Family FAQs

Why should my student study abroad or away?

Studying abroad or away has a positive impact on students’ academic and professional outcomes. Research has suggested that studying abroad increases employability and career skills, fosters intercultural understanding and improves language learning, grade point averages and graduation rates. Study abroad also leads to significant gains in critical workplace skills such as self-awareness, adaptability and problem-solving skills. These skills provide your student with a much more competitive edge in the job market, expand their career possibilities and have a long-term impact on career progression and promotion.

Will study abroad programs count toward my student’s degree? 

Yes! All Exchanges, Faculty-Led Programs and Summer School Abroad programs have SJSU credit-bearing courses attached to them. These courses can be applied towards your student's degree. They should discuss their study abroad plans with their academic advisor to make sure the program they choose will work for their degree and help them on their path to graduation. Alternative Break Programs are SJSU programs where students do not receive academic credit; these programs focus on service-learning and cultural immersion.

What year can my student study abroad or away?

For Faculty-Led Programs (FLPs) and Summer School Abroad (SSAs), some programs require upper-division standing, which is usually achieved when a student has completed their sophomore year. Freshmen and sophomores can apply to an FLP or SSA but should review the program’s prerequisites carefully before applying. Freshman students are encouraged to meet with a Study Abroad and Away advisor prior to applying to discuss eligibility.    

For Exchanges, students can study abroad after they complete their freshman year. If they would like to go abroad during their freshman year, they should make an appointment to meet with one of the Study Abroad Coordinators to discuss that possibility. Transfer students can study abroad at any point after they are accepted to SJSU (even during their first semester with SJSU!)

Where can my student study abroad or away?

We currently offer programs in over 50 countries around the world and in various regions of the U.S., and we add new program locations every year! Students can study in Asia, Europe, North America, Central America, South America, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania, as well as in several domestic locations.

Where will my student live while abroad?

Housing for students varies by program and may include hotels, hostels, dorms, apartments and homestays.

Do you need to know another language to study abroad or away?

Absolutely not (unless you want to)! The Faculty-Led Programs are taught by SJSU faculty and instruction is completely in English. Summer School Abroad and Exchanges also offer courses in English, so students from all over the world can come together and learn in a common language. There are only a few Exchange programs with language requirements. That being said, study abroad is an excellent way to learn or fine-tune a second, third or fourth language.

How much do study abroad and away programs cost?

For Faculty-Led Programs and Summer School Abroad, individual program costs vary based on different factors such as location, length of program and units offered.

For Exchanges, students pay SJSU tuition and room and board in their host country; costs also vary based on location. Oftentimes the cost of living (depending on the location) can be much cheaper than staying in San Jose.

Alternative Break Program costs can vary based on length of time and location. They can sometimes be less expensive than other program options, since there is no tuition associated with the program.

Study abroad and away program costs are listed on each program’s webpage. Study Abroad and Away staff can help your student choose the right program for them and budget accordingly.

Is financial aid available? What about scholarships?

For Faculty-Led Programs and Summer School Abroad, undergraduate students can use their financial aid if they take a minimum of 6 units during the summer session. Graduate students can use their financial aid if they take a minimum of 4 units during the summer session. The financial aid disbursed for summer FLPs/SSAs is part of the financial aid award for the academic year (fall and spring), so students should be sure to save some of their financial aid for the summer.

For Exchanges, undergraduate students can use their financial aid if they take a minimum of 12 units during the semester. Graduate students can use their financial aid if they take a minimum of 9 units during the semester.

For more information on financial aid eligibility and processes, please contact the Financial Aid Office:

Carolyn Guel
Associate Director
Financial Aid & Scholarship Office

Scholarships are available for many study abroad programs; more information can be found on our Scholarships page. We encourage all eligible students to apply!

What is the process for obtaining a passport?

If your student has been accepted to a program and does not yet have a passport, we encourage them to apply for one as soon as possible. It is important that they plan ahead, as processing times can take several weeks (or longer during peak travel times). Instructions on how to obtain a passport can be found on the Department of State's Passports & International Travel page.  

Does my student need a visa to study abroad?

Visa requirements vary by country and one’s citizenship. For most short-term programs, visas are not required for U.S. citizens, but for many Exchange programs, student visas are required. If your student needs a visa for their study abroad program, their Program Leader or Study Abroad and Away staff will let them know. Visa costs are the responsibility of the student.

Will my student be able to travel before, during or after their program?

Yes! This additional traveling will help increase their knowledge of other cultures and can greatly enrich their study abroad or away experience.

For Faculty-Led Programs, your student can choose to travel before or after their program. Please note that during the program dates, students must remain with their FLP (except for any free time that their program leader schedules). You can join your student to travel after they complete their program, but not during the program. We have a strict policy that only the registered participants can travel with the group during the program dates; even if you stay in a different hotel, we still do not allow outside people to overlap with the programs. This is for risk management and so your student can focus on their coursework.

For Summer School Abroad and Exchange programs, students can travel before, during or after their program.

For Alternative Break Programs, students can travel before or after their program if attending a program during the summer. Those attending a program during spring break will likely not be able to do additional travel, given time constraints with class schedules during the semester. Please note that during the program dates (for both spring and summer programs), students must remain with their program, except for any free time that their program leader schedules.


How can I contact my student while they are abroad?

There are many ways for students and their families to keep in touch. E-mail, Facebook, text, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, phone calls and Google Voice calls are all popular options. We advise you and your student to discuss how you will communicate and how often you will communicate while they are studying abroad.

Can I visit my student while they are abroad or away?

For Faculty-Led Programs and Alternative Break Programs, you are more than welcome to join your student before or after the program dates. However, parents/guardians/spouses are not allowed to travel with the student during the program dates, as outlined in the Commitment to Participate form that all students sign. Violating the Commitment to Participate and traveling with your student during the program is grounds for dismissal for the student.

For Summer School Abroad and Exchange programs, you can absolutely visit your student before, during or after the program.


What happens if my student gets ill or hurt while on their program?

Study Abroad and Away has procedures in place in the event of illness or injury during a study abroad or away program. All students are enrolled in an international health insurance plan for the duration of their program. Should medical care be needed, the program leader(s)/host university would assist the student in obtaining the proper treatment. Program leaders/host universities are also in constant contact with our office and would inform us of any serious incident, should one occur.

What does my student need to pack?

Packing needs will vary. We recommend that students research what can and cannot be carried on an airplane and through the TSA. Students will also need to see what items are restricted in the host country, as this will differ from country to country.

Some core items that we recommend the student pack include: passport, boarding passes, copies of flight itineraries, extra copies of important documents (passport, visa(s), plane tickets, insurance information, and lodging information), cash and credit cards, medications (in original containers with copies of respective prescription), toiletries, and proper clothing relative to the weather in host country. Students are provided additional packing recommendations during their pre-departure orientation.

What is FERPA? 

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Under FERPA guidelines, students who are over the age of 18 have a legal right to privacy in regards to their educational records. This means that Study Abroad and Away (SAA) staff are prohibited from providing any student information to anyone other than the student. In emergencies, SAA staff will communicate with any individuals the student has listed as their emergency contacts in the application materials. However, please be aware that FERPA guidelines apply to all non-emergency matters.