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Non-MSU Programs

Are you sure you don't want to participate on an MSU sponsored program? We have over 270 programs, in over 60 countries, on all 7 continents, so it may be advantageous to search through programs offered by MSU before deciding to participate on a Non-MSU program. If you would like help with this process, please come in for walk-in advising to talk to a Peer Adviser. We are located in room 108 International center.

The following tabs are meant to walk MSU students participating on Non-MSU education abroad programs. To ensure proper registration, transfer of credits, and financial aid distribution, please read the following carefully and complete the application materials.

The Office for Education Abroad will assist with the processing of the attached materials; all other services associated with participation in your program are the responsibility of the sponsoring institution/organization.

Non-MSU Program Participation

Priority Deadlines for Submission

Students who submit their Non-MSU materials by the priority deadlines will be eligible to apply for the Office for Education Abroad scholarships. 

Priority Deadlines
Summer Participation: February 15th
Fall semester or academic year participation: February 15th
Winter of spring participation: September 24th

Applications can still be submitted past the Office for Education Abroad priority deadlines. No Non-MSU materials will be accepted less than 30 days before departure.

It is your responsibility to follow to the program sponsor's application guidelines, participation procedures, and deadlines.

Michigan State University and the Office for Education Abroad assumes no responsibility or liability for programs not sponsored by Michigan State University.

Finding programs

When searching for a Non-MSU program, start by exploring the following links:

IIE Passport | Study Abroad
Diversity Abroad

Make sure that the university or organization issuing your transcript is an accredited institution of higher education; otherwise no credit earned on your program will transfer back to Michigan State University.

Things to consider

If you decide to participate in a non-MSU education abroad program, here is a list things to consider when making your selection:

  • Courses: Ask the provider for descriptions and course syllabi (if available), number of contact hours, curriculum, and instructor. This will help you figure out the academic rigor of the program as well as determining MSU equivalencies.

  • Host Institution: Although the sponsor for the program may be a U.S. institution, the actual classes and instruction may take place at a host institution. The students in your classes could be made up of students from the host country, international students from all over the world, other US students, or some combination of all three.

  • Housing: Find out as much as possible about the program accommodations from the program sponsor's website or printed materials. Housing options could include host family stays, apartments, or university residence halls. It is important to know if rooms are shared, what kind of transportation is available, and how far housing is from classrooms. Also, what, if any, communal facilities are available (bathroom, kitchen, recreation room, etc.).

  • Costs: It is important to figure out exactly what is covered and not covered as part of your program fee and what additional expenses you need to budget. Contact the sponsor directly for the most current information regarding costs and fees. Make sure you fully understand all of their policies and procedures, including payment deadlines and withdrawal refund policies.

  • Contacts: Is there person, street address, telephone, email, or website listed for your selected program? Make sure you have a way of getting in contact with the sponsor of your program should you have any questions. See if there is a way to contact past participants or search online for reviews to find out more information.

MSU will not support study in a country with a travel warning. Should you choose to study there, you will be allowed to transfer credit but not be awarded financial aid, scholarships, or insurance.

Transfer of Credits

Contact the program sponsor (university or provider) issuing the transcript to make sure it is an accredited institution of higher education.  If you have questions about this process, stop by the Office for Education Abroad to speak with a Program Coordinator.

Please be aware that MSU may NOT accept transfer credits from foreign language institutes, non-degree institutes, and non-recognized agencies abroad.  For example: if U of M sponsors a program at the Madrid Language Institute, and U of M is the institution that issues the transcript, MSU will accept the transcript. If the transcript is issued by the Madrid Language Institute, MSU will not accept the transcript.

Check the transfer MSU website to find out if the courses you have selected have been previously approved and have had MSU equivalencies determined.  You will need to complete a Course Approval Form with your academic adviser, providing course descriptions and syllabi to the departments to which you want to transfer credit. This process may take as long as 4-6 weeks to complete so allow yourself enough time and plan accordingly.

For example, if you are taking a chemistry course, speak with the chemistry department, even if you are a James Madison College major. Your academic adviser will guide you on how the courses fit into your program, but they are unable to evaluate and approve these transfer credits. Check the list of MSU college representatives to find out who can assist you with this process.

List more courses on your Course Approval Form (CAF) than you plan to take in case something happens and you need back up courses. Keep in mind that courses in which you earn less than a 2.0 cannot be transferred back to MSU. Registration and financial aid is based on the number of credits on your Course Approval Form.

Note to seniors: MSU seniors are only allowed to transfer 10 of their last 30 credits from an accredited four-year college or university. Exceptions to this rule may be made for up to a total of 15 credits, but arrangements must be made with the associate dean of your major college prior to your departure.

The Office for Education Abroad is not responsible for the transfer of credits to your MSU record. Make arrangements to transfer credits from your sponsoring institution to MSU before the end of your time abroad. A transcript from the sponsoring institution is required whether or not you complete or pass the course(s). Sponsoring institution course work must be listed in the Office of Admissions and Scholarships by the end of the semester following your education abroad.

If you took courses abroad that were not listed on your Course Approval Form, you will need to provide course descriptions and syllabi to the departments in which you want to transfer credit before processing can be completed.

Financial Aid

Submit the following items with your application if you are on financial aid:

Signed and completed non-MSU education abroad program cost estimate
Signed and completed single student financial aid agreement (fill out your name and PID on the appropriate line and send it to your host institution to complete the rest)
Signed and completed MSU student agreement on registration and financial aid for education abroad transfer credit

All payments should be made directly to the sponsor.

Once all application forms are submitted, the Office for Education Abroad will forward your program costs to the MSU Office of Financial Aid (OFA). Financial Aid will not be notified unless all completed forms are submitted to the Office for Education Abroad.

Remember that the Office of Financial Aid requires that you have a current FAFSA on file.

If MSU approves your academic plans and the institution through which you will study abroad is willing to cooperate with MSU's system, you should be able to apply almost any need-based or supplementary aid to your education abroad. This includes the MET (Michigan Educational Trust). 

You should be able to apply most need-based or supplementary aid to your program if:

  • You submit the appropriate non-MSU participation forms
  • The institution you are studying abroad through is willing to cooperate with MSU

MSU may place a hold on your account and require you repay all or part of the financial aid you received for education abroad if:

  • You withdraw from your program
  • You don't complete the contracted number of credits within one semester following your education abroad program.


The Office of Financial Aid will notify you of your award amount and funds will be disbursed directly to you for payment to the program sponsor. No holds or outstanding bills can be on your account before aid can be awarded.

Disbursement of aid cannot be made earlier than 10 days before the start of your program or the start of MSU classes for the semester you are going abroad, depending on whichever is the later date.

Your aid refund check will be mailed to your current address or directly deposited, if this is set up ahead of time. If you would like to have your funds deposited directly into your account, you should complete an online direct deposit form through stuinfo under the student accounts tab.

If you need to pay for airfare or the program prior to the arrival of your refund, contact financial aid (353-5940) to enquire about a short term loan.

In many cases, other institutions will take your MSU financial aid award letter as an indication of future payment and will defer your payments until you receive aid, but it is your responsibility to make such arrangements. Your sponsoring institution may offer loans to guest students. If applicable, send that institution your FAFSA and a completed form stating that you are in a degree-seeking program and are making satisfactory progress towards the completion of your degree.


Students who receive the Presidential Education Abroad Scholarship will not be able to use the funds for a non-MSU program. Contact your scholarship sponsors to see if your scholarships are applicable to non-MSU education abroad programs.

Non-MSU program participants may be eligible for some Office for Education Abroad scholarships. In order to be eligible to apply, however, you must submit your Non-MSU program participation materials to the Office for Education Abroad by the priority deadlines:

Spring Semester and Winter Break: September 24
Summer, Fall Semester or Academic-Year: February 15

Please note that some MSU awards for distinguished academic performance and for out-of-state students require that you receive MSU courses and grades and do not apply to programs with transfer credit, and are therefore not applicable to Non-MSU programs.

Safety Abroad

Office for International Health and Safety

Visit OIHS's Pre-Departure Health and Safety Preparation page for specific steps to follow prior to going abroad, including a printable pre-departure checklist. OIHS supports the health, safety, and security of all MSU international travelers. They can offer travel safety guidance and are available 24/7 to respond to crises. If you have any questions or concerns, contact: 

Maureen Handrahan
Coordinator | International Health and Safety
email: handraha(at)


Accident and sickness coverage is provided through GeoBlue and covered in your program fee ($100 or more depending on program length). GeoBlue provides supplementary health insurance, assistance in locating the nearest and the most appropriate medical care.

Safety Tips While Traveling Abroad

  • Maintain a high level of awareness and always travel with a buddy or a group
  • Alcohol consumption impairs judgment so consume legally and responsibly
  • Minimize time spend it large crowds, remain aware of exits when inside buildings
  • Regularly monitor local and international media to increase awareness of local events
  • Listen to the advice of local authorities and your host institution or program leadership
  • Do not participate in protests or demonstrations even those with peaceful intentions
  • Add important contact numbers - like the MSU 24/7 International Emergency Assistance Line - into your cell phone.

Emergency Contacts

24/7 MSU International Emergency Assistance Line: +1-517-353-3784
24/7 GeoBlue Health Insurance Assistance Line: +1-610-254-8771
*for immediate assistance, contact your destination local emergency number (911 equivalent)


Between now and your departure, and once you have left the U.S., it is your responsibility to stay informed about developments in the country/countries in which you will spend time (including any countries you'll visit that are not part of your education abroad program's itinerary). You can do so by checking the U.S. State Department's Web pageMSU will not support participation in non-MSU programs in countries with a travel warning.

How to Call Abroad

Returning to MSU

Remember that the Office for Education Abroad is not responsible for the transfer of credits to your MSU academic record. Make arrangements with your sponsor to send MSU a transcript before the end of your time abroad. A transcript from the sponsoring institution is required whether or not your complete or pass the course(s).

Follow the steps on the back of your Course Approval Form (CAF) to make sure your credits will transfer.

Your official transcript should be sent to:

Office for Education Abroad
Michigan State University
109 International Center
East Lansing, MI 48824-1035

The Office for Education Abroad will make a copy of the transcript for your file and send the original to the Registrar's Office.

If you took courses abroad that were not listed on your CAF, you will need to provide course descriptions and syllabi to the departments in which you want to transfer credit. They will complete the necessary paperwork on your behalf and notify the Office for Education Abroad.

Spartans Abroad

After you have returned from your program, look into the opportunities to share your experiences from abroad.

Steps for Participation

First Steps

  1. Follow the sponsoring institution's application process and deadlines carefully. A part of this process may request MSU approval. contact the Office for Education Abroad for more information: abroad(at)
  2. Complete the Course Approval Form (CAF) with your Academic Adviser
  3. Submit the Office for Education Abroad Non-MSU Education Abroad program participation forms as a part of your program participation. Completed participation forms can be emailed to abroad(at) or dropped off at the Advising Center, room 108 International Center.

Online Process

Submit the following documents to the Office for Education Abroad after you have been accepted on your program. You will be charged a non-refundable $100 application fee by Michigan State University (it is preferable that students submit all required forms at the same time):

  • Signed application information
  • Signed health form (submitted directly to the Olin Health Center and does not reside in the Office for Education Abroad application system)
  • Statement of responsibility
  • Review of the education abroad program Course Approval Form (Note: the application button for the course approval form will remain listed as “Pending” but you can still submit your application as long as you have opened the link)

The $100 non-refundable charge will be billed to your stuinfo account after your forms have been submitted. You will be registered for INP (International Programs) credits for the amount of credits you have indicated on your submitted forms to the Office for Education Abroad.

If you got more courses approved on your Course Approval Form than you plan on taking abroad, make sure you write down the actual number of courses/credits you plan on taking.

If you enrolled in courses at MSU for the period of your program abroad, this registration will be removed. This registration process is temporary and maintains your MSU enrollment and financial aid eligibility. The INP credits will be replaced with your transfer credits you are taking during your semester abroad.