Office of Study Abroad and Study Away Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Studying abroad can be an anxiety producing adventure - for students, parents and advisers alike!  It is an opportunity for students to learn about solid deadlines, money management, managing health issues, insurance, visas and a wide array of other basic life skills.  Most of these answers can also be found in most program materials given to students.   It is recommended that students share you a copy of their program handbook with families and adviers. 

The following topics represent a few of the most frequently asked questions. Click the link below and let us know if we're missing something!.

  1. Choosing a Program
  2. Requirements
  3. Academics
  4. Travel
  5. Immigration
  6. Health & Safety
  7. Life on Site
  8. Billing & Budgeting


Why study abroad?

Like the college experience itself, the benefits of a study abroad experience are potentially life-changing but difficult to measure. For years, study abroad professionals relied on personal anecdotes of participants, often relayed years after the study abroad experience. More sophisticated research - both qualitative and quantitative - has categorized and, in some cases, tracked, study abroad benefits. These include:


  • Academic Performance. In a recent longitudinal study conducted by the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), 87% of respondents said that their study abroad program influenced their subsequent educational experiences. Researchers at the University of Georgia are finding that an academic experience abroad can reinvigorate or even greatly improve a student's GPA. At Clark, we enhance the overall academic experience by offering study abroad programs at universities that offer opportunities to complement students' academic and career goals.
  • Global Outlook. This is one of the most important potential benefits of a study abroad experience. Noting that Americans typically score very low on culture and geography tests, researchers have more recently termed "global competence" as a necessary component of a college education. Study abroad is an important way of enhancing that component. In the IES study, 82% of respondents said that study abroad contributed to their developing a more sophisticated way of looking at the world. Most Clark students indicate a similar response on our program evaluations.
  • Career Preparation. Martin Tillman of Johns Hopkins University's writes, "In a ever more globalized economy, educators need to assist students in building a sophisticated 'toolkit' to market the value of their varied portfolio of international experiences to employers." Employers look for skills like intercultural sensitivity, adaptation to new surroundings and ability to deal with ambiguity - skills that can be gained from study abroad and other international programs.
  • Personal Growth. Research has connected postive impacts between the study abroad experience and positive personality development. An IES study found that 97% of respondents said study abroad served as a catalyst for increased maturity; 96% reported increased self-confidence; and 73% said study abroad continues to influence the decisions they make in their family life.


How do I choose a program?

Clark University currently offers over 50 programs in 30 countries and there are a few factors to consider when choosing the best program for you. Talk to your parents, faculty and LEEP advisors for assistance with finding the best fit for you!

Here are some other considerations you should take into account:

  • Academics: How does study abroad fit into your academic time frame and plans?
  • Timing: Do you want to study abroad for a semester, year, or during the summer?
  • Language: Do you want to increase your foreign language proficiency or learn a new language?
  • Experiential Learning: Do you want to participate in an internship or community engagement in your host culture?
  • Housing: Do you want to immerse yourself in the culture of a foreign country by living with a family, or would you prefer living in a dorm?
  • Finances: Living, visa, and transportation expenses vary from country to country. Know what you can afford.
  • Type of Program: you may want to research other components of different types of programs.

Note also that Clark is affiliated with the programs mentioned on this website and all information pertains to Clark-partner programs. 

There are plusses and minuses to all of these different academic formats and learning styles. The Study Abroad Office can help you choose the best format for you during the advising and application process.


What is the difference between a Clark-approved program and a non-Clark program?


Going abroad on a partner program provides the following benefits:


  • Allows you to reamin enrolled as a student at Clark
  • Allows you to transfer your grades and credit back directly to your Clark transcript
  • Allows you to use most financial aid and scholarships (with the exception of Work Study)
  • Allows you to use a trusted partner that Clark staff has vetted and deemed appropriate for Clark students


If you cannot find a program within the list of Clark partners, you may choose to petition for a non-Clark program.   If you choose a non-Clark option:


  • You must demonstrate why this parogram is relevant to your academic, personal and professional plans in a way that a Clark partner program cannot
  • You must take a leave of absence from Clark
  • You will not be able to use your financial aid or scholarships through Clark
  • You will be responsible for ensuring courses you take abroad will transfer back to Clark
  • You may still apply for the Fifth Year Masters program, but the cost is pro-rated due to the fact that the student will not meet all the requirements. See the Graduate Admissions website for detailed information.


What are the requirements for approval to study abroad?

  • A minimum cumulative GPA is 3.0 for most programs.   Students with below a 3.0 are considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • A declared major and a faculty advisor within that major.
  • A passport valid for 6 months beyond your expected date of return from studying abroad
  • Good academic and social standing at Clark University
  • Program-specific requirements such as academic year, GPA, language proficiency, specific course completion, language forms, etc.
  • You should be mindful of any Clark-specific, program-specific and country-specific requirements.
  • Because of Clark's residency requirement during the senior year, you may not take a foreign leave of absence to study at a non-Clark program.

Do I need to speak another language?


No.  Programs are offered in many languages, and English language programs are not limited to the United Kingdom or Australia. You can enhance your major in English-language courses in places such as the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Italy, or Namibia!  However, you may want to take your classes in both English and the host language.  There are programs for most levels of most languages. 


Can international students study abroad?

International students may study abroad, but International Student Scholarships awarded by Clark cannot be applied to off-campus programs. This includes Study Abroad Programs as well as our programs in the United States. Exceptions may be requested through a petition to the Dean of the College.

International students studying abroad in their home country should request for credit transfer through Academic Advising.

Are there options for studying abroad other than semester or year-long programs?

Yes. You can apply to the May Term Program in Luxembourg to earn one Clark unit.  You can earn up to two Clark units during the summer studying with another university. Before you begin your program you must apply for transfer credit from Clark through the Study Abroad Office.


What is the typical level of courses taken overseas?

The level varies depending on the program and/or the institution, but in general, all study abroad program courses are registered as at least 200-level courses. However, each department makes a determination on the equivalent course level at Clark. We are happy to direct you to the course catalogue/descriptions of overseas programs, if they are available.

Does Clark offer summer study abroad programs?

With the exception of the May Term in Luxembourg (administered by its own office), Clark does not have affiliations with any summer study abroad programs. However, students can be pre-approved for a summer program and gain up to 2 Clark units of transfer credit.  Students should consult with the study abroad office for pre-approval information.

Can students fulfill a PLS or requirement for my major while I'm abroad?

Yes, with pre-approval. An approval form is provided as part of the application process..

Are there programs for particular majors?

Yes, although students do not have to go on a program that is attached to their major. 

How much credit will I earn on a program?

You have the opportunity to earn a semester or year's worth of credit. Generally a full course of study abroad will translate to 3.5-4.0 Clark units per semester. However, students should understand the conversion of credits from their host program abroad to Clark's system of credits prior to departure. The program abroad and the Study Abroad Office will be happy to assist the student if they have questions.

What kind of academic support is offered ?

Academic support varies depending on the program type, educational system, country and culture.

Typically, programs administered by on-site providers or resident staff ("study center programs") offer more U.S.-style academic and social support than direct enrollment programs. It is worthwhile to gauge what your student needs in a program, or what you assess their needs to be, and to talk to us about available options.

In general, we tell students to expect less academic and social support than offered on a U.S. campus. We try to frame these differences in a cultural and educational context - in other words, because less support is offered it does not necessarily mean the host institution/program is less friendly or helpful.

What are the program dates?

Program dates change slightly each semester. Exact dates are set by the hosting program, not Clark University.  They may start or end earlier than the Clark semester, and they will most likely have different break/vacation times. Please refer to a copy of your student's admission letter from the program or program handbook for specific start and end dates.


Do students need a passport?

Updated passport photocopies are due at the time of application. It is the responsibility of each student to obtain or update a passport for international travel. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the student's return date. To find out how to order or update a Passport, visit U.S. Department of State - Passport.  Passports applications may be expedited at an extra cost. Passports should be obtained or updated well before submitting the study abroad application as passport information is required to begin the process..

What is a visa?

Visas cannot be applied for before being admitted to the study abroad program. Students are responsible for obtaining their own visa. Guidelines for obtaining a visa for each program are generally provided by the host program.  You may also refer to the embassy website of the host country for visa processing times, costs and requirements.


Health & Safety


Clark University takes health and safety very seriously. Clark Study Abroad works to ensure that all students are covered by international health insurance and provides assistance pre-departure, while on-site and upon return for students.  We, in conjunction with our partners, local and international law enforcement and consulates, monitor news and situations that arise on a regular basis. Additionally, all of our program providers have comprehensive emergency protocols.


STEP Program 

Clark University recommends that you register with the Smart Traveler Enrolment Program (STEP) on the U.S. State Department website, where you will find additional useful information for traveling abroad. If you are not a U.S. citizen, register with the Embassy/Consulate of your home country.

International Health Insurance

In addition to domestic coverage, all students must be enrolled in international health insurance while abroad. Clark Study Abroad partners with GeoBlue Worldwide Insurance for any student not already covered by a program plan.


How do we make travel arrangements?

Clark students generally make their own travel arrangements. Detailed information is often not available at the time of application but will be provided after admission.  Many students take advantage of the lower rates offered at study abroad travel agencies such as:

  • STA Travel  Here, students can also order the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which gives them discounts on flights, accommodation, and in-country attractions.
  • Student Universe

Billing & Budgeting

How is a student billed while studying abroad?  How can payment be made? What are the costs involved?

Visit our pages on Cost, Aid & Scholarships for more information on costs and billing.

Will there be unanticipated costs?

Students should always be prepared for unanticipated costs.  Independent travel, personal expenses (beyond typical meal expenses), supplies/books, plane tickets, insurance, passport/visa applications and any departure taxes are not covered by Clark's International Programs Fee. These expenses vary from program to program. and from person to person.  Book costs are usually significantly less than at Clark because most overseas institutions/programs provide the texts at low cost or use a more extensive library reserve system.

Are there scholarships available?

Yes! Clark offers a limited number of scholarships for study abroad, as well as information on outside funding opportunities. Program providers such as Augsburg, CAPA, CIEE, CET and SFS may also offer scholarship opportunities for applicants. We cannot stress enough the importance of looking into funding opportunities very early - a year or two before studying abroad. Many scholarship applications are due well before the Clark study abroad application.

Clark is committed to equal access in study abroad and the belief that no student should be barred from a study abroad program because of financial limitations. We will try to work with your student and the Office of Financial Assistance as much as possible before departure to help identify funding opportunities.


Why do I have to pay Clark tuition when my program says it is cheaper?


Clark is committed to making study abroad and away a more fundamental and achieveable educational opportunity for all students. This means, in order for study abroad to be equally accessible to all students, the College must be able to provide institutional financial aid to students who receive this aid when they study abroad. To accomplish the portability of institutional aid, the College relies mainly on tuition revenue, since institutional merit and need-based financial aid comes from this revenue. In addition, academic credits and grades earned on semester study abroad are treated as Clark credits and grades as opposed to transfer credit, as is often the case at other colleges. The courses, credits, and grades are reviewed, approved, and then posted on the academic transcript. Course grades are calculated into the student’s Cumulative GPA.


With the portability of institutional financial aid for study abroad, any tuition surplus is returned to the financial aid pool, exactly as is done when students are on-campus. In order to make study abroad fiscally viable for the institution, the University has adopted the practice used by many private liberal arts colleges in charging home school tuition to study abroad.


In sum, Clark charges Clark tuition since students receive Clark academic credit. 


Life on Site

Where will students live?

Each program features different housing arrangements. Programs may offer dormitory, suite/apartment-style housing on campus, off-campus housing, or home stays. When possible, there is an attempt to integrate students with host country nationals or with other international students. We believe this scenario allows for more cross-cultural contact and better adaptation in the long-run.

What will students eat?

Depending on the arrangements of your student's program, he/she might be eating meals with their host family, cooking in apartment kitchens, or taking meals in the university restaurants/cafeterias/pubs. There are typically no meal plans (or limited meal plans) at host universities abroad.

How can students stay in contact with home?

Students typically receive their address and phone number (if applicable) shortly before departure. Check personal cell phone plan policies for international calls. Many students elect to purchase an inexpensive cell phone abroad upon arrival. Arrange "phone dates" through email, use email itself, or use internet phone providers like Skype to make free international phone calls computer-to-computer. Prior to departure, you may want to list contact numbers and arrange a family "protocol" for getting in touch in case of emergency.

How are study abroad programs evaluated?

Clark's study abroad programs are evaluated in multiple ways. First, almost all of our programs are directly administered by a U.S. accredited program provider or third-party institution - these providers evaluate their own programs frequently using outside academic review boards. In addition, Clark study abroad staff and faculty advisors conduct a site evaluation of each program abroad regularly, usually every few years.

In addition, our office makes use of numerous professional resources, from study abroad advisor professional groups, to regular conferences, to quality standards set by the profession.

We also collect and use student evaluations from each program to improve offerings or components.