Study Abroad
Getting Started

A Beginner's Guide to Study Abroad

Students choose to study abroad for many reasons. Some students wish to study abroad to take courses that are unavailable at their home universities. Other students often wish to become immersed in a new culture, and/or gain proficiency in a foreign language. Some even go abroad in a search for their own heritage, or just to experience the world. Whatever your reason for study abroad may be, the University of Memphis has a variety of different programs to accommodate your international academic goals.

Surprisingly, the experiences and lessons learned from a student’s time abroad are very different from what the student had expected prior to their departure. This is one of the reasons study abroad is so challenging and rewarding, but also why students should be fully prepared before embarking on a study abroad trip.

Study abroad participants often come back from their trips fundamentally different. They often attain greater levels of maturity, insight, and tolerance, but most importantly, they aspire to see situations from multiple perspectives. Regardless of their majors, study abroad alumni have a better chance of understanding of their own culture, and the cultures and differences of those who live outside the United States. Alumni of study abroad programs also often have a more sophisticated approach to international policy and a greater understanding of world affairs. In today’s global society these insights are crucial for successful and meaningful interaction both at home and abroad.

The following is a list of 20 questions to help students define their goals for their study abroad trip. The questions will also assist students in selecting a program that best fits these newly defined international goals and provide pertinent information on the study abroad process.

  1. Why should I study abroad?

  2. Who can participate in study abroad?

  3. What are my academic, personal, and professional goals?

  4. When should I start planning to study abroad?

  5. When can I study abroad?

  6. What subjects can I study abroad?

  7. What types of study abroad programs are available through University of Memphis?

  8. What is the first step in planning for study abroad?

  9. How do I choose a program?

  10. If I don’t speak a foreign language, can I still study abroad in a non- English speaking country?

  11. Where do I want to go and for how long?

  12. Will my academic advisor be supportive?

  13. How will my credits transfer?

  14. Will my parents be supportive?

  15. I might not have any room in my schedule to study abroad. Will study abroad keep me form graduating on time?

  16. Can I talk to students who have returned from study abroad trips?

  17. How much does study abroad cost?

  18. Can I use financial aid?

  19. Am I ready to choose a program?

  20. I am still undecided, where can I find more information on studying abroad?

  1. Why should I study abroad?

    Study abroad can help you develop new skills, more independence, and self-confidence. You will return form your study abroad experience with new skills that you may not have been able to acquire on you home campus.

    Study abroad can also set you apart from other job seekers in a very competitive job market. You can highlight your experience abroad in job interviews and on your resume. All approved courses taken on a study abroad program will appear on your U of M transcript.

    The feasibility of going on a study abroad program at U of M is greater than at most other colleges and universities. U of M makes it easy for you to study abroad! We sponsor a wide variety of quality programs in all areas of the world: winter break, summer, semester, or academic year programs that have foreign language requirements and those that do not; small and large programs; specialized and general programs; and academic internship programs. As a study abroad participant you will maintain your U of M status. The study abroad location and courses are listed on your U of M transcript. With advanced planning, you can fit study abroad into your academic program and make progress toward your degree without delaying your graduation. You may also be able to expand your financial aid package to cover the cost of study abroad.

  2. Who can participate in study abroad?

    All qualified students with sophomore, junior, senior, or graduate level standing that are in good academic standing are eligible to apply for participation in study abroad programs. Freshman students are only eligible for summer programs after their first successful year of study.

  3. What are my academic, personal, and professional goals?

    • What is your major? Do you want to take classes in your major while you are abroad? Or will you take electives? A combination of the two? What classes do you need to transfer back to U of M?

    • What are your language skills? Do you want to acquire a new language, increase previous knowledge in a language, or gain foreign language proficiency?

    • Where do you want to travel? What part of the world would you like to live in?

    • What cultures would you like to learn more about or study?

    • Where do you want to live while you are abroad? Do you want to live with a host family? In a local apartment with other American students/local students/other international students? A dorm?

    • How will this experience fit into or augment your life and career goals?

    • Are you mature enough to live away from my friends and family for a few weeks, months, summer, semester, or year?

    • How do you expect to grow as a person from this experience?

    • What expectations and/or demands do you have for my study abroad trip?

    • Can you fit study abroad into your academic and personal schedule?

  4. When should I start planning to study abroad?

    Early planning is the key to a successful study abroad trip. You might be able to plan a study abroad experience quickly, but you will have more options and better success at integrating an international program into your degree at U of M if you start your search early. You should start thinking about studying abroad four to nine months or more before you actually want to travel, and even earlier if you want to obtain outside funding for your trip. Achieving your personal and academic objectives and your long-term career goals can depend on your choice of the right country and academic program; study abroad is not an endeavor to be taken lightly!

  5. When can I study abroad?

    Most students study abroad their junior and senior years. Programs are open to sophomores as well. Graduate level students may participate in U of M administered study abroad programs or faculty-led overseas independent research projects.

  6. What subjects can I study abroad?

    No matter what your major is, you can find a program to suit your academic needs with careful planning and advice from your academic advisor. Before you start planning your trip, you should meet with your academic advisor and the U of M study abroad staff.

  7. What type of study abroad programs are available through the University of Memphis?

    • U of M Faculty-Led Programs

    • Faculty-Directed Overseas Independent Research Projects

    • U of M Sponsored Study Abroad Programs

    • Student Exchanges

    • Internships Abroad
    • Non-U of M Study Programs

    The U of M is formally affiliated with or direct sponsors of many study abroad programs and exchanges. These programs are approved through the Study Abroad Office.

    U of M Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs

    U of M faculty-led study abroad programs are those programs, regardless of duration, that are directed by U of M faculty members. Students who participate in these programs will enroll in the course(s) offered by the professors during the trip.

    These programs are available for upper-division undergraduates, graduate level students and non-U of M students. Students will earn U of M credit (usually 3 to 6 semester hours) in U of M courses and remain registered at the U of M while abroad.

    While some programs are residency programs, others are travel seminars that introduce students to various countries and their cultures. Most are offered during the summer session. Some are offered during winter break (December/January) or spring break.

    All programs are directed by U of M faculty members. Student and faculty members will have the advantage of a significant international experience that enriches the international flavor of the U of M campus courses.

    Independent Research Projects Abroad

    Faculty directed overseas independent research projects provide U of M undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to travel overseas and engage in independent research projects under direction of a U of M faculty member. Independent studies programs can be for credit or not for credit.

    U of M Sponsored Study Abroad Programs

    U of M sponsored study abroad programs are those programs, regardless of duration, that are administered and managed by organizations affiliated with the U of M.

    U of M sponsored programs are open to U of M and non-U of M students.

    Other cosponsored study abroad programs include:

    • Tennessee Consortium for International Studies (TNCIS)

    • College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS)

    • International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP)

    • Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA)

    • Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University (IFSA-Butler)

    • The Alliance for Global Education

  8. What is the first step in planning for study abroad?

    Click "Find a Program" to see a list of Study Abroad programs. You can search by program duration, the part of the world that you would like to study in, or the subject you would like to study. There are other parameters to search by such as the language of instruction, academic term, or GPA requirement. Once you have reviewed the available programs, you may request advising on a program page that interests you or click "Apply Now." In all programs, besides faculty-led, clicking "Apply Now" will initially create an advising application. Once you have met with the Study Abroad advisor and know the program is for you, then you will be able to apply. If you have not narrowed down your program of interest, you may request an appointment with an advisor by going here and clicking "Schedule Advising Appointment" or by sending an email to tigersabroad@memphis.edu.

  9. How do I choose a program?

    First, you will need to decide where or what you want to study. You can search for programs by term, country, and/or major the following webpage. You should also schedule a meeting with a study abroad advsior here. Then you will need to examine your personal and academic goals for study abroad and see if our programs in that area of the world or subject will fit your needs. After you have considered these variables, you can evaluate the programs and make a decision based on your priorities. For each program, you can request advising before you chose to apply.

  10. If I don’t speak a foreign language, can I still study in a non-English speaking country?

    Yes. Programs with courses in English are available in many countries. Programs taught entirely in the target language may require at least two years of college level language study, or the equivalent. Some programs taught partially in English will require less.

    Most faculty directed programs are offered in English, with the exception of those programs where language proficiency is the focus. To search for programs that are taught in English, you can select "English" under "Language of Instruction" in the advanced search. A list of programs with courses offered in English will appear.

  11. Where do I want to go and for how long?

    U of M offers many opportunities to study abroad. Programs are available everywhere in the world, except Antarctica! Programs vary in length: winter break, fall break, spring break, summer, semester, or academic year programs.

  12. Will my academic advisor be supportive?

    When you start considering study abroad, please talk to your academic advisor. Once you have a more definite idea about a program, schedule a meeting so you can consider the following questions together: What are your academic objectives? When is the best time to go abroad, and how long can you stay? Do you want to earn major, minor, or elective credit? Do you want to expand your career opportunities? You should give the advisor a description of the courses you plan to take during the study abroad experience and information about the program or institution you will attend.

    Your academic advisor will assist you in selecting appropriate courses to meet U of M requirements. He/she can guide your evaluation of study abroad programs in relation to your academic needs. To arrange for academic credit to transfer from your program, you will need to complete a transfer credit request form with the Admissions Office in 201 Wilder Tower.

  13. How will my credits transfer?

    Before departure, you must find out with certainty if courses taken overseas will fulfill graduation requirements. Obtain course descriptions of all the courses that you plan to take at the host institution and have them translated in to English, if necessary. Take course descriptions to Ms. Dru Welch located in 201 Wilder Tower and she will fill out the Transfer Credit Request form. Have your advisor sign this form and then go to the Graduation Analyst of your college for approval. Afterwards, take the approved Transfer Credit Request form back to Dru Welch in 201 Wilder Tower. You can find more information regarding this process on the U of M admissions website.

    While abroad make sure to keep ALL documents relating to the courses you take at the host institution abroad.

    When you return, make sure your transcript has been mailed to the Study Abroad Office at:

    International Programs
    The University of Memphis
    102 Brister Hall
    Memphis, TN 38152

    When the transcripts arrive at our office, we will contact you. After that you will need to make an appointment to see Ms. Welch to discuss your transfer credit. The Admissions Office will not process Transfer Credit Requests without the approvals of the appropriate advisors and graduation analysts.

    Students participating in U of M administered programs do not need to worry about course equivalencies, as all courses offered in these programs are U of M courses taught by U of M faculty members.

  14. Will my parents be supportive?

    Everybody’s parents are different, but it is wise to gather as much information as possible before you talk to your parents. You know how best to discuss this opportunity with your parents, but if they are skeptical, you can tell them that parents who have had a child participate in a study abroad experience often regard this period in their child’s life as the single most beneficial experience. You may also schedule an appointment to meet with a study abroad advisor with your parents.

  15. I might not have any room in my schedule to study abroad. Will study abroad keep me form graduating on time?

    With careful planning, study abroad can fit right into your degree program so that your graduation is not delayed. The Study Abroad Office can arrange programs in the summer, winter break, a semester, or for an entire year. Current research shows that students who have studied abroad have a higher retention rate and they tend to graduate on schedule. Students sometimes do end up taking an extra semester to graduate; however, the benefits of studying abroad far outweigh any disadvantages of staying in school an extra term. Your study abroad experience will be meaningful on many different levels: academic, professional, and personal, and you can use the experience you gain to your advantage when you graduate.

  16. Can I talk to students who have returned from study abroad trips?

    We are happy to set up a meeting with past participants or put you in contact. Another way to speak with students who have traveled abroad is to attend the Study Abroad Fair held once each semester.

  17. How much does study abroad cost?

    You may think that study abroad will be too expensive and that you cannot afford this unique opportunity. However, contrary to what most believe, almost all students can afford to study abroad if they plan well. Costs vary according to the program. Specific costs may be found with program details.

    Program costs may include tuition, room and board, airfare and books. The most important step is for you to establish a budget to help you decide which programs meet both your academic needs and financial capacity. Be especially careful to find out what program costs do not cover. Calculate all your current on-campus costs, including rent, travel during the semester breaks, entertainment, books, supplies, etc. Use this as a baseline for comparison of costs abroad. However, do not plan with the idea that you will find work abroad, as working is not allowed on study abroad programs.

  18. Can I use financial aid for my study abroad trip?

    Using financial aid can make your study abroad experience more affordable. You must complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) to attain aid. For semester and year programs, all normal financial aid can usually be used towards your program fees. One thing that you must keep in mind though, is that financial aid is dispersed on U of M academic schedule and will not be issued early even if your semester at your host school begins prior to the U of M semester. Financial aid does not come in time to purchase plane tickets and other trip preparation costs. You will need to keep this in mind when creating your budget.

    If you plan to go abroad in the summer, you may be able to use financial aid as well. If you receive aid during the academic year (i.e. Fall and Spring), the financial aid office would have to consider what aid eligibility (ex. Pell Grant or Direct Loan) you may have remaining for the summer. If you are interested in a study abroad program for the summer, you should complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), if you have not already applied for the academic year as well as complete a Summer Update Form, which can be obtained in the Financial Aid Office.

    To receive financial aid for any Study Abroad program (either during the academic year or summer), you must:

    • be enrolled at least half-time (i.e. 5 credit hours - graduate and 6 credit hours - law and undergraduate) NOTE: Law students are considered half-time during the summer ONLY with 3 law credit hours.

    • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen

    • be making satisfactory academic progress

    • not be in default on any student loan or owe a repayment on any grant

    • have remaining aid eligibility

    More information can be found at the financial aid website, http://www.memphis.edu/financialaid/studyabroad.php

    There are also a limited number of scholarships that may apply to your program of choice. You can generally use U of M academic scholarships and federal student loans, and state grants that are normally applicable to campus programs for study abroad costs. Some U of M tuition waivers do apply. Study abroad scholarship information can be found in the "Scholarships" section.

    We encourage all students to meet with the Study Abroad Financial Aid Officer, Ms. Joanna Tenner, at least six months prior to your planned trip. You can contact her by email at jpullis@memphis.edu.

  19. Am I ready to choose a program?

    If you still have questions or don’t know which program to choose, please come to the Study Abroad Office located in 102 Brister Hall. Study abroad program assistants are available on a walk-in or appointment basis.

  20. How do I find out more information?

    Visit the Study Abroad Office. It is your most informative resource for overseas opportunities. There are catalogs and brochures that abound with useful information on study abroad programs. Our knowledgeable staff members can advise you and show you how to use the available resources.

    The decision to study abroad should not be taken lightly. It requires hard work, patience, and dedication. However, most students agree, it becomes one of the most memorable experiences of their life. We are here to help you decide if study abroad is right for you. Our staff and your academic adviser will work with you to decide what program would best meet your needs and interests.

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Last Updated: 9/20/13