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Frequently Asked Questions





What is study abroad?

Michigan State University's study abroad program offers students the opportunity to earn credit in an international setting. Through the Office of Study Abroad, MSU students can take classes, conduct research, get involved in community engagement or participate in internships all over the world while earning credit necessary for graduation.

Several types of programs are available at MSU:

  1. Faculty-led programs - As the name suggests, faculty-led programs are run and taught by MSU faculty who lead a group of MSU students abroad. While on their program, students will directly earn MSU credit and pay the same rate in MSU tuition that they do on campus. Usually, faculty-led programs run either over the summer or winter/spring breaks and sometimes involve traveling to multiple countries.
  2. Partner programs (exchange / direct enroll) - This type of program allows an MSU student to apply, through the Office of Study Abroad, to a foreign university, enroll in that university as a student, and take classes at said host institution. Direct enrollment/exchange programs do not always require knowledge of a foreign language even though students will be attending a foreign university as many classes are offered in English. Before you leave to participate, you will be required to complete a form specifying which classes you intend to take and how the classes will transfer over to MSU credit. Since many students have completed partner programs, courses that have already been approved can be found on MSU's credit transfer site. See our student handbook for information on coursework based on program type.
  3. International Internships - For more information and FAQ about our international internship opportunities, see MSU International Academic Internships.
  4. Community Engagement
  5. Research

Where can I study abroad?

MSU offers 275 study abroad programs in over 60 countries on all seven continents. Every day MSU students are earning credit all over the world, from Ghana to Spain to China. On our website, you can complete a "Program Search" and look through all available programs by selecting the country where you would like to study abroad.

What can I study?

MSU offers study abroad programs that are applicable to all majors. The best way to find out which programs offer credit in your major is to go to our "Program Search" and enter your major or the subject you wish to earn credit in and begin searching your options. The program description of each search result will detail the courses offered and the number of credits you will earn while abroad.

Where would I stay while abroad?

Accommodations abroad vary from program to program. Types of housing can include home stays, hotels, university dorms, or off-campus housing such as an apartment. For each program, the type of housing available for students will be specified on the online program description. Each housing opportunity has its own advantages, for example, home stays provide students with the opportunity to further their foreign language skills while foreign university dorms may provide a great chance for MSU students to meet other students from around the world.

Can I participate in MSU's study abroad if I am not an MSU student?

Yes, you can! Most programs will accept students from other universities; however, it is important to use the program search appropriately to get an accurate list as there are a few programs only open to MSU students. When searching, be sure to use the "non-MSU student" option on the search criteria. This will ensure your results only lists programs "open to all students." As long as you meet the other listed requirements, such as GPA and class status, you are welcome to apply. It should be noted that unfortunately, non-MSU students are not eligible to apply for OSA-sponsored scholarships.

Do I need to know a foreign language to study abroad?

Study abroad is a great opportunity for students who would like to develop their foreign language skills; however, knowing a foreign language is not a requirement for all study abroad programs. Some programs may require a certain level of proficiency in a different language and this information can be found on the description found in the program search.

Do I have to study abroad within my major?

No. While many students prefer to study abroad in their major, it is not a requirement. As long as you meet the specific requirements for the individual program (for example, you have completed prerequisite classes), you can apply. Some programs will give preference to students who are in the college that is sponsoring the program, but we encourage you to apply to a program that interests you. Students can complete credit that goes towards a minor or a specialization or they can earn credit that accounts for Integrative Studies requirements (such as ISS, IAH, ISB, ISP classes) or elective credit.

When should I study abroad?

MSU offers study abroad programs that run during a full semester (fall or spring), over breaks (winter break or spring break), for an entire academic year (fall and spring semester), or over the summer for varying lengths (3-weeks to 12-weeks from May to August). In terms of the "best time" to study abroad, it depends on each student's own academic program. If you are concerned about when to study abroad, be sure to consult your academic adviser for your major as they can help plan most effectively.

Who can I talk to for more information?

If you have any questions about study abroad or are having problems with your application, you can stop by the Study Abroad Advising Center in room 108 of the International Center. The Advising Center is staffed by Peer Advisers who help students on a walk-in basis from 9:00am - 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. All of the Peer Advisers have studied abroad and would be more than happy to tell you about their experiences, answer your questions, and give you advice. If the PAs cannot answer your question, they can help direct you to the correct person to contact. The PAs can also show you evaluations that past participants have completed to give you a better look at a program that interests you.

If you are interested in a specific study abroad program, check the calendar for Information Meetings. Further questions regarding your specific study abroad program may be best answered by the program leader in charge. Their contact information can be found on the program description.

Additionally, OSA will host special events throughout the year to provide students with plenty of information about study abroad! Keep an eye out for our Study Abroad Fair which takes place each September. The fair features program leaders, OSA staff, past participants, and information tables for virtually all programs! We like to call it a "one-stop shopping experience."


Is financial aid applicable?

Yes, financial aid is completely applicable to study abroad. In fact, in 2009-10, over half of the students who studied abroad through MSU used financial aid to help pay for their program. While completing your online application, you will be asked if you plan on using financial aid to study abroad if you have completed a FAFSA for the semester you will be abroad. If you answer "yes" to both of these questions, the Office of Study Abroad will send a budget of your program to the Office of Financial Aid and they will arrange a financial aid package for you. If you have any questions regarding the status of your financial aid and you have already completed the study abroad application, it would be best to contact the Office of Financial Aid directly or stop by the Student Services building where they have available walk-in advising hours. Visit using Financial Aid for Study Abroad for more information.

Can I get scholarships to study abroad?

Yes! The Office of Study Abroad offers two different types of scholarships: those based on financial need and those based on academic merit. Students who have a 2.5 GPA or higher and a current FAFSA on file are eligible to apply for the financial need-based scholarships and students who have a 3.5 GPA or higher and write the required 600 word essay can apply for the academic merit scholarships. Visit the OSA-sponsored scholarships page for more information. We estimate that 30-40% of students that apply for our scholarships receive some financial support. The amount of money a student receives depends on which scholarships they are applying for and also on the duration of their program. The academic merit scholarship can be competitive, so it is important to write a strong essay. Unlike the study abroad program applications, scholarship applications are not accepted on a rolling basis, so be sure to take your time and write a quality essay!

For other scholarships not offered directly through OSA, visit our Scholarships page. This page will link you to study abroad scholarships offered by other colleges within MSU or scholarships that may not be sponsored by MSU directly. This page also shows the scholarship deadlines for the MSU OSA scholarships.

How much does study abroad cost?

Despite common misconception, study abroad is affordable! Students who study abroad will pay the same amount per credit hour abroad as they do here on campus in East Lansing. The additional costs of a program will depend on two main aspects: the duration of the program and the cost of living in the host country. For students looking to save money, it may be more cost effective to study abroad to a country where the cost of living is cheaper than that of East Lansing. If you're interested in a program, the estimated cost should appear on the online program description. For a more comprehensive breakdown of the Program Fee and Additional Costs, you can stop by the Advising Center (room 108 of the International Center) and ask one of the Peer Advisers for a program budget. If you are concerned with the cost of a program, be sure to look at scholarship and Financial Aid opportunities!


How do I apply?

All students will apply to Study Abroad online via the Student Portal. In order to complete the online application, you will have to create an account using your MSU NetID by clicking on the "Register" button on the left side of the screen. Once you have made your account, you will be able to begin your application. When you apply, a $100.00 application fee will be billed to your student account.

When should I apply?

Applications for study abroad programs are accepted on a rolling basis, so the earlier you apply, the better! Application deadlines are as follows: October 15th for Winter Break and Spring Semester programs; February 1st for Spring Break programs; March 1st for Fall Semester, Academic Year, and summer programs. For Internship programs, the application deadline can vary, so be sure to check online! Some programs will fill up before the deadline, so remember to apply early! Once you have applied to your program, be sure to apply for the OSA scholarships.

I've been accepted to my study abroad program, now what?

Congratulations on your acceptance! In order to be fully accepted into the program, you will have two weeks to complete a Decision Form. The Decision Form can be found and submitted online in your My Study Abroad account. Using this form, you will have three options: accept your place in the program, transfer your application to a different program, or withdraw from the program completely. If you accept your place in the program, you will be billed a non-refundable $200.00 deposit and will be on your way to studying abroad! If you transfer your application, you can apply to a different program without paying another $100.00 application fee; however, this does not guarantee your acceptance into the program to which you are now applying. Finally, if you withdraw from the program, you will be dis-enrolled from the program and refunded your $100.00 application fee.

After applying, how long will it take to find out if I have been accepted?

Because programs accept students on a rolling basis, the earlier you apply, the earlier you may find out about your application status. However, because applications are approved by the program leaders and not the Office of Study Abroad staff, we cannot provide a specific timeline in terms of when you will find out if you have been accepted. Some program leaders will accept students on a monthly basis, others may only accept students every couple of months. As a result, some students may hear of their acceptance earlier than others. However, rest assured if applied on time, you will be notified of your acceptance in plenty of time to complete all necessary requirements.

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