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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.

Northwestern Programs and Exchanges

If you are participating in a Northwestern study abroad or exchange program, you will be automatically enrolled in Northwestern’s GeoBlue plan; therefore, you should not self-enroll.

Affiliated and Unaffiliated Programs

Providers or Programs exempt from Northwestern’s GeoBlue requirement:

Affiliated and unaffiliated programs are exempt from the GeoBlue requirement if they provide GeoBlue or an approved equivalent.

The following programs' international medical assistance and insurance plans are reasonably comparable to Northwestern’s GeoBlue for Students. Therefore, you are not required to purchase Northwestern's GeoBlue plan in addition to your program’s plan. So that you are prepared for any health needs you may encounter, it is recommended that you review your program provider's policy benefits and exclusions and discuss them with your family. A summary of most policies can be found on the program’s website.

If you are receiving regular treatment for a health condition such as anxiety, arthritis, depression, diabetes, or an eating disorder, etc.  you might consider purchasing Northwestern’s GeoBlue plan if your provider health plan doesn’t meet your specific needs. GeoBlue has adequate coverage for pre-existing conditions, mental health therapies, contraceptive medications, and accidents/injuries related to excessive alcohol or drug use that might not be covered in your provider’s plan.

Please email or call 847-467-3899 if you have questions.

American Councils (RLASP)
Arcadia University
Boston University
Carleton College
Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA)
Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS)
IES Abroad*
Indiana University, Bologna Consortial Studies Program (BCSP)
Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools in China, Latin America & the Middle East
Sarah Lawrence College, The British American Drama Academy (BADA)
School for International Training (SIT) Study Abroad
Syracuse University (SU) Abroad
University of Minnesota

*IES Abroad charges a $100 deductible each time the insurance is used. Consider purchasing GeoBlue for a plan with no deductible.

Providers or Programs with Northwestern GeoBlue requirement

Your program is not exempt from the GeoBlue requirement if 1) Northwestern's Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) has reviewed your program's international medical assistance and insurance policy and determined it does not provide sufficient coverage, or 2) your program does not provide an international medical assistance and insurance policy.

If you are enrolled in a program offered by one of the following program providers, you must purchase the Northwestern-GeoBlue plan:

Columbia University, Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies
Council on International Education and Exchange (CIEE)
Duke University
Earlham College
Ewha University
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Institute for Field Education (IFE)
London School of Economics & Political Science
LSE Summer School
National Taiwan University: ICLP
Prague Film School
Royal Academy of Music
University of Deusto
University of Otago
Yonsei University


If you will be abroad for eight weeks or more and believe that your program provider’s plan has comparable coverage to GeoBlue, you may request a review of your plan by the Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS). Before you request a review, download the GeoBlue Student Member Guide and compare it to your plan.  To be approved, your plan must also include coverage for medical, political, and natural disaster evacuation services. If you determine that your policy is comparable to the GeoBlue student policy, send a copy of the insurance plan in English (which you will have to obtain from your provider) to  OGSS requires a minimum of two weeks to review the plan once received.

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:

  • The student is an international student (typically an F-1 or J-1 visa holder)
  • The student’s permanent residence is the same as the proposed country of study
  • The student is registered or enrolled in a health care plan in the proposed country of study

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

Maintaining Domestic Health Care Coverage While Abroad

Northwestern University’s Student Insurance Office recommends that all full-time students 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. This coverage can be through an eligible family policy or the NU Student Health Insurance Plan (NU-SHIP).

Waiving NU-SHIP While Abroad

Study abroad students* enrolled in NU-SHIP who have alternate insurance coverage provided by Northwestern's GeoBlue plan or a comparable international insurance plan through their study abroad program can waive their NU-SHIP enrollment online in CAESAR during the applicable open enrollment period

Note that you should only waive your enrollment in NU-SHIP during the term(s) you are abroad and confirm your enrollment in NU-SHIP for the term(s) you will be studying on campus in Evanston. If you fail to waive by the deadline, you will remain enrolled in the NU-SHIP for your term(s) abroad and you will be responsible for the relevant premium charge billed to your student account.

  • To submit a waiver application you will need to provide complete policy information:
    • Insurance company name
    • Name of policyholder
    • Policy and subscriber numbers
    • U.S. telephone number
    • Information on the benefits provided by your plan

All waiver submissions are reviewed by the Student Insurance Office to ensure the plan meets the requirements. If the alternate plan does not meet the requirements you will be administratively re-enrolled in the NU-SHIP for the academic year and held responsible for the applicable premium.

Please contact the Student Health Insurance office with any questions related to Northwestern’s insurance requirements or NU-SHIP waiver process; comparable coverage requirements for alternate insurance plans; NU-SHIP plan benefits; or for assistance completing the online Coverage Selection Form.

*Degree-seeking international students are required to maintain enrollment in the NU Student Health Insurance Plan (NU-SHIP) for the entire time they are studying at Northwestern regardless of alternative coverage and are ineligible to submit a waiver while studying abroad.