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Why should I study abroad?

Study abroad is an enriching and eye-opening adventure, where learning extends far beyond the classroom. The experience will expose you to new ways of thinking, living, and viewing the world. Benefits include the opportunity to learn about another culture firsthand, start to learn an entirely new language or improve your skills in one you have already studied.  You can also travel, fulfill major and minor coursework requirements, and develop new intellectual pursuits, skills, and perspectives. By living within another culture, you are likely to gain a new understanding of, and perhaps even appreciation for, the United States and its way of life.

You can also expect to make friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime.

When should I start planning to study abroad?

Early planning is the key to successful study abroad. Hundreds of study abroad opportunities exist; they differ in location, duration, curriculum, language, degree of cultural immersion, cost, and many other factors. In order to find the program that is the right “fit” for your personal and academic objectives, you should begin planning your study abroad experience at least six to twelve months before you plan to participate.

Education Abroad Advising can greatly help with your program search.  Visit us early so we can assist you with finding a program that interests you and is relevant to your degree plan!  We can help you sort through the opportunities that exist and share our inside knowledge with you about the programs and process. 

See our Dates and Deadlines section for specific deadlines. See our Getting Started section for an overview of the study abroad process.  

Do I need to know a foreign language to study abroad?

No! Study Abroad programs with courses taught in English are available all over the world – not just native English speaking countries. If you participate in a program where English is not the native language, you will likely have the opportunity to take local language courses as part of your program. Some programs do require a certain level of foreign language skills, depending on the course availability.

You can take foreign languages and courses taught in a different language abroad if you are interested in learning one or continuing your existing study of a language. Many opportunities exist! 

Are there special scholarships for study abroad?

Yes. Some scholarship money is available from the Office of Education Abroad, certain program providers, and through independent organizations. Also, financial aid can typically be applied to study abroad programs. Don't limit yourself to the scholarships you see on our website though! Searching on your own may yield scholarship and grant opportunities that apply to your chosen study abroad program. 

For more information, please see the Funding your Program and Scholarships section of our website. 

For questions about how financial aid can apply to an education abroad program students should contact the Financial Aid Department at to schedule an appointment with questions regarding aid and education abroad.

What types of living accommodations are available?

The housing options vary depending on which program is chosen. Options can include apartments, residential halls, homestays, and hotels.

Can I study abroad if I haven't declared my major?

Yes. A variety of general education courses and electives are offered within most study abroad programs. However, be aware that you must be taking courses that are required towards your degree to use federal aid.  Therefore if you decide to take courses towards a major/minor in which you haven’t declared then you may not be able to use aid towards your program.

How will the credits I earn abroad transfer back to MTSU?

Credits taken abroad can be applied to your major, minor, elective, or general education requirements. Students will need to talk to their Academic Advisor, Department Chair, or the Foreign Language Department (for students taking a language abroad) to identify specific courses that could be substituted into their required course list.  All Education Abroad participants will complete an MTSU Course Approval form as part of the required documentation submitted to the Office of Education Abroad. 

Please see the Getting Started section of our website for more details.

How do I apply for study abroad?

We recommend that you complete the following steps: 

Visit our office for Advising or information to narrow down your program choices. 

  • If you already have a program in mind then you can always visit us for additional program information or questions

Ensure you understand the program's requirements and everything that is included/not included.  Know your program's details! 

Visit with your Academic Advisor, Department Chair, or the Foreign Language Department (students taking a language abroad) to ensure that the program you choose will work for your degree plan

Request Office of Education Abroad preapproval on our website: 

  • Search for your program, select
  • Click "Apply Now" 
  • Log in with your Pipeline credentials and continue the preapproval process as directed 
  • Once we receive your request, we will confirm your request within 3-5 business days via your MTSU email

Once you are confirmed by our office, you can apply to your actual program with the program provider or faculty leader.  We recommend that students understand all aspects of the study abroad process & program, including but not limited to courses, course transfer, costs, financial aid & scholarships, visa process if applicable, and withdrawal fees prior to putting down any type of non-refundable deposit for a program. 

Students are highly encouraged to participate in one or more advising sessions to go over all the steps to studying abroad in detail.  It’s up to each student to understand their specific application process, but our office is here to guide all participants and answer questions.

Sections of our website you may want to review: Getting Started, Funding your Program, Scholarships, Policies & Requirements 

What is study abroad?

Study Abroad is the term applied to the participation of a university student in a structured, credit-granting program of academic study in a foreign country with either a foreign or domestic accredited university. Programs can range in duration during summer term, a semester, or an academic year. 

Who can study abroad?

Most programs are designed for students who have already studied at least 1 year at a university, although remember that applications are sometimes due 6-12 months in advance of departure. Many programs require a GPA of at least 2.75, but some of the more competitive programs require a 3.0 GPA. At minimum, the Office of EA requires a 2.5 for semester or yearlong programs and a 2.0 for summer programs in order to apply.  

The majority of education abroad programs are meant for degree-seeking MTSU students.  Any Non-MTSU student (including MTSU students who will graduate before the program departure) who wants to participate on an education abroad program (academic or non-academic) should speak to the Office of Education Abroad in Peck Hall, Room 207 regarding possible options. 

Students should review the Policies & Requirements of our website to read through all Office of Education Abroad policies regarding study abroad.

How will a study abroad experience enhance my employability after I graduate?

Employers increasingly seek graduates who have international experience. International knowledge, cross-cultural communication skills, flexibility, resilience, and the ability to adapt to new circumstances are skills enhanced through study abroad that are important to employers in various fields.

Some statistics: Study Abroad students are twice as likely to find a job within 12 months of graduation, when only 49% of college graduates found employment in the same period

  1. Study Abroad students have reported 25% higher salaries than those college graduates who do not study abroad
  2. 84% of study abroad alumni felt their studies abroad helped them build valuable skills for the job market
  3. 80% of study abroad students reported that study abroad allowed them to better adapt better to diverse work environments

When should I study abroad?

It is possible to plan a study abroad experience for a summer, semester, or full academic year. There are even some shorter-term programs over spring or fall break and during the winter break between semesters.  We recommend studying abroad as early as the summer after your freshman year if you are interested in a short-term program.

It is advantageous to undertake study abroad in your sophomore year when you still have many general education requirements available and/or you haven’t yet completed a large portion of the courses in your majors/minors.  Lower division courses are easier to find abroad, which makes studying abroad your junior or senior year challenging, especially if you prefer a semester or year-long program. Students should also keep in mind residency requirements and financial aid limitations when choosing a time to participate in an education abroad program.  Finally, we do NOT recommend that you study abroad during your final term at MTSU.  It takes approximately 8-12 weeks (and sometimes longer) to receive an international transcript and, therefore, it is generally not possible to graduate in the same term as your education abroad program. 

What's the best study abroad program?

The possibilities for study abroad are abundant! Before researching programs you will want to have made some preliminary decisions as to the type of experience you want to have. Start by realistically assessing your academic and personal preparation and your objectives. Consider the following questions to help you think about the kind of study abroad experience that would be the right “fit” for you. 

Where do you want to go? Why?
Do you want to study in a less-developed or more-developed country?
Do you want to be in a big city or a small town/rural area?

What do you want or need to study to meet academic objectives?
Are there specific academic requirements that you need to fulfill during study abroad?
Are you fluent enough in a foreign language to take classes, write papers, and take notes, or will you need to take some or all of your coursework in English?
Are you interested in taking courses on the language and culture of the host country?
How will study abroad positively affect your academic program?
What do you want or need to study to meet personal objectives?

To what extent do you wish to integrate yourself into the host culture?
How much contact do you want with other American students?
Would you feel more comfortable with the services of a resident director or are you confident you can handle problems on your own?
Do you prefer to participate in planned excursions included in the program or to arrange your own sightseeing and travel?

Living Arrangements
Do you want to live in a university dormitory?
Would you prefer to live in an apartment?
Do you want to live with other Americans or with local students?
Do you want to live with a local family?

Does your GPA qualify you for the program? Minimum GPA requirements vary from 2.0 - 3.0 or higher, depending on the program.
Do you have the language skills required for the program?
Do you have time to apply before the application deadline?

How long do you want to study abroad (academic year, semester, summer, special short term program)?

Can I afford to study abroad?

Yes, you can! Generally, all financial aid awards, including loans, grants, and scholarships, are applicable to MTSU approved study abroad programs as long as you are enrolled in courses abroad that are required for your degree.

Keep in mind that the cost of participation in a study abroad program depends on a host of factors and these should be taken into consideration as you select the program that is right for you. These factors include the type of study program, duration of program, location, cost of living in host country, exchange rates, etc.  Students may not receive financial aid and/or scholarships to cover the full cost of the selected study abroad program. Most students combine financial aid, scholarships, and personal funds to pay for their program costs. 

Please see our Scholarship and Funding your Program sections of our website for more details.

Can I study abroad and still graduate on time?

Yes, study abroad can be integrated into most academic programs, however more options are available to students who start the process early, ask questions, meet deadlines, and are flexible about location.  

Do I have to pay MTSU tuition in addition to tuition paid to my education abroad program?

No.  You must pay tuition to receive university credit, but you do not pay tuition twice.  Depending on the program you select, you will either pay tuition to MTSU OR to your Program Provider in order to receive university credit.

FAQ's about the preapproval process

  1. Why won't the system let me request preapproval
    1. ?Possible reason: You can only request preapproval for two programs per term; scholarships are counted as one program. If you apply for an Office of Education Abroad Scholarship and preapproval for a program, you will meet that maximum two-program limit.   Contact our office if you need an override and you plan to participate in more than one summer study abroad program (dates must not overlap).  If you already requested preapproval and have changed your program of interest, withdraw from your existing program and select "Apply Now" for the new program. 
    2. Possible reason: You may be trying to apply for a term that is not open/available.
  2. I accidentally applied for a program in the wrong term. How do I correct this?
    1. Sign in to your portal by logging into the "Log In" section of our website.  View your applications, and note that you have the option to withdraw from your program.  After you withdraw you can apply for preapproval to the new program.
  3. Can you accept my preapproval for a different term? I applied for Summer, changed my mind, and decided to apply for Fall instead.
    1. No. You must withdraw from the term you are no longer interested in and reapply for the correct term.
  4. Can I apply for a scholarship and study abroad program preapproval at the same time?
    1. Yes, you can apply for one program and one Scholarship/Grant at the same time. Please make sure you apply for the correct scholarship term.
  5. I missed the preapproval deadline, can I still apply to the program?
    1. Possibly, but no guarantees.  As with all our deadlines, preapproval deadlines are set so we can review applications and have enough time to assist you in the process of studying abroad.  Please contact our office to ask if there are any exceptions for the specific program you are interested in.  Deadline extensions are more likely with MTSU Signature Programs than with provider programs.  Deadline extensions are not possible for Exchange Programs of any type due to the earlier deadlines and more detailed process. 
  6. I already applied to with the Program Provider/Signature Program faculty leader, do I still have to apply for preapproval?
    1. Yes.  You must still obtain preapproval confirmation from the Office of Education Abroad in order to study abroad.  You must meet the Office of Education Abroad deadlines and the Program Provider/Signature Program deadlines for preapproval or registration for the program.