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Students with Disabilities

Group of students in IrelandChoosing an education abroad program is an important decision. Students with disabilities should be informed about accessibility and accommodations before making a final decision on a program abroad. Remember that other cultures may provide access and accommodations in a different way. 

Students should learn about what types of accommodation are typically available in their host country. Be flexible and open to considering different ways of accommodating needs.

If you haven’t already done so, register with the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD).

Communicate with your RCPD ability access specialist, your academic adviser, the director of the programs that interest you, and the education abroad coordinator who is responsible for your program of interest. Ask an array of questions that may play a role in your selection of a program, relative to both your academic interests and potential accommodation needs.

  • What is the environment like?
  • Where will you travel?
  • What are the housing arrangements?
  • What types of medical care are available?
  • What public transportation is available?

It may be helpful to talk to students with similar disabilities who have studied abroad. If there are no previous MSU participants with a disability similar to yours, RCPD or an Education Abroad Program Coordinator may be able to connect you with non-MSU students who have studied at the location of your choice.

After engaging with your program directors and your ability access specialist to discover which program is the best fit for you, follow the steps to apply for your program.

Request accommodations specific to your program. Work with your disability specialist to complete the Education Abroad Disability Accommodation Request Form. This should be done far in advance of your departure (at least 12 weeks) to ensure you are aware of accommodations that can be put into place. Please note that Education Abroad and RCPD staff will assist as much as possible, but cannot guarantee that accommodations you request will be feasible or available in the program to which you have applied. Accommodation requests made after you arrive in country may not be fulfilled.

If you take medications to manage your disability, please be sure to talk with your physician before departure to determine the availability of the drug in your host country.

Some common prescription medications in the U.S. are illegal abroad so also check with the embassies of the countries you expect to visit to make sure that your prescription and over-the-counter medications are permissible.

Remember that one of the most important qualities for any education abroad participant is flexibility. You are going abroad to experience a different way of life, which may include a different way of dealing with your needs and a different degree of independence than you are used to. It will be important to communicate your needs with program staff. It is equally important to consider alternative ways to meet those needs.

You should be prepared for the fact that ability/disability may be culturally defined. Attitudes toward persons with disabilities and levels of accessibility can vary greatly from country to country.


Offered in collaboration with the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, this special scholarship is dedicated to students with a documented disability who wish to participate in an education abroad program. The minimum award amount is typically $2,000. For more information visit Education Abroad Scholarship for Students with Disabilities