Policies & Procedures

Study Abroad Policies & Procedures

Student policies are updated annually and included in the MSU Academic Bulletin. For 2015-16, these are found in the Academic Degrees and Programs section on pages 70-74.

Application & Student Selection Process

All MSU students are eligible to apply to study abroad if they are in good academic and disciplinary standing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.00. Eligibility and requirements for individual programs will vary and may be determined by the program director or program provider. This may include a higher GPA requirement, course prerequisites, language fluency, and/or other requirements as determined by the program. This information is available for providers on the provider website and for MSU programs online at murraystate.edu/educationabroad. Participants enrolled as students at MSU who do not also have faculty, staff, or alumni status must participate in study abroad as a student or intern earning credit for the study abroad program.

Application Requirements
A completed application will include an MSU application through the online application system, which may require an essay, reference, and transcript. Additional application components such as proof of language proficiency may apply for specific programs as determined by the program or provider. Application to a study abroad program does not automatically assume admission to the program. All application components, including disciplinary standing with Murray State University, will be taken into consideration for program approval. Applicants to provider programs will require a separate application to the provider. Applicants to provider programs must complete and submit both the MSU and provider applications to have your application to the study abroad program considered complete. Your provider application may also have additional essay, audition, language proficiency, or prerequisite requirements for admission.

Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Complete applications will be reviewed by the appropriate selection committee. Selection committees consist of the leadership of the program applied to as well as a representative of the Education Abroad Office (EAO). Interviews may be requested. Admission is competitive and not guaranteed. Admission decisions cannot be appealed. Applicants to provider programs will be subject to provider selection standards.

Exchange Program Selection
Applicants to MSU Exchange Programs will be interviewed at MSU by a committee of faculty and professional staff. If nominated to participate in the exchange, the application is then submitted to the exchange university for full review and approval. Failure to submit any additional materials required for the exchange in a timely manner will result in rejection by MSU to the exchange program. Final admission decisions are made by the exchange university and issued directly to the student and simultaneously to the EAO. Exchange admissions will fall on the admission schedule of the exchange university. The MSU EAO has no control over when this will take place or what the outcome will be. Admission decisions cannot be appealed.

Conditional Admission
In some cases conditional admission may be issued to an applicant. This means the applicant must meet specific conditions within a certain time frame in order to be fully admitted to the program. If these conditions are not met within the specified time allotted, the applicant will be rejected from the program.

Some programs are in high demand and may receive more applications than space available. A waitlisted applicant may be moved to full admission should a fully admitted applicant drop out of the program far enough in advance of program departure.

An application may be rejected for several reasons including, but not limited to: cumulative GPA below 2.00, poor academic or disciplinary standing at MSU, an incomplete application, poor reference, or inadequate academic connection to the program course(s).

Admission decisions are sent via email to the email address provided in the MSU online application. Once admitted to a study abroad program, it is the responsibility of the participant to login to the online application to complete the Post-Acceptance steps for their program. The Post-Acceptance deadlines are posted on the EAO website at murraystate.edu/studyabroaddeadlines. Post-Acceptance steps not completed by this date will have a Study Abroad HOLD placed on their MSU account until completion is final.


Registration for courses is the responsibility of the participant. Until participants are registered for appropriate courses at MSU financial aid and study abroad scholarships cannot be released for any program. Program fees may not be placed onto a participant account until registration is complete. This does not mean that participants are not enrolled in the program, but that they are not officially registered to receive academic credit. Registration requirements vary by program and are detailed by program below

Exchange/CEA/ISA/Non-MSU Program Scheduling:

  • Students on these semester programs will enroll in a section of INT 310 to make up a total of 12 credit hours for semester students, thus showing full-time enrollment. If a participant is both taking a web course with MSU and studying abroad for a semester, then the web course plus an INT 310 section for 9 hours will result in full-time enrollment.
  • Students participating in these summer programs will enroll in INT 310 credit hours that match the number of credit hours - or as closely as possible - that is being taken while abroad. For example, a participant taking 6 credit hours of language in Chile for the month of June will enroll in INT 310 for 6 credit hours for that same time period at MSU.

INT 310 is a placeholder course that enables financial aid and scholarships to be released to a student account. A grade of 'R' will be issued for the INT 310 course at the end of each semester. When an official transcript is received from the university abroad, the INT 310 course will be replaced with the courses taken abroad.

MSU Signature Faculty-Led Program Scheduling. Students participating in short-term MSU Signature Faculty-Led programs will take a pre-departure course or a post-program course, or both, that will be tied to the program abroad. Both the pre/post course and the program abroad will count toward the course grade and attendance and active participation in both will be required. Course enrollment will be determined as follows:

Semester Faculty-Led Program Scheduling. Semester faculty-led students will enroll in MSU courses, creating a schedule on MyGate that shows regular semester MSU courses that are taught in the location abroad.

Winter Faculty-Led Program Scheduling. Winter programs are scheduled as a second-half fall semester course. Your program description in Horizons and your faculty will have this information for you to ensure you enroll in the correct course.

Spring Break Faculty-Led Program Scheduling. Participants in spring break programs will schedule for a full spring semester course according to the MSU spring schedule of classes.

Summer Faculty-Led Program Scheduling.

  • Participants in summer programs that conclude within two weeks of the close of spring semester will be scheduled in their study abroad course for the second-half spring semester term.
  • Participants in summer programs that do not conclude within two weeks of the close of spring semester - "true summer" will be enrolled in INT 310 for 0 credit hours for the second-half spring semester term, when their class will begin meeting. Additionally, participants in "true summer" programs will enroll in the content course for the summer session that most closely matches the dates of the program abroad. Enrollment in both of these ensures compliance with state and federal regulations and allows release of MSU program billing and support funds through federal aid or scholarships.

CCSA program Scheduling. CCSA courses are credited through Western Kentucky University (WKU) unless you are taking a course offered by an MSU faculty member. It is the participant's responsibility to complete all requirements with WKU to ensure proper course enrollment. Students enrolling in CCSA courses taught by MSU faculty will enroll at MSU and not at WKU. See the Course Credit and Grade Transfer section to ensure you have completed requirements for course transfer. Students who do not seek appropriate credit may be expelled from the program or not receive academic credit upon return.

IBS/IPAI Program Scheduling. Students participating in these programs will register for classes at MSU under the MSU faculty they were recruited by for the program.

KIIS Program Scheduling. Students participating in KIIS programs will have a Concurrent Enrollment form completed for them by the KIIS Head Office and sent to the MSU Transfer Center. This form is a placeholder for MSU that shows the student is participating in a study abroad program and earning credit through WKU. With this form in place, no other scheduling at MSU is required.

Course Credit & Grade Transfer

It is the responsibility of the participant to understand prior to studying abroad how the course(s) they wish to take will figure into graduation requirements. Credit is not automatic. Students must follow the appropriate procedure for their program as detailed below. Students who do not obtain credit approval prior to the start of the program may be rejected or expelled from a program and/or fail to receive academic credit upon return.

Students who take courses abroad that have not been pre-approved are not guaranteed credit upon return. Students should make sure they do not enroll in courses on their study abroad program that will count for courses at MSU that have already been completed. If a course is transferred back to substitute for an MSU course that was already completed, MSU's repeat policy will be followed.

Course approval and registration must be completed prior to student orientation and program departure in order to receive credit for the program. Courses will not be created or re-created for a student after a program has been completed.

Course Approval
It is vital that participants in all study abroad programs understand prior to studying abroad how the courses they wish to take will transfer back to MSU and figure into graduation requirements.

Faculty-Led Signature Programs (including IBS and IPAI). Students participating in Faculty-Led Signature programs enroll in regular MSU courses that appear on MyGate registration as such. No additional paperwork is required. Registration is the responsibility of the participant and will not be done by the EAO or any other party on the student's behalf.

Exchange/CEA/ISA/Non-MSU Programs. Students must complete the Anticipated Evaluation of Credit (AEC) form with their advisor to ensure a proper substitution at MSU exists for which credit can be gained toward graduation. It is the responsibility of the participant to discuss credit with the advisor and gain all written approvals in the allotted time frame. The AEC guarantees credit only for the courses that are listed on the form. Students who take courses abroad that have not been pre-approved through the AEC are not guaranteed credit upon return.

KIIS Courses. KIIS course approvals are listed on the program descriptions in the MSU Horizons system. It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure enrollment with KIIS into WKU courses that will transfer back to MSU as courses that have not already been taken at MSU. If a course is transferred back as an MSU course that was already complete, the MSU repeat policy will be followed.

CCSA courses. Students participating in CCSA study abroad programs must complete an Anticipated Evaluation of Credit (AEC) form with their advisor in order to receive full course approval. The AEC approval process must be completed prior to student orientation and program departure in order to receive credit for the program. Students who do not seek appropriate credit may be expelled from the program and/or fail to  receive academic credit upon return. Students who enroll in CCSA courses taught by MSU faculty do not need to complete the AEC and will be registered at MSU for their course. Students enrolling in CCSA courses taught by non-MSU faculty will have their courses credited through Western Kentucky University (WKU). A WKU transcript will be sent to MSU at the close of the CCSA program to be configured into the MSU gpa and accounted for on the MSU transcript. Courses will not be created or re-created for students after the program start date.

Study abroad courses taught by MSU faculty are submitted directly to MSU. This submission may not meet the regular submission schedule. However, some students may receive an "Incomplete" grade until the program and course assignment deadlines are completed. It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure that all materials/coursework are submitted by the MSU deadline to have their earned grade submitted for the program course(s).

Grade Transfer
All grades received from foreign or domestic institutions on behalf of MSU students who earn college credit will be calculated into the MSU cumulative grade point average (GPA). If letter grades are received, these will be configured into the MSU GPA. In order to receive pass/fail credit for study abroad courses, the transferring institution must send the grade report in the form of pass/fail without letter grades.

Study abroad grades are received directly from program providers and institutions abroad and cannot be reported by the participant. Grades will be issued via paper and mailed by the institution reporting the grades. The academic calendars of study abroad programs do not traditionally match the MSU academic calendar. As such, grades are often received after the following semester has begun at MSU.

Until the student’s transcript arrives the student’s MSU status may not show satisfactory academic progress. As a result, Federal Financial Aid and Scholarships may be held until the transcript is received and grades/credit posted to the academic record. This does not mean that these funds will be revoked by MSU, but until a transcript is received that confirms satisfactory academic progress (SAP) has been met, funds will not be available for use.

Grade Appeals
If a participant wishes to appeal a grade, this appeal must take place with the program provider and faculty member who issued the grade. MSU cannot change grades issued by another institution.


Exchange Program Fee
Exchange program students will be billed partially or in full at MSU for the exchange program fees. The Horizons program description details which fees will be charged at MSU. Full-time semester tuition is charged at MSU at the rate normally applied to the participants' status at MSU as an undergraduate in-state or out-of-state or graduate in-state or out-of-state student. Additional charges for MSU web classes taken while on the exchange program will apply. Additional fees may or may not include room, board, excursion fees, visa fees, and other exchange program charges. When a program fee is not charged to a student account or does not include room and board, these expenses will be paid by the participant on-site.

MSU Signature Program Fee
Students will be billed to their MSU account for the Signature program fee. MSU billing can be set up on a payment plan through the MSU Bursar's Office. Setting this up through myGate is the participant's responsibility.  Billing is not applied to a participant account until the participant registers for the study abroad class. It is possible that class registration will take place after bills have been sent out by the Bursar's Office. It is the student's responsibility to check their myGate account and make payments on time for their study abroad program. Billing timelines are set by the Bursars Office and follow this schedule.

Signature Program Tuition
Students on MSU Signature Programs will have tuition assessed as follows:

  • Fall/Spring Second-Half Semester and Spring Break Courses for Undergraduate Students: Tuition is charged to the MSU account at your regular full-time tuition rate. Students taking fewer than 12 on-campus hours will be assessed an additional per hourly rate for the study abroad course. This means that students taking web classes to meet full-time credit hour requirements but taking fewer than 12 hours on campus will be assessed tuition charges based on the instructional method (traditional or web) for the study abroad course(s).
  • Summer Courses: Students will enroll in the summer course and will have their tuition waived for the program course(s).

Fall/Spring Second-Half Semester and Spring Break Courses for Graduate Students: Students will incur additional tuition charges for their second-half semester and spring break study abroad course.

Provider Programs Tuition
Undergraduate participants in provider programs will not pay additional tuition at MSU for their provider program abroad. Graduate student participants will be charged tuition at MSU when registered at MSU for a winter, semester, spring break, or second-half semester course. Graduate students will not be charged MSU tuition when they are registered at a provider receiving a transcript from another institution. Graduate students will not be charged summer tuition when registered at MSU for summer study abroad courses.

Program Withdrawal

For full program withdrawal, an applicant must submit in writing his/her intention and reason for withdrawing from a study abroad program to BOTH the MSU EAO and to the program provider (if applicable). It is the responsibility of the student to drop classes or withdraw from their study abroad classes through their myGate when withdrawing from the program. Lack of participation in class or failure to pay program fees does not constitute program withdrawal. Until written notification is received in the EAO and the applicant receives a confirmation email from EAO, approved applicants are considered full participants in the program and billing will remain on the student account. Spring Break program participants who attempt to drop the class after the program abroad experience will receive an E for the course.

Participants withdrawing from a program after the withdrawal deadline, found at the Deadlines page, will be assessed any fees that cannot be recovered for the program. This may be up to the full cost of the program. Withdrawal fees will be charged to the participant's MSU account. Withdrawal fees will apply whether or not the full program fee has been applied to the student account by the withdrawal date.

Withdrawal or expulsion from programs while abroad will result in a failing course grade. Course grades for medical withdrawals will be considered on a case by case basis. Withdrawals or expulsions taking place while abroad will receive no program refund and the cost of returning home will be at the participant's expense.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

To apply Federal Financial Aid to a study abroad program, participants must be taking courses in the program that will count toward graduation requirements. Participants who have received the maximum Federal Financial Aid eligibility during the fall and spring academic year may not be eligible for additional semester or summer aid for study abroad. To be eligible for summer aid participants must complete a FAFSA for the current academic year if it is the first time requesting federal financial aid. Participants who are eligible for and have not yet met the maximum Pell for the academic year could receive Pell for the study abroad program.

Participants receiving study abroad scholarships and Federal Financial Aid will receive them as an award on their MSU myGate account. If the MSU account has a zero balance, awards will then be used to cover study abroad fees that are applied to the MSU account. For provider programs, these fees may be sent to the provider from MSU if a Promissory Note is completed with the Bursar's Office. It is the participant's responsibility to ensure that study abroad fees are paid in full prior to departure. Participants who receive a refund of any kind are encouraged to check their myGate account and the program provider account to ensure there is a zero balance prior to utilizing refunds for other expenses.

Participants on summer programs must be enrolled for at least 6-credit hours for the summer term to be eligible for federal student loans. Participants may meet this 6-hour requirement by enrolling in a 3-credit hour study abroad program in addition to a summer session at MSU.

Study Abroad Scholarship Application

In order to be considered for the study abroad scholarships administered within the Education Abroad Office, students must first complete the online study abroad application. The online scholarship application becomes available after the program application status is either "pending" or "approved." Applicants must submit all required pieces of the application in order to be considered for scholarship funding. Incomplete applications will not be considered under any circumstances.

Study Abroad Scholarship Eligibility

Eligibility guidelines for study abroad scholarships are specified at the Funding page. Guidelines may include a minimum GPA requirement, specific major requirements, or financial need requirements. Applicants should apply only only to those scholarships for which the eligibility requirements are met. Students who do not meet the minimum eligibility requirements will not be considered.

Study Abroad Scholarship Selection
Applications will be reviewed by a committee. Award notifications are made via email to the email address provided in the online application approximately two weeks after the scholarship deadline. Scholarships are competitive and applicants should make every effort toward submitting the best application possible for the greatest chance to receive funding. Applications found to have falsified information will be disqualified for scholarship funding of any kind.

Current MSU Scholarship Recipients
MSU students receiving scholarships through the regular scholarship awarding process at MSU should know the following important information:

  • Participants in an MSU Signature semester program may use tuition awards toward the tuition charges applied to the MSU account for that semester.
  • Students in the Honors College may use 25% of their academic year merit scholarships for any semester provider study abroad program.
  • Students who are not in the Honors College may not use any portion of their MSU merit scholarships for provider programs.
  • Regular MSU scholarships are not provided during any summer study, whether that study is domestic or international. As such, these funds cannot be applied to summer study abroad.
  • The housing portion of a Presidential Fellowship and the Marvin D. Mills Scholarship may be available for use on MSU Signature semester programs. Students receiving these funds should speak with the Scholarship Office to verify if their housing award is available for the study abroad program.

Outside Scholarship Sources
Students who have been awarded funds from outside sources must inquire directly with those sources and/or the Office of Financial Aid/Scholarships to verify what portion of funds may be available to apply to study abroad fees.

Travel Warning for Certain Countries

According to the website of the U.S. Department of State (travel.state.gov), Travel Warnings are issued by the U.S. Department of State:

            "when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff."

Understanding that the DOS issues Travel Warnings for parts of a country and not the whole, MSU supports study abroad programs taking place in countries with a travel warning if the following are in place: 

  • the formal geographic region of study must take place in a location that is NOT under a current Travel Warning; and
  • program providers, or MSU faculty if the program is a Faculty-Led MSU Signature Program, must provide proof that insurance coverage is valid in the country and region of study; and
  • program providers, or MSU faculty if the program is a Faculty-Led MSU Signature Program, must provide full exit strategy and warning details to the MSU Study Abroad Office and to participants; and
  • program travel for sponsored excursions must not take place in the geographic region under the Travel Warning; and
  • participants, providers, and MSU faculty shall not travel independently or as part of a program activity to the geographic region under the Travel Warning; and
  • participants and MSU faculty agree to sign a Travel Warning Release Form prior to travel to the country.

Passport & Visa

It is the responsibility of the program participant to obtain and maintain a valid passport and visa (where applicable) for all travel and study abroad. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the return date of your program abroad. Failure to do so may mean the inability to travel abroad for participation in the study abroad program. Students who do not comply with this international requirement will not receive a program refund and Federal Financial Aid and study abroad scholarships will be partially or fully revoked due to the inability to begin and/or complete the course. To determine if the country of study requires a visa and to determine visa costs and procedures, see the Consulate website of that country.


Participants may travel via personal vehicle, commercial airlines, and other public and private transportation both stateside and abroad. During this travel participants will be subject to airline and TSA rules, and rules and regulations of foreign entities, which may change at any time without notice.

Transportation delays or cancellations are not the responsibility of MSU or the program provider. Cancellations and delays may result in the loss of program time abroad and/or the cancellation of activities without refund to the participant. MSU and/or the program provider will make every possible effort to work with airlines and other transportation providers to reschedule travel that affects program length and activities as little as possible.


It is the responsibility of the study abroad participant to:

  • Adhere to the MSU Student Life Handbook and Policies; and
  • Communicate in a timely manner with the EAO, program provider (if applicable) and faculty member at the contact details provided in the application; and
  • Provide a personal email address that belongs to the participant and check that account regularly for information requests, program status reports, and/or other updates; and
  • Complete all application and program materials him/herself; and
  • Read all program materials; and
  • Provide accurate and correct information to the best of his/her knowledge and complete all mandatory components of the application and post-acceptance by the indicated deadlines; and
  • Attend mandatory study abroad orientation; and
  • Comply with the laws of the foreign country; and
  • Comply with the rules and regulations of the university of study and/or the program provider and attend all program and class activities; and
  • Obtain the appropriate approval for courses in writing prior to participation in the program; and
  • Notify the EAO in writing of a decision to withdraw from the program, paying any unrecoverable costs already spent on their behalf if withdrawal takes place after the Withdrawal Deadline; and
  • Complete required forms and processes required by the offices of MSU, including but not limited to, the Offices of Financial Aid, Scholarships, Registration, and Housing, and maintain full-time status while abroad in order to ensure applicability of scholarships and financial aid both for the program and upon return to MSU; and
  • Purchase travel insurance the covers the duration of the program.

Misconduct abroad will become part of a participant's permanent Murray State University disciplinary record. Visiting students on MSU programs will have their home university notified in the event of disciplinary action against the student. Resulting charges including but not limited to property damage, excessive use of electricity where applicable, mistreatment of property, lack of cleaning, and personal charges to MSU program faculty, directors, or accounts will result in a direct financial charge to the participant's MSU account to cover this charge in full.

Conduct that interferes with or inhibits the experience of others, both participants and non-participants, whether in residential settings, classrooms, and any public domain, including during independent travels, could be grounds for expulsion from the program. Frequent intoxication and use of illegal substances as defined by United States statute will result in expulsion from the study abroad program. Engagement in risky activities such as vehicle rental or extreme sports is at the participant's own risk. It is the participant's responsibility to determine whether any travel insurance will cover these activities.

Expulsion will result in failure of the courses taken on the program, regardless of expulsion date, including expulsions made prior to the Murray State University Drop Date. Expelled students will be sent home immediately at their own expense regardless of visa classification or on-site grace period allowance. In case of expulsion, MSU will notify the Emergency Contact person listed in the study abroad application. Expulsion details will become a permanent part of the MSU disciplinary record and will require a meeting with the MSU Disciplinary Officer upon return to Murray State to resume studies.

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