Student Responsibilities

Western Michigan University students planning to study abroad are required to complete the following steps.

1. Passport, visa and airfare


  • Students considering study abroad who do not yet have a passport are encouraged to apply immediately. Processing can take six to eight weeks; expedited service is available at an extra charge.
  • In cases where a visa or residence permit is required for study abroad, students will need to obtain their passport earlier; a valid passport is required to apply for a visa or residence permit.


  • Apply for a student visa or residence permit if one is required by the host country. Students are responsible for obtaining a student visa within the appropriate time frame. For the most up-to-date information on visas for the host country, visit the U.S. Department of State's international travel page.


  • Students are responsible for purchasing round-trip airfare to the study abroad destination. 

2. Heath and safety consultation

The Study Abroad office does not provide health-related information to students. Students must consult with the WMU Sindecuse Health Center International Travel Clinic or their personal physician for required or suggested vaccinations and other health-related information pertaining to their travel and study abroad destinations. Students are advised to have their health care appointment scheduled at least eight weeks prior to departure to ensure completion of all necessary preventative vaccinations before their trip. 

3. Meet with academic advisors to secure approvals for courses taught by the foreign university

Students must obtain course approvals prior to studying abroad in order to receive credit toward their major, minor or general education requirements. They must visit the academic advisors in each department from which they plan to receive WMU major, minor or general education credit to secure approvals, WMU equivalencies and authorized signatures. When meeting with advisors, students must provide course descriptions from the host university for each course they intend to take and the Course Approval form provided by Study Abroad; advisors will not be able to help students who do not bring this information to the meeting. The original, signed Course Approval form, which will be used during the credit evaluation process, must be provided to Study Abroad prior to departure.

Students are strongly advised to drop any non-study abroad courses they are enrolled in during the same term as their study abroad if they do not plan to complete those courses during the term they will be abroad. Students should also make sure their WMU student account is free of any holds, which may prevent the study abroad specialist from completing registration for their study abroad courses.

No Course Approval form is required for study abroad courses taught by a WMU professor. Students will still need to meet with their academic advisors to determine how the course will count toward their degree requirements.

4. Complete financial aid form (financial aid recipients only)

WMU programs

Students who receive financial aid are advised to make an appointment with an advisor in the Student Financial Aid and Scholarships office to process their aid package for study abroad. Study abroad program budgets are available on the "Budget sheets" tab of the program brochure; students are required to print and bring a copy of the program budget to their financial aid appointment.

Programs offered via a University-approved provider

Students planning to enroll in a study abroad course offered through a University-approved provider must schedule an appointment with a study abroad specialist to complete an official Study Abroad Financial Aid Budget form prior to meeting with their financial aid advisor. Students should bring a comprehensive list program costs, including tuition, housing, meals, fees, books and estimated cost of airfare, to their meeting with a study abroad specialist.

Students must then provide the finalized official Study Abroad Financial Aid Budget form to their financial aid advisor, so it can be used by the financial aid office to process the financial aid package.

A continuing enrollment fee will be charged to the student's account for each semester of enrollment in study abroad. For WMU programs, this is included within the program fee. For programs offered by a University-approved provider, it is billed separately to the student's account along with the cost of international health and emergency insurance.

5. Attend mandatory pre-departure orientations and submit final materials

Students are required to attend all group pre-departure orientations hosted by Study Abroad or the faculty director of WMU short-term programs. Pre-departure orientations are held every semester at varying times. Students will be notified in advance via email when these meetings will take place.

The following materials must be submitted prior to departure; students who do not submit these materials will not be registered for study abroad courses.

  • A copy of the first page of the passport (page with photo and passport number).
  • A copy of the travel itinerary, including departure from and return to the U.S.
  • Signed Course Approval form, if required.