Study Abroad

Getting Started

Step One

Define your goals and objectives

To begin, define your academic and personal objectives as the top priority. While it’s easy to imagine that the best way to begin your program search is to decide on a location, it can be helpful to consider other factors first. If you begin by first determining what you want to gain from the experience, it can help you to define the kind of program that is the best fit for you. Some factors to consider:


  • Do you want to study a specific subject while abroad or would you prefer to choose from a broad selection of courses?
  • Do you need to satisfy degree requirements while abroad or do you prefer to take elective courses of personal interest to you?
  • Visit the course equivalency database to help you determine what foreign courses might satisfy your academic needs here at the UW.


  • Do you want or need to take courses in a language other than English while abroad?
  • Do you want to learn another language abroad?
  • Do you want to take content courses taught exclusively in English?


  • Are you flexible about the timing of your study abroad program?
  • What quarter, semester, or year might be best for your graduation plan?
  • Do you want to study abroad for more than one UW quarter?  On multiple programs?


  • Do you prefer an independent, autonomous experience in a foreign country or guided learning with UW peers and instructors?
  • Do you prefer a highly structured program or one requiring a higher degree of personal motivation and self-reliance?


  • How important is the program’s location to your decision to study abroad?
  • How comfortable are you in new environments?
  • How similar to or different from your lived experience in the U.S. do you want to experience?
  • Are you interested in destinations in the developing world or the more developed parts of the globe?
  • How do you define your travel comfort zone and how far are you willing to push your boundaries?
  • Important note: international undergraduate students in the U.S. on a student visa cannot study in their home country through the UW Study Abroad Office. For more information, contact


  • Do you want internship experience while you’re abroad?
  • Do you want to explore an international workplace environment?
  • Have you thought about how studying abroad can increase job opportunities?

Step Two

Research your study abroad options

Barnett_MadelineUse the UW Study Abroad website to research your study abroad options and view program brochures. If you are unsure about which study abroad program model is right for you, our Programs at a Glance page is a great place to start. There, you will find a description of the study abroad program models. Once you understand the different program types, you can build your own Program Search using search criteria important to your decision. Be sure to identify barriers to participation before you get too far along in the process. Identifying logistical and financial constraints will help you to narrow your program choices; identify the methods you will use to pay for your program and define how much you can spend early on.

  • Do you meet the program’s eligibility requirements?
  • Do you have any personal needs that require special accommodations or consideration?
  • Do you have any academic or health concerns that might make a particular program’s location, activities, or schedule difficult for you?
  • Do you have degree requirements that might limit your options (e.g. program duration, timing)?
  • Are the number and types of credits offered in line with your needs?
  • Can you afford the cost of a given program?

When calculating the costs of a study abroad program, it’s important to consider the program’s duration, the number of credits you can expect to receive, and what the program’s price does and does not include. Be sure to have a look at our study abroad Budget Planning Worksheet to help compare costs for different programming. Some things to consider when thinking about cost:

  • Does the program fee include housing, food, transportation, and books?
  • The costs of your roundtrip airfare, passport, visa, and insurance are generally not included in study abroad program fees.
  • If you have your eye on a semester-long program, to calculate a more accurate price comparison, multiply your UW expenses by 1.5.

When considering affordability, review the financial resources available to you and create a personal budget to include personal savings, job earnings, parent contributions, financial aid, and confirmed scholarships. Check with UW Financial Aid to determine whether you qualify for additional assistance.

Step Three

Meet with advisers

Once you have narrowed your options to a few programs or locations, visit the UW Study Abroad Office and meet with a study abroad adviser to discuss your selections and ask questions. During your visit to our office, you can also read program evaluations written by former study abroad participants.

Drop-in advising is available in Schmitz 459 from 10 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. (In summer quarter, drop-in hours are 11 am to 3 pm.)

Want to meet with a particular adviser? Please email them to set up an appointment. 

You should also meet with your departmental adviser (or general academic adviser if you are undeclared) to get their input on choosing the best program for you. Discussing your study abroad plans with your academic adviser and developing an educational and graduation plan will help you stay on track and get the most out of the experience. Some questions to discuss with your academic adviser:

  • Which courses should I take while abroad?
  • How will courses completed abroad apply to my degree requirements?
  • Are there specific degree requirements that I cannot fulfill abroad?
  • Are there academic terms that work particularly well – or not at all – for my experience abroad?

Step Four


To apply, use the Find A Program page and find the “Apply Now” button for your program of choice.  If you have questions about the application process, have a look at our Applications and Recommendations page.