Office of Study Abroad and Study Away Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Studying abroad can be an anxiety producing adventure - for students, parents and other stakeholders!  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 questions represent a few of the most frequently asked questions. Most other information as well as general FAQs can be found on our main pages.

Academics

Travel

Immigration

Health & Safety

Life on Site

Billing & Budgeting

Academics

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.

What if my student wants to enroll on a program or course overseas that is not offered by Clark?
Any program that is not a Clark-affiliated program is considered a Non-Clark program. These programs must be pre-approved through the Study Abroad Office, and are considered as a foreign leave of absence with transfer credit, not Clark credit.

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 non-Clark summer program and gain up to 2 Clark units of transfer credit.

Can Clark students complete the language perspective or other perspectives overseas?

Yes.  Approval for PLS credits must be granted through Academic of Advising.

What kind of academic support is offered overseas?

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. It is important to adhere to program rules and regulations, and that students be present ("sit") for all exams before departing for home.  Occasionally "retake" exams are available and may be administered several weeks after the regular exam period.  Plan summer jobs and other commitments carefully.

Travel

How do we make travel arrangements?

Clark students generally make their own travel arrangements. Some host programs offer advice or airport pick up service.  Refer to the program handbook or the host university's web site for more information.  Detailed information is often not available at the time of application but will be provided after admission.

Students who arrive earlier than the scheduled arrival date are responsible for arranging their own lodging and local travel, and must make arrangements to meet the group in the designated location. It is important that your son/daughter keep their host program informed about any alternate travel plans.

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

Whether students travel independently or in a group, we ask that they keep Study Abroad Office and the host institution notified of their flight schedule.

Immigration

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 visas?

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.

Do we need a roundtrip plane ticket?

Most immigration policies require proof of a round-trip ticket, but you may want to check with the host country consulate to see if a round-trip ticket is required. If you do purchase a round-trip ticket, check on flight change fees and policies with the airline before purchasing.

Billing & Budgeting

How is a student billed while studying abroad?  How can payment be made?

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

Will there be unanticipated costs?

Yes!  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.

Student service fees (such as gym membership, student activity fees, student club fees, etc.) are not part of the International Programs Fee and will not be charged by Clark as normal. Instead, these fees are due to the host university or host program as needed. Typically, these fees can be paid on-site by the student depending on what the student is interested in.

Some wireless and internet charges are covered by the program, while others may be an additional charge. Wireless/internet access may be slower than at Clark. Bedding, linens, and apartment supplies are also usually provided by the host institution/program; where they are not, the host institution will generally offer a bedding pack for a small fee.

Some of our partner organizations provide additional "optional" excursions that are not a part of the regular academic program. These optional excursions can be bought by the student on-site, and usually involve group travel to some local and international destinations at the end of the semester (example: a group travel trip to Thailand as an optional excursion on the Murdoch, Australia program). These excursions are not included in the International Programs Fee and are not endorsed or administered in any way by Clark University. All fees are paid directly to the host provider(s). Any cancellations or refunds are therefore at the student's discretion.

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.

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. (To find contacts for overseas programs, click here).

The first few days after arrival can be quite hectic; students will be very busy moving into their apartment/flat/host family, getting acquainted, meeting new people, and taking part in orientation activities. Although we advise students that establishing communication is one of the first steps upon arrival, don't be surprised if you don't hear from your student right away. It can often be difficult to access email and phones directly upon arrival.

Who can visit abroad?

Visiting your student while they are abroad can be a wonderful experience for the student, family or friends. We encourage you to visit your student either during a designated break or after the program's end. During the program, students are busily engaged in coursework, program activities and other commitments. Family visits can cause time conflicts for students and interrupt the focus of their cultural immersion.

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.

What are the academic and personal benefits of study abroad?