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FAQ's for Family & Friends

The Basics




Preparing Your Student to Leave

While they’re Abroad

Return & Re-entry

The Basics

Why should students study abroad?

There are numerous benefits to studying abroad including language learning and immersion, gaining perspective and exploring the world, building your resume, experiencing different cultures and more. Click for more information on choosing to study abroad and the decision-making process. (LINK Decision-making and Choosing a Program)

When can/should a student go abroad?

Students can choose between fall, spring, academic year, UWinteriM, summer and spring break programs. Each student must complete at least two semesters of regular coursework at UWM in order to qualify for study abroad (one semester if they are a new transfer student) so that they are able to adjust to UWM before trying to adjust to an entirely new country and academic setting.

Where can students go?

UWM offers numerous study abroad and exchange programs that explore Asia, Western Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and Australia. Students also have the option to go on a non-UWM program to any university they choose as long as it's accredited.

Will they be alone or with a group?

Depending on what program the student chooses, they may travel with a group led by a faculty member, or more independently. Shorter term programs tend to be faculty-led, while longer-term exchange programs are often on a more individual, independent basis.

Where will students live while abroad?

Living arrangements vary by program. For short-term programs, lodging is typically provided in hotels and youth hostels. For longer-term programs that most common types of accommodation arranged for study abroad students are residence hall-type housing, homestays, or private apartments or rooms. Residence hall housing abroad is usually quite different than at UWM. Most students are housed in single rooms with a shared bathroom, kitchen and living room. Students are usually responsible for buying and preparing their own meals. Homestays may be the best way for students to immerse themselves in the host culture. The experience of living with a family can provide many unique insights in ways that other arrangements cannot. However, homestays may be more restrictive in that they will be expected to conform to the rules and norms of the family, which will certainly be different from their own family. Private rooms or apartments generally offer the most freedom, but they are usually the most expensive or difficult to arrange. Students must make their own arrangements and must pay a sizable deposit before being allowed to move in.

How long will the student be gone?

Short-term programs, usually led by UWM professors, typically lase between two and six weeks and take place during the summer or UWinteriM. Semester and academic year programs are also available. Both long and short term programs have their merits. Short-term programs are often less expensive an more convenient than long-term programs, but longer programs typically offer greater opportunity to learn about the host country and improve language skills. The length of time your student spends abroad will depend on their particular needs and goals, their financial resources, as well as the limits placed on them by their academic program at UWM.

Where can I find specific program information?

Each program has its own specific page with details, projected budget information, and course information if relevant. Click here (LINK Decision-Making and Choosing a Program) to see more program information.

Will students have health insurance?

The UW Board of Regents require that all students studying abroad be covered by Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) (LINK Health Insurance), which is a comprehensive insurance plan. This plan costs $34 per month and is included in the cost of all UWM-sponsored programs. All non-UWM program participants will need to purchase this insurance separately for the duration of their stay.

Can students with disabilities still study abroad?

The quick answer is yes! The student should visit our office so we can help them determine the program that best suits them and can meet their needs. You can also find more information through the SAC website (

Can students take relevant coursework?

UWM offers a wide variety of study abroad programs that are suited to many different majors. Many of our programs are at comprehensive universities, meaning that, like UWM, they offer courses in many different subject areas. We also some programs that are focused on certain subject areas such as the arts, social sciences, business, or foreign language. The best way to find out what subjects are offered is to browse the specific program pages. Another good strategy is also finding the university's website to see what courses may be offered now and in the future.

Many of our students have gone abroad and taken elective courses and found that they enjoyed leaning something completely different than what they would have taken at UWM. While it is important to ensure that they stay on track for graduation, there is no requirement that our students take certain courses as long as they are offered by the university abroad.

Do students need to know another language?

No! While there are many programs geared toward students looking to immerse themselves, or begin learning another language, UWM has several study abroad programs in English-speaking countries. These include Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, programs with courses taught in English are available in many non-English-speaking countries such as France, Germany, South Korea, Sweden and more.

Will students need to delay graduation?

Not necessarily. With careful planning, they can remain on track to graduate in four years. Some of our study abroad students have even finished their undergraduate education in less than four years! We advise students to start planning early and to work closely with their on track toward graduation. Some students find that it is best for them to remain at UWM for a semester or year after studying abroad (which is why many choose to study during their junior year) because of the new focus they gained as a result of their time overseas.

What does the application process entail?

Summer & UWinteriM Programs*:

  • $250.00 deposit** and E-Signature form (submit in person)
  • Read and e-sign required documents
  • One academic recommendation (not required for non-UWM programs)
  • Unofficial UWM transcript
  • Copy of valid passport
  • Meet with study abroad coordinator (non-UWM programs ONLY)
  • Academic advisor conference (non-UWM programs ONLY)

Academic Year & Semester Programs*:

  • $250.00 deposit** and E-Signature form (submit in person)**
  • Read and e-sign required documents
  • Two academic recommendations (not required for non-UWM programs)
  • Unofficial UWM transcript
  • Copy of valid passport
  • Meet with study coordinator
  • Academic advisor conference
  • Student statement (not required for non-UWM programs)
  • Language requirements evaluation form

*Other application pieces may be required depending on the program. Please see specific program pages for details.

**Must be paid by check or money order made payable to UWM or by credit card though the online application. This includes a $50 non-refundable application fee.

Application instructions vary slightly by program type and some have additional requirements. For more information on applying for a program click here (LINK Ready to Apply?)

When is the application deadline?

  • Fall/Academic Year: March 1st
  • Summer: March 15th
  • Spring: October 1st
  • UWinteriM: October 15th

Some exchanges require a host institution application which maybe due before UWM's deadline and therefore those programs may have an earlier application deadline. Scholarship applications may not correspond with program application deadlines and should be researched carefully.

Will students need a visa?

In most cases, yes; there are many types of visas and the visa rules and regulations are constantly changing. It's important, therefore, to plan ahead to ensure that they have the visa they need to cover their stay outside the United States.

What if the student is not accepted to a program? What if they need to withdraw?

Deposits are due at the time of application for all UWM study abroad programs. If, for any reason, a student is not accepted to the program they have applied for, the original deposit is fully refundable. If they are accepted to a program and then sign the confirmation paperwork, their deposit and a portion of the program fee charged to their student account may not be fully refundable.Students applying for any non-UWM sponsored programs are also required to make a deposit at the time of application. If they are not accepted to your program by the sponsoring institution, a portion of the deposit is also non-refundable. UWM deposit refunds usually take 2-4 weeks to process.

If circumstances require a student to withdraw from a program prior to their commitment they may withdraw via their online application. If circumstances require them to withdraw after they have committed to their program, recoverable and non-recoverable costs have to be determined. If eligible, refunds typically 2-4 weeks to process. CIE's Study Abroad Office will assist them with any administrative matters resulting from their withdrawal.

How much will it cost? What is covered in this cost?

Costs vary depending on program type and length. Students on exchange programs pay for UWM tuition, room and board while abroad, international airfare, and any incidental expenses. Students on non-exchange, or study abroad, programs will pay a program fee instead of UWM tuition and may also be charged for room and board while abroad. Each short-term study abroad program participant, on the other hand, pays an equal share of the total cost of the program. Specific program pages will have more information on cost and budget.

Click here for more more information on cost and funding (LINK Cost & Funding).

Are there scholarships or grants available for study abroad?

Yes! There are several local, state and national scholarship and grant opportunities available for students. Application deadlines vary, so students should be sure to pay close attention to when to apply.

For more information on scholarships and grants click here (LINK Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships).

Can students apply their financial aid and scholarships to study abroad?

Yes! Most federal, state, and campus-based aid can be applied to the costs of studying on any UWM or UWM-partner study abroad program, much as if the student were still on campus. Financial aid is available to help UWM student who need assistance covering the expenses of study abroad programs. Students must meet Financial Aid Office guidelines and deadlines. Aid for summer study abroad programs is often limited.

Our office works closely with Gayla Jenkins in the Financial Aid Office at UWM. Your student is encouraged to contact Gayla ( for questions related to their own financial aid situation.

What documents will students need?

Your student will need their passport and visa (if applicable). They should make copies of these documents (for themselves and for you) which make it easier to replace them should the originals become lost or stolen.

How does the Study Abroad Office prepare students for departure?

During the application process students are able to meet with their specific program coordinator to ask any questions they may have. In addition, there are pre-departure orientations that each student going abroad is required to attend.

Click here for more information on the orientations and what they cover (LINK Getting Ready to Go)

What should (or shouldn't) they pack?

Your student should think about the weather as well as what kind of clothing is culturally acceptable. They should avoid packing valuable and other things that cannot be replaced. It is a good idea to check the airline regulations to ensure that their baggage meets the requirements. Generally they should pack enough for their stay, but not too much extra.

What will it be like at their destination?

Each destination is unique. Your student should research information on the culture, food, weather and any other characteristics of the city and country. It may also be helpful to reach out to other people who have visited there, especially if they have participated in the same program. If your student is going on an exchange, there may be exchange students from that university at UWM that they could connect with as well.

How will the student get around?

This will depend on the program and what kind of area they are traveling to. If they are traveling with a group, the leader will likely be helping them get to and from destinations throughout the duration of the program. If your student is traveling independently, it is a good idea to research the area. Many urban areas will likely have easy access to public transportation.

How do I contact my student in case of an emergency?

Before your student leaves, be sure to discuss how you will contact each other in case of an emergency. It is also a good idea to have contact information for the program and the Study Abroad Office at UWM as well.

Will they be safe? Is there an emergency evacuation plan?

Yes, the behavior and precautions they take can put them less at risk. Many problems can be avoided by using common sense. Research the specific risks in the country they will be visiting so that they will know what to look out for. The Study Abroad Office cares about the safety of its students and would not send students to a dangerous area.

Many programs have their own specific plan in case students need to be evacuated from the program site. The program should have more specific information about their evacuation plan.

For more information on health and safety click here (LINK Preparing for Everyday Life).

How will they stay in touch?

There are many ways to stay in touch, like e-mail. International calling may be expensive. Skype is a great alternative that allows you to call phones and chat via voice and even web cameras. Try to maintain regular contact and be sure to discuss a communication plan before the student leaves.

Click for more information on staying in touch (LINK Information for Family & Friends).

What if a student gets homesick?

Your student will probably experience some degree of homesickness while they are gone. This is totally normal. Being supportive and positive in addition to encouraging them to make friends and try new things will help them adjust.

How can I help my student re-enter and readjust?

Just like your student will probably experience some degree of culture shock when they are abroad, it is completely normal and very likely that they may experience some reverse culture shock while the readjust to home. They will have changed and certainly their perspective will have changed as well. It is important to be supportive and understanding as they readjust.

Click here for more information on re-entry (LINK Welcome Back!).

How can they use and market their experience?

Study abroad is a great addition to a resume. In addition, your student may find that they are interested in more globally-focused careers.

For career resources click here (LINK International Careers).