Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get started?
Meeting with a peer advisor is your first step. Peer advisors are WSU students who previously studied abroad and can answer questions, share information about their experiences, and help you navigate the application process.
Email StudyAbroad@winona.edu to set up an appointment with a peer advisor.
For more information on programs we offer, visit our online study away portal.
The earlier you begin, the more time you have to plan well. Selecting a program is one of the most important steps in studying abroad. Your host city will be your home, whether for a month or a whole year! Programs differ in many ways, from available coursework to campus size and feel.
Start by thinking about your major or minor field of study. You will probably want to identify a program that will enhance your academic experience here at WSU, giving insight that you may not otherwise get by staying in Winona.
You can then use the following questions to help narrow down your choices:
- Are there courses that I need to take while abroad that will compliment/complete my course requirements for WSU?
- Will the courses I take be in a foreign language?
- Would I like to primarily take courses alongside local students?
- Would I prefer to live in a homestay, apartment or student residence?
- Do I prefer a big city, a small town or something in between?
By reviewing the information on our online study away portal, and answering these questions, you can start to get an idea of what type of program you are seeking. All the approved WSU programs are described on the Study Abroad website. It is the best place to begin researching programs.
Where can I go?
We offer programs in almost all regions of the world. You can choose from over 100 programs in 43 different countries. Use the online study away portal to see particular cities or countries in which you may be interested.
Do I need to know the language?
You do not always need to speak a foreign language to study abroad or participate in a faculty-led program. You can study in a program where you would take a course in the language of that country and take all the rest of your courses in English.
The WSU study abroad portfolio includes many programs in English speaking countries, such as the UK, New Zealand, and Australia.
In non-English speaking countries, such as Japan, South Africa, or Belgium, the host institution will offer the courses in English. However, if you want to become more proficient in the language of the country you are living, it is better to choose a program where more of your courses would be taught in that language.
How much does it cost?
For semester or summer study away: the program fee depends on the program you choose. Program fees for different programs cover different expenses.
Students will almost always pay more than WSU cost of attendance, but how much more depends on which program is chosen.
You could choose a program that would cost you no more than it would cost you to stay on campus, or you could choose one that would cost you $20,000 more, and everything in between.
Your financial aid can be applied toward the cost of the program. There are also multiple scholarships available, and many of the study abroad partner programs offer scholarships.
For Faculty-led programs: you pay the direct costs for the program.
Costs could range from $2,000-$9,000 and everything in between, depending on the program.
The program costs typically include airfare, transportation throughout the program, lodging, most meals, admission fees for group educational experiences, WSU tuition/fees for the course(s) associated with the program, etc.
See your specific program website for details about the program cost and what is included.
Can my financial aid (grants & student loans) be used for study abroad?
Yes – federal and state financial aid may be applied to your study abroad program. Students participating in summer programs must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credits in order to be eligible for financial aid.
Also, your need for financial aid is greater when you study abroad so you may qualify for additional aid. If you receive scholarships, grants and/or loans and plan to utilize them during study abroad, you should schedule an appointment with the Financial Aid advisor.
Are there scholarships available?
Yes- students have the opportunity to apply for multiple scholarships!
The Study Abroad office has more information on scholarship opportunities. Set up an appointment with our scholarship coordinator, Renee Stowell at RStowell@winona.edu.
She’ll be happy to help you prepare the best application possible. Begin your research process early – even one-to-two years prior to departure – as scholarship deadlines can come well before program application deadlines.
Your host program provider may also have scholarships or grants available. Information can be found on the scholarship section of their website.
Is study abroad safe?
Your safety is an important part of the mission of the office of Study Abroad. Winona State takes great care to select and continuously monitor the programs in our portfolio, all of which have staff who are very knowledgeable about the host culture and can serve as resources in a time of emergency.
We also urge you to take personal responsibility for your safety. During the pre-departure orientation programming, Study Abroad staff will advise you on how to take precautions while abroad by staying aware of your surroundings and attuned to potentially unsafe situations. We will also help you become informed about the local culture and customs, in order to better understand your new environment.
Does a study abroad course have to be related to my major?
Many students take courses that count toward their major, or minor, or graduation requirements. However, many other students choose to take courses because they’re interested in them, courses they wouldn’t be able to get at Winona State. Begin your search on the Study Abroad page.
Are there programs that are designed for my major or minor?
Yes, we work closely with departments to make sure we have semester or summer study abroad or faculty-led programs on our list that work well for their majors. See our Academics page for more information.
When would be the best to go abroad?
When you go depends on your major and when it fits into your plan for progress toward graduation. Students who are sophomores, juniors, or seniors can study away for a semester or year whenever it fits for them. Students of any year can study away on a faculty-led program.
See our Academics page for help in the decision making process.
Is it easy to keep up with credits while abroad so that I may graduate on time?
Yes! Study Abroad is part of the academic program and should fit within your overall plan of progress toward graduation.
- On semester study away, you take a full load of classes, just like you do here at WSU. Department chair approval is required in order to have the courses transfer back as WSU required courses toward a major or minor. Consult the Equivalency Table to see what other WSU students have taken abroad and their WSU equivalency.
- Courses taken as part of a faculty-led program are WSU courses, so they have already been approved. Faculty-led programs occur during breaks, so they can be easily scheduled in without missing a semester.
Whether semester study away or faculty-led programs, the classes you take can count toward major, minor, or graduation requirements.
Can I go on any program I want?
If you are going to study away during the semester or summer, you must choose a program on our approved program list in order to have credits transferred back as Winona State credit and receive Financial Aid.
Students may petition to go on a program that isn’t on our approved list (including other Minnesota State schools) but will only be approved if there is a strong academic reason for needing that particular program.
Are there internships, or programs that are more experiential learning?
Yes! There are some faculty-led, semester and summer programs on our list that include an internship, others that include service learning, and others that include a field experience.
Make an appointment with a Peer Advisor to learn more about these opportunities.
Can every student study abroad?
The Study Abroad office strives to enable every student, regardless of major, to have a study abroad experience. Any student meeting the eligibility requirements included below can submit an application to study abroad.
In order to study abroad, a student must meet the following minimum eligibility requirements:
- must have a minimum overall GPA of 2.5 (some programs require an even higher standard)
- cannot be on academic or disciplinary probation or have an open conduct case
- must have their Warrior Hub account paid in full or receive special clearance as part of the application process
- Sophomore standing for semester study abroad; freshman standing for faculty-led programs
How and when do I apply?
Students apply first for WSU approval, through an online application.
Application deadlines for semester study away:
- October 1 – Spring Semester
- February 1 – Summer Semester
- March 1 – Fall Semester
See Faculty-led Programs for specific program dates and deadlines.
When will I be accepted to the program I chose?
- Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed within one to two weeks of submission during the term of application.
- Consult the specific faculty-led program application page for information on when applications will be reviewed. Some programs accept students on a rolling basis and others wait to review applications and make decisions until a specific date.
- If you have questions about the application decision process and/or timeline, please contact the program’s faculty leader.
Are there any deposits that I am responsible to pay?
Yes, you do need to pay the program deposit. The deposit is not covered by your Winona State tuition. The deposit is essentially a guarantee that you will attend the program and ensures that the program will hold your spot once you’ve been admitted.
If you do not participate in the program, the deposit will generally not be refunded.
How am I billed for study abroad?
Billing varies by study abroad program. Any study abroad costs charged to a student’s Winona State account follows the same payment deadlines as if on campus. Consult with the Study Abroad office for any questions.
May I use my Tuition Waiver?
The Tuition Waiver benefit may only be applied to faculty-led programs. The tuition waiver cannot be applied to exchange, direct enroll or provider programs due to those institutions' higher tuition rate and the financial burden it would place on Winona State to absorb this additional amount.
Please note: students may choose and apply to any study away program, however the tuition waiver may only be applied to faculty-led programs.
What is a Pre-Departure Orientation and do I have to attend my program PDO?
Pre-Departure Orientations are mandatory and located in the Learning Content area in your online study abroad account.
The Pre-Departure Orientation introduces you to the important policies that apply to Winona State students regardless of where you study abroad.
This orientation also provides resources on health and safety, cultural adjustment, and strategies for success while abroad.
Semester/Summer students have the opportunity to attend an in-person Open Forum to meet other students going abroad during the same term, have any remaining questions answered, and meet alumni of their program.
Students participating in a faculty-led program will attend a series of in-person meetings prior to departure. These meetings conducted by the faculty leader are required and include information about course content, location-specific details, health and safety information, packing tips, etc.
How should I make my summer or semester travel arrangements?
Semester/summer students make their own travel arrangements after receiving the finalized dates of the program directly from the host institution or program provider. Some program providers may offer advice, group flight options and/or airport pick-up services for students. Students must inform the Study Abroad office of their travel plans for risk management purposes as part of the post-decision application materials.
Travel arrangements for faculty-led programs are coordinated and included as part of the program. Students on a faculty-led program should talk with their faculty leader to learn more about the travel specifics.
Will the Study Abroad office help me get a passport or visa?
- Students are responsible for making sure that they have a valid passport and visa in order to study in their host country.
- To research the process for applying for your passport (if you are an American citizen), you can start by visiting the State Department Website.
- The Study Abroad office is not responsible for obtaining student passports. Nor are they responsible for any complications, delays or denials. Students must ensure that their passport is valid for at least six months after the return of the program.
- A visa is the host country’s endorsement that you are allowed to enter and stay in the country for a specified period of time and for a specified reason. Winona State students going for semester/summer are responsible for obtaining their own visa. Because the visa application requirements vary by country and are subject to change, students should refer to the embassy website of their host country for the most up-to-date information about the visa application process, costs and requirements.
- The Study Abroad office is not responsible for obtaining semester or summer student visas nor are they responsible for any visa complications, delays or denials.
- For students participating in a faculty-led program to a destination requiring a visa, Study Abroad staff will help facilitate the visa application process.
Where will I live and eat while I'm studying abroad?
If you are studying abroad for a semester or summer, chances are, your housing situation will be quite a bit different from here on campus! Many universities abroad do not have on-campus housing like we have at Winona State.
You will select a housing option prior to your departure. Depending on the host program, you may choose between a homestay, a dorm, or an independent apartment. In every case possible, we recommend that you seek housing options that will maximize integration into the host culture, whether through living with a local host family or with local students.
As with housing, meal options will also vary. You may find yourself eating three meals a day with your host family, you might have on-campus dining hall options that are very similar to those available at Winona State, or you might cook for yourself in a dorm or apartment.
- Semester/summer students generally arrange housing directly with universities or program providers. Many universities and programs require student to live in housing arranged by the program. In almost all cases, housing fees are paid by the student directly to the university or program provider.
- For faculty-led program students, lodging and most meals are coordinated for you and included as part of the program cost. Students on faculty-led programs typically stay in a hotel, hostel, dorm, apartment, or homestay. Students and faculty might even stay in more than one type of accommodation during the course of the program. The students and faculty leaders are housed in the same lodging location.
Can I bring prescription medication?
The laws around bringing prescription medications into a country can vary greatly, therefore it is necessary to check the legality of the medication in your host country.
If you currently take prescription medication, you will want to plan ahead for the entirety of your time abroad.
Review the travelers checklist for medications on the U.S. Department of State webpage (Select “Get Required Documents section, Medications bullet”).
Am I still a Winona State student while studying abroad?
Yes - you remain enrolled at Winona State University while studying abroad on an approved program.
If I have problems while I’m abroad, what should I do?
If a problem arises while you are abroad, first get in touch with your host university, program provider staff, or faculty leader. Their familiarity with your study abroad site will help them provide you with the best possible information to find a rapid solution to the problem. You can also contact the Study Abroad office and we will respond as soon as possible.
In the case of an immediate emergency, you should call the local equivalent of 911 and then contact your host university, program provider staff, or faculty leader.
Winona State University’s Campus Safety & Security is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 507-457-5082. Study Abroad staff are available M-F 8am-4pm at 507-457-5081.
When will my courses and grades by posted to my DARS?
Semester/summer program grades are processed and posted as they are received, and the timing of their posting varies from program to program. The Winona State Study Abroad office receives student transcripts from host institutions and programs, and is therefore dependent upon these institutions for the grades. You can expect a waiting period of up to three months following the conclusion of summer or semester study abroad program.
Upon receipt, a copy of the transcript is emailed to the student and the original is delivered to the registrar. The registrar will enter the information in the DARS. If you have any financial hold from the host institution, your grades may be delayed.
Grades associated with faculty-led program courses are due during the term in which the program took place.
Do my study abroad grades affect my GPA?
Grades from courses on a faculty-led program are calculated in a student’s GPA just like courses taken on Winona’s campus.
For semester/summer programs, study abroad grades are calculated in the Transfer GPA, but not the Official overall GPA. Courses taken abroad that count towards a major will be included in the Major GPA calculation.