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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I plan my study abroad?

Browse the Getting Started section of the Global Programs website and drop in during office hours to discuss your plans. Then, consult with your school study abroad dean as well as your major department. 

Q: When should I go abroad?

Students usually go abroad in their junior year.Exceptions must be approved through petition to Committee on Academic Standing (CAS). 

Q: What are the deadlines for applying?

There are a few deadlines you must adhere to: the program's and Columbia's. Most programs will have an application deadline in September or October for Spring programs and March for Summer, Fall, or Year. It is best to apply early in the term before you plan to study abroad as programs usually have rolling admissions.

All students must be cleared to study abroad by March 15 for the fall and October 1for the spring. You must register at Columbia to study abroad (regardless of acceptance) by November 15th for the Spring and April 1st  for the Fall, or Year and May 1st for the summer.

Q: How do I know which program to select?

You may register only for a program approved by the Faculty Committee on Study Abroad, and there are a number of resources to help you decide which program is right for you:

  • Review the approved program list for the country and/or language you wish to study in;
  • Review the online student evaluations & contact peer mentors who have been to a program you are considering;
  • Attend information sessions on study abroad;
  • Come to Global Programs open hours
  • Discuss your plans with your school advisor

Q: How will my credits transfer?

Provided you have taken appropriate courses and received a C- or better in them, you will receive general credit for your courses once your transcript has been reviewed. All credits, except for those from Columbia Programs, are considered transfer credits and will not be calculated into your GPA.

Major credit is considered by the DUS of your academic department upon your return and after the DUS has reviewed your coursework.

Q: Will my financial aid stay the same?

You must discuss your expenses with the Financial Aid advisor to work out your individual package.

Q: Are there any scholarships to help pay for study abroad?

Yes, and you should consider applying for scholarships given by your particular program as well as for the available national scholarships.For more information on scholarships.

Q: What happens to my Columbia housing?

If you are guaranteed housing before you go abroad, you will be guaranteed housing when you return.You will be able to register for housing while you are abroad or have a friend act as a proxy for you.

Q: What academic requirements must I fulfill while abroad?

You must take the equivalent of a full load in the host country – this translates into 15 or 16 Columbia points.To register for more or fewer points, you must receive permission from the OGP.

Wherever appropriate, you must take all or the majority of your courses at the local university.

If you are attending a program where the instruction is in English but the local language is not English, you must study the language of the country while abroad (e.g. Denmark).

Q: What kind of health insurance do I need?

You MUST NOT travel without health insurance.You may use Columbia's health plan or your family's provided that you will be sufficiently covered while abroad. Please review the health and safety link on the study abroad Web site

Q: Do I need a visa?

Increasingly, countries are requiring visas for students studying abroad. Your program will inform you about the country's requirements.You MUST have a valid passport that will not expire while you are abroad.International students should contact ISSO to make sure that they have the appropriate documents to return to the United States.

Q: What happens if there is a travel advisory issued for the country where I want to study?

If the US State Department has issued a Travel Advisory Warning for a particular country, Columbia may restrict approval for programs in that country while the advisory is in effect. Currently, there are advisories for Nepal, Kenya and Israel.

Q: I'm pre-med. Can I study abroad?

Yes. But you do need to plan in advance. See Premeds Abroad for tips, program suggestions and planning notes.

Q: Can I take classes in English if I study in country where the local language is not English?

If you are studying in a country where you have at least an Intermediate language level, you are expected to take all coursework in the local language. Exceptions will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Q: Can I do an Internship for credit?

Columbia students may undertake an academic internship for credit with the approval of your school and the OGP. The Internship must be a part of an academic class and have a substantive paper associated with it.

Q: Can I take fewer than 15 points while I am abroad?

You must take a full-course load while you are abroad according to both Columbia and your host institution.

Q: Can I take 'professional' classes while I am abroad? For example, Law or Business classes?

No. You may only take Liberal Arts or Engineering Classes courses for credit.

Q: Can I arrange for alternate end-of-term assessment/exams if I want to leave early?

You need to complete the academic program of your host institution and may not arrange alternate exams or papers to replace the scheduled exams.

Q: Can I take classes Pass/Fail while I am abroad?

No. You need to take all classes for a grade while abroad.

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