International Students

International students, you are a valued part of the UCSC community who take a big step to pursue a degree away from your home countries. Being a student from a globally recognized university system will unlock access to many new learning, research, internship, and volunteer opportunities. In turn, these new experiences will open up a world of endless possibilities for you. 

If you are interested in studying abroad or away while at UCSC, you should know that most global learning programs are non-competitive, (though some might be limited capacity) meaning that you are not competing against anyone for your spot in a program. All you have to do is make sure you are eligible by looking over the program’s eligibility requirements. These requirements will always include class standing (based on credits, not year) and cumulative GPA. Sometimes they might require course prerequisites, language level, and language GPA, for example. 

While it is possible for degree-seeking international students to study abroad/away during your time at UC Santa Cruz, International Student Services and Programs (ISSP) strongly recommends against studying abroad/away during your last quarter before graduating. To go overseas, you will need to work with both a Global Learning Advisor and an International Student Advisor. Once you have chosen a program, it is essential to contact ISSP so you can speak with an International Student Advisor about:

  • Maintaining your F-1 or J-1 status
  • Re-entry into the United States
  • Obtaining the proper documents and signatures
  • F-1 employment eligibility

Please be sure to inform an International Student Advisor of the length of time you will be abroad and how your enrollment in UCSC credits may change. Depending on your situation, you may or may not be able to maintain F-1 status while you are abroad and away, so it’s important to meet with an ISSS advisor to fully understand all the implications of your global learning program before you make your final decision.

Note: Studying on programs outside of the UC is possible but requires extra paperwork. Consult with ISSP for more information. 

A Word About Visas

As part of the planning process for global learning, make sure you understand all entry requirements to your intended destination and for countries outside of the program that you wish to visit. Depending on your country of citizenship, you may be required to obtain a visa for the host country. In some cases, international students may be required to return to their home country to apply for a visa. Research what documents you will need to enter foreign countries as well as what you will need to re-enter the United States. Unfortunately, UCSC Global Learning cannot advise on non-U.S. visas. We recommend contacting the nearest embassy or consulate and only looking at direct government websites (.gov). We discourage using visa websites or companies that request payment as these can sometimes be scams, but if you insist on using one make sure to research it thoroughly.

Tips for a Successful Global Learning Experience:

  • For re-entry to the United States after your global learning experience has ended, make sure that you have a valid passport that will expire no earlier than 6 months into the future, a valid U.S. visa, and your most recent I-20/DS-2019 with a valid travel signature. More information can be found on the ISSP Travel & Reentry webpage.
  • Keep your visa current and plan ahead. You will need a valid U.S. visa to come back to the U.S., so make sure that you have all the necessary updates before departure. If your F-1 or J-1 visa is going to expire while you are abroad, make arrangements to apply for another F-1 or J-1 student visa.
  • Start applications early. You want to make sure you leave plenty of time for your visas to process. The sooner you apply, the better.
  • Make plans for all countries you will travel to and through. If you want to travel outside of your program, research ahead of time what visas (tourist, transit, etc.) you may need. 
  • Keep in communication with your UCSC ISSP Advisor. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

Global Learning Doesn’t Have to be International: Programs in the U.S.

The U.S. is a country rich in diversity. Did you know that there are also study abroad or away programs in the U.S. to choose from? Such programs include those designed for all UC Students during the academic year: UCDC, UC Sacramento UC Ecology and Natural Reserves Program, and the UC Intercampus Visitor Program. There are also UC Summer Away options offered in the U.S. And, if you would like further convincing, feel free to read the article Don’t Study Abroad, Study America

Student Perspectives and Resources 

Last modified: Dec 14, 2023