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Study Abroad FAQs  |  Spring 2021 update  | Novel coronavirus updates

Study Abroad & COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: November 4, 2020


Will ASU students be able to study abroad in 2021?

Yes, in some cases. ASU and our partner institutions and study abroad provider organizations have cancelled a number of spring 2021 study abroad programs, including all spring break 2021 Global Intensive Experience programs. All affected students have been contacted through ASU email. However, ASU is currently moving forward with a number of other spring, summer and fall 2021 study abroad programs in destinations where student mobility from the United States remains possible. Students who wish to engage in an international activity, but who are unable to travel, may wish to consider our new Global Virtual Internships.

Has ASU cancelled any study abroad programs due to COVID-19?

ASU has cancelled all Spring and Summer 2020 study abroad programs. Programs starting Fall 2020 and beyond are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis. All affected students have been contacted through ASU email.

How does ASU make decisions about its study abroad programs?

ASU takes guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of State and our international security intelligence providers. When making decisions about specific programs, we also consider local conditions as well as input from peer institutions and our overseas partners. Prior to cancelling any study abroad program, we first explore all viable alternatives, including relocating the program to another destination.

What would happen if my Faculty Directed or Global Intensive Experience study abroad program is cancelled?

If the Faculty Directed or Global Intensive Experience program is cancelled before the program’s official start date, students will receive a full refund of all Study Abroad Office (SAO) fees. If the SAO cancels the program after its official start date, refunds will vary depending on a number of variables. While ASU will do its best to provide refunds as feasible, ASU will not be responsible for any personal expenses or losses incurred as a result of program cancellation (including, but not limited to, airfare, passport and visa fees).  In addition, we will provide as much support as we can to ensure the students’ ability to expeditiously depart the host country.

The SAO will work with all students who received a SAO Travel Grant, Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship, or Sun Devils at Work scholarship for a program that has been cancelled. Students should work with their International Coordinator for more specific details.

What would happen if my Partnership or Exchange program is cancelled?

Partnership and Exchange program participants are permitted to proceed with their plans to study abroad with the understanding that they do so at their own risk. Any financial loss incurred because of program cancellation, travel or health issues related to COVID-19 will not be reimbursed by the Study Abroad Office (SAO). Students are strongly encouraged to review the Traveler Health and Safety Resources, COVID-19 Cancellation and Withdrawal Policies, and the Acknowledgment of COVID-19 Health, Safety and Security Risk(s) within their online application before making any decision to proceed.

The following is a list of important considerations for students still interested in participating in Partnership or Exchange programs during the fall 2020 semester:

  • The current closure of U.S. passport offices and/or suspension of visa processing services by foreign governments may prevent students from obtaining a passport and/or visa (or residence permit) in time for travel
  • Travelers may not be able to enter the destination country based on current travel restrictions
  • A 14-day self-isolation/quarantine period is likely upon arrival in the destination country
  • Programs may be abruptly ended by the provider or host institution if conditions worsen
  • Travel restrictions may change while abroad, prohibiting students from returning to the U.S.
  • There may be a need to self-isolate upon return to the U.S.

The SAO will work with all students who received a SAO Travel Grant, Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship, or Sun Devils at Work scholarship for a program that has been cancelled. Students should work with their International Coordinator for more specific details.

How will I know if my program is cancelled?

The Study Abroad Office (SAO) will directly contact students with updates via email. The SAO reaches out to students’ designated emergency contacts only in very specific situations, such as when a student has been incapacitated or when we cannot reach the student. All members of the ASU community can find updates related to COVID-19 on this page, and at

What would happen if a student chooses to withdraw from a study abroad program that has not been cancelled?

ASU understands that personal tolerance for risk may vary, and that final decisions will be made between a student and his/her/their family. Fall 2020 study abroad participants will be subject to the terms of the COVID-19 Cancellation and Withdrawal Policies. Whether the decision is made before or after the program begins, students should contact the Study Abroad Office (SAO) for coordination assistance as soon as a decision has been made, and should notify their academic advisor of their choice as well. If a student chooses to leave a program already in progress and return home, we respect that decision. The SAO will work with our partners to try to support the student’s completion of their work with that program, but awarding of academic credit will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and is not guaranteed.

Can students planning to travel abroad even apply for a U.S. passport at this time?

You can still apply for a new or renewed U.S. passport, but unless you have a life-or-death emergency, you will experience delays before receiving your passport. U.S. Passport operations were significantly reduced in March 2020, temporarily suspending expedited passport processing and restricting service to cases involving life-or-death emergencies. As global conditions evolve and U.S. states begin to reopen, they are resuming operations in phases. Due to anticipated delays, if you are planning on studying abroad during Spring or Summer 2021, you are strongly encouraged to apply for a passport as soon as possible.

Refer to the U.S. State Department Update on U.S. Passport Operations for the most current information, and visit their Passport Agency and Center page to check on the status of passport agencies and centers. To see the current wait times to receive your passport and the return of your citizenship documents (such as previous passports and birth/naturalization certificates), please see the U.S. State Department’s Processing Times page.

Should ASU students purchase trip cancellation insurance and/or refundable airfare?

The Study Abroad Office (SAO) strongly recommends that students purchase fully refundable airline tickets and/or trip cancellation insurance to safeguard against losses or penalties associated with withdrawal or program cancellation. The SAO assumes no responsibility for such losses or penalties.

What should students expect when studying abroad during the coronavirus pandemic? 

Students should anticipate that their experience abroad could be different than they may have originally imagined. Keep in mind the following as you set expectations for a term abroad:

  • Independent Travel: Independent travel outside of the city and/ or country you are studying abroad in may be limited. Country borders may be closed, quarantine measures may remain in place, and there may be sudden changes to countries entry and exit requirements. Do not make plans for travel outside of your host country.
  • Quarantine: Your semester abroad may include a 2-week quarantine in the event that you or another student (or faculty or staff member) are exposed to the coronavirus.
  • Academic Experience: Many programs and universities are implementing a hybrid online/in-person format for the upcoming semester. Be familiar and comfortable with both formats. There may be sudden changes to the academic format of your program and additional rules / restrictions may be put in place within the classroom spaces.
  • Social Experience: You may find that you are one of few study abroad participants on your program. In some cases, you may be the only participant on your program. You may have limited opportunities for in-person interactions with others.
  • Program Excursions and Activities: If your program typically offers excursions or other extra-curricular activities, these may be more limited than in previous years. Excursions may be altered or canceled while you’re on-site to adjust to current health and government recommendations. 

Who can I contact about study abroad and COVID-19?

For questions related to a specific study abroad program or student, contact the ASU Study Abroad Office.  Media inquiries should be directed to

What resources does ASU recommend for reliable updates regarding COVID-19?

  1. ASU Health Services 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Info
  3. World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Info
  4. U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories
  5. CDC Travelers' Health Info