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Study Abroad FAQs
Students and their families will have many questions when considering the option of studying abroad. We have compiled a list of 15 of the most common, and will lead with perhaps the most frequent one that we hear currently:
- How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected study abroad programs?
Study abroad programs began to resume in many locations in Fall ’21. We anticipate most, if not all, programs will run as planned in Fall ’22. Interested students should apply as usual. Note that all students applying to study abroad must show proof of a Covid-19 vaccination series, and booster shot. NO EXCEPTIONS!!
- How do I pick a program that is best for me?
Students should ask themselves three questions: Where do I want to study? What do I want to study? How much should I budget to study abroad? Then, carefully research each program. Students will want to make sure that the location they choose fits both their academic goals and their expected budget.
Sac State Direct Exchange Programs can be searched individually on this page. CSU-IP programs can be searched here. To search CSU-IP programs by Field of Study, click “Advanced Search” and scroll down to “Fields of Study” under the section that says “Parameters.” Students can then see which locations are available for their specific academic goal.
- How do I find classes that I can take overseas?
For Sac State Direct Exchange Programs, follow the link on the program page to the host university course catalog. If the link is broken or out-of-date, do a Google search for (as an example) “Flensburg University Exchange Student Classes” and you can find it that way. (Please let us know about the broken link as well). Compare the classes listed in the course catalog with the classes you still need to take at Sac State in order to see if the program is a good academic fit.
For CSU-IP, navigate to the program page and then click on “Academic Information.” This page will contain an Academic Bulletin with a listing of available classes.
- How do I get classes approved for Sac State credit?
Students will need to have their classes approved by their department. The Study Abroad Office cannot approve classes. Once you have researched the course catalog, meet with your department’s academic advisor to identify course equivalencies. Use the Academic Planning Form to compile a list of classes that you plan to take.
Note that some departments won’t pre-approve overseas courses. Students should thus save all overseas coursework and syllabi in order to have classes approved once they return to California.
It is not necessary to have classes approved in order to submit an application for study abroad. At this stage, simply putting together a potential course schedule is sufficient.
- How many units do I need to take while I’m abroad?
All study abroad students need to take at least 12 units/semester at their host universities so that they remain in full-time status. Some countries require that students take a minimum of 15 units/semester to remain in good standing with their student visas.
Students can also take one online class at Sac State while they are abroad, but this must be taken in addition to the minimum number of units required by the host university.
- Can I use my financial aid while I’m abroad? How does that work?
Students who receive financial aid through FAFSA (loans/grants/scholarships) are eligible to apply that to the cost of studying abroad if they are on a Direct Exchange or CSU-IP program. Financial aid is disbursed just as it is normally, according to the same timeline. Contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.
- Do I need a faculty recommendation?
All students will need to get at least one faculty recommendation as part of their study abroad application. This recommendation needs to come from a professor who gave you a grade at either Sac State or a community college, if you are a transfer student. It is preferred that you get a recommendation from a professor in your major, if possible.
CSU-IP and Direct Exchange programs have differing requirements for the faculty recommendation. Please see the Faculty & Staff Resources page for more information.
Some programs have a language requirement in addition to the faculty recommendation. If your program requires a language evaluation, please use the Language Evaluation Form here.
- I am applying for a CSU-IP program and need an IP Coordinator. Who should I list?
For IP Coordinator recs, you can list “Geoff Fattig – email@example.com "
- What is the housing situation like abroad?
Upon acceptance, your host university will offer you a list of options for housing. These usually include dormitories or off-campus apartments. Students are free to accept or reject these options. If they decide not to accept the housing offered by the host university, students are responsible for finding their own accommodations.
- Do I need to get a visa to study abroad?
Yes. All students will need to apply for a student visa and/or resident permit according to the process established by the host country. For more information, students should do a Google search for (as an example), “South Korean student visa” and research the process. Note that you cannot apply for a student visa until you receive acceptance documents from the host university.
- Can I work while I’m abroad?
Opportunities to work abroad are limited, and often not in compliance with the terms of a student visa. Students are encouraged to budget the money they need through savings and financial aid, rather than planning to work while they are abroad.
- Are there any scholarships available to study abroad?
Yes, there are many scholarships available. Please go to our scholarship page to begin researching scholarships for studying abroad.
- Do you recommend going for a semester or a year?
Students should apply for the amount of time that they feel comfortable being abroad. That said, we recommend that students apply for a year, mainly for two reasons. First, the number of students who come back after a semester expressing regret that they didn’t stay for a year far outweighs the number of students who say the opposite. Second, if you apply for a year and are accepted, you will receive a yearlong student visa. This gives you the option to stay in your host country for the entire year. It is much, much easier (and less expensive) to come home after a semester if you decide to do so than it is to go for a semester, decide that you enjoy living in a country, and then have to go through the time and expense of applying for a visa extension.
- Do I travel with other study abroad participants?
Students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to the host country. If they would like to travel with other students going to the same location, they should coordinate those arrangements together.
- Can I study abroad during my final semester?
Yes. Many students have studied abroad their final semester and then graduated without returning to Sac State. The process of applying for graduation while overseas is the same as it is for those students who are on campus. However, students who plan to study abroad during the final semester should keep the following points in mind:
*You will likely not be able to attend the Sac State graduation ceremony, due to the overlap in semesters between Sac State and the host university
*You should ensure that any required classes that you need to take to graduate are available at the host university