Study Abroad FAQs

It’s never too early to start thinking about if and when you’d like to study abroad at William & Mary! To help answer a few of your questions before you’ve even thought of them, we’ve put together a list of answers to frequently asked study abroad questions.

If you have a question that’s not on the list, email our Peer Advisors (more on them on Friday!) directly at

Q: Where can I study abroad?

A: William & Mary offers more than 30 study abroad programs in over 20 countries and the Reves Center also helps students apply to any number of outside study abroad programs. By taking advantage of either W&M or outside options, students can study almost anywhere in the world!

Q: Will I get credit for the classes I take abroad?

A: Yes, that’s the idea! To receive William & Mary credit for classes taken abroad, students must register with the Reves Center for International Studies, earn a “C” or better in classes taken abroad, arrange for their host university to send an official final transcript to Debi DeBacco at the Reves Center and get pre- or post-approval from William & Mary professors in the appropriate academic departments.

Things to keep in mind:

  • W&M summer programs, as well as W&M sponsored semesters in La Plata, Argentina and Seville, Spain offer courses which count as William & Mary courses.
  • If you have received credit for a course either here at the College or through high school AP, you may not take the course and get credit again.  This is very important especially for language courses.  The only exceptions are “repeatable” topics courses where the content is different.
  • You may not fulfill language proficiency courses (202 level) while abroad unless that language is the native language for that country.  For example, you cannot get credit for French 202 in Italy.

Q: What is the difference between pre and post-approval?

A: Students are highly encouraged to seek pre-approval for courses, though some William & Mary departments only issue post-approval. Also, depending on the study abroad program you attend you may not register for your courses until you are in-country. If you are not sure of the exact courses you will take, it is best to get pre-approval for the courses you wish to take. Language courses are often not pre-approved because you may be required to take a placement test in-country.

To obtain pre-approval, students must fill out a Credit Pre-Approval Form and take it to the appropriate department chairs or designees for their signatures (the names are on the back of the approval form). Give the faculty member a detailed description of the intended courses and a copy of your William & Mary transcript. Once completed, you should make a photocopy for own record and return the original Pre-Approval Form to the Reves Center.

To obtain post-approval, you must save all materials from abroad courses (syllabi, papers, exams, etc) and bring them and a Post-Approval Form to the appropriate department chairs or designees for their signatures. Once the respective faculty member has completed the Post-Approval Form, you should make a photocopy for you own records and return the original to the Reves Center.

Q: Which departments only issue post-approval?

A: Art & Art History, Classical Studies, History, and Religious Studies and some language courses.  However, you must still take a Pre-Approval Form and course description to the designated faculty member in those departments BEFORE going abroad.  They will indicate on the form if they expect the course to be approved. These departments want to review course content after you complete the course before approving.

Bring all completed Pre- and Post-Approval Forms to the Reves Center.  For your own records and in case you need to petition the Committee on Degrees, you should make a photocopy of all completed forms.

Q: Will I get grades for the classes I take abroad?

A: Students who participate in William & Mary summer programs and the William & Mary semester programs in Seville and La Plata will automatically receive graded William & Mary credit for their coursework. These will be calculated into each student’s GPA.  Students on all other programs will receive transfer credit. Grades appear as a “T” on transcripts, and will not be calculated into a student’s GPA.


Q: Can I take GER core classes abroad?

A: GER 4 and 5 may be fulfilled abroad, though eligibility is granted only through post-approval. The Committee on Degrees at the Office of Undergraduate Studies in Ewell Hall will consider a course taken abroad for GER requirements 4 and 5 if it “meets criteria for that GER and deals substantially with the country or region where you studied abroad.” Some W&M summer programs also offer opportunities to meet GER requirements.

Q: Can I take classes for my major while abroad?

A: Yes, though you should speak with your major advisor to determine which courses would count towards a major or minor.

If a course was pre-approved as elective credit or another equivalent that does not fulfill major requirements, you have the option to petition the Committee on Degrees.

If you took a course abroad and did not get it pre-approved and want it to fulfill a major or minor requirement, then you will have to get it post-approved AND petition the Committee on Degrees.

Q: How do I arrange semester-long housing at William and Mary?

A: If you plan to study abroad in the spring but want to live on campus when you return in the fall, you must pay the housing deposit before the deadline, usually in February.  It will make your life easier to pay the deposit before leaving campus in December. You must also ask a friend to act on your behalf by being your proxy.  This person will physically sign your housing contract for you.  You will both need to sign a proxy form which must be filed with Residence Life.

If you plan to study abroad in the fall semester you must contact Residence Life in early November to discuss housing arrangements for the spring semester.  Room Reservation deposits are not required for the spring semester.

More information is available on the Residence Life website.

Q:  There are so many third party organizations out there, how do I decide which non-William & Mary program to pick?

A: Researching all of the program options and narrowing down choices can be time consuming and sometimes difficult. Ultimately, the decision is yours and your family’s, but the Reves Center can guide you in the process.  It is recommended that you start researching programs one year BEFORE you plan to go abroad because most application deadlines are the beginning or middle of the semester prior to travel.

In order to work with the Reves Center in the process of selecting a non-W&M program you must first attend a Study Abroad 101 workshop, then you can make an appointment with a Peer Advisor and/or member of staff.  Make these appointments in the Study Abroad office.

Q: How do I find scholarships to study abroad?

A: Summer scholarships are almost non-existent.  However, the Reves Center awards approximately $150,000 annually to William & Mary students participating in the College’s programs abroad. These scholarships are need based and applications are due at the same time as program applications.

If you plan to go abroad on a non-W&M program, including one with another US university, there is information on sources of funding for study abroad in the Study Abroad Library at the Reves Center, and on our website.  Many study abroad organizations, such as ISA and AIFS also have their own scholarships for which you can apply.

Q: Can I use financial aid to pay for study abroad?

A: Federal, state, and most private grants, loans, and scholarships may be applied to the cost of semester-long study abroad. If using financial aid, you must file a FAFSA form online before March 15th for each upcoming school year.  You will also need to complete a Consortium Agreement and a Disbursement Form and meet with your W&M financial aid advisor.  Bring both the completed Consortium Agreement and Disbursement Form to the Reves Center. If we do not receive these forms your financial aid money will NOT be disbursed to you.

The Financial Aid office also offers more information.

Q: What is the difference between an exchange and direct/assisted enroll?

A: Exchange programs allow W&M students to pay their regular tuition to W&M but housing, meals, fees, etc. are paid directly to the host university.  This is the best option for VA in-state students.

The direct/assisted enroll option is usually best for out-of-state students and those not offered an exchange spot. In the direct/assisted enroll option W&M students pay tuition, housing, meals, fees and all other required costs to the host university and nothing to W&M that semester.  This is usually much less expensive overall than paying W&M out-of-state tuition.

Q: Do I need a visa?

A: The Reves Center does not advise on visa requirements. You should check on the Consulate website of the country in which you plan to study.  Also, the host university or program organization may provide you with visa help or guidance.

About International W&M

The Reves Center for International Studies promotes, develops, and supports the global dimensions of learning, teaching, research, and community engagement at the College of William & Mary
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