Frequently asked questions

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Why should I consider studying abroad?

Would you rather learn a foreign language by immersing yourself in a foreign culture and not just learning from a textbook? Need an elective course? Studying abroad gives you the opportunity to leave the classroom and travel with faculty to a distant site to study a new topic. If your program is offering a study abroad course, it could be an excellent opportunity to meet degree requirements while having a more diverse, in-depth experience than you could here on campus. In general, studying abroad is an excellent opportunity to see new things, broaden your perspectives, and enhance your life experience while still earning credit towards your degree.

Will the credits count towards my degree?

We recommend that you meet with your academic advisor to determine exactly where your study abroad credits will fit into your course of study. In some cases, you can meet degree requirements with study abroad courses. In other cases, the credits will be counted as general electives. Either way, the experience can be a valuable part of your education.

Do I have to be a UW Tacoma student to participate in a UW Tacoma study abroad program?

No. Some programs may be restricted but most of our programs are open to students from any UW campus.

I am a UW Tacoma student. Can I participate in a UW Seattle study abroad program?

Yes. If you don't find a program that interests you here at UW Tacoma, you are encouraged to look into the wide variety of programs offered through International Programs and Exchanges at UW Seattle.

Can I apply my financial aid to study abroad programs?

Yes. Your financial aid package may not cover all of the expenses of a program, but certainly can be applied towards those expenses. Visit the Office of Student Financial Aid website to learn more and make an appointment with a financial aid advisor.

What about scholarships?

If you have a scholarship which can be applied to your tuition expenses, then you can most likely apply those scholarship funds towards your study abroad expenses; check with a financial aid advisor or the organization that provided the scholarship to be sure. In addition, International Programs often has study abroad scholarships available for students participating in our programs. [learn more]

How do I get a letter of recommendation? 

You will be required to have someone submit a recommendation form as a part of your online study abroad application. Click here to learn more about this process. 

Can I use my VA education benefits for study abroad?

If your chosen study abroad program fulfills major requirements, your VA education benefits may cover a portion of your study abroad costs. Please contact for more information.

Do I need a passport?

Yes. Passports are required for all international travel. Since it can take several weeks or even months to get your passport, we encourage students to apply early. If you already have a passport, be sure to check the expiration date to make sure it will still be valid at the time you will be traveling.

What about a visa?

Some destinations will require a visa in addition to a passport, while others will not. If a visa is required, you will be informed of this requirement and provided with instructions on how to apply for the visa. For expedited visas and passports at discounted fees, the UW has a contract with A Briggs Passport & Visa Expeditors. For more information about this service, see the UW A Briggs Q&A or you may go directly to the UW A Briggs website.

Should I visit my doctor before studying abroad?

We encourage anyone participating in a study abroad program to visit their doctor prior to departing. Depending on your health and where you will be travelling, there could be several things to discuss with your physician: Should you consider any immunizations? Do you need an extra supply of prescription medications? How should you prepare for possible changes to your diet or daily routine?

What about insurance?

Study abroad insurance coverage is required. We recommend UW students take advantage of the UW Study Abroad Insurance, as an easy and affordable option. Students with personal insurance may petition for a UW Study Abroad Insurance waiver. Details can be found at the bottom of the page on UW Study Abroad Insurance.

How many other students will be in the program with me?

Most programs have 12-15 students. Depending on the nature of the program, you might do a lot of independent work, or you might spend most of your time with the group. Either way, most groups are small enough that you get to know the other students quite well and everyone has lots of opportunities for one-on-one or small-group work with other students and the faculty program leaders.

How do I register for a study abroad course?

In most cases, International Programs will register you for the appropriate course once you have been accepted and submitted all required paperwork. You will be given specific registration instructions for your program.

What is a course fee? Why are payments due before the program starts?

Payment for study abroad programs are handled differently from regular tuition. For most programs, you will be charged a series of payments before the program starts. This enables us to make important arrangements in advance, such as reserving your housing. Then, at the time tuition would normally be due, you are charged a "course fee in lieu of tuition". This amount, usually similar to what you would pay for tuition for the same number of credits, is used to pay the instructional expenses for the course, such as faculty salary and expenses.

Can I register for other courses in the same quarter that I'm travelling abroad?

Yes, but there are some important things to consider. First of all, you should consider how much you can actually handle in one quarter. Secondly, be aware that if you register for study abroad credits and regular tuition credits in the same quarter, those will be billed separately, so your tuition bill may be substantially larger. This can be confusing, so please feel free to contact us for more information!

Will my cell phone work? What about my laptop and internet access?

Good questions. For the best answers, you'll need to do a little research. Call your phone company first to find out if they offer coverage abroad. Your next best resource will be the faculty leading your program. They'll be able to answer general questions about strategies for cell phone use, internet access, and the need for an outlet or voltage adapter for your electronic devices. Another option is to get online and search for it; look for information specific to your country. If all else fails, go there and find out first-hand for yourself; afterall, that's what this is all about.

Can I study abroad on your programs if I am not a UW student?

Students from other universities will need to enroll at UW Tacoma as non-matriculated (non-degree seeking) students in order to be eligible to apply to and receive credit for a UW Tacoma study abroad program. The application fee when applying as a non-matriculated student is waived for study abroad programs. Please contact the Office of Global Affairs for further details. Non-matriculated students who have not yet earned a high school diploma or equivalent cannot study abroad on our programs.