Comparative Healthcare in Graz


This study abroad experience in Graz, Austria will immerse you in an international environment where healthcare and policy differs significantly from the United States This five-week, 6-credit study abroad experience will give you the opportunity to explore healthcare through a comparative lens, using Austria and Slovenia as specific examples to contrast with the United States. This program is designed for any student who is interested in healthcare or on the pre-med track. The history of the development of healthcare is explored and provides insights into how hospitals and healthcare have developed and changed over time, the relationship between culture and health, and how trends in healthcare can be viewed in physical spaces.  Additionally, a "hands on" course looks at present day healthcare delivery and is meant to give you a well-rounded understanding of the healthcare system.


This study abroad experience will immerse you in the healthcare system with hospital and care home visits, meetings with professionals in the field, and more.  Weekend trips to Salzburg and Vienna provide additional historic and cultural background and include site visits to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and even an apothecary.  You will also spend a week in Slovenia for an additional comparison for course topics.


What You'll Accomplish: 

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • An understanding of the role of governments in nationalized health systems
  • First-hand experience with Central European healthcare systems and differences from the United States
  • A historical perspective of the healthcare and medical systems with an emphasis on the United States and Central Europe

Graz, Austria is a town rich in history, it is the second largest city in Austria. It is located along the Mur River between the Styrian Alps and a wide fertile basin about 95 miles southwest of Vienna. It is very much considered a "student city."  With more than 44,000 students across six universities. The city is a rail and industrial center known for its ironworks, steelworks and manufacturing. Telecommunications, optical instruments and medical technology are also very important to the local economy and make this city the perfect location for this program. Graz will offer you endless things to do outside of the classroom.  The city's population of just over 300,000 people means that there is plenty of culture to experience but in a manageable way.  The city is full of culture and areas to explore. The Old Town section is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Students will also spend one week of the program in Maribor, Slovenia. Maribor is the second largest city in Slovenia. It is located on the Drava River near the Austrian border. The city serves as another comparative lens for looking at healthcare systems and development in Austria, Slovenia and the United States.


Additionally, students will spend a weekend in Salzburg, Austria and Vienna, Austria.


Temperatures and precipitation vary based on the season. In May/June temperatures are typically between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Temperatures cool off at night and there’s also always potential for rain. It is a good idea to pack a light, waterproof/resistant jacket.


Where You'll Live: 

Your program will mainly be based in Graz, Austria. While in Graz, the Hotel Das Weitzer will serve as your home base for the program.  Centrally located in the center of the city, located directly by the Mur River. You'll be able to walk to Old Town, Graz's Murinsel (a floating artificial island), Kunsthaus, Schlobfberg. It is the perfect, central location for you to explore the city. You can expect the following at the Hotel Das Weitzer:

  • Double-occupancy rooms
  • En-Suite bathroom
  • Small workspace
  • Access to a mini-fridge
  • Hotel reception area
  • Small coffee shop with a patio
  • Austrian breakfast buffet included daily
  • Wi-Fi
  • Safe/lockbox
  • Air-conditioned rooms

Similar double-occupancy accommodations are provided in Vienna, Salzburg, and Slovenia. Amenities may vary and may not be equal to the Hotel Das Weitzer. Final hotel accommodations in these cities will be finalized later in the semester and addresses will be provided to students at orientation.

We do our best to provide the most accurate information about housing and amenities but due to the nature of the locations in which we offer programs and limited availability, these items are subject to change.  Contact your program manager with any questions. 

What You'll Study: 

You'll earn a total of 6 credits on the Comparative Healthcare in Graz program. Everyone who participates on the program will take the same courses. The History of Medicine and Healthcare and World Comparative Healthcare Systems courses are taught by Pitt Bradford professor Orin James. The courses will be taught in English and will be comprised of lectures, guest speakers, city tours, cultural activities and visits to hospitals, nursing homes, pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare facilities. You will also have the opportunity to meet and engage with local doctors and administrators. In these courses you will study:

  • History of healthcare and medical systems with an emphasis on the U.S. and Central Europe
  • Implementation of healthcare systems in Austria and Slovenia
  • The impact of history and culture on healthcare delivery and development

If you are seeking to count these courses towards a major, minor or certificate, please meet with your academic advisor to discuss this program and what the courses will fulfill for you.


The History of Medicine and Healthcare course fulfills Historical Analysis general education requirement for A&S students.



History of Medicine and Healthcare (HIST1090)

This 3-credit course navigates the development of medicine and healthcare systems in the western society. We will examine the conceptualization and understanding of health, disease, and treatment starting with early ideas in Ancient Greece and trace how these ideas were modified or strengthened with the emergence of theoretical, scientific and technological advances over time. Lastly, we explore the inescapable political and cultural influence in how these entities were used to establish the current healthcare systems, with emphasis on the Austrian, Slovenian and American healthcare systems.

World Comparative Healthcare Systems (INTS1496)

The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in the health sciences field will grow anywhere from 20 to 50 percent between now and 2022. As universities and hospitals try to keep pace with the sharp increase of demand for skilled workers in this field, it is also important to remember that this field will not remain static.  As America faces new opportunities for technological uses and an ever evolving diverse population, there remain possibilities to restructure not only our health care system, but also the laws affecting our health care system, thereby making for a more efficient and effective system.  Leaders knowledgeable broadly about the healthcare system will be needed in all areas of healthcare: nurses, physicians, allied health workers, among many others -  This study abroad experience will immerse the student in an international environment where health care and policy differs significantly from the United States,  in order that the student may learn a different approach  than what is being practiced in America.This 3-credit course provides you with hands-on experience in various aspects of medicine, including hospital and care home visits, meetings with professionals in the field, and more.  Classroom time will be used to debrief on the experience and relate it to your history course.

The University of Pittsburgh partners with the University of Graz on this program.The University of Graz, which was founded in 1585, is Austria's second oldest university and one of the largest in the country. Many excellent scientists, amongst them six Nobel laureates, have taught and researched here.With 31,000 students and 4,300 employees the University of Graz contributes significantly to the vibrating life of the Styrian capital. Its location in Europe encourages a lively scientific, economic and cultural exchange with South-East Europe, from which not only the city benefits, but also its educational institutions.The diversity of the University of Graz is also reflected in the international mix of its students. More than 4,000 international students have chosen to study science and research at the University of Graz.


The University of Graz has a well developed and staffed Office International Students. They provide the same level of support you could expect from your home university. You will also be supported by Orin James, your University of Pittsburgh Faculty Leader.


Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Anisha Mallik

Hi! My name is Anisha, I am a graduate student in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and at the School of Public Health, and I am a Program Assistant for a few Panther Programs at Pitt GEO! I studied abroad in Greece, the Czech Republic, and Ireland during my undergraduate career. In my graduate studies, my regional focus has been on South Asia, through which I had the opportunity to do a fellowship in India. I love connecting with other students looking to expand their perspectives and live and work abroad. Let's chat about your global experience options!

Schedule an appointment

Make an appointment with me to talk about program-specific questions using this link  
Don't see a time that works for you? Email me at

Your In-Country Contacts: 

Orin James

Orin James is an instructor of Biology at the University of Pittsburgh Bradford. He earned a BS in Biochemistry and an MS in Biology from Binghamton University.  He has lived both in Germany and Austria developing his fluency in the German language.  He mixes his experience working in the hospital with his teaching and enjoys sharing international perspectives on health issues with his students.  Orin has a wide background in vertebrate zoology, human anatomy and physiology and has taught a number of hybrid courses that included discussions of social philosophy, determinism, colonialism, race, sex and gender. In his free time he writes poetry, takes photographs and is the host of his own web-based radio show. More information is available on his personal website.


  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition Fee $4,938 $5,138
Program Fee $1,961 $1,961
Study Abroad Fee $300 $300
Total Billed by Pitt $7,199 $7,399

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Airfare ~ S1,500
Personal Expenses ~ $1,200

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.


What's Included: 

As a part of the program fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition for 6 credits
  • Housing
  • Breakfast every day, lunch on class / academic days (most weekdays)
  • Health Insurance
  • Site visits of academic interest
  • Weekend trip to Salzburg, including transportation
  • Weekend trip to Vienna, including transportation
  • Week trip to Slovenia
  • Group welcome dinner
What Else You Need to Know: 


  • Due to the nature of the program, the schedule is subject to change. There may be instances where a guest speaker or visit needs to be rescheduled. We ask for your patience and understanding in advance..
  • Remember that this is an academic program and that you should expect to invest the same amount of time and effort on your courses abroad as you would on a course at Pitt. 
  • There are required excursions and activities outside of normal scheduled classes.
  • Mandatory weekend trips. Independent travel cannot conflict with these scheduled weekends. Independent travel may be better after the conclusion of the program.