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The Basics




Who can study abroad?

All enrolled UWM students in good academic and disciplinary standing are eligible to study abroad. Acceptance criteria and deadlines vary from program to program. Exchange programs usually require a 3.0 GPA and study abroad programs a 2.5. When planning to study abroad make sure to investigate the requirements for any program of interest.

Where can I go?

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

When can I study abroad?

You can choose between Fall, Spring, Academic Year, UWinteriM, Summer, and Spring Break programs. You must complete at least two semesters of regular coursework at UWM in order to qualify to study abroad (only one semester if you are a new transfer student) so that you are able to adjust to UWM before trying to adjust to an entirely new country and academic setting.

What is the difference between study abroad and exchange programs?

Generally study abroad is a generic term for academic programs overseas.  At UWM we distinguish between exchange and study abroad programs.  Exchange programs involve the exchange of students between UWM and a partner university abroad so when you go to a partner institution overseas for a semester or year, and one student from that institution comes to UWM. Only fully-matriculated UWM students may participate in UWM exchange programs. Each student pays normal UWM tuition, plus the cost of room and board at the host campus.  Non-exchange, or study abroad programs, do not involve international students coming to UWM.  Instead, students on these programs simply go abroad and pay the cost of that program to either UWM or the program sponsor. Non-exchange programs typically cost more than exchange programs.

How long is a study abroad program?

Short-term programs, usually led by UWM professors, typically last between three and six weeks and take place during the summer or UWinteriM. Semester and Academic Year programs are also available. Both long and short programs have their merits. Short-term programs are often less expensive and 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 you spend abroad will depend on your particular needs and goals, your financial resources, as well as the limits placed on you by your academic program at UWM.

Can I improve my language skills abroad?

Absolutely! Studying in a country where you would be immersed in the language is the best way for you to maximize and improve your language skills and competency.  UWM offers various programs in which students have the opportunity to continue learning and improving in many modern languages.  These programs generally require a minimum of 4 to 5 semesters of college level language study or the equivalent.

I only speak English. Can I still study abroad?

Yes! UWM has several study abroad programs in English speaking countries, including 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, Korea, Sweden, and others.

Where will I live if I study abroad?

Living arrangements vary by program. For short-term programs, lodging is typically provided in hotels and youth hostels.  For longer term programs the 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 to immerse yourself 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 you will be expected to conform to the rules and norms of the family, which will certainly be different from your own family. Private rooms or apartments generally offer the most freedom, but they are usually the most expensive and difficult to arrange. Students must make their own arrangements and must often pay a sizeable deposit before being allowed to move in.

Will I have to delay graduation if I study abroad?

Not necessarily. With careful planning, you can remain on track to graduate in four years. Some of our study abroad students have even finished their undergraduate education in less than 4 years! We advise students to start planning early and to work closely with their college and academic advisers to design the best course of study that will ensure that they remain on track toward graduation. Some students find that it is best for them to remain at UWM for an extra 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.

Will I have health insurance while I am overseas?

The UW Board of Regents requires that all students studying abroad be covered by Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), 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.

If I have a disability, can I study abroad?

The quick answer is yes! Please visit our office so we can help you determine the program that best suits you and can meet your needs. You can also find more information through the SAC website here.

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Will I remain enrolled at UWM while I am abroad?

If you choose a UWM program, you will be registered as a UWM student and can use financial aid. If you choose a non-UWM program, there is a separate application and program fee that is necessary to maintain enrollment, transfer credits, advising, and orientation. You will initially be registered for a 12-credit placeholder course in PAWS that is used to generate eligibility for financial aid. Upon your return and submission of an official university transcript to the CIE Study Abroad Office, the transfer credit and courses will be placed on your UWM record.

Are there specific programs for my major?

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 many different subject areas. We also offer some programs that are focused on certain subjects, such as the arts, social sciences, business, or foreign language. The best way to find out what subjects are offered is to browse 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.

Do I have to take courses in my major?

No! Many of our students have gone abroad and taken elective courses and found that they enjoyed learning something completely different than what they would have taken at UWM. While it is important to ensure that you 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. Work with your academic advisor to assess your options.

How do I receive credit for studying abroad?

On UWM-sponsored exchange and study abroad programs you will be registered as a UWM student and earn 3 to 18 UWM credits depending on the length of the program. Non-UWM program students will receive transfer credit. This is a very important distinction in many majors and minors, so it is important that you speak with your academic advisor. All courses taken abroad will come back as electives; if you need a course taken abroad to count as a specific UWM course, you must complete the Course Equivalency Form. This form will allow you to have courses approved by relevant faculty before you leave.

Credit for non-UWM programs will transfer as long as:

  1. Your program is sponsored by an accredited institution
  2. You earn passing grades in courses taken abroad
  3. Your grades are verified by an official transcript from the host university
  4. The work done overseas does not duplicate previous work
  5. You obtained UWM departmental approval for all completed coursework

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How will my grades earned abroad affect my GPA?

All the grades that a UWM student receives while abroad on a UWM program will appear on his/her transcript and be calculated into their grade point average. If you participate in a non-UWM sponsored program you will earn transfer credits and your grades will not count toward your GPA.

Do I have to be a junior to study abroad?

No. Students are eligible to study abroad any time after completing two semesters at UWM, although some programs require junior standing to participate. Transfer students are eligible to study abroad at any time after their first semester at UWM.

How do I register for my next semester at UWM while I'm abroad?

UWM students may register for the next semester's courses via PAWS the same way they would at home. You must take into account, however, any time differences between Milwaukee and where you will be studying. Maintenance is often scheduled late at night in Central Standard Time and therefore you may have to plan your usage accordingly. Furthermore, PAWS will work only on computers that are in the English language, so you must set your computer to the English language to use PAWS. Alternatively, you can change the three-letter code in the URL for PAWS to "lang=ENG" to trick the computer and use PAWS.

How do I apply?

Application instructions vary slightly by program type and some have additional requirements.  For the most accurate information on applying for a program, visit our application webpage.

When is the application deadline?

For Academic Year, Fall and Summer programs, the application deadline is March 15th. For Spring and UWinteriM programs, the application deadline is October 15th. Some exchanges require a host institution application which may be due before UWM’s deadline and therefore those programs may have an earlier application deadline. Check the program page to make sure you know when the correct deadline is.  Scholarship applications may not correspond with program application deadlines, so be sure to research them carefully.

When should I apply for a passport?

All students wishing to participate in a study abroad program must have a valid passport by their departure date. Those without a valid passport should apply for one as soon as possible as it takes several weeks for the passport application to be processed and the document delivered. Please refer to U.S. Department of State website for a passport application, instructions, and additional information. Failure to apply for a passport before your UWM application deadline will result in your ineligibility to participate.

Please note that although it is prohibited for students to leave the country without a valid passport, we accept a receipt for the passport application at the time of your UWM application deadline. Once you receive your passport, you must scan it and replace the copy of your application receipt immediately.

Keep in mind that some countries require a visa in which case you may be required to have a valid passport by UWM's application deadline. Please check your program requirements and contact your study abroad coordinator if you have questions related to visas and/or passports.

Our office takes passport photos at very competitive prices!

Will I need a visa to study abroad?

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 you have the visa you need to cover your stay outside the United States.

What if I am not accepted to a program? Do I lose my deposit?

Deposits are due at the time of application for all UWM study abroad programs.  If, for any reason, you are not accepted to the program you have applied for, your original deposit is fully refundable.  If you are accepted to a program and then sign the confirmation paperwork, your deposit and a portion of the program fee charged to your 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 you 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.

How much will it 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, 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.

Are there scholarships and grants for study abroad?

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

For more information on scholarships and grants, see this page.

Can I apply my 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 the same as if you were still on campus. Financial aid is available to help UWM students 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. Please contact Gayla ( for questions related to your own financial aid situation.