Studying abroad is an amazing experience, one in which you will grow academically and personally. The steps to get abroad take time and persistence, and the MSU Study Abroad team is here to assist you through it. Read about each phase of the study abroad process below


You have lots of resources for learning more about available opportunities and the study abroad process.

  • Advising hours are available throughout the week. Click here to find a time for you.
  • Attend Study Abroad Events like the annual Going Global Extravaganza and the Study Abroad Photo Contest

MSU offers different types of study abroad programs, so knowing the difference between them will help you in your search for the best program available.

Program Type Tuition / Fees Additional Fees?* Housing Federal Financial Aid applies? MSU Tuition Waivers apply? Scholarships apply? Minimum GPA Minimum Class Standing
Direct Exchange (DEX) MSU Tuition & Fees $50 MSU application fee; $150 MSU Study Abroad Fee  Varies  Yes  Yes  Most apply  3.0  Sophomore
ISEP Exchange MSU Tuition  & Fees $100 ISEP application fee plus $325 acceptance fee (once confirmed); $150 MSU Study Abroad Fee  MSU room & board Yes Yes Most apply  2.75  Sophomore
ISEP Direct  Varies - set fee $100 ISEP application fee plus $325 acceptance fee (once confirmed); $150 MSU Study Abroad Fee Varies  Yes  No Depends 2.75 Sophomore
CCIS Varies - set fee $50 MSU application fee; $150 MSU Study Abroad Fee Varies Yes No Depends  2.5-3.0  Sophomore
Faculty-Led Varies None  Varies Yes, if earning 6+ credits Depends  Depends 2.5 Depends
Direct Enroll Varies $50 MSU application fee; $300 MSU Direct Enroll Fee Varies Yes, if accredited No Depends 2.5  Sophomore


Direct Exchange (DEX) programs are exchanges between Montana State University and over 50 partners around the world.

  • Note: Some DEX programs have limited placements every semester and can be competitive.

ISEP is a network of 300 colleges and universities cooperating to provide affordable access to international education for a diverse student population. There are two types of ISEP programs:

  • ISEP Exchange
    • Note: Some ISEP exchange programs have limited placements every semester and can be competitive
  • ISEP Direct

CCIS is a partnership of colleges and universities which sponsor study abroad programs around the world.

Faculty-Led Short Term Programs are sponsored by MSU. You will study abroad with a cohort of MSU students led by a MSU faculty leader. Programs change every year and are offered during summer, with some winter and spring break programs available.

Direct Enroll options are available to MSU students who wish to participate in a non-affiliated, accredited study abroad program. Before applying to any non-affiliated program, you must confirm with the Study Abroad Office that the credits will be accepted by MSU. These programs are not listed on the MSU website.

*At the time of application, you will be asked to pay a $50 non-refundable application fee for Direct Exchange (DEX), CCIS and Direct Enroll programs. If you are applying for an ISEP program, there is a $100 application fee paid directly to ISEP. The MSU Study Abroad Fee or the MSU Direct Enroll Fee is charged to your MSU Student Account at the time of billing for the term abroad and is applicable to all program types except Faculty Led.

Once you have selected a program, there are multiple steps for applying to the program.

Step One: Create a My Global Connection Profile

Applications for any international program are online, so click here to create your My Global Connection account. MSU students may login with their MSU NetID and password.

Step Two: Attend an Advising Session

The MSU Study Abroad team provides drop-in advising hours every weekday. Attend one of these sessions to get more information on your study abroad program and how the process works. Click here for current hours.

Step Three: Request Application

Schedule an appointment with a Study Abroad Advisor to make sure you understand your program choice and the application process. Once you have had a one-on-one appointment, you can request the appropriate application to be uploaded to your My Global Connection account.

Step Four: Complete Application

Applications vary by program, but generally include an application fee, official transcript, essay, passport information, and academic references.

  • Spring program deadlines
    • ISEP Exchange - August 28
    • All other programs - September 15
  • Fall/Summer program deadlines
    • ISEP Exchange - February 10
    • All other programs - March 15
  • Faculty-Led Short Term Programs
    • Deadlines vary by program

Step Five: Interview and Nomination

All applicants will participate in an individual (DEX/ISEP applicants) or group (CCIS/Direct Enroll applicants) interview to be scheduled after the application deadline. Once the interviews are completed, you will be nominated by MSU to the host university.

Note: Interviews for MSU Faculty-Led Short Term Programs will vary depending on the program. You will be accepted by MSU and the Group Leader.

Step Six: Host University Application

Once you are nominated to the host university, you may be required to complete their application. Most universities have an online application and will communicate with you via email.

Step Seven: Host University Acceptance

After you complete the host university application, it can take up to 8 weeks before you receive notice of your official acceptance. Most universities notify you via email, so be sure to check your email regularly and read all emails from MSU Study Abroad and the host university so that you do not miss important deadlines and information. After you've been accepted, you'll be able to apply for housing and visas, if necessary.

Funding your study abroad program is an important consideration at any point during the planning process. Here are few things to remember:

  • Federal financial aid is applied to any accredited study abroad program
    • Depending on your financial aid award package, you may be eligible to receive additional funding to help cover the cost of airfare/transportation
    • A Study Abroad Budget and Financial Aid Agreement must be signed and submitted to the Office of Financial Aid to be considered for additional aid.
    • Your financial aid award package is unique to you, so be sure to meet with Julie Watson in Financial Aid to confirm how your aid applies to your study abroad program
  • MSU tuition waivers and scholarships only apply when you are paying MSU tuition (Direct and ISEP Exchange programs)
    • Meet with Julie Watson in Financial Aid to confirm how your aid applies to your study abroad program
  • The Study Abroad Team can provide you with an estimated budget sheet to help you plan
  • Visit the Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities page for information on additional funding for study abroad
  • The Office of Financial Education at MSU provides resources and coaching for budgeting, savings plans, and scholarship opportunities.

The courses you want or need to take abroad may determine where you can study abroad, but you do not need to finalize courses before you apply. Here are the steps for finding courses and getting them approved:

  1. Visit the host university's website for courses available, keeping in mind the terminology may be different (i.e. in the UK, courses are called Modules, and in New Zealand, they're called Papers).
  2. Compile a list of courses with descriptions you think meet your major/minor requirements.
  3. Meet with your academic advisor to discuss how those courses are equivalent to MSU courses - only your academic advisor can approve course equivalencies.
  4. Complete the Study Abroad Course Approval Form with your academic advisor prior to departure. Get more courses approved than you will take, as course offerings may change after you arrive at the host university.
  5. If you are taking MSU Core 2.0 requirements, the Registrar's Office must approve the courses on the Study Abroad Course Approval Form.
  6. Upload your completed Study Abroad Course Approval Form to your My Global Connection application or turn in to the Study Abroad office.

Often, course offerings change after you have submitted your course approval form. You may always submit an updated course approval form after you have returned from your study abroad program.

All grades will return to your MSU official transcript as Pass/Fail, based on the host university's grading scale.

Credit amounts for courses abroad may be different than MSU, so be sure you are enrolled in the equivalent of 12 US credits or more while you are abroad. This is to ensure compliance with immigration requirements abroad.

Once you have been nominated to a study abroad program, you'll start preparing for your time abroad. The MSU Study Abroad Team provides mandatory orientations prior to your departure to help you prepare. Click here for dates.

Pre-Departure Orientation is held every semester and all outgoing students are required to attend.

Travel Health and Safety Class is held in conjunction with the Pre-Departure Orientation, as well as offered various times during the second half of the semester. Click here to view upcoming travel health and safety classes and to connect with the MSU Travel Health Clinic.

Housing abroad is your responsibility. Once you have been formally accepted by the host university, you should be able to apply for housing. Be sure to read all emails that you receive from your host university so that you do not miss deadlines and important information.

Visas may be required to enter your host country and you can only apply after you have been officially accepted to the host university. While the MSU Study Abroad Team will assist in interpreting visa requirements, it is YOUR responsibility to apply and be in compliance with any visa regulations. To learn more about visa requirements, check the U.S. Department of State Travel website.

While you may feel like it takes forever to get on the plane that will take you to faraway places, your journey is really only just beginning.

Register side trips and excursions

Hopefully you won't stay in one place during your study abroad program, so make sure through your My Global Connection account you register any travel outside of the program. This way, if anything happens in a location where you are at, we'll know you're there and can help if needed. Click here for a step-by-step guide to register your travel.

Stay connected through Social Media

Don't forget, we're here if you need us!

Even if you've only been away a few weeks, you'll return to MSU with stories to share and a great sense of accomplishment. The MSU Study Abroad Team is here to help you transition back to life at MSU.

Transcripts - Semester/Year-Long or Summer Programs (Non Faculty-Led)

Official transcripts from host universities take time to be received and processed. Please allow at least one semester after you've returned for all the steps to be completed.

  1. International Transcript received by MSU Study Abroad
  2. Transcript evaluated by MSU Study Abroad - We must have the most up to date Study Abroad Course Approval Form for evaluation.
  3. Transcript sent to Registrar's Office for input onto your MSU transcript.
  4. 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.

Re-Entry and Reverse Culture Shock

According to What's Up with Culture, an online course for studying abroad, returning home brings its own set of stresses. The Study Abroad Team is here as a resource and there is never shame in seeking someone to speak about the social and psychological adjustments. For more information about reverse culture shock, participate in the free online course, What's Up with Culture.

Engage with Study Abroad

When you return to MSU, there are a lot of ways to share your experience and get involved with Study Abroad. Opportunities include the Global Ambassador Internship course, submitting photos to the annual Study Abroad Photo Contest, and volunteering at the Going Global Extravaganza and other events. Visit the Engage with Study Abroad page to learn more.