All undergraduate students studying abroad through the Office for Study Abroad for academic credit are subject to the following policies applicable to various stages of the study abroad process. Students should be advised that, while abroad, they are still subject to GW University policies as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct as well as on-site policies imposed by the program provider or partner school. Students are expected to review and understand all policies prior to applying and going abroad.
Studying abroad is a serious undertaking, so GW sets minimum standards all students must meet before going abroad. Students who do not meet these requirements are not authorized by the University to study abroad, regardless of the minimum requirements for individual study abroad programs.
To be considered for approval to engage in a Semester or Academic Year Study Abroad program, students must:
Complete a minimum of 45 credits* completed by the time of departure (Note: This does include approved transfer credit such as Advanced Placement credit, and other transfer credit from accredited institutions)
Have a minimum 2.0 GPA cumulatively and good academic standing, which also indicates students' semester GPA must also be above a 2.0
Be in good judicial and academic integrity standing at the time of application and remain in good standing prior to departure
Have declared a major prior to departure.
Complete one full semester at GW prior to departure (for Transfer Students only - considered "Conditionally Eligible" until GW GPA is finalized).
Students must also meet the admission requirements of any programs to which they apply. For example, programs often require a higher GPA, language study, or background in specific subject areas. Students should ensure they meet all GW and program eligibility requirements before starting an application.
If, at any time before the program’s start, a student’s ability to meet any of the above requirements changes, they will become ineligible and withdrawn from their program. However, in the following cases, students may be considered “Conditionally Eligible”:
Have not currently completed 45 credits but are projected to by the end of the current semester
Do not currently meet the minimum 2.0 GPA but have the potential to raise their GPA to this level by the end of the semester
Do not currently have a GW GPA but will by the end of the semester (for Transfer Students only)
Currently on disciplinary or academic probation, but it is projected to end before the start of the student’s program
Students eligibility will be re-checked throughout the process before departure, it is important to maintain eligibility and stay in good academic and judicial standing with GW.
*The Office for Study Abroad also offers a select few summer study abroad experiences within our GW Exchange programs. The same eligibility requirements for semester and year-long programs also apply to summer programs with the exception of the minimum credit requirements. For summer study abroad, students must have completed 24 credit hours by the time of departure. Additionally, Global Bachelor's Program students on their cohort semester only are also subject to a different minimum credit requirement given that their cohort experience is often earlier than students typically study abroad. As such, Belfast cohort participants must meet 24 minimum credit hours prior to departure and Shanghai participants must meet 36 minimum credit hours prior to departure.
Students may only apply to up to three programs in GW Passport per application cycle. If applying to a GW Study Program or GW Exchange program, it must be ranked as a student's top choice because if nominated and accepted, students are required to attend this program type. When applying to multiple GW Study Programs or GW Exchanges, it is essential to rank applications in order of preference.
Students may not apply to programs within their home country as this would be considered "Study Away" (see below).
Registration for study abroad status at GW is required to maintain full-time student status at GW. Registration is accomplished via the completion of the following e-Forms on GW Passport following Pre-Departure Orientation: Participation Agreements, GeoBlue Insurance Information and Acknowledgement document, Emergency Contact Card for International Travelers document, and the Permission to Drop Courses Document. It is also the student's responsibility to remove all holds prior to registration. Once holds are cleared and documents are completed, the Office for Study Abroad will register students with a 15-credit study abroad placeholder, which will remain for the duration of the student’s program until courses from abroad have been transferred.
Additionally, it is important to note that students cannot concurrently enroll at GW while registered with study abroad status and enrolled in coursework abroad.
At GW, a study abroad semester is comparably priced to an on-campus semester, including full-time tuition and a study abroad program fee, known as a tier fee. Participants are billed GW charges for their study abroad program, not the fees indicated in program literature or websites. Students are also not responsible for any on-campus fees such as GW Room & Board or GWorld Credit.
While abroad for a semester or academic year, students are charged their GW tuition rate and a study abroad program tier fee each semester a student is abroad. Study abroad programs are placed into a tier fee based on the program type. Program types include GW Exchanges, GW Study Programs, GW Signature Programs like the Global Bachelor's Program, and Provider Programs. Provider Programs are further broken down into tiers based on those that include Room-only and those that include both Room and Board (meals). It is important to note that some programs have a primary and secondary housing option included in the program, tier fees do not change based on the student's selection.
While abroad, students remain full-time GW students with virtual access to GW services including but not limited to advising (academic and study abroad), library, disability support, IT, GW CARE network, financial aid and more. At the end of the students’ time abroad, they receive GW credit for the experience towards their overall GW degree. With this policy, students are also able to retain all aid and scholarships - federal, private, or through the University.
Please note: The GW Exchange Program tier fee does not include housing. For these programs, students are responsible for finding, securing, and paying for their own housing. Housing is included within all other Tiers.
For a list of the costs associated with each Tier, view our Costs & Tier Fees page.
Housing arrangements are an integral part of the study abroad experience, not only for the purpose of safe lodging but also for cultural immersion. Whether you are staying with a host family, or living in an apartment or dorm, program housing is often designed to allow you to "live like a local." Housing amenities, commute times, etc. all have cultural significance and may be different from your experiences in GW dorms or U.S. apartments. We encourage students to embrace these differences as part of the study abroad experience.
Study Abroad Provider Programs
It is the official policy of the GW Office for Study Abroad that we follow the housing rules set out by our provider partners. Our office will not sign off on exceptions to provider housing policy.
Additionally, GW students remain responsible for the tier fee associated with their program, regardless of whether they will be living in program housing.
GW Study Programs
It is the official policy of the GW Study Programs that students will live in program housing. Students who specifically attend GW England schools who do not guarantee housing are exempted from this rule.
Security/Damage Deposits - Security or Damage deposits are required by some dorms or housing providers to cover charges incurred while abroad including housing damage or cleaning. Security deposits are returned to students after the program has concluded and after the housing provider has conducted an evaluation of the conditions of the housing unit. The amount returned is based on the housing provider's evaluation of the conditions, provided that any charges for damage to the housing do not exceed the amount of the deposit. If you are not clear on what expectations are for your move-out, be sure to ask. GW does not pay security deposits on behalf of students or cover charges for damage caused during the term.
Students are welcome to partake in an internship during their semester or year abroad so long as it's permitted under their visa type. However, there are some conditions in order to receive credit. First, and foremost, the Office for Study Abroad follows the rules and restrictions of the individual schools within GW in determining whether or not a student can obtain credit for an internship. GW School of Business, for example, will not allow internships to transfer back for credit. Students should check with their academic advisor to ensure internships will be approved for credit. If your program does offer an internship and your GW school allows internships-for-credit, then you will need to meet the following conditions for credit transfer:
The internship must appear on your transcript from abroad as credit-bearing
The internship must appear on your transcript from abroad with a letter grade equivalent to a C in the United States or higher
You must have received department approval for the internship via GW Course Approval Transfer System (GW CATS)
You must not repeat coursework
Students must remain within 12-18 U.S. credits during their semester abroad
Visas are official documents issued by governments granting permission for visitors to enter a country. The Office for Study Abroad does not advise on visa procedures or requirements, with the exception of our in-house Study Programs: GW Chile, GW Paris, GW Madrid, and GW England, for which we will go over visa tips and recommendations for US Passport holders during our program-specific pre-departure orientations.
Students should follow the procedures and instructions provided by their program provider, host institution, and host country's embassy or consulate website. Not all host countries will require a visa. Visa requirements vary from country to country and are heavily dependent on things like the duration of the program, reason for visiting and other country-specific requirements. Regardless of program type and information provided by our team, all students are responsible for:
- Being aware of policies and deadlines that may affect the visa process
- Understanding instructions and logistics for securing a visa, through the support of their program provider, host institution, and/or host country embassy or consulate website
- Completing and submitting a visa application either online, via mail, or in-person in a timely manner
- Obtaining a visa appointment at the appropriate embassy or consulate, if applicable
- Requesting and obtaining necessary visa documentation*
*The Office for Study Abroad can provide necessary visa application documents such as confirmation of enrollment, letter of participation, and health insurance acknowledgments. Students are responsible for requesting any required documentation in a timely manner.
Visa processing times can take anywhere from one to eight weeks or more and students should plan accordingly. Please also be aware that you must mail or give up your physical official passport to the Consulate or Embassy for processing. This means that any personal international travel between breaks should be planned accordingly. Given standard processing times, we also strongly encourage students to begin the visa process shortly after program acceptance when possible.
GW requires that all students have adequate international insurance while studying abroad. To ensure that all students have access to the same standards of coverage, the Office for Study Abroad enrolls all students on our approved GW Study Programs, GW Exchange Programs, and Provider Programs with GeoBlue Insurance, which is included in your program’s tier fee. GeoBlue provides health insurance coverage for accidents, sickness, medical conditions that may arise, and emergency medical reunion. It covers students in any country overseas, except when they are traveling to their home country of citizenship. The GW GeoBlue insurance coverage may not be waived.
More information regarding GW’s international insurance requirement can be found on the Office for Study Abroad’s Insurance page.
The Office for Study Abroad provides a number of services to our students and makes reservations such as housing, health insurance registration, payments to partners, and more on a student’s behalf to ensure a smooth transition overseas. Depending on the timing of a withdrawal or deferral*, there are certain penalties and unrecoverable costs associated with the withdrawal or deferral* of participation as detailed below. Unless otherwise stated under each category below, GW financial assistance does not apply to unrecoverable program costs or any financial penalties associated with withdrawals or deferrals. This policy pertains to billable expenses for semester or year-long GW-approved study abroad programs. Non-billable expenses, such as airfare, are the responsibility of the student to pay and seek personal withdrawal/refund information.
Withdrawing or deferring prior to Commitment:
Process: Students can withdraw their application prior to commitment at any time on GW Passport. Discuss prospects for coursework on campus with your Academic Advisor. To defer, students should discuss deferring their application to the next application cycle with their Study Abroad Advisor.
Costs: There are no costs associated with withdrawal or deferral prior to committing
Withdrawing or deferring after commitment, prior to Registration:
Process: Contact your Study Abroad Advisor and, if applicable, your Program Provider to inform them of your intent to withdraw or defer. Discuss prospects for coursework on campus with your Academic Advisor. Deferrals can be processed in GW Passport though some programs may require you to reapply with them directly to be readmitted.
Costs: Students are responsible for any nonrefundable fees from their program provider (typically application and commitment fees). Review your program provider’s withdrawal policy for more details. GW will not charge you any additional fee at this point in time.
Other implications: At this stage in the process, students are not permitted to withdraw from their program through GW with the intent to "study away" on the same program independently. Students committed to a GW-approved program must attend the program as coordinated through GW's Office for Study Abroad or withdraw entirely as detailed in this policy.
Withdrawing or deferring post-Registration, prior to the start of the Program/GW semester:
Costs: Students will incur a $575 withdrawal fee from the Office for Study Abroad for any withdrawals or deferrals*. Additionally, students are responsible for any unrecoverable costs from your program provider. Review your program provider’s policy on withdrawal for more detail.
Withdrawing or deferring post-Program start/GW Semester start:
Process: Contact your Study Abroad Advisor and, if applicable, Program Provider to inform of your intent to withdraw. Discuss implications on degree progress with Academic Advisor. Deferrals cannot be accommodated for programs that have already commenced. To attend the program again in a future semester, students must reapply.
Costs: Students will incur a $575 withdrawal fee from the Office for Study Abroad for any withdrawals. Students are also responsible for a portion, up to the full amount, of GW tuition and fees depending on the date of withdrawal in addition to any unrecoverable costs from the provider program directly if they exceed that of GW’s fees. Check the Registrar’s website for more details on the timeline for withdrawing as well as your program’s withdrawal policy.
Other implications: Depending on the time of withdrawal, students may not be able to join GW classes for the semester. Students are encouraged to discuss the implications of this with their Academic Advisor and the Office for Financial Assistance to see how this may affect your financial aid package for the semester/year. At this stage in the process, you will also not be eligible for any credit transfer.
*Though deferrals also incur a $575 withdrawal fee after registration, this fee is refundable if the student commits to the program in the deferred application cycle. Should they choose to withdraw, the fee would remain or be reapplied. Students who defer will need to resubmit for Eligibility clearance as well as resubmit any materials that may have updated since originally applying such as transcripts.
To receive transfer credit for study abroad courses, a student must:
Apply for and receive GW Study Abroad Eligibility Clearance through GW Passport
Apply and attend a GW-approved study abroad program.
Submit a GW CATS* request for each course and receive department approval for a GW equivalent course
Take between 12 and 18 US credits to remain a full-time student
Take a course for a letter grade (or number grade) and receive a passing grade of the equivalent of a U.S. C- (effective Fall 2022; U.S. C for Spring 2022 and prior) or higher in each course.
Not duplicate coursework (especially language levels) already completed at GW.
Ensure that an official transcript is sent to the OSA by the program provider/exchange school
The credit value for courses taken abroad is determined by the abroad program/host university and will NOT always be the same credit value as the equivalent GW course as offered here on campus even if the course is approved in CATS. For students on direct enroll programs, please be aware that most countries do not follow the same credit system as GW. When transferring courses from programs that offer credits under a different system, your credits will be converted into GW credits. For example, in many European countries, schools follow the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), where ECTS credits transfer back as half GW credit (ex. 3 ECTS credits will come back as 1.5 GW credits). Please keep these conversions in mind when selecting classes to ensure you stay between the minimum 12 GW credits and maximum 18 GW credits.
*For students taking GW numbered classes abroad on programs like GW Madrid or GW Chile, GW CATS approvals are not required for those courses. Additionally, WID courses must receive approval from the WID exemption process by the University Writing Program. GW policies prohibit undergraduate students from taking online courses in the Fall or Spring semesters. As such, study abroad transfer credit for online courses will not be approved for Fall or Spring semesters.
Special Note for ESIA Students: There are additional requirements to ensure your courses taken abroad will fulfill degree requirements. Please review the additional steps for transferring credits on the Elliott School’s page.
For every GW student who studies abroad, the Office for Study Abroad received students’ official transcripts directly from their program. The Office for Study Abroad can not give students copies of their study abroad transcripts.
If students need an official copy of their study abroad transcript for graduate school application of some job applications, they should contact their program provider or host institution directly and follow their procedures for transcript requests. Please note that this process can take several weeks at some institutions, so do not delay in requesting these documents if needed for applications.
Alternatively, the Office for Study Abroad can provide students with certified Grade Letters, which are letters produced by our office on OSA letterhead and signed by a study abroad advisor confirming the courses a student took abroad and the letter grades received (in US values). This Grade Letter is often sufficient documentation for most graduate school applications and job applications.
Some programs are not considered "GW Study Abroad"
Outside of GW Study Abroad, there are other forms of study away from GW which may contribute to a GW degree. If carried out internationally, these may include studying:
During summer term, winter break, or other short term in another country through direct student enrollment at a foreign university or through direct student enrollment with a study abroad program provider.
During a semester away from GW, but not on a GW-approved Study Abroad program (this includes studying in one’s home country).
Through any program that is not billed through GW and not shown on the student's individual account.
The above non-GW modes of study are known as “Study Away.” GW does not approve and is not involved in Study Away programs, including emergency and incident response. Students who pursue Study Away programs are doing so independently. If you are unsure whether your program qualifies as GW Study Abroad, please visit the GW Global website.
If transferring credit to GW is anticipated as a result of participation in Study Away courses or programs, the course(s) must be pre-approved by the relevant faculty, school-based advisors, and the Office of the Registrar.
Students are responsible for exploring program options independently. Once a program is under consideration for transferring credit into a GW undergraduate degree program, Academic Advisors will be the first point of contact.
There are limitations to non-GW modes of Study Away carried out internationally:
Credit must have been taken at an institution recognized by the Ministry of Education of the country where the program is located.
A limit of 9 credits (or 3 courses to a maximum of 12 credits total) is allowed for all such programs toward any undergraduate degree at GW.
Further information can be found on the Office of the Registrar’s website.
Office for Study Abroad
University Student Center
800 21st Street NW
Washington, DC 20052