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Study Abroad FAQ

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 Prospective Students

  • What is Study Abroad?
    Study abroad is the term given when a student studies in a foreign country, whether it’s through their home university or applying directly to a university overseas. CSUSM offers a variety of programs to its students with over 240 institutions all over the world! You can take classes in your major, minor, or even GE courses abroad. Check out our programs!
  • How much does it cost?

    Short-Term Faculty-Led Programs (Winter and Summer):

    Like winter and summer session at CSUSM, tuition fees are paid directly to Extended Learning. Program fees are paid to the Office of Global Education. Depending on the destination, these fees will vary based on program length, location, accommodation, food, excursions, etc. Flight costs are not included in our program fees.

    Semester and Year programs (Exchange, CSU IP, ISEP Exchange):

    Most of our programs cost around the same as a term at CSUSM living on-campus. You might even save money studying abroad! Tuition and fees are the same and paid to CSUSM. The cost of living (housing, food, personal, transportation, etc) will vary by each country. Specific costs breakdowns can be found on each program page.

    Outside Programs (ISEP Direct and others):

    Outside program fees are directly paid to the program provider or foreign university. Check out your program’s website for this information.

  • How does Financial Aid work?

    Short-Term Faculty-Led Programs (Winter and Summer):

    Like winter and summer session at CSUSM, no new awards from the financial aid office are given during these terms. Students can use leftover aid from the previous semester and apply it to these programs.  

    Semester and Year programs (Exchange, CSU IP, ISEP Exchange):

    Since tuition and fees are paid to CSU, any financial aid you normally receive can be applied to your semester or year abroad. This includes grants, Cal Vet, loans, and scholarships! Specific scholarships for study abroad are also available. Check out our financial aid section.

    Outside Programs (ISEP Direct and others):

    For semester and year-long programs, students who normally receive aid at CSUSM, can take most of their financial aid and apply it towards their outside program, except state university grants.

    Short-Term programs during the winter or summer, can take any leftover aid from the previous semester, except state university grants.

  • How do I get credit?

     Our Short-Term Faculty-Led Programs (Winter and Summer) are direct CSUSM courses and units. They will count the same way they would if you took the course(s) on campus. While no pre-approved documentation is required, you must meet the minimum eligibility requirements stated on the program’s page.

    Semester and Year programs (Exchange, CSU IP, ISEP Exchange) earn CSU credits and grades for all coursework taken abroad. It is required you meet with your major/minor Faculty Advisor before departure to fill out the Credit Approval Form. This will ensure you receive credit for any classes taken in your major or minor. For General Education credit, you can return your credit approval form with course descriptions to our office and we will obtain the signatures.

    Outside Program (ISEP Direct and others) courses will be accepted as transfer credit. These courses can clear requirements for your major, minor, and lower-division general education courses. Upper-division GEs (BB, CC, and DD) CANNOT be cleared through an outside program. It is required you meet with your major/minor Faculty Advisor before departure to fill out the Credit Approval Form. 

  • What program better suits my major or minor?
     We have programs for almost every major, minor, or GE! Check out any of our programs’ academics section for more information. For advisement, please make an appointment with our coordinator.
  • Where will I study?
     Depending on your chosen program, your classroom could be the foreign city itself or you could be studying at a foreign university or a study center abroad. 
  • Will my classes be taught in English?
     Most of our programs are taught in English! Depending on major, certain locations are taught in the native language and will require language courses taken before your program begins. Check out the specific program you are interested in for the language of instruction and if there are any foreign language prerequisites.
  • Where will I live?
     Most of our programs offer student housing (dormitories) on campus. Off-campus housing is also available in certain locations. For language-learning programs, homestays are recommended. Lastly, our short-term programs commonly reside in hostels/hotels or homestays, depending on the specific program.
  • Will I delay graduation?
     No! Studying abroad will not delay graduation. Since you are taking classes in your major/minor/GE, you will most likely stay on track with your academic goals.
  • The country I want to travel to is not listed...can I still study there?
    If you can find a program and meet their requirements, yes. In addition to the study abroad options we offer, there are also businesses for study abroad available (outside programs) to facilitate study abroad for CSUSM students. The Office of Global Education maintains an extensive library of brochures and reference books describing these programs. Check out our Outside Program & Resources section links for more information. Also try GoAbroad for a lengthy list of these programs.
  • I am an incoming transfer student. Could I study abroad my first semester at CSUSM?

     You could study abroad through our year-only option (CSU International Programs). This would mean that your first year at CSUSM will actually be spent in another country! If you would like to apply for CSU IP, please contact our office to set an appointment.

    If you want to go through a short-term or semester program, you are required to attend a semester on-campus at CSUSM before you can study abroad.

  • I have a disability. Can I still study abroad?
    Of course you can study abroad!  Although not all programs can accommodate all types of disabilities, we want as many students as possible to have a study abroad experience. Please plan ahead and talk to your Study Abroad Advisor about any other health or concerns that may require support while abroad. That way we can direct you the appropriate resources and programs. 
  • How do I get started?

    The first step to studying abroad is attending our Study Abroad Info Session! We have them every semester on a weekly basis. Please check out our calendar for specific dates and location. This will give you an idea of all the programs we offer, how financial aid and classes transfer, etc.

    Please take our survey so we can provide better dates for Info Sessions!


    Once you have attended an info session, the next step would be making an appointment with our Study Abroad Coordinator for specific advising about the application process.

    Check out our checklists to keep you on track!

  • When is the deadline?

    Short-Term Faculty-Led Programs (Winter and Summer):

    • Short-term programs are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students who submit a general application before the $300 deposit is due and meets the requirements, will have a spot reserved for them (unless the program is Waitlisted).

    Exchange Programs:

    • Fall: October 1
    • Spring: March 15*

      *Japan deadline for Spring semester: March 1

    CSU International Programs:

    • Academic Year (Fall to Spring): February 1 (Japan: January 15)
    • Calendar Year (Spring to Fall)*: September 1

    *Only available for Australia, South Africa, and Chile

    ISEP Exchange*:

    • Fall or Academic Year: February 15
    • Spring or Calendar Year: September 15

    *CSUSM has its own priority deadline that is 2 weeks earlier than the ISEP priority deadline. For details, please ask your Study Abroad Advisor.

    Outside Programs:

    Please check with your specific program for deadlines.

    You can also sign up for our email subscriptions to get reminders of deadlines!
  • Do I have to attend an Info Session?
     Yes. Even if you know the program you want to apply for, attending an info session is mandatory as we do go over more than just our programs (ex. financial aid, housing, classes). After attending an info session, you can make an appointment to see an advisor to take the next steps in applying. Check out our calendar for specific dates and location. 

    Please take our survey so we can provide better dates for Info Sessions!

  • Other
    If you have or are already applying to a program, please check our other FAQ's. If you don't see your question, please email 

Application Questions

  • What is the General Study Abroad Application? And where can I find it?

    The General Study Abroad Application is an application all our students must fill out before they can study abroad. This gives us information on your basic contact information, health, emergency contact, program you are most interested in (which can be changed later), etc. 

    Should take you about 20-30mins to complete. You can find it at the following link:

     General Study Abroad Application 

  • Do I need a passport to apply?
    No, but you should apply for one ASAP! You will need it to travel anywhere internationally. Once you have a passport, please email us a copy at . (Include your name and program you are applying to)
  • What is STEP?

    The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

    Everytime you add a country to your account, you will receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. The US Embassy also has direct contact with you through STEP in case of an emergency.

    Every student traveling MUST enroll and send us a copy of their profile (See sample).

    If you have applied to one of our programs, create an account ASAP: STEP Homepage

  • What is the credit approval form?

     The Credit Approval Form is your insurance policy that the courses you take overseas will translate into degree progress at CSUSM. It is required you meet with your major/minor Faculty Advisor before departure to fill out the form together. We recommend you also get back-up classes approved. 

    You must take complete the form and submit it to our office before departure. Once transcripts from overseas are received, classes will show on your CSUSM transcript or under external institutions for outside programs.