Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I begin?
The first step is to attend a group information meeting, which is designed to acquaint you with best ways of planning a term abroad. After attending a general information meeting (see calendar), you may schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor, as well as with faculty advisors, so you can plan your study abroad experience effectively.
Apply for or renew your passport immediately. Processing can take 12 weeks or longer.
2. When can I study abroad?
Either semester junior year or first semester of your senior year; a number of programs are open to sophomores. Study abroad is not permitted in the final semester.
You may study abroad for a maximum of two semesters. You may also consider combining your time abroad with the Take Five Scholars Program. Certain University of Rochester programs allow participation by students in other class years. Most summer study abroad programs accept applications from students after completion of the freshman year. Transfer students must complete at least one full-time semester at Rochester prior to studying abroad. Likewise, students who have been on Inactive Status or who have withdrawn from the University must return for at least one semester before studying abroad. Certain University of Rochester programs allow participation by students in other class years:
- University of Cologne Exchange, Germany:
- Juniors, seniors
- Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland:
- Sophomores, juniors, seniors
- ORT Braude College Exchange, Karmiel, Israel:
- sophomores, juniors, engineering & computer science majors
- Rochester in Arezzo, Italy:
- Sophomores, juniors, seniors
- Uppsala University Exchange, Sweden:
- Sophomores, juniors, seniors
- Meiji Gakuin Exchange, Japan:
- Sophomores, juniors
3. Where can I study?
It is possible to earn credits toward your UR degree in over 100 countries! Some are more appropriate than others for what you want to study. The publications of the Institute for International Education (including Academic Year Abroad and Short Term Study Abroad), found in the Center for Study Abroad, are indexed by subjects so you can find out what is available and where. For example, if you are interested in theater, France and England offer the most drama courses. On the other hand, economics and political science courses are available just about everywhere. If you want to study sciences or engineering, your choices will be more limited, but there are still many opportunities. Another popular resource is www.studyabroad.com.
4. Do I need UR approval?
Yes, study abroad programs require that you obtain the approval of your home institution. You obtain UR approval by submitting a Study Abroad Proposal form. It is due by September 15 for spring semester, and the due date is February 1 if you wish to study abroad during the fall semester, or for an entire academic year.
5. Do I have to know a foreign language to study abroad?
No. We currently offer a number of study abroad programs in English-speaking countries. In addition, there are English-language programs in many other locations where English is not the native language. In the section on UR programs, you will find details on language requirements. Do not assume that, for example, if you are a biology major, you must study in an English-speaking country. The exchange program with Uppsala University in Sweden and the American University in Cairo are two examples of programs that offer science courses in English.
If you’re interested in learning a foreign language or brushing up on your skills, Rochester offers numerous courses and programs. Visit the foreign language page for a complete list of languages offered.
6. How do I know if I have enough of a foreign language background for a program?
Language requirements vary widely. Some programs require no prior experience and offer introductory language courses. Others will expect some familiarity. "One year prior German language study" means the equivalent of GER 101 and 102, Elementary German I and II, even if it was taken during high school. "Four semesters of French" means you should have the equivalent of FR 101, 102, 151 and 152 (Intermediate I and II). "Five semesters" would assume that you've had an advanced language or literature course as well.
Programs are flexible; if you are a native speaker or have practical exposure to the language without formal study, you may meet the requirement. The bottom line: you'll have the opportunity to brush up on language skills during most programs' orientations. Don't pass up a program because you think you're not good at languages. Most people find that learning a language in context is very different from learning in a classroom environment.
7. How will study abroad fit into my four years at the University of Rochester?
Faculty and study abroad advisors will help you. Most students who go abroad are juniors, but studying abroad may be a good choice for some first-semester seniors or second-semester sophomores. Planning study abroad with an advisor should include declaring your major. Know before you leave where you stand in terms of credit hours and course requirements. You do not necessarily need to take courses only toward your major or minor while abroad. If you plan carefully, you may be able to study something completely different on your study abroad program. The Career Center staff can offer advice about how a term overseas fits in with your long-range goals.
Some undergraduate programs cannot easily include a semester abroad, so you may want to consider other options, such as summer study abroad or the Take Five Scholars Program.
8. What is required for study abroad orientation?
In order to study abroad, you must participate in the Study Abroad Pre-departure Orientation. This includes a seven-week long Blackboard course and a mandatory group meeting. If you do not successfully finish the online portion of the orientation or fail to attend the group meeting, you will not be permitted to study abroad.
9. Will I get credit for my courses abroad?
Yes, provided that you have carefully planned your program and have obtained approval before you leave the University of Rochester. For major or departmental credit, see your faculty advisor. For elective credit, consult with a study abroad advisor. Sometimes you will find that course offerings have changed when you arrive overseas. Although this rarely causes problems, promptly notify both your faculty advisor and the Center for Study Abroad. Students abroad may not overload or underload.
10. How will study abroad affect my plans to go to medical school?
Study abroad can provide you with a global perspective that is invaluable for a career in the health professions, and it will distinguish you from other medical school applicants. If you want to enter medical school immediately after completing your undergraduate degree, plan to study abroad no later than the fall of your junior year. This will allow you time to prepare for the MCATs and complete medical school applications after you return from abroad. Keep in mind that if you plan to attend medical school in the United States, some schools expect that all your core pre-med coursework will be taken in the US. Be sure to consult during your freshman or sophomore year with a health professions advisor in the College Center for Academic Support.
11. If I have a disability, can I study abroad?
Yes. You will want to meet with a study abroad advisor and with a counselor in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning to discuss what accommodations you'll need.
12. Can I study abroad if I am planning to be an RA?
The Office of Residential Life requires all RA candidates to complete a course on paraprofessional counseling prior to becoming an RA. If your study abroad plans would cause you to miss this course, you should make arrangements to complete the course in an earlier semester. This will require planning well in advance, such as taking the course during your sophomore year. If you have already been approved as an RA and are later approved to study abroad during your RA year, the Office of Residential Life can usually make arrangements to fill your place.
13. Can study abroad be part of a Take Five Scholars Program?
Yes. The Take Five Scholars Program allows students to spend an additional semester or year at UR, tuition-free, pursuing a series of courses around a particular theme for the purpose of intellectual enrichment. If the focus of the Take Five Program lends itself to overseas study, then you may propose to include a semester or even a full year abroad. Early planning is essential, since study abroad should be completed prior to your fifth year. As you formulate your Take Five proposal, attend a Take Five information session and consult with the Take Five program advisor in the College Center for Advising Services.
14. Can I talk to students who have already studied abroad?
Yes! Study abroad peer advisers are students who have studied abroad and who are eager to speak with interested students. They are a good source of information for many of your questions, such as budgets, classes, traveling abroad, and more. Do not hesitate to contact them. Peer advisors' names and contact information are available at the Center for Study Abroad.
15. If I am an international student, can I still study abroad?
Yes. Remember that visa and immigration requirements will likely be different for non-US citizens. You should consult the appropriate consulates and embassies as soon as possible. You also need to discuss your plans with an international student advisor.
16. What will it cost?
Your daily out-of-pocket costs may be considerably higher or lower than a typical semester at UR. Nonetheless, you can expect to spend about the same on a semester abroad as you would on a semester at the University of Rochester. Be aware that daily costs of living are much higher in places such as London and Paris (see “Finances” for details).
17. Is it safe to study abroad?
Most study abroad destinations provide an environment that is fully as safe as studying at the University of Rochester. Crime rates in most study abroad locations are lower than in the United States. Nevertheless, all students should be aware of the cross-cultural implications of their actions, since certain behaviors acceptable at home might be offensive or disruptive elsewhere. During your overseas orientation, your program director will provide you with essential information about personal safety.
In the interest of safety, the University reserves the right to withhold approval for students to study in a country where the US State Department has issued a Travel Warning. For up-to-date US State Department travel information, visit travel.state.gov/travel/warnings.html.