Frequently Asked Questions


Study abroad is not limited to foreign language or social studies majors. Students from all majors, including highly-structured degrees such as engineering or nursing, study abroad (and graduate on time). Last year, undergraduate students representing 81 majors—from accounting to women’s studies—studied abroad.


Although most UI students study abroad during their junior or senior year, they can study abroad at any point during their undergraduate program depending on their academic objectives and qualifications. Summer, semester, winter session & academic year programs are available. Note: It’s a good idea for students to identify an appropriate program well in advance of studying abroad. There’s a lot to plan and prepare for.


The UI offers a wide variety of programs scattered across every continent except Antarctica. For a complete list, visit our programs section.

If we don’t offer the right program in the right place at the right time, chances are another U.S. or foreign university does. UI students can participate in non-UI programs and transfer the credit earned toward their degree requirements.


Students should visit the Study Abroad office (parents are also welcome), chat with a peer adviser, meet with a study abroad adviser, and do the research needed to select the program that fits best, both academically and personally. (While parental input and support is great, try not to persuade your son or daughter to study in the country of your choice.) For more detailed info, see Steps to Studying Abroad


For the first time in my life, I really left my comfort zone. I couldn’t just run home to my parents, my friends, my boyfriend, or anyone else for that matter when I was homesick (which was a lot at the beginning). –Danila Toscano, Spain

Those five months in Spain are where I really came into my own in many ways. It is hard to describe the transformation that took place, but I can pinpoint the best part of it all in one word: empowerment. Physically, emotionally, and intellectually, I found out what I was made of.
–Tessa Somers, Spain

On a personal level, all 20 years of my life prior to the program took place in the state of Iowa, never more than 45 miles and a quick phone call away from my parents. Hailing from a safe, small town, I had never been forced to deal with the potential dangers and fast-paced life of a big city, let alone a metropolitan area in a foreign country. So, when the plane landed in Ireland, I was nervous to say the least. However, as time progressed, I became self-sufficient, not only existing but flourishing independently on the bustling streets of Dublin. After living safely and happily for six weeks in a European city, I am confident I can handle myself in any large area, regardless of the location. I was changed from a naive small-town Iowa girl into a worldly traveler, and I feel much more confident in myself as a competent adult as a result. –Kelly Stavnes, Ireland

From my own experience, study abroad cannot be considered an addition to study at the University of Iowa. It is a crucial and invaluable part of it. Study abroad provides us with academic and cultural opportunities which cannot be provided by the University of Iowa alone. It fills a gap which makes the study of many disciplines a complete experience. –John Watzke, Poland

Absolutely! It was all positive. She became much more confident in herself, certainly more aware of the world around her, and saw the differences in political opinion, lifestyles, etc. It also changed the way I regarded her ability to be on her own and expanded my vision of the world as well. She really matured a lot that semester. – Rita Williams, mother of a UI senior

I thought that it was an extraordinary experience for her. She has seen more places at 21 than I may ever see. – Ted Williams, father of a UI senior

Study abroad is no longer a matter of individual growth, but of national strategic importance. Americans can't expect to lead the world unless they understand it - and not just the charming parts. Neither can they understand it until they grasp how others view the US. As Sanford Ungar, president of Goucher, told high school seniors this year: "There is a vast and disappointing gap between the America we have imagined and the America that is so widely perceived abroad." –The Monitor's View, August 16, 2006

Do students earn credit toward their degree while they’re studying abroad?

Absolutely. Study abroad is an academic experience. Students earn credit while formally studying abroad.

Will it delay my child’s graduation?

No. At least it shouldn’t with a little advance planning! Most students are enrolled full time while abroad, and earn approximately the same amount of credit as they would on campus. Most take a mix of courses which satisfy requirements for their major, minor or the General Education Program, as well as courses for elective credit.

Can I go, too?

Talk to your son or daughter about that one!