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AU Abroad American University Washington, DC

Getting Started

Congratulations on your interest in study abroad! You, along with many American University students, are choosing what many find a life-defining experience, and one that has the potential to influence your studies and professional career for many years to come. Finding the right program for you is the first step in maximizing your potential for a rewarding experience. How do you begin?  See our study abroad checklist for all the steps you will need to take.

Thinking about the following five concepts before you think about your destination will help you to clarify your program choices considerably. If you are having a difficult time determining how to approach the selection process you are always welcome to make an appointment with a Study Abroad Advisor to talk about how to choose the right program for you.

Things to Consider

A wide variety of study abroad programming is available at AU, each organized upon different principles. Individual interests and academic needs mean that the right choice of study abroad program will be different for each and every student. In order to narrow the selection, there are four considerations to think about before you begin to search for the best study abroad program for you:

1. Academics: It is important to consider the parameters for study abroad that each major and minor will have. You will meet with your academic advisor at several points in the study abroad process. Even if you are only considering studying abroad at this point, you should meet with your advisor to discuss what courses you should or must take while abroad and how your study abroad coursework will fit into your overall academic program at AU.

2. Cost: Before you begin the application process, it is vital for you to consider how you pay for your education at AU and what additional expenses may or may not be incurred because you are studying abroad. There is a wealth of information on the financing of study abroad at AU on the Financing page, including information on AU Abroad's scholarship program. It is also important to discuss your finances with your parents and/or those who finance your education at AU.

3. Language: It is important to consider whether you wish to study language, and/or study in a foreign language while abroad. Many programs, especially those where you will enroll directly in a foreign university, will require you to take regular university classes instructed in the host country language. Others will offer classes instructed in English for visiting students, while others will offer courses instructed in English for all students. You will see language requirements and language of instruction at the top of each program entry on our website.

4. Individual Considerations: Many students have personal considerations when selecting a study abroad site.  For instance, if you take medication or have specific medical or mental health needs, you may want to meet with your doctor or therapist to discuss your choices. If you are a student with a documented disability at American University, meeting with your counselor in the Academic Support Center or Disability Support Services to discuss study abroad options would be the place to start.  The ASC and DSS can help you assess your disability needs as they relate to your interests, support systems, and the availability of accommodations in specific locations. Please be aware that American University cannot guarantee that facilities, technology, or support services will be available at each location abroad in the same range and quality as on the AU campus. Laws in other countries are in effect, and procedures followed by institutions abroad may be different from what you are accustomed to at AU.

5. Risk: This is the hardest factor to define. In the context of study abroad, risk is your willingness to cope with ambiguity in the study abroad experience. Some programs offer you the opportunity to take a set schedule of classes that are designed for the students that sign up for the program. Room and board are frequently arranged in advance, and sometimes organized excursions and activities are included.

On other programs, you will travel as an individual student directly enrolling in a foreign university. In these programs, you are largely responsible to manage your experience and sort out your arrangements on your own. You may have to take the initiative to connect with students and faculty at your host institution. You may be responsible to make your own housing arrangements.

Further, there are many programs that offer a mix of study options, and some programs, while primarily direct enrollment, may have additional support services specifically for study abroad students. In thinking about differences in risk, consider what you find exciting and what you find frightening, and take this into consideration when making your program choice.


How do I apply?

All students will apply through the AU Abroad Web site. Details on the application process can be found on the How do I apply? page.  Problems logging into the site or accessing your application? Visit the applicant log in instructions for details. 

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