Study Abroad Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for Study Abroad

What study abroad programs are offered through U-M?

There are numerous options administered by many of the schools and colleges at U-M. U-M sponsored study abroad programs can be found on M-Compass. See U-M Study Abroad Offices and Programs for more information.

I'm ready to study abroad – what do I need to do now?

Students should check out the M-Compass database to explore study abroad options through schools and colleges on campus. If you’re not sure how to reach your school’s education abroad office, check out this list of education abroad offices on campus. If you are considering a non-UM program, we recommend making an appointment to speak with an advisor in the International Center to discuss opportunities and considerations.

Should I apply to more than one study abroad program during my program search and application process?

Students are allowed to apply to up to three U-M study abroad programs through M-Compass. Applying to multiple non-UM programs, which often means paying multiple application fees, is not usually necessary. You might want to apply to several different programs if you are still considering several options, if you might not meet all program requirements, such as the minimum GPA, or if you are applying very close to the application deadlines, since programs stop accepting students once they have filled up.

Can I travel on a non-UM program?

U-M students are able to pursue non-UM, or external, education abroad opportunities. There are numerous considerations that you must be aware of when making the decision to travel on these programs, including credit transfer, health insurance, financial aid, and more. See the International Center’s Non-UM Programs webpage for more information and/or contact ic-abroad@umich.edu.

What are the differences between studying abroad through a U-M program vs. a non-UM (external) program?

There are academic, health and safety, and financial differences between studying abroad through a U-M program vs. a non-UM (external).

First, when studying abroad through a U-M program, students may receive in-residence credit. In-residence credits do not need to be transferred, and they will count towards your GPA. For non-UM programs, you must go through the U-M credit transfer process to ensure that the credits you receive through a non-UM program will transfer to your U-M degree.

Second, U-M programs require that you register your travel with U-M. Travel Abroad Health Insurance will also be included in your U-M study abroad program fee. When you study abroad through non-UM programs, you are not required to register your travel, although it is highly recommended that you do. Many times, your non-UM study abroad provider will provide health insurance, but we recommend exploring U-M’s travel abroad health insurance plan in case you want to double-insure yourself or just compare the two health insurance plans.

Third, students who study abroad through U-M programs may be able to have UM-specific financial aid count towards their study abroad program fee/tuition. Federal financial aid is also likely to transfer over. Generally speaking, when you study abroad through non-UM programs, federal financial aid will transfer over, but any U-M specific scholarships will not. You may also not be eligible for U-M specific scholarships. In all cases, it is best for you to contact the Office of Financial Aid (finaid.abroad@umich.edu) with questions about your specific financial aid package.

What non-UM programs would you recommend that I apply to?

There are a number of non-UM study abroad providers out there, so the right program might depend on your particular interests. A great place for you to start would be looking through Go Abroad. The International Center is also able to advise you on non-UM options for study, internship, volunteer, and post-graduate work abroad providers. We encourage you to contact ic-abroad@umich.edu with any questions about non-UM programs.

A non-UM Study Abroad Provider is requiring that an “Advisor Approval Form” be completed by a Study Abroad Advisor. Who can complete this?

At U-M, these forms can be completed by academic advisors. Even if the form asks for a signature from a study abroad advisor, your academic advisors are considered study abroad advisors in these cases. Although the International Center advises on non-UM study abroad programs, we are not able to sign these forms because we do not have access to students’ academic records.

On the COVID-19 & Travel website, when you click on FAQS SPECIFIC TO FACULTY/STAFF and scroll down to the last question, you will see:

I AM AN ADVISOR AND HAVE STUDENTS WHO LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN A NON-UM EDUCATION ABROAD PROGRAMS. CAN U-M SIGN THEIR PARTICIPATION FORM FOR NON-UM PROGRAMS?

The answer states that advisors are able to sign the form for non-UM programs as long as the country is not a travel restriction destination. Please read the full answer for additional information.

Where can I find identity-specific information about studying abroad?

The Global Michigan website contains information and resources for students of many different identities who are considering studying abroad, including: disabilities abroad, first generation abroad, LGBTQ+ abroad, race and ethnicity abroad, heritage seekers abroad, international students abroad, military-connected students abroad, and nontraditional students abroad.

Academic Credit

Can I get credit towards my degree for studying abroad? What if I am going on a non-U-M program?

LSA students going on a U-M study abroad program will receive in-residence credit with grades, as if taking courses in Ann Arbor. Students from other schools/colleges need to talk to their academic advisors about whether the credit will count toward in-residence credit or transfer credit. For both UM and non-UM programs, in order to receive credit towards a major, students must get additional pre-approval by a concentration advisor. For non-U-M programs, students should contact an academic advisor when deciding on a program in order to make sure that credit will transfer. For more information see Academic Credit Options.

How can I ensure the credit i receive on a non-um program will transfer back to U-M?

Here are the steps you need to take to ensure the credits you take abroad will transfer back to U-M:

  1. Decide which classes you would like to take and fill out a Transfer Credit Equivalency Request form. This will let you know if the credits are transferable at the university level. Here's a database that shows which credits have transferred in the past. If a course you want to take is not on the database, don’t be discouraged; this just means a U-M student hasn't tried to transfer that course in the past. Office of Undergraduate Admissions processing times vary, so you can do steps 2 and 3 before hearing if the credits are transferable.
  2. Meet with your academic advisor. Once you know if the credits are transferable, your advisor will be able to let you know if the credits can be utilized to satisfy your specific degree requirements. It would be helpful to provide your advisor with syllabi and/or course descriptions, which should be accessible through the non-UM study abroad provider’s website.
  3. If you also want classes to count towards your major/minor, you will have to meet with your major/minor advisor(s).
  4. Once you get the courses pre-approved, you will then take the classes abroad and submit your transcript to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions after the completion of your program.

Language

Can I study abroad if I don't speak a foreign language?

Yes–it is common to study in a country where English is the local language, of course. Alternatively, even in countries where another language is spoken, study abroad programs taught mainly in English usually are available – search M-Compass to find such programs. 

I've studied a foreign language, but studying abroad entirely in a foreign language sounds scary. What kind of academic achievement is expected of me?

Many study abroad programs offer special foreign language courses for program participants which are designed to be appropriate for the student's level of competency in that language (this will be stated in the eligibility requirements). Students who take regular classes in a foreign language alongside host-country students should expect a challenging academic environment and should be prepared to put forth extra effort in overcoming the language barrier. It is important to note that most professors understand the situation of international students and will usually issue grades and evaluate effort with a student's language level in mind.

Financial

I receive financial aid – can I use it for study abroad? What about scholarships?

For U-M programs, you can use your financial aid and the Office of Financial Aid (OFA) will process your package. For non-U-M programs, consult the Office of Financial Aid about whether your federal aid will transfer to the program. Students who receive scholarships through U-M should also talk to the OFA about how going on a non-UM program would impact their package. As for scholarships, these are most often made available for specific study abroad programs, although there are a few national scholarships which can be used for any study abroad program. For more information, see Funding Your Study Abroad.