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Independent Study Abroad

What is Independent Study Abroad?

Independent Study Abroad is any study abroad program outside the UC system. With UC Davis Quarter AbroadSummer AbroadGlobal Intensives, Virtual Summer InternshipsSummer Abroad Internships and UCEAP, opportunities exist for most students to study abroad in nearly every country of the world and receive UC credit. When you have researched the programs offered within the University of California system and you still cannot fit the right program to meet your goals, you can always look for programs outside the UC system.

In order to participate on an independent program during the academic year, you will need to apply for Independent Study Abroad Leave. You must ensure also that your program is associated with an accredited institution. A student participating in Independent Study Abroad will be studying in a program outside of the UC Davis and UC-systemwide programming, which will have financial and academic differences than studying abroad at UC Davis.

  • Independent Study Abroad Leave Process
  • Fall, Winter, Spring or Year-long Independent Study Abroad Programs

    In order to participate in an independent study abroad program during the regular academic terms of Fall, Winter or Spring quarters (or a combination of any of these terms for semester-length programs), you must apply for the “Independent Study Abroad Leave."

    By applying for Independent Leave, you can retain your UC Davis student status, email, PASS time etc. To maintain UC Davis student status, students are required to file for leave. We highly encourage students to make an appointment with the designated Advising and Outreach Coordinator. During this 30-minute appointment, the Advising and Outreach Coordinator will review the independent program leave process and provide a link to the Independent Study Abroad Leave form. The student should submit the independent study abroad leave form and email their designated Advising and Outreach Coordinator to state they have completed the form. The student should complete the Independent Study Abroad Leave form no later than one week before the first Pass 1 appointment for the term the student will be abroad. From there, the University Registrar’s Office will note that the student is filing for this type of leave, and a non-refundable fee of $70 will be billed to the student’s MyBill within UC Davis Student Accounting. If a student does not file for independent study abroad leave before the start of the term they will be abroad, student will be billed for UC Davis quarter tuition.

    Summer Programs

    Many students participate in non-UC study abroad programs during the summer. Filing for the “Independent Study Abroad Leave” is not necessary or allowed. Simply apply directly to the study abroad program provider and enjoy your time abroad! After your program is completed, have your official transcript sent directly to Undergraduate Admissions within 30 days upon completion. The Office of the University Registrar will evaluate the coursework completed and post the transfer units if they are deemed to be acceptable for UC credit.

    Important Financial Information

    Studying abroad through an independent program means that a student will pay for the program directly instead of paying UC Davis for that term. Financial aid and course pre-approval are not available for Independent Study Abroad programs. Please read information provided by UC Davis Financial Aid. If you need to know in advance about coursework transferability and want financial aid, you should participate in a UC Davis or UCEAP program.

    Important Health Information

    Students filing for Independent Study Abroad Leave will withdraw them from campus SHIP health insurance. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure they have health insurance for the time that they will be abroad, and make sure they are compliant with the Affordable Care Act.

  • Find a Program

  • Ultimately, it is up to you to find a program that fits your needs. Use the resources below to aid you in your search.


    Go Abroad Search Engine
    IIE Search Engine
    ► Study Abroad Search Engine

    What types of Independent programs are there?

    "Provider" Programs

    Provider programs are programs offered by a non-profit or for-profit company. These programs are often referred to as third party programs.

    ► These programs usually have a central administrative office that supports students on their programs beginning with initial advising, through to application, placement and support throughout the term abroad.
    ► This central office is often based in the United States and many providers have satellite offices located at their program sites abroad. Providers negotiate direct placement at host institutions around the world or they may be custom designed programs that offer an academic focus tailored to U.S. students.

    In choosing a provider program, it is important to consider two things:

    1. Does the provider work with an accredited institution abroad or is the provider itself accredited?
    2. What level of student support do you require from the provider?

    You should check with your provider to find out if the institution issuing the official transcript for your program is accredited.

    Some provider programs offer a wide range of support to their students.

    ► Some provide complete support with advising for program selection, pre-departure processes, visas, travel, in-country support, full medical insurance, etc.
    ► Others may only provide placement and minimal housing assistance.

    Note: The overall cost of the program may reflect these differences so it is important to see what you will receive for the fees you pay. Regardless of program, Global Learning Hub is not involved in administering provider programs and cannot provide assistance with visas, travel, pre-departure orientation, or in-country logistics. Therefore, it is important to determine what level of support you will require and ask questions accordingly.

    "Direct Enrollment" Programs

    Many foreign universities allow U.S. students to apply directly to their institution as a short-term visiting international student. This process does not involve any third-party intermediary. Instead, students work directly with the host institution's international student office or admissions office—thus the term "direct enrollment."

    ► You will need to contact the institution directly to ask if they are accredited with the accrediting body in their country.
    ► Application processes, selection and in-country support will vary widely and will differ by institution. You will need to contact the institution directly to determine if they accept visiting students and, if so, what the process is and what campus resources, housing services, and visa support they provide.

    It will be your responsibility to obtain a transcript and ensure the proper documents are provided to UC Davis Undergraduate Admissions upon return. From there, the University Registrar’s Office will evaluate completed coursework. To request a GE check for a specific course within an independent program, students should fill out the GE request that will be sent to the Colleges for reviewal. If students have questions on whether or not they can receive credit towards their major for course taken during an independent program, they should refer to the major advising department for review.

    ► Direct enrollment is the most unstructured study abroad option.
    ► Students interested in direct enrollment MUST be highly organized and willing to work independently with various international agencies (consulates, local immigration, landlords/housing agencies, insurance providers, etc.).
    ► Students must also be responsible for setting their own deadlines to coordinate visa applications, travel and arrival logistics, housing, etc.

  • Loop Abroad: Differences Between UC Davis Study Abroad and Independent Programming

  • Students can read about the differences between Loop Abroad Summer Abroad Internships offered through the UC Davis Global Learning Hub and Loop Abroad here.

Advisory Note to Students

Students are responsible for reviewing providers’ services thoroughly and are urged to contact the providers directly to discuss support, student services, academic credit (if applicable), fees, and other issues before enrolling. If you’re a student studying abroad during your last 2-3 quarters at UC Davis, you will need to contact your College Dean’s Office about Senior Residence requirements.

For students who are concerned about their academic standing, please visit your College Dean's Office to explore your academic options. Please consider the steps you may need to take in consultation with your College advisor prior to enrolling in an independent program.

Students must make their own informed decision on whether the providers’ program structure is a good fit for them. UC Davis cannot provide student support for direct enrollment in these programs. Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to carefully review all provider information before committing to participation.

If students are interested in scheduling an appointment with the designated advisor for Independent Programs, they can view advising hours and details here.

Advisors for Independent Programs