Frequently Asked Questions

For students majoring in a foreign language or an international field, the answer to this question is evident.  For other students, it may not be as clear.  Studying abroad provides the opportunity to learn from another perspective.  While broadening one's education one also achieves personal growth, increased self-reliance, and appreciation for different cultures as well as one's own.  View the Student Learning Outcomes for Study Abroad.

Where do you want to go?  The opportunities are wide and numerous.  Check out our list of approved programs.  Western students who find another accredited study abroad opportunity not currently offered by WWU, may work with the Education Abroad (EdAbroad) office to receive approval.  There are many factors to take into consideration such as type of program, location, and coursework to name just a few. In order to help with the process, EdAbroad has compiled a list of questions for you to consider when reviewing the program options, check out Things to Consider.  

Education Abroad offers programs and exchanges that vary in cost.  If you have financial aid, your grants, scholarships and loans may be applied to approved study abroad programs through EdAbroad.  However, financial aid in the form of Work Study, Western grants and Tuition Waivers, including the Western Achievement Award (WAA) scholarship, the Western Award for Excellence (WAE) scholarship and the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) scholarship do not apply.  Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) funds may be applied to Exchanges and some applicable programs. Scholarships are available through WWU & EdAbroad, affiliate programs and various other organizations.  Western students can also consider programs such as Global Learning Faculty-led, the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) and Western Exchanges, which do not cost much more than remaining at WWU.  There are also work abroad programs, internships, and volunteer opportunities that may provide affordable options, check out our Cost Effective Programs document for a list of opportunities.  Study abroad programs such as the School for International Training (SIT) and the School for Field Studies match student's Federal Pell Grant funding when participating in their programs.  Tips for Students on Financial Aid

If you are a WWU student, we will help you find a program or exchange to fit your academic plans.  While participating, you will be registered as a full-time student at WWU and the credits that you earn will be recorded on your official WWU transcript.  Participating in an international study program should not adversely affect your anticipated graduation date, provided you plan ahead and work with your major advisor.

Credits you earn when you study abroad will be applied to your total 180 for graduation, whether within your major or minor, or as electives that are required of every graduate.  Decisions regarding the applicability of coursework toward major or minor requirements are made by the academic department.  As part of the EdAbroad application, the Departmental Academic Advising Form assists you, the academic department and the EdAbroad staff in understanding how the credits will be applied to your WWU degree upon completion of study abroad.  Please read and follow the instructions on the form. You may need to provide a course description, syllabus, reading list, and/or the host college catalog.  See your departmental advisor for information. 

Credits you earn when you study abroad will be applied to your total 180 for graduation, whether within your major or minor, or as elective classes that are required of every graduate.  Decisions regarding the applicability of coursework toward major or minor requirements are made by the academic department.  As part of the EdAbroad application, the Departmental Academic Advising Form assists you, the academic department and the EdAbroad staff in understanding how the credits will be applied to your WWU degree upon completion of study abroad.  Please read and follow the instructions on the form. You may need to provide a course description, syllabus, reading list, and/or the host college catalog.  See your departmental advisor for information.

If you wish to obtain GUR credit while abroad you must provide the WWU Degree Evaluators in the Registrar’s Office with up to five courses with the following information: Course Title, Course Description, and which GUR you believe the course meets competencies for.  Please email this information to: degreeeval@wwu.edu.

EdAbroad works with students and the Registrar’s Office on a case by case basis to determine if taking additional coursework is approved.  In general, students are permitted to take one additional online or distance learning course while studying abroad.  Students should consider the following factors when contemplating registering for additional coursework:

  • Is the additional course work term-based or self-paced?  Term-based online courses require internet access and weekly interaction amongst instructors and students.  Self-paced Independent Learning courses are available online through Canvas but do not require online interaction.  Sometimes students need to arrange for exam proctors while abroad which could result in additional fees for the student.
  • There may be additional tuition costs of registering for a main campus or online course.
  • Can you verify that the host destination has the appropriate infrastructure to support the student taking additional coursework, i.e. consistent online access, Wi-Fi, time differences?
  • Be realistic about the necessary time-commitment of additional coursework in the context of study abroad.  Will you be able to get the most out of your study abroad experience if you have committed to additional coursework requirements?  

Eligibility requirements vary from program to program. Please note the specific prerequisites for each program to determine whether or not you are eligible to apply.  Education Abroad requires students be:

  • Full time WWU students for at least one quarter prior to departure.  For example, if you plan to study abroad fall quarter, then you need to have been enrolled full time during the prior spring quarter.
  • In good academic standing with at least a 2.5 GPA or above.
  • Have sophomore status by the beginning of the program (excluding running start).

There are many opportunities to explore another country and culture without fluency in the language.  Many programs offer courses in English and beginning through advanced levels of the host language.

There is no application fee to apply for WWU Global Learning Programs.  For all other programs Education Abroad requires a $100 non-refundable application fee and a $325 concurrent enrollment fee for each quarter spent abroad.  There is a $50 late application fee charged to students who submit their EdAbroad application after the deadline.  These and other fees may or may not be included in total program costs.  Refund policies are outlined in the Education Abroad application.  Please note that EdAbroad fees are subject to change.

Program handouts, catalogs and informational brochures are available in the Education Abroad office, located in Miller Hall 208.  You can phone us at (360) 650-3298 or e-mail us at EdAbroad@wwu.edu.  Most program applications are available on-line through this website.

Western Washington University considers the health and safety of students on education abroad one of its top priorities. Our comprehensive, mandatory orientations address health and safety issues relevant to the country of study, and on-site program resident staff are careful to keep students aware of locations and situations that can present danger. In addition, the information we provide to students, both before departure and while abroad, contain extensive information about staying healthy and safe.

While some parents and students focus their concerns about study abroad on the cataclysmic--acts of terrorism, violent crime, or natural disasters--the truth is that, just as in the United States, much of a student's safety abroad depends on them exercising mature and responsible behavior, and on making good decisions. Traveling with companions rather than alone, especially late at night; using caution in interactions with strangers; staying away from dangerous areas or activities; not drinking to excess, avoiding the use of illegal drugs; following the laws; and knowing and respecting the customs of the country--these are the best ways students can maximize their safety abroad, just as at home. 

The U.S. State Department provides useful travel information through its Bureau of Consular Affairs.  This website provides information on topics such as living and traveling overseas, visa and passport, travel advisories, travel health information and other relevant topics on the Travel Resources page. Some other helpful travel abroad resources include:

US State Department

Lonely Planet Guide

STA Travel

EdAbroad Travel Resources