop for antique and vintage shops, clothing and jewellery boutiques, salons, spas, restaurants and cafés. Don't miss brunch at City Market Bistro, the kooky ambiance and fried alligator at Kafé Kokopelli, or main street's monthly First Thursday live-music event (it's free). Pick up groceries and other necessities at Dade City's Winn-Dixie or Sweetbay, or drive a few minutes south to Zephyrhills' Super Walmart, right by the movie theater and 32-lane bowling alley.

Your one-stop-spot for retail, dining and nightlife, the Shops at Wiregrass is where you'll find department stores, a two-story Barnes & Noble, and shops from Hollister to Coach to GNC. Get your quick fix with frozen yogurt, soft pretzels and caramel lattes, or spend some time at restaurants including Moe's Southwest Grill, Yamato Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar, Cantina Laredo, Pinchers Crab Shack, Grillsmith, Panera Bread and Red Robin. Night owls can enjoy late night food and beverage offerings at Primebar and The Brass Tap.

Looking for something lower-key? The Applebee's on the way down to Wesley Chapel does half-off apps popular with Saint Leo's late-night crowd. More big-box shopping awaits at Grove at Wesley Chapel, which also features the Cobb Grove 16 Theatres, where you can catch the hottest Hollywood blockbusters. Serious shoppers will enjoy the newest shopping destination, Tampa Premium Outlets, which features over 100 of the hottest brands in retail and an exceptional shopping experience. All of this just one or two exits south of Saint Leo! 

In less than an hour you've got the entire city of Tampa at your fingertips. This means: internships, mentorships, and professional opportunities in one of the U.S.'s largest metropolitan areas.

You'll also have opportunities to watch the sun set over the Bay; visit Busch Gardens theme park; enjoy historic Ybor City's all-night tastes, sights and sounds; catch major Broadway productions or operatic masterpieces at the Straz Center; browse Gucci, Burberry and Kate Spade at the high-end International Plaza mall; or try a hole-in-the wall Cuban, Ethiopian, Korean or Vietnamese eatery. And don't forget to root for Tampa Bay sports teams, including the Buccaneers, Lightning and Rays.

Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, Clearwater and Saint Pete beaches. White sand, sunshine, jet skiing, parasailing, water biking. Mickey Mouse, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, CityWalk. Wicked and Sweeney Todd at the Lakeland Center. Fishing off the pier. Camping under the stars. Experience the true Florida by studying at Saint Leo.

A Bridge for International Students

Some international students may not satisfy the language proficiency requirements for general admission but still meet the minimum English language proficiency requirements for University admission through the Bridge Program.

The Bridge Program is an academic, in-house, language curriculum that is built into your four-year undergraduate degree and offered at no extra cost. The program is designed to help international students adjust smoothly to the U.S. academic environment while progressively moving into their regular university curriculum. 

While in the Bridge Program, students will participate in courses specifically designed for intermediate and high-intermediate English language speakers to strengthen their learning and academic communication skills. They will also take their first general education courses together with American students.

By the time students successfully complete the Bridge Program, they will have earned 15 to 30 undergraduate credit hours: in the one-semester fast track, they will earn 11 elective academic credits and 4 general education academic credits; in the two-semester regular track – 23 elective credits and 7 general education credits (please note that each major requires a different number of academic credits).

The academic support and structure that students receive during this program will afford them the best chance of success in college.

So if you want to study in one of the most ideal places in the United States, offering warmth, work opportunity and the chance for a first-rate education, look no further than Saint Leo University. For more information, you can find it here.