If you are interested in studying abroad, it is never too soon to start turning your dream into a reality. Careful planning in these areas will help things go smoothly.

Take the First Steps

Meet with an Academic Advisor

The single most important thing you can do is inform your academic advisors as soon as you begin to think about studying abroad. Don’t wait, even if you think you won’t leave for several semesters! Your academic advisor can help you choose courses strategically in the semesters leading up to your term abroad, allowing you the most flexibility in program and course selection when it’s time to apply and enroll. This can make all the difference in how easily study abroad fits into your degree program and meets your individual needs. To get you started, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You must take at least six credits of business courses while abroad.
  • You may take up to two courses maximum in your business major while abroad (except International Business which is unlimited). You should take the introductory “300” course in your major(s) on the UW-Madison campus, not abroad. Other “300” core courses can be good to save for your term abroad, however.
  • Business breath is the easiest requirement to fulfill abroad because so many different courses can fulfill this requirement. Save these two courses (or one course if you have more than one major) for your term abroad.
  • In most (but not all) programs, you may take non-business courses that will meet degree requirements in Ethics, Humanities/Literature, Science and Social Science. Consider saving some of these for your term abroad.
  • Comm B, Gen Bus 300, Gen Bus 301 and ethnic studies are virtually impossible to take abroad so you should plan to take these courses on campus at UW-Madison.

Here is an overview of what you need to complete here, and what you may be able to fulfill while abroad.

Here There
"300" core course for your major

Required "300" core courses outside your major

Comm "B" Business Breadth
Gen Bus 300 Social Science
Gen Bus 301 Humanities/Literature
Ethnic Studies Ethics

You can see many courses that have been offered in the past by going to the Study Abroad Programs webpage. Choose a program, click on the Academics tab and scroll down to Course Equivalents. Keep in mind that not all courses are offered each term. There also may be other courses offered which have not yet been equated with UW-Madison courses. After you have been selected for a program, you will be able to request equivalencies for additional courses through your MyStudyAbroad portal.

Visit the Contact Advisors and Staff page for more information on accessing and preparing for academic, study abroad, and leadership advising.

Select a Term to Study Abroad

It is not necessary—or even advisable in some cases—to wait until your junior year to study abroad. Many of our programs require you to have completed just 24 credits before you leave! Going earlier in your academic career gives you more flexibility in course selection—and allows you to bring your broadened perspective back for the rest of your college career!

It is not generally desirable to study abroad in your final semester—you can never be certain that you will be able to meet your final few degree requirements abroad, and the posting of your degree can be delayed for months until your host institution mails us your transcript. Still, it is sometimes possible with very careful planning.

Going abroad for fall, spring or summer is a personal choice unless there are required courses you can only take here in certain semesters. Many students prefer to be here in the fall for recruiting but your career advisor can help you prepare to apply and interview for jobs and internships while abroad. 

Select a Study Abroad Program

For some students, this is the most daunting aspect of considering study abroad - where to go! Others feel there is only one place for them. In either case, below are some important things to consider as you reflect on your destination. Some may be more decisive for you than others, but in the end no one else can make this decision for you.

Language Considerations

Instruction is in English in all but a few locations, so you don’t need to be fluent in a foreign language to study abroad on most WSB programs. Every year, many students successfully study in countries where they have not studied the language before. You might have a special interest in going where the language is one you have studied (even if not since high school), but if this is not a strong desire, you should consider other locations as well. Wisconsin School of Business has study abroad programs where the home country language is Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Location Characteristics

How far out of your comfort zone do you want to go? Where are you less likely to go later in your life? Western Europe is a common destination for college students, but we encourage you to consider a program in all parts of the world. You may find that the best program fit for you is in a different region of the world than you previously imagined. Buenos Aires or Bangkok? Seville or Shanghai? Maybe even Moscow! A less common destination can make you stand out more to employers, and exposure to an emerging economy may be even more helpful in your business career. 

Do you want bright lights/big city? Or a scenic rural area, where you’re not just “another American” and the outdoors beckons? Would you prefer the familiar anonymity of a major university, or the chance to get to know your professors and classmates well? Do you plan to travel frequently during the term? These may be helpful things to consider. International Programs staff can assist you in identifying a program that most closely aligns with your interests and preferences, so come on in to 3290 Grainger for study abroad advising!

Program Features and Dates

A few of our programs offer internship assignments for credit, and some offer a homestay housing option. Both of these can help you avoid spending your entire time abroad around other Americans!

Don’t assume that all programs begin and end around the same time as UW Madison—start and end dates vary considerably and may affect your availability for summer internships, for example. Some summer study abroad programs offer multiple sessions, running between 4 and 12 weeks, so you can build a schedule that works for you. Check the WSB Study Abroad Programs webpage for more detailed information on term dates.


Financial Considerations

Click on the “Cost” tab for different programs on the Study Abroad Programs pages, and you will see that program fees vary a great deal. The local cost of living is one reason; currency exchange rates are another. A categorical difference, however, is between “Exchange Programs” and “Affiliated Programs.” Participants on exchange programs pay regular UW Madison tuition. Non-exchange programs, through providers such as CIEE, are usually higher-priced, but include cultural excursions and on-site support staff dedicated to study abroad students. So look carefully at what is included in each program’s fee and make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Keep in mind too that there are sometimes program-specific scholarships which can offset a higher “sticker price.”

For resources and tips on financing your study abroad experience, visit the Financial Resources page.

Prepare your Application

International Programs offers a number of resources to help you prepare your study abroad application:

  • Drop-in advising, 3290 Grainger Hall, Monday – Friday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • “Business Badgers Study Abroad” workshops—register through Canvas
  • Individual appointments—available through Scheduling Assistant once you have attended drop-in or an application workshop

We encourage you to take advantage of these resources!

More information can be found on the Study Aboard advising page.

If you have thought carefully about why you want to study abroad and where, you have a good start on the most substantive part of the application: the essay. But don’t forget the basic requirements:

  • You must have completed at least 24 credits by the time you study abroad; for some programs, you must have completed at least 54 credits. You must be making satisfactory academic progress toward your degree
  • You must have completed at least nine credits of business or economics coursework by the time you study abroad (not by when you apply)*
  • You must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 to be considered for study abroad*
  • You must also meet any program-specific eligibility requirements, if any

*If you don't meet one of the eligibility requirements above, your application may still be considered on a case-by-case basis. Consider speaking with a study abroad advisor about how to strengthen you application before you apply.

Applications are reviewed for the maturity, flexibility and intellectual curiosity necessary for a successful study abroad experience as well as for academic preparation; however, the primary selection criterion is demonstrated interest in and rationale for your top choice program. Preference will be given to students admitted to the BBA or Certificate in Business programs. Additional consideration is given for prior relevant language or area studies coursework as well as compelling responses to the essay prompts. Students who have already had a semester abroad experience will be given lower priority. If you will travel on a non-U.S. passport, please indicate this on your application as a few programs are unable to accommodate passport holders of certain countries.

The priority application deadline for summer programs is February 1st. The final application deadline for summer and fall programs is March 1st. Spring programs have a priority deadline of March 1st. After March 1st, we will consider applications on a rolling basis for any spring spots remaining after the initial round of selections. (Spaces available will be updated regularly after the priority application deadline). We encourage all students to submit their study abroad application by the priority deadline, but this is of particular importance if your top choice is a bi-lateral exchange program, as all spaces may be filled in the initial round.

You are welcomed (but not required) to indicate as many as three additional program choices on your application in case you are not selected for your first choice. Please only list programs in which you would accept placement.

You will be notified of your application status within one month of the application deadline, or within one month of your application if submitted after the priority deadline. Upon notification of selection for a program, you will then have one month to confirm your participation and pay the program fee. Any subsequent request to change your program or term of study must be submitted in writing and will be considered only as space is available. The program fee may be transferred only to programs within the same academic year.

More Resources & Information

Students who have returned from study abroad can be an invaluable resource as you firm up your plans. Read firsthand accounts of students abroad on the Business Badgers Abroad Blog. Watch for announcements of special events such as the Business Badgers Study Abroad group advising sessions. More study abroad alumni welcome your questions through the Returned Participant Network

Finally, the International Programs Office in room 3290 Grainger Hall is staffed by students like you who have recently come back from a business study abroad program and are eager to help you through the process. Stop in any Monday through Friday between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to chat with a peer advisor. If you have already been selected for a program, you should schedule an appointment with your study abroad advisor through Scheduling Assistant.

To read more about cross-cultural communication, study abroad in general, and your destination in particular, check out this sampling of campus resources.

To learn more about studying abroad visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.