Getting Started

Whether you’ve traveled extensively or have never left Michigan, our office is here to guide and support you throughout your study abroad process. This guide should help you begin to understand the process and what is involved at each stage. After looking through these resources, if you still have questions or don't find what you're looking for, please don't hesitate to reach out!

Consider your goals

What is important to you for a study abroad experience … 

  • Are there specific general education classes you’d prefer to take abroad?
  • Is it a requirement for your major or will classes abroad expand your knowledge for your area of study? 
  • How could it benefit your future career? 
  • Are you interested in gaining international work experience? 
  • Is there a specific country/culture you want to engage with? 
  • Does program type or length matter (Aquinas faculty led vs. partner led, short term vs semester long)? 
  • What kind of services do you receive at Aquinas and will they (or similar ones) be available abroad (i.e. counseling, tutoring, disability accommodations, etc)?

Begin to look at the different programs that we offer and consider which ones align with your goals or reach out to the Office of International Programs with any questions.

Meet with your academic advisor 

Share your desire to study abroad with your advisor. Go over your goals and discuss which classes you could take abroad, which courses will apply for gen ed, major/minor, or elective requirements, and work on creating a plan for when to take which classes - and where!

You must have completed at least 2 semesters of college before going on a study abroad program, your GPA must be 2.5 or higher. For language programs, you also must meet the language requirements (see program-specific pages, academic catalog, or talk to your advisor for details).

Most study abroad programs have course requirements - either courses that are required or that are a mix of required and elective courses - allowing you to receive 12 - 18 credits for the semester, though it does depend on the program. We recommend you plan on taking around 16 credits so you can balance classwork with other cultural or travel experiences. 

Under special conditions, it may be possible for students with special major course requirements to participate in an independent study while on a study abroad program. The Office of International Programs, and your advisor should be consulted if these arrangements need to be made. The arrangements must conform to the standards set for independent study on campus and accommodation for these special cases are not guaranteed.

Our office is also happy to meet with you to discuss and explain which courses are offered on which programs and how it can fit with your academic program.

Financial Planning

We know that financing a study abroad program can be a barrier for some students, so we’ve created a whole page dedicated to explaining costs and scholarship opportunities. Take some time to look through the Money Matters page and budget worksheet to consider how you will fund your study abroad experience.


Once you’ve considered the different course offerings, program locations, and costs you can apply using our online application form

Application Form

The application asks for your basic information (name, year, GPA, contact info, major, etc), information about any past travel and language experience, and a few short essay questions. The short essay questions ask you:

  • Discuss why you have chosen the program you have and how you anticipate it will build on your previous experiences and support your future goals. Be specific/give examples.
  • Studying abroad is often challenging, requiring open-mindedness and perseverance in sometimes isolating circumstances. Please describe a personal experience in which you were similarly challenged and how you demonstrated these qualities.
  • Describe an experience you have been in with an unfamiliar culture and how you responded to it.

Finally the application includes a release of information and an acknowledgement statement. You can apply now here, or find the application link on the programs page. 


In addition to applying, we require you to ask 2 different people to fill out a recommendation form for you. At least one of these references must be a current Aquinas professor (World Language students must have one from their language professor). The other reference can be another Aquinas professor or anyone else who would be able to speak to your character/abilities/skills (a coach, mentor, co-worker/boss/supervisor, etc). You are expected to send your references this form to fill out.


Once your application and references have been submitted, you will be contacted by the Office of International Programs to come in for an interview. The interview allows our office the opportunity to get to know you and your goals better so we can try to ensure a good program fit. Within a few weeks of your interview you will be notified regarding acceptance and next steps.

Prepare to Study Abroad

Once accepted to study abroad, there are a few other things you need to do to ensure you are prepared to study abroad.

Take Care of Logistics

  • Submit signed contract and other necessary documents to the Office of International Programs
  • Submit a deposit to the Student Accounts Office and familiarize yourself with the payment schedule information
  • Additional Application: Some of our partner organizations require you to go through their application process. Take care to apply on-time so processes aren’t delayed.
  • Passport: Your passport must be valid 6 months past the end of your program (i.e. if you return to the US May 15, 2020 your passport can’t expire before November 15, 2020). If you need to renew your passport, or need to obtain a new passport, start the process as soon as you can. For more information about passports, and how to renew/apply for one, visit the U.S. Department of State Travel website here.
  • Visa: Some of our locations (French and England internship semesters) require students to obtain a visa. Begin this process as soon as possible as processing times can be long (especially for France). 
  • Figure out Financing: Visit our Money Matters page for more information on how to fund your study abroad experience
  • Travel Health: Visit your doctor to make sure you are up-to-date on routine immunizations, check if you’ll need any country-specific immunizations, are healthy for travel, and prepare a prescription medication plan (if needed).

Culture Prep

  • Research Your Host Country: Not only is it helpful to know basic facts about the history, geography, economics/major industries, climate, political structure, etc, but beginning to learn about the country’s culture and how they interact with each other and the world can help you consider what you may encounter while abroad.
  • Connect to Students at Aquinas: Reach out to students who have been on the program before to learn about their experiences, get to know international students from the country you will be studying abroad in, or participate in Multicultural Club events/activities
  • Consider Your Own Cultural Identity: When faced with new cultural norms, our own cultural identities can be challenged. Look through the resources provided on the Resources page to help you reflect on your own culture.

Attend Orientation/Training Sessions

We provide orientation sessions for students studying abroad. Each session covers important logistical, travel health and safety, and cultural information for helping students navigate the country they are studying in.