Students should be academically prepared to make the most of their classes and experiences abroad. This may include overall academic achievement at Washington University, preparation in the major field, proficiency in a foreign language, as well as courses relevant to the geographic area or subjects to be studied abroad.
Students studying abroad for a semester or year must study on a program approved for their major, minor, or area of significant academic concentration as study abroad should complement a student’s degree program with an emphasis on advanced work within those areas.
To assure that students have adequate preparation in the field they propose to study abroad, it is vital that a student has a solid academic foundation as demonstrated by coursework. Some departments require completion of specific courses or a certain number of upper-level courses in their department prior to study abroad.
Students must be actively enrolled at Washington University the semester prior to studying abroad. This will help students be better prepared for the academic and personal transition studying abroad requires.
3.0 GPA Requirement
In order to be confident that our students can be academically successful while abroad, they need to have demonstrated a solid academic record in their on-campus coursework. Students are expected to have at minimum a 3.0 cumulative GPA at the time their application is reviewed. It is important to note that some programs may have higher GPA requirements overall or within the major.
Many study abroad programs require that students have a background in foreign language prior to the start of their program and may have very specific prerequisites courses that a student must complete to be eligible. Whether the prerequisite coursework is designed to provide students with fundamental skills and a basis for more advanced learning or advanced proficiency that will allow them to take coursework taught in the target language, students must complete all prerequisite coursework prior to the start of the program. It is often permissible to take the final required course in the semester immediately prior to study abroad.
Program Eligibility Requirements
In addition to the requirements listed above, some programs may have additional requirements, either instituted by Washington University or the program, which students must meet in order to be eligible to participate. These could include a solid foundation in natural sciences for a tropical biology program, coursework in Political Science or International and Area Studies for an International Relations program, or at least one course focusing on the African continent for a program in Africa.
Pre-Departure Course & Requirements
All students studying abroad on semester or academic-year programs must successfully complete the pre-departure course, including attendance of all program-specific and larger group sessions, completion of required assignments, and on-time submission of all required forms.
Once students determine if they are eligible to study abroad, they should review and understand what academic requirements must be fulfilled abroad before selecting a program.
Major/Minor Course Requirements
Students studying abroad for a semester or year must take a minimum of 2 upper-level courses per semester abroad approved for their major, minor or area of significant academic concentration. The appropriate department (or school) decides which courses it will approve, which requirements these courses will fulfill, and the minimum necessary performance in the course to receive major/minor credit. Students studying abroad in the summer often have greater flexibility to take coursework that will broaden their Washington University education, but must present a clear interest in the area of study.
Studying abroad should not have a negative impact on a student’s pathway to graduation! Summer programs tend to award 3-6 credits, depending on their duration and number of courses. During a semester abroad, students should earn an amount of academic credit comparable to what they would earn at Washington University, generally between 12 and 18 credits.Most programs establish minimum and maximum numbers of courses or credits in which a student must enroll. This information is made available on the individual program's brochure page.
A grade equivalent to C or better on the program transcript is required to be awarded Washington University credit of any sort for coursework completed abroad. Academic departments may set higher expectations for any coursework a student wishes to apply to the major/minor requirements. WU credit will not be granted for any course taken abroad as pass/fail. Only courses taught by WU faculty or taught exclusively for a WU program with WU faculty oversight will receive a grade on the WU transcript.
How Unpassed Courses Appear on the WashU Record:
Arts & Sciences Students: If students do not successfully complete at least 12 credits of coursework (with a C or higher), the credits of the study abroad placeholder course will be adjusted to reflect the gap between full-time enrollment (12 credits) and credits successfully completed. For example, if students successfully complete 9 credits, the placeholder class will appear on the transcript as 3 credits with an Unsatisfactory grade and the remaining 9 credits successfully completed will be reflected in the “other credit” section of the WashU transcript for most semester programs.
If students successfully complete 12 credits of classes and fail additional coursework, the failed courses will not appear on the WashU transcript, but post-graduate opportunities will see the failing grade(s) on the host university/program study abroad transcript.
McKelvey Students: Please consult Dean Osborn or Andrew Swafford about policy that applies for unsatisfactory EN coursework.
Area Requirements Credit
For students in the Arts & Sciences IQ Curriculum, up to 6 credits per semester (or 3 credits per summer on a non-WUSTL faculty-led program) may be used to satisfy HUM, NSM, SSC, LCD area requirements. Students who study abroad for the full academic year may petition for an additional 3 credits towards area requirements.
According to the IQ Curriculum, LCD credit can be received only for the study of languages and cultures in societies outside of Britain and English-speaking North America. Preliminary guidance on appropriate courses is available from Overseas Programs, your four-year academic advisor or a college dean, but final approval depends upon a review of the course work upon return to Washington University.
Core Requirements (WI, AN, SC) and coursework in an Integrated Inquiry (IQ) cannot be completed abroad.
General Elective Credit
Coursework completed abroad that is not approved for major/minor or distribution credit will be transferred as general elective credit. This coursework will help students make progress towards the total unit requirement for the degree.
Study Abroad Finances
Study Abroad is an investment and planning ahead is an important component of the study abroad experience, especially when it comes to finances. Not only should students understand the educational costs of a program, but they should also anticipate the other costs that will be associated with their travel.
Tuition While Abroad
Semester | Those students studying abroad for a semester or an academic year for academic credit will be charged tuition by Washington University at a rate equivalent to tuition on campus for the corresponding time period. These charges are the same regardless of the program the student chooses and they will be billed via the Washington University student account. If the family uses a payment plan such as the PEP Plan or Tuition Payment Plan, they will be able to continue to use the plan to cover the costs of participation. If the student is a child of a Washington University employee who is eligible for a tuition reduction benefit, this benefit may be applied to the tuition cost of the study abroad program.
Summer | Costs of summer programs will vary significantly depending on their location, duration, and features. If the program is a Washington University program led by Washington University faculty, program costs will be billed via the Washington University student account. If the program is approved by Overseas Programs but not led by Washington University faculty, students will pay fees directly to the program’s sponsor.
Students participating in a summer study abroad program that is approved by WU (but not led by WU faculty) are charged a $500 administrative fee that will be invoiced to their WU account. This is separate from the program fee that must be paid directly to the program sponsor, which typically includes academic tuition and other expenses related to the specified program. This fee covers WU’s administrative expenses for supporting student participation in an external study abroad program while still meeting the academic credit requirements of WU. The fee covers the cost of providing services to all participants on approved study abroad programs including:
- Evaluation and faculty approval of academic coursework from abroad
- Enrollment in GeoBlue International health insurance* and ISOS
- Worldwide events monitors and university assistance during emergencies
- Regular vetting of affiliated programs and partner institutions to ensure they meet the academic needs of our students
- Program advising and pre-departure assistance
- Transcript processing and transfer of credit
*If mandatory enrollment is not required in programs’ own comparable international health insurance
Students with demonstrated financial need are eligible for a waiver. See the program application for further instructions.
See full Tuition Policy for further details
Semester | Students should expect to be able to pay for the costs of studying abroad in generally the same way they finance their studies on the Washington University campus. If they receive financial assistance, whether loans, scholarships, or a combination of the above, those will apply to a semester or academic year study abroad program fees as they would apply to on-campus costs. Students who anticipate that the educational costs of study abroad will be notably higher than their on-campus needs should consult with Student Financial Services to see if their financial aid package can be reviewed in light of the higher costs.
Summer | Students’ financial aid packages do not generally provide funding for summer experiences, domestic or international. If additional funding is needed to make summer study abroad possible, we encourage students to explore both Washington University and external Scholarship Opportunities and discuss with Student Financial Services whether additional loans are available.
Make a Budget
Every study abroad experience requires some financial planning and it is important to anticipate expenses, both those billed by Washington University and those that will be out-of-pocket, so you can enjoy your experience without breaking the bank. It can be helpful to create categories for expenses such as “fixed” for international health insurance and tuition or “essential” like international airfare, housing, food not covered by program costs, and public transportation and make sure those costs can be covered. Students should set a budget for personal expenses like toiletries, personal purchases, entertainment and personal travel. It is always useful to have a reserve fund in case of emergency or other unforeseen expenses. Program-specific cost information can be found by visiting the program page.
Withdrawal and Refund
Circumstances, both academic and personal, can change significantly between the time a student applies to study abroad and the time that program would conclude. Those changes may make it necessary for the student to rethink the decision to study abroad and this can happen either before the start of the program or once the program has begun. If a student decides to withdraw, they must notify the Office of Overseas Programs in writing. Unless the student is incapacitated, the notification must come directly from the student and include the student's name, Washington University student ID number, program sponsor, program location, date and reason for withdrawal. It is also a student’s responsibility to notify the program provider of the decision, if applicable. If the withdrawal occurs prior to October 1 for Spring programs and prior to June 1 for Fall/Academic year programs, financial consequences are likely to be limited. If the withdrawal occur after the start of the program, financial consequences can be significant and it is unlikely any credit can be awarded if the student has not completed the scheduled academic instruction and examinations. For further information, please see the Withdrawal Policy and Refund Policy
Selecting a Program
Once you've thought about your academic goals and the type of experience you want to have, search our Program Database.
There are a number of academic factors to consider when selecting a program. Among the primary ones are whether the student meets (or can meet) the program’s eligibility requirements and whether the program is approved for one of the student’s majors, minors, or areas of significant concentration. Students should also consider their individual needs, such as, whether a program’s curriculum will allow them to meet their specific foreign language or cultural goals; satisfy requirements specific to their academic field; or meet Washington University distribution requirements.
Study abroad programs can take many forms. Some are focused on field research and others involve direct enrollment in a partner university abroad. A program may combine direct enrollment with courses taught exclusively for U.S. students, or offer a full curriculum for students from U.S. universities. It is essential that the student understands to which kind of program they are applying. Talk to an Overseas Programs advisor and perhaps a student alum of the program about its benefits and potential drawbacks.
Personal considerations, both needs and preferences, should also be part of the program choice. A student who is happiest in large cities may not do well in a program that takes place in a primarily rural setting with limited facilities. A student with any disability that requires accommodations or severe food allergies needs to be aware of whether their needs can be met. It is best if students do some soul searching first, then some research, to assure the program will be appropriate both personally and academically.
Search Online Database
- Open our Program Database.
- Choose your major, minor, or other area of significant concentration in the list of approved departments and select any additional parameters that match your interests.
- Click on the program name to view an information brochure. Brochures include basic information about eligibility, academics, location, and other program details.