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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I study abroad?

Do you crave the chance to get a fresh perspective on your academic major? To improve your foreign language skills? To immerse yourself in a new culture? To broaden your understanding of today’s global society? If so, the better question to ask is, “How could I not study abroad?”

Not only is studying abroad a personally transformative experience, it also sets you a cut above the crowd as you apply for a job and/or graduate school. Now more than ever, employers seek graduates with international experience. By studying abroad, you gain invaluable international knowledge, cross-cultural communication skills, flexibility, resilience, open-mindedness and the ability to adapt to new circumstances—all highly desirable qualities that increase your employability.

At UK, we encourage you to work closely with your academic advisor to choose a program that best complements your academic and professional goals. Even while abroad, you may be able to satisfy major, minor and/or UK Core (general education requirements.

Who can participate in education abroad?

You can. Whether you’re an undergraduate, graduate or professional, you can participate in Education Abroad at UK. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Philosophy major or Pre-Pharmacy—you can find a program that’s right for you. The only requirements are that 1) you are in good academic standing (minimum 2.0 GPA) at the time you apply and for the duration of your program abroad, and 2) that you have completed at least 30 hours of coursework.

Education Abroad opportunities vary widely, and different programs will have different prerequisites, GPA requirements, etc. that may affect exactly which programs you can choose and when you can participate. If you’re a senior, you are welcome to study abroad, but you must work closely with both your education abroad advisor and academic advisor to make sure you have met the appropriate departmental and college requirements; you should also discuss the timeliness of credit transfer in relation to your anticipated graduation date. If you’re a student from another institution, you may participate in programs through Education Abroad by applying to UK as a visiting student.

If you’re a graduate student, there are many programs tailored specifically for you. Several academic departments at UK have funding for graduate students to conduct research overseas, so you should check with you departmental advisor to find out about these opportunities. 

How many students at UK participate in education abroad programs each year?

During the 2012-2013 academic year, a total of 886 UK students studied abroad. 10.9% of the 2013 graduating class earned academic credit abroad. For additional information on the profile of Education Abroad at UK, please read our most recent Enrollment Report [PDF].

What kind of programs does UK Education Abroad offer?

At the University of Kentucky, students have the opportunity to pursue a number of exciting opportunities to further develop their international knowledge and skills. Education abroad offers hundreds of study abroad, research abroad, and intern abroad programs all around the world. Students are encouraged to think about the type of experience they'd like to have abroad:

Study Abroad
Students can enroll in academic coursework at a foreign institution for a traditional classroom-based experience. Depending on the selected program, academic credit will be earned via the host institution or via UK.

Research Abroad
Students can conduct research with faculty at foreign institutions or conduct independent research in the field in an international setting. Depending on the selected program, academic credit will be earned via the host institution or via UK. Research credit is typically awarded either through a student’s academic department.

Intern Abroad
Students can gain work experience in a professional setting through international internships. Depending on the selected program, academic credit will be earned via the host institution or via UK. Internship credit may be awarded either through a student’s academic department or the UK Stuckert Career Center.

Teach Abroad
Students majoring in education can do their student teaching for professional certification at an international elementary, middle or secondary school. Academic credit will be earned via UK College of Education. Non-education majors with an interest in teaching may also be able to volunteer or intern abroad in an educational setting via a Study Abroad, Intern Abroad or Service Abroad program.

Service Abroad
Students can engage with the host community by participating in international service-learning projects. Depending on the selected program, academic credit will be earned via the host institution or via UK.

How do I search for an approved education abroad program?

You can use our online Program Search database to find any and all programs approved by Education Abroad at UK.

What if I want to study on a program that is not listed on the UKEA website?

If you have researched the Education Abroad portfolio of program offerings and cannot find a program that meets your goals, you may petition to participate in an external program. You must confirm that the external program is offered through an accredited, degree-granting institution, and that you will receive a transcript upon completion of the program.

Before submitting a petition, you are required to meet with an Education Abroad advisor to discuss the program and the petition process. You must also meet with your academic advisor to review the program and course offerings and determine its appropriateness to the your degree plan. Your academic advisor’s signature indicates that s/he endorses the education abroad program and confirms that the academic components of the program are appropriate. If your petition is approved, Education Abroad will extend all relevant services to you.

Qualified, degree-seeking students at any SEC school may apply to designated faculty-led study abroad programs at any other SEC school, if space allows. You will be charged rates and/or program fees equivalent to those charged resident students at the SEC school delivering the study abroad program.

When should I study abroad?

This depends on your major and schedule of required courses. The best way to establish the “when” is by planning early in your academic career. Speak to your academic advisor about timing, attend a First Step Session in Bradley Hall and consult with an Education Abroad advisor

Can I participate in a program in any country?

UK’s policies are designed to encourage students to pursue opportunities in a reasonably safe environment. We operate under the presumption that students should not pursue academic activity in a country for which a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning is in effect. However, as a research institution with a diverse student population, we will consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis if you, in consultation with your primary academic advisor, make a compelling case that an alternative program in a country without a Travel Warning would not equally serve your academic, research and/or career goals. For more information regarding this policy and the appeal process, please speak with an Education Abroad advisor and review our Policies on Travel.

I’m a little nervous being away from home, what might I expect?
It’s completely normal for you to experience some level of anxiety, disorientation, and uncertainty when you arrive overseas. These feelings grow out of the challenges in assimilating into the new culture. Typically, you will experience a “honeymoon” phase at the outset—a time when you’re filled with the initial excitement about your new host country. These feelings often change when you encounter your first serious cultural difference. This can be a great personal challenge. Most students learn how to adapt to these differences, broaden their minds and communicate more effectively. While experiencing culture shock, you may turn to Education Abroad at UK for guidance, but we also encourage you to seek out your program director, host family or classmates to help identify issues and find solutions.

How do I prepare for my program?

Preparation is key to a rewarding and positive education abroad experience. It's very important that you attend all pre-departure orientations facilitated by Education Abroad, as well as read all relevant emails and documents carefully. We also encourage you to contact past participants and other students who have studied abroad. These past participants can provide great information on what it's like to live and study abroad. Education Abroad Peer Ambassadors (EAPAs) are also available to speak to you about their experiences abroad.

Who is my Education Abroad Advisor?

Here at UK, we advise by academic discipline….

What is an Education Abroad Peer Ambassador (EAPA), and what do they do?

An Education Abroad Peer Ambassador is a student who studied abroad through UK and has been trained to assist in advising prospective students. EAPAs conduct First Steps Information sessions, hold weekly advising hours, give presentations in classrooms and residence halls on Education Abroad, organize promotional tables for various activities around campus and distribute promotional materials. EAPAs also assist in planning, organizing and participating in special events, such as the Education Abroad Annual Fair and Pre-Departure/Re-Entry sessions. EAPAs receive internship credit for this experience. For more information on the EAPA program, or to apply to be an EAPA, click here.

What courses can I take abroad? How will they count toward my major or minor?

If you plan carefully, you can find an education abroad program that fits your academic goals regardless of your discipline. Depending on the program, you can enroll in courses in the subject areas of your major or minor, or in courses that fulfill elective, language or UK Core requirements. While searching our online database of programs, use the "advanced search" option to identify programs in a specific field of study.

You must meet with your advisor to plan what courses should be taken abroad in order to maintain progress toward degree requirements. You also must work with your academic advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in the appropriate department to obtain course equivalency approvals. The DUS will need to see course descriptions to assess the equivalency approvals in advance of the program. Syllabi are sometimes also available, depending upon the program.

Do the grades earned abroad count toward my cumulative GPA?

Sometimes. If you enroll in a UK Sponsored and some UK Consortia programs, UK faculty deliver the courses for UK credit, and the grades earned will apply to your UK GPA. For all other program types (UK Exchange, some UK Consortia, UK Direct, UK Partner), the courses are applied to your UK transcript as transfer credit. Grades earned as transfer coursework do not count toward your cumulative GPA and are not reflected on your UK transcript. However, any transfer grades earned abroad may still be used by selective admissions programs, majors, colleges and scholarships at UK. Graduate or professional schools may also require the submission of all original transcripts in the application process.

Can I take courses taught pass/fail?

Yes, but you must check with your academic advisor about the applicability of P/F courses to your major requirement before enrolling in a P/F course. If you’re from another institution and participating in a UK program, you should consult your home institution policies.

How does credit earned abroad transfer to UK?

Before the start of your education abroad program, you must complete an Education Abroad Academic Approval Form (AAF). If your course requires you to take a placement exam upon arrival, it might not be possible to obtain pre-approval for the transfer course equivalency. In this case, you should keep a copy of the syllabi, textbook information, and work completed abroad so that the courses may be evaluated upon return.

Your original education abroad transcript will be kept on file in the Registrar's Office. When applying to graduate schools and jobs, you may request transcript copies from the Registrar's Office directly. In addition, grades earned abroad are entered into an advising section of the Student Computing System at UK and are available to a student's academic advisor. Please note that, due to a number of factors, it may take up to six months for Education Abroad at UK to receive and process a your transcript from abroad.

What is the Academic Approval Form?

The Academic Approval Form (AAF) is the required documentation for pre-approved course evaluations. To complete this form, you must obtain the syllabi and/or course description of each class you wish to take abroad and present these to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) of the relevant departments at UK in order to determine the transfer course equivalency.

Your must turn in a copy of your AAF to the Education Abroad at UK office. Afterward, the AAF will be uploaded to your Education Abroad application, where you can access it at any time. Once Education Abroad at UK receives your foreign transcript, we will compare the transcript to your AAF so that we can appropriately award the academic credit to your UK transcript.

What is a School of Record (SOR)?

A School of Record is the accredited U.S. institution from which you receive a transcript. Some programs (frequently UK Partner programs) are run by organizations and not universities. In order for academic credit to be applied to your UK transcript, it must come from an accredited school or university. The program provider may ask if a School of Record transcript is needed. If the program gives a certificate or letter of completion rather than an official transcript, then you will likely need to obtain the School of Record Transcript. If you’re uncertain about the need for a SOR, feel free to ask your Education Abroad advisor

What is ISP 599?

If you are part of an approved, credit-bearing education abroad program, you will be registered in ISP 599 (1 credit). This pass/fail course assures that you remain in full-time enrollment at UK and thus allows you to utilize Federal Financial Aid and institutional aid for your education abroad program. You will be charged tuition at the standard tuition rate for one credit hour. To receive a P (passing grade) in this course, students are required to complete all components as outlined by the ISP 599 syllabus. For more information, please click here.

What is EAP 4-- on my UK transcript?

If you participate in either a UK Sponsored or UK Exchange program, Education Abroad at UK will enroll you in EAP 4##, a 0-credit hour. We use this course to charge the program fee on your student billing account.

Can I take Distance Learning courses while abroad?

Yes, you are permitted to enroll in Distance Learning courses while participating in an Education Abroad at UK program. However, we strongly encourage you to assess the likelihood of both maximizing your international experience and successfully completing coursework from UK. In addition to the required tuition for ISP 599, you will be charged for tuition and fees associated with Distance Learning instruction.

What if I’m graduating after my program?

Most students enroll as full-time students the semester after participating in an education abroad program, but this is not strictly required. If you plan on studying abroad during your last semester at UK, you should consult closely with your Education Abroad advisor and academic advisor regarding your anticipated graduation date.

How do I figure out how much an education abroad program costs?

We know that affordability can be an important factor as you select an education abroad program. Our office works to provide numerous cost-effective programs for UK students. Education abroad programs vary in cost depending on the features of the program, geographic location, length, the level of on-site support and included benefits in the program. Some programs may be similar in cost or even less expensive than a semester at UK; however, many programs do cost marginally more than a typical semester. Although we provide updated cost information as soon as it is available, institutions around the world determine program costs at different times. Your personal costs may also fluctuate based on currency exchange rates.

To find the costs for a program, locate the program on the Program Search Page. An estimated budget sheet is available for every program. The charges billed to your account are listed at the top of the budget sheet, and typically include the cost of ISP 599 (1 credit), an administration fee ($100), an application/risk management fee ($50) and the cost of travel medical/evacuation insurance. If the program charges a program fee, you can find more information about what this fee includes in the "Notes" section of the budget sheet. At the bottom of the budget sheet are the other estimated expenses (NOT billed by UK). Typically, these include airfare, meals (those not provided by the program), visa fees, books/supplies and personal expenses.

Can I use financial aid toward an education abroad program?

Yes, if you are participating in a credit-bearing education abroad experience. Since you remain a full-time student at UK while abroad (i.e. enrollment in ISP 599), most financial aid and scholarships you normally receive while taking classes at UK will apply toward Education Abroad at UK programs. Notable exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships. Whether you have grants, federal aid or university scholarships, that money is credited to your student account as though you were still here at UK. You may also apply for federal, state and institutional financial aid for a year or semester abroad. It is always a good idea to discuss specific questions about financial aid with a Financial Aid advisor.

What scholarships are available for education abroad?

Yes. Education Abroad at UK offers need and merit-based scholarships. If you’re pursuing a credit-bearing education abroad program, you’re eligible to apply for these scholarships. Furthermore, depending on your program and/or destination, there are some education abroad scholarships available for specific programs or world regions. There are also two first generation scholarships available through Education Abroad: the Henry & Josephine Duysen Scholarship and the Kevin & Sheri Collins Endowment for Education Abroad. Please view our Financial Aid and Scholarships page for details.

In addition to these UK scholarships, there are several external scholarships for which you can apply, including Boren, Gilman, Fulbright, Rotary International, Marshall, Rhodes, etc.

Do veteran’s academic benefits apply to education abroad?

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Does the Employee Education Benefits program apply to education abroad programs?

If you’re participating in the Employee Education Benefits program, you are eligible to apply these benefits to UK tuition charges associated with education abroad. Employee Education Benefits program cannot be used to cover fees associated with education abroad. If you’re participating in a UK Exchange program, you can apply these benefits to the EAP fee associated with exchange programming.

How do I get a passport?

In order to apply for a passport, you must complete the following steps:

Obtain evidence of your U.S. citizenship. This must be one of the following original documents (photocopies are not accepted): Certified U.S. Birth Certificate Previous U.S. Passport Consular Report of Birth Abroad Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship You can conveniently obtain this passport photo at most drugstores (CVS, Rite Aid, Wallgreens, etc.). Once you have obtained all of these materials, fill out your passport application (Form DS-11), which you can obtain on the U.S. Department of State’s website. Do NOT sign the form yet. Take all of these materials, along with a check (as of June 2014, the current cost of a new passport is $135.00) to the nearest Acceptance Facility, the most convenient of which is usually your local post office. There, a postmaster will assist you with the remainder of the process.Typically, it takes 4-6 weeks to process your passport request, though this process can be expedited for a certain fee. For additional and up-to-date information on the passport process, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website.

What is a visa? Do I need one?

A great place to get basic information about visa requirements is the host country's embassy website. You should also speak with your Education Abroad advisor about the type of information needed for the visa application. You may also choose to use a visa processing service, such as A Briggs. You can find more information about visas here.

What if I need to see a doctor while abroad?

Travel medical insurance coverage is required for participation in all Education Abroad at UK programs. You will be enrolled in HTH Worldwide travel medical insurance and On-Call evacuation services as part of your acceptance paperwork. Once enrolled, you will receive an email from HTH directly with information on how to log-in to the HTH website; print their insurance card; access the insurance policy brochure; and access important physician, prescription and hospital information. If you’re participating in partner and consortia programs whose coverage meets Education Abroad at UK minimum requirements, you will be enrolled in the travel medical insurance program via their program provider.

I take medication daily for ________. Is there anything special I should do before studying abroad?
You should never take any medication out of its original container when traveling and should always carry a copy of the prescription for any medication. Please check HTH for local laws restricting the import of particular medication. Some medications that are legal in the U.S. may be considered illegal overseas, so it is important to check your medications before leaving.

How do I know if I need vaccinations for travel? Where can I get them?

Students can choose from multiple campus resources when preparing to go abroad, including travel abroad health services from both University Health Service [PDF] and the University of Kentucky Health Care Travel Clinic. University Health Service (at the Kentucky Clinic on S. Limestone) offers country specific counseling, physicals, vaccinations, prescriptions and some insurance information. UHS recommends scheduling appointments at least 4-6 weeks prior to traveling. The Travel Clinic (at the Kentucky Clinic South) offers services to meet the medical needs of anyone preparing to travel abroad. The full-service travel clinic provides immunizations and country-specific medical advice, as well as post-travel screening and evaluation. Please consult the Travel Clinic website for information on these services as well as additional resources on health abroad.

What happens if there is an emergency while I am abroad?

Every emergency, whether personal, political or natural, is unique and requires action based on its specific set of circumstances. Education Abroad at UK has communication and action plans in place for different types of crises. These plans involve clear lines of communication with our partners overseas. We also maintain a database with information about where all of our students are in the world and when they are there. Therefore, if something happens overseas that is site-specific, we can give individualized instructions based on the location and situation. If you or your family has concerns about a specific site or location, please contact the appropriate Education Abroad advisor with questions.

As a parent, how best do I support my student abroad?

As your student prepares to participate in an education abroad program, it may be helpful for you to assist in keeping important information organized and accessible. Here are some questions for your consideration during this process:

  • Have you and your student read the international travel medical/evacuation insurance policy and how to make a claim? Consider visiting the HTH website to collect names of English-speaking physicians in the city or town where the program is located, learn how to file a claim, find translations of medicine names, etc.
  • Has your student registered his/her time abroad through the U.S. State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) website? This is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling or living in a foreign country, which enables them to be quickly contacted in the event of an emergency.
  • Does one person in the family have a valid passport in the case of an emergency occurring abroad? We recommend that students have photocopies of the ID page of their passport with them when they travel (kept separate from their passport) and that they leave a copy at home with their family. This accelerates the processing of a new passport in the event that their original passport is lost or stolen.
  • Does your student require any special accommodations due to a physical, medical, behavioral or learning condition/disability? Make sure that your son or daughter has communicated these needs to his or her Education Abroad advisor, as well as to the program director or host institution. Students should list any and all conditions or disabilities, including prior conditions that may resurface while abroad, on their Self-Disclosure Form, which is part of the online application process. Most accommodation requests can be met overseas, but advance notice and preparation are important.
  • Has your student been prescribed medication that s/he must take on a regular basis? Students should never take any medication out of its original container when traveling and should always carry a copy of the prescription for any medication. Please check HTH for local laws restricting the import of particular medication.
  • Has your student visited the UK Travel Clinic? We recommend that all students visit the UK Travel Clinic to be certain that they are up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations for their host country. Some countries require proof of certain vaccinations in order to enter the country.

What is FERPA?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funding under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. University of Kentucky is limited in the information we can provide to persons other than the student, including parents.

For details on the FERPA at the University of Kentucky, please visit the Registrar's website. As part of their application process, students have the opportunity to sign a consent form allowing Education Abroad at UK to discuss details of the education abroad program to those explicitly named on the form. If your student has signed the FERPA consent waiver and listed you as an Education Abroad Emergency Contact, we will be allowed to disclose non-directory information to you in situations of health or safety emergencies. If your student has signed the FERPA consent waiver and listed you as an Education Abroad Financial Contact, we may discuss financial information with you. If your student does not sign the FERPA waiver consent form, Education Abroad at UK may still contact you should a significant health or safety emergency arise. The decision to contact parents in such emergency situations will be determined by Education Abroad at UK administration.

As a faculty member/advisor, how do I connect students with UK Education Abroad?

First, please encourage your students to visit UK Education Abroad in 315 Bradley Hall. Here are some important items to discuss during academic advising appointments:

  • Will the semester abroad program affect the student's expected graduation date?
  • How will the course taken abroad fit into the student's academic plan?
  • If courses cannot be approved beforehand, how will the courses be evaluated upon return?
  • Which courses will the student take upon his or her return to UK?
  • How will you communicate with the student while they are abroad in regards to lifting advisor holds for UK registration and proposing alternate courses?