Frequently Asked Questions

Want to study abroad, but still need some answers? You’re in the right place.

If you can’t find your answer here, email or stop by and visit us in Tomlinson Hall, Room 143, for more information.

General Questions

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There are three main types of study abroad programs at CWRU: short-term, exchange and direct-enroll. Short-term programs take place outside of the academic year (Spring Break, Winter Break, or Summer) and involve a CWRU faculty member who takes a group of students abroad to complete a course. Exchange programs are generally a semester- or year-long and consist of a CWRU student studying at a university abroad (with the assumption that a student from the university abroad will study at CWRU). Direct-enroll programs are similar to exchange programs, except no students from the institution abroad are expected to study at CWRU. If you are interested in a nontraditional study abroad opportunity (such as overseas research or an internship abroad), please feel free to use our office as a resource for that as well.

This depends on your major and personal preference. For pre-med students, the best semester to study abroad is spring of your second year. For other students, it is based on personal preference. Spring of sophomore year and fall of junior year are the most popular semesters to study abroad. For engineering students, going abroad for a full year is easier than one semester because engineering courses are often taught in one-year sequences. It’s better to take both parts at the same university than to split them.

We recommend planning for your study abroad program about a year in advance.

A list of all semester, year-long, short-term and summer courses can be found in the Studio Abroad system, which can be accessed by going to the CWRU study abroad website and selecting “Program Search” at the top of the page.

As long as you are taking courses taught in English, there is no foreign language prerequisite for studying abroad. However, CWRU does require that you take at least one language course while abroad if you are studying in a country in which English is not the native language. If you plan to take courses taught in a foreign language, we recommend that you are very comfortable with the language before traveling.

Definitely! International students study abroad very often. The only difference is in visa requirements, which is rarely a problem. Many international students take courses at a university in their home country when going home for the summer. To have this credit transferred, it must be arranged as a study abroad program through the Office of Education Abroad. Email for more information.

At CWRU, we strive to provide you with as many high-quality programs as possible so you can find a program that’s a perfect match for your needs. However, we know that looking at a long list of programs can be daunting! Here are some things to think about when you’re trying to narrow down your options:


  • What do you hope to accomplish academically with your study abroad experience? Do you wish to take major requirements? Minor requirements? Breadth requirements? Electives? If you are hoping to take major or minor requirements, first narrow down your search by major.
  • How comfortable are you with the idea of a different academic system? Are you the type of student that needs to hand in homework every day to gauge your progress, or are you comfortable with more independent learning? If this is a consideration for you, you may wish to research the academic system in the countries you’re considering.
  • Do you want a traditional study abroad classroom experience, a research opportunity or an internship?


  • Is there a particular place in which you wish to study abroad? Our online system allows you to search by location.
  • How comfortable would you be if English were not the native language of your study abroad destination?
  • Do you prefer a larger, more cosmopolitan city or a more rural, traditional town?


  • How long do you wish to study abroad? Programs range in length from one week to one year.
  • Do you prefer to follow the U.S. academic calendar, or can you be more flexible? Would it bother you to be overseas for certain holidays? If so, you may wish to compare programs by date.


  • How much do finances play a role in deciding your study abroad program? If finances play a large role, you may wish to consider a program whose location capitalizes on the exchange rate of U.S. dollars, or the less expensive short-term programs.
  • Consider also the living expenses in various destinations if finances play a role. While the cost of living is much higher in Paris than Cleveland, the cost of living in Bangkok is much lower.

Personal style and preferences

  • Are you an independent traveler, or do you prefer more direction? Exchange programs are excellent opportunities for independent travelers, while short-term programs and a few others offer more logistical assistance to students who prefer more direction.
  • Would you thrive or feel uncomfortable in a situation where you might be the only American in a program?
  • Would you prefer to stay in a homestay, residence hall or apartment?


  • Different programs have different GPA requirements. Do you meet the GPA requirement for the program?
  • Do you wish to study abroad as a freshman, senior or graduate student? If so, you may want to consider short-term study abroad. (See who can participate in semester-long or year-long study abroad programs? above.)
  • If applicable, do you have the required language skills for the program?

Sophomores and juniors in good academic standing (those that are not on academic probation) and without any outstanding judicial affairs sanctions can participate in a semester- or year-long study abroad. Note that many programs require a higher GPA than a 2.0, however. Because we believe first-year students should take at least a year to adjust to campus life (and because they need to build a GPA to be accepted by the overseas institution), first-years are not eligible for semester- or year-long study abroad programs. University policy states that the final 15 hours of coursework must be completed on-campus, so seniors who choose to study abroad for a semester or longer should note that they generally need to complete at least one more semesters on campus before graduation. (In some cases, there are ways to complete this requirement and still study abroad during the second semester of one’s senior year; however, this is the exception rather than the rule. Students who wish to study abroad during the second semester of their senior year should consult with their advisors to see whether they can meet the senior residency requirement.)

Graduate students should consult with their advisors before studying abroad on a semester-long program. It is not common for graduate students to participate in traditional semester-long study abroad, but sometimes overseas research opportunities are available for graduate students. All judicial affairs sanctions (including probation) must be complete before a student can participate in any study abroad program.

A short-term program takes place outside the academic year (Spring Break, Winter Break, and summer). All graduate and undergraduate students in good academic standing (2.0 or above cumulative GPA) can participate in short-term study abroad experience. All judicial affairs sanctions (including probation) must be complete before a student can participate in any study abroad program.

If you’d like to participate in a short-term study abroad program but aren’t sure which program is the best fit for your needs, the Office of Education Abroad is an excellent place to start. You can email to set up an appointment. If you already know which program you’d like to participate in, you can contact the advisor for that specific program (listed on our website) and begin the application process.

While Case Western Reserve University has carefully chosen programs and institutions to meet the needs of the vast majority of students and to keep our students safe, we recognize that some students have compelling academic reasons for looking at alternate programs or at programs in areas with a travel or Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning. Any student who desires to enroll in an overseas program that is not on the list of approved programs must submit a petition. This is to ensure that students are participating in high-quality programs both in terms of academics and student services support. This process also allows CWRU to better manage risk and prepare for emergencies.

Students must have an academically compelling reason for submitting a petition. The petition process is a case-by-case review of the individual student’s academic reasons for wanting to participate in a program or submit an application past the deadline.

The petition review committeewill review petitions for fall and academic year study abroad programs after the February 1st deadline, and petitions for spring and calendar year study abroad programs after the July 1st deadline. Students will receive notification if their petitions were approved or denied or will receive a request for more information by the end of the month in which the petitions are reviewed.

For instructions on how to petition, students must contact one of the study abroad advisors at

Note that, if approved, an additional $500 Study Abroad processing fee will be assessed and the student will pay tuition to the overseas institution, not CWRU.

There many study abroad options available during the summer. Because CWRU tuition is not applied, there is a wide variety of programs that you can do. As long as CWRU approves the program, you can do it and get credit. There are several programs in the Studio Abroad system that have already been approved. Download a list of available programs. You can also petition for a program not listed.

Financial Questions

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It depends on the program. If you are doing a semester program that has been pre-approved by Case Western Reserve, then you pay your tuition directly to CWRU as you would if you were staying on campus. The difference in cost will come from travel and housing. Depending on where you are going, housing may be more or less than it is at CWRU. Some students will end up paying more abroad than at CWRU, but many students actually spend less money studying abroad.

For all approved semester-long programs, you pay CWRU tuition. Note that the cost of the program does not affect the amount of money you pay for your tuition at CWRU. All other expenses (room and board, excursions, etc.) are paid to the institution abroad. For all approved semester-long programs except for exchange programs, you need to bring a copy of your bill to the Office of Education Abroad so that CWRU can pay tuition to the overseas institution/provider. (In exchange programs, no tuition is levied by the overseas university, so this step is not necessary.)

In summer programs, no tuition is levied through CWRU. You simply pay the overseas program.

Upon applying for a short-term program, you will be asked to pay a $200 deposit with your application. The rest of the program fee is levied through your student account.

In almost all cases, yes. The only exceptions are 1) studying abroad over summer and 2) studying abroad on non-approved, petitioned-for study abroad programs. During either of these cases, you cannot use your CWRU scholarships on your study abroad programs.

Absolutely. Simply contact Nancy Issa in the Office of Financial Aid for more information.

Academic Questions

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Absolutely not! CWRU has study abroad programs available for all majors.

Yes! All of your study abroad coursework can be transferred to meet major or minor requirements, breadth requirements and/or electives.

No. You will receive credit for your study abroad coursework if you receive a C or better, but the coursework will not be figured into your GPA.

You can take courses to satisfy major or minor requirements, breadth requirements and/or electives. If you’re unsure of what to take abroad, consult your academic advisor.

Some CWRU students complete internships, research and co-ops abroad. The Office of Education Abroad can share with you various internship opportunities, but note that it’s very difficult to find paying internships abroad due to visa regulations. However, the Office of Education Abroad is happy to share with you tips and procedures for searching for internships, research and co-ops abroad. After you’ve secured an internship, research position or co-op, the Office of Education Abroad will work with you to ensure that you are registered properly at CWRU and that you receive health insurance and cultural preparation for your experience abroad.

Nurses frequently do their capstones abroad during their senior year. Nurses are also able to do faculty-led, short-term programs. Talk to your School of Nursing advisor to find out which options are available to you.

There are a wide variety of programs available to all types of engineering majors. In the Program Search function of the CWRU study abroad website, you can search by courses offered. This will bring up a list of all programs that offer courses in your field of engineering. Additionally, CWRU is part of a global engineering exchange partnership called GE3. There are GE3 programs in many different locations, and all have engineering programs comparable to CWRU. To find GE3 programs, go to the study abroad program search and search for ‘GE3’.

Miscellaneous Questions

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It depends on your role in the organization. If you have responsibilities that require you to stay on campus, it’s probably best to choose a different semester to study abroad. However, if you can do your work while abroad, you can still go. Several study abroad students have maintained their roles in organizations while abroad. Talk to other members of your organization to see if studying abroad would be feasible.

Definitely! Varsity athletes frequently study abroad. Sports that are confined to one semester (baseball, track, cross-country, football, etc.) are easier because you can go abroad during the off season. Varsity athletes often compete in sports at their study abroad host school. Talk to your coach to see if and when you can study abroad. has created a great resource for LGBT students studying abroad. We suggest you start with this PDF, knowing you can speak to anyone in the LGBT Center or any staff in the Office of Education Abroad about your concerns. Those with a Safe Zone sticker may have additional information or resources.

Students requiring accommodations while abroad should notify either their study abroad advisor or staff in ESS Disability Resources, who will then work with the student and the overseas institution to ensure that any available accommodations can be accessed. Students should consider the resources they need while abroad before selecting an institution and seek to ensure these resources exist. The Office of Education Abroad and ESS Disability Resources can help students determine this. For more information, check out the Accommodations Abroad info sheet.

That’s a great question. There are many steps—and we’ve lined it out all for you.

Visit our process page to get all of the details. In addition, it’s always a great idea to talk to students who have gone through the program before—and, of course, stop by Tomlinson Hall, Room 143, to talk with us in person.