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General program information

Q: What are the programs really like?
Our programs are adventurous, environmentally and socially oriented, active and academically rigorous. They demand a high degree of commitment and involvement from students. We spend at least half our time in the field. We build relevant activities into our schedule to get students into many of the best parts of the country, be they bridge climbing, kayaking, hiking, swimming with dolphins, cultural events or otherwise exploring so students don’t miss out on the best that the places we visit have to offer. Over the years we have worked hard to get the right balance between time studying and time off, because both are very important to everyone getting the most out of their experience. To meet the goals of both it means long, busy, hectic days. These are not “immersion” programs. While we do make time to talk with and get to know the “locals,” and on many programs we have short homestays built into the experience, we spend much of our time with the ASU group, including the faculty and other students. As a result you will come back with very strong friendships with other ASU students (some of the strongest of your life), as well as knowing some ASU faculty well. We are also usually a diverse group, with different majors, and that diversity is what makes the dynamics of our programs interesting.

Q: Will I have free time?
 The program itineraries include group activities, some of which are tourist staples (see the program itineraries). We work hard to get the right balance between class time and free time and students will have some time to explore and experience, some free days to travel and some time to catch up on laundry. But otherwise, it’s a full-on 24/7 travel and academic experience. Also, it is emphatically not a vacation. We recommend for this reason that students expecting a vacation experience travel before or after the program for this purpose.

Q: How many credit hours can and must I take?
There are a minimum number of credit hours students must take on each program. Please see the program-specific pages for details.

Q: Does this program work with my major? Can I attend as a freshman? 
Our program topics generally transect the main thematic foci of our school: health, culture, environment, globalization, long-term history, science and technology and cities. The programs are designed to be general, though, in that no prior knowledge of the subject areas is assumed and the courses and programs are very suitable for first year, as well as more senior, students. We have majors of all sorts participating and the programs are designed to support a wide variety of interests, such as business, culture and identity, English, law, journalism, communication, nursing or the social sciences, including global health and anthropology. The best prerequisites are curiosity, open-mindedness and a sense of adventure. 

Q: How can I select and enroll for courses?
 You will be asked your course selections when you apply, but there will be follow-up on this once you are in the program and you have a chance to change your mind. This can occur later than for on-campus classes, so patience is sometimes required.

Q: Is attendance at classes mandatory?

Q: I have low grades or am on academic probation: Is that a problem?
A: Students with a GPA below 2.5 or in poor standing for any other reason are required to submit two letters of recommendation (preferrably from current professors) with their application, in support of their suitability as applicants. Submit the materials to the SHESC study abroad program staff.

Q: I have other questions. Who can I ask?
For questions about applying, being accepted, payments, refunds, program fees, credit transfers, course enrollments, budgeting, travel documentation and general travel questions, contact the ASU Study Abroad Office. For other questions, contact our school’s program staff directly.

Acceptance & orientation

Q: How will I know if I have been accepted into the program?
You will receive an e-mail via your ASU e-mail account. Contact the ASU Study Abroad Office if you have any problems in the application process, as they can help. Note: To be considered for acceptance, you must meet all program eligibility requirements and must complete all material submissions, signature documents and application questionnaires listed in your online program application on the Study Abroad Office website.

Q: Can I get contact info for other students on the program?
You can meet other students on the program by attending the pre-departure orientation.  

Q: Must I attend and/or view the pre-departure orientation?
Yes, you are required to complete all pre-departure orientation activities. First, once you have been accepted into the program, you must view the online pre-departure orientation available to you on the program's Blackboard site. This consists of a presentation and a quiz that follows. In addition to the online orientation, there will be an in-person orientation that is required for all students. You will be notified directly by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change study abroad staff on the precise date and time of the pre-departure orientation meeting. Have questions ready. Note: Please pay very special attention to the announcements on the Blackboard site you will be enrolled in after you are accepted into the program. The necessary information will be on that site. If you are unable to attend orientation, you must notify us immediately to determine how best to proceed.

For more information, contact

Q: Where do I get my readings?
 This varies by program. You will be sent information by e-mail and this will also be posted on the program Blackboard site as it becomes available. Some programs use textbooks, others readers, others post on Blackboard. If you bring a laptop, you can download most of the readings and carry them electronically. 

Q: Who do I ask for assistance with special accommodations?
 If you need assistance with special accommodations, please contact us as soon as possible so we can assist as best as we can. The degree to which we can make accommodations varies by program. 

Travel & preparation

Q: Do I need a visa? A passport?
You do need a passport, and it should be at least six months from expiring when you enter the country. Your travel destination will determine whether or not you will need a visa. All students are responsible for double-checking their own passport and visa requirements. 

The ASU Tempe campus houses a Passport Application Facility at Tempe Center. This facility allows students to update or access a passport for out-of-country travel. For more information, see the U.S. Passport Acceptance Office website.

Q: Do all students travel to the country on the same flight? Can you help me with my travel arrangements?
 The programs begin in-country, at a specified meeting point that we will e-mail to you in late spring. Each student is responsible for getting himself or herself to the meeting point. We will typically arrange an optional group flight from a central departure point (usually Los Angeles or Phoenix) and will advise you of the flight details via e-mail and the program Blackboard. Those details are usually available by mid-February at the latest. It is then your responsibility to book your own ticket with the travel agent who organizes the group flight and make payments directly to them. Or you may choose to travel on another flight, which is also fine. If you are on the group flight you have the advantage of airport pick-ups and drop-offs, as well as traveling with other group members.

Q: Do I need immunizations?
No, not except those recommended for being in the U.S. However, the Center for Disease Control has previously recommended Hepatitis A for anyone traveling outside of the U.S. CDC has an international traveler’s hotline, (404) 332-4559, where you can get additional information (see also

Q: What is the quality of the accommodations?
 Students are accommodated in shared rooms usually with a shared bathroom. Some places we stay are very comfortable; others are better described as simple or rustic hostels, noting backpackers are a much higher standard of accommodation than is usual in the U.S. and accommodation in the main towns tend to be more comfortable than those on-the-road. However, you need to be prepared variously for communal bathrooms, bunk-bed style sleeping, cold nights and limited facilities, as we stay in different places. Most accommodations will have some cooking and laundry facilities and public phones, and some (but not all) have internet. Unless you have extenuating circumstances, you should not expect to share a room with a friend; rooming arrangements are made to ensure that you meet new people!