The National University of Ireland, Galway is located on the banks of the river Corrib in Western Ireland. Galway is a modern urban center of 80,000 people that is known to many as a cultural center of Ireland. A Willamette professor teaches one course to the program students and accompanies the excursions with a local guide. Excursions may include Dublin, Northern Ireland, and Cork. Minimum GPA required by host program: 3.0 GPA, or 2.8 GPA with letter from faculty advisor. 

The spring 2025 Program Faculty Leader will be Andrew Duncan, Professor of Chemistry.

The Irish Diaspora and the American Frontier: a History in Two Acts 

In this course, students will explore the experiences of two distinct Irish immigrant groups, each of which played a role in defining, expanding, and ultimately closing the western American frontier. In a broad sense, Irish immigration to the British Colonies/United States can be understood as taking place in two waves: Scots-Irish Protestants from Northern Ireland arrived during the 18th century, settling largely at the western boundary of the emerging colonial frontier: the Appalachian Mountains. Roughly a century later—peaking during the Great Hunger in the eighteen-forties and -fifties—Irish Catholics arrived en masse, fleeing prejudicial British policies and the serial failure of the potato crop. While many of these later Irish migrants settled in the burgeoning urban areas of a rapidly industrializing America, a number of them found their way west and played an instrumental role in the construction of the trans-continental railway, an effort that contributed to the “closing” of the frontier West. 

No pre-requisite.



Find NUIG classes: (Classes are called "Modules")

While at NUIG, students take an Irish Studies course (4.0 WU credit) that provides an introduction to Irish culture through four lenses: Literature in Irish, Irish Literature in English, Irish History, and Irish Society. Students take a second course (4.0 WU credit) taught by a WU professor and two or three additional courses from NUIG (credit varies).



The university has approximately 17,000 students and offers a large variety of courses to choose from. This program offers the best fit for humanities and social science majors due to course scheduling of NUIG classes with the WU program classes and excursion schedules. All participants should have a good deal of flexibility about the local classes they can take from NUIG. Courses available to visiting students can be found in the Visiting Student Handbook Semester 2.

Find a list of classes for visiting students here:  Visiting Student Handbook Semester 2


Students live in nearby student housing, sharing a bedroom with American or Irish students. Bathrooms and kitchen facilities are shared with six or more students.


Available spring semester only. Early January start. Final exams conclude by mid-May. Students will have a specific arrival schedule to facilitate group pick up. 


Please see the Willamette Sponsored Programs Cost Matrix for detailed explanation of the cost of each program. Students should plan on paying their police registration fee upon arrival to Galway - the registration fee is 300 Euros (2017). A sample budget for meals, books and transportation can be found on the International Affairs Office website.

Pre-departure Resources


Past Faculty Leaders for this program include Rebecca Dobkins, (2023, Anthropology and American Ethnic Studies), Robert Brewer-Wallin (2022, Theatre), Karen Arabas (2020, Environmental Science), Jonneke Koomen (2019, Sociology), Courtney Stevens (2018, Psychology), David Craig (2017, Biology), Scott Pike (2016, Environmental Science), Richard Ellis (2015, Politics), Ann Nicgorski (2014, Art History), David Gutterman (2013, Politics), Seth Cotlar (2012, History), Wendy Petersen Boring (2011, History), Todd Silverstein (Chemistry, 2010), Ortwin Knorr (Classical Studies, 2009), Mike Strelow (English, 2008), Mark Conliffe (Russian, 2007), Charlie Wallace (Religious Studies, 2006), Steve Hey (Sociology, 2005), Lane McGaughy (Religious Studies, 2004), Ken Nolley (English, 2003), Myles Jackson (Science Studies, 2002), James Thompson (Art, 2001), and Bill Braden (English, 2000).

Willamette University

Office of International Education

Global Learning Center
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Back to Top