Study Abroad

COVID-19 & Study Abroad

On June 3 and 5, 2020, UW Study Abroad hosted two community meetings for our UW colleagues who run study abroad programs to discuss international programming in the time of COVID-19. This page summarizes the points from those meetings and answers some frequently asked questions.

View the slides

Main takeaways

  • Study abroad is cancelled through 2020. We hope to resume programming in winter 2021.
  • We are making decisions as to run future programming based on CDC and U.S. State Department guidelines, consultation with peer institutions, and information from the UW.
  • We are facing unprecedented budgetary challenges.
  • All Office of Global Affairs staff – including UW Study Abroad – will be reduced to 80% FTE starting June 15.

How we are helping students

  • One-on-one advising via zoom, chat and phone
  • Financial planning workshops, Study Abroad Interrupted info sessions, Study Abroad 101 info sessions, incoming freshmen info sessions
  • Transferring scholarships from cancelled terms through early fall 2021
  • Transferring application materials

How you can help

Discussion questions

Below are the most commonly asked questions from our two meetings. If you don’t see the answer to one of your questions, get in touch with a program manager or email

Can we offer study abroad online?

UW Study Abroad is not currently pursuing online options because of the way we structure tuition and program fees. We are a unit that offers programming and not necessarily a unit that offers credit. We have to be careful how we operate in that space. Get in touch if you have more questions.

Can we offer domestic programming?

Yes! We are always thinking of ways we can offer global experiences to students without leaving the country. Please contact one of our program managers or if you want to discuss creating a domestic program.

How do I move my cancelled program to a different term?

Discuss your plan to move your program to a future term with your department chair and get approval to be abroad for that term. Contact your Program Manager about moving your proposal materials. The review process for programs that are switched to a new term will be quicker than the regular review process–especially if you check with your department chair first. If you are proposing the same program as last year (e.g. summer 2020 → summer 2021), begin the proposal process as you normally would. Your program manager can help you copy over responses from last year if you wish. 

Will there be any flexibility in the proposal deadline?

UWSA usually provides some level of flexibility when it comes to proposal application deadlines. If you are concerned that you will not meet the deadline contact your Program Manager and they will give you an extension.

Is there a deadline for switching my cancelled early fall or autumn program to spring break or spring?

Recruitment for spring break and spring programs happens during autumn quarter so proposals should be submitted by the end of the academic year. There are currently spring break and spring programs open to applications on the Apply Now page so you can begin recruitment this summer if your proposal is approved. 

What happens if students no longer feel comfortable participating in a program regardless of the decision UWSA makes about safety and viability?

Students can submit an Emergency Withdrawal Request at any time which may allow full or partial relief from their financial obligations to the program. UWSA will try to be as flexible as possible but given the unique financial situation of our programs, we may not be able to recoup any or all of a student’s fees. Feel free to connect your students with your UW Study Abroad program manager directly if they have questions. 

Should I have a Plan B for my program?

Yes, program directors will be asked to make contingency plans for things like students getting sick, program directors getting sick, social distancing guidelines, program cancellations while abroad, etc. UWSA will also ensure flexibility for students who are contracting and soon to depart. Given this flexibility we may be required to cancel programs earlier than we normally would. Especially before payments are made for a program.

What should I do if my department runs a Study Tour?

Updates on terms that UWSA has cancelled are on our COVID-19 response page. As a Program Director for a UW Study Tour, you may choose to wait before cancelling your program, to see if the situation improves.  Please be aware, however, that all UW student travel is subject to travel restrictions based on US State Department and CDC guidance.  Currently, all non-essential student travel is still restricted.  If you do choose to cancel your program, UW Study Abroad will not charge your department the $100/student fee.  If you are considering moving your program to winter or spring, we can make the necessary changes in our system. Please contact