Study Abroad

Exchange Programs

Exchanges are study abroad programs that typically last one or two semesters. Students who participate in an exchange will be directly admitted to a university that partners with the UW, and take classes there. Exchanges are well suited for students who want access to university courses in a variety of academic disciplines, seek full immersion in the student life and culture of a foreign university and society, and desire a high degree of personal independence.

While UW is on the quarter system, many partner universities are on semester systems and some of the dates overlap with UW quarter dates. This could mean that you miss more than one quarter at UW, depending on the exchange you choose. We use the term ‘exchange’ because while you are studying at the partner university, one of their students will be taking your place and studying at UW!

Applications for Autumn 2023 and Academic Year 2023-24 are now closed. 

Applications for Spring 2024 will open in early April. 

*Please be aware that when begin an application for most university wide exchanges, you’ll be asked to choose the Academic Year 2023-24 by default.  You’ll be able to select specific term when you choose your top 3 preferred choices.

Exchange options

UW has exchange partnerships with over 70 universities around the world. Many exchanges are university-wide, which means students from any major and department can participate.* Departmental Exchanges are specific to a department and only students from that department are eligible.

Each exchange has a program brochure with useful information about that specific partner university and program details.

*While students from any major participate, you might not be able to take courses in your major at that university, depending on the agreement between schools. Engineering, computer science, and business courses are often not available. However, many of these colleges, schools and departments have their own departmental exchanges.

Things to consider when choosing an exchange

Since specific exchange details vary widely and each exchange is unique, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the specific university at which you hope to study. Below are some things to consider:

  • Program length – some programs may have program dates that overlap with UW quarters. You can see typical term lengths on the Academics tab of the program brochures. You can also visit the partner university website to get an idea of their academic calendar.
  • Level of Support – there is a high level of autonomy required for exchanges. Unlike other types of programs, with exchanges it is your responsibility to do things such as reserve housing, enroll in courses, get a visa/residence permit, and complete all requirements from the partner university.
  • Location – don’t overlook exchanges in less well-known cities.
  • Academic options – not all partner universities have courses in all disciplines and some universities have stricter enrollment policies than others.
  • Housing options – housing options and costs vary by university. You are responsible for securing your own housing when participating in an exchange. 
  • Program Cost – you pay a program fee equivalent to UW tuition as well as a study abroad fee.
  • Financial aid eligibility – some exchange programs and terms are eligible for use with financial aid and some are not, depending on program duration and alignment with the UW academic calendar. The UW Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) reviews program term dates to determine eligibility. Visit the UW Study Abroad Financial Aid webpage for more information about dates review and timelines. 
  • Cost of Living – cost of living will be dependent on the city in which the exchange takes place.  Each program brochure has a cost sheet with an anticipated budget for each term an exchange is offered.
  • Scholarships – there are many scholarships available for study abroad – some are  location-based and some are merit-based or need-based
  • COVID requirements – requirements and masking mandates may vary by country. Please familiarize yourself with the UW Study Abroad COVID resources page and any requirements of the country you hope to study in.

Exchange application requirements

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Letter of Recommendation from a TA or instructor (for most exchanges)
  • Electronic signature on several study abroad policy documents
  • For University-wide and Foster School exchanges, top 3 preferences for exchange program

Eligibility requirements

  • Be in good academic standing
  • Meet all program-specific eligibility requirements as described in the program brochure. This may include a minimum class standing and/or a minimum GPA.
  • Be cleared for study abroad by UW’s Community Standards and Student Conduct Office.

Application deadlines

Exchanges require planning ahead and the deadlines are usually about 9-10 months before the start of the exchange.

  • January 31 for Autumn Semester & Year-long exchanges
  • May 15 for Winter/Spring Semester exchanges

Exchange process & timeline

  • UW Study Abroad Exchange Application – Begin an application. For most university wide exchanges, you’ll choose your top three choices of exchange university. For most departmental exchanges, you’ll apply directly to the exchange you’re interested in.
  • Application review – Following the application deadline, applications are reviewed and decisions made about which students to accept, waitlist, or decline. For university wide exchanges, we try our best to accept you to one of your top three choices.
  • Exchange program acceptance – After you’ve been accepted to an exchange, you have 3 weeks to commit to the exchange and sign your contract.
  • Nomination to partner university – After you’ve committed to the exchange program, UW staff will nominate you to the partner university.
  • Partner Institution Application – You will need to complete a secondary application for the partner university to be officially admitted as an exchange student. This application could include additional required documents including transcripts or a proof of language level.
  • Exchange preparation and pre-departure requirements – Take a look at the Get Ready page to see everything you need to do before you leave.
    You must complete several mandatory pre-departure requirements that are outlined in your study abroad application (purchase study abroad insurance, attend orientation, submit payment contract, complete a health survey, etc.) in order to be concurrently enrolled.
  • Passport and visas – A valid passport or travel document is needed for exchanges and the visa process can often take time. Please look at visa requirements early!
  • Course enrollment while abroad
    • Enrollment at UW: All UW students participating in an exchange for UW credit must be concurrently enrolled with UW Study Abroad. Concurrent enrollment maintains your student affiliation with UW while away, allows resident UW credit for courses taken abroad, and may allow you access to financial aid if the term is eligible. Students are automatically enrolled in FSTDY 300 placeholder course after the deadline of the completion of pre-departure requirements.
    • Enrollment at partner university: you are responsible for enrolling in courses at the partner university. You should ensure that you’re fully enrolled at the partner university.
  • Credit conversion – When you return, you’ll work with your academic advisors on how courses can be converted back to UW credit using the credit conversion process. UW equivalencies cannot always be determined before departure on an exchange program.

UW Study Abroad Application Glossary

Below are some terms that you may encounter during your application process:

  • Commit – this lets us know that you plan to participate in your exchange. There is no financial obligation to commit.
  • Contract – once you sign a payment contract, you are financially obligated to the program and will owe the fees specified in your contract. 
  • Nomination – many partner universities require us to let them know you will be participating in an exchange before you complete the partner application. This process is referred to as a nomination.  
  • Autumn Semester – If you are enrolled in a program that is listed as Autumn Semester, you will be enrolled in FSTDY 300 only during Autumn quarter. 
  • Autumn Semester (A/W) – If you are enrolled in a program that is listed as Autumn Semester, you will be enrolled in FSTDY 300 during both Autumn and Winter quarters.  
  • Spring Semester (W/Sp) – If you are enrolled in a program that is listed as Spring Semester (W/Sp), you will be enrolled in FSTDY 300 during both Winter and Spring quarters.
  • Spring Semester (Sp/Su) – If you are enrolled in a program that is listed as Spring Semester (Sp/Su), you will be enrolled in FSTDY 300 during both Spring and Summer quarters.

Ready to Jump In?

Exchange Options

See a list of all exchanges

Exchanges and Financial Aid

Watch our latest information session!