Study abroad is an academic experience overseas. The venue and method of instruction will vary depending on the program and country, yet it is always a process that aims to complement your entire collegiate experience at Sacred Heart. Study abroad is not “time-off” from your undergraduate degree or mainly traveling for pleasure, although the latter can be a part of it.
If you are in good academic and financial standing, you are eligible to study abroad.
There are countless reasons to study abroad and recent research suggests that studying abroad is also beneficial for your brain, your career, and your life! A study abroad experience can be incorporated as an international element to your cover letter/resume, enhance your communication skills, and is an opportunity to learn about and from various cultures. Don’t just take our word for it. Connect with our team of Global Ambassadors — SHU students just like you who recently studied abroad.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a study abroad program. Listed below are a few questions you may want to ask yourself as you consider your options:
- Is there a specific part of the world that I am interested in?
- Do I want to go abroad for 2-6 weeks, for a semester, or for a full year?
- Why do I want to study abroad? Am I looking to improve my language skills/learn a new language, get a new perspective on my major, have a cross-cultural experience, etc.?
- Do I want or need to take classes for my major/minor/elective/general education curriculum requirements? If yes, what are some classes that I am looking to take?
- Do I want to travel to many different countries during my time abroad, or just get to know one country very well?
- Would I rather attend a large or a small university?
- Am I looking for an urban or a rural setting, or something in between?
- Do I want to be with a group of SHU/U.S. students, or am I looking for something where I will be more on my own?
- What do I like to do when I am not in class?
- What is my budget?
It depends on which program you choose. Many of our programs are taught fully in English and do not require language study prior to going abroad. However, there are a few programs that strongly encourage students to have completed 1-4 semesters of study in the host country’s language.
When you choose to go abroad depends on your academic and personal needs. We offer winter and summer short term programs that range from 2-6 weeks, semester programs, and academic year programs.
Typically the earlier you choose to go abroad, the more courses you will have available to take before fulfilling all your degree requirements. On most programs, you are able to study abroad from your second semester of your freshman year through the first semester of your senior year (although some restrictions apply).
We encourage you to discuss your study abroad plans EARLY ON with you Academic Advisor(s) regarding when the best time for you to go abroad is and what courses to save for that term. For example, if you want to take your last history course abroad in Rome during your Junior year, then you should not take said History course Freshman year in Fairfield.
Some departments may have specific recommendations on when a student should (or should not) study abroad depending on you majors, minors, and certificates (and combination thereof). It is always your responsibility to meet with your Academic Advisor(s) and review your major check sheets early on.
A few final policy notes:
- A maximum of two semesters may be spent abroad.
- You can do a combination of semester and short-term programs.
The earlier you start thinking about your student abroad experience the better, especially if you intend to go abroad for an entire semester or year. Each semester the Office of Global Affairs hosts several program information sessions, announced on our Facebook page. We encourage you to come to one or more of the sessions as early as your freshman year to learn about your study abroad options and what you should be thinking about. We also recommend that you meet with our Study Abroad team at least a semester before you want to go abroad.
Applications will become available based on the following timeline:
- Spring programs abroad: July
- Winter programs abroad: July
- Fall/Year programs abroad: Late December
- Summer programs abroad: Late December Application deadlines vary by program.
In general, many programs follow the timeline below; however, you need to verify each program deadline by referring to the individual program page.
- Fall/Academic Year/Summer Programs: February 15
- Spring/Winter Programs: September 15 – October 1
Irrespective of what your major is, we have a program for you. You can fulfill credits towards your major, minor, elective, or general education requirements from courses you take abroad.
SHU Programs: Yes, your credits and grades will transfer to your SHU transcript. SHU approved courses taken abroad will count towards your general graduation total. Courses will also factor into your cumulative Grade Point Average. You will be awarded letter grades for each course (courses are not available for Pass/Fail).
If you are a visiting student, we encourage you to consult with your Academic and Study Abroad Advisors regarding your university’s transfer of credit policy.
Non-SHU Programs: Grades obtained on a non-SHU Program will not factor into your SHU GPA. These grades might transfer with a C or better. You are responsible for working out the transfer of credits with the appropriate academic departments at SHU using a Transfer Request Permission form and Non-SHU Study Abroad form, available to you during the application process. Please obtain all of the signatures indicated on the form except for the Registrar’s signature. As a final step, bring the completed form to the OGA. We will then sign the form and take it to the Registrar.
Each program has a different program cost depending on what is included in the total program fees, as well as an estimated budget sheet on the program webpage.
You will pay regular Sacred Heart University tuition plus a study abroad fee, which includes international insurance. You will be billed directly by SHU for these fees. With some programs, you will pay the housing and/or meals directly to the program abroad; with other programs, SHU will bill you directly.
SHU Programs: If you receive SHU financial aid and academic scholarships/grants your awards will apply to semester programs. Sacred Heart University scholarships and grants will not apply for the short-term programs. You are encouraged to are contact Student Financial Services for further information about how your financial aid will apply towards a study abroad experience. The Office can also assist you with loan opportunities.
Scholarships are a good way to supplement the cost of a study abroad experience. We encourage you to apply and take advantage of as many relevant scholarship opportunities as possible.
Tuition Exchange awards may not be used for study abroad programs. Questions related to tuition benefits may be directed to Julia Nofri at 203-365-4837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visiting Students: If you receive a financial aid package from your home institution, please check with your Financial Aid Office to find out how your aid package will apply towards a SHU study abroad experience. Upon request, we are happy to provide your institution with the necessary documentation to support the transfer of financial aid.
Non-SHU Programs: SHU will not process financial aid and SHU scholarships will not apply towards Non-SHU Programs. You are responsible for making financial aid and payment arrangements with the host institution directly.
Scholarships are a good way to supplement the cost of a study abroad experience. We encourage you to apply and take advantage of as many relevant scholarship opportunities as possible. The key is to start researching scholarship opportunities early on, sometimes even before you apply to study abroad.
Passport: You will need a valid passport to study abroad. It is our policy that you present a copy of your valid and signed passport (valid for at least 6 months after the study abroad program end date) during the application process.
If you have a passport, please check the expiration date now. If you do not meet this requirement, please apply for a passport immediately. You may visit the US Department of State for more information on obtaining a passport. You may also apply for a passport at most local post offices or by appointment at the Connecticut Passport Agency.
Visa/Residence Permit: Some countries also require you to apply for a visa (a stamp on your passport) or residence permit to legally live and study in your host country for a specified amount of time (requirements do vary by country).
While we at the Office of Global Affairs can provide assistance with the process, it is ultimately your responsibility to check with your host country’s U.S. based Consulate for information on how to apply for and obtain a visa.
Visa requirements and fees vary by country and by jurisdiction. It your responsibility to apply for and obtain the appropriate visa. Please note that visa/residence permit regulations (and the decision whether or not to issue a visa/permit) are imposed by the host country government not Sacred Heart University. With that said, we are here to support you as much as possible during this process.
As part of the study abroad fee, you will automatically be enrolled in the mandatory GeoBlue International Health Insurance plan. This comprehensive plan provides medical and evacuation coverage. You will be provided with an insurance card prior to departure as well as guidance on how to use your health insurance while abroad. We recommend you familiarize yourself with GeoBlue prior to traveling abroad. Also, you should NOT cancel your U.S. insurance plan.
Once you have been approved to study abroad, you will need to complete the Study Abroad Semester checklist, which will require a signature from the Office of Residential Life to declare your intent (to leave for that term and then return to SHU and enroll in housing). The Office of Residential Life will provide instructions to you and advise you on the necessary procedure to cancel and reinstate your housing. Please feel free to contact the Office of Residential Life for further information.