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Independent Study Abroad

Studying abroad offers students many personal, academic, and professional benefits, so the Study Abroad Office (SAO) has worked to approve over 300 programs in aover 60 countries so all students can find a program that works for their needs. However, we know sometimes students like to do their own exploring, and as a result they find study abroad programs that match their needs and are not a part of our approved list. If you are interested in a non-approved program, here is some important information and steps to follow:

Student in the rain in Italy

1.) Explore Pre-Approved Study Abroad Programs

If you have found a study abroad program that is not approved, we encourage you to first take a look at our pre-approved offerings. Students can filter through approved programs based on their dream destination, preferred term, course offering and more using the program search feature on our website.

2.) Inform the SAO of your chosen program

If you decide to pursue a non-approved program, please send us the information, ideally a webpage, for that program via email to An SAO representative will contact you shortly after to discuss your chosen program and next steps in more detail.

3.) Let your academic advisor know of your study abroad plans

Always make sure you speak with your academic advisor regarding your plans to study abroad, and make sure they are aware that the program you selected is not an approved program through the SAO. They will be able to provide you with more information regarding how participating in the program will impact your academic plans.

4.) Apply to your program and complete any requirements

You will be responsible for ensuring you apply and complete the application requirements for your chosen program on your own. The SAO does not support students applying to non-approved study abroad programs. Because of this, the SAO does not sign any required documents requested from the non-approved program. If the program you are applying to requires a document to be signed by the SAO, please let them know you are participating in this program without university approval and inquire about an alternative way to meet their requirement.

Things to know when participating in a non-approved program Heading link

  • Students participating in non-approved study abroad programs are not eligible for UIC financial aid.
  • You will have to work with the Office of the Registrar when you return from your study abroad program if you want to transfer your credits to UIC. There is no guarantee that credits will be transferred. If credits can be transferred, they will appear as transfer credits instead of UIC credits.
  • Students participating in non-approved programs for a semester term will have to take a leave of absence from the university.