Planning Guidance FAQ
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Research programs and apply
- Attend general advising to help narrow down programs and make an appointment for program-specific inquiries once you’ve narrowed down a program.
- Review what programs are of most interest to you and have several options in mind. Look at the virtual program options we currently have available.
- Check the program webpage to see if there is an application open for your desired term, as not all programs are accepting applications due to COVID-19.
- Apply for your program by the application deadline.
- Ensure you have a valid passport that expires at least six months after your program end date. If you do not, you are strongly encouraged to apply immediately. Application instructions and information is available here.
- Please note that your desired program’s location(s) may have COVID-19 vaccination (and/or testing) requirements to enter. These conditions change often. Please contact your Study Abroad Advisor if you have any concerns about these requirements.
Understand your program’s costs
Review the cost sheet for your program, which includes our financial policies.
- Acceptance deposits are normally non-refundable. However, if you cancel your program participation for an on-site (non-virtual) program prior to the start of the program due to concerns about COVID-19, then the acceptance deposit is refundable.
- Acceptance deposits are refundable if UW Study Abroad cancels a program for any reason.
- Remember that out of pocket expenses are your responsibility.
Once accepted to a program, complete your acceptance tasks
- Complete required Acceptance Tasks in your MyStudyAbroad (MySA) account, and check in on this task list regularly. These tasks include the Student Acceptance Form: COVID-19 Acknowledgement.
- Familiarize yourself with your program information and related policies. These are found on your program website, study abroad/away and program handbooks (located in your MySA account), and your program cost sheet.
- Research housing and other on-site arrangements, but do not make any arrangements until the program is confirmed to run.
- Submit Course Equivalency Requests (CERs) (when applicable) in your MySA account to determine course equivalents.
- Research visa requirements (if required) for studying in your program location.
Advice for making travel and other arrangements
- We recommend you explore fully refundable tickets and travel insurance options.
- If you are looking for housing in Madison, read the lease carefully and have a back-up plan if your study abroad program runs.
- Carefully review and avoid paying any other non-recoverable expenses as much as possible.
The pandemic requires all of us to remain flexible as plans can change any time. We encourage you to have backup plans for classes, housing, and other arrangements.
Understand what your experience will be like and how to prepare
Study abroad and study away will look differently than it did in years past. In the immediate future once on-site programs are able to recommence, there will probably be fewer locations to choose from, housing options may be more limited, program dates may shift, course formats may change, excursions might change, and physical distancing guidelines will need to be followed. We will do our best to keep you updated on changes that may occur on your program. We’ll be here for you to answer any questions you may have and support you in your planning. Additionally, please read the Student Acceptance Form: COVID-19 Acknowledgement.
Travel while on the program may look different as well. Whether you can travel or not to other countries while abroad will depend on each program’s and country’s regulations. You may be restricted to stay within your host country. If you are in a situation where your ability to travel is limited to your host city or local region, we hope you embrace this as an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the local culture and landscape.
Do I need to get vaccinated to participate in a UW–Madison study abroad/away program?
We strongly encourage all participants to be fully vaccinated with a CDC or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine prior to their program start date.
The University of Wisconsin–Madison does not require that participants be vaccinated. However, countries may require proof of vaccination for entry, and some programs and partners may also require proof of vaccination prior to participation. Additionally, country and program protocols such as mandatory quarantines, travel policies, course and activity participation, housing options, and testing requirements may vary by vaccination status. Being fully vaccinated with a CDC or WHO approved vaccine will result in a less burdensome and safer traveling, living, and learning experience for you and those you interact with given dynamic worldwide conditions due to COVID-19.
It is your responsibility to understand and abide by the vaccination requirements (including acceptable vaccine types and verification methods) for your specific program and location(s), as well as any country you may travel through or visit during your time abroad. Note that restrictions and regulations may change at any time. Any related delays, penalties, quarantines, program status changes or cancellations, and associated costs are the full responsibility of the student.
We encourage you to bring your COVID-19 vaccination record card when abroad and to also have copies available as a back-up.
You will need to research and monitor your country and program requirements. The U.S. Embassy is a good source for the country(ies) you’re visiting. For program specific requirements, please read all of your program materials carefully or reach out to your study abroad advisor if you have any questions.
Do I need to show proof of vaccination to enter my country?
This will vary by country and may change over time. We encourage you to go to the U.S. Embassy’s page for your host country for the most current information on vaccination requirements.
You are responsible for understanding and following the entry information for your host country and for any country where you travel. If you do not follow the entry requirements, that could preclude you from entering your host country, resulting in unforeseen personal expenses for which you won’t be reimbursed, and may impact successful program completion. You also must understand that rapid border closures, movement restrictions, or other declarations may occur.
What is a vaccine passport?
Vaccine passports are issued in a paper or digital format, such as smartphone apps that securely store your data, showing proof of your vaccination status. In some places, a vaccine passport would allow individuals to travel without restrictions or entry bans, including quarantine obligations or testing requirements. You will need to make yourself aware of what is needed for proof of vaccine for your host country/city.
What PPE/pandemic-related items should I pack?
You should plan to pack masks, hand sanitizer, a thermometer. Your program may have other specific requirements.
Do I need to get a COVID test prior to departure?
This will vary by country and may change over time. We encourage you to go to the U.S. Embassy’s page for your host country for more information. You will also need to provide the specific documentation requested by your host country.
If you need a negative test result for travel purposes and you are here in Madison, check with UHS for the test and appropriate documentation: https://www.uhs.wisc.edu/medical/travel-clinic/. You can also get a test through Dane County Public Health but make sure you follow the instructions listed here for international documentation: https://publichealthmdc.com/documents/covid_int_travel.pdf. If you are not in Madison, check with your local healthcare clinic about testing and documentation. Be sure you have a plan well in advance of travel and understand the likely wait time for results.
Will I need to quarantine after I arrive, and what will that be like?
This will vary by country, but you may need to do so. Many countries, including the U.S. have quarantine requirements. You will need to research your country’s and program’s requirements. The best source for this is the U.S. Embassy for the country you’re visiting.
Some programs are building a quarantine period into their program. For other countries, you may have to quarantine upon arrival. The level of support provided will vary by program, and we encourage you at ask your Study Abroad Advisor if you have any questions. Note that any costs associated with quarantine are your responsibility.
What are personal trips and travel going to be like once I’m abroad?
Travel while on the program may look different as well. Whether you can travel outside your host city or to other countries while abroad will depend on each program’s and country’s regulations. You may be restricted to stay within your host city or host country. If you are in a situation where your ability to travel is limited to your host city or local region, we hope you embrace this as an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the local culture and landscape.
You may also have to quarantine upon return for personal travel. Any costs associated with that quarantine period would be at your own expense. Personal travel is not an acceptable excuse for missing classes and may impact your grades as many locations have attendance policies.
Will I be able to have visitors from the US?
You may be able to have visitors, but many countries have not allowed tourists to enter even when they are allowing student entry. Your program may also have rules about visitors. We would recommend waiting to make plans until after your arrival so you can see what types of options are available.
What happens if I test positive for COVID while abroad?
If you test positive for COVID while abroad, notify your local program staff immediately and follow their guidance on self-isolation and contact tracing. All UW Study Abroad participants are enrolled in comprehensive travel insurance through CISI. CISI provides medical benefits in the event of hospitalization as well as the cost of testing, when part of a course of treatment. CISI also offers trip delay benefits in certain instances of delay due to quarantine or sickness.
What happens if my host city has specific requirements/restrictions/lockdown?
You must follow any public health and safety measures that may be implemented by your host country or program. You will get steps communicated to you by local staff about expectations and requirements. Lockdowns can mean different things in different countries. You will be expected to follow any guidance given by us, program partners, and are expected to follow all local and national laws of your host country.
How do I know if my program will run?
We are constantly monitoring health and safety conditions at our program locations and are making decisions to run programs on a program-by-program basis. Most programs starting Spring 2022 or later will only be accepting applications once that program has been approved to re-open.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, global conditions, as well as rules and regulations established as a result of those changing conditions, are still highly dynamic. Please note that even if your program has been approved to proceed, circumstances could change requiring the cancellation or modification of your program, at any point before or after the program begins. Your study abroad advisor will be in contact with you with any important notifications. Please read through your program cost sheet carefully and make yourself aware of all relevant financial policies regarding program cancellations. Please reach out to your study abroad advisor with any questions regarding study abroad planning and managing potential changes to your program. We encourage all students to have a back-up plan if their program is unable to run.
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I am an international student. Who should I contact about visa and travel questions?
International students should contact International Student Services (ISS) for advising about how this will impact your U.S. visa status as well as any concerns about returning to your home of record.
How do I submit application forms and when are they marked as submitted?
If you need to submit forms for your application follow these instructions. Due to staff working remotely there will be delays in processing time and marking off as complete items mailed to our office.
How long does it take to hear a decision on my application?
It may take up to 4-6 weeks for your application to be reviewed after the regular program application deadline and for you to receive notice of a decision that will be emailed to your @wisc email account.
How do I find out if my program has been cancelled?
All participants will be notified as soon as any modifications are made to their specific program.
Students should reach out to their study abroad advisor directly if they have any questions about their program’s timeline or what they should be doing now to prepare to study abroad.
Students should create a back-up plan in case their program is not available.
Students who wish to participate in non-approved programs will need to apply for a waiver prior to the program. Waivers are being reviewed on a very limited basis (e.g., student already in country, strong family support in country, etc.).
Please direct any non-approved program questions to email@example.com.
A cancellation decision hasn’t been made about my program yet. How should I handle booking airfare or out of pocket expenses?
Students should have back-up plans in place and avoid spending any unrecoverable costs towards their study abroad experience. Additional guidance for students planning to study abroad can be found here.
If my program is cancelled, do I need to apply again to go on another study abroad program in the future?
Yes. You will need to submit a new application for either the same program or a different program for a future duration.
What happens to my scholarships and financial aid if my program is cancelled?
Any UW Study Abroad scholarships offered for your program will be rescinded. Scholarships cannot be retained to use on a future study abroad program. You will need to reapply for the scholarship when you apply for a future program.
Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to determine how your program cancellation will affect your scholarships and financial aid awards.
My program was cancelled. Will I receive a refund of my program confirmation deposit?
Yes, students who have paid their program confirmation deposit will be refunded. Refunds will be applied to either your student account or credit card depending on whether you paid by check or credit card.
Can I withdraw my participation before UW Study Abroad formally cancels my program?
Acceptance deposits are normally non-refundable. However, if you cancel your program participation for an on-site (non-virtual) program prior to the start of the program due to concerns about COVID-19, then the acceptance deposit is refundable. Refunds will be applied to either your student account or credit card depending on whether you paid by check or credit card.
Where can I go to find more information about planning for a future program?
Please visit the Next Steps and Planning FAQ.
I'm not seeing my question answered on this page. Who should I contact?
Study Abroad Resource Center
Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
If we are unable to answer your call, please leave a voicemail and we’ll return your call as soon as possible.
For program specific questions, we encourage you to reach out to your study abroad advisor.
Study Abroad Advisors and Enrollment Specialist Advisors are available for phone or Skype advising appointments that can be made through Starfish.
Note: Drop-in advising at all study abroad advising locations is suspended until further notice.