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A Division of the International Studies Office

FAQ: Students

I am interested in studying abroad—how do I get started?

The first step is to complete the Education Abroad Workshop. This workshop is designed to give you the "big picture" of study abroad and help you start planning for your experience. The workshop is mandatory. Upon completion of the workshop and passing the quiz at the end, you will be able to schedule a meeting with an Education Abroad advisor and begin the application process.

What are the minimum requirements to study abroad?

Please view the Eligibility Criteria. Note that program-specific admissions requirements may differ and in some cases may be stricter (higher GPA requirement, for example). A student must meet all requirements to be eligible for a specific abroad program.

Can I study abroad with my major?

Yes! Students in ANY major can study abroad. There is a wide selection of subject areas available abroad. The ISO Education Abroad Advisors and a student’s Academic Advisor can assist in identifying programs with academic offerings complimentary to the students’ course of study. Students should begin researching and planning early in order to take advantage of the course offerings abroad. Please see the Education Abroad in Your Major or Minor page for more information.

When should I plan to study abroad?

Your degree program and personal interests will determine the most appropriate timing of your education abroad experience. The University requires that students successfully complete their first year on-Grounds in order to be eligible for study abroad. Transfer students must complete at least one semester at UVA.  If you are considering studying abroad as a fourth year student, you will need to petition with your Association Dean or school. Students wishing to participate in J-term and Summer programs during and after their first year are still able to apply. We encourage students to meet with their Academic Advisor and Education Abroad Advisor early on in order to determine the best time frame.

I do not speak a second language… what are my options for studying abroad?

There are opportunities all over the world for students with any level of language ability. While plenty of opportunities exist in English-speaking countries, there are also programs in non-English speaking countries which offer course instruction in English. There are also programs with instruction at various levels of the host country language.  You can begin your research by doing a Program Search on our website and identify language of instruction, subject area, location, term, etc.

I'm an international student at UVA… can I study abroad?

International students at UVA must meet the eligibility requirements just like all other UVA students. You should research any additional visa regulations for the host country in which you hope to study. Due to stricter immigration regulations and visa delays, you must be fully aware of the implications for travel outside of the U.S. and possible delays in returning. All international students must meet with an International Student Advisor before registering for a study abroad program and before any fees are paid in order to be fully informed.

I have special needs (physical, learning, psychological, medical). Can they be accommodated while abroad?

The International Studies Office is dedicated to assisting all students pursue international experiences. These needs do not disappear when a student leaves the country, but careful planning can help students find a program that is able to accommodate their needs. Students with special needs should begin research and planning long before the anticipated term abroad.

Many needs are not visually apparent, so the more you are able to share with your Education Abroad Advisor, the more they will be able to utilize available resources and knowledge to identify appropriate program options. The ISO also strongly encourages students with special needs to involve the Student Disability Access Center, doctor(s), and counselors in the planning process.

What kind of credit can I earn abroad?

You will earn either Direct Credit or Transfer Credit from your education abroad experience. Please visit the program pages to determine which credit type is available for your specific program(s) of interest. Direct Credit is offered for courses that have been vetted by UVA departments. Direct credit will appear on the UVA transcript and be calculated into your GPA. These credits count toward the 60 credits that must be earned at UVA for graduation. They may also be applied to major and minor requirements. Transfer credits appear on the UVA transcript and can be applied to major and minor requirements with prior approval. See the Academic Credit FAQ section for more information.

I transferred to UVA… is study abroad still an option for me?

It is possible. You will want to talk to your academic advisor early on regarding your plans.  UVA offers an increasing number of programs that grant UVA Direct Credit. These grades are factored into your UVA GPA and count as UVA courses, which can fulfill major and minor requirements. Conduct an Advanced Program Search to find programs that offer Direct Credit.

Can I use my financial aid for studying abroad?

Financial aid is often portable at UVA and can be applied to approved education abroad programs. Most Federal, State, and Institutional loans, grants, and scholarships are eligible for use for study abroad (Work Study cannot be used). The financial aid review process for study abroad is outlined here. You may also meet with a Financial Aid Counselor to discuss your specific financial situation.  See the Planning and Budgeting page for more information.

Are there scholarship opportunities for studying abroad?

Scholarships for education abroad are available from a number of sources. Students applying to study abroad for a fall, spring, summer or year should consider applying for the ISO Scholarship, as well as for other scholarships available through various UVA departments as well as outside organizations. Students participating on outside programs are often able to apply for scholarships through their program sponsor. Check out our page on scholarships and other sources of funding.

What kind of insurance coverage should I have while studying abroad?

The University of Virginia Policy on Student International Travel requires students who travel outside the U.S. for University-related purposes to enroll in the UVA international health and emergency assistance insurance plan through CISI. The insurance plan covers health care costs incurred during international travel for university related purposes and provides emergency assistance, including medical evacuation, security evacuation, and repatriation of remains. Students participating in UVA-administered programs (excluding most exchanges) will be enrolled in the CISI plan as part of their education abroad program. Students participating on all other education abroad programs will be prompted to self-enroll when they complete their post-acceptance requirements.  Please view our Insurance page for more information.

What about safety and studying abroad?

Students' safety is our top priority. Our commitment to safety is three-fold: first, as a condition of program approval; second, as an integral part of student meetings and preparation; and third, in our Crisis Management Plan should an event (natural, political, or otherwise) occur while students are abroad.

The University limits student travel for University-related purposes to or through a country or a region for which the U.S. Department of State has published a Travel Advisory of Level 3 “Reconsider Travel” – color code orange or Level 4 “Do Not Travel” – color code red; a country or region for which the Centers for Disease Control have issued a Travel Health Notification of Warning Level 3;  a country with a Sanctioned Country designation issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the U.S. Department of Treasury; and to a country of region for which the has issued its own University Travel Restriction. If a DOS Level 3 or 4 Travel Advisory, CDC Travel Warning Level 3 or a University Travel Restriction is issued prior to departure for a planned destination or while students are participating in a program in the affected region, the program will be canceled or alternate arrangements will be made for students in the program. Students will also not be approved to participate in outside programs which do not demonstrate adequate safety and emergency preparedness. See the University of Virginia Policy on Student International Travel for more information.

UVA Education Abroad Advisors work with students individually as well as at mandatory Pre-Departure Orientations and/or through a series of online modules, to educate students on how to prepare themselves for a safe experience abroad. Topics covered include general safety, traveling safety, medical concerns, and responsible and respectful behavior.

While we hope for smooth and uninterrupted programs, unexpected world events can occur. The International Studies Office has developed a Crisis Management Plan to handle emergency situations. The ISO utilizes a variety of safety and risk management organizations to gather information regarding world events and responds accordingly. When appropriate, updates will be shared with those individuals who students have identified as emergency contacts.  Students, parents and family are encouraged to read more information related to Health and Safety in the Education Abroad Handbook and on the Health & Safety Abroad page.

What resources are available to me in regards to my identity development while abroad?

The Education Abroad Handbook and Student Identity Abroad page begin to address some of these concerns, for women, multicultural students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities abroad.  The resources gathered are a starting point for the individual student to begin to think about their own identity and how that might change or be different while abroad. Students are encouraged to conduct their own research in order to prepare for their individual needs and goals. In addition to the resources mentioned in the handbook, a most valuable resource is the student's own capacity to learn from new experiences. Accordingly when students arrive at their destination they must anticipate that issues of difference and sameness will necessarily arise.

Students stand to gain a great deal from how they can use a situation that arises as an opportunity to reflect on:
(1) Who am I?
(2) Where am I ?
(3) How like the Other am I?
(4) How unlike the Other am I?