Music and Speech-Language Therapy in Bulgaria

Nevsky Cathedral Bulgaria

Music and Speech-Language Therapy in Bulgaria

Work with clients and families in Bulgaria and visit historic landmarks in Bulgaria and Greece.
Location: Bulgaria & Greece
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: No
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

  • Visit various clinical settings and offer hands-on services to both children and adults
  • Learn more about Bulgarian culture and history by visiting sites of interest in and around Stolat and Sofia, the capital city.
  • Explore Greece at the end of the program by visiting Athens as well as the island of Santorini

Speech-Language-Hearing and Music Therapy majors, as well as students from other disciplines with an interest in working with people with different types of disabilities will learn about music and speech therapy that is currently offered in Bulgaria and will offer formal and informal assessments of speech-language. Students will participate in therapy sessions with both children and adults and run a music and speech therapy day camp children with hand-on learning.

Bulgaria is located in the eastern portion of the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. It is one of the oldest states in Europe, founded in the 7th century. Bulgaria is part of the European Union and is a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures, which can be seen through its cuisine, architecture, and religious heritage.

Students will fly into the capital city of Sofia and be there for several days before traveling to the village of Stolat, at the foothills of the Balkan Mountains in northern central Bulgaria. The group will remain in Stolat for several more days and visit other towns in the region. For the last part of the program, the group will fly to Greece to tour Athens and visit the island of Santorini.

Three hours of academic credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program. Students will enroll in 3 credit hours of SPLH 452/752 Examining Global Perspectives in Speech-Language-Hearing or MEMT 598/MEMT 798 Special Course: Music Therapy in Bulgaria. It is anticipated that the program will service children on the autism spectrum; therefore, SPLH 452 will count towards the Undergraduate Certificate in Learning and Communication in Children with Autism. In addition SPLH 452 meets KU Core requirement 4.2.

Prior to the program, the group will meet two to four times with the faculty directors to receive an overview and orientation to the work that will be done in Bulgaria, learn and practice how to conduct hearing screenings from a certified and licensed audiologist, and build awareness and knowledge of the cultures of Bulgaria. Graduate students may be required to facilitate discussions for these meetings or during meetings while abroad.

KU is partnering with Therapy Abroad, a program provider that works with local and international community partners to help achieve goals set forth for Bulgaria’s most vulnerable citizens. Students will work in collaboration with local community partners to bring services to children and adults in Sofia and Sevlievo. With an international focus on cooperative learning and capacity building for both visiting and hosting professionals, the team will take students through a cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-cultural program. Students will learn about diverse approaches to teaching and implement methodologies for designing and evaluation learning experiences used in the education of patients/clients, students, colleagues, and the broader community.

While in Stolat, the group will stay at The Stone and Compass Center, which is a cultural retreat located on over 2,200 acres. The Center is geared towards bringing together people from around the world to share in all the rich heritage that Bulgaria and Eastern Europe has to offer. Students will be in shared accommodations at the Center. There is also a pool and sustainable honey reserve on the property.

In the other locations, the group will be in hotels in shared accommodations. All meals on the program are included.

In addition to developing critical hands-on skills working with the Bulgarian population, students can also expect to learn about Bulgaria’s history, cultures, and natural environment. This will be accomplished through the cultural activities and excursions that will also be part of the program.

Students will fly into Sofia, Bulgaria. While there, the group will go on a city tour and attend a performance of Bulgarian traditional music. Students will meet with representatives from the Bulgarian Association for Music Therapy (BMAT) to learn about the history and current state of music therapy in Bulgaria. There will also be a discussion about challenges and opportunities facing music therapy in Bulgaria and how it compares with other countries and regions. It is planned that the group will attend a workshop led by BMAT on music therapy practices before meeting with representatives from the Music Therapy Institute in Sofia. Students will also meet with the Alzheimer Bulgaria Association to learn more about the music therapy programs they are implementing with the aim of improving the quality of life for people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

The group will then travel to Stolat, in the municipality of Sevlievo. While there, it's planned that the students will work with local professionals, musicians, and traditional dancers and help lead a music and speech-language therapy camp. There will also be a couple of days of interdisciplinary speech-language and music therapy sessions with children and adults in a variety of settings. In addition to KU and Therapy Abroad staff, there will be interpreters and guides with the group for the duration of the program. At the end of each day, students will write notes to document the client's response to treatment during each session. There will also be focused learning opportunities related to both disciplines and interdisciplinary practice during evening reflection and discussion time.

Throughout the program there will be opportunities to experience Bulgarian culture through interactions with interpreters and residents as well as activities such as listening to traditional Bulgarian music and watching a performance by traditional dancers. In addition to the city tour in Sofia, the group will visit Plovdiv and go on a walking tour to visit the historical and cultural landmarks, including Old Town and the ancient Roman amphitheater. The group will also stop to see the famous Shipka Pass.

After work with Bulgarian clients is finished, the group fly to Athens, Greece. While in Athens, it’s planned that the group will take a food tour of the city, visiting places like Omonia Square and the Central Market, while learning about the history and traditions of local food.  The next day, students will take a ferry to Santorini, a Greek island known for its whitewashed houses. While spending two days on Santorini, the group will participate in activities such as exploring the ancient tour of Akrotiri and the 18th century monastery and visiting a volcano and hot springs. Back on the mainland, a visit to the Parthenon and a tour of the Acropolis to visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus are planned. Students will return to the U.S. from Athens, Greece.

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Additional Resources

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Open to KU undergraduate and graduate students. Minimum 2.5 GPA. Exceptions considered after submission of a petition.

Professors Julie Gatts, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing  ( and William Matney, Associate Professor of Music Therapy, ( will be the faculty directors on this program. Professor Gatts has previously led a study abroad program to Bulgaria.

KU Study Abroad Program Coordinator

The program coordinator in Study Abroad & Global Engagement for SPLH programs is Mari Keyser. Please schedule an appointment with her to learn more about the program or email her with any questions.

Passport and Entry Requirements

All U.S. citizens must have a passport to enter Bulgaria and Greece; no tourist visa is required. Your passport should be valid for six months beyond the return date. For students who need to apply for an adult passport, please view the processing times and request one soon. KU Study Abroad & Global Engagement has a Passport Center where students can apply for a U.S. passport.

Non-U.S. citizens are responsible for understanding their entry requirements. Read more about visas and entry requirements on the websites of the Embassy of Bulgaria and Embassy of Greece. Please carefully read the information on the website and be in touch with the program coordinator.