Advising Students

The how, when, where, and why

Students choose to go abroad for a whole range of academic and non-academic reasons.  Because they remain registered in coursework abroad if they go through the Study Abroad Office, it’s usually a combination of these.  Helping the student think about their motivations and then be able to make the right curricular and personal choices will be important for a successful experience abroad.  Study Abroad staff are always available for any questions or clarifications.

The Study Abroad Office is the primary gateway at UIC for undergraduates wanting to study abroad.  We are a staff of professional international educators who collectively speak several languages, have breadth and depth in cross-cultural experience and learning environments, and have an administrative system of protocols to move the student through advising, enrollment, and final transcripting.  We have strong relationships with over thirty-five domestic and international universities and academic consortia. Since 2007, students studying abroad have been supported by over $1 million of scholarship and grant funding.

The Study Abroad Office is also an administrative unit with clear protocols around student affairs and safety/ risk management issues.  We represent the best of the university parameters to both support and protect the student while they are abroad as a registered UIC student.  We are the main university unit liaison for the UI system-wide international health insurance plan. We are full members of the Forum on Education Abroad, recognized by the US Department of Justice as a standards development organization for best practice in international education.


Students are eligible to submit an application to study abroad through SAO only if they:

  • are currently enrolled at UIC
  • have completed a minimum of 12 hours at UIC at the time of application
  • are in good academic standing

Students are eligible to apply to a specific study abroad program if they meet the criteria above and:

  • have completed the SAO application form
  • have met with their SAO Advisor have his/her support to submit a program specific application
  • meet all the minimum requirements of their planned study abroad program which could include course pre-requisites, GPA, language levels, and class standing.

Students are eligible to participate in a study abroad program if they meet ALL the criteria above and:

  • have no holds on their UIC student account
  • have no outstanding discipline record
  • have paid all applicable fees to the SAO and the program sponsor in full
  • have attended a pre-departure orientation session
  • have submitted all paperwork, including a completed Course Approval Form

Some students may technically meet all requirements but not be good candidates for study abroad.  The SAO reserves the right to not forward/support a student’s application, and subsequently not register that student for study abroad, if it believes there are issues which may cause disruption to the program.  Students also sign a ‘Conditions of Participation’ agreeing to a number of academic and behavioral guidelines while abroad.  SAO also reserves the right to withdraw a student from a program, or support their withdrawal by the program sponsor, if this agreement is disregarded by the student

Course Approval Process - Course Content
As part of the pre-departure application and advising process, the Study Abroad Office has developed a worksheet meant to help students with the course approval process and make sure that all the courses taken abroad will satisfy graduation requirements.  This is a critical part of the advising process so that students are absolutely clear before they go abroad what courses will (or will not) receive credit.  The SAO asks the student to obtain their DARS report (or equivalent), determine what requirements are still to be met, including hours still needed, and insert all this information into the worksheet.  This informal review by the student of their academic status toward graduation informs their decision about which program to choose abroad as well as which specific courses they may want to take.  This is then discussed with their SAO advisor and finalized on a formal Course Approval Form.

SAO requires every student to complete the Course Approval Form and get appropriate faculty/college signatures for planned coursework abroad.   Each College determines who the appropriate signatory is and what the categories for credit are.  There are specific Forms for each college.  The Form then becomes part of the Supplemental Grade Report SAO forwards to the Registrar’s Office once grades are received from abroad.

Without the proper signatures, students run the risk of not getting credit on return to campus.  Once abroad, the Study Abroad Office follows UIC policies regarding adding, dropping, or withdrawing from courses.

Course Approval Process - Academic Credit
  • Students choose from a portfolio of over 200 approved academic programs.
  • Approved programs are for academic credit;
  • Grades are earned on an A-E grading scale (no Pass/Fail or other combinations);
  • Grades and credit earned abroad become part of the student’s UIC transcript and are calculated in overall GPA.  All grades are considered as UIC credit, not transfer credit.
  • For major, minor, language not being taken as elective, and natural science credit, students must get faculty or college approval;
  • For their term abroad, all SAO students are registered in one of the following rubrics as appropriate to their UIC enrollment: LAS299, BA299, ISA299, NURS299, PUBH299, UPP420, or GC491. These are  0-18 credit placeholders;
  • SAO applies the same registration rules regarding adding or dropping courses as on campus, i.e. there are specific timelines and retroactive course approval is a last resort only on petition.
Health and Safety Abroad
Today’s world is increasingly unpredictable, with local conditions that can rapidly change. Total safety cannot be guaranteed abroad just as it cannot be in the United States. The Study Abroad Office is committed to take the necessary steps to maximize student safety through working with our study abroad partners both here and abroad, scheduled student advising and orientation sessions, and materials distribution.

The top five things every student should do before going abroad are:

  1. Research the country they are going to and find out as much as possible about its contemporary life. There are many sources for this information, but a good place to start is:
    the U.S. Department of State, and the
    D-Space tab on the Resources page
    local news papers – look for links under the World News tab on the Resources web page
    (d) speak to another student who has been to the program
  2. Reconfirm your curriculum plan with your SAO and/or college advisor for the time you are abroad.
  3. Visit your doctor and/or a travel clinic and discuss your medical history and travel plans. An on-campus option is the UIC School of Public Health Travel Clinic.
  4. Register with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your program country.
  5. Attend a pre-departure orientation. All students going abroad through the Study Abroad Office are required to attend a pre-departure orientation meeting in order to be registered as a continuing UIC student while abroad. At this session the SAO staff review all university policies regarding academics and behavior, and safety issues.

Moving the student from interest to participation

SAO Resource Room
The Study Abroad Office Resource Room in 502 University Hall has an extensive collection of program information sheets, discipline charts, brochures, catalogs, and scholarship information. Our Resource Room is open 8:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday-Friday.

First Step Sessions
First Step advising sessions are mandatory for all study abroad applicants as a starting point for the application process. A 20 minute First Step PowerPoint presentation will review how to select the best program for your needs, and review the application, advising, course approval and registration processes.

SAO website
Everything a student needs to know about programs is on our website, including site specific information, curriculum choices, syllabi, excursion possibilities, costs, and often a page with information on how to contact alumni from all over the US who have been on a particular program.

Walk-in Advising
These sessions are for the student who wants to talk more about their program, curriculum, and/or funding options before making a decision to complete an application.  The schedule is under the First Step tab of the SAO website.

Meeting with a Study Abroad Advisor
Once a student has chosen a program and filled out the SAO application, they are ready to meet with an advisor in a one on one meeting.  Students can have as many meetings as they need.  Each lasts for about 30 minutes.  Ultimately the SAO advisor will sign off on the student’s application to a specific program.  Special review is required for activities in countries under a U.S. Department of State “Travel Warning.”

There are a variety of nationally competitive, regionally focused, UIC housed, and program sponsor scholarship opportunities for study abroad. In addition to the Study Abroad Office advising staff, the Office of Special Scholarships is a great resource for assistance with applications. The office is located in 2550 University Hall. Visit the Scholarship and Costs / Financial Aid page.

Pre-departure Orientation
These sessions are held twice each year following an application and enrollment cycle in April and November.  Students are required to attend in order to be registered for Study Abroad.  Topics covered include final checks on all application materials, international insurance, financial aid, health, safety and risk management.

All transcripts for Study Abroad students are sent by the host institution/sponsor to the Study Abroad Office for processing.  They usually arrive within a few weeks after the end of a term, but may take up to several weeks. SAO checks the credit articulation signed off on by the college/department, creates a Supplemental Grade Report, routes for signature to the appropriate college, and forwards to the Registrar’s Office for entry into DARS.  Students should check their DARS report to make sure the credit is properly distributed according to their original Study Abroad Course Approval Form.  All credit earned abroad through the Study Abroad Office is considered UIC residential credit – not transfer credit.

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