Education Abroad FAQs

General

Why should I study abroad?
Studying abroad is often described as a "life-changing experience," but what does that really mean? Many students will explain that their time abroad allowed them to immerse themselves in another culture and expand their worldview. Others may describe how studying abroad led them to discover a new passion, experience a different lifestyle, or practice a foreign language. Although the impact of studying abroad may be difficult to put into words, here are some tangible benefits:

  • Development of critical thinking, problem solving, time management, and communication skills
  • Increased employability and earnings potential
  • Personal independence and growth
  • Expanded networking and professional development opportunities
  • Lifelong interest and engagement in global affairs
  • Ability to analyze different perspectives and viewpoints

*Source: https://www.iie.org/Programs/Generation-Study-Abroad/About/Why-Study-Abroad

Do I need to have a specific major to study abroad?
No. Study abroad is for every UT Dallas student! There is a wide range of programs available, offering courses and experiences for students of all majors.

Where can I read about the experiences of other UT Dallas students who studied abroad?
Visit the Comets Abroad Blog to read stories written by UT Dallas students who have returned from their Education Abroad programs. You can also search for #cometsabroad on either Instagram or Facebook to see some of their favorite memories and experiences. If you’re interested in seeing a day in the life of a study abroad student, you can visit our Instagram page and watch social media takeovers from all over the world (saved as highlights).

Programs

What kinds of study abroad programs are available?
Programs vary in terms of semester (fall, spring, or summer), length of time spent abroad (ranging from one week to an entire academic year), type of experience (classroom learning, internship, lab research, community service, independent study), and location. UT Dallas offers a wide range of programs to meet the different interests, needs, and goals of its students, including:

  • EXCHANGE PROGRAMS - Students spend a semester at a partner institution abroad while paying UT Dallas tuition
  • FACULTY-LED PROGRAMS - A UT Dallas faculty member teaches a course (or courses) abroad to an entire group of UT Dallas students, typically over the summer
  • AFFILIATED PARTNER PROGRAMS - Students spend a semester or summer studying abroad while paying tuition to a partner university or affiliated provider
  • INTERNATIONAL INTERNSHIPS - Students gain professional experience in a global setting while earning UT Dallas credit or transcript notation
  • INDEPENDENT STUDY - Students explore an academic topic outside the traditional classroom setting while completing coursework under a UT Dallas professor's supervision

When do most students study abroad?
Most students meet eligibility for study abroad programs after completing their first full year at UT Dallas (see Eligibility section below). For semester-long programs, most students participate during their sophomore or junior year. For summer programs, most students find that the summer before or after their junior year seems to work well.

How do I find a program?
Programs are listed on the Comets Abroad portal. There are several different ways to browse programs, depending on your preferences, interests, and goals.

  • PROGRAM DISCOVERY – Use this interactive search tool to browse programs by key word(s), such as “Paris,” “Engineering,” or “Fall”
  • ADVANCED SEARCH – Use this search tool to find programs based on different criteria, including city, country, region, semester, language of instruction, or area of study
  • MAP SEARCH – Use this interactive map search tool to explore programs in a particular region of the world

Eligibility

Is there a grade-point average requirement to study abroad?
Yes. All applicants must be in good academic standing with a minimum UTD GPA of 2.0 (undergraduate) or 3.0 (graduate). For exchange programs, applicants must have a minimum UTD GPA of 3.0. Specific GPA requirements may vary by program.

Are there other eligibility requirements to study abroad?
Yes. Applicants must complete at least two full-time semesters prior to their participation in exchange programs, affiliated partner programs, internships, or independent studies. Eligibility requirements for faculty-led programs are determined by the academic unit offering the program, and may vary. For all programs, disciplinary records are used to determine each student’s eligibility to participate. Additional eligibility requirements may apply based on exchange partner agreements, affiliated partner requirements, or other individual program requirements.

I am a transfer student. When is the best time for me to study abroad?
Most transfer students meet eligibility for study abroad after they complete one full-time semester at UT Dallas, as long as they have completed at least one additional full-time semester at another college or university. Transcripts from other attended institutions may be used to determine eligibility. All applicants also need a UTD GPA by their program’s application deadline. Because of this, most transfer students who enter UTD in the fall semester meet eligibility by the summer of their first year at UTD or the fall of their second year at UTD.

Can graduate students study abroad? Yes. Study abroad is for every UT Dallas student! However, it is important to consider how education abroad courses fit into a graduate degree, as options may be limited. Some graduate students find that their degree does not allow them to transfer in credit from an exchange or affiliated partner program. In that case, a strong alternative would be to participate in a faculty-led/customized program or international internship. Speaking with your academic advisor or graduate program head can help you determine your options.

Can international students study abroad? Yes. Study abroad is for every UT Dallas student! However, there are important considerations F-1 students should take into account before committing to an Education Abroad program. For more information, review the Education Abroad Guide for International Students and meet with an immigration advisor to discuss any impact on your visa status.

Can non-traditional age students, students with children, or students with disabilities study abroad? Yes. The Education Abroad office is committed to making international experiences available to all UT Dallas students, and the staff will work with you to identify the best program to meet your needs. For instance, several programs provide childcare or wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Application Process

Is there an application?

Yes. All students participating in an education abroad program are required to complete an online application through the Comets Abroad portal. The application consists of two main stages – the initial pre-decision stage and the post-decision stage (after acceptance into the program). To see an overview of the application process, visit the Application Steps webpage.

Students who are not participating in an Education Abroad program but are travelling abroad for a University-sponsored activity, including conferences, symposiums, or athletic events, are required to obtain international travel authorization through the International Risk and Safety Office.

What requirements will I need to complete in the online application?
Application requirements may vary by program, but typically include:

  • Self-reported medical information and an emergency contact
  • Digital signature documents and liability waivers
  • Copy of your passport
  • Foreign contact information (housing address and phone number abroad)
  • Registration of your airline itinerary with International SOS
  • Attendance at a pre-departure orientation
  • Study abroad course registration forms (if required for your program)
Certain programs may also require an essay, a copy of your unofficial UTD transcript, online recommendations from UTD faculty or staff, or a copy of your resume.

What are the application due dates?
Deadlines vary by program, but as a general rule, you should begin the application process no later than 4-6 months before the start of the program (6-9 months for exchange programs). Visit the Important Dates webpage for more information.

Is there an application fee?
Yes. There is a $75 application fee for all Education Abroad programs. The application fee is non-refundable and will be applied to your UTD student account after you are accepted into an Education Abroad program. Students are also required to pay a mandatory insurance fee, which is charged at a rate of $30/week based on your official program dates. There may be additional program fees, depending on the program you choose.

Requirements

Do I need insurance?
All UT Dallas students participating in an Education Abroad program will be automatically enrolled in the UT System Student International Travel Insurance plan. Enrollment in this insurance program is mandatory, regardless of any other insurance you may have, including insurance possibly required by an affiliate study abroad provider. To activate the insurance coverage, all students will follow procedures to register their travel itinerary with International SOS.

Students are strongly encouraged to maintain their U.S. health insurance coverage in case treatment is necessary before departure or upon return to the United States.

Do I need immunizations?
It is highly recommended that all students participating in an Education Abroad program be up-to-date on their routine vaccinations, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and yearly flu shot. Additional immunization requirements may vary by country. Refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Traveler’s Health website for a list of required and recommended vaccines by destination. Certain countries may require you to present proof of vaccination against specific diseases, such as polio, measles, or yellow fever. Generally, no immunizations are required to return to the United States. Detailed health information may be obtained from your local healthcare provider or by contacting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Is there a foreign language requirement?
Many programs offer courses in English and do not require proficiency in a foreign language. However, some programs may require previous foreign language experience. Language requirements will vary by program, but typically range from beginner/conversational to advanced. For these programs, students may be asked to take a placement exam or provide proof of college-level foreign language instruction.

How do I obtain a passport?

All international travelers will need a passport. Passports are official government-issued documents used to verify your identity and your country of citizenship when you travel abroad. If you don't currently own a passport, be sure to apply for one approximately 3-6 months before your departure. For detailed instructions on how to apply for a passport, refer to the U.S. Department of State’s Step-by-Step Passport Application Guide.

If you already own a passport, be sure to check the expiration date. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. In addition, some airlines will not allow passengers to board the aircraft if their passport is expiring. Check the entry and exit regulations for your destination to determine if you will need to renew your passport before your departure. If so, refer to the U.S. Department of State’s Step-by-Step Passport Renewal Guide.

Do I need a student visa?

Depending on your nationality, travel destination, purpose, and length of stay, you may need to apply for a student visa, a work visa, or a residence permit. A visa is an official document, often stamped directly into your passport, that authorizes you to enter and reside in your host country for the duration of your program. To determine if you will need a student visa, you should consult your host country's nearest embassy or consulate.

If you will need a visa or residence permit, it is very important that you carefully research the steps you should take so that you will have your visa in hand prior to your departure date. Allow sufficient time for processing your visa application, especially if you are applying by mail. Most consular offices are located in principal cities, and in many instances, travelers are required to apply for and obtain visas in-person from the consular office in their area of residence. In some cases, the nearest consular office may be located outside the state of Texas. As soon as you receive your visa, check to make sure no mistakes were made. Processing and visa fees vary, and most fees are non-refundable. Keep in mind that most countries do not allow travelers to apply for a visa after arrival in their host country.

It is ultimately the responsibility of the traveler to obtain the appropriate visa, where required, from the nearest embassy or consulate of the country you are planning to visit.

How can I get an International Student Identity Card?
Although not required, you can apply for an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which is an internationally-recognized card used to prove your student status while abroad. The card also provides more than 150,000 discounts and benefits, including discounts for flights, accommodations, transportation, museums, and more. For more information, visit the ISIC website.

Transferring Credit

Will my classes transfer to UT Dallas?
All students should meet with their academic advisor to discuss how their study abroad courses may fulfill their remaining degree plan requirements. Certain programs will also require students to complete a course pre-approval form prior to departure. This form is used to evaluate each proposed study abroad course for transferability and degree applicability (major, free elective, etc.). Upon completion of their program, students earn transfer credit by submitting an official transcript to the Education Abroad office. Credits earned through affiliated partner and exchange programs are notated on the UT Dallas transcript as transfer credit, and all UT Dallas transfer credit rules apply. Refer to the Undergraduate Catalog and Graduate Catalog for relevant policies.

Do I need to submit a transcript?
Students earning transfer credit while studying abroad (i.e., participating in exchange or affiliated partner programs) will need to submit an official transcript in English. To be considered official, transcripts need to be sent directly to the Education Abroad office from the host institution/provider. If the transcript is issued in a foreign language, you will need to have it translated before submitting both the original and official English version to the Education Abroad office.

Funding

Can I afford to study abroad?
Cost is a major factor when deciding to study abroad and will vary by program. However, most program brochures will include budget estimates to give you an idea of the costs you can expect to incur if you choose that program. Actual costs may be higher or lower depending on your lifestyle and personal spending habits. But with proper planning and budgeting, study abroad can be cost effective! Certain programs, especially semester exchange programs, can be just as affordable, if not more affordable, than spending the same amount of time in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, based on cost of attendance data. In addition, financial aid and scholarships are available. Refer to the Scholarships & Funding webpage for more information.

Is financial aid applicable to study abroad?
Yes! Most financial aid and scholarships are applicable to Education Abroad programs. You can also work with your financial aid advisor to have your need level re-assessed to include additional travel-related expenses, including international airfare, passport/visa fees, increases in housing costs abroad, etc.

Are there scholarships to study abroad?
Yes. The International Education Fund Scholarship (IEFS) is a UT Dallas scholarship offered to students participating in an Education Abroad program. All students who meet the eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply! There is also a wide range of external scholarships available for students interested in studying abroad. Since these are funded by a variety of organizations, each will have its own eligibility criteria, application process, deadline, and award range. Refer to the Scholarships & Funding webpage for a list of opportunities.

Other

How many suitcases can I bring?
Baggage rules and limitations will vary by airline. You should contact your airline to see how many suitcases you can check, as well as any size or weight limits. You will likely find that you do not need nearly as much as you think you do. Remember, porters are seldom available to help with your luggage and building accessibility will vary by city and country. Plan to pack only what you can carry.

How do I vote in an election while studying abroad?
If you will be abroad during a primary or election, be sure to visit the Texas Secretary of State website for information on the absentee registration and voting process.

What opportunities are there for study abroad returnees?
After you return from your study abroad experience, there are several ways for you to get involved on campus and continue developing your intercultural skills. Participate in the iFriend Program, apply to be a Global Comet Ambassador, write a blog post, or get involved on social media. For a full list, refer to the Opportunities for Returnees webpage.