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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 University of Washington 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 UW student must demonstrate appropriate academic preparation and meet the following standards:


Academic Preparation

  • Students 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.
  • Students must have the advanced academic skills and training necessary to conduct the project including:
    • Advanced knowledge of academic research and/or fieldwork 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).

Academic Requirements

  • Applicants must be a current University of Washington student.
  • Students may enroll in Independent Learning for as many credits as needed per quarter of enrollment.
  • 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.

For students receiving Financial Aid

  • In order to be eligible for full-time financial aid, undergraduates must earn a minimum of 12 UW credits per quarter; graduate students must earn a minimum of 10 UW credits per quarter.  For the 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.
  • In order to be eligible for financial aid a student’s proposed program must be at least 10 consecutive weeks long per quarter. For Summer A or Summer B-term programs must be at least 4.5 consecutive weeks long.


  • 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


Students must have reliable access to health care and are required to download and activate International SOS for International Insurance.


Independent learning abroad 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.


  • Students 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.
  • Students must have local approval to conduct research or training activities (e.g.-secure appropriate permits to collect samples).
  • Students must have reasonable access to the local resources required to successfully complete the project. As part of the application process, the student must provide:
    • A detailed itinerary for the entire period of enrollment abroad.
    • A detailed research proposal/description of academic project.
    • Local contacts and resources in case of an emergency.