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Pre-Departure Requirements

Congratulations on your acceptance to study abroad! The next steps include completing requirements, preparing to leave campus, and planning for travel.

If you fail to complete pre-departure requirements in a timely manner, you risk your participation in study abroad. Many details regarding program requirements and planning steps will be communicated via email and through Canvas. It is your responsibility to read and respond promptly. 

All approved study abroad students must complete the following requirements prior to departure.

STEP 1: Submit a Program Confirmation form

You must submit a Program Confirmation form to Undergraduate Learning Abroad by the following deadlines: 

  • Summer, Fall, or Full Year - March 20th
  • Winter or Winter/Spring: August 1st
  • Spring: December 1st

Step 2: Complete required modules and quizzes on study abroad pre-departure orientation on canvas

The Canvas course consists of detailed Modules covering important topics such as Northwestern administrative policies, billing and financial aid, as well as topics pertaining to health and safety abroad. Reviewing the Modules and completing the quizzes on Canvas is mandatory. You will receive instructions for accessing the Canvas orientation via email.

Step 3: Make travel plans

For most programs, you will be responsible for making your own flight reservations to and from your study abroad destination. For students participating in Northwestern Programs, ULA will provide more details about travel planning, such as a suggested flight itinerary and/or required arrival times, after confirmation. For exchange and affiliated programs, students should refer to materials from their host institution regarding appropriate arrival and departure dates.

Also consult the Money Matters resource page for information about paying for airfare and other pre-departure expenses. 

Step 4: Obtain a visa

Many program locations require a visa for entry. To learn more entry requirements and paperwork, refer to and the Chicago-based consulate for your host country, as well as any additional guidelines provided in Canvas.

All students must obtain a visa if required to do so by their host country in order to participate in their program. ULA is not responsible for visa complications, delays, or denials, nor do we have any control over visa requirements or granting visas. The decision to issue visas rests solely with the consulate or embassy of your host country.

step 5: Obtain Geoblue global health insurance

Northwestern University requires all study abroad students to have GeoBlue Global Health insurance coverage for the period of time they are studying abroad, regardless of any other coverage from parents, Northwestern, or the study abroad program (some exemptions apply).  

Step 6: Register your travel with the U.S. State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

This can be completed online after you have your flight itinerary at

Students on Northwestern Programs:

Complete program requirements

Download and review the Pre-Departure Orientation Guide (2017-2018) for information about preparing for your study abroad experience, including general program information, program policies and expectations, and requirements. Once you have confirmed your place in your Northwestern program, you will be enrolled in an ULA Study Abroad course in Canvas. Through Canvas, you will receive information about pre-departure requirements, forms, and other paperwork that must be submitted for your program.

Attend your program's mandatory pre-departure orientation

This in-person session will cover program-specific details and will give you the opportunity to meet and talk with past and current program participants. 

Other important reminders:

  •  Do not register for Northwestern courses for Term Abroad. ULA will register you for a “placeholder” course for the duration of your time abroad (view exceptions), so you should not register for any classes at Northwestern. We will not be able to register you for study abroad if you are already registered for any classes on campus.
  • Do not hold registration spots for your friends! This is considered a breach of Northwestern's academic integrity code.
  • We will not be able to register you for study abroad if any holds are placed on your registration. So update your emergency information on CAESAR and pay all bills due to Student Accounts, Student Loans or the library.  Per the Student Agreement you signed in your Northwestern Application, you are required to clear all holds on your account prior to the registation period of each study abroad term.  This is mandatory in order to maintain your approval to study abroad and be eligible to transfer credit back to Northwestern.

Fulfill other Northwestern requirements and contingencies

Academic and program requirements

  • Review academic requirements and identify which (if any) apply to you. You are expected to adhere to these requirements while studying abroad.
  • Review Choosing Courses to Take Abroad to determine transferable courses and enrollment requirements.
  • Check your program page to determine if Northwestern has additional requirements pertaining to course enrollment on your program.
  • If you are planning to pursue an internship or research abroad, review: 
    • Internships Abroad for information regarding credit-bearing and non-credit-bearing internship or service learning placements
    • Research Abroad for students conducting an Independent Study Project or other research

Academic performance

  • Maintain satisfactory academic performance before going abroad, which includes completing any outstanding incompletes.
  • Students placed on academic probation after their applications were approved may not be permitted to study abroad.

Student Conduct

  • Maintain a clean student conduct record. Students may not be permitted to study abroad if they (a) were on housing or disciplinary probation when they were approved and did not successfully complete the probation, or (b) incurred housing or disciplinary violations after their applications were approved. 
  • Students who will be on disciplinary probation during the term(s) in which they are scheduled to study abroad are not eligible to study abroad for academic credit at Northwestern, even if their Northwestern Application had been previously approved.