As a college student at Grand Canyon University (GCU), you have two unique opportunities to go abroad. If you choose to serve on an international mission trip, you will travel overseas with a team of other GCU students to serve the Lord and perform ministry. Alternatively, you may also to consider a traditional study abroad program, where you can immerse yourself in another culture while also earning credits toward completing your degree at GCU.
During a traditional study abroad program, you have the opportunity to travel to another country and attend classes at an approved foreign university. GCU currently partners with the University Study Abroad Consortium (USAC) and Semester at Sea (SAS) to offer abroad opportunities. We encourage you to visit USAC and SAS for more information; thoroughly pay attention to important details such as costs, requirements and coursework associated with different programs.
Start the process of applying to study abroad by talking to your student services counselor. You must verify that your study abroad program will count as earned credit within your program of study (POS) in order to maintain good academic standing and qualify for Title IV funding while abroad. This is a viable option if you have a suitable amount of elective credits remaining in your POS. For example, if you want to participate in a semester-long study abroad program, you would need at least 12 hours of elective credit remaining.
However, keep in mind that as you take additional courses this total will likely decrease, so let your student services counselor know as soon as possible if you are interested in a study abroad program. Each student's academic situation is unique, and your advisor will be best equipped to speak to how a study abroad program fits in to your overall POS.
- Research your options and select your program of choice
- Complete the University Home Approval Application
- Complete the USAC or SAS Study Abroad Program Application
- Finalize your financial aid options (if applicable)
- Prepare for departure!
Explore Your Country
It is important for you to understand the area of the world in which you plan to study. Visit the U.S. State Department's travel alert site, but also start looking through national news channels for the latest information. The USAC and SAS offer programs across the world. Learn more about travel resources and program opportunities.
Global Mission Trips
Global mission trips are shorter international trips, typically taken over spring or summer breaks, that give you the opportunity to see God's heart for the nations. Depending on the length of the trip, you may choose to complete a Global Studies Portfolio to earn elective credits toward degree completion. Learn more about mission trip opportunities.
What to Consider
Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers you many unique benefits. Beyond the experiential benefits of exposing yourself to a different culture and different ways of thinking, you may be able to leverage your experience in more tangible ways. See one of our study abroad partners, Leveraging Your Experience, for a detailed discussion on how to use your experience to your advantage in the workplace and when applying for advanced degree programs. More information can be found at USAC.
You should also consider that a study abroad program can be a significant commitment in terms of cost and time preparation. Here are a few other factors to consider before fully committing to studying abroad.
Unless you are completing a language immersion program abroad in order to learn a foreign language, you will need to be proficient at the college level if you wish to enroll in college courses at a university in another country. Although there are some sites that provide instruction in English, others do not. It is your responsibility to determine this in advance.
Effect on Degree Timeline
Depending on your specific degree program, the number of elective credits you have remaining in your degree and other factors, a study abroad program may increase your time to graduation. Work with your student services counselor to reliably determine how a program may affect your anticipated graduation date.
A long trip overseas takes planning, even with the support of the university. You will need to have a valid passport throughout the duration of your prospective program. A passport can take up to eight weeks to process, and sometimes longer. More information on how to apply for a passport can be found at U.S. Department of State's website.
Many countries also require you to acquire a student visa prior to entry. If you are required to apply for a student visa on your own, you will need to plan ahead. You may need to either travel to a designated foreign consulate within the U.S. (usually in Los Angeles or San Francisco), have a family member appear in your stead or work with a third party like Travisa. While this process is not as daunting as it may sound, you will need to plan accordingly. More information can be found on Travisa.
Health and Safety While Abroad
In addition to academic and financial considerations, you will also need to think about health and safety factors while abroad. Browse through the following factors to get a better understanding of how to prepare:
You will be provided with local emergency contact information during your program orientation and you should share this information with family members. If your family needs to contact you due to an emergency while you are abroad and cannot reach you, they can use the emergency contact. However, the contact is for emergencies only.
Before leaving for your program, you may need to acquire appropriate immunizations and medications in order to travel safely at your destination, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your doctor. You may have to plan several months ahead as some immunizations are administered in stages. More information about traveler's health can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you are taking prescription medication, bring an adequate supply for the entirety of your trip. Access to additional medication will vary greatly depending upon your country, and mailing medications across international boundaries can be problematic. Always carry prescriptions in their original bottle with a label showing the name and dosage of medication, directions for use and your name.
Students on study abroad programs through GCU might have overseas medical insurance built into their program fees. However, this insurance is designed to supplement personal insurance, so having your own insurance is still necessary. It is your responsibility to verify your medical insurance and ensure you have adequate coverage.
If you have any physical, emotional or learning disabilities that require special assistance during your study abroad program, contact email@example.com Student Disability Services at firstname.lastname@example.org at least 60 days prior to your program departure date to request accommodations and learn more about your options.
While abroad, you must follow the laws of the country in which you are traveling. Additionally, you are still subject to the GCU Student Code of Conduct. The breaking of national laws and the Student Code of Conduct can result in penalties up to, and including, dismissal from the study abroad program and any other appropriate academic penalties upon return. GCU does not provide legal counsel if you are arrested or jailed while abroad.
You are also expected to follow the cultural expectations and customs of your host country. Remember that while studying abroad, you are representing both GCU and your home country.
Financing Your Study Abroad Experience
If you are interested in a study abroad program, talk with your SSC to determine your financial obligations and what aid you can apply to the costs. You may need to personally finance a portion of the program costs directly. The more you plan ahead in securing the necessary funds, the more likely you will be able to pay any program fees and costs beyond what your federal financial aid provides. Your GCU institutional aid or scholarship will not pay for you to take courses at another institution. For more information about scholarships, take a look at these opportunities.
Saving for Your Trip
We recommend that you have a sense of your financial obligations at least one year prior to your departure, especially if you do not anticipate having funds readily accessible through personal savings, family members, etc. However, if you have a savings goal and time to implement a plan, you may be able to make up the additional costs with a summer job, depending on the program.