Getting Started with Study Abroad

Eligibility Requirements

UMW Credits – For semester or year abroad options, students must have completed 12 credits at UMW.

GPA Requirements – Students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA to study abroad, though most education abroad programs have higher GPA requirements.  Students on academic probation are not eligible to study abroad.

Transfer Students – Transfer students must spend at least one semester in residence before studying abroad.

Residency Requirement – Students must complete at least 15 of the last 21 credits at UMW. If you are abroad during the first semester of your senior year, you must take at least 15 credits in your final semester at UMW to meet the residency requirement. Students may seek a WAIVER to the residency requirement PRIOR to studying abroad by making an appointment with the Office of Academic and Career Services.

Clarifying Goals

Academic Goals - Is your goal to study a foreign language?  Are there specific courses you would like to take that are not offered at UMW?  Do you want to take some courses related to your major, or do you have other subjects in which you are interested? When does an education abroad experience best fit into your program of studies?

Geographic Interest - Are you interested in a particular region of the world or a specific country? Do you prefer to stay in one country, or travel to multiple countries?

Personal Goals - Do you want to live with a host family? Are you interested in a UMW Approved Summer, Semester, or Year-Long Program, short-term program, UMW Faculty-Led Program, or multiple options?

Program Selection

There are many types of education abroad programs. Students can choose from a wide variety of UMW Faculty-Led Programs and over 90 UMW Approved Programs through education abroad providers or international universities, or may choose to pursue international internships, participate in service learning projects abroad, or conduct research. If you find a non-approved program in which you are interested, it must be approved by CIE.

CIE Peer Advisors are available for personal study abroad advising sessions.  They can tell you about the study abroad experience, as well as the program selection process, and help you select a program.  Contact a Peer Advisor or email CIE to schedule an appointment, or just stop by CIE, located in Lee Hall, Suite 434, to find out more about program options.

Which Study Abroad Program is right for you?  Begin your research online


Transfer Credit – Course credits from UMW Approved Programs will transfer as long as students get approval from the relevant academic department chairs. Courses can transfer as a UMW equivalent course, major elective credit, or elective credit. In order to guarantee the study abroad credits will transfer, students must get the courses approved PRIOR to departure using the Study Abroad Course Approval Form. Students must receive a “C” or better in order to receive credit.

General Education Requirements – Certain general education requirements are well suited to fulfill while studying abroad, such as the language requirement.  Most students who study abroad successfully fulfill part or all of their language requirement by getting the language course(s) approved by the chair of Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.  Other general education requirements may be fulfilled through study abroad, but each one has its own set of procedures AND deadlines for approval.  Always consult the Undergraduate Academic Catalog to learn what all of your general education requirements are.

Experiential Learning or Global Inquiry General Education Requirements – A UMW approved academic education abroad program, UMW Faculty-Led Program, or UMW group travel can fulfill either requirement if it includes a satisfactory evaluation of a written reflection of a student’s experience in that program by a UMW faculty member.  Examples of a reflective component include: essay, travel blog, journal, narrated photo album, etc.  The same study abroad experience may not be used to satisfy both the Global Inquiry (GI) and Experiential Learning (EL) requirements.  In order to fulfill either requirement through study abroad, students must submit the Experiential Learning or Global Inquiry General Education Contract to the Center for International Education and pay the education abroad fee of $20 per week PRIOR to departure.  Select UMW Faculty-Led Programs carry automatic EL or GI credit.  Contact CIE for more information on pre-approved Faculty-Led Programs.

Speaking Intensive and Writing Intensive – Students may request to have a study abroad course fulfill the Speaking Intensive or Writing Intensive requirement. PRIOR to going abroad, students should understand what is required to fulfill each of these requirements by contacting the Director of Speaking Intensive Program, Dr. Anand Rao, or the Director of Writing Intensive Program, Dr. Gwen Hale  Upon return, you must submit the Request for Re-Evaluation of Transfer Credit form to the director of the appropriate program.

Double Majors – Students may request to have study abroad courses fulfill both major requirements through a process known as an “exception to the major.”  Students must contact or meet the department chairs of both majors PRIOR to going abroad and obtain approval for the course(s) to count toward each major.  Department chairs should sign the Course Approval Form.  No more than 9 credits can overlap between majors.

Funding Education Abroad

Apply for scholarships, learn about financial aid, or consider creative fundraising options.  Click here or visit CIE for additional information.

Next Steps

Once you have selected your education abroad program, take these Next Steps.