Frequently Asked Questions
1. I’m a _______ major -- can I study abroad?
Yes, as long as you meet the IWU’s general eligibility requirements. We have study abroad programs suitable for students in any major. The larger issue, though, may be timing: depending on your course of study, there may be only a small window during which going abroad is possible. It is very important, then, to start talking with your academic advisor as soon as possible about your interest in studying abroad. And if, for whatever reason, you find that you cannot study abroad during the academic year, we offer many summer study abroad programs that will offer you both the international experience and a chance to earn academic credit.
2. Where can I study abroad?
It might be easier to ask where you can’t study abroad. We have programs in over 65 countries and in hundreds of locations. There are programs in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Southern Hemisphere, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. We will not, however, allow a student to study abroad in a country for which the State Department has issued a Travel Warning. Some of our programs require some college-level language experience as a prerequisite, but many others do not, so don’t think that your language knowledge limits your options.
3. When can I study abroad?
The traditional time to study abroad is in the junior year, but IWU students can study abroad at any time after their first year -- and the IWU London and IWU Spain programs, specifically designed to help student fulfill General Education requirements abroad, are particularly suited to students in their sophomore year.
Some of the factors to think about as you consider when to study abroad include
- Your major (Do you need to be on campus for certain classes, such as a practicum or senior seminar? Are the programs best suited to your interest offered only during the summer?)
- The course work you want to pursue abroad (Are you looking for courses in your major? for Gen Ed classes? Are certain courses offered only in the fall?)
- The academic calendar of the host nation (Does the fall semester abroad end early enough that you can return to IWU for spring classes? Will the program interfere with plans to take a May Term course or affect your ability to find a summer job?)
- Your own preferences.
4. How do I go about choosing a program?
Before you start looking at all the program opportunities available through IWU, you should realistically assess your academic objectives, language abilities, and personal goals. Refer to the Choosing a Program section for a set of questions to help you undertake this assessment.
Once you have looked at your skills, needs, and goals, you’ll have a sense of what to look for in the programs available. Your next steps are to begin reviewing program options and make an appointment to speak with a study abroad advisor who can talk with you about your options.
5. How much will it cost?
There’s no denying that cost is an important factor in choosing a study abroad program -- or choosing to study abroad at all. The short answer to this question is that studying abroad will cost you
IWU tuition* + Program room, board, and fees + “anticipated expenses”
The one stable element in this equation is IWU tuition; other costs will vary by program. To gauge “anticipated expenses,” you’ll need to consider the cost of round-trip transportation to and from your program; ground transportation on site; passport and visa fees; insurance; books and supplies; any meals not covered by the program; and personal expenses. Most of our affiliate programs provide a list of “estimated costs” to help you calculate the overall cost of your study abroad experience.
As you consider the costs of studying abroad, also know that there is financial aid available specifically for this purpose. Most program providers have both need- and merit-based scholarships that student may apply for; in addition, there are other scholarship sources for students studying in particular region, pursuing certain types of course work, or with financial need.
6. Can I use my financial aid?
IWU policy states that financial aid from both institutional and federal/state sources may be applied to one international May Term course and one semester abroad. Federal/state aid may be applied to a second semester abroad, but IWU aid normally cannot be applied.
Exceptions are granted for participants in the IWU London and Madrid programs -- students on these programs may use their institutional aid for a second semester-long study abroad experience. An exception is also available to students participating in the year-long Pembroke College program at Oxford University. If a student wishes to receive IWU financial aid for second semester abroad (beyond the exceptions outlined here), he or she must file a petition that outlines compelling academic reasons for participation in an additional study abroad experience. The appeal must be submitted to the director of the International Office who will forward it to the appropriate committee for consideration.
As noted above, external financial aid for studying abroad is available not only from program providers but from federal sources and private agencies.
7. Will I get credit for the courses I take abroad?
Yes, if you study abroad through an approved program, complete the coursework with a passing grade (Note: you are not allowed to take you study abroad courses on a credit/no credit basis), and have received the appropriate permission on your IWU Course Approval Form for coursework in the major, minor, or Gen Ed. All coursework taken abroad will be reflected on your transcript -- including failing grades -- and grades are factored into your GPA.
The amount and kind of credit you receive will depend on the courses you take and the weight they carry. Most of our affiliated programs use a semester-hour credit system. One IWU unit is equivalent to 4 semester hours. So, a student taking 15 semester hours of credit abroad will bring back 3.75 IWU units toward graduation. Any class that carries at least 3 semester hours of credit and that counts toward the major, minor, or Gen Ed will be considered a full course for those requirements.
8. I want to study abroad in a foreign language, but I’m not sure I’m ready to take all my classes in that language. How do I know if I’m good enough?
Programs with language prerequisites generally have a language assessment for as part of the application. Such a form is completed by an IWU faculty member in one of the language programs. If your IWU faculty believe you are capable of taking your classes in a foreign language, you should feel pretty secure in your abilities. Do know, however, that you language abilities will be assessed when you arrive as well, and you will be placed in the appropriate language level based on that performance.
Even if you meet a program’s language requirements, you still may not wish to take all your classes in a foreign language. In that case, a hybrid program may be a good fit for you. In a hybrid program, you take at least one course at the program’s academic center with other American students and some of your courses in the host-country language at a local university. Courses offered at the program center may be taught in English, or may be taught in the host-country language -- but since the faculty has been hired specifically to teach American students and since your classmates will be American, you might find it easier to follow the lectures and discussions.
9. I don’t speak another language but I don’t want to study in England. Are there programs for me?
Absolutely! In addition to programs in English-speaking countries -- England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, and New Zealand -- IWU has dozens of programs across the world that do not require knowledge of the host-country language before you arrive (though some will require that you study the language as part of your program). A list of some of your options includes the following locations:
Amsterdam -- Barcelona -- Belgium -- Belize -- Bonaire -- Brazil -- China -- Copenhagen -- Cyprus -- Czech Republic -- the EU -- Fiji -- Greece -- Japan -- Jordan -- Korea -- Madagascar -- Mali -- Milan -- Morocco -- Peru -- Samoa -- Senegal -- Tanzania -- Tibet -- Turkey -- Uruguay -- Vienna
10. I think I know where I want to go. What do I do next?
Make an appointment to speak with someone in the International Office. We'll help you begin the application process.