We know you have questions. Here are some answers. If something’s on your mind that isn't addressed here, please don't hesitate to contact us.
What Exactly Is Study Abroad?
Study Abroad is a period of study at a recognized university outside of the United States, during which an IIT student is enrolled in regular undergraduate degree courses and integrated into the student body and host culture. It’s also a lot of fun!
What Are The Benefits Of Studying Abroad?
The benefits of studying abroad are legion. From exploring another country and experiencing another culture, to improving or learning a language skill, to making friends from all over the world, to increasing the value of your degree, there are many, many reasons to study abroad. Our problem is trying to think of a good reason you wouldn’t go.
Will Studying Abroad Enhance My Employability After I Graduate?
Yes. 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. According to a 2007 “Going Global” article, here are a few reasons why:
- 75% of executives cite study abroad as important when evaluating candidates for junior-level positions;
- 80% of human resource (HR) executives surveyed believed that a study abroad experience was an important factor for overseas job placement within their companies;
- 67% of HR executives surveyed said that a study abroad experience within a culturally diverse student environment distinguishes a job candidate.
About How Many Students Study Abroad Each Semester?
Currently, we send between 30 and 50 students on study abroad programs each semester, with more studying abroad in the spring semester. The numbers only increase if you include integrated field trips as part of an IPRO or ARCH studio. This is certainly not our limit, however, and we would like to send as many students away as possible each semester. Not to be pushy, but why not be one of them?
Where Is The Study Abroad Office Located?
The Study Abroad Office is located within the offices of the International Center on main campus. This is located on the fourth floor of the Main Building, room 405. Stop by sometime and say hello.
Is Study Abroad For Me?
As long as you have an open mind and a desire to add an international perspective to your degree, it is fairly safe to say that study abroad is for you. However, you should ask yourself these questions to determine if you’re comfortable going abroad:
- Can I try new things?
- Am I afraid to be away from home?
- Am I a risk taker?
- Can I adapt to a new culture?
- Am I comfortable with eating foreign cuisine?
Which Majors Can Apply For Study Abroad?
There is a program offered for nearly every major and even if you do not study abroad in your major, there are plenty of study abroad opportunities in the summer in which you can take electives or core requirements in the humanities. Try doing an advanced search in AbroadOffice to find the best fit for you!
What Are The Requirements Of The Study Abroad Program?
We want to send as many students abroad as would like to go, but we do have to set certain boundaries. Students should have at least completed one year on campus, regardless of how many credits were transferred in for Advanced Placement or from other schools. Most programs require a GPA of 3.0 cumulative or higher to qualify for study abroad. You should also be in good academic and community standing.
Who Approves My Study Abroad Program?
Permission is required from your department/college, the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs and the Study Abroad Office. Eligibility requirements for Faculty-Led Programs are also determined by the organizing faculty member. You can access the required “Initial Permission Form” by logging into the AbroadOffice system.
Can International Students Study Abroad?
Yes, international students can study abroad, as long as there will be no issues with a student’s visa. This can easily be determined by meeting with an International Center Advisor.
As study abroad implies that you are learning about a new culture, international students must also note that they cannot study abroad in their native country unless it is a short-term program led by IIT faculty. Otherwise, an international student must choose a program in a country outside the United States and their country of origin.
Can Graduate Students Study Abroad?
Yes. However, there are very few study abroad programs with coursework for graduate students unless they are already arranged by their own department at IIT. Many graduate students who go abroad do so through "unofficial" opportunities arranged with their academic advisors such as research, internships or a Fulbright fellowship.
Can Students With Disabilities Study Abroad?
Yes. Many students with disabilities may assume they cannot study abroad; however, many programs are able to make accommodations for students with both physical and learning disabilities. It is essential that students with documented disabilities consult with the Study Abroad Office early in the process to ensure enough time to find the right program to meet their needs. However, students do not need to disclose anything if they choose not to, but it does help us to work with you, the disability office at IIT, and the host institution to make sure we find the best fit for you.
Are There Any Special Requirements Or Suggestions For Students With Chronic Medical Or Psychological Problems?
If you have chronic medical or psychological problems, you should consult with your physicians, psychologists and counselors extensively regarding study abroad plans. You can also self-disclose to the Study Abroad Office about your circumstances, so we can appropriately assist you -- though this is not required. You should arrange to bring a supply of any prescribed medications sufficient for the duration of your sojourn.
As A Transfer Student, Can I Study Abroad In My First Semester?
We’re afraid not. You must have completed at least one semester at IIT at the time of application to study abroad. A full semester means we need to see grades for at least 12 credits of work taken at IIT before you apply to study abroad. Therefore, if your first semester at IIT is in the fall, you would not be eligible to go abroad until the following summer.
Can I Study Abroad In My Final Semester?
Yes, you can, although studying abroad during your final semester could be difficult. One common issue is that the host institution may not be able to report your grades in time for you to graduate at IIT. However, we are more than happy to work with you if you truly desire to go abroad!
What If I Do Not Meet The Eligibility Criteria?
If you do do not meet our requirements, please let us know so that we can try to work out a plan, whether it is delaying going abroad for a semester or finding an alternate host that can accommodate you.
Where Can I Go Abroad?
In a nutshell, the world is your oyster. Where do you want to go?
Where Should I Go Abroad?
Now that’s a better question. Choosing a study abroad destination can be difficult. The possibilities for study abroad are abundant, but your options will depend on personal, environmental and cultural differences. You should choose a program that offers you the experience of a lifetime in your selected major and outside the classroom, without being over-budget.
To help you choose a destination, you should narrow your process down to two categories: destination and type of program. Think about your academic goals and try to narrow them down before you meet with an advisor. If you are still having trouble, make an appointment with a Study Abroad Office coordinator.
What Are The Differences Between The Various Programs?
There are 4 main types of program that IIT deals with: Faculty-Led, Exchange, Partner and Affiliated Provider Programs. The differences between these programs are mainly financial and academic.
For Faculty-Led programs, you will enroll directly in one or more IIT courses offered on the program, and will be in class with other IIT students. You will pay IIT tuition according to your classification and degree level, and will also pay a program fee which typically includes accommodation, meals, local transportation, program related excursions, airfare and other expenses. Primarily offered during the summer and winter sessions, each faculty-led program focuses on a certain academic discipline with students earning direct IIT course credit, and incorporates excursions and field trips to give you the opportunity to explore and learn about your host country.
Exchange programs work on the principle of a one-for-one exchange of students, with a balance of students being maintained on a rolling basis. You would pay IIT tuition for the term you would be abroad, in order to take courses at a foreign institution alongside students from the host country. Proficiency in the host language may be required, though there are many universities around the world in which the language of instruction is English. You would earn IIT transfer credit with a passing grade, though GPA does not transfer back. Exchange programs are available for most majors, though some may be restricted to a specific department or school. You would be responsible for paying for flights, housing, books, food, travel, etc. in addition to IIT tuition.
You would not pay IIT tuition to participate in Partner Programs, which are offered by foreign universities that have an official agreement with IIT. Instead, you would enroll directly at a foreign institution as a visiting student, paying the host’s usual tuition. Participating in a partnership program, you would take courses with students from the host country and concurrently maintain full-time student status at IIT for the duration of their study abroad program. These programs are often referred to as “study abroad programs.”
On an Affiliated Provider Program, you would not pay IIT tuition, as they are offered by third party organizations that have an official agreement with IIT and come recommended by our office. Instead, you would pay a program fee, which includes tuition and may include additional features like accommodation, meals, dedicated on-site staff, in-country orientations, airport pick-up, insurance, overnight excursions and local field trips as part of a comprehensive program package. Some affiliates offer scholarship competitions available only to students participating in their programs. Students participating in affiliated provider programs may be taking courses with students from the host country, or only with other American or international students. IIT students will concurrently maintain full-time student status at IIT for the duration of their study abroad program.
When Would I Study Abroad?
Students generally study abroad in their 3rd year of undergraduate study. It is also possible to study in your sophomore or senior years, depending on your program of study and the courses that you need to take.
Does IIT Offer Any International Programs Over The December-January Semester Break?
Yes, there are often 1-week-long faculty-led programs over the winter break for some majors, such as international IPRO projects or Architecture field trips.
How Long Can I Go Abroad?
You can study abroad for a semester, a full academic year or during summer. There are even some short term travel study programs that last just a few weeks, though these are mainly with the College of Architecture.
Can I Study Abroad More Than Once?
Yes, as long as you’ve been good on your first experience, and have permission from all applicable parties. Many students decide they want to study abroad again after spending one stint in another country. It can certainly be an addictive experience.
Can I Apply To A Program Not Affiliated With IIT?
Yes. Maybe. Students may be granted permission to apply to an unaffiliated program during the academic year if they have a compelling academic reason and if the program meets the academic and student services standards of affiliated programs. Be aware also that your financial aid might not transfer to such a program.
Are There Any Available Independent Study Or Research Opportunities Abroad?
There could be, though independent study and research options are usually only offered through faculty within your college or department. For that reason, it is best to consult your academic advisor for such opportunities in addition to working with the Study Abroad Office.
Are There Any Internship Opportunities?
IIT doesn’t have any specific internship links, but there are a number of opportunities in this area through other providers. The DAAD/RISE awards are very popular with IIT students because they cover your expenses while living and working in Germany for the summer.
How Can I Learn More?
Study abroad information sessions will be conducted at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. You can also contact the appropriate program administrator for more information.
Who Will Help Me Plan?
We will! The Study Abroad Office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Walk-in hours are Mondays 10am - 1pm and Thursdays 1pm - 3pm. and appointments are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Literature, catalogs, books and videos on all IIT programs are available.
How Can I See What Other Students Thought Of Their Program?
Our students provide us with detailed mid-program questionnaires while abroad, which can help future students to gain from their knowledge. These documents are located in our office and can be viewed during our walk-in hours or during an appointment. A sampling of a few of our favorites can be found on our website.
When Should I Start Planning My Study Abroad Experience?
Early planning is the key to a successful study abroad experience. 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 one semester before you actually depart.
How Do I Apply?
To apply you’ll need to create an “AbroadOffice” account, which will give you access to all the application materials. Firstly, you will need to complete and return a signed “Initial Permission Form” and submit it before the required deadline.
What Is AbroadOffice?
AbroadOffice is a system integrated into our website, which is complete with an available program database and application flow.
What Are The Deadlines To Apply For A Study Abroad Program?
Let us just say that it is never too early too apply. If you’re not an early-bird, please ensure you stick to the following dates:
- Fall Semester: February 1
- Spring Semester: September 15
- Summer: February 1
What Happens After I Apply?
If we like the look of you, you’ll be ready to move on to the next step, which is applying to your host university. From there, you will need to upload a number of documents to complete your profile and be ready to head off. Such documents include passport photo pages, proof of international health insurance and course approvals.
What Is The Selection Process For Study Abroad?
If there are a finite amount of places on a particular program, the Study Abroad Office will select students based primarily on academic achievement. Other factors, however, will be considered. The committee’s decision is final, but we will work with you to make alternate arrangements.
Am I Guaranteed A Space In The Exchange Program Of My Choice?
More than likely, yes, but it does depend on the number of IIT students applying for the same spot. Most of our exchange partners will be able to use the extra place made available by any extra students. However, if for some reason this is not possible, there will be other programs for which you could apply.
How Do I Request An Official Transcript?
Your host university will most likely require an official transcript as part of your application. The Study Abroad Office can get a free transcript for you if you apply for it through your myIIT account.
How Much Does It Cost?
As your parents and pockets will appreciate, understanding your finances and the costs of the program is important. Some programs are very comparable to studying at IIT. Some programs are more expensive and others are less so. The type of program you chose will very much influence the cost of your experience and once this is chosen, the Office of Financial Aid will be able to tell you how much of your financial aid can be used when abroad. You may find that some universities (especially in Europe) have a significantly reduced tuition, so even if you can’t use financial aid when abroad, the tuition costs may be manageable anyway. You should also keep in mind pre-departure costs, such as passports, visas and airfare. The IIT Study Abroad Worksheet will help you keep things in order.
Is Airfare Included?
The cost of IIT-administered programs does not include airfare. While few of IIT’s programs have mandatory group flights, some do have "designated flights," meaning that those flights will be met by a member of the program staff upon arrival in the host country. Some of the non-IIT programs' costs do include airfare for a group flight. If you are attending a non-IIT program, you should consult that program's materials for travel information.
Will My Financial Aid Apply To Study Abroad?
Regardless of the type of program you choose, you must make an appointment with the IIT Financial Aid Office to discuss your options and understand how to maintain your scholarship eligibility while away.
Are Scholarships Available?
Yes. There are many, many scholarship opportunities for study abroad students from all walks of life. Check with your department chair to see if any departmental scholarships exist, search international education scholarship databases and, if applicable, research your program provider’s website, as they too could offer scholarships to their participants.
How Do I Manage My Money Abroad?
A combination of ATM card withdrawals and credit card charges are often the most convenient means of accessing money abroad, and these usually give you pretty good rates of exchange. Be sure to contact your bank to alert them of your travel plans, including the dates and location of your stay abroad, as this will ensure that your cards are not put on hold if used abroad. Traveler’s checks are another option for accessing funds while abroad, but be aware that there may be high fees to cash these. If you are spending a long duration abroad, opening a local bank account could be another option.
Cash is still king, though, and you will want to obtain local currency before departing to cover any initial expenses such as food and transportation to your residence. Carrying cash while abroad will be necessary and you should be as careful as you would in any setting to secure it safely at all times.
Can I Work While I’m Abroad?
Generally, no. Although there are very occasional on-campus opportunities open to student visa holders, these are few and far between. Therefore, you should not plan your finances around working while you study abroad and should consult the regulations of your student visa before thinking about working. If you get it wrong, you could be deported and that’s not a fun situation.
Will I Graduate On Time?
Yes. Along with the Office of Undergraduate Affairs and your advisor, you will plan your courses in advance so that you know which courses are transferable. You can take courses towards your major; therefore you will not delay your graduation, as long as you “pass” all coursework abroad.
Will All My Credits Transfer?
Yes. Your courses are pre-approved in advance so that you know what courses are transferable – prior to departure. You can take courses towards your major; therefore you will not delay your graduation. Students are surprised to find that many programs fulfill requirements within their major. You can take courses towards your major; therefore you will not delay your graduation, as long as the student “passes” all coursework abroad.
Will My GPA Transfer?
No. Study abroad credits are effectively treated as transfer credits and are not factored into the GPA. The exceptions to this are certain Architecture programs which are taught by IIT faculty and treated as regular IIT courses.
Please make sure that you arrange for an official transcript to be sent to the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs before you return to Chicago. This will help us get your credits in the system without unnecessary delay.
How Do I Select My Courses?
Your academic advisor will help you decide, along with the Office of Undergraduate Affairs, which courses to take based on your major and courses you still need to take in order to graduate. Think about it in this way: “What courses would I take if I was to stay at IIT if I was not going abroad?” You will most likely choose from the regular course offerings at your host university, using the information available on their website. Once decisions have been made, you will sign a Course Approval form, and have it approved by your advisor and the Office of Undergraduate Affairs.
How Many Credit Hours Do I Need To Take?
Every college has different regulations about the number of credits you should take while in a study abroad program, so be conscious of these. On the whole, however, you will need to take a minimum of the equivalent of 12 credit hours Depending on your curriculum and your graduation plans, you may need to take more or less hours during your time abroad. Talk to your Academic Advisor to know what the requirements are for your major and college. If you receive financial aid, some loans, grants or scholarships might have different regulations. Check with the Financial Aid Office for more information.
What Is The Academic Calendar Like?
Knowing as much as you can about your academic life abroad will help you adjust and prepare for the differences compared to your academic program in the U.S. The start and end dates of the program will help determine the dates of your travel, as well as help you plan any optional traveling.
What Is My Student Status During My Study Abroad Term?
Students who participate in IIT-affiliated study abroad programs remain registered at IIT with full-time student status.
Must I Be Fluent In The Language?
You are not required to be fluent unless your courses are taught in the particular language, in which case you may be expected to prove proficiency. It is fair to say that many of our programs have courses taught in English for international students.
However, as you will probably want to order a sandwich or travel by public transport at some point during your stay, it is recommended to have at least a basic level knowledge of the language for more a complete study abroad experience.
I Already Know A Foreign Language. Where Can I Go To Improve My Skills?
Regardless of your current language proficiency, it is a good idea to strengthen your skills or introduce yourself to the language. Some familiarity with the language will strongly enhance your experience abroad even if your classes are offered in English. The Galvin Library has copies of the Rosetta Stone levels 1 & 2 in Arabic, Chinese, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
There are also many language institutes, local community colleges or cultural centers in the Chicago area that will be able to provide you with language instruction. Check out our Resources section for more information.
Where Will I Live?
You will have similar options for housing as you would at IIT. Some universities will be able to provide you with campus accommodation; some won’t. Private accommodation will always be available and past students should be able to give you advice on good agents to work with for apartments. There may also be the possibility to take part in a homestay with a host family. Same as with everything, though, make sure you do your research and maybe even arrive a week or two early if you intend to search in the private sector.
Will IIT Help Me Find Housing For While I’m Abroad?
Yes. IIT’s study abroad office can provide you with helpful resources to find housing, however it is ultimately your responsibility to arrange for your housing.
Will I Need A Passport ?
Yes. The basic concept of studying abroad is to go abroad. The basic concept of the passport is to get you there.
For How Long Does My Passport Need To Be Valid?
You will require a passport that is valid for the entire duration of your stay in order to be admitted to your host country and may be asked to provide evidence of this with your host university application. You are strongly advised to check the expiry date on your current passport and to obtain a replacement if this date is within six months of your estimated date of return to the U.S.
How Do I Apply For Or Renew My Passport?
If you do not have a passport or it will expire sooner than this, you should begin the process of applying/renewing as soon as possible. For information on how and where to apply, documentation you will need to present, application forms and passport fees:
What Is A Visa & Do I Need One?
Yes, you will need a student visa to take part in the program, unless you are a citizen of the country you would like to study abroad in or you fall into a certain category that makes you eligible to travel to certain countries without a visa (a German national studying in France under the EU agreement, for example).
A visa, or entry permit, is a stamp or attachment in your passport issued by the embassy of your host country that allows you to enter their country for a certain period of time.
How Do I Get A Visa?
You are unable to apply for a visa until you have received a formal acceptance letter from your host university, but are encouraged to make prompt arrangements as soon as this has been received. We also recommend that you to research the procedures for applying well in advance, so you can work on putting together your application package. Common visa requirements include biometrics (fingerprinting) and an appointment at the Consulate of the host country (located in major U.S. cities).
The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to make sure that you understand the visa requirements of your host country, to obtain the necessary application materials and supporting documents and to apply according to the regulations of the host country.
The Study Abroad Office is able to assist with application procedures, but you should contact your host country embassy or consulate in Chicago directly for detailed guidance. More information about local consulates can be found here.
Will My Student Health Insurance Apply To The Study Abroad Program?
Your health is as important to us as it should be to you. As such, you are required to have adequate health insurance coverage overseas. IIT’s health insurance (Aetna) will provide basic services while abroad and emergency travel assistance. Please note, however, that there is a major difference between “travel assistance” and complete “medical coverage.” If you would like to purchase your own international medical insurance, there are many companies out there willing to supply you with it. If you purchase non-IIT health insurance and/or are covered internationally under a parent’s health insurance plan, you will need to waive IIT’s health insurance policy, which can be achieved by contacting IIT’s Student Health Service.
What Is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is intended to cover medical expenses and financial and other losses incurred while traveling, either within your own country or internationally. It can also cover you for missed or cancelled flights and hotels needed because of those things. Temporary travel insurance can usually be arranged at the time of the booking of a trip to cover exactly the duration of that trip, or a more extensive, continuous insurance can be purchased from travel insurance companies, travel agents or directly from travel suppliers such as cruise lines or tour operators.
What Has IIT Done To Address Security & Safety Concerns Abroad?
The Study Abroad Office monitors international situations on a twice-daily basis. When world events merit it, the university will hold meetings at various administrative levels to discuss contingency plans for various "what-if" scenarios. If we consider that your current location is unsafe, we will work with you to bring you back home as quickly as possible.
We also highly recommend that you register with the U.S. Embassy in your host country, informing them of your whereabouts and contact details, and monitor and heed the U.S. State Department travel warnings.
What Happens In An Emergency?
Be prepared, be safe and stay in contact with IIT and your host institution at all times. You will have given us your emergency contact details and ours are listed below. You will also have been given an Emergency Card to carry with you at all times, with our contact details and spaces for you to complete local emergency service numbers.
- International Center (office hours): 001 312-567-3680
- IIT Public Safety (emergencies outside office hours): 001 312-808-6363
- IIT Public Safety (non-emergencies outside office hours): 001 312-808-6300
If you do not have access to your Emergency Card or if the number is incorrect, 112 is the international emergency number for GSM mobile phones. By dialing this number, you will be redirected to the local emergency responders.