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Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs
general faqs
What programs are William & Mary students permitted to participate in?

Our students may study abroad through W&M faculty-led programs, W&M tuition exchanges, W&M sponsored semester programs, third-party study abroad provider programs, other US university programs, and in some instances, direct enroll in a foreign university. For more information, please see the section on Programs.

What are the first steps a student wishing to study abroad should take?

A student contemplating study abroad should first look at their 4-year academic plan and consult with their academic advisor to determine when study abroad might be most appropriate. With that in mind, they should attend a Study Abroad Workshop, or sign up for an individual appointment with a study abroad peer advisor. Study Abroad Peer Advisors are available  Monday-Friday 11-5 in the Global Education Office. Walk-ins are fine; however, it is best to make an appointment to speak with an advisor individually. No reservation or appointment is needed to attend a workshop.

Read more about Getting Started.

Will credit and grades earned abroad transfer to William & Mary?

W&M accepts transfer credit from courses taken abroad if the student receives faculty approval and a grade of a W&M "C" or higher. This will be determined upon completion of the program and receipt of the host university official transcript. The Global Education Office will guide students through the transfer credit and approval process. W&M faculty-led summer programs and the W&M sponsored programs in Seville, Spain and La Plata, Argentina offer courses with W&M credit, which will appear on the transcript and be included in W&M GPA calculations.

How much does study abroad cost?

The range of program costs is very broad, and is affected by location, academic offerings, length of stay, type of housing, extent of student services and number and type of extracurricular activities.

Are students required to pay William & Mary tuition while abroad?

Unless a student is participating in a W&M tuition exchange, they will not be required to pay home tuition while abroad. Tuition exchange students pay tuition and fees to William & Mary and all other costs (accommodation, meals, etc.) to the host institution. 

What will I be billed by W&M for study abroad?

That answer will depend on the type of program you are studying abroad through:

For W&M sponsored summer and sponsored semester programsStudents will pay a $75 application fee directly to the Bursar's Office via check, money order, or cash by the stated application deadline.

Students will be billed the program fee directly on their student account. CISI medical/evacuation insurance is included in the program fee. Students are asked to commit to a program by paying a non-refundable deposit prior to paying the remaining balance of the program. Please note that your program will provide you with specific dates and program fee information.

For W&M exchange programs: If you are going on one of W&M's exchange programs, you will be billed your regular W&M tuition and fees along with the CISI medical/evacuation insurance for that term, and a $375 study abroad administrative fee. Room and board will be paid directly to the institution or housing partner.

For all other credit-bearing study abroad programs: If you are going on a credit-bearing study abroad program through a third-party provider, the only charges you will see on your W&M account will be the CISI medical/evacuation insurance and the $375 study abroad administration fee. Other charges for your study abroad program (e.g., tuition, housing, etc.) will be paid directly to the third-party provider.

If you are unsure what type of program you are studying abroad on, please contact the Global Education Office. The billing cycle for each type of program is available in the student's individual application.

Can students use financial aid to pay for study abroad?

Yes. Federal, state, and most private grants, loans, and scholarships may be applied to the cost of study abroad. The student will need to complete a Consortium Agreement (pdf) and a Disbursement Form (pdf), and should talk discuss their plans with their W&M financial aid advisor. W&M Student Accounts offers eRefunds, which provides financial aid refund disbursements via direct deposit as opposed to a paper check via mail. Students need to opt-in to this program, and may do so here.

Are there study abroad scholarships available?

The Global Education Office awards over $500,000 annually to William & Mary students participating in the university's programs abroad. These scholarships are need-based; scholarship applications are due at the same time as the program application. For students studying abroad with other institutions, there is information on sources of funding for study abroad in the Global Education Office, and on our Scholarships section of the website. All third-party study abroad providers offer scholarships for their programs as well.

How does a student apply for a passport and visa?

Please read about obtaining a passport and visa under Travel Documents and Information.

How safe is it for students to study abroad?

To a great extent, a student's safety abroad, just as at home, is a function of common sense and responsible behavior. To help students prepare to conduct themselves wisely in their new surroundings, W&M offers all students going abroad a Pre-Departure Orientation and a Study Abroad Handbook, which cover many aspects of traveling to and living in a foreign country, and focuses on issues of safety. In addition, providers of study abroad programs conduct on-site orientations and have resident staff on site who are available to advise and care for students.

To view health and safety information for specific destinations, we recommend that you visit the websites of the U.S. Department of State, the World Health Organization, and the Center for Disease Control.

Do you offer any medical insurance?

All study abroad students are required to be covered through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI)'s health and emergency evacuation insurance unless a waiver is approved based on the same or better coverage through another policy.

Application & Registration FAQs
What if a student applies to go abroad on a non-W&M program, but hasn't been notified of their acceptance by the Global Education Office deadline?

Students intending to study abroad should register with the Global Education Office AS SOON as they apply to the non-W&M program. Should a registered student not be accepted into a non-W&M study abroad program or be prevented from studying abroad by other unavoidable circumstances, s/he may obtain a fee refund (if they already paid the study abroad fee on their student account) by submitting documentation of the reasons (e.g., the program rejection letter, medical documentation, etc).  Refunds are not available for students who simply change their mind about going abroad, nor for W&M program application fees.

Students are encouraged to pre-register for W&M classes in the upcoming semester, while they await acceptance into the study abroad program of their choice.  Once accepted to the study abroad program, the student should then promptly arrange to have all of the W&M classes dropped.

The Global Education Office cannot request clearance from the Dean of Student Office to participate in a study abroad program until the student has registered the program. Please note it can take up to 4 weeks to get Dean of Students clearance so apply and register at least four weeks before the deadline!

Why is this policy in place?

When a student studies abroad, there are many departments that need to know (financial aid, residence life, student accounts, the registrar, the dean of students, the mail room, the list goes on!).  The sooner these departments are notified, the easier things are for the student, and failure to notify them in a timely manner can result in a student's automatic withdrawal from the College.  We want everyone to have a great experience abroad, and this will help that process.

What if a student does not register with Global Education Office by the deadline?

The student will not be approved to go abroad.  If a student chooses to go abroad without registering, they will not be coded in Banner as "study away."  This would result in automatic withdrawal from W&M since the student would not be registered for on-campus courses. A student who has been withdrawn must request readmission through the Dean of Students Office in order to continue studying at W&M and will not receive transfer credit for any courses taken during the period of study abroad.  The student also will not be eligible to use W&M financial aid for the study abroad coursework and would be reported as "not enrolled" to insurance companies, student loan providers, and others who inquire.

What is needed for a student's registration to be considered complete?

For non W&M programs:

  • online registration through (including signing online forms & completion of online questionnaires)
  • $375 study abroad fee which will be billed to the student account.
  • Financial Aid Paperwork (Consortium Agreement, Disbursement Form): If these do not apply to the student, they must indicate this online.
  • Course Approval: Every course taken abroad must receive faculty approval.

All courses should be pre-approved if possible prior to the student's departure from campus.  If a student does not know the exact courses s/he will take while abroad, s/he should still contact the designated faculty member in each department for the courses s/he would like to take.  The signed course approvals should be returned to the Global Education Office  prior to the student's departure from campus.

For W&M programs:

  • By applying to their chosen program through, students going on W&M programs are automatically registered with the Global Education Office.
When should students register with the Global Education Office?

Here are some examples:

A student wishing to study with an ISA program this summer would need to register online by April 1.  A student who wants to study with USAC this fall needs to also register by April 1.  And a student wishing to study at the American Business School in Paris next spring needs to register by November 5. However, keep in mind students should register at least four weeks before these deadlines if the non-W&M program requires approval from a W&M Global Education Advisor. 

Are late registrations possible?

Late registrations are only possible in the week following each deadline.  To apply for a late registration, students must complete and submit an Appeal to the Committee on Exceptions. Once the exception has been granted, the student must complete his/her online registration and pay a $100 late fee in addition to the standard $375 registration fee.

Courses & Grades FAQs
How many courses should I take while abroad?

W&M requires all students to take the equivalent of at least 12 W&M credits per semester in order to maintain full time status. Please check with your program to determine how your course credits are calculated as not all universities/programs count courses the same way.

Can I take fewer than the required minimum credits?

No. W&M requires all study abroad participates to take the equivalent of at least 12 W&M credits every semester.  Exemption from this requirement is only possible through the approval for an underload by the Dean of Students. Students who take fewer than 12 credits may lose their financial aid and insurance coverage.  It is highly important that you consult with your academic advisor before choosing courses and seeking pre-approval and that the you choose courses that will count toward your major and minor, in order to make progress toward your degree.

I do not need credits I take abroad to count toward my graduation requirements, do I still need to take a full time load?

Yes, you still need to take and transfer back at least the equivalent of 12 W&M credits.

What is the maximum number of credits that can be transferred each semester while abroad?

18 W&M credits. Please be aware that course credits cannot be split, meaning that you cannot transfer back only 2 credits from a 3 credit course.

What is the Confirmation of Courses Form?

The Confirmation of Courses form provides us with the final list of classes for which you are registered abroad and must be signed by an official of your study abroad program or host university.

You will be required to send this form to the Global Education Office once you have started your classes, showing that you are taking a full load (the equivalent of a minimum of 12 W&M credits).  Failure to return this form will result in a hold on your student account. You will NOT be able to register for classes for the following semester until this hold has been cleared.

My study abroad program's requirement is 16 credits/30 ECTS.  Should I comply?

Absolutely, if you are participating in an exchange program, third party provider or direct enroll program, you must abide by the regulations of the host institution or study abroad organization, even if program's minimum credit requirement exceeds W&M's. 

The credit system is so different, how can I tell if I am taking enough courses?

The number of credits issued by foreign universities varies considerably from country to country. The Global Education Office will determine the number of credits upon completion of the program, receipt of the official transcript and either  pre or post-approval  for each course.  If a students is unclear about how credits will transfer, contact your regional advisor in the Global Education Office at the Reves Center.  

 W&M (and all US universities and providers) base credits on the number  of contact hours in each course.  The charts  below are subject to change, but a general rule of thumb is:

  • 24-36 contact hours = 2 W&M credits
  • 40-45 contact hours = 3 W&M credits
  • 50-60 contact hours =  4 W&M credits

 Universities who issue ECTS credits (mostly in Europe), the conversion is as follows:

  • 3 ECTS = 1.5 W&M credits
  • 4 ECTS = 2 W&M credits
  • 5 ECTS = 2.5 W&M credits
  • 6 ECTS = 3 W&M credits
  • 8 ECTS = 4 W&M credits

 Many UK universities use a point system for credits, which converts as follows:

  • 10 points = 3 W&M credits
  • 15 points =  4  W&M  credits
  • 20 points = 5 W&M credits
  • 30 points = 7.5  or 8  W&M credits, depending on the university
What if I don't have time to get pre-approval for my courses?

You need to make time to seek pre-approval for courses you wish to take while abroad. Any course you take abroad is NOT guaranteed to transfer back unless it has been pre-approved. Follow the instructions on our pre-approval page.

In rare circumstances where you cannot choose your classes until you are in country, then you may seek approval from each faculty member via e-mail or wait until you return to campus to seek post-approval.

Some departments (Italian languge, Japanese language, Art History and Studio Art) will not pre-approve courses, however you should still consult these approving faculty if you are thinking of taking one of these courses abroad.

I discovered a couple of interesting courses after I arrived.  May I take these courses instead of the ones that were pre-approved?

Yes can always try to obtain approval for additional courses after arriving at the host university.  It is best to seek approval via e-mail with the appropriate faculty member in each department by sending a blank pre-approval form (found on Global Education website) and detailed course description or syllabus.  Ask the faculty member to complete the form and send to the Global Education Office.  If this is not possible, then you will need to seek post-approval upon return to campus.  Instructions are found on the website.

I need to return home earlier than the program's end date?  May I ask permission to take my exams early?

No, students are expected to stay for the duration of the program.  In the case of certain exchange programs, the agreement between W&M and the partner institution allows for arrangements to be made between the host university's International Office and the Global Education Office for you to take your final exam at W&M. It is your responsibility to request these arrangements from the host university's International Office EARLY IN THE SEMESTER; approval must be granted by both W&M and the exchange partner university prior to your return to the US.

Can I take my courses as pass/fail or for audit?

No, courses must be taken for a grade and in order to receive credit you must earn a C or better.  The grade must appear on the host university official transcript.

Will I receive grades for courses taken abroad?

No, in most cases you will receive transfer credit.  This will appear on your W&M transcript as a "T" and will NOT be calculated into your GPA. The only programs in which students receive grades are:

  • All W&M faculty led summer programs
  • W&M sponsored semester programs in La Plata, Argentina and Sevilla, Spain
Can I request that grades be optional in a W&M faculty-led summer program, La Plata, Sevilla?


You may elect to take ONE semester course in La Plata or Sevilla as pass/fail. You must obtain approval from the faculty liaison BEFORE the end of the add/drop period.

Can I request that the grades I earn in the W&M faculty-led summer program, La Plata, Sevilla NOT count toward by GPA?

No, this is not an option.

Can I get credit for an internship abroad?

Many study abroad provider programs offer credit bearing internships that include an academic assignment or project in addition to the internship. If this is the case and you earn a C or higher and receive faculty approval then credit will be granted. However if the program abroad does not offer an academic component or you plan to do a full time internship you must get approval from the Dean of Undergraduate Studies BEFORE going abroad. Form for Applying for Credit for Internship (pdf) 

What does W&M need to process my study abroad credits?
  • Official transcript from the host university with grades and credits or contact hours
  • Pre-approval or post-approval for every course
  • If the courses you took abroad are not listed in English you will need to write the course title in both the native language and English on the pre-approval or post-approval form.
  • It is your responsibility to request that the host university or program provider send an official transcript to the Global Education Office at:

Transcripts -Global Education Office
Reves Center, William & Mary
200 South Boundary Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185

We recommend very strongly that you also request 4-5 transcripts be sent to your home address.  You may need sealed transcripts if you plan to apply to graduate or professional school in the future.

W&M has very definite rules about course equivalences and grade transfers

Know these rules BEFORE you leave for your study abroad!

 Parents' FAQs
Whom should I contact with questions about study abroad?

If your student has already chosen a study abroad program, they are the best person to ask. We strongly encourage students to take responsibility for managing all aspects of their study abroad experience, and your expectation that they be fully informed can greatly strengthen that encouragement.

Of course, if you have questions that your student cannot answer, please feel free to contact the Global Education Office directly.

How can I stay in touch with my student while they are abroad?

Email and cell phones have made it much easier to stay in touch around the globe. It is extremely likely that your student will have access to one or both of these means of communication while abroad. Skype is also a cheap and easy way to communicate over long distances. In addition, be sure that you have contact information for the on-site faculty and staff responsible for the participants on the program and, if available, a phone number for your student's place of residence.

What should I expect when my student returns home after studying abroad?

It may take your student some time to re-adjust to life in the U.S. after their study abroad experience. Students often grow and change remarkably when they live and learn abroad and are sometimes quite surprised to find their "home" culture almost as unfamiliar as the "foreign" one they've become part of while abroad. They may feel different, disoriented, or divided from friends and family. This re-entry, or "reverse culture" shock is a normal part of the study abroad process and you can help make the transition an easier one. Encourage your student to talk through their experience with you, but be patient and don't take their new views on the home culture personally. You can also encourage them to keep the experience alive by becoming involved in international programming and events on campus.