Study Abroad FAQs

Exploring Your Options

When can I study abroad?

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.

Where can I study abroad?

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.

What is the maximum number of times I can study abroad?

GW does not place a limit on the number of times a student can study abroad.  Students who are interested in studying abroad up to three times should consider applying for the Global Bachelor’s Program as it is designed especially for them! 

What if I want to study on a program that is not GW-approved?

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.

What if I do not speak a second language?

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.

Can I have an internship abroad?

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.


Is there a way to learn about places other GWSB students have studied abroad?

Visit our blog page to keep up with GWSB students through GWSB Around the World.


I’m a freshman - What should I do now?

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.

When should I apply?

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.

When should I study abroad?

Typically students study abroad either their Fall or Spring semester of Junior year. You must earn at least 45 credits in order to be eligible to go abroad. Some students are even able to fit an entire academic year abroad into their curriculum. Meet with a GWSB Advisor to review your curriculum and see if/when studying abroad is an option for you!

Do I have to be a student in good standing at the university?

Students must be in good judicial and academic integrity standing at the time of application and must remain in good standing prior to departure.

I am/will be a senior. Can I still study abroad?

If studying abroad fits within your timeline of graduation and you can meet your remaining course requirements abroad — yes!

Course Approvals

What are course approvals and how do I get them?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

For students who are studying abroad Spring 2017 and after:

GWSB students studying abroad Spring 2017 and after should complete their course approvals through the Course Approval Transfer System (CATS). Students will receive access to CATS once their eligibility to study abroad in GW Passport is approved by the Office for Study Abroad. Click here for instructions on how to access CATS.

For students who studied abroad Fall 2016 and earlier:

GWSB students who studied abroad prior to Fall 2016 (apart from the CATS pilot cohort) should continue submitting course approvals to Office for Study Abroad via e-mail or form.  OSA provides a tutorial and instructions here. 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.

  1. Form Approval: turn in your course approval form to Office for Study Abroad in Colonial Crossroads
  2. Digital Approval: forward any e-mail approvals to

Are there any courses that are already approved for me to take abroad?

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.

How many credits should I take abroad?

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.


Are there any courses I cannot take abroad?

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.

BBA students can take up to two field courses and/or the Analytical Tools Elective and Field Related Elective abroad.

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.

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.

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.  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.  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.

Are there specific courses students typically find abroad?

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.

What if I find new courses I’m interested in taking while I am abroad?

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.

Staying on Track

Where can I find checklists and forms?

Check our Forms Page for Study Abroad forms.