Office of International Programs

Study Abroad FAQ

1. What is the difference between study abroad and a USM travel course?

USM travel courses are short-term programs, usually one to three weeks in length, which are led by USM faculty members. Each program has its own specific focus and location (for example, we offer programs such as Criminology in Sweden or International Law and Human Rights). The participants travel and study as a group. Students earn USM credits, as opposed to transfer credits. Anyone who has completed at least 15 undergraduate credits and has at least a 2.0 GPA can enroll in a travel course. These programs are open to non-USM students too!

Study abroad, in USM's terms, is generally longer and involves more planning on the student's part. Students can choose from hundreds of programs in dozens of countries, based on their goals and interests, as well as when they go abroad (summer, semester, academic year).

2. What are the major requirements to study abroad?

Students planning to study abroad must be highly motivated, successful students. This means a minimum grade point average of 2.5; however, a 2.8 or 3.0 is required for many programs. Intellectual curiosity and personal flexibility are important traits to cultivate in oneself prior to beginning any period of study away. Only USM degree candidates are eligible. If you were admitted through the USM admissions office, that’s you!

3. Where can I study abroad?

Great Wall of China, Photo by Megan ThebergePrograms are available throughout the world such as Canada, Argentina, China, Australia, South Africa, and England. There are four general options for studying abroad: reciprocal exchange programs, partner institutions, study abroad program providers and travel courses.

Reciprocal exchange programs are with specific universities that exchange or “swap seats” with USM students. The advantage of these programs is that you continue paying your regular USM tuition and fees. These are the most affordable study abroad option. Partner institutions give USM students discounts, and program providers give you the option to study in a country where USM does not have any connections or if one of our exchanges does not meet your needs. Travel courses (see item #1 above) are USM courses that are taught overseas. You travel with USM faculty members and your classmates during the summer or winter session for anywhere from ten days to three weeks.

4. Do I have to speak another language to study abroad?

No, you do not need to be fluent in another language to study abroad. There are many programs that offer courses in English. Some universities have a required number of years that you must have studied the host language. Most universities will test you upon arrival and put you into classes that will most match your level of fluency.

5. When can I study abroad?

Most students study abroad during their junior year. You can go as early as your sophomore year and as late as your first semester of senior year. We strongly advise students to not go abroad during their final semester.

Before you can study abroad you need to be a matriculated degree student at USM. Students must complete a minimum of 24 college credits prior to departure. Transfer students should contact our office for information on additional application requirements. You should have completed some courses from both your major and the Core Curriculum. However, it should be early enough in your program so that you still have some flexibility with regards to the courses that you need to complete. The most important issue is to determine when studying abroad is the best for you, academically and personally.

6. How long can I study at another university?
Depending on which program you choose, you can study for just a few weeks during the summer, or study abroad for one semester or the entire year. You can even spend one semester in one location and another semester in a different location.  

7. How much does it cost to study abroad?

It depends on the program you choose. USM has a number of exchange programs in which you pay USM in-state tuition regardless of your residency. There are also a number of programs set up by other universities that are similar in cost to USM. Scholarships are available for studying abroad.

8. Can I use my USM financial aid to study abroad?

Yes, you can use your aid abroad, provided you complete our approval process. Your aid package will be based on your study abroad program costs. The only types of aid that cannot be used are work-study funds and USM-based scholarships (unless you are participating on a reciprocal exchange program).

Granada, Spain. Photo by Brittany Michaud

9. Will I receive full credit if I study abroad?
Provided you complete our approval process,
you will get full credit for your studies away. It is important to note that credit is based on the transcript which is received from your host university. You should also be prepared to bring back your work, the books, and the course syllabi so that accurate course equivalences can be established. The credits you earn abroad will be listed on your USM transcript as "transfer credits" and although the grades will be listed, these credits will not be factored into your cumulative GPA. That being said, poor grades can affect your Honors standing.

10. Is study abroad limited to certain majors? 
Students from any major can study abroad. In your essay, you’ll explain the reasons why study abroad will help you in your academic career.

11. If I decide to study abroad, what is my next step?
Application deadlines are in mid-October and late February/early March each year.

12. What should I do now?

1. Make sure you meet the minimum criteria for study abroad (see item #2 above).
2. Make an appointment to meet with one of our advisors (207-780-4959).

  • Review your choices
  • Refine your list of options
  • Discuss the qualities of a successful application

3. Review your study abroad options and select a program based on:

  • Your major & course availability abroad  
  • Personal interest & career goals
  • Language skills
  • Budget

4. Prepare a full application to meet the appropriate deadlines (See #11 above).