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Frequently Asked Questions

Study Abroad - FAQ


During a study abroad experience, you will take classes through one of our approved programs in another country and the credits transfer back to your degree at Western Carolina University. The Office of Global Engagement is committed to supporting students in their educational experiences abroad and has developed a guide of frequently asked questions and academic policies. Students with additional questions are encouraged to schedule an appointment with the Office of Global Engagement or email

General FAQs

In general, students participating in study abroad programming must meet the following requirements...

  • Must be a Sophomore by Status (30 completed credits) by the time your program begins
  • Must have a cumulative 2.75 GPA at the time of applying
  • Must be in Good Academic and Disciplinary Standing

Some programs may have additional admissions requirements depending on the host institution or program.  Students interested in participating in these programs are expected to meet those as well the ones listed above.

Faculty-Led programming at WCU does not have a set universal credit or GPA requirement. Students interested in participating in these programs should refer to the entry requirements of specific programs to determine eligibility.

Students at Western Carolina University are eligible to participate in study abroad programming during most of their time at the institution. The only two semesters that students are not allowed to participate in study abroad programming are their first and final semester at WCU.

Most students participating in study abroad programming do so their sophomore or junior year. Every student has different personal and academic requirements that may influence when they go abroad. Students are encouraged to consult with their department and the Office of Global Engagement before applying to determine when the best time to go abroad would be.

The cost of how much a study abroad experience varies depends on the type of program that you do! The Office of Global Engagement is committed to minimizing financial barriers and have many programs where we have tuition exchange agreements, meaning what you pay in your tuition to be here at WCU is what you will pay to go abroad. Students are encouraged to review the study abroad program types for an overview of program structures, cost, and additional items to consider for study abroad.

Yes! You can apply financial aid to studying abroad, regardless of the location, duration, or type of program that you participate in. Students interested in using their financial aid package should consult with the Office of Global Engagement and the WCU Office of Financial Aid for more information.

Students interested in studying abroad are encouraged to start that conversation with their advisor and the Office of Global Engagement at least one year before their program begins. The Office of Global Engagement processes applications on a semester-to-semester basis, meaning you will apply for your program the semester before you go! Students will have to apply internally and then be accepted by their host institution (Exchange & Affiliate Programs only), please see the links below for the most updated deadlines.

Link to Exchange & Affiliate Program Application Deadlines

Link to Faculty-Led Program Deadlines

No! While studying abroad is a great way to improve language skills (and we encourage you to explore language study as part of your experience), the Office of Global Engagement offers a number of programs that are exclusively in taught in English.

Living arrangements for your program depend on the structure your program. While most programs offer living arrangements similar to what's availble at Western (such as dorms or apartments that you share with other international or local students), some locations also offer the opportunity to live with a local host family. Students are encouraged to review the living situation of their program as they apply.

Studying abroad does not preclude a timely graduation. Be sure to talk with your academic advisor and department head about your study abroad aspirations from the very beginning. Ask them to help you sort out various program options to find the best fit possible so that what you take abroad fits into your degree requirements.

Students be covered by a special travel health insurance plan that is mandatory for all students studying abroad. It costs approximately $1.50/day. While some domestic plans may include some travel insurance, our policy is more comprehensive and covers things such as emergency evacuation in case of a medical condition and political unrest. This health insurance is organized through the Office of Global Engagement and charges for this insurance will be added to a student's bill.

Our provider, GeoBlue, has doctors throughout the world. Their website includes a search engine to locate local medical services as well as travel safety and health information about most countries and major cities of the world.

Students participating in ISEP Direct or ISEP Exchange programs are exempt from having to purchase this insurance. ISEP will organize international travel insurnace directly with WCU students.

Students with registered accommodations through the Office of Accessibility Resources at Western Carolina University should contact the Office of Global Engagment at for more information.

Academic FAQs

Western Carolina University students are expected to take a full course load while abroad. For students participating in exchange and affiliate programming, students should be enrolled in a minimum equivalent of 12 US credits per semester. Different universities have different credit systems and class structures that may not perfectly translate to the credit system at WCU, meaning you could be taking more (or less) classes than you typically would here at WCU. Students are encouraged to consult the Office of Global Engagement during the course approval process to ensure that credits have been appropriately translated.

Credits earned from participating in Exchange and Affiliate programming are treated as transfer credit, meaning that these course are treated as pass/fail and have no impact on your GPA at WCU.

Credits earned from Faculty-Led Programming are treated as WCU credit, meaning these courses will be graded and will impact your GPA.

On average, it takes between 8-12 weeks from the conclusion of your program for student transcripts to arrive at WCU. Depending on the program, it may take up to 6 months for your grades to be confirmed and your official transcript to be distributed to WCU. The Office of Global Engagement can only accept transcripts directly from host institutions/programs; transcripts submitted by students are considered unofficial and will not be accepted by WCU.

Once we receive your transcript, it takes 2-4 weeks for processing internally before those grades are reflected on your student account and degree plan. Timetables can vary depending if there are issues on the course approval form. The Office of Global Engagement will contact students directly if action is needed on your form.

The Office of Global Engagement strongly discourages students from taking online courses at WCU or their host institution while they are abroad. Students who need to take an online course in order to maintain their track to graduation should contact the Office of Global Engagement at to discuss their situation during the application process.

No, all credits received from Faculty Led programs are treated as WCU credits and do not need to go through the course approval process.

Students are not allowed to audit courses at WCU or their host program while abroad.

Students participating in semester exchange & affiliate programming do not need to take honors credits abroad in order to remain in the Brinson Honors College. Students with questions should contact the advisor in the Brinson Honors College for more information.

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