For Academic Advisors

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 Why Study Abroad?

Studying abroad through UWM is an opportunity for students to take their education anywhere in the world, experience life-changing moments, learn about new cultures, and further their academic studies. Through the Center for International Education (CIE), students have access to over 120 different program options.

Below we have resources to help you help guide students to the type of study abroad experience that may best suit them.

Benefits of Studying Abroad

Travel the world
Different styles of education
New cultures
Career opportunities
Foreign language skills
Lifelong friends
Personal development
Life experience

Programs
CIE offers students the opportunity to study abroad in several ways.

Short-term programs allow students to study abroad for a short period of time, ranging from two weeks up to two months long.  Most short-term programs take place during Summer or UWinteriM and many are led by UWM faculty members.

Long-term programs allow students to study abroad for one semester or for the entire academic year.  Students should be aware that semester and academic year dates will vary depending on the location and may not line up with UWM’s academic calendar.

Non-UWM programs are programs that are not affiliated or sponsored by UWM. Students may receive transfer credit for participation in non-UWM programs and must submit a special application through CIE, which will allow them to maintain their student status at UWM and use their financial aid toward their chosen program.  Non-UWM programs must be accredited in the country where they are located or have an accredited school of record in the USA (that will issue an official transcript) in order to transfer the credits to UWM.

For more information about UWM’s study abroad programs, please visit our Destinations page here 

Financial Aid & Scholarships
CIE provides students with a list of study abroad scholarships for which they may be eligible and resources to help them manage their money while abroad:

Your own department may offer students scholarships in addition to the financial resources CIE has identified for the students.

For more information about study abroad scholarships and financial resources, please visit our Financial Aid Resources page.

Academics
Students may wonder how studying abroad will fit into their academic program and/or if it will lengthen their stay at UWM. With proper planning, students should be able to fit study abroad into their degree plan without needing to stay at UWM for longer than anticipated.

Reviewing a degree plan or audit with a student will help them determine when would be the best time for them to study abroad and which course requirements could be satisfied through their chosen program.  Academic Advisers’ knowledge of degree requirements and course scheduling at UWM will help students as they plan for courses to take abroad and remain on their path toward graduation.

Students may want to have some of the courses they will take or have taken abroad count toward exact requirements for their major, minor, and/or certificate. Students should use the Course Equivalency Approval Form for this process. Course equivalencies are approved by the appropriate Department Chair or Faculty Adviser.

The Course Equivalency Approval Form is optional. If a student chooses not to complete a form, the credits earned on the study abroad program will be evaluated by a Study Abroad Coordinator and will be posted as elective credit.

For more information about the course equivalency approval process, please visit our Course Equivalency Approval page.

Transcript Processing

After the study abroad program has ended, CIE receives an official transcript from the student’s host university or program and begins the process of posting the coursework and grades to PAWS in collaboration with the Registrar’s Office.

Timeline:

  • It may take 3 months or longer to receive a transcript from the host institution.
  • After a transcript has been received, it will take a minimum of 6-8 weeks for coursework and grades to be posted to PAWS.
  • Please advise students to plan ahead and to be patient.

Process for UWM Programs:

Transcript received ►Student notified ►Course Equivalency Approval Form status ►Course creations request to Registrar’s Office ►Courses created by Registrar’s Office and shared with CIE Study Abroad Office ► CIE Study Abroad Office sends enrollment request to Registrar’s Office ► Registrar’s Office drops student from placeholder and enrolls in courses ►CIE Study Abroad Office sends grade report to Registrar’s Office ► Registrar’s Office posts grades to PAWS

Typical Study Abroad Course Numbers:  197, 297, 397, 497, 597, 697, 797

Grade Conversions:  If a grade conversion scale is not provided, we use the WES Grading Scale, an international grade conversion guide for higher education

Process for Non-UWM Programs:

Transcripts issued by U.S. institutions:
Student notified ►Course Equivalency Approval Form status ► Transcript and course equivalency, if any, sent to Registrar’s office ►Registrar’s Office posts coursework and grades (transfer credit) to PAWS, including course equivalencies, where applicable

Transcripts issued by foreign institutions:
Student notified ► Course Equivalency Approval Form status ► Transcript evaluated by CIE International Admissions ► CIE Study Abroad Office posts coursework and grades (transfer credit) to PAWS, including course equivalencies, where applicable

Please contact the CIE Study Abroad office if you or your students have any questions about this process.

FAQ
Situation: I don't have time to study abroad for a semester or academic year.

Short-term programs give students with schedule restrictions the opportunity to study abroad for a shorter period of time.

Most short-term programs take place during UWinteriM (2-3 weeks) and Summer (2 weeks to 2 months) and many of these programs are led by UWM faculty members.

What are Faculty-led programs?

Faculty-led programs are study abroad programs that are led by a UWM faculty member.

The majority of faculty-led programs take place during the UWinteriM and Summer terms.  Faculty also lead a few semester-long programs and have offered spring break programs (in conjunction with a spring semester course).

What are Non-UWM programs and how do they work?

Non-UWM programs are study abroad programs that are not affiliated with or sponsored by UWM.  Students may receive transfer credit for participation in non-UWM programs and must submit a special application through CIE, which will allow them to maintain their student status at UWM and use their financial aid toward their chosen program.  Non-UWM programs must be accredited in the country where they are located or have an accredited school of record in the USA (that will issue an official transcript) in order to transfer the credits to UWM.

If a student is interested in studying abroad through a non-UWM program, it is recommended that they meet with a Study Abroad Coordinator to learn the full process of what is needed for the type of program they have chosen.

Students may earn transfer credit for coursework completed on a non-UWM program; therefore, the grades will not be factored into their GPA. Also, if the student has already accrued transfer credit, they should check to make sure they have not reached the limit allowed.

Situation: Can I study abroad with my major?

UWM offers a wide variety of study abroad programs that are suited to many different majors. Many of our programs are at comprehensive universities and, like UWM, they offer courses in many different subject areas. We also offer some programs that are focused on certain subjects, such as the arts, social sciences, business, or foreign language. The best way to find out what subjects are offered is to browse specific program pages. Another good strategy is also finding the provider or university’s website to see what courses may be offered now and in the future.

It is also recommended that students speak with a Study Abroad Coordinator to learn more about what courses they can take on their chosen program.

Can students satisfy GERs on a Study Abroad Program?

It is possible for students to satisfy GER requirements through coursework taken abroad.  The student would need to complete a Course Equivalency Approval Form and provide course descriptions and/or syllabi and have it approved by the appropriate Department Chair or a Faculty Adviser.

Please see the Course Equivalency Approval page for more information.  

What are the GPA requirements for the programs?

The majority of the study abroad programs require students to have a GPA of least  2.5, some of the programs require a 3.0 GPA. Students need to be in good academic standing and not have any holds on their PAWS account.

What kinds of Financial Aid is available for Students?

Most federal, state, and campus-based aid may be applied to the costs of studying on any UWM or UWM-partner study abroad program, much the same as if a student were still on campus. Students must complete a FAFSA and meet Financial Aid Office guidelines and deadlines. CIE enrolls students in placeholder credits while they are abroad to maintain their student status at UWM. Aid for summer and UWinteriM study abroad programs is often limited. CIE works closely with Gayla Jenkins in the Financial Aid Office at UWM. Students may contact Gayla (jenkinsg@uwm.edu) with questions related to their financial aid situation.

CIE has put together a list of scholarships that are available to students.  It is also recommended that students conduct their own research for additional scholarships opportunities.

In addition, students should attend one of the Financing Study Abroad 101 sessions to get a better understanding of finances while abroad. Students should be aware that each programs’ expenses are different and they may need to budget differently to fit their chosen program.

How will students remain enrolled at UWM while abroad?

Students who participate in UWM-sponsored study abroad and exchange programs are first registered in a 12-credit placeholder using either a “297” or “497” number designation for study abroad programs or EXMURAL 100 for exchange programs. This allows students to maintain full-time status at UWM and allows them to apply their financial aid toward their study abroad program costs.

Students who participate in non-UWM programs are first registered in EXMURAL 099, a zero-credit, full-time placeholder that allows students to maintain their status at UWM and allows them to apply their financial aid toward their study abroad program costs.

How are transcripts processed?
After the study abroad program has ended, CIE receives an official transcript from the student’s host university or program and begins the process of posting the coursework and grades to PAWS in collaboration with the Registrar’s Office.

Timeline:

  • It may take 3 months or longer to receive a transcript from the host institution.
  • After a transcript has been received, it will take a minimum of 6-8 weeks for coursework and grades to be posted to PAWS.
  • Please advise students to plan ahead and to be patient.

Process for UWM Programs:

Transcript received ►Student notified ►Course Equivalency Approval Form status ►Course creations request to Registrar’s Office ►Courses created by Registrar’s Office and shared with CIE Study Abroad Office ► CIE Study Abroad Office sends enrollment request to Registrar’s Office ► Registrar’s Office drops student from placeholder and enrolls in courses ►CIE Study Abroad Office sends grade report to Registrar’s Office ► Registrar’s Office posts grades to PAWS

Typical Study Abroad Course Numbers:  197, 297, 397, 497, 597, 697, 797

Grade Conversions:  If a grade conversion scale is not provided, we use the WES Grading Scale, an international grade conversion guide for higher education

Process for Non-UWM Programs:

Transcripts issued by U.S. institutions:
Student notified ►Course Equivalency Approval Form status ► Transcript and course equivalency, if any, sent to Registrar’s office ►Registrar’s Office posts coursework and grades (transfer credit) to PAWS, including course equivalencies, where applicable

Transcripts issued by foreign institutions:
Student notified ► Course Equivalency Approval Form status ► Transcript evaluated by CIE International Admissions ► CIE Study Abroad Office posts coursework and grades (transfer credit) to PAWS, including course equivalencies, where applicable

Please contact the CIE Study Abroad office if you or your students have any questions about this process.

How do students register for their next semester while abroad?

Students may register for the next semester courses via PAWS the same way they would at home. They should maintain contact with their UWM academic adviser for course selection and advising.

When registering for classes, students must take into account any time differences between Milwaukee and where they will be studying. Maintenance is often scheduled late at 12:00 AM Central Standard Time and therefore they may have to plan their usage accordingly.

Furthermore, PAWS will work only on computers that are in the English language, so you must set your computer to English to use PAWS. Alternatively, you can change the three-letter code in the URL for PAWS to “lang=ENG” to trick the computer and use PAWS.

What are the Study Abroad Program Application Deadlines?

Spring & UWinteriM deadline is October 1st

Summer & Fall is March 1st

Some programs may have early deadlines.  Please remind students that the process of applying for a passport (required as part of the application process) and requesting recommendations from faculty, etc. can take time.  CIE encourages students to start the application process early.

Can graduate students study abroad?

Yes, there are several programs in which graduate students can participate. It is recommended that students work with their academic advisor and a study abroad coordinator to find the best study abroad program that fits their needs.

Also, it is recommended that graduate students do research on what types of financial aid may be available to them.

Situation: I am graduating, but I want to study abroad. Can I?

Graduating students may study abroad, but need to be aware of certain requirements for them to participate.

First, students need to be active students in order to participate in a study abroad program.  For example, if a student is graduating in May and wants to participate in a Summer program, they may do so as long as they are an active student for the summer term.  They can become an active student by either extending their graduation until August or they can enroll at UWM as a Special Student for the summer term.  PLEASE NOTE:  Special Students are not eligible for financial aid.

If a student is planning to spend their last semester abroad, they should work with their Academic Adviser to make sure all of their remaining degree requirements will be fulfilled as expected.  Students should not rely on studying abroad to complete the final mandatory core credits.  Additionally, there may be a delay in students receiving their degree because study abroad transcript processing will take additional time to be completed (please see the How are transcripts processed question above).

Can athletes study abroad?

UWM Athletes can and do study abroad.  The student athlete needs to plan carefully with their academic adviser, study abroad coordinator, coaches, and the Financial Aid Office (especially if the student has an athletic scholarship).

Please encourage the student athlete to meet with a study abroad coordinator to help determine what types of programs would work for them.  If a student is unsure about being abroad for an extended period of time, a short-term program taking place during UWinteriM or Summer may be the best option.

Situation: Can I studying abroad with a disability?

Students with disabilities can and do study abroad. Students registered with the UWM Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) who are eligible for on-campus accommodation are also eligible for overseas accommodation when it can be arranged.

Any site has the potential to be accessible. Students are encouraged to inform the CIE Study Abroad Office as soon as possible so we can help them determine the program that best suits them and can meet their needs.

Further, they are also advised to work with their ARC Adviser to identify the accommodation they may need overseas.

How do students receive credit for studying abroad?

For UWM-sponsored exchange and study abroad programs, students will be registered as a UWM student and earn 3 to 18 UWM credits depending on the length of the program.  CIE processes students’ study abroad transcripts and posts the coursework and grades to PAWS in collaboration with the Registrar’s Office.

For non-UWM programs, students will receive transfer credit.  Credit for non-UWM programs may be transferred as long as the program is accredited in the country where they are located or has an accredited school of record in the USA (that will issue an official transcript).

UWM credit vs. transfer credit is an important distinction in many majors and minors, so it is important that students speak with their academic adviser about how credits may be applied to their degree program.

All courses taken abroad will count as elective credit, at minimum (except for sport & rec classes).  If a student needs a course taken abroad to count as a specific UWM course, they must complete the Course Equivalency Approval Form. This form will allow them to have courses approved by the appropriate department chair or faculty adviser.  For more information about the course equivalency process, please visit the Course Equivalency Approval page.

Situation: Can I study abroad if I am in a pre-professional program?

Study abroad is an option for students in pre-professional programs; however, more careful academic planning is needed. Students should meet with their Academic Advisers to review their degree plan and requirements.  Short-term programs may be the best fit for the student, some of which may be used to satisfy GERs and/or prerequisites.

Can LGBTQ+ students study abroad?

UWM frequently has students who identify as LGBTQ+ participating in study abroad programs.  Laws regarding sexuality and gender identity and social attitudes toward the LBGTQ+ community can vary significantly by country, so it is important for students to understand and comply with the culture in which they intend to immerse themselves.

We recommend for students to speak with a study abroad coordinator to learn more about specific programs and locations and to utilize the resources below:

Situation: My family doesn't want me to study abroad.

If a student’s family is not supportive of their interest in study abroad, it may be helpful to suggest the student learn more about their family’s specific concerns. The student may need to research the the benefits of study abroad, their program(s) of interest and scholarship opportunities to help them express to their families the reasons why they want to study abroad.

CIE has resources for parents and families to learn more about the study abroad process and how CIE supports students — visit the For Parents and Family page.

Regarding safety specifically, please assure students that safety and security are of paramount concern to UWM and the Center for International Education. We regularly and closely monitor all of our destinations using a variety of information sources such as international, national and local media sources, as well as governmental entities like the US Department of State.

For more information, please remind students that they can speak to a study abroad coordinator.

Situation: I can only speak English. Can I study abroad?

Yes!  UWM has many study abroad programs in English-speaking countries, including Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Additionally programs with courses taught in English are available in many non-English-speaking countries, such as France, Germany, Korea, Sweden, and others.

Additionally, the majority of faculty-led programs do not have language requirements.