Study Abroad

Standards for Approving Independent Learning

As international education professionals, we strive to provide students with academically rigorous, culturally immersive, affordable international opportunities. We expect that independent learning conducted by UW students abroad will have the same academic rigor as study, research and training experiences on the UW campus. To receive UW Study Abroad enrollment approval for independent learning in another country, a student must demonstrate appropriate academic preparation and meet the following standards:


Academic Preparation

  • Student must have basic proficiency in the language of the host country unless they are operating in an environment (e.g.-lab or field study station) where English is the primary language. Basic proficiency is defined as having successfully completed or tested out of the second (2nd) year of university level language instruction.
  • Student must have the advanced academic skills and training necessary to conduct the project including:
    • Advanced knowledge of academic research and/or field work methodologies.
    • Advanced language skills for archival work.
    • Human subjects training when human subjects are involved.
    • Awareness of ethical and legal issues, including political and cultural considerations, as they relate to the research or training site(s).
  • Overall GPA must be 3.0 or above with a stable or upward trend.

Academic Requirements

  • Undergraduates must earn a minimum of 12 UW credits per quarter; graduate students must earn a minimum 10 UW credits per quarter. For summer quarter only, students have the option to enroll in Summer A or Summer B term in which case undergraduates must earn a minimum of six (6) credits for the term; graduate students must earn a minimum of five (5) credits for the term.
  • Undergraduates are limited to one quarter of independent learning enrollment; graduate students may enroll for up to four (4) quarters initially, with an opportunity to extend with written approval from their academic department.
  • Students must be abroad for a minimum of eight (8) consecutive weeks per quarter during the academic year and four (4) consecutive weeks during Summer A or Summer B terms. The dates of independent learning must meet the UW guidelines for enrollment during the term(s) abroad.


  • Research and practical training must be supervised by a UW faculty member.
  • Supervising faculty must pre-approve credit for the proposed project.
  • Supervising faculty must assess the final academic product, confirm the type and amount of credit to award, and assign a grade for work completed. Final credits and grades for independent learning should be submitted to UW Study Abroad upon completion of the student’s research or training activity abroad.

Health, Safety and Living


Student must have reliable access to health care and purchase the Student Abroad Insurance.


Independent research or practical training in countries with State Department Travel Warnings or CDC Level 3-Travel Health Warnings require additional review and approval by the Office of Global Affairs.


  • Student should secure housing and conduct academic activities in a safe location.
  • Public transportation or privately hired transportation should be readily available and in close proximity to housing and activity site(s).


  • All activities should be respectful of the host culture and values.
  • Student activities should not:
    • Objectify particular communities.
    • Allow practices that would not be allowed in the United States (e.g.-practice medicine without a license).
    • Impose unreimbursed costs on the institutions and communities in which  student is conducting research or training.
  • Student must have local approval to conduct research or training activities (e.g.-secure appropriate permits to collect samples).
  • Student must have reasonable access to local resources required to successfully complete the project. As part of the application process, student must provide:
    • A detailed itinerary for entire period of enrollment abroad.
    • A detailed research proposal/description of academic project.
    • Local contacts and resources in case of emergency.