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10-Step Guide to Non-Stanford Study Abroad

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Step 1: Research and review Stanford University policies and procedures

Acquaint yourself with the following Stanford University policy and procedures:

  • Leave of Absence: You must take a leave of absence from Stanford University to study overseas through a non-Stanford program for any quarter term of the academic year (excluding Summer Quarter) for which you do not wish to enroll in classes at Stanford. You should review all possible ramifications of taking a leave of absence by checking with appropriate University offices (e.g., Housing Assignments, Financial Aid, Student Financial Services, Bechtel International Center, Vaden Health Center) to determine how taking a leave of absence impacts your status with these offices. Students on a leave of absence are not registered and, therefore, do not have the rights and privileges of registered students. For further information, please check the Office of the University Registrar website.
  • Transfer Credit: While credit is guaranteed on Stanford-operated overseas programs, it is not guaranteed on non-Stanford study abroad programs. If you wish to transfer credit and apply those credits toward your Stanford undergraduate degree, you should follow the Stanford University transfer credit policy.
  • Financial Aid: If you choose to attend a non-Stanford program, you are not eligible to receive any Stanford University-administered aid during that time. You may arrange for a consortium agreement in order to use your federal or state aid to assist with the cost of courses taken elsewhere which apply toward your Stanford degree program. Please contact the Financial Aid Office to find out more information on consortium agreements and your eligibility for financial aid. If you are on financial aid, please note that enrollment at non-Stanford institutions counts toward an undergraduate student’s maximum number of quarters for purposes of receiving financial aid funds. Students must contact the Financial Aid Office to find out how participating in a non-Stanford study abroad program might impact their eligibility of financial aid funds for subsequent quarters at Stanford.

Step 2: Discuss your plans

Discuss your initial ideas and plans for the summer, semester or entire year abroad with your family, academic advisors, faculty, appropriate departments/programs, and other students who have studied abroad.

Step 3: Conduct internet research and review printed materials

  • Conduct internet research and collect information and application forms from program providers or host institutions.
  • Companies such as offer a directory of international programs and might be useful in helping you narrow down your search based on program location, interest, or term.
  • You can also obtain information on specific countries directly from cultural offices and/or the government information services of countries that interest you (many countries have consulates in San Francisco). These offices can be especially helpful if you have decided that enrolling directly in a foreign university is your first priority, as they would be able to provide information on their country’s education system.

Step 4: Select your program 

Begin the process of selecting a program by evaluating its quality as well as its capacity to satisfy your interests and needs. You can discuss program and course choices with appropriate individuals on campus, including your academic advisors, faculty, academic department/program administrators, and BOSP advisors. Please note: BOSP advisors are not expected to be familiar with specific non-Stanford programs or offerings. Students are responsible for researching and selecting opportunities not offered by Stanford.

Step 5: Prepare your application(s)

Based on the research and conversations with all appropriate individuals, and your own evaluation of each program, make your final selection of the program(s) that would be the best fit for your academic interests and needs and prepare an application for each program.

Step 6: Study abroad approval forms

Most non-Stanford study abroad programs require your home institution to sign a study abroad approval form. If your program does require you to get study abroad approval, BOSP can assist you with this.

It will take BOSP at least 4-5 business days to process your study abroad approval form.

Step 7: Submit your study abroad program application(s)

Submit your completed applications before the designated deadlines. Be aware of the deadline dates for each; it usually takes quite some time to gather all of the materials you need to apply. If your program requires letters of recommendation, you will want to be sure to contact references several months in advance of the deadline, giving them ample time to complete their letters of support.

Step 8: Notify all appropriate university offices and complete required administrative procedures

Be sure to notify all other appropriate University offices (e.g., Academic Departments/Programs, Office of the University Registrar, Housing Assignments Office, Financial Aid, Student Financial Services, Bechtel International Center, the Office of Community Standards, Vaden Health Center) to complete the required paperwork and administrative procedures for you to study overseas through a non-Stanford program.

Step 9: Complete the Stanford International Travel Registry

Visit the Stanford University Office of International Affairs page for undergraduate students and complete the travel registry so that the university can reach you in the event of an emergency. It is recommended that you register your travel after you have purchased your airline ticket so that your travel registration details reflect your actual travel dates. 

Step 10: Prepare to study abroad

Refer to these helpful resources for more information about how to prepare for your study abroad experience.