Parent Information

Welcome parents!

WSU offers over 100 approved semester or summer study away programs as well as many short-term faculty-led programs offered annually. Please browse our approved programs.

Not only that, we meet the Standards of Good Practice established by the Forum on Education Abroad!

We hope this page gives you all the information you need. If not, please contact us.

Through engagement inside and outside of the classroom, students gain insights into different cultures while building on the ability to communicate and collaborate with a diverse group of people.

Study abroad can develop hard and soft skills that can make your student stand out in an applicant pool with employers and graduate/professional schools. Some of these skills include:

  • An expanded worldview and enhanced interest in global affairs
  • Global networking, building friendships and connections
  • Cross-cultural communication skills
  • Increased flexibility, adaptability, confidence, and independence as a result of navigating unfamiliar situations
  • Practical knowledge of a specific culture and language

If you’re interested in learning more, the US Department of Education’s International Strategy highlights why these things are important in our increasingly global society. You can also read some statistical information on study abroad and employability.

All Winona State study abroad students are required to complete an online Pre-Departure Orientation. The materials discussed include academics, health, safety, finances, and cultural adjustment.

To see the information offered to students during the Pre-Departure Orientation, please click on the appropriate file below. These materials are referenced throughout the following topics.

If your student does not already have a passport, one will be required for travel to international destinations. For more information on applying for a passport, contact our office at 507-457-5081 or see the US Department of State website.

Your student may also need a visa for permission to enter a country. This is usually a stamp inside the passport book. Visa requirements vary by country, and are typically related to the duration and/or purpose of the trip. Our office has created a Visa Fact Sheet.

 

Your student’s safety is an important part of the mission of our Study Abroad office. 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 students to take personal responsibility for their own safety. During the pre-departure orientation programming, Study Abroad staff advise on precautions to take while abroad as well as becoming informed about local culture and customs.

Students on a semester study abroad programs are provided with a Personal Emergency Action Plan template (PDF) and asked to complete it for their own use abroad. Students on faculty-led programs walk through emergency plans during their pre-departure class meetings.

We encourage you to discuss emergency plans with your student. It may even be helpful to work through the Personal Emergency Action Plan template together with your student prior to departure.


Travel Advisory Levels

While there is risk to any travel, foreign or domestic, the US Department of State issues country-specific Travel Advisories to provide Americans advice on safety abroad. They have divided the Advisories into 4 levels:

  • Level 1 - Exercise normal precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk.
  • Level 2 - Exercise increased caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.
  • Level 3 – Reconsider travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security.
  • Level 4 – Do not travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.

WSU only sends faculty-led programs to Level 1 or 2 destinations; semester/summer students wishing to participate in a program at a Level 3 destination must petition to do so.

To see the State Department country-specific Advisory information, choose your student’s destination on this map, or type in the country name.

Staying healthy abroad means much the same as staying healthy in Winona or at home. We advise students to eat right, get exercise and rest (for complete pre-departure information, see relevant Pre-Departure document above).

All of these things can help students cope with physical, mental and emotional stress.

But there are several issues we advise students to be aware of in advance:

  • Prescriptions – check with the host country to be sure your medication is legal there
  • Vaccine requirements – check with the CDC to find out if any vaccines are required for entry
  • The Study Abroad office cannot advise on vaccines or medications; we recommend seeing your doctor or visiting the CDC Website.
  • Insurance:
    • Faculty-led program participants are covered by GeoBlue
    • Semester or summer program participants are also usually covered by GeoBlue, or through insurance provided by our program partners abroad.

For semester or summer study away: Costs vary depending on the type of program your student chooses. We have programs that cost about as much as being at Winona State (under $10,000/semester), but there are also programs that cost upwards of $20,000 for a semester. Financial aid applies toward the cost of the program. Scholarships are also available. See our Funding & Scholarships page for more information.


Exchange programs are the most affordable way to study away. Students pay Winona State tuition, plus airfare, room and board at the destination, and other expenses.

In addition, we work with several institutional partners. These organizations charge a program fee that will include tuition, but may or may not include other expenses. For example, some programs may include all meals, while other programs do not.

To assist with planning and communication with Financial Aid, the Study Abroad office completes a total budget estimate for the time your student will be abroad. A Budget Estimate Worksheet (PDF) was created to discuss cost and the budget layout with your student.

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. In 2018-19, the average cost of a faculty-led program was about $4,800.

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 the specific program website for details about the program cost and what is included. Financial aid applies toward the cost of the program. Scholarships are also available. See our Funding & Scholarships page for more information.

Financial aid applies to the cost of a WSU-approved study away program. Our office will complete a tentative budget for your student’s program that estimates the total tuition, room & board, transportation (including airfare), fees, health insurance, and other allowable expenses. The WSU Financial Aid office will then recalculate your student’s financial aid package based on that revised cost of attendance, and go through financing options with your student.

There are scholarships available for study away programs, from national as well as local sources. These scholarships range from $500 to $5,000, and vary in competitiveness. Using our Funding & Scholarships web page, your student should note which scholarships he or she is eligible for, and when to apply. Our scholarship coordinator is also available to discuss the various scholarships and application strategies.

Winona State study away students are registered at Winona State for the time they will be abroad. This means that the student can use 529 funding if applicable. 

Billing varies by study away program. Any study away costs charged to a student’s Winona State account follows the same payment deadlines as if on campus.

For faculty-led programs, see the program for specific billing timelines, but the entire cost of the program is billed directly to your student’s WSU account.

For semester programs, contact the Study Abroad office for details on your student’s particular program. 

With options like Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime (and more), it’s easy to stay connected with your student while abroad, but there are a couple of things to be aware of:

  • International data can get expensive! Check with your provider and research the cheapest ways to use a cell phone abroad.
  • If your student is constantly connected to you, or their friends back home, they aren’t out experiencing their host culture. Remind them to put down the phone and interact with people on-site!

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) protects the privacy of student educational records. Under FERPA, Winona State Study Abroad and the university may NOT release student information, except in the case of an emergency.

The Study Abroad office is happy to provide parents with general information regarding study away programs, but information specific to a particular student is protected. We are committed to preparing and supporting your student for studying abroad and encourage you to talk with your student throughout the study away process.

If your student would like to give permission for our office to discuss their information with you, there is a data release form available through the Warrior Hub. Please see the Records and Registration Services website for more information.

For additional information on FERPA, please visit the U.S. Department of Education's webpage.