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Students: Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a topic below to find some of the commonly asked questions students have pertaining to study abroad! Looking for a particular topic? Click on one of the sections outlined below to be directed to that area of this page! 

Can I study abroad if I do not speak a foreign language?

Absolutely yes! Ninety percent of our programs are English-based, and typically each university will offer some type of intensive beginner’s course for those who want to learn the native language to help you around town abroad. So, not speaking a foreign language should not hinder you from enjoying an exciting learning experience abroad.

Where can I study abroad?

Almost anywhere. The Study Abroad Center offers over 70 programs to foreign universities in 30+ different countries and regions. For more information, click on "programs".

Do I need a specific major to study abroad?

No, students from all majors are welcome to study abroad, but it does help to know what courses you would like to take abroad and how they will help you obtain your degree. You can also receive credit for the liberal arts core and electives that are necessary to graduate. Generally speaking, your liberal arts core classes are the easiest to transfer back to UNI. We have students of ALL majors studying abroad. Also, some major-specific programs have special scholarships.

When am I allowed to study abroad? Is there a best time?

We strongly encourage students to plan on studying abroad earlier in their academic career when they have more academic flexibility. Students may start studying abroad during their second semester of their freshman year, though our office recommends that students wait until their first semester of their sophomore year. However, do not worry if you wait, as there are many programs that benefit upper classmen as well!

No, not necessarily. Many programs are taught in English in non-English speaking countries as well as there being many programs offered in English speaking countries. Some programs, however, are only taught in the native language. In those programs you will be required to have some foreign language skills in order to participate. Some programs are conducted in English, but they encourage you to take a class to learn the language of the country. Some offer language programs at NO COST to UNI students.

Can I still graduate on time if I study abroad?

Yes. With the help of your academic advisor and the Study Abroad Center staff, you can plan ahead and align your classes with your individual plan of study so that the courses taken abroad will transfer back to UNI and count towards the requirements of your major, minor, or LAC. The Study Abroad Center staff will help you with making the necessary course equivalency arrangements before you go abroad. We recommend all students to be aware of their college’s academic requirements based on their degree audit found on MyUNIverse. Upperclassmen are also recommended to visit their record analyst in the Registrar's Office to see what requirements remain in order to graduate.

Can I study abroad the summer after I graduate?

Yes, it is possible to study abroad after graduation, though it takes a bit of coordination. Many students choose to participate in a program after their planned graduation date. Summer instructor-led programs, for example, are popular programs amongst students who graduate in May. If the course is required for graduation, students may participate in the spring term commencement ceremony, but their degree will not be conferred until after their final grades for the study abroad course have been submitted for the summer term. Also, students may study abroad for a semester after finishing their degree requirements and decide to delay their actual graduation. Many students do not want to stress over the academics while they are studying abroad and this option allows students to take courses outside of their major, and that are of special interest. Please see the Study Abroad Center to discuss more details.

Is there a limit to the number of times I can study abroad?

No, students are not limited in how many programs they can participate in study abroad programs. It is recommended, however, that you meet regularly with your academic advisor. Additionally, upperclassmen should meet with a Record Analyst in the Registrar's Office to verify what course requirements are left for them to qualify for graduation.

What are the requirements to study abroad?

You need to have departmental approval, a 2.5 GPA (for most programs) and be a current UNI student. That said, UNI study abroad programs are open to students of other universities. Some programs may have additional specific admission requirements. Please check with SAC for specific program eligibility requirements.

How do I apply?

Almost anywhere. The study abroad application is online. Find the program of your choice and click the "Apply Now" button at the top right corner. For instructor-led programs, you will need to attend one Abroad 101 session befor your application is ready for consideration of acceptance. For semester, academic-year, and summer school, you will need to meet with a Study Abroad Advisor. For more information, click on "programs".

How do I make an appointment in the Study Abroad Center?

Please contact us by calling, emailing, or visiting our office to begin the advising process. New applicants will be required to complete our Study Abroad Pre-Advising Worksheet before their interview. Advising staff availability for taking appointments varies considerably so please allow for additional time and flexibility when scheduling your appointment.

View the "apply now" section for more details on applying! The Study Abroad application is completely online. Select the program of your choice under the program page and then click the "Apply Now" button at the top right corner of this page to get started! You will need to attend one Abroad 101 info session before your application can be submitted and considered for acceptance. Your submitted online application and $75 non-refundable application fee (and for instructor-led programs the applicable deposit) is needed to be officially accepted. All programs are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

What is Abroad 101?

Abroad 101 info sessions are a requirement for all study abroad program applicants. Students may begin a study abroad application at any time, but they cannot submit their application for consideration until they’ve attended an Abroad 101 session. Abroad 101 is an important presentation covering the study abroad preparation process and includes information on how to apply, financial aid, budgeting, etc. The SAC runs many information sessions and promotional events, but attendance at those events cannot be substituted for the Abroad 101 requirement. Study abroad applicants not currently taking classes at UNI should contact the SAC to arrange an Abroad 101 by phone or using video chat. Group Prep Semester and Group Prep Short-Term Are required critical information sessions for “committed” status students and present specific traveler information.

What do I do after I have applied?

See the Application Process page

How do I move from pending documents and what’s next?

A student must complete all “pre-decision” elements of their study abroad application, pay all applicable fees for their program type, and attend an Abroad 101 session before being considered for acceptance. At that point their application status moves forward from the “pending documents” phase and they will be considered for acceptance into their program. Upon acceptance students will be asked to “commit” to their program – it is only when students “commit” that their spot in a program is secured. Please note, the application review and acceptance process requires a manual status change and it may not reflect on your application a few days.

How do I know if I've completed my application?

You will know that the pre-decision portion of your application is complete, when you are asked to “commit” to your program via an email from SAC. If you are unsure of the status of any particular item on your application you may call us or email us to find out what item require completion.

What do I need completed by the deadline?

You need to have completed all “pre-decision” elements of your study abroad application on our website, paid all fees applicable to your program, and attended an Abroad 101 session before the published application deadline. On your application, there will be additional materials, questionnaires, and learning content that you must begin working on after you “commit” to your program and before you depart, but these are not due by the application deadline. Participants in semester and academic year programs will have additional requirements to complete and should check with their advisor for related due dates and foreign university application deadlines. Work with your study abroad advisor to see what else is necessary for your program. Do not forget to complete your scholarship applications by the scholarship application deadline too!

How long does it take for Abroad 101 to be checked off?

After attending an Abroad 101 in person, our office staff will check it off on your Study Abroad Application. This is done manually, so it may take up to a week before it is checked off.

What if I cannot attend an Abroad 101 session?

If you are unable to attend an Abroad 101 in person, email or call our front desk to arrange for a remote Abroad 101 via phone or video chat. The Abroad 101 requirement can only be fulfilled through a live presentation with the SAC advising staff.

How long does it take for my payment to check off?

Payment of your study abroad application fee and any applicable pre-program deposit must be made online, and once the page refreshes your payment should be checked off automatically. If you encounter any difficulty with the online payment process, please contact the SAC. Be sure to take note of the time and date you made your payment attempt. If your payment attempt fails, please wait before making another attempt in order to help prevent erroneous billing.

How do I secure my spot in my program?

For all study abroad programs a student must “commit” to their program for their spot to be secured. Students will not be asked to “commit” to their program until all their study abroad application has been reviewed and accepted. Study abroad applications are not considered for review and acceptance until all “pre-decision” elements have been completed, all applicable fees have been paid, and the student has attended an Abroad 101 session.

What are Regents fees?

See the Regent's Fee Section of the website. 

Semester and Academic Year Program Differentiation

Exchange: Students pay UNI tuition, UNI has an agreement with the university. Regent’s Programs: Program is coordinated with the University of Iowa and Iowa State, tuition is at a higher rate. Partnerships: Student pays for foreign school’s tuition, not UNI’s. Student either pays directly to the foreign school or UNI will be billed. Affiliate: Private Organization, Students still need to apply to UNI Study Abroad Center, Please note, these are often more expensive than UNI study abroad programs.

What courses can I study while abroad?

Programs are designed to accommodate Liberal Arts Core (LAC), many major or minor plans of study, and any major elective course options that will satisfy degree requirements. For more information, see Programs by Major.

If I study abroad, will I miss out on the next semester's registration?

No. Students should enroll for the next semester's courses on MyUNIverse as long as there are no holds (academic advising, past due balance, etc.) If a student needs assistance while abroad with registering, please contact his/her study abroad advisor.

I have been back at UNI for a while and my grades have not posted. What should I do?

First, confirm with the Study Abroad Center that your transcript has arrived from abroad. Transcripts can take six to eight weeks to process, and processing times vary considerably

  1. If your transcript has NOT arrived, the SAC will contact the foreign university and verify that your transcript was sent to the correct UNI SAC address.
  2. If your transcript is on file in the SAC, we can follow up with the UNI entities who process study abroad grades and make sure there are no issues that need to be addressed.

How many of my credits will transfer?

Short-term instructor-led courses, such as capstones, are UNI courses and so all credit earned is UNI credit. Semester and academic year programs at foreign universities, however, involve the student taking classes at another university which in turn must be transferred back to UNI. Arranging to have overseas credits transfer back requires close coordination between several departments as well as the correct completion of a Study Abroad Transfer Course Approval form. The first step is for the student to meet with their academic advisor, and a record analyst when recommended, to determine their course choices. Students then must meet with the department head of all courses for which they intend on earning major or minor degree credit – or major/minor elective credit. During this meeting, the student will present the courses they are interested in taking and information on the course (such as online description or syllabus). Department head will review the material and sign off on classes that may transfer on the Transfer Course Approval form. Courses taken to fulfill LAC course requirements are approved by Admissions.

If a student wants to take a foreign language while abroad, they will also meet with a member of the Modern Language Department, provide the same information they would for the Transfer Course Approval form, and have the Modern Language advisor sign off on the classes. Each of these forms should be given to staff in the Study Abroad Center.

When will my Study Abroad Center scholarship appear?

Financial aid appears based on their schedule of dispersing aid. The Study Abroad Center also offers scholarships that appear on the student’s U-Bill based on the same financial award schedule.

How do I withdraw?

Login into the application system
Click on the “Withdraw” button on the right hand side of the program name
Indicate your reason for withdrawing (required)
$75 application fee, and when applicable the $100 pre-program deposit, is non-refundable

Can I get a refund?

See the refund section of this website.

How much will it cost to study abroad?

Cost varies according to the type of program. For more information on how much a particular program may cost you should view the “Program Cost” section by visiting your selected program’s webpage and clicking the appropriate term in the upper left hand corner. Some additional factors affecting program cost for students to consider are the standard of living in the country/region of your program and if UNI tuition applies to the program.

Will my UNI Financial Aid and Scholarships apply toward Study Abroad?

UNI Financial Aid and Scholarships will apply in almost every Study Abroad program. There are also a variety of special study abroad scholarships available.

Can I pay online for my airfare?

Depending on how your airfare is booked, you may pay online, in-person, or by phone. Please contact your airline or travel agent for purchase instructions. For our short-term instructor-led programs, students will be notified of when it is okay for them to purchase their airfare. Typically the clearance and instructions to purchase airfare are given once the group is full and the program’s itinerary finalized. While every effort will be made to allow for the most advance airfare purchase possible, in order to maximize price selection, some programs may be slow to fill beyond their minimum capacity and some programs feature especially complex itineraries that take longer to finalize. The SAC encourages students to search multiple airlines and travel services, like those geared towards student travel such as Student Universe. Our office also urges students to consider different departure airports here in the States, especially larger hub airports such as Chicago, Des Moines, and Minneapolis/St. Paul where and when possible.

Will my airfare go to my U-bill?

No, airfare cannot be put on your U-bill.

Can I pay the application fee online?

Yes, this is our preferred method of payment. You can pay the application fee on our website by logging into your application, clicking on the $75 non-refundable application fee and pay with a credit/debit card. This fee cannot be charged to your U-bill.

Can I pay the short-term pre-program deposit/airfare deposit online?

Yes, this is our preferred method of payment. You can pay the program/airfare deposit on our website by logging into your application, clicking on the deposit and pay with a credit/debit card. This deposit cannot be charged to your U-bill. Pre-program deposits are only for instructor-led programs.

Can I pay for my program expenses online?

Your billable program expenses will be charged to your U-bill. You can bill the billing schedule here

Who arranges my airfare?

For all but a select few study abroad programs, students will arrange their own airfare. Our office can provide tips and suggested companies and will also work with our partners overseas to assist with dates and airport pick up arrangements.

What is the procedure for my UNI on-campus housing before I study abroad next semester?

To officially cancel your on-campus housing there is an Intent to Cancel form that you must fill out at your Residential Hall Office. There should be no fees to do this (including the Two-Year Advantage Plan), but contact the Department of Residence to confirm all plans regarding your semester abroad.

What is a visa? How do I get one?

A visa is an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country. The student will work closely with the Study Abroad Student Support Specialist who is in charge of Visas. Depending on the requirements of the specific consulate, SAC staff will either take them to the closest U.S. consulate or the student themselves will have to make an appointment with the specific country’s consulate. The closest consulate for most countries is in Chicago. Typically, visas are only needed if students are staying more than a month in a specific country, although this requirement can vary widely.

Can I get my passport here?

No, we can scan passports to upload to their study abroad application profile but they would have to formally apply at a county clerk’s office, courthouse, or some post offices. Students need not apply in Black Hawk county, they may also apply at their home county’s respective office for a U.S. Passport. Courthouse/county clerk offices are usually the better option as not all U.S. Post Offices offer this service.