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Exchanges

Exchanges

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.

Quick Facts

Deadlines

November 30 – Exchanges in Japan

January 31 – Autumn Semester and Academic Year

May 15 – Spring Semester

Applications for Spring Semester 2025 are now open.

Autumn and Academic year exchanges typically open during autumn of the year prior to departure.

Spring semester exchanges typically open during winter of the year prior to departure.

Duration & Credits

Many partner universities are on semester systems and some of the dates overlap with UW quarter dates. This could mean that students miss more than one quarter at UW, depending on the exchange.

Typical terms and credits are:

  • Semester – 20-25 credits
  • Academic Year – 36-48 credits

Exact UW credits and courses will be determined upon return to UW.

Cost

Fixed costs paid to UW:

  • Program fee equivalent to UW tuition (instead of UW tuition)
  • Study Abroad administrative fee
  • UW Student Abroad insurance
  • Foster school programs have additional program fees

Additional estimated expenses vary based on the program and can be found in each brochure.

Application Process

Exchange programs require only one application through UW Study Abroad.

To apply for university-wide exchanges outside of Japan, you’ll only need to begin 1 application where you can list your top three exchange destinations.

To get started, begin a UW Study Abroad application.

See below for more details on the application process and timeline.

Delve Deeper

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. 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!

UW has exchange partnerships with over 70 universities around the world. Each exchange has a program brochure with useful information about that specific partner university and program details. You can see a list of university-wide or departmental exchanges by clicking on the hyperlinks below. Exchange applications will also be listed on our Upcoming programs page when they are open.

University-wide Exchanges: Students from any major and department can participate in a university-wide exchange. However, the courses available to exchange students vary between schools and you may not be able to take courses in your major at every university. For example, engineering, computer science, and business courses are often not available. However, many of these colleges, schools and departments have their own departmental exchanges. It is important for students to have some flexibility with courses, when possible, as no classes are guaranteed before arriving on exchange. 

Departmental Exchanges: Departmental exchanges are department-specific and typically limited to students enrolled in that department. The following departments have departmental exchanges and many have their own study abroad specific web pages that are linked below. Please check in with the relevant department to see their exchange offerings.

The following departments also have departmental exchanges but do not have an exchange-specific study abroad page. You can see information about the exchanges on the departmental exchange list, or you can reach out to studyabroad@uw.edu for more information.

  • Jackson School of International Studies
  • Physics
  • School of Law

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 Duration – 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 Independence – 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 – UW Study Abroad has exchange partnerships with many different universities abroad. We encourage you not to 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, and you are responsible for securing your own housing when participating in an exchange. Please keep in mind that some housing options may be further away from campus than you are used to. Please take a look at the choosing accommodations information provided by the Global Health and Safety Team for some additional factors to take into account.
  • Program Cost – You pay a program fee equivalent to UW tuition instead of your tuition. UW Study Abroad also charges a study abroad fee and a student abroad insurance fee that will appear on your MyUW statement along with your program fee. UW Study Abroad has many resources to help you plan to pay for study abroad. Visit the Financial Planning section of our website to learn more.
  • 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.
  • Health Insurance – All students going abroad through UW Study Abroad are automatically enrolled in Student Abroad Insurance. Some countries also require that exchange students enroll in national health insurance (ex. Germany, Korea). Most of these national health insurance options are not comparable to the UW Student Abroad insurance as they do not include important coverages that are required by UW for all students who travel overseas on official travel. If you believe they may provide comparable coverage, you can apply for an insurance waiver. However, if you are not approved for a waiver, you may have double coverage during your exchange.
  • 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. 
  • Scholarships – There are many scholarships available for study abroad – some are location-based and some are merit-based or need-based.
  • Deferrals and WithdrawalsDeferring your exchange acceptance to another term is not permitted once you’ve contracted. If you aren’t able to participate in the exchange for the term you are contracted for, you will need to submit a withdrawal request and submit a new application for a future term. Please read the withdrawal information in your contract carefully before signing. 
  • 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.

To be eligible for an exchange, you must: 

  • 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.

The exchange application includes:

  • 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, your top 3 preferences for exchange destination
  • Secondary application to partner university (after acceptance to the exchange)

Exchanges require planning ahead. Autumn and Academic year exchanges typically open during autumn of the year prior to departure. Spring semester exchanges typically open during winter of the year prior to departure.

Exchange deadlines vary based on the program term:

  • November 30 – Exchanges in Japan
  • January 31 – Autumn Semester & Academic Year exchanges
  • May 15 – Winter/Spring Semester exchanges

Please note: Typically, we open all available exchanges for the January 31 deadline. If we have space left at certain partner universities, we’ll open a 2nd round of exchanges for the May 15 deadline. Not all exchange locations will be available for this 2nd round. 

  • UW Study Abroad Exchange Application – Begin a UW Study Abroad exchange application. Depending on your exchange type and destination, the application process may vary: 
    • University wide exchanges outside of Japan: you’ll complete one common application and choose your top three choices of exchange university.
    • University-wide exchanges in Japan: you’ll complete one application for your top choice and include your top three choices of Japanese exchange university within the application. 
    • Departmental exchanges: you’ll complete one application for each exchange you’re interested in. For Foster departmental exchanges, you’ll complete one common application and choose your top three choices of exchange university.
  • Application Review – Following the online application process, you may be contacted by the program manager for a group interview. After 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. Once a decision has been made, you’ll be notified by the study abroad system via email on or after the ‘Decision Date’ listed in the Dates/Deadlines table in the program brochure.
  • 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 University 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 (submit a copy of your passport, 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. Most exchanges also require a visa and the visa process can often take time. Please look at visa requirements early! Visit our Passports and visas page for more details. 
  • 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.
    • Please note: In order to maintain full time enrollment, you should bring back a minimum of 12 UW credits per quarter of enrollment. You can verify your quarters of enrollment in your contract. See the glossary below for details about quarters of enrollment. Use the Credit Conversion Scale (found on the Academics tab of your program brochure) to get an idea of credit equivalencies.
  • 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.

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

  • 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 (S/A) – If you are enrolled in a program that is listed as Autumn Semester (S/A), you will be enrolled in FSTDY 300 during both Summer and Autumn quarters.
  • Autumn Semester (A/W) – If you are enrolled in a program that is listed as Autumn Semester (A/W), you will be enrolled in FSTDY 300 during both Autumn and Winter quarters.  
  • 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.  
  • Partner University – The university you’ll be attending as an exchange student. UW Study Abroad has signed Student Exchange Agreements with many universities abroad. In order to send and receive exchange students, we must have an agreement with that university.
  • Program Manager – The UW Study Abroad staff member who organizes all of the administrative aspects of your program. Exchanges have different Program Managers for different exchange types and destinations.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • How competitive are exchanges?
    • The competitiveness of exchanges varies from year to year and depends on many things including the number of students who apply and the exchange balance we have with the specific university. 
    • We recommend that students be open to locations other than large capital cities like London. 
  • When do exchange applications open?
    • Autumn and Academic year exchanges typically open during autumn of the year prior to departure. Spring semester exchanges typically open during winter of the year prior to departure.
    • Typically, we open all available exchanges for the January 31 deadline. If we have space left at certain partner universities, we’ll open a 2nd round of exchanges for the May 15 deadline. Not all exchange locations will be available for this 2nd round.
  • What if I don’t get placed in my first choice?  
    • We recommend students fill in all three choices in the preferred exchanges questionnaire for university wide exchanges. If your first choice isn’t available, we’ll try our best to place you in one of your other choices. If that isn’t possible either, we will reach out to you with other options such as other open exchanges, partner programs or being placed on a waitlist.  
    • Please keep in mind that all exchange experiences are rewarding, and we encourage students to be open to exchanges they may not have considered.  
  • My exchange dates extend into Winter, will I be able to return for Winter quarter at UW? 
    • Many partner universities are on semester systems so returning for winter quarter will depend on the university and the exact program dates as well as final exam dates. Typical term dates and details about returning to UW may be found on the Academics tab in each brochure. We also recommend researching the academic calendar of universities you’re interested in. Furthermore, the program enrollment is a good indication of whether you can return for winter quarter: 
      •  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.  Depending on when final exams are scheduled, you may be able to return to UW for Winter quarter but this may not always be the case.
      • 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. In this case, you wouldn’t return to UW for Winter quarter as the exchange extends too far into Winter quarter for you to return in time. 
  • What can I study on an exchange? 
    • Since you’ll be directly enrolled at the partner university, you’ll have access to most courses just like their degree-seeking students. Some universities have restrictions for certain departments (business courses are common restrictions for example), so we recommend you do some research for universities you are interested in. Links to exchange student websites can be found on exchange brochures. 
    • Courses taken on exchange can be used to fulfill major or minor credits, general education credits or electives. 
  • Do I need to have junior standing to participate in an exchange?
    • The requirements typically vary by partner university. For example, many universities in Europe ask for junior standing or a certain number of credits because the classes available to exchange students are mid-level classes. However, this is not always a strict requirement so please reach out to us if you are interested in an exchange before your junior year. 
  • How many credits should I take abroad? 
    • You should be enrolled full time at both the partner university and at UW. Different universities have different credit conversion scales, which you can find on each brochure. You should enroll in enough credits to bring back at least 12 credits for each quarter you are enrolled in FSTDY 300. 
    • Students typically come back to UW with 20-24 credits for a semester long exchange.  
  • Is there a foreign language requirement for exchanges?
    • Students are able to study in English at most of the partner universities. If there is a language requirement for a specific university, it will be listed in the Quick Facts of the brochure. That being said, it can be useful to speak at least some of the language of the country where you will be studying since outside of the university, many people won’t speak English.

Exchanges and Financial Aid

Not all exchanges are financial aid-eligible. Watch our latest information session to learn more

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Ready to Apply?

Visit our upcoming programs page to see a list of open exchanges.

Upcoming Programs