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Fieldwork, Research & Independent Learning Abroad (FRILA)

Fieldwork, Research, & Independent Learning Abroad (FRILA)

Fieldwork, Research & Independent Learning Abroad (FRILA) allows students to engage globally while maintaining student status and receiving international travel security coverage 

Quick Facts


January 31 – Spring

April 15 – Summer

May 15 – Early Fall & Autumn

November 1 – Winter

Duration & Credits

Short-term, Quarter, Semester, or Academic Year

There is a For-credit option and a Zero-credit option for each term. Students who choose to earn credit can receive 1-30 credits per quarter of enrollment.


Fixed costs paid to UW:

  • Study Abroad administrative fee
  • UW Student Abroad insurance

Additional estimated expenses vary based on the program. 

Application Process

FRILA programs require only one application.

Step 1: Discuss your research or project proposal with your sponsoring faculty adviser(s), graduate program coordinator, and or academic adviser.

Step 2: Begin a UW Study Abroad application.

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

Delve Deeper

FRILA is meant for students who want to participate in one of the below:

  • Independent Research – Going abroad to conduct your own research that you have designed yourself.
  • Fieldwork – Going abroad for dissertation or thesis research (for example, toward a masters, doctoral, or professional degree) including visits to archives, ethnographic work, scientific expeditions on land or sea, and international research collaborations.
  • Internships – An internship with a partner of the University of Washington.
  • Practicum – A hands-on experience that is required by a major or graduate program such as participating in academic community outreach or clinical work in a hospital when studying to be a nurse.
  • Clinical Electives – These are specific types of practicums students from the University of Washington School of Medicine participate in.
  • Government or department-sponsored fellowship programs – FLAS, Fulbright, China Flagship, Immersive Internship (Leon, Spain), etc.
  • TA on a UW Study Abroad Program – Being a teaching assistant for a study abroad program through the UW American Ethnic Studies Department.

FRILA, formerly known as “Independent Learning Abroad”, allows students to undertake degree-related international travel (whether for credit or not) while being fully enrolled at UW, covered by insurance abroad, and supported by UW Global Travel Security to ensure their health & safety.

There are two options for students to be enrolled through FRILA:

  • For Credit: This option is for students who are seeking to earn UW credit for their program. Students who choose this option can receive 1-30 graded credits per quarter of enrollment.
  • Zero Credit: Some students may not need credit for their program, but still want their transcript to reflect their academic work overseas. Independent Learning Abroad – Zero Credit allows students to be enrolled in zero credits of FSTDY 555 for each quarter requested.  A grade designation of “CR” will be recorded on a student’s official transcript at the University of Washington at the end of each quarter of enrollment.

Students who enroll in FRILA should already have an idea of what they want to do, and they typically aren’t choosing from a variety of different program options. Therefore, things like program duration, location, and housing, will be known before starting an application. Additional things to consider when choosing to enroll in FRILA are below:

  • Level of Independence – Most programs that students participate in through FRILA will be independent activities and require a high level of independence.
  • Academic options – Students need to connect with their academic adviser or Graduate Program Coordinator to receive pre-approved UW credits. 
  • Program Cost – While there is on program fee for FRILA, UW Study Abroad charges a study abroad fee and a student abroad insurance fee that will appear on your MyUW statement. 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 program takes place.
  • Health Insurance – All students going abroad through UW Study Abroad are automatically enrolled in Student Abroad Insurance.
  • Financial aid eligibility – Financial aid eligibility will depend on the program dates and duration. 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 program acceptance to another term is not permitted once you’ve contracted. If you aren’t able to participate in the program 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 FRILA, you must:

  • Read the Standards for Approving Independent Learning and confirm that your planned activity meets these standards.
  • Be in good academic standing
  • Be cleared for study abroad by UW’s Community Standards and Student Conduct Office.

The FRILA application includes:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Electronic signature on several study abroad policy documents
  • Pre-approval of UW credits from your academic department (if applicable).

FRILA deadlines vary based on the program term.

  • January 31 – Spring
  • April 15 – Summer
  • May 15 – Early Fall & Autumn
  • November 1 – Winter

We accept late applications for FRILA. Please apply to the next available term after the deadline and our office will adjust your application to the correct term(s) based on your itinerary.

  • Pre-application planning – Read the Standards for Approving Independent Learning and confirm that your planned activity meets these standards.
  • Discussion – Discuss your research or project proposal with your sponsoring faculty adviser(s) (if applicable) or academic adviser(s) and verify eligibility to participate.
  • UW Study Abroad Application – Begin a UW Study Abroad application. 
  • Application review – We accept late applications. Please apply to the next available term after the deadline and our office will adjust your application to the correct term(s) based on your itinerary. If there is a US State Department Travel Advisory or Center for Disease Control Health Warning in effect for your destination country, additional review will be required before permission to travel is granted. Read Travel Warnings and Waivers for more information.  
  • Program preparation and pre-departure requirements – Take a look at the Accepted to a program section 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 all programs 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 a program 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. 
    • You will need to obtain a faculty sponsor – a faculty member who is willing to oversee an academic portion of the work that you will complete abroad.  For example, the sponsor could be your graduate advisor if you are doing dissertation work, or a faculty member in the Foster School of Business if you are completing a business-related internship.
    • Have your sponsor complete the credit verification form. You will find this document in your online study abroad application.
  • Credits and grades – Upon your return from abroad, you will work with your sponsoring faculty and departments to have your academic performance evaluated. The sponsor will then complete the “upon return” section of the credit verification form.

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. 

  • What if I miss a deadline to apply?
    • We accept late applications. Please apply to the next available term. Once we start to review your application, we will adjust the application to the correct term(s) based on your itinerary.
  • What is the cost of enrollment in FRILA?
    • UW Study Abroad administrative fees, including for FRILA enrollment, can be found here.
  • Where can I find the Travel Waiver?
    • The Travel Waiver will be included within your online application for FRILA only if it is required for the location(s) you will be traveling to.
  • Why do I have to register my international travel?
    • UW policy on Official International Student Travel (revised 15 February 2022) requires that all graduate and undergraduate students register their official international travel with UW Study Abroad (see below for examples). All UW departments and offices who support official international student travel must ensure that students know about this requirement and register their official travel.
  • What is official international student travel?
    • Any international travel by a matriculated UW student (undergraduate or graduate) that is undertaken as part of a degree program, or any travel that is funded, sponsored, administered, arranged, or approved by UW. This includes traditional study abroad but also independent travel for research, internships, language training, service learning, conference participation, athletics-related travel, and travel by RSOs if it is supported by a UW unit.
  • Who can I contact with questions?
    • For questions about your travel waiver, please reach out to the Global Travel Security Manager at
      For questions about registering for FRILA, please contact the UW Study Abroad office at
  • Can I just register my international travel (through TRIP) instead of enrolling in FRILA, especially if I don’t need credits?
    • Enrollment in FRILA is required for all international travel that is related to earning credits and for all international travel that is related to earning an academic degree. These kinds of travel always involve academic requirements and, therefore, involve academic departments at UW that oversee a student’s degree and credits. FRILA enrollment requires support and endorsements from faculty so that the student’s department, UW Study Abroad, and UW Global Travel Security are all aware of a student’s travel plans and can jointly provide academic support as well as health & safety support while the student is abroad. Enrollment is required even if the student decides to enroll in the zero-credit FRILA option (FSTDY 555) and does not need a specific number of credits, because official academic support is still required for their travel. For activities that are academic but NOT required for a degree and do NOT involve credits (e.g. presenting at an academic conference abroad), students should register for TRIP which includes travel registration and insurance purchase only.

Ready to Apply?

For Credit Application

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Zero Credit Application

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