Considerations when choosing a program

Before you start

Do you have a passport valid at least six months after the end of the period for which you want to study abroad?



What region of the world interests you? Are you interested in exploring the region during or after your study abroad?

If you would like to gain proficiency in a foreign language, what countries offer programs in that language? Do you have the required proficiency level (generally, four semesters of language, 204 or the equivalent)?

Are you interested in the Certificate in International Engineering? For what country or region might you be interested in obtaining a certificate?


What do various programs cost? What is the cost of living in a given country?

What expenses should you budget for?

What scholarships can you apply for?

Academic timing

Where in your academic career would study abroad fit best? And would a semester, a year or a summer be appropriate? Given these constraints and the fact that semester start dates at international institutions vary and don't always match up with semester start dates at UW-Madison, what programs fit best?

What courses might you want to take, or need for your course of study? Where and when are these offered? Consult the list of course equivalencies already established to see what courses have already been equated to UW courses in the programs that interest you.

Do you want to complete an internship or a co-op?

Living situation

Do you want to study at a large or a small university?

Do you want to live in a large or a small city?

Do you want to live in a dorm, an off-campus apartment, or with a host family?

Cultural considerations

Are you comfortable being on your own in a different country or culture, or would you prefer to begin your study-abroad experience with other UW-Madison students?

Would you be comfortable studying in a developing country or in a developed country?

What kinds of cultural and social experiences are you seeking? How comfortable are you with cultural differences?

Other considerations

Do you have any concerns related to health, disability, or other personal issues that you might want to consider as you prepare to study abroad?

As you decide

Discuss your choices with advisors, professors, parents and past participants. Start learning about the society and culture of the region or country that interests you.

Steps you will take when applying

  • Talk to IESP about programs that interest you
  • Discuss plans with parents and advisors
  • Gather documents and application materials from IESP and overseas partners
  • Note deadlines for application, financial aid and scholarships
  • Prepare budget, anticipate costs
  • Send out requests for letters of recommendation to professors well ahead of deadlines (and send reminders 7-10 days before deadlines)
  • Prepare essays and other materials, fill in forms
  • Review plan with advisor
  • Submit application. Notification of admissions status generally takes four to six weeks.