Study Abroad FAQs
Exploring Your Options
For semester-long study abroad, you need to have earned 45 credits by the time of departure. For most students, this means that the earliest semester you could go abroad is the second semester of your sophomore year. Most students study abroad during their junior year. Be sure to check out GW’s special program promoting fall study abroad, the Focus on Fall Abroad Community! For summer study abroad, students need only 24 credits by the time of your departure, so they can usually study abroad in the summer after their first year at GW.
GW has over 300 approved program options for semester-long study abroad. These programs are in over 60 countries and have a variety of course options, cultural engagement, and admission requirements. Use the Advanced Programs Search option to search for programs by location, area of study, or language of instruction. To review programs that offer business courses, refer to Studying Business Abroad Options.
Students can participate in a maximum of three semesters abroad. They must also be sure to fulfill all residency requirements at GW and GWSB; for some students, three semesters abroad will not be possible without extending their time at GW.
Students can only participate in GW-approved study abroad programs. If students wish to participate in a non-approved program, they must petition to the Office for Study Abroad. Approval of petitioned programs is not guaranteed; further information can be found here.
Most countries offer programs with some courses taught in English. In addition, there are many English-speaking countries that have programs such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Denmark, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Please note that GWSB does encourage students to pursue a second language.
Some programs you are interested in may offer internship opportunities for credit; however, GWSB does not accept credits for internships or independent studies while abroad. If you elect to participate in a study abroad program that offers credits for internships, you will have to decline the credit. You will also want to consult with your GWSB advisor about whether you will still be on track for an on-time graduation if you go this route.
While you cannot start applying to go abroad in your first semester, there are some steps you can take to be prepared when the time comes:
Keep your GPA up! GW requires a 2.75 GPA of all students studying abroad for a semester. However, most programs set a higher requirement, so aim for a 3.0 or above to maximize your program choices.
Tell your GWSB advisor that you are thinking of study abroad. Knowing you want to study abroad can affect the courses you take at GW versus the courses you decide to save for study abroad. While you won’t know what you will take abroad until much later, it’s never too early to let your academic advisor know that study abroad is an important priority for you.
Generally, applications for study abroad are submitted the semester before departure. Thus, applications for spring study abroad are submitted early in the fall semester; applications for fall programs are submitted in the early part of the spring semester. Program deadlines vary greatly, so it is recommended that you research your regional interests and have an understanding of approximate deadlines and requirements so that you do not fall behind.
Typically students study abroad either their Fall or Spring semester of Junior year. You must earn at least 45 credits in order to be able to go abroad. Some students are even able to fit an entire academic year abroad into their curriculum. Meet with your GWSB Study Abroad Advisor to review your curriculum and see if/when studying abroad is an option for you!
Students must be in good judicial and academic integrity standing at the time of application and must remain in good standing prior to departure.
You may be able to study abroad Fall of your Senior year if you find a program that fits your remaining degree requirements.
In order to transfer your study abroad courses back to GW, you will need the courses taken abroad approved as “GW equivalents”. Each GW department determines whether or not they consider the abroad course material comparable to their discipline at GW. If approved, the department would designate a GW equivalent (SUBJ ####) to indicate how the course will appear on your transcript when transferred.
There are two types of designations:
- Exact Equivalent – A specific course listed in the GW Bulletin (e.g. GEOG 2120, PSC 2442, or HIST 3811). An exact equivalent directly substitutes for taking that course at GW.
- Variable Topics – A course without an exact GW equivalent (e.g. PSC 1099, HIST 3001, MGT 3099). Variable topics courses must be petitioned to satisfy specific Business School requirements. They do not need to be petitioned if they were taken for elective credit.
There are Two ways to obtain Course Approvals:
Depending on specific department requests, whether it’s easier for you to visit offices while on campus, or if you are currently abroad, you can proceed getting your courses approved either of these two ways:
- Form Approval (preferred while you are on campus):
- Download a Course Approval Request Form from the Office for Study Abroad website, here.
- For each course you are taking abroad, obtain a copy of the course syllabus.
- Bring this form and a copy of the course syllabus to the respective department at GW. (For example, if you taking the course “Economics in the EU”, you would need the Economics department’s approval.) If approved, the course could transfer back to your GW transcript as ECON ####.
- Use the Study Abroad/Transfer Credit Approval Contacts to locate a specific department contact who is authorized to approve courses. For BADM courses, you may need to refer to the BADM contacts list first.
- Submit the original form to the Advising Center and keep a copy for your records.
- Digital Approval (helpful if you need to obtain approvals while abroad)/off campus):
- The Office for Study Abroad accepts email confirmations in lieu of signatures on the Course Approval Request Form. Rather than visiting the office on campus with the syllabus, e-mail them a copy of the syllabus and request their approval for a specific GW equivalent.
- Use the Study Abroad/Transfer Credit Approval Contacts here to locate a specific department contact who is authorized to approve courses. For BADM courses, you may need to refer to the BADM contacts list first.
- Forward any email approvals to your GWSB Study Abroad advisor. In your e-mail to your advisor include the following information:
- Your GWID
- Your program name/semester abroad
- Full subject, number, and name of the course abroad
- GW equivalent approved subject, number, and course name
- Clear e-mail forwarded from GW department approving the course
*We will only accept emails with the correct department contact approving the course.
- Be sure to sure to keep this e-mail on file should you need this information again.
*There is no need to attach your GWSB advisor to your e-mail requests, please only forward final approvals/e-mails from departments.
Yes! Apart from GW specific programs such as GW Fall Business in Paris and the IBUS in Argentina programs, there are some courses that have been pre-approved. You can find the Automatic Course Approval list on Study Abroad’s website. Please keep in mind: this list is short and does not indicate that retrieving your own course approvals is not an option. These are only courses that departments have agreed to offer as auto-approved; however, GW departments will continue to review all students’ course approvals on an individual basis.
GWSB students typically take between 15-17 credits while abroad. If you study on a GW approved program, you will be able to transfer up to 17 credits per semester, provided you earn the equivalent of a C or higher in each course. Students go through a Course Approval process before, during, or after their study abroad experience to determine exactly how those credits will apply towards a GW degree. This involves working with GW faculty members to match courses taken abroad with GW courses. Whenever possible, students are encouraged to have courses approved before they depart to ensure proper academic planning.
BBA students can only take up to two field courses in their concentration abroad. If a student is pursuing a dual concentration, they may take up to two field courses abroad in each concentration (for a total of four classes). The Analytical Tools Elective and Field Related Elective, for students in the 2009-2012 BBA curriculum, do not apply to these two courses. As an example, a student pursuing a dual concentration in Marketing & International Business may take two Marketing field courses and two IBUS field courses abroad.*
BS in Finance students can take a maximum of three Finance courses abroad (of the 11 Finance major courses). The maximum is increased to four courses if the student studies abroad for an entire academic year.
For students admitted to GWSB before Fall 2014:
Students cannot take FINA 4001/4001W, or UW 1020: University Writing, abroad. In addition, if a GW academic department does not approve a course, it cannot be transferred back for credit.
For students admitted after Fall 2014 (or those who gain approval to switch to the Fall 2014 curriculum):
Students cannot take any signature GWSB course abroad. This includes: BADM 1004 – Age of Globalization, BADM 2001W – Markets and Politics, BADM 3001 – Career Management Strategy, and BADM 4101 – Business Law and Ethics. Students also cannot take UW 1020 – University Writing abroad. In addition, if a GW academic department does not approve a course, it cannot be transferred back for credit.
BS in Finance students who follow GPAC liberal arts requirements (Fall 2013 – Fall 2014 admitted cohorts only) need to be sure that if they wish to transfer back a course toward their GPAC requirements, the course MUST be an approved GPAC option. Substitutions will not be approved. BS in Finance students admitted for the Fall 2015 cohort and forward follow GWSB’s General Education requirements. Abroad courses can be used toward these requirements as long as they are approved GW options. Substitutions will not be approved.
General BADM courses are typically found in abroad programs that include business courses. We strongly encourage you to review your remaining course requirements in DegreeMAP on your own and compare them to the institution’s schedule of classes. Your GWSB Study Abroad Advisor will then review your proposed course selection with you.
GWSB students are responsible for being familiar with their academic program. If a student takes a course that is not approved prior to departure, they will either have to get the approval while abroad or risk having the course not approved when they return. Courses that are not approved cannot be transferred back to GW for credit.
For FAQ’s on financing your abroad program and FOFAC, please visit the Office of Study Abroad’s FAQ list.
Check our Forms Page for Study Abroad forms.