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Getting Started

UNC offers hundreds of different programs in over 60 countries, which can make the process a bit overwhelming at first. Individual interests and academic needs mean the right choice of a study abroad program will be different for each student. If you're considering an international experience, follow these eight steps to get started in the process.

  • 1. Learn about Study Abroad at UNC

    Even if you are only considering studying abroad, you should come in and speak with Peer Advisors to help you understand the process at UNC. Peer Advisors are students like you who have already completed a study abroad program. Learn how to navigate and understand the website. Email, call or stop by CIE.

    Attend an Informational Event

  • 2. Determine your Timeline to Study Abroad

    Download the Study Abroad Process Checklist & Timeline for a general time frame of where you should be, and when, in the process of preparing to go abroad. Of course, this is just a guideline.

  • 3. Define your Goals

    Use the five factors below to help focus your goals for your study abroad program experience. What do you want to achieve while abroad?

    • Academics: It is important to consider how study abroad will meet requirements of each major and minor. You will meet with your Academic Advisor at several points in the study abroad process. Even if you are only considering studying abroad at this point, you should meet with your advisor to discuss what courses you should or must take while abroad and how your study abroad coursework will fit into your overall academic program at UNC.
    • Cost: Before you begin the application process, you must consider how you will pay for your education at UNC and what additional expenses may or may not be incurred as a result of studying abroad. Meeting with a study abroad advisor and visiting our website will answer many financial questions.  It is also important to discuss your finances with your parents and/or those who finance your education.
    • Language: It is important to consider whether you wish to study language, and/or study in a foreign language while abroad. Some programs will be taught in the host country language only. Others will offer classes instructed in English for visiting students, while others will offer courses instructed in English for all students. Language requirements will be posted on according websites for each program.
    • Individual Considerations: Many students have personal considerations when selecting a study abroad site. For instance, if you take medication or have specific medical or mental health needs, you may want to meet with your doctor or therapist to discuss your choices. If you are a student with a documented disability at UNC, meeting with Disability Support Services may be a good place to start.  Please be aware that UNC cannot guarantee that facilities, technology, or support services will be available at each location abroad in the same range and quality as on the UNC campus.  Other countries laws and procedures may be different from what you are accustomed to at UNC and in the US.
    • Risk:This is the hardest factor to define. In the context of study abroad, risk is your willingness to cope with ambiguity in the study abroad experience. Some programs offer you the opportunity to take a set schedule of classes that are designed for the students that sign up for the program. Room and board are frequently arranged in advance, and sometimes organized excursions and activities are included.  On other programs, you will travel as an individual student directly enrolling in a foreign university. In these programs, you are largely responsible to manage your experience and sort out your arrangements on your own. In thinking about differences in risk, consider what you find exciting and what you find frightening, and take this into consideration when making your program choice.
  • 4. Research Program Options

    Once you define your goals and priorities for your education abroad, identify appropriate programs. Talk with alumni, international students, and peer advisors to learn more. Search recommended programs by major.

  • 5. Meet with your Academic Advisor

    Discuss and determine how your proposed study abroad coursework will fit in with your UNC degree requirements. Make a plan for graduation that includes study abroad. When would be a good semester to study abroad? What courses you should or must take while abroad? Use theStudy Abroad Course Planning Worksheet to help you determine which program will be the best in meeting your academic needs.

  • 6. Meet with your Study Abroad Advisor

    Once you've narrowed down your program options, meet with the appropriate advisor in the Study Abroad Office to discuss your plans, get more specific details about the programs you are considering, and discuss next steps.

  • 7. Build your budget, determine finacial aid eligibility, and apply for scholarships.

    Work with your Study Abroad Advisor and the Office of Financial Aid to determine your preliminary budget for your study abroad program before deciding on a program. Use the Study Abroad Budget Planning Worksheet to help compare various programs. For more information, visit the Financing Study Abroad page.

  • 8. Apply

    Submit your application and supporting documents by the deadlines. Those students applying to an Affiliated Program or ISEP program, must complete the UNC application and an admission application directly with the program provider or ISEP.

    Learn more about the Application Process