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Participating in Non-MSU Study Abroad Programs

Items to consider when selecting a non-MSU study abroad program
Application process
Preliminary advising
Transfer of credits
Insurance coverage
Financial Aid
Safety Abroad
Returning to MSU

Students will apply online by going to (

MSU Students Applying to Non-MSU Programs in Countries with Travel Warnings

To participate in a study abroad program sponsored through a university or institution other than Michigan State University, complete the following steps to ensure proper registration, transfer of credits, and financial aid distribution. The Office of Study Abroad assists with the process indicated in this handout and assumes the sponsoring agency assists with all other services associated with participation in your chosen program. The University assumes no responsibility or liability for programs not sponsored by Michigan State University.

Items to Consider When Selecting a Non-MSU Study Abroad Program

Before deciding to participate in a non-MSU program, be sure to check out the latest up-to-date listing of MSU programs. New programs are continually being developed and due to the ease and support provided for MSU programs, it is best to make sure you have exhausted that option before considering other programs. If you decide to participate in a non-MSU program, there are ten simple, but important, items to consider as you make your selection.

  1. Resources. Make sure you have investigated all resources. Visit the MSU Office of Study Abroad Advising Center (108 International Center) to review your options. There you will find several useful resource books published by IIE Passport and Peterson's. Additionally, you may wish to check out the following Web sites: Diversity Abroad (, Committee on Institutional Cooperation (, CIEE (, Go Abroad (, Petersons (, (, IIE (, (, (, and MSU globalEDGETM (
  2. Sponsor. If the poster or Web site is flashy but the sponsoring U.S. college/university appears in small print, who is responsible for the program's academic standards? Call the sponsor and find out who issues the transcript. Contact Transfer Credit Evaluation Unit in the Office of Admission or use the attached Credit Evaluation Form to determine whether the agency, university, or organization issuing the transcript has been approved by Michigan State. The sponsor (in most cases, a U.S. sponsor), not the host institution abroad, is the organization with legal, financial and administrative responsibility for the program.
  3. Host Institution. Although the sponsor may be a US institution, the actual classes and instruction may take place at a host institution. If it's during the summer, find out if the instruction is part of the host institution's regular schedule or whether the classes just happen to be offered in classrooms rented from the host institution. Foreign universities often suspend regular operations during the summer months, when their facilities may be available to anyone willing to pay the rent. In this case, the host institution may not actually be involved in the curriculum at all. This information may not alter the quality of the program, but it is important to know as you make your selection. In some cases the site will only list a city: this normally means that there is no host institution.
  4. Courses. Ask the sponsor for course descriptions and syllabi (if available), including the number of contact hours, curriculum and instructor. This will help to give you an idea of the seriousness of the academics and aid you with determining the MSU equivalencies.
  5. Student Body. Most materials indicate whether the composition of the student body is "mainly host country", "international", or "mainly US". The make-up of the group will dramatically influence your experience, so it is important to decide which student body you prefer.
  6. Eligibility. In some cases, materials will indicate "own students" only. Although this may be the general rule, exceptions might be made, so it is worth investigating. Call the sponsor and find out if a special case can be arranged.
  7. Housing. Find out as much as possible about the accommodations. All the necessary information may be available on the web or in a brochure, but find out: if the rooms are shared or single; how far the housing is from the classrooms and what type of transportation is available; whether study facilities are available; if there are inexpensive eating places nearby; whether meals are included with the housing and if so, how many and which meals per day; whether there is an established policy to deal with difficult homestays or housing; whether the host family will converse in English or another language; if there are communal facilities such as bathrooms, kitchens, common rooms, etc. and how many students usually use each facility; etc.
  8. Charge. There are many variations to the description of charges. Is there an estimate of the total expenses? Read the small print. Find out exactly what is covered, and more importantly, what is NOT covered. For example, are there periods of time abroad NOT covered by the inclusive fee? Will you have to pay for transportation to and from the classrooms each day? What does "some meals" mean: one or two meals a day and which ones? Always contact the sponsor directly for the most current information regarding charges. Ask about refund policies: is there a nonrefundable application fee? Will tuition and program fees be refunded if circumstances force you to drop out of the program? Make sure these policies are clearly written and do not rely on verbal explanations.
  9. Contact. Is there a name of a responsible person or just a title - or not even that? Is there a street address or just a postal number? Is there a telephone, e-mail and web site? Make sure you can contact someone with all your questions.
  10. Evaluations. The best way to evaluate a program is by contacting former participants. Ask for the name and contact information of last year's participants and call several students to find out about the program. They will tell you what it was really like!

Application Process

You must submit your application forms, completed Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Course Approval Form, and financial aid forms (if applicable) by the following deadlines. Only complete applications will be accepted. Applications will not be accepted less than 30 days before departure.

Summer participation: March 1
Fall semester or Academic year participation: August 1
Winter or Spring participation: October 15

Please note that since the OSA scholarship deadlines are October 15th and March 1st and require that you submit an application, you may wish to apply before these dates.

Preliminary Advising

Before selecting a program, review Ten Items to Consider when Selecting a Non-MSU Study Abroad Program. Check out the resources indicated on Item #1 and speak with Nick Schrader who can assist you with the books and resources available for your choice selection. Nick will also go through this packet of information and answer most of your preliminary questions. Please contact to discuss procedures in detail. Please note that if you chose a program located in a country with a Travel Warning ( MSU will not support your study in that country. Should you decide to study there you will be allowed to transfer credit (based on the following procedures) but MSU will not grant you financial aid, scholarships or insurance coverage.


  1. Contact the program sponsor and ask who issues the transcript. Contact the MSU Transfer Credit Evaluation Unit (TCEU) in the Office of Admissions, 250 Administration Building, to determine whether the agency, university, or organization issuing the transcript has been approved by Michigan State University. You may need to provide the Office of Admissions with a basic description of your study abroad program to determine whether it is approved. Please note that MSU may NOT accept transfer credits from foreign language institutes, non-degree institutes, and non-recognized agencies abroad. TCEU will tell you if your program falls into one of these categories. If your program is sponsored by an accredited U.S. sponsor at one of these locations (ex: U of M at Madrid Language Institute), contact the sponsor (U of M) and ask whether the course credit is institutional credit (U of M credit) or transfer credit (Madrid Language Institute credit transferred to U of M). In most cases MSU will accept only institutional credit.
  2. Check Transfer MSU ( to determine whether the courses you have selected have been previously approved and have had MSU equivalencies determined. If you find a course and equivalency, you will still need to have the course reevaluated and approved using the Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Course Approval Form.

Please note: Steps 3 and 4 may take as long as 4-6 weeks to complete, so allow sufficient time.

  1. Make an appointment with your academic adviser to assist you with program selection, transfer of credit determination, and completion of the Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Course Approval Form (available from the Office of Study Abroad). You must provide course descriptions and syllabi to the departments to which you want to transfer credit. For example, if you are taking a chemistry course, speak with the chemistry department, even if you are a James Madison College major. Your academic adviser will guide you on how the courses fit into your program, but they are unable to evaluate and approve these transfer credits. See the list of college representatives (/../../advisers/gcaf.html) who can assist you with this form. The chair of each department recommends the equivalencies and initials the form. The Assistant Dean(s) of the appropriate college(s) grants the final approval.
    A note to seniors: The MSU Academic Programs states: "A senior who has earned sufficient credits from this University and met the minimum requirements (as stated in this publication), through prior arrangement with the associate dean of the college and the registrar, may be permitted to transfer not to exceed 10 of the last 30 credits from an accredited four-year college or university." Exceptions to this rule may be made up to a total of 15 credits, but arrangements MUST be made with the associate dean of your major college before departure. The associate dean of your college must submit a written request to the Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Education, 208 Administration Building, before an exception can be granted.
  1. Complete the Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Course Approval Form with your academic adviser, stating the courses you plan to take abroad and for which you would like to receive credit. It is best to list more courses than you intend to take so you can register for approved courses upon arrival despite possible course cancellations or schedule conflicts. Follow the directions carefully as printed on the back of the form. Please note that credits in which grades were earned of any designation less than "C" (2.0), such as C minus (less than 2.0), are not acceptable in transfer. If the form is only partially completed, registration and financial aid distribution will be based on the number of credits indicated and approved on the form. If you should change the program, sponsoring institution, and/or courses from those indicated on this form, this guarantee will no longer apply. It is your responsibility to have this form completed and signed by the respective departments, colleges, and Office of Admissions. It is recommended that you deliver and pick up the form from the Assistant Dean(s) rather than ask for the form to be forwarded. In this way, you can ensure that you have obtained the proper signatures and can make a copy for your records. The Office of Study Abroad is unable to coordinate course evaluation or obtain signatures. If you leave to go on a program without all required signatures at the bottom of the Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Course Approval Form, there is a strong possibility that you will not receive transfer credit for your program. When this form is complete you must return it to the Office of Study Abroad for final signature. The Office of Study Abroad will make a copy for you and forward a copy to your adviser, college, Registrar's Office and Office of Admissions.


Once you have obtained academic approval and all of the necessary signatures (Department Representative, Assistant Dean(s), and Office of Admissions' Representative) on your Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Course Approval Form, you should apply to the program. Submit the following items to the Office of Study Abroad only after you have been formally accepted since you will be charged a $100 non-refundable application fee by MSU. Applications will not be accepted unless all of these items are submitted at the same time.

  4. Completed and signed NON-MSU STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM COURSE APPROVAL FORM (Note: forms without the required signatures at the bottom will not be accepted.)
  5. Three completed and signed financial aid forms (applicable only to students using financial aid during their study abroad experience.)
  6. Copy of your acceptance letter from the host institution
  7. Credit Evaluation Recognized Foreign Institution form or e-mail from TCEU (if transcript is issued by a foreign institution)

A $100 non-refundable application fee will be posted on your MSU student account at the time of application. You will be registered for INP, International Programs, for the number of credits indicated on your application form. If you have obtained approval for more credits than you actually intend to take, you should list the actual number you plan to take on the APPLICATION under "Number of credits you plan to take abroad". You will not be charged MSU tuition and fees for this enrollment. If you have already registered for on-campus courses during your study abroad period, this registration will automatically be removed. Please note that this INP course is a temporary registration that maintains your enrollment at MSU and financial aid eligibility. Maintaining your student status at MSU is required for issuance of financial aid; deferment of loans; reduced auto insurance coverage; medical coverage under a parental policy; etc. You will not receive credit under this course number since the course will be replaced with the transfer credits from abroad. The credits you are taking as a guest student may transfer to MSU but the grade point and honor points will not. You will receive transfer credit only for those courses for which you receive a 2.0 or higher.

If, in addition, you will be doing directed study abroad (i.e., MSU independent study or similar course), you must register for the actual departmental course under which you will receive the credit. This registration must be for the semester for which you wish to apply the credits. You are required to pay regular MSU tuition and fees for these directed study credits.


Accident and sickness insurance coverage administered through GeoBlue (formerly HTH Worldwide Insurance Services, Inc.) is provided as a part of your $100 application fee. This policy provides for supplementary health insurance; assistance in locating the nearest, most appropriate medical care; and medically necessary evacuation. This policy ensures that all MSU students have adequate insurance coverage. Before departure, you will be mailed an insurance card. A detailed description and summary of coverage are posted on the Forms and Documents (/forms/) page of our Web site.


You may apply for scholarships (/scholarships/). Deadline dates, eligibility requirements and application forms are available on the Web. Be sure to also check individual college scholarship opportunities and external scholarship possibilities (including funding for multicultural students).


If MSU approves your academic plans and the institution through which you will study abroad is willing to cooperate with MSU's system, you should be able to apply almost any need-based or supplementary aid to your study abroad. This includes the MET (Michigan Educational Trust). Many scholarships can be used for study abroad but you should first check with the specific terms of the scholarship. Please note that some MSU awards for distinguished academic performance require that you receive MSU courses and grades and do not apply to programs with transfer credit.

It is important to understand that you are undertaking a serious contractual obligation when you draw aid for your study abroad. If you withdraw from the program abroad or fail to bring back the contracted number of credits within one semester following your study abroad experience, MSU will place a hold on your student account and require you to repay all or part of the financial aid you received for study abroad. Further, you will be unable to register until this financial aid is repaid in full. If you attempt to complete the contracted number of credits and fail one or more of the courses, you maintain your financial aid eligibility for the semester abroad, but your subsequent semesters of financial aid may be affected. If you encounter difficulty with your academic program, it is imperative that you contact the Office of Study Abroad.

If you are on financial aid, submit all of the following items with your application:

  1. Signed and completed Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Cost Estimate
  2. Signed and completed Single Student Financial Aid Agreement . Complete your name and PID on the appropriate line. Your host institution will complete the rest.
  3. Signed and completed MSU Student Agreement on Registration and Financial Aid for Study Abroad Transfer Credit

Upon submission of your completed application, Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Course Approval Form, and three financial aid forms, the Office of Study Abroad will forward your program costs to the MSU Financial Aid Office. Please note that the MSU Financial Aid Office will not be notified unless this completed application has been submitted to the Office of Study Abroad. In addition to the study abroad cost estimates, the MSU Office of Financial Aid requires that you have a current year's financial statement (FAFSA) on file.

The MSU Office of Financial Aid will notify you of your award amount. Make sure you have no holds or outstanding bills since aid for future enrollment cannot be applied to past bills and will not be disbursed until holds are cleared. After any outstanding bills are paid, disbursement of funds will be made directly to you for payment to the program sponsor. The earliest that this disbursement can be made is ten days before the beginning of on-campus classes for the semester you plan to be abroad. If you would like this early disbursement, you will need to make these arrangements by contacting Student Accounts, 1st floor, Hannah Administration Building, 355-3343. If you would like to have your loan check deposited directly into your account, you should complete, sign and return the Student Refund Direct Deposit ( form. If you need to pay for the program or airfare prior to the arrival of a loan check, log-on to Office of Financial Aid - Short Term Loans ( or contact the Office of Financial Aid ( at 353-5940. In many cases, other institutions will accept your MSU financial aid award letter as an indication of future payment and will defer your payments until you receive your aid; however, it is your responsibility to contact the sponsor and make appropriate arrangements for delayed payment. If your number of credits or course selection should change at any time, you should report this immediately to both your academic department and the Office of Study Abroad.

Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Financial Aid for Study Abroad (/finaid/finaidfaq.html) for additional general information. If you are not on financial aid, these forms do not need to be submitted. All payments should be made directly to the sponsor.

In some cases the sponsoring institution may offer loans to guest students. You may need to send to that institution the appropriate year's financial statement (FAFSA) and a completed form stating that you are in a degree-granting program and are making satisfactory academic progress.


Between now and your departure, and once you have left the U.S. , it is your responsibility to stay informed about developments in the country/countries in which you will spend time (including any countries you'll visit that are not part of your study abroad program's itinerary). You can do so by checking the U.S. State Department's ( Web page.

On that page you will find three different types of information: Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. This information is updated based on current events worldwide. According to the State Department...

For a more detailed description of the above information, please refer to the State Department Web page.

Aside from providing you with interesting information about your host country/countries, reading this information may spare you from unpleasant surprises. Periodically checking this Web page is especially important if your program and/or travel takes you to regions of the world where unstable conditions exist or are likely to develop.


Follow the steps on the back of the Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Course Approval Form to ensure transfer of credits.

Your official transcript from abroad must be forwarded to:

Office of Study Abroad
Michigan State University
109 International Center
East Lansing, MI 48824-1035

The Office of Study Abroad will make a copy of the transcript for your file and forward the original to the Transfer Credit Evaluation Unit.

The Office of Study Abroad is not responsible for the transfer of credits to your MSU record. Make arrangements to transfer credits from your sponsoring institution to MSU before the end of your stay abroad. A transcript from the sponsoring institution is required whether or not you complete or pass the course(s). Sponsoring institution course work must be listed in the Office of Admissions and Scholarships by the end of the semester following your study abroad. You will be asked to repay financial aid received for study at the sponsoring institution if credits have not been transferred by the end of the semester following your return. All transfer credit as well as course work completed at other institutions will be used to assess your satisfactory academic progress; your receipt of financial aid will be jeopardized by your failure to meet these standards. If you have questions regarding your eligibility, contact the MSU Office of Financial Aid.

If you took courses abroad that were not listed on your Non-MSU Study Abroad Program Course Approval Form, you will need to provide course descriptions and syllabi to the departments in which you want to transfer credit. They will complete the necessary paperwork on your behalf and notify the Office of Study Abroad of your request.

Updated January 2016

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