Study Abroad and Your Program of Study
Grand Canyon University currently partners with the University Study Abroad Consortium (USAC) to offer abroad opportunities to students. These are for semester-long experiences at approved foreign universities around the world. We encourage you to review their website thoroughly and pay attention to important details such as costs, requirements and coursework associated with different programs. See our full listing of USAC Programs here.
To start the process of applying to study abroad, follow these simple steps to ensure you are planning appropriately and know what is expected of you as you go through this process.
Talk to Your Academic Advisor
In order to maintain good academic standing and qualify for Title IV funding while abroad, students must verify that their study abroad program will count as earned credit within their program of study (POS). This is a viable option if you have a suitable amount of elective credits remaining in your POS. For example, if you want to participate in a semester-long study abroad program, you would need at least 12 hours of elective credit remaining. However, keep in mind that as you take additional courses this total will likely decrease, so let your academic advisor know as soon as possible if you are interested in a study abroad program. Each student's academic situation is unique, and your advisor will be best equipped to speak to how a study abroad program fits in to your overall POS.
Study Abroad Interest Form
You will then submit a study abroad interest form. This form should be completed with the assistance of your academic advisor. You can submit this form to the Center for Learning and Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you to discuss your plans.
Read About Your Country
It is important for you to understand the area of the world in which you plan to study. You are ultimately responsible for your own safety and arming yourself with knowledge is your first line of defense.
GCU provides a link to the U.S. State Department's Travel Alert systems. However, don't rely on this site to provide you the most up-to-date information. Believe it or not, national news channels are often viewed by governmental agencies to get the latest information on overseas happenings.
- SAFETI Clearinghouse (Safety Abroad First Educational Travel Information)
- U.S. Dept. of State International Travel Information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Considerations When Choosing Study Abroad
A study abroad program can be a significant commitment in terms of cost, time preparation and possibly additional time to your degree program. However, the study abroad experience also offers many tangible benefits. Here are some dimensions of the experience to consider before fully committing to studying abroad:
Study abroad programs can be expensive, requiring a greater level of out-of-pocket expenses or incurred debt than a normal semester at GCU. While GCU has made every attempt to control the costs of the programs available, studying abroad will still have significant overhead costs that cannot be avoided. You may need to plan ahead to raise funds, or you may need to take out additional loans depending on your individual circumstances. Be aware that your GCU institutional aid/scholarship will not pay for you to attend courses at another university and that you are incurring the cost of the program. If you do not finish the program, you may still be responsible for paying all fees.
Unless you are completing a language immersion program abroad in order to learn a foreign language, you will need to be proficient at the college level if you wish to enroll in college courses at a university in another country. For example, if you wish to enroll in business courses in Beijing University, you would need to be fluent in Mandarin so that you can take college courses at that university. Although there are some sites that provide instruction in English, some will not. It is the student's responsibility to determine these variables in advance.
Effect on Degree Timeline
Depending upon your specific degree program, a study abroad program may increase your time to graduation. Work with your academic advisor to reliably determine how a program may affect your anticipated graduation date.
Benefits of the Abroad Experience
Beyond the experiential benefits of exposing yourself to a different culture and different ways of thinking, study abroad programs can have more tangible benefits depending on how you leverage your experience. See one of our study abroad partners, Leveraging Your Experience, for a detailed discussion on how to use your experience to your advantage in the workplace and when applying for advanced degree programs.
Preparing for Your Trip
A long trip overseas takes planning, even with the support of the university. Here are some items to think about and plan prior to your departure and maybe even after your application is finished:
Applying for a Passport
Before accepting your final program application, GCU will ask that you have a passport that is valid throughout the duration of your prospective program. A passport can take up to eight (8) weeks to process-and sometimes longer. Learn more about how to apply for a passport at the U.S. Department of State's passport website.
Applying for a Visa
Many countries require students on abroad programs to acquire a student visa prior to entry, though the specific details will depend on your program and the country in which you choose to study. If you are required to apply for a student visa on your own, you will need to plan ahead. You may need to either travel to a designated foreign consulate within the U.S. (usually in Los Angeles or San Francisco), have a family member appear in your stead or work with a third party like Travisa. While this process is not as daunting as it may sound, you will need to plan accordingly.
Health & Safety While Abroad
Students on study abroad programs through GCU might have overseas medical insurance built into their program fees. This insurance is designed to supplement personal insurance by providing additional coverage, so having your own insurance is still necessary. It is the student's responsibility to verify medical insurance for any program he/she seeks to attend abroad.
Immunizations and Medication
Before leaving for your program, you may need to acquire appropriate immunizations and medications in order to travel safely at your destination as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your doctor. You may have to plan several months ahead as some immunizations are administered in stages.
If you are taking prescription medication, bring an adequate supply for the entirety of your trip. Access to additional medication will vary greatly depending upon your country, and mailing medications across international boundaries can be problematic. Always carry prescriptions in their original bottle with a label showing the name and dosage of medication, directions for use and your name.
Physical, Emotional or Learning Disabilities
If you have any physical, emotional or learning disabilities that require special assistance during your study abroad program, please contact the Center for Learning and Advancement at email@example.com and Disability Services at firstname.lastname@example.org at least 60 days prior to your program departure date.
You will be provided with local emergency contact information during your program orientation and you should share this information with family members. If your family needs to contact you due to an emergency while you are abroad and cannot reach you, they can use the emergency contact. However, the contact is for emergencies only.
Conduct While Abroad
GCU students abroad must always follow the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Additionally, students are still subject to the GCU Student Code of Conduct. The breaking of national laws and the Student Code of Conduct can result in penalties up to and including dismissal from the study abroad program and any other appropriate academic penalties upon return. GCU does not provide legal counsel if you are arrested or jailed while abroad.
Students are also expected to follow the cultural expectations and customs of their host country. Remember that while studying abroad, you are representing both the university and your home country.
Financing Your Study Abroad Experience
If you are interested in a study abroad program, talk with your financial advisor to determine your financial obligations and what aid you can apply to the costs. In most cases, students will need to personally finance a portion of the program costs directly. The more you plan ahead in securing the necessary funds, the more likely you will be able to pay any program fees and costs beyond what your federal financial aid provides. Your GCU institutional aid/scholarship will not pay for you to take courses at another institution.
Saving for Your Trip
We recommend that you have a sense of your financial obligations at least one year prior to your departure, especially if you do not anticipate having funds readily accessible through personal savings, family members, etc. However, if you have a savings goal and time to implement a plan, you may be able to make up the additional costs with a summer job, depending on the program.
There are many scholarships available for students studying abroad. We encourage you to do further research to find additional scholarship opportunities. GCU does not endorse any of these scholarship providers but merely offers this list for your convenience. You may find others by researching online.