It is highly recommended that students begin researching their options 1 year in advance. Determining which program is a good academic, financial, and personal fit can be time consuming and possibly the hardest part of studying abroad (because there are so many great options to choose from!). However, putting in that time well in advance is crucial to helping ensure that students find the best program for them. Here's what students should be doing while they are researching their options:
1. Complete study abroad 101
All UNC Charlotte students are required to Complete Study Abroad 101, which consists of resources designed to help students understand the basics of how studying abroad works at UNC Charlotte. Completing Study Abroad 101 is required in order to meet with an Advisor in the OEA and in some cases, before students can receive access to an OEA application.
2. Understand the program types
It is very important that you take the time to understand the different program types before diving into researching individual programs; not because one type is better, less expensive, or easier to get accepted into, but because the program type determines generally what kind of experience you might expect to have, the cost structure, how academic credit will be processed, and the application process. Each individual program within a program type will then offer a different cost, course offerings, and experience. To learn about the different program types, start with Study Abroad 101 for the basics and then review more detailed information on the program types here.
3. Build Your budget
One of the most important things for you to do once you understand the different program types is to determine how much money you can spend on studying abroad by building your study abroad budget. Add together all of your anticipated resources (savings, financial aid, scholarships, familial support, etc.) and consider when you will have access to them in order to be able to identify a program that will be a good financial fit for you.
Once you have determined how much you can spend, be sure to review our Money Matters pages to familiarize yourself with ALL the costs that may be associated with study abroad. There, you will also find resources regarding how financial aid can be applied to study abroad and how to apply for scholarships.
4. understand how academic credit works
You will receive UNC Charlotte course credit for any courses taken abroad! Depending on which program type you pursue, the way that academic credit works will be a little bit different. Explore our Academic Credit page to better understand how you will receive UNC Charlotte equivalent credit for the courses you take abroad.
5. Use The Program Search Function
After understanding the different program types and building your study abroad budget, you should then start researching individual programs. Our Program Search Function allows you to filter approved programs based on a variety of parameters, such as term, location, and area of study. You are encouraged to spend a good bit of time playing around with this search function to start a list of programs that you think could be a good personal, academic, and financial fit for you. The OEA cannot tell you which program you should choose, but is here to support you should you have questions during your research.
6. Meet with an Education Abroad Advisor
Once you've started your research, meeting with an Education Abroad Advisor may be required before you're able to gain access to an OEA application to study abroad. Whether or not it is required, you're welcome to schedule an appointment to meet with an OEA advisor in order to discuss specific questions you may have from your research. However, please keep in mind that regardless of the program, you'll need to complete Study Abroad 101 before you'll be eligible to meet with an advisor. Additionally, the OEA can better assist you if you have already done a fair bit of research and narrowed your search down to a few specific programs.
7. Chat with a Study Abroad Alum
The OEA has a great team of Study Abroad Peer Advisors, which is a group of UNC Charlotte students who have already studied abroad that you can chat with to learn more about the student experience abroad. Take a look at our list of Peer Advisors and feel free to reach out to any of them!
determine how to apply for your program
Once you have done thorough research and identified the program you think will be the best personal, academic, and financial fit for you, it's time to complete an OEA study abroad application. All students have to receive approval from the OEA via the OEA application in order to study abroad on any program. The steps to apply for your program will vary depending on the program type. Refer to our How to Apply page for instructions on how to request access to an application.
Approval from the OEA
Once you apply and receive approval from the OEA to go abroad, you will have access to resources in your OEA application to help you prepare for your upcoming departure (a ton of resources are also available on our website). Keep in mind that depending on your type of program, there may be an application you'll need to complete in addition to the required UNC Charlotte OEA application (e.g. an application with the affiliate provider, host university, etc.) in order to receive official acceptance into the program.
At the time the OEA approves your application to study abroad, you will receive more information on how to complete OEA Pre-Departure Requirements within that application, which includes things such as providing us with a copy of your valid passport, uploading your flight itinerary, and more. The information we collect is used for risk management purposes and may also be important to helping us prepare for your departure (if applicable).
As soon as you are approved, you should log into your OEA application to familiarize yourself with the deadlines associated with each requirement (as some could be due immediately after your approval).
All UNC Charlotte students going abroad are required to attend a Pre-Departure Orientation facilitated by the Office of Education Abroad. During the orientation, OEA staff will cover important topics ranging from academics abroad to health and safety. The date, time, and format of the orientation will be communicated to you at the time the OEA approves your OEA study abroad application.
Communicate with the OEA
If you experience any issues abroad, be sure to alert the OEA as soon as you can. Even though we're located in Charlotte and may not be able to solve your issue, we certainly can put you in touch with the people who can and do our best to advocate on your behalf.
Communicate with On-site Staff
When you are abroad, you should always have access to on-site staff who can assist you, whether it's a UNC Charlotte faculty member, the international student office at the host university, or affiliate provider staff. These individuals can be one of your best resources should you have any difficulties on-site.
Study abroad alumni resources
The OEA has a whole section of our website filled with resources for Study Abroad Alumni, including information on when grades will be processed, how to get involved with the Office of Education Abroad, how to purchase a Study Abroad Graduation Sash!