Steps for studying abroad

The following steps map out the process for planning and preparing your study abroad. Just scroll down to learn how to organize your international experience. If you have questions, come by the Center for International Programs or email Dr. Sagasti Suppes.

Informational meeting

  1. Meet with the Director of International Programs to help you put together a plan. In this meeting you will start to look at your study abroad options, and you will talk about next steps. This is a good time to ask questions, but don’t worry if you don’t think of everything at that moment. We will have plenty of follow-up meetings and you can bring up concerns at any time. Make an appointment now!

Find your program

Find the right program for you!

In your meeting with Dr. Sagasti Suppes, you will look at your options for studying abroad. You need to take into consideration when to go abroad, what kind of program,  (summer or semester; coursework, internship, service learning, or research) and where you will go. Things you should take into consideration when making this choice:

  • Academic requirements for your major, minor, or general education
  • Athletic seasons
  • Financial concerns
  • Language requirements
  • Career advantages

Meet with your academic advisor

Once you’ve narrowed your search, your academic advisor will be able to help you pick a program. Your advisor will also know when in your undergraduate career is the best time to study abroad. For some majors it’s flexible, for others there are specific requirements that are only available in certain semesters, while others require an internship that might be possible to do abroad. Each major is different so you need to have open lines of communication with the professors in your program so that they can support you and make sure you’re successful.

Apply for your passport and visas

Don’t leave this step until the last minute! Passports can take a long time to process, so do this early. Visas are necessary for most countries if you stay for longer than a certain amount of time (for many countries that’s thirty days). The visa process takes a while, and usually requires a visit to a consulate. Do your research so that you know what is expected. When you go for your visa interview, you will already need to have a passport in hand, and you will be required to bring various types of documentation and payment. It’s best to read carefully the consular requirements for the country where you will study so that you don’t have to scramble or take extra trips.

Meet with Financial Aid

At this point, you need to meet with Ms. Heather Hollandsworth in the Office of Financial Aid. She will be the best suited to help you figure out what financial aid you’re eligible to receive from Ferrum College and from the federal government, and what costs are left so that you can make a budget. This is also when you start researching scholarships and noting down application deadlines. You can find information on scholarships on our study abroad financial aid page.

Apply to your chosen program

You should go over the applications with Dr. Sagasti Suppes. Make a check list of all documents that are required and make sure you provide all the necessary information. Application essays should be checked first with Dr. Sagasti Suppes, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time for this step.

Apply for scholarships

This step really needs to be done at the same time as the one above. As soon as you apply for the program, you need to also apply for scholarships. Make an appointment with the Center for International Programs to go over your scholarship essays. You should apply for more than one scholarship to increase your chances of getting some help. Also keep in mind that you should be finishing your applications at least a month before the deadlines so that the office of International Programs and the Financial Aid office have time to certify and approve your applications.


You need to have all you courses pre-approved before you travel abroad. That means meeting with your academic advisor and with Dr. Sagasti Suppes to fill out this form and turn it in to the Registrar’s office. This is to ensure that you get credit for the courses you take while abroad, so it’s a very important step!

Final steps

At this final stage, you should have all your applications in and you will have heard back from your program and from the scholarship providers. You’ve been accepted and you’re ready to go! You just need to make one more check with the Financial Aid office and the Registrar’s office to make sure your ducks are all in a row. You will participate in a pre-departure orientation with the Center for International Programs, where you will talk about things like health and safety, tips for travel, and how to pack. You will need to make sure you have filled out emergency contact and health forms. You can also set up your blog so that you’re ready to start posting as soon as you get to your destination.

Happy travels–you’re ready to study abroad!