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Graduate Student Travel Policies

Northwestern University cares about its graduate students, particularly when traveling internationally for university-sponsored activities. In order to provide the best service, graduate students are required to disclose their itinerary to the Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS). This information will be used to share health and safety resources, and allow OGSS to reach out to travelers in an emergency abroad. The type of disclosure required depends on whether you are traveling independently or with a group.

Graduate Travel Options and Their Related Requirements

Graduate students who are traveling independently for university purposes must disclose their international travel to the Office of Global Safety and Security. Independent travelers should discuss and receive approval for travel from a faculty supervisor as well as develop a communication plan for regular check-ins, particularly to locations of higher-risk.

  • Enroll in Northwestern's GeoBlue health insurance. Refer to the FAQs if you are a citizen of the country to which you are traveling.
  • Complete the graduate student independent traveler disclosure form at least two weeks before traveling abroad. Note that the travel disclosure process is temporarily suspended at this time. 
  • Review the U.S. the Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisory for all destinations. Countries with a DOS Level 3, Level 4, or a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 3 require a special release (unless the destination is your country of citizenship), which is included in the independent travel disclosure form.

Graduate student travel is considered group travel if a staff or faculty actively arranges, advises or accompanies student travelers on their trip abroad.  If a group consists of less than 3 students, each student can complete the independent travel disclosure form.

 Group Leader
  • During development, inform OGSS of the trip so staff can provide health and safety advice that may impact travel.
  • Review the following resources and factor relevant safety and security advice into planning and pre-departure educational program or materials:
    • The U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisory; if a destination is under a Level 3 or 4 Travel Advisory, direct students to complete the Release for Higher Risk locations.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Travelers’ Health; direct students to this resource for information about required or recommended vaccines.
  • Decide if the unit/department will pay GeoBlue directly for the students’ health insurance coverage or if students will be expected to purchase their own plan. If the latter, communicate this decision and provide arrival and departure dates to participants to ensure coverage for the duration of the trip.
  • Direct any Northwestern employees also participating in the trip to register with GeoBlue for Employees.
  • Complete the Group Travel Disclosure form at least eight weeks prior to departure. Note that the travel disclosure process is temporarily suspended at this time. Information needed includes: a) title of trip; b) travel dates and destinations; c) name and contact information of all trip leaders d) number of participants (and trip leaders); and e) names of third-party provider, if applicable.
  • Ensure at least one trip leader registers the trip with the U.S. DOS’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive timely security alerts from a nearby embassy or consulate during travel.
  • Review any or all of our Pre-Departure PowToon modules on travel health, safety and security and ask your students to do the same.
Group Participants