Why Study Abroad?
What the statistics say...
80% of study abroad alumni expressed a stronger interest in and dedication to their studies. The same study noted that 87% credited study abroad for their desire to pursue additional education.
More than 90% of students reported improved soft skills, knowledge of other countries, the ability to interact and work with people from different cultures, adaptability, foreign language proficiency, and communication skills.
A recent survey reported that nearly 40% of 800 U.S. companies missed out on international business opportunities due to lack of internationally competent employees.
90% of American college students do not study abroad at all. You can change this!
The benefits of study abroad...
- Take courses not available at Virginia Tech
- Gain a global perspective on your field of study from reputed international faculty
- Gain global competencies: learn how to be a good global citizen, gain a multicultural perspective on the world, learn to understand and appreciate differences, become more compassionate
- Get an edge in the job market as employers seek employees with intercultural skills and sensitivity
- Explore career opportunities
- Develop connections for future international travel and/or work
- Get an edge in graduate and professional schools
- Learn or perfect a foreign language
- Gain (inter)personal skills: adaptability, self-confidence, independence, critical thinking, problem solving skills, decision making skills and (cross-cultural) communication competencies
- Experience novelty and adventure, travel, track back family roots, learn about another culture firsthand
- Have an opportunity to make lifelong friendships with people from around the world.
- Learn what it is really means to be an ‘American’ as you experience what makes life in the United States different from anywhere else
In the early stages of thinking about study abroad, you should meet with:
Our peer advisors take first-visit meetings during scheduled walk-in advising hours to explain (among other things):
- How to find programs that meet your needs/wishes
- Application process
- Credit transfer procedures
- Scholarships/financial aid
- Global Education policies
Walk-In Advising Hours (scroll to bottom of homepage). You can also contact our office to set up an appointment outside of walk-in advising hours: firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 231-5888
Mention your study abroad plans any time you are discussing your academic plan. Don’t view study abroad as something separate, instead, think of it as part of your curriculum.
Academic advisors can:
- Help determine the best time to study elsewhere
- See how study abroad fits your degree progress
- Check which and how many courses you are required to take in order to graduate on time
- Determine if the courses offered abroad are a good match for the courses you need to take
- Ascertain if there are prerequisites you need to take at Virginia Tech before going abroad
- Determine flexibility with course selection (including major(s), in your minor(s), CLEs, electives)
You can drop by the Financial Aid Office (Student Services Building Suite 200, 800 Washington St), or send an email ('study abroad' in the subject line)
They can help answer question about:
- Whether a particular type of aid (i.e. 529 plan) can be used for study abroad
- Types of aid or assistance (loans) that are available
Check with the Cranwell International Center (Harper Hall) to see if they can connect you with international students. They can help answer your questions about living in their home country (i.e. culture, customs, educational system, transportation, money matters, communication, socializing norms, housing, laws, safety, free time and other topics).
Approximately 1,200 Hokies study abroad every year
Most anyone can study abroad. There are opportunities for students of all different majors, students involved in sports or extra-curricular activities, students with a low GPA, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities, international students, first generation college students, students with limited family resources and students with no prior international travel experience.
Thousands of programs are available across every continent. Virginia Tech has over 200 approved programs worldwide.
In order of popularity:
Switzerland, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, China, New Zealand, France, Italy
|College||Study abroad percentage per college||Study abroad percentage per total university enrollment|
Students usually study abroad during the fall or spring term of their sophomore or junior year. Most study abroad programs require a sophomore standing, but some programs (i.e. faculty-led) are also open to freshmen.
Some programs end early enough in the spring that you can study abroad your final semester and still graduate
Overall, your sophomore year would be the best year to go. However, the best timing depends on several factors. For example, some majors may require you to be on campus for particular terms, whereas sometimes required courses may only be offered during a certain term. Early planning is key in helping you decide when studying abroad best fits into your four-year plan.
With good planning, study abroad can fit right into your degree program so that your graduation isn’t delayed. Students can select from programs that last just a few weeks in the summer, a semester, or for an entire year.
Every student going abroad could receive transfer credit (faculty-led excluded). You need to work with your academic advisor in selecting courses that will transfer back to Virginia Tech regardless of program type (VT Exchange, ISEP, Third Party, Autonomous Study).
Yes, if you plan early, it is usually possible
Through careful planning and bilateral exchange arrangements in many cases, Virginia Tech programs are among the most affordable you can find – some costing less than comparable time on campus. Through many exchange options, tuition, room and board costs abroad are equivalent to (or even less than!) what you would pay to stay at Tech.
Absolutely! Many programs offer instruction in English, even if it is not the host country’s native language. You can research in advance if a program has any foreign language requirements.
You can take courses in your minor, satisfy general education requirements, or for your elective
It’s never too early to start planning. Ideally a year in advance of your departure allows sufficient time for thorough planning and preparation. However, application early in the semester preceding your departure is essential.
Usually a semester before the term you’re planning on going abroad
Yes. It could be that the university where you are interested in spending a semester abroad has a different academic calendar. It is important to check the semester start and end dates as some may have a fall semester from July – December and a spring semester from February – June.
Even if you do not meet the GPA eligibility criteria, you are encouraged to consult with the contact for the specific program to see if you can still apply to the program. Often there will be a case by case evaluation to see if there are good reasons for a low GPA. You might be required to submit a personal statement or a letter of recommendation.
Yes, but this requires additional advance planning in order to work out course credits in one or both majors. It is essential to speak with your major advisor to make sure you will be able to satisfy your requirements.
You have options! Speak to your academic advisor, who will be able to point you towards established study abroad opportunities in your particular department. You would have to meet all of the requirements for admission and be expected to enroll in the courses offered and pay all program fees associated as a continuing student. If you are looking for a non-VT or exchange program, some follow-up with the Registrar’s Office might be required. You would apply and follow through the steps as a VT student. Your VT ID would still be used to register for the courses and pay through the Bursar. In the application, you should note that you have/will have graduated and would like to participate in the program. If it's faculty-led, you should also reach out to the program's director to be able to have that conversation and ensure that there's not any specific eligibility stipulations that would impact participation.
It is important to carefully consider any type of medical, physical, psychological, or other conditions you have that affect you here at Virginia Tech. If it affects you here, it will affect you abroad. You should disclose these in the planning stage to better find a program that’s the best fit for you. Not every country has the legal benefits that you may enjoy here, so research in advance if your program can accomodate your disability and what support is available should you need treatment while abroad. All decisions regarding accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis. It may not be feasible to make arrangements for accommodations requested too close to the departure date or once on site. If accommodations are not available at a particular site, then you may not qualify to participate in that specific program.
If you need or want to speak with someone about your circumstances, please contact the study abroad office to set up an appointment with a staff member or coordinate with Services for Students with Disabilities
- Cook Counseling Center
- Schiffert Health Center
- Making It Happen Documentary
- Must Ask Questions for Students with Disabilities
- Mobility International
It is important to remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are not in force outside of the United States
What if there is a U.S. State Department Travel Warning issued for the country where I want to study?
Even though there is a USDOS Travel Warning for the country you want to study in, all is not lost. The Global Travel Oversight Committee (GTOC) must review your request (via your Hokie Sentinel Global Travel Assessment) and decide whether they are willing to support your travel. It’s important you submit your HSGTA early, and to provide as much information on your trip as possible. The GTOC is concerned about your safety, so you must provide them detailed information about the security and safety of your proposed program, and why you must travel there instead of a safer country. Utilize the HSGTA to communicate this information, and feel free to provide additional attachments if you think it will support your request.
Yes, in most cases, a disciplinary record will not impede admission to the program as long as you have completed all of the required educational sanctioning associated with the violation. Undergraduate students are required to submit a waiver that authorizes program advisers to review their student conduct history during the application process. Egregious offenses, or a cumulative history of conduct violations may result in prohibiting a student from studying abroad.
No, and if you are in danger of being put on academic probation during the semester for which you are applying for study abroad, you are discouraged from applying
Register your travel in your My Study Abroad account. Here, you will find instructions to complete your Global Travel Assessment and enroll in mandatory insurance with CISI.
- Our office can put you in contact with VT study abroad alumni (who went on the same study abroad program)
- Unpacked is a great resource for students by students
IMPORTANT: All Virginia Tech students are required to register their university-supported travel with our office, regardless of program type. Click the "Finding the Right Program" and "Applying" buttons to learn more."