Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I study abroad?
Study abroad is an enriching and eye-opening adventure, where learning extends far beyond the classroom. The experience will expose you to new ways of thinking, living, and viewing the world. Benefits include: the opportunity to learn about another culture firsthand; exposure to an entirely new language or increased fluency in one you have already studied; the ability to travel before, during, and after your study experience; the opportunity to fulfill major and minor coursework requirements in a different academic atmosphere; and the development of new intellectual pursuits, skills, and perspectives. By living within another culture, you are likely to gain a new understanding of, and perhaps even appreciation for, the United States and its way of life. You can also expect to make friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime. To find out more please visit our ‘why study abroad?‘ section.

How will a study abroad experience enhance my employability after I graduate?
Employers increasingly seek graduates who have international experience, and a study abroad experience will enhance your employability. International knowledge, cross-cultural communication skills, flexibility, resilience, creative problem-solving, tolerance for ambiguity and unexpected changes, and the ability to adapt to new circumstances are skills enhanced through study abroad. These types of skills are important and valued by employers across a broad spectrum of fields.
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Who can participate in study abroad?
Most programs are designed for students who have already studied at least 1 year at a University. Many programs require a GPA of at least 2.5, but some of the more competitive programs require a 3.0 GPA. General qualifications for acceptance include good academic standing, letters of recommendation, and a personal study statement. Language requirements vary per program. Additional qualifications may exist depending on the program to which you apply. See application procedures for more information.
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When should I start planning to study abroad?
Early planning is the key to successful study abroad. Hundreds of study abroad opportunities exist; they differ in location, duration, curriculum, language, degree of cultural immersion, cost, and many other factors. In order to find the program that is the right “fit” for your personal and academic objectives, you should begin planning your study abroad experience at least one year before you actually depart. Contact the Office of International Services for additional assistance in planning your study abroad experience.
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How long should I study abroad?
It is possible to plan a study abroad experience for a summer, semester, or full academic year. There are even some short term travel study programs that last just a few weeks. The duration of your program depends on your academic goals, as well as personal interests and considerations.
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When should I study abroad?
It is advantageous to undertake study abroad in your sophomore year in order to complete general education requirements. However, it is also possible to study abroad in your junior or senior year. Major requirements for graduation can make it more difficult to study abroad for a full semester during senior year; for this reason, it is usually better to undertake your study abroad experience during the sophomore or junior year. Graduate level students may also participate in a study abroad program with approval from the graduate program. The Programs Abroad Office primarily advises on undergraduate study abroad opportunities, but can also give guidance and assistance to graduate students interested in studying abroad.
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How will I choose the program that is right for me?
The possibilities for study abroad are abundant. Before researching programs, you should make some preliminary decisions concerning the type of experience you want to have. Start by realistically assessing your academic and personal preparation, as well as your objectives. Consider the following questions in assessing the kind of study abroad experience that would be the right “fit” for you.

Location

  • In which country or region would you like to study? Why?
  • Do you want to study in a less-developed or more-developed country?
  • Do you want to be in a big city or a small town/rural area?

Academics

  • What do you want or need to study in order to meet your academic objectives?
  • Are there specific academic requirements that you need to fulfill during study abroad?
  • Are you fluent enough in a foreign language to take classes, write papers, and take notes in this language, or will you need to take some or all of your coursework in English?
  • Are you interested in taking courses on the language and culture of the host country?
  • How will study abroad positively affect your academic program?
  • What do you want or need to study to meet personal objectives?

Structure

  • To what extent do you wish to integrate yourself into the host culture?
  • How much contact do you want with other American students?
  • Would you feel more comfortable with the services of a resident director, or are you confident you can handle problems on your own?
  • Do you prefer to participate in planned excursions included in a program or to arrange your own sightseeing and travel?

Living Arrangements

  • Do you want to live in a university dormitory?
  • Would you prefer to live in an apartment?
  • Do you want to live with other Americans or with local students?
  • Do you want to live with a local family?

Cost

  • How much time can you afford to spend abroad in terms of economic resources?
  • How much money can you spend on the study abroad experience? Consider not only tuition and fees, but also housing and food, personal expenses, and international travel.
  • Do you need to apply for financial aid? Is it available to you?
  • Are you willing/able to take out loans or use personal funds in order to pay for study abroad?
  • Are there scholarships that you might be eligible for to help fund your study abroad?

Eligibility

  • Does your GPA qualify you for the program? Minimum GPA requirements vary from 2.5 – 3.0 depending on the program.
  • Do you have the language skills required for the program?
  • Do you have time to apply before the application deadline?

Duration

  • How long do you want to study abroad (academic year, semester, summer, special short term program)?

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Do I need to know a foreign language to study abroad?
No. Study Abroad programs with courses taught in English are available all over the world – not just native English speaking countries. If you participate in a program where English is not the native language, you will likely have the opportunity to take local language courses as part of your program.
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Can I afford to study abroad?
Yes, you can! Generally, all financial aid awards, including loans, grants, and scholarships, are applicable to UALR-based study abroad programs. Financial aid packages can be reevaluated to consider the cost of a specific program, and aid packages may be adjusted (up to the maximum eligibility amount) according to the modified cost of the study abroad program. Students may also be able to receive additional loans (available under the Stafford Student Loan program through private lenders — banks, savings and loan associations, or credit unions) to help finance their study abroad. There are also some scholarships available specifically for students who study abroad—please see the entry below.

Keep in mind that the cost of participation in a study abroad program depends on a host of factors, and these should be taken into consideration as you select the program that is right for you. These factors include the type of study program (program provider, direct placement or an exchange program), duration of program, location, cost of living in host country, exchange rates, etc.
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Are there special scholarships for study abroad?
Yes. Some scholarship money is available for certain study abroad programs and through independent organizations. Generally there are more scholarships available for study in non-western or developing countries. Being flexible about your location may help you cut your study abroad costs. If you are set on one particular city, you may not find scholarships or lower cost programs there. Instead, focus on a region, country, or language area, and find the program which best suits your budget. For more information see our section on scholarships and financial aid.
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What types of living accommodations are available?
The options range from apartments or residential halls, to homestays with families and are dependent on the program that you choose.
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Can I study abroad if I haven’t declared my major yet?
Yes. A variety of general education courses are offered within many study abroad programs.
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How will the credits I earn abroad be applied to my course and credit requirements?
Credits taken abroad can be applied to your major, minor, elective, or general education requirements. Talk to your Academic Advisor to identify specific courses that could be targeted for study abroad, then talk to the Programs Abroad Coordinator. We will help you work with the department of your Major to identify which courses taken abroad will transfer back, and what type of UALR credit you will receive for them. Please be advised that students must finalize these details prior to their departure, if they want assurance of receiving transfer credit for courses taken abroad.
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Will I graduate on time if I study abroad?
Yes, study abroad is easily integrated into most academic programs. However, the earlier you plan your study abroad experience, the greater the likelihood that it will work smoothly into your graduation plan.
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How do I apply for study abroad?
Once you have either decided on a program or made some preliminary decisions about the type of program you are interested in, contact the Study Abroad Director for an appointment. The Study Abroad Office is located in the Student Services Center SSC Room 417, and the office telephone number is 501.569.3376.
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