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Independent Education Abroad

Independent education abroad programs are those in which students are not enrolled at Ohio State, but rather participate through another university — either the university offering the program or the accredited institution facilitating it. Before you choose to study abroad independently, consider all Ohio State approved study abroad programs. Ohio State offers a wide variety of education abroad options. Be sure to explore current offerings at Ohio State before making a decision.

Learn the differences between studying abroad through Ohio State and studying abroad independently. Participation on an independent education abroad experience is very different from studying abroad with Ohio State. You will not be registered at Ohio State during the term(s) in which you are abroad, but will instead take a “leave of absence.” This means you will not pay Ohio State tuition, will have limited or no access to Ohio State financial aid and may receive transfer (K) credit on your Ohio State transcript.

Ohio State education abroad Independent education abroad
Maintain registration at Ohio State Do not maintain registration at Ohio State
Earn Ohio State graded credit Will not earn Ohio State graded credit, but rather transfer (K) credit
Determine course credit prior to your departure May determine preliminary course credit prior to your departure (in some cases)
Retain access to Ohio State scholarships and/or grants Will not retain access to Ohio State scholarships and/or grants
Retain access to federal financial aid May retain access to federal financial aid; subject to consortium agreement eligibility
Will be enrolled in International Supplemental Insurance providing not only health insurance, but also coverage for emergency assistance, evacuation and repatriation. Will be enrolled in International Supplemental Insurance to provide health insurance and coverage for emergency assistance, evacuation and repatriation.

Determine if an independent education abroad experience is the best academic and financial fit for you. The use of transfer (K) credit toward major/minor requirements varies widely. Consult your academic advisor to determine if/how this type of credit will apply toward your degree requirements before making a financial commitment to the program. Be sure to consider potential program costs and funding sources.

Should you determine that an independent education abroad experience is appropriate for you, carefully evaluate your options. Considering the following features:

  • Does the program offer a comprehensive website? You should be able to access a thorough program overview, host city/country information, staff contacts, current information on travel dates and costs, application submission instructions, course descriptions and alumni feedback.
  • Does the program offer pre-departure services? These may include responsive and accessible staff, advising services, visa assistance (if applicable) and comprehensive orientation materials.
  • Does the program offer in-country services? These may include on-site staff to provide airport pick-up (or assistance) and housing placement, as well as 24/7 emergency and day-to-day support.
  • Does the program adhere to best practices in the field of education abroad? Look for programs affiliated with NAFSA Association of International Educators and/or the Forum on Education Abroad. Some web resources that may help you identify an appropriate program include the NAFSA International Education Marketplace, StudyAbroad.com and GoAbroad.com.
  • Is the program offered through at third party provider or will you be working directly with a foreign institution to enroll as a student? Students often utilize a third party provider that facilitates the process for you, but if you are not, you will be responsible for understanding the admissions and enrollment requirements at the institution.
  • Does the program provide you with an official academic transcript issued by the degree-granting institution’s registrar (or similar designee)? The Ohio State Transfer Credit Center will not evaluate transcripts or completion certificates issued by a third party provider or an academic department at the host institution. Students must submit official transcripts issued by the degree-granting institution’s registrar (or similar designee). Upon their return to Ohio State. Failure to provide the appropriate documentation may result in no transfer credit being awarded for your independent education abroad experience.

Before applying you must:

  • Consult with the Ohio State Transfer Credit Center to determine if a) the institution is recognized by that country’s Ministry of Education or other recognition body and b) determine credit type (GENERAL or SPECIAL) and credit conversion to U.S. semester hours. Pay close attention to the instructions provided by the Transfer Credit Center to ensure transfer credit is awarded for your program abroad.
  • Work with your academic advisor to determine if the courses you wish to take will are applicable to your degree plan at Ohio State.

When applying, you will likely need: 

  • Official Ohio State transcript (you may order your transcript online via the Office of the Registrar)
  • Disciplinary Clearance Form (the Office of Student Conduct must complete this form)
  • Education Abroad Advisor Form (contact Jenny Kraft to complete this form)
  • Course Selection Form (If an advisor's signature is required, please see your academic advisor)

While you await your admission decision:

Ohio State Travel Policies and Independent Study Abroad Travel Registration

All Ohio State students pursuing independent education abroad that are related to their Ohio State academic or co-curricular objectives (regardless of if the program is Ohio State approved or non-Ohio State approved) are required to adhere to the policies and guidelines set forth by the University’s International Travel Policy Committee.

  • Be sure to check the status of your prospective host country with the list of Ohio State Risk Designated Countries. If your host country is currently listed as a Risk Designate Country, you must submit a petition to the International Travel Policy Committee.
  • Students traveling to international locations for academic or co-curricular purposes are required to enroll in the university's supplemental travel insurance. Visit supplemental travel insurance for detailed steps on how to register for the supplemental insurance online.

Once you have been accepted to your program, be sure to complete the online individual travel registration and the independent pre-departure checklist.