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Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you're considering studying abroad for the first time, or already planning your upcoming trip, find answers to many of your questions below.

Academics

Can I take classes that count toward my major?
One of the most prevailing myths around study abroad is that students won’t be able to take any important classes. With proper planning, you should be able to take classes that are meaningful to you academically and professionally.
What classes can I take?
This will depend upon the study abroad program you pick. A faculty-led program, such as the Santander Summer program, has a set curriculum. You would know exactly what you’ll take abroad and how to count it toward your degree. Alternatively, an exchange program, like at the National University of Singapore, is going to prove a little more challenging. With an entire university’s catalogue from which to choose, you will be able to find a good schedule for yourself, but it may take a little digging to do so. Fortunately, IEE and your department have already worked together to determine many classes that work for UT engineering students.
How many classes will I have to take abroad?
That depends on a number of factors. Most students on a semester exchange will earn anywhere from 12-16 hours and normally take 4-6 classes. At a minimum you should earn 12 hours of credit from a semester abroad. Students abroad during a summer session normally take 2 classes and return with 6 hours of credit.
Do I have to take engineering classes?
At some exchange partners, your classes will be predetermined. Others will require that you take at least half your classes in engineering. A few will not have any such restrictions. The most important thing is that you make some progress toward your degree. You should be able to choose the classes you want to take; however, you will need to work with your department and advisors to make sure that your selections won’t put you behind.
Will the classes count toward my GPA?
For the most part, yes. Most IEE study abroad options are fully in-residence, meaning grades count toward your GPA. This also means that your classes can be easily approved to fulfill degree requirements and count toward the hours you must have in residence to graduate.
I heard classes abroad are hard; is this true?
In most cases, you are likely to find your classes abroad to be different from your classes here. This does not necessarily translate to harder or easier. You might find that you don’t have as many exams to take over the course of the semester, but your final will be cumulative. The difficulty will lie not so much in the material you’re learning, but in adapting to a different academic system and expectations of students.
What credit can I get?
Your department has worked with IEE on developing a list of pre-approved classes and what their UT equivalents are. Please visit the My Credit Abroad page to review potential classes.
Will my department accept my credit from abroad?
The only guaranteed credit you will have is if you take a class on the approved list. You may take other classes, but you have no assurance that the credit will transfer as something useful to you. All study abroad credit does post, but degree applicability depends on what your department and the Cockrell School decide.

Professional

Won't future employers think I'm taking time off?
Studying abroad helps students develop several core competencies that are important to employers. It is your job to explain to prospective employers what you have gained while abroad. The professional value of the program will depend on you and how you approach your experiences overseas.
Is it true that studying abroad makes you stand out from the crowd?
It can be true, but it depends on how you present your time abroad. Was the program a valuable part of your education, or a six-week opportunity to travel while squeezing in some studying? An increasingly global work force makes potential employees with educational or professional international experience very attractive.
How will studying abroad affect my plans to go to graduate school?
Ideally, your experiences abroad will be looked upon favorably by the graduate program of your choice. The more self-paced learning environment you will find at most overseas universities can be similar to what you will find in graduate school in the U.S. Graduate schools often appreciate this kind of preparation and evidence of independence. Additionally, your study abroad experience may help you decide on whether graduate school is for you.

Financial

Isn't it expensive to study abroad?
There is a significant cost associated, but most study abroad programs offered by IEE are within students' reach. You can control your costs by selecting exchanges or going somewhere outside of Europe to study. In many cases the majority of a student's added expenses will come from travel and a higher cost of living than in Austin.
Are there scholarships?
Yes, there are several scholarship opportunities available to engineering students. These range from Cockrell School specific to university-wide to national competitions. Start doing research now so you can maximize your funding opportunities. Most scholarships for study abroad aim to minimize the burden of the costs added to what you normally pay to live and study in Austin.
Can I still use my financial aid even though I'm not in Austin?
Yes. In fact, the added costs you incur studying abroad will be factored into a revised financial aid budget for the term you are abroad. Remember these funds are going to come in the form of loans.
Are there any "big" scholarships for study abroad?
Yes, but they are few. One of the most important is the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. The Gilman awards up to $5,000 for study abroad to students who are U.S. citizens and receive Federal Pell Grants. One of Gilman's priorities is sending underrepresented students abroad. Eligible engineering students are good candidates because you comprise a generally underrepresented group of students in study abroad.
What is a Pell Grant?
A Pell Grant is a form of federal aid awarded by the financial aid office to undergraduate students meeting specific need-based requirements. FAFSA determines need by calculating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is based on the size of your immediate family, how many children are in college and your family's total income.
Do I have to fill out a FAFSA?
No, not if you don't want to have a chance at any scholarships. FAFSA isn't ever required, but having completed one does provide scholarship committees with information about your financial need that they wouldn't have otherwise.
Will I have to take out loans?
No one has to take out a student loan; however, if you don't have enough money to cover all your study abroad expenses, a student loan can be helpful (and costs less in the long run than a credit card bill).
What can I expect to have to spend to go abroad?
Students heading abroad on an exchange normally pay for UT tuition, airfare, housing, meals, passports, visas and insurance. Sometimes an exchange will have a small program fee associated with it to help cover administrative costs. Talk to the IEE coordinator to go over general costs associated with your program choice.

Applying

How do I apply?
Read through the steps in the “Steps to Study Abroad” handout. For Maymester and summer programs, you can self-authorize to begin the application by checking the program website. For semester exchanges, you will need to choose a location and research coursework before being authorized.
What are the application deadlines?
Fall semester and academic year students must apply no later than March 1. Spring semester students must apply no later than Oct. 1. Students applying by March 1 receive priority. Maymester students must apply by Nov. 1. Summer term students should apply by the Dec. 1 priority deadline. In some cases applications will be considered as late as Feb. 15.
Where is the application?
The study abroad application is available online through UT Direct.
What does the application require?
Most IEE applications require you to complete two essays and have academic references submitted on your behalf. We will not accept references from high school teachers nor from academic advisers/mentors. Your reference needs to come from someone at UT who has taught you and can evaluate your academic suitability for the program you've chosen.
What are the eligibility requirements? Do I have to wait until I'm a junior?
The eligibility requirements will vary a bit from program to program. Most IEE exchanges require that you have a minimum 3.0 GPA; some, however, do require a 3.5 or higher. Pay attention to the descriptions. A Maymester or faculty led program usually requires you to have a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Normally, for exchanges we recommend that students not go before they've finished their lower division pre-requisites. This varies a bit, but a good rule of thumb is if you're ready for major sequence then you're ready for an exchange. Faculty led programs, including Maymesters, normally are open to students who still need to complete some lower-division coursework. There are exceptions to this rule, so pay attention to the program's description.
When should I get started?
As soon as you start thinking you might want to study abroad -- that way you can plan what classes to save for studying abroad and start planning how you're going to finance it.

After Office Hours

If you are calling to report an emergency concerning a student on a study abroad program, please contact the UT Police Department emergency number at 512-471-4441. The police will contact a study abroad representative.

You may also call International SOS which provides 24-hour phone assistance to our students worldwide. Students may call collect from abroad (001) 215-942-8478.

Additional information is available from the UT Austin International Office's emergency page.

How to prepare for a safe experience abroad: The International Office also provides information and resources about health and safety while studying abroad as well as risk awareness and emergency assistance.