Before You Go Abroad

Start planning your study abroad experience today! Use this timeline and checklist to keep track of the steps involved in preparing to study abroad.

Study Abroad Timeline

  • 1

    6-12 Months Before Departure

    Meet with your academic advisor to discuss graduation requirements for your degree program.

    Review an advising sheet from the Study Abroad Office to determine which countries have programs in your area of study.

    Based on the advising sheet, pick a region in the world you're interested in. Study and research the culture and major cities to familiarize yourself with the area.

    Meet with a study abroad advisor to discuss specific programs that meet your academic requirements.

    Complete a FAFSA form for the appropriate academic year, if you have not done so already. (Please note: The summer semester is part of the current academic year, not the following year. For example, summer 2018 is part of the 2017-2018 academic year.)

  • 2

    7-9 Months Before Departure

    Review program requirements and eligibility. If you don’t meet the minimum requirements, now is the time to start working on them.

    Estimate your real financial need for study abroad by comparing the cost of study abroad with the cost of attending NIU.

    Meet with a counselor in the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office and the business manager in the Study Abroad Office to discuss funding options.

    Request a scholarship booklet from the Study Abroad Office and ask about the date for the next “How to Find Money for Study Abroad” presentation (offered in October and February).

    Start applying for scholarships.

    Tip: You can start applying for scholarships before you're accepted into a study abroad program.

  • 3

    3-7 Months Before Departure

    Contact a peer advisor who went on a similar program or studied in the country of interest to you.

    Choose your program and begin the application process online with NIU and your study abroad provider. Faculty-directed programs only have one application.

    Pay the application fee and complete all application materials. (Please note: Your application will not be considered without the application fee.)

    Make sure you apply well in advance of the deadline. Some programs will fill up quickly!

    Tip: To find the program that's the best fit for you, it's important to think about what you want out of your study abroad experience and what your goals are.

  • 4

    3 Months Before Departure

    If you don't already have a passport, visa and other necessary travel documents, make sure you're in the process of getting them.

    Research the culture and things to do in your host city and country.

    Finish all acceptance paperwork for NIU and the study abroad provider.

    If you're interested in blogging, now is a good time to set up your blog and talk about the study abroad experience, from start to finish.

  • 4

    1 Month Before Departure

    Call your bank and credit card companies and notify them of your travel dates and destination(s).

    Gather funds for essential costs not included in your program.

    Make a packing list.

    Attend pre-departure orientation at NIU.

    Spend time with family and friends.

    Tip: Search for your program on Facebook and join any groups made to help you connect with other students.

Health and Safety

Passport Information

  • Visit the U.S. Department of State for detailed information
  • Get your passport photos taken in the Study Abroad Office during regular business hours
    • Two photos for $5
    • Four photos for $10
  • Submit your completed passport application to a local passport office


Contact Us

Study Abroad Office
Williston Hall 417