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Study Abroad FAQ's

It's common to have questions throughout your study abroad journey.  We've compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their corresponding responses, below.  If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to the Center for International Programs and we will be happy to assist!


Can I study abroad as a first-year student?
Typically, we do not allow first-year students to study abroad in their Fall or Spring semester.  However, we make an exception for short-term programs (e.g. a faculty-led program over Spring Break), or for non-traditional students (e.g. a transfer student who is in their first year at St. Mary’s, but is academically beyond first-year status).  First-year students are eligible to study abroad starting the summer after their first year on campus.
Can I study abroad as a senior?
For semester programs – yes, typically seniors can study abroad their last semester.  However, you’ll need to ensure that your study abroad transcript will be provided by the St. Mary’s deadline for that term, or your degree conferral may be delayed up to a whole semester.
For summer programs -  no, students graduating in the Spring prior to their summer program of interest cannot study abroad in the summer after graduating, as they will no longer be enrolled StMU students at the time of the summer program.
I have a GPA below the requirement for my program of interest.  Can I still apply to study abroad?
Yes, students who do not meet the GPA requirement for their program of interest can still apply to study abroad and will be considered for admission on a case-by-case basis.  Sometimes exceptions can be made, but this is not guaranteed

Applying to a Program

What are the application requirements to apply to a program?
Application requirements can vary slightly by program, but typically, the main requirements are that you have a 2.5 GPA or above and that you are in good academic and judicial standing here at the university.  Should your status of good standing at the university change at any point during the application process or pre-departure for your program, St. Mary’s reserves the right to reconsider your admission.
How do I apply to a program?
When you have decided on a study abroad program you’d like to take, you will be prompted to meet with the CIP if you’re interested in a semester or year-long program.  (Applications for faculty-led programs do not have this requirement.)  Once you’ve met with the CIP (or if you’re applying to a faculty-led program), you’ll navigate to the program’s page on our website and click the “Apply Now” button that you’ll see on the page.  After this, you’ll be walked through the online application in our system.  More information about the application process can be found on your program of interest’s webpage.

Can I apply to more than one program?
Students are unable to apply to more that one program for the same term.  (i.e. you cannot apply to two programs that take place in the Spring semester.)  You will want to apply to your first-choice program.  If you are unable to be admitted to your program of choice, depending on the reason, we can look at the possibility of transferring your application to a different program.  Students are able to apply to two programs if they take place in different terms.  (i.e. you can apply to both a spring program and a summer program, for example.)
How do I know if my application has been accepted?
After the CIP reviews your study abroad application, you will either be directed to complete a secondary application or receive an acceptance e-mail.  (Depending on the program.)  If you have not been accepted to a program for any reason, the CIP will notify you.
Can I apply to a program if I don’t know the local language?
Yes!  Most programs are conducted in English.  Language-specific programs will be indicated as such on the program’s webpage.  You can also see the language(s) of instruction of a program indicated on the program’s webpage in the “Program Overview” tab.

Living Logistics

What is housing like on my program?
Housing will vary depending on your program of interest.  Housing is typically in hotels/hostels, dorms, apartments, or homestays, depending on the program.  The housing details for any particular program can be found in the “Travel & Living” tab on the program’s brochure page.
Will meals be included in my program?
It depends – some programs do not provide any meals, some programs provide 3-meals a day, and some programs provide a select number of meals.  It varies by program.  The meal details for any particular program can be found in the “Travel & Living” section on the program’s brochure page.
I have special dietary restrictions.  Can these be accommodated?
The CIP will make every effort to accommodate any dietary needs (allergies, special diets, etc.).  If you have any dietary restrictions, we recommend you let us know when you’re in the application stage of the study abroad process so that we can connect with the host university or program provider and ask them whether your dietary needs can be accommodated beforehand.
I live on campus at St. Mary’s.  How will this work with study abroad? 
If you plan to study abroad for a Spring semester, you’ll apply for full academic-year housing the year prior to studying abroad like normal.  That Fall (the semester prior to your study abroad semester), you will need to complete an “Intent to Vacate” form.  This will be provided to you by Residence Life around November.  You will need a study abroad program acceptance e-mail in order to break your housing agreement on campus.  If you don’t complete these steps, then you are liable to be charged penalty fees.
If you plan to study abroad in a Fall Semester and want to live in on-campus housing at St. Mary’s for your Spring semester upon return, there is a Spring semester-only housing application that opens in the Fall semester (usually around mid-October).  You will be assigned housing based on availability for that Spring. 


How much will my program cost?
Program costs vary by program.  You can see the estimated cost breakdown on each program’s individual webpage in the “Financial Info” tab.
In general, the following costs are typical of our study abroad programs:
Billable Expenses (charged to a student’s StMU account):
StMU Tuition and Fees
International Insurance
Non-Billable Expenses (out-of-pocket expenses):
Books & Supplies
Local Transportation
Personal Expenses
(*Airfare, housing, and/or meals are sometimes included in programs – most commonly, faculty-led programs.  However, this varies by program.  Please refer to a program’s specific webpage for program-specific costs.)
Do you have any scholarships available?
The CIP offers two scholarships through our office: the CIP Study Abroad Scholarship and the Jessica Garcia Memorial Scholarship.  More information about these scholarships, as well as additional funding information, can be found here.


Do I need a visa for my program?
It depends both on your nationality, as well as the program location and the length of your program.  Typically, US citizens do not need a visa to participate in a short program abroad (i.e. less than 90 days).  But again, it depends on the location of the program and their specific visa requirements.  For semester (and academic-year programs), students typically need a visa of some sort, as programs are generally longer than 90 days.  If you need a visa for your program, the Center for International Programs will confirm this with you.  The CIP will provide guidance to students in the process of obtaining their visa, but ultimately, it is the responsibility of the student to obtain the visa.
Can I travel on the weekends?
Depending on where you study, it may be feasible for you to easily travel to other cities or countries on the weekends.  As long as your academic and program schedules permit, students are welcome to pursue independent travel in their free time.  Schedules will vary by program, and travel is not an acceptable excuse to miss class.
Is my flight included in my program?  Who books my flight to my host country?
The majority of programs do not include travel to the host country.  This means that students are generally ultimately responsible for booking their flights for their program.  We request that students do not book their own flights until they are given the go-ahead from the CIP.  If a flight is included in the program, this will be indicated on the program’s webpage in the “Travel & Living” section, and also communicated directly to the student.


Health & Safety

Is it safe to study abroad?
All program locations have been vetted and meet the Center for International Programs’ standards for health and safety.  We largely go off of the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory level when vetting program locations.  If the on-the-ground situation of a given study abroad location should change at any point, the Center for International Programs has the right to cancel any programs due to health and safety concerns.
Unfortunately, anything can happen to anyone, anywhere.  (Even here in San Antonio!)  Even if a program location meets our health and safety standards, we always advise students to exercise normal caution, as they would anywhere the live and/or visit.  (e.g. don’t walk alone at night, don’t draw attention to yourself by flashing money or expensive jewelry/accessories, keep your money secure from pick-pocketers, etc.)
What safety measures are taken while I’m abroad?
The health and safety of our students is of upmost importance to us.  One extra measure we take to ensure student safety abroad is enrolling all students in a program called Alert Traveler prior to departure.  This is downloadable to a student’s phone via an app.  This app will deliver notifications regarding any important safety news in their host country.  Should any event happen where safety is an issue on the ground, this app allows our office to communicate directly with the students.  Additionally, it has a check-in feature where students can mark themselves as safe.  Finally, we ensure that there is always some form of in-person support available on-the-ground where a student is studying.
Do I need additional insurance to study abroad?
All students who enroll in an StMU-approved study abroad program will be enrolled in additional travel insurance.  This is not meant to be primary insurance, but rather acts as supplemental insurance on top of any insurance you may already have.  You can see what our current coverage entails here.  (The only exception is for students studying on domestic programs – this insurance is not required, as you will still be in the U.S. and able to stay under your current primary insurance.  Our insurance is international travel insurance.)

What happens if I need to see a doctor while I’m abroad?
The insurance that we provide to our students does include a network where they can find providers that are able to be directly paid through the insurance.  If there is not a provider nearby, then the student will just visit the doctor of their choice and then file a claim through the insurance for reimbursement after their appointment.  Please note that, should the latter scenario take place, students generally need to pay for their appointment and services out-of-pocket up front.


I’m interested in studying abroad.  When Should I begin the application process?
That’s great!  Study abroad application deadlines are in the term prior to the term you would like to study abroad:
Deadline for Fall Programs: March 1st
Deadline for Spring Programs: October 1st
Deadline for Summer Programs: February 1st
(Please note that select programs may have separate deadlines.  Please refer to your program’s webpage to verify the application deadline for your program.)
Will I be studying with other St. Mary’s University students?
Sometimes!  It depends on the program.  For semester-long programs with one of our exchange partners, you may be the only StMU student attending the program.  But, that’s okay!  There will be other international students – often from the US, but also from other parts of the world – that you’ll be able to meet.  This is a great way to build additional friendships outside of your St. Mary’s community and to expand your network!  For our faculty-led programs, the students on the program are generally only St. Mary’s students. 

I am a veteran - can I study abroad?  If so, will veteran financial aid benefits apply to my program?
Yes, veteran students can study abroad!  However, if you would like your financial aid benefits to apply to your program, you program of interest MUST meet the following requirements: it must be a program that is specifically offering StMU coursework and taught by an StMU professor, the course(s) for the program must be found on Banner, and you must need the course(s) taken on your program for your degree.  If your program of interest does not fulfill all of these requirements, your benefits unfortunately are not able to be applied towards the cost of the program.  (That being said, if you want to do the program solely out of interest and/or for personal/academic/professional growth and don't mind covering the costs of the program yourself, you are free to do so.)  For assistance in identifying a program that may fit your academic needs, please reach out to; for any questions regarding your benefits and studying abroad, please reach out to Andy Lyons in the Office of Financial Assistance (

I’m nervous to study in another country.  Do you have any recommendations or advice?
Studying abroad is a great way to learn about another culture and experience a different way of life, so that’s great you’re even thinking about exploring this opportunity!  It’s natural to feel nervous about the idea of studying abroad.  If you’re worried about language barriers, please know that most of our programs are typically instructed in English.  (The exception would be for foreign-language immersion programs.)  Students tend to get around just fine not being fluent in a local language, and it provides a great opportunity for students to learn a new language!  Additionally, all of our programs have sufficient on-the-ground support, so should you ever need assistance with anything, you will have access to English-speaking staff and multiple resources.
Students who are a bit nervous about the idea of studying abroad could consider participating in a short-term program to “get their feet wet,” so to speak.  Participating in a faculty-led program or a summer program will allow students to have a study abroad experience for a shorter duration than a full semester to “test out” studying abroad before committing to a whole semester or academic year away.  Faculty-led programs in particular may be appealing, as students are led and taught directly by St. Mary’s faculty members and are solely with other St. Mary’s students, providing an extra layer of comfort. 
Finally, if you’re still nervous about the idea of going abroad for any duration, you could always consider studying abroad at one of our domestic programs through our Marianist Exchange at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, or at Chaminade University of Honolulu in Honolulu, Hawaii.  These options are a great option for someone who wants to get the experience of studying away, while being able to study and live in a setting that likely will feel more familiar, as you’ll still be in the U.S.
I am interested in a program that is not on the study abroad website.  Can I participate in that program?
We are pleased to offer a variety of programs to our students and are confident that any student interested in studying abroad should be able to find a program that would benefit them academically (whether it be fulfilling electives and/or major-specific courses).  Given this, we recognize that students may have a specific need that cannot be met through our provided options for a given reason.  Students who want to participate in a study abroad program not located on our website are welcome to pursue that program, however, this will be an independent endeavor for the student. 
For semester programs – to participate in a non-StMU-approved program for a semester, you will need to take a Leave of Absence at St. Mary’s University, and will have to apply for re-admission for the term that you want to resume your studies at St. Mary’s.  Additionally, students are responsible for working with their home college at the university to ensure their credits will transfer back, for navigating any visa processes on their own, and for navigating all other logistical components of their program independently.  The CIP will not be able to assist you in your study abroad endeavor with an outside program that is not currently on our list of approved programs.
For summer programs – to participate in a non-StMU-approved program for a summer, you do NOT need to take a Leave of Absence at St. Mary’s University.  However, this will still be an independent endeavor for the student: students are responsible with working with their home college at the university to ensure their credits will transfer back, for navigating any visa processes on their own, and for navigating all other logistical components of their program independently.  As with semester programs, the CIP will not be able to assist you in your study abroad endeavor with an outside program that is not currently on our list of approved programs.
Can I speak with a student who has studied abroad before?
If you’re interested in speaking with a student who has studied abroad before, please reach out to us and let us know.  We’ll do our best to connect you with a student who has studied abroad!

I really enjoyed my study abroad experience.  Can I study abroad again?
Yes!  Students are able to study abroad more than once if they are interested!