Study Abroad Application Tips and Basics

Below is a brief overview of the application process for UW Faculty-Led study abroad programs. If you have further questions please contact us or set up an appointment with a study abroad advisor.

Program Selection

The most important tip in applying for a study abroad experience is to think ahead. Planning two to three quarters in advance of when you want to go abroad will give you the best options in terms of programs and funding.

Start with these questions:

  1. What do I wish to study? How will credits earned fulfill my graduation requirements? How does it fit in my academic schedule?
  2. Where do I want to go? Is language and cultural immersion important to me?
  3. How long can I be away? How much support would I like in the host country?
  4. How much money am I realistically able to budget for this experience?
  5. Specific questions? Contact the program directors–they are there to help!

Once you have answered these questions, think about the following points in relation to the prompts listed below.

  • Illustrate your personal connection to where the study abroad is located. Have you traveled there before? Why is this location impactful to your personal life? Your academic life? If you’ve never traveled to that location, write about why are you interested in doing so. What attracted you to pursuing a study abroad in that location?
  • Showcase you understand or are interested in the subject matter of the study abroad. Looking at an Art History study abroad? In your writing, speak to artists or museums that are of interest to you that you could experience by participating on that study abroad.
  • Depict your personal relationship with the subject matter. Program directors are interested in students that are furthering their curiousity in their learning by being apart of the study abroad. An example of this could be a student studying sustainability, conservation, and biochemistry. Said student could paint a picture in their writing of how experiential learning within the study abroad furthers their educational journey within their major, and has greater implications for their academic and personal goals.
  • Exemplify your individuality. Why are you as a student a great fit for the program? Is it because of your personal connection to the location or subject matter? Is it because you’re a 1st generation or international student? Don’t be shy – explain to them who you are, and how that will add to the experience of the trip.

Application Process

Statement of Purpose

  • This is your chance to tell the directors why you deserve to be on this trip, not just what you will get out of it, but also what your participation will add to it
  • They want to see a genuine interest–a connection to the location or the program subject
  • Straight from a program director: “I look for evidence that the applicant is (not only personally, but) academically curious about what she/he will encounter” – Marc Miller, Professor, UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs


  • Studying abroad requires students to further expand their adaptation skills that helped them thrive as new college students. How will you adapt to a completely new environment?

Group Dynamics

  • You will be living, eating, and studying with this group of students. Let them know you can and will be a team player
  • Also think about what group experiences have you had, and how have you made them positive/successful?

Recommendation Form

Study abroad program applications require one or two recommendation forms. Note that this is an online form that your recommender fills out; not a traditional recommendation letter. Forms are much quicker to fill out.

View a sample of the Study Abroad Student Recommendation Form

  • We strongly suggest you have a UW faculty member provide the recommendation
  • Give your recommender enough time—minimum two weeks before the application deadline
  • Notify them before you send the request so they know what’s expected and when to look out for it, and tell them when you have sent it
  • When the form is completed, the box will be checked off
  • Make sure to send a thank you note to your recommender—they will appreciate it!

When all the boxes are checked, your application is complete. If all parts are completed, your application is ready to be reviewed and no further steps are necessary.