Study Abroad

COVID-19 and UW Study Abroad

Here at UW Study Abroad, we are passionate about connecting students to opportunities for global learning. We are hopeful that study abroad can resume in 2021. Please connect with us through our advising and events to start planning.

We are in active consultation with experts at the UW and beyond to create future study abroad opportunities that are safe and academically rigorous. The UW Global Travel Security program and the UW International Travel Risk & Safety Committee are key partners in this work. UW Study Abroad programs always comply with local public health recommendations and UW policies. As global conditions change, we may need to adjust to program dates, schedules, classroom environments, course delivery, housing arrangements, internship placements, itineraries, or other program details.

Please review the information below as you consider study abroad. We are excited to support you!

Information & key updates for students

  • UPDATE – June 15, 2021: Please review the updated UW International Travel Rules and Restrictions policy. UW Study Abroad has cancelled some faculty-led programs due to constraints on timing and logistics. If you are committed to a faculty-led program, you will have received an email informing you about the status of your program and next steps. 
  • UPDATE – June 4, 2021: UW Study Abroad has cancelled semester-long partner programs departing in autumn quarter 2021. If you are participating in this program type, you will have received an email directly from UW Study Abroad with more information. We have not yet made decisions about faculty-led program or quarter-long partner programs departing in autumn 2021.
  • UPDATE – May 13, 2021: UW Study Abroad has cancelled university and departmental exchanges departing in autumn quarter 2021. If you are participating in this program type, you will have received an email directly from UW Study Abroad with more information.
  • UW Study Abroad has cancelled all study abroad programs for Summer Quarter (Summer Full-term, Summer A, and Summer B terms) and Early Fall 2021 due to COVID-19. If you have applied to one of these programs, you have been emailed directly.

Our commitment

  • UW Study Abroad is trying to be nuanced in our decision-making because of the ever-changing landscape.
  • We want to accurately manage your expectations, while remaining cautiously optimistic.
  • Programs proceeding with the planning process are not guaranteed to run. But we are committed to keeping in regular contact with you if you have opened a study abroad application.

How is UW making decisions about study abroad?

  • The UW Study Abroad and Global Travel Security Teams meet every other week to assess the feasibility of study abroad.
  • Factors in our decision-making process include: program location, duration of program, program type and support available, access to visas and consular networks, and vaccination distribution progress – both domestically and internationally.
  • We are assessing programs that are still open for applications regularly and, unfortunately, we may have to cancel them at any time, regardless of whether or not students have been accepted to the program.
  • If you have questions, email studyabroad@uw.edu.

Important considerations

Make a back up plan

Please make parallel plans for academics and housing – one plan assuming you will be able to study abroad and a backup plan in case your study abroad program is canceled due to the pandemic.

  • Work with your academic adviser to select and temporarily register for on-campus classes in case you’re unable to go abroad.
  • If your study abroad program runs as planned, it will be your responsibility to drop on-campus classes before the quarter starts. UW Study Abroad will remove the study abroad placeholder credits from your record if your program is cancelled.
  • Consider making a back up plan for housing as well in case you cannot study abroad as planned.
  • We also encourage you to hold off on purchasing the UW Student Abroad Insurance. This is one of your requirements to participate in study abroad (for most programs) and to be enrolled in your program. However you can delay fulfilling this requirement until we have a better sense of the feasibility of running programs in autumn. 

Cancellation policies

  • If your program is cancelled by UW Study Abroad related to COVID-19 (or for any other reason) prior to the program start date, you will receive a full refund of any fees that UW Study Abroad controls.
  • UW Study Abroad will not be responsible for any personal costs incurred as a result of committing to a study abroad program. This could include travel costs, fees due to partner providers, or health related expenses.
  • For cancellations due to any other reason, our normal withdrawal process and policies will apply.
  • If you are applying to a partner program, check with the program provider to confirm their cancellation policy. Most providers are being very flexible, but cancellation policies vary and all fees may not be refundable.
  • We understand that it is more challenging to make future travel plans due to the worldwide impact of COVID-19. It makes sense that you may be hesitant to confirm your place on your program at this time. UW Study Abroad is allowing more flexibility with confirmation deadlines, and you will receive additional information about confirming closer to your program start date. Connect with us if have concerns or need additional flexibility.

International travel considerations

  • The current closure of U.S. passport offices and/or suspension of visa processing services by foreign governments may prevent students from obtaining a passport and/or visa (or residence permit) in time for travel
  • If a visa is required for your study abroad program, please refer to the nearest host country consulate for information on how and when to apply. For students on exchanges and partner programs, please follow the guidelines the partner provides and contact them directly with your questions.
  • Travelers may not be able to enter the destination country based on current travel restrictions
  • A 14-day self-isolation/quarantine period is likely upon arrival in the destination country
  • Programs may be abruptly ended by the provider or host institution if conditions worsen
  • Travel restrictions may change while abroad, prohibiting students from returning to the U.S.
  • There may be a need to self-isolate upon return to the U.S.
  • If you are planning to go abroad this autumn, we recommend that you wait to purchase airfare at this time. If you do proceed with securing travel arrangements, be sure to select options that have flexible dates and/or offer a refund. 

Scholarships and financial aid

  • If you were awarded a UW Study Abroad scholarship for a program that was cancelled due to the pandemic, you will have the opportunity to use your award during a future term. Visit our scholarships page for more information.
  • We recommend that you wait until June to revise your financial aid for next autumn. If your program is cancelled, you will not have to revoke your revision if it hasn’t already been completed. 

UW travel restrictions

  • UPDATE – June 15, 2021: Please review the updated UW International Travel Rules and Restrictions policy
  • UPDATE – April 2021: The U.S. Department of State (DOS) updated its methodology for determining COVID-19 related travel risks, causing a significant number of countries to be raised to a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” travel advisory level. While travel advisories are only one of the many factors UW Study Abroad is considering as part of the decision to run programs, the timeline of when these travel advisories are lowered may impact UW Study Abroad’s decision-making and planning timelines for future quarters.
  • For the 2021-22 academic year, UW faculty-led study abroad programs will likely include the following limitations: 
    • Programs will be limited to taking place in one country (no international border crossings)
    • During the program dates, personal overnight travel outside the program location will not be allowed. Students will be permitted to take day trips out of the host city. 
    • All program excursions/field trips will be limited to day trips (no overnights) 
    • These restrictions on travel are being considered to reduce complications due to factors such as differing levels of pandemic control between countries, possible border crossing restrictions and/or quarantine policies, regional lockdowns within the host country, etc.
  • For students who have been accepted to a partner or exchange program:
    • If you are participating in a partner or exchange program, there may be similar limitations (to those above) imposed on travel by your program provider, the host university, or the host country/region.

UW COVID-19 resources