Frequently Asked Questions: MSU Student
The FAQs below are divided into the different phases of your study abroad journey. If you have additional questions please email [email protected]
Phase 1: Learn More
MSU offers 250 study abroad programs in over 60 countries. You can search for programs using the MSU Go Somewhere Search.
Yes, as long as the program is administered by an accredited higher education institution and official transcripts are issued at the conclusion of the program. Please meet with one of our study abroad advisors during drop-in advising to ensure the program is approved.
Studying abroad your senior year is not impossible although it may present some additional challenges. The main challenge is international transcripts can take up to six months to be received, evaluated, and inputted into degree works. You will need to wait for your study abroad credits to be inputted onto your MSU transcript before you can officially graduate. A student must be registered at Montana State University during the semester of their graduation. If you have returned from studying abroad and are just waiting for your credits to be inputted, you must submit an In Absentia Registration Form and pay a $30.00 registration fee in order to maintain MSU student status. Learn more about In Absentia student status by contacting the Registrar's Office.
Phase 2: Application Process
We are thrilled to hear you are wanting to move forward in your study abroad journey. Before we are able to issue you a study abroad application in your My Global Connection profile, you will need to do the following:
- Meet with an MSU Study Abroad Advisor
- Let us know ([email protected]) the study abroad program type you want to apply to - MSU Direct Exchange (DEX), ISEP Exchange, CCIS, or Direct Enroll.
- Let us know ([email protected]) the study abroad term(s) you want to apply for.
Unofficial transcripts obtained from MyInfo are acceptable for faculty-led programs only. All other programs require an official transcript in a sealed envelope or emailed directly from National Student Clearinghouse. Refer to your application for directions on how to order an official transcript.
Phase 3: Funding
When and where your bill is applied depends on which program you are participating in:
- MSU Direct Exchange & ISEP Exchange
- Your bill will appear on your MSU student account when you would receive your bill as if you were still attending school in Bozeman.
- Your bill is placed on your MSU Student Account. The timing depends on how quickly we receive the invoice from our partners. Please be patient as this can take some time. If you have questions on your specific timeline please email [email protected]
- ISEP Direct & Direct Enroll
- Your bill will not be placed on your MSU student account. Rather, you will be billed directly from the provider and make the payment to them. Check with the study abroad provider you are working with to see when and how you can pay your bill.
- Your bill will be placed on your MSU Student Account. They will be placed on your bill as soon as your program has been fully accepted and paid. This process can take some time and can be placed close to the start of your program. Email [email protected] for questions on your timeline.
The MSU Study Abroad Team is here to help you start the scholarships search. Study abroad scholarships are just like regular University scholarships. Visit the MSU Study Abroad Money Matters webpage to review the most up to date study abroad scholarships MSU and our partners offer. There are also some general scholarship search engines you can use to search for the scholarship that works best for you.
- FAFSA applies to all accredited study abroad programs.
- MSU tuition waivers and scholarships only apply to MSU Direct Exchange and ISEP Exchange programs.
Phase 4: Courses & Credits
Estimating credit transfers is tricky because we are not able to guarantee credit hour conversions prior to receiving your international transcript and evaluating it.
However, you can get an idea of credit conversions by reviewing the Montana State University Credit Hour Policy. At MSU, one credit of instruction should be 45 hours of combined direct instruction (counting a 50-minute class as 1 hour of instruction) and out of class student work. This means that every 15 hours of classtime will generally transfer back as one credit.
All study abroad credits will transfer back as pass or fail. If classes are passed while abroad, based on the host university's grading scale, they will not influence your GPA.
Usually, ECTS credits are double MSU credits. For example, 3 MSU credits are equal to 6 ECTS credits and any half credits would round up (ex. 3 ECTS = 1.5 MSU credits which rounds to 2 MSU credits). However, we are unable to guarantee this conversion prior to receiving the transcript from the foreign institution and evaluating it.
All study abroad students will automatically be enrolled in place holder credits for the term they are abroad. This maintains your MSU - Bozeman student status. Study abroad students do not need to register for MSU courses.
In most cases, students need to be enrolled as a full time student while abroad in order to be in compliance with host country immigration regulations. Some financial aid awards and scholarships also require students to be enrolled as a full time student while abroad. At MSU, a full time course load is 12+ credits for a semester term. In order to recieve federal financial aid for a summer program, students must be taking 6+ credits.
Phase 5: Pre-Departure
It is YOUR responsibility to apply and be in compliance with any visa regulations required by your host country. To learn more about visa requirements, check the U.S. Department of State Travel website.The MSU Study Abroad Office is not a visa nor an immigration specialist office; we are here only as a soft support to study abroad applicants in helping to interpret immigration compliance forms.
In some cases, in order for students to obtain a student visa they are required to prove (through bank documentation) that they have sufficient funds to cover daily expenses while abroad. This is done for the protection of students studying abroad to ensure they have the ability to appropriately fund their stay. When submitting bank documents know that immigration authorities do not need specific banking account numbers, just an official document that states the student's name and proves they have sufficient funds in their account. Account numbers should be blacked-out.
If you are going on an MSU Direct Exchange (DEX), ISEP Exchange, ISEP Direct, Letra Hispanica, CCIS, or Ritsumeikan summer program you will pay through MyInfo as if you were attending MSU for that term.
Direct Enroll programs you will pay the institution or third party provider directly.
Phase 6: While Abroad
Making changes to your course schedule is not a problem. We recognize that a degree of flexibility is required when taking classes abroad. Any course additions to your previously approved schedule will require an updated Course Approval Form. Your academic advisor or the Office of the Registrar will need to sign this form in order for it to be considered complete. Once you have a signed and updated Course Approval Form, scan and email it back to [email protected], and we will upload it to your My Global Connection profile.
There are a number of stakeholders that will need to approve any study abroad extension. Please let our office know as soon as possible to begin this approval process at [email protected].
Additionally, the following are factors that need to be considered when deciding to extend a study abroad experience: housing costs and availability, institutional extension fees, country visa requirements, and personal financial implications.
Your course registration date depends on the amount of credits you’ve earned. To view your registration date visit the Registrar's office website. To register, you need to contact your academic advisor to obtain your advisor pin, then log into your My Info account and register for classes as you normally would while at MSU. The Study Abroad Office does not have access to your Pin.
Your official transcript from your host university abroad will need to be sent directly to our office at the conclusion of your program. Please note that it can take at least one semester after your time abroad for your international transcript to be received, evaluated, transferred to your MSU transcript, and exceptions inputted on Degree Works. If you intend on graduating the semester directly following your study abroad term, and have not notified our office, please email [email protected].
Be sure to thoroughly check the final exam schedules at your host institution.
For Institutions that take final exams in early Janurary: if you receive approval from the host institution professor, department, and study abroad office MSU Study Abroad can help facilitate and proctor a final exam while back in Bozeman.
Phase 7: Re-Entry
Official transcripts from host universities take time to be received and processed. Please allow at least one semester after you've returned for all of the following credit transfer steps to be completed.
- International Transcript received by MSU Study Abroad. International transcripts must be received directly from the host intitution or study
abroad provider and will not be accepted from the student. A copy of your international transcript will be uploaded to your My Global Connection
account for personal use.
- Transcript evaluated by MSU Study Abroad - We must have the most up to date Study Abroad Course Approval Form for evaluation.
- Transcript sent to Registrar's Office for input onto your MSU transcript.
- Once they are entered onto your MSU transcript, the Exceptions Manager for your major will be able to enter exceptions on Degree Works based on your updated Study Abroad Course Approval Form.
Phase 8: Next Steps
Apply to become a Student Engagement Global Ambassador, or SEGA. SEGAs advise prospective study abroad students during office hours, Catapalooza, MSU Fridays, and more.
Enter the annual Study Abroad Photo Contest where fellow MSU students and staff vote on their favorite images from returned study abroad students.
Think about joining the Buddy Program, where current MSU students are paired with incoming foreign exchange students to help them acclimate to their new enviornment. Buddies foster community and intercultural exchange through participation in events like scavenger hunts, trivia nights, hikes, and more.