Study Abroad FAQs
- When can I study abroad?
For semester-long study abroad, you need to have earned 45 credits by the time of departure. As for most students, this means that the earliest semester you could go abroad is the second semester of your sophomore year. (Check out GW’s special program promoting fall study abroad, the Focus on Fall Abroad Community!) For summer study abroad, students need only 24 credits by the time of your departure, so they can usually study abroad in the summer after their first year at GW.
- Where can I study abroad?
GW has over 300 approved program options for semester-long study abroad. These programs are in over 60 countries and have a variety of course options, experiential activities such as internships and service-learning, and admission requirements. Visit the Semester and Year section to search for programs by location, area of study, or language of instruction.
- How many times can I study abroad?
GW does not place a limit on the number of study abroad experiences you can have. Many students start with a summer program after their freshman year and then add a semester or full year experience in their sophomore or junior years. However, before you start planning, ask your academic advisor if your school has a limit on the number of credits that can be earned abroad as policies vary across campus.
- I'm a freshman. What should I do now?
While you cannot start applying to go abroad in your first semester, there are some steps you can take to be prepared when the time comes:
- Keep your GPA up! GW requires a 2.75 GPA of all students studying abroad for a semester. However, most programs set a higher requirement, so aim for a 3.0 or above to maximize your program choices.
- Tell your academic advisor that you are thinking of study abroad. Knowing you want to study abroad can affect the courses you take at GW versus the courses you decide to save for study abroad. While you won’t know what you will take abroad until much later, it’s never too early to let your academic advisor know that study abroad is an important priority for you.
- Will I get GW credit from study abroad?
If you study abroad on a GW approved program, you will be able to transfer up to 17 credits per semester, provided you earn the equivalent of a C or higher in each course. Students go through a Course Approval process before, during, or after their study abroad experience to determine exactly how those credits will apply towards a GW degree. This involves working with GW faculty members to match courses taken abroad with GW courses. Whenever possible, students are encouraged to have courses approved before they depart to ensure proper academic planning.
- When should I apply?
Generally, applications for study abroad are submitted the semester before departure. Thus, applications for spring study abroad are submitted in the fall semester. Program deadlines vary greatly, so it is recommended that you research your program options and have an understanding of approximate deadlines and requirements so that you do not fall behind.
- Are there summer study abroad programs?
Yes! GW offers two types of summer study abroad options: GW short-term abroad programs and non-GW summer programs. GW offers students the opportunity to enroll in summer courses with overseas components. These courses are led by GW faculty and last anywhere from one week to one month. A majority of the courses hold class sessions on-campus or online before and after going abroad.
Additionally, students may attend any accredited summer abroad program offered through another university, study abroad provider, or overseas institution. You are required to register your participation abroad with the Office for Study Abroad, but you will interact directly with the program provider to apply, finance, and enroll in the program.
- Can I do an internship abroad?
Many programs do offer internships for credit. Internship opportunities can vary depending on your destination, language ability, and area of concentration, so you must be flexible in the type of internship you receive abroad. You should always check with your academic advisor to ensure that credits earned from an internship abroad can be transferred to GW. Students in the School of Business, for example, are not able to transfer internships credits back to GW.
- Whom should I talk to about study abroad?
The Office for Study Abroad is open Monday-Friday from 9a.m.-5 p.m. We have an Express Advisor available at all times to answer questions, start your program search, and show you how to make an advising appointment. You may meet with a study abroad advisor based on your academic major. Our advisors are knowledgeable about programs for specific majors within various geographic locations and can help you narrow your search before you apply. All advisors have walk-in advising hours.
Study Abroad Finances FAQs
- Why does GW have a home tuition and fees policy?
Responsible management of study abroad programs has costs for the university beyond the direct payment of the program's bill. GW incurs costs for selecting, reviewing, approving, and managing programs, as well as for advising students, reviewing petitions, processing applications and making determinations on exceptions.
In addition, GW makes a commitment to each of its students that it will provide a degree of high quality. The university's costs in providing such a degree are not terminated when an individual student leaves the campus for a semester or year. Rather, when a student studies abroad, that student still requires the attention and resources of the larger GW community in planning and completing a degree. Furthermore, the vital functions of a major research university (such as laboratories, the library, admissions department, career services, etc.) must continue while a student studies abroad. As we are determined to make study abroad equally accessible to all eligible students, we continue financial support in the form of scholarships (and the expenses thereof) that may be offered to some students during the year.
- How are programs put into tiers?
We consider: amenities included in the program, the overall cost of those amenities, the cost of living in the host country and the overall cost of the program to the university. Those programs with the highest cost to the university are, logically, in the highest program fee tier. For more information, visit Study Abroad Costs.
- Why are programs in tier 1 less expensive?
Programs in Tier 1 do not include housing and additional services.
- Are scholarships available?
There are a number of scholarships available for students studying abroad. Virtually all scholarships that you receive to attend GW are transferable for study abroad. There are also a number of scholarships designed specifically for students studying abroad. These include an array of scholarships designated to help increase participation in underrepresented areas (both geographic and programmatic), namely: New Horizons Scholarships (for programs outside of western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland),and the Supplementary Scholarship (designed to replace all or part of work study funds that a student could have earned during a semester abroad). Vist Scholarship Opportunities for more information on scholarships.
- When is my bill due?
You bill for your semester abroad is due the same time that a regular semester GW payment would be due. This date is usually the first day of classes at George Washington University.
- Do I need to notify the Office for Student Financial Assistance that I am going abroad?
Yes, all students going abroad and receiving any type of financial aid (grants, scholarships or loans) must notify the Office for Student Financial Assistance and complete a Power of Attorney Form.
- Is there additional aid for study abroad?
Students must submit the Change Form and work with the Office for Student Financial Assistance to determine if there can be an increase in their aid package. Please also visit the Scholarship Opportunities section or meet with your study abroad advisor for more information on other ways to finance your study abroad experience.
- Whom do I pay for my study abroad costs?
You pay regular GW tuition and a tier fee for your study abroad program through your GW Student Account as you would a semester on campus. Tuition and the tier fee will show up on the student's GW student account after registeration of study abroad status.
- Do I need a Power of Attorney while I am studying abroad?
Many students who are studying abroad often assign power of attorney to someone to take care of their financial affairs while they are out of the country. The George Washington University Office for Study Abroad recommends that all financial assistance students arrange designate power of attorney. Download the Power of Attorney Form.
- Why would I need a Power of Attorney?
Some instances when a power of attorney may be necessary are:
- to sign a Stafford loan check
- to handle issues related to deposit of financial assistance checks or refunds
- to access information in your student account and/or financial assistance files
- to process banking or insurance transactions
- What are the steps to assigning Power of Attorney?
Assigning Power of Attorney is a legal process that involves the drafting of a document, which assigns to another person the power to act as your legal representative in specific situations. There are two ways to go about assigning power of attorney. The first is to meet with an attorney to draft a power of attorney document. This will usually involve a fee, which will cover advice on the implications of assigning power of attorney, the drafting of a power of attorney document, and the notarizing of that document. The second approach does not require a lawyer's assistance and involves filling out the Power of Attorney form from the Office for Study Abroad and then having your signature notarized. Note: the power of attorney document must be signed in the notary's presence. This can be done on campus at Colonial Central and at some local banks.
- Whom should I ask to be my Power of Attorney?
You should select a person you consider trustworthy to make decisions in your best interests and sign on your behalf. Most students select a parent, significant other, or long-term friend. A casual acquaintance is NOT recommended. University staff, including the Office for Study Abroad staff, may not act on your behalf as it may be considered a conflict of interest.
- For what period of time should I have a Power of Attorney?
If you plan to travel prior to and/or after your study abroad experience, the power of attorney should include the entire time you plan to be away.
- Whom should I notify that I have a Power of Attorney?
You will want to notify the GW Office of Student Financial Assistance, and of course, the person you have designated as your Power of Attorney.
- How far in advance should I begin arranging for Power of Attorney?
You should take care of arranging your power of attorney well in advance of your departure and notify the appropriate offices.
- Where can I find a notary public?
Students can visit Colonial Central or a local branch of their bank to schedule an appointment with a Notary Public to notarize their Power of Attorney form.
- Can I use the GW structured payment plan to pay for my study abroad?
Yes, students will need to contact ECSI directly to update your monthly payment amount. For more information click here.
- How do I receive my refund from GW?
In order to receive a refund, students will need to submit a Refund Request form to Colonial Central after the first day of classes at GW.
- What/who do I pay for my non-GW summer program?
You will pay the program provider for any costs they specify for their summer programs. OSA does not keep a list of approved summer programs. You will want to confirm your participation with an advisor in OSA to ensure credits can transfer back to GW.
Transfer Credit FAQs
- How do study abroad courses affect my GW GPA?
In general, study abroad credit will transfer but will not affect your GW GPA. You must take your courses abroad for a letter grade and earn the equivalent of a C or higher in order to transfer the course back to GW, but the letter grade itself will not appear on your GW transcript and will not affect your GPA. However, please remember that if you plan to apply for graduate study, you may be asked to submit your study abroad transcripts and grades.
If you are taking GW courses through GW Madrid, the GW Paris Business Studies program, GW Latin America program in Chile, or through GW Short Term Faculty-Led programs, your course grades will affect your GW GPA.
- Where do I go to get course approvals signed?
A list of departmental procedures for course approvals can be found here. If you do not see the department from which you are trying to obtain an approval, please contact the department and inquire about their preferred method for completing course approval forms.
- What do I bring to the professor who will be signing my Course Approval Form?
Be sure to bring a description of the course, syllabus, and/or coursework to the department so the professor can determine an appropriate GW course equivalent.
- What if I do not know what courses I will be taking while abroad?
Some programs may not have a list of courses available before the program begins. These approvals can be obtained via email while students are abroad or when students return to campus. To obtain course approvals while abroad, email the relevant department on campus and forward the response to your study abroad advisor. This email needs to contain the exact course title, the course number, and the GW course equivalent.
- Once I have completed my Course Approval Forms and professors sign them, where do I bring the form(s)?
Your completed course approvals can be submitted to the OSA Resource Room in Colonial Crossroads.
- What if I do not wish to receive credit for a study abroad course?
If you do not wish to receive credit for a course taken while abroad, complete a Declining Credit Form, and submit the form to the OSA Resource Room.
- How long does it take to transfer my study abroad credit to my GW transcript?
Once the OSA has received your official transcript from your study abroad program and a course approval for each of the courses you took while abroad, it will take approximately three weeks to transfer the courses to your GW transcript.
- What should I know if I am planning to study a foreign language while abroad?
You will want to consult with the relevant language department about what they require to sign off on transfer credit. If you are taking a language not taught at GW, such as Xhosa, the Language Center (Phillips Hall, suite 216) can sign off on credit.
- How many credits can I transfer back to GW?
Students must transfer a minimum of 12 credits and a maximum of 17 credits per semester to their GW transcript from study abroad. If a student receives more than 17 credits abroad, the student may elect to pay for the extra credits and have them applied to the GW transcript.
- My credits have been transferred but I can’t see them in DegreeMAP. What should I do?
Study abroad credits do not automatically populate in DegreeMAP. To view your study abroad transfer credits, visit my.gwu.edu and log into GWeb to view your unofficial transcript. For questions about how your credits will be allocated in DegreeMAP toward your degree requirements, please contact your academic advisor.
- Who can participate?
THe Focus on Fall Abroad Community (FOFAC) is for GW students who plan to study abroad during the fall semester (typically in their junior year) on any GW-approved program and return to campus for the following spring semester. Students who elect to petition to participate in a non-approved program are eligible if their petition is approved. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA, 45 credits, and be in good academic and judicial standing by the time of departure.
- Can a student study abroad in the fall if he/she is not a member of FOFAC?
Yes, students can study abroad in the fall without participating in FOFAC, but FOFAC benefits are only available to FOFAC members.
- How and when do students apply to this program?
Students apply to FOFAC on the Join the Community Office for Study Abroad website. Applications must be submitted by February 1, 2015 for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Helpful application tips
- To apply, please click on the "Apply Now" button at the top of the application page to open your application.
- The deadline for a student's study abroad program may be before or after the FOFAC deadline.
- Once your application has all boxes checked and your 250 word essay has been submitted, your application is complete.
You can apply to FOFAC even if you are undecided regarding your study abroad program and/or location.
All applicants must also follow the standard study abroad procedures and deadlines to apply for the specific study abroad program including completion of provider applications as well as submission of transcripts, recommendation letters, and any other required documents as specified in the individual applications.
4. What documents do students have to complete to apply to this program?
To apply, students should submit:
- A completed online application
- A non-refundable $500 deposit (upon acceptance to the program). This amount is returned to students who remain a part of FOFAC.
- If you have any questions, contact the FOFAC team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. How are applications reviewed?
The Office for Study Abroad completes the application review and notifies students of their admission to the program. As space is limited, we encourage students to apply promptly. Applicants are reviewed on a rolling basis according to the following criteria:
- All applicants must have a minimum cumulative GW GPA of 3.0 and 45 credit hours by departure.
- All applicants must submit the online application by February 1.
- Students must study abroad during the fall semester and return to GW in the spring semester.
- Students must be in good academic and judicial standing.
- Students must participate in a GW approved study abroad program. Students who elect to petition to participate in a non-approved program are eligible if their petition is approved.
6. When will students know if they have been accepted into the program?
Students who are admitted will be notified on a rolling basis beginning in early January. Applications received near the February deadline will receive notification within one week of the application deadline. Students who intend to enroll in FOFAC will be required to make a $500 deposit confirming their participation after they have been accepted and decided to commit to FOFAC by mid-February. This deposit is returned to students who remain a part of FOFAC.
7. What if a student decides not to study abroad or participate in FOFAC after confirming participation in the program?
If a students decides to not participate in FOFAC after confirming participation and submitting your deposit, the student will forfeit the $500 deposit and any other benefits you may have received through the program including tuition awards.
8. Is there a FOFAC living and learning community?
Students admitted to FOFAC can decide to apply to live in on-campus, spring-only FOFAC housing for the Spring 2016 semester in the 1959 E Street dorm. I-Housing applications will occur in mid-February.
Students can include potential roommates in their housing application as long as all students are members of FOFAC. Housing placement is randomized and not guaranteed. If students do not receive a spot in FOFAC housing, students may receive on-campus, spring-only housing while abroad. FOFAC students are not required to live in FOFAC housing, and this housing is not guaranteed for FOFAC students.
9. Will all students receive a tuition award as a member of FOFAC? Is there a separate application for the award?
Only students studying on a GW program (GW England, GW Paris, GW Madrid, GW Argentina, or GW Chile) or a GW Exchange will receive an automatic $1500 tuition award on their GW bill. There is no separate application for the award beyond the FOFAC application.
Students on all other programs are still eligible for FOFAC and all other FOFAC benefits, but will not receive a tuition award.
10. What are current FOFAC students doing abroad?
Follow their experiences on the Office for Study Abroad's Blog.