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Study Abroad Health Insurance

Northwestern University requires all undergraduate study abroad students to have GeoBlue Global Health Insurance coverage (or a Northwestern-approved equivalent) for the entire period of time they are studying abroad.

Your program is exempt from the GeoBlue requirement if:

It provides GeoBlue or an approved equivalent

Programs exempt from Northwestern’s GeoBlue requirement:

  • Northwestern Study Abroad Programs
  • Northwestern Exchange Programs
  • Arcadia University (Exception: Students attending the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand must purchase GeoBlue through Northwestern.)
  • Bologna Consortial Studies Program (BCSP) - Indiana University
  • Boston University
  • Middlebury Schools in China, Latin America & the Middle East
  • The British American Drama Academy (BADA) - Sarah Lawrence
  • Year of Study in Munich - Lewis & Clark

It provides a comparable equivalent (written acknowledgement required)

Programs with option to request an exemption from Northwestern’s GeoBlue requirement:

  • IES Abroad
  • The Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)
  • University of Minnesota
  • Carleton-Antioch Global Engagement Programs
  • American Councils for International Education

If you are participating in a program offered by an affiliated program partner on the list above, you may seek an exemption from the GeoBlue requirement. To request an exemption, you must acknowledge that you understand the differences between Northwestern’s GeoBlue policy and your program’s insurance policy. This exemption request must be made in writing at least six weeks prior to your planned departure (some exceptions apply).

To request a GeoBlue exemption, email your ULA adviser and include the following:

  • Your name
  • Your program and term
  • The program provider (MUST be one of the 3 partners listed above)
  • A statement indicating that you have understood the policy differences described below, have discussed them with your family, and would like to be exempt from Northwestern's GeoBlue requirement.

Coverage differences between these CISI plans and Northwestern's GeoBlue plan are as follows:

  • The Northwestern-GeoBlue plan has a $0 deductible; With some program providers, the CISI plan has a $100 deductible.
  • With GeoBlue, students can seek treatment at a facility that will bill GeoBlue directly. With CISI plan, in most locations students may have to pay upfront for non-emergency care, such as office visits.
  • The CISI prescription plan does not cover oral contraceptives, contraceptive devices or Plan B. Elective termination of a pregnancy is covered only to up to $500, and there is no maternity care or nursery care for a newborn child. The Northwestern-GeoBlue plan covers all of these services with no limits.
  • If the student experiences a medical emergency in their study abroad destination (or another location to which they travel during the program), Northwestern’s Office of Global Safety and Security’s ability to assist will be limited if the student is not covered under the Northwestern-GeoBlue plan.
  • The CISI plan has more exclusions that bar coverage, such as car racing, horse racing and motorbike racing. The Northwestern-GeoBlue plan excludes only scuba diving, sky diving, mountaineering (where ropes and climbing equipment are customarily used), ultra-light aircraft, parasailing, sailplaning/gliders, hang-gliding, parachuting, and bungee jumping. This does not mean that students can’t participate in these activities, but it means that if they become ill or injured as a result of the experience, the cost for the care (which is likely to be expensive) would not be covered.

Your program is not exempt from the GeoBlue requirement if:

NU has reviewed your program's policy and determined it does not provide sufficient coverage

Programs with Northwestern GeoBlue requirement:

The following programs’ international medical assistance and insurance plans have been reviewed by Northwestern's Office of Global Safety and Security and have been deemed insufficient.  If you are enrolled in one of the following programs, you must purchase the Northwestern-GeoBlue plan:

  • Council on International Education and Exchange (CIEE)
  • Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS)
  • Junior Year in France's CISI policy
  • London School of Economics
  • School for International Training (SIT)
  • SU Abroad in Florence
  • Victoria University of Wellington (Arcadia University)
  • University of Otago
  • Programs offering sole coverage under the International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

It does not provide health insurance

Your program is not exempt from the GeoBlue requirement if it does not provide health insurance.

GeoBlue Requirement if You Are Studying in Your Country of Citizenship

Students who study abroad in their country of citizenship may not be required or eligible to purchase GeoBlue. If you meet the following criteria, you may be eligible to receive a citizen exemption from purchasing GeoBlue:

If you believe that you meet these conditions, contact your ULA adviser to confirm that you qualify for a citizenship exemption. In your email to your ULA adviser, please describe how you meet the criteria above.

Maintaining Domestic Health Care Coverage While Abroad

Northwestern University’s Student Insurance Office requires all full-time students to have U.S. domestic health insurance coverage during study abroad enrollment to avoid any gaps in coverage in case a medical emergency abroad requires the student to return to the U.S. early for continued treatment or recovery.


If you are attending a study abroad program that is not on any of the above lists but have verified that your program includes a plan provided by GeoBlue or CISI, please email your ULA adviser and include a copy of the insurance policy for review.

For questions about the GeoBlue requirement, contact your ULA adviser.