Frequently Asked Questions
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From program offerings to safety abroad, many students and their families have common questions as they begin to explore global opportunities at Penn. These frequently asked questions are geared towards parents and guardians, to assist as you navigate the abroad process with your student.
Penn Abroad serves as the hub of student global opportunities at the University of Pennsylvania. We currently manage three global program opportunities for Penn students interested in traveling abroad during their Penn career, as well as a robust incoming exchange program that welcomes over 200 international exchange students to Penn every year.
Our three programs for Penn students interested in traveling abroad during their Penn career are:
Semester Study Abroad (semester or year-long study abroad for academic credit)
Global Research & Internship Program (8-to-12 week research or internship placements during the summer)
Penn Global Seminars (Course embedded short-term travel during winter break, spring break, or May)
Each program web page above provides an overview of the program type, eligibility criteria, application process, and past participant testimonials.
All students, regardless of the program they are applying to, are encouraged to attend a drop-in advising appointment to discuss program options that are most suitable to their academic and career goals. Semester Study Abroad and the Global Research & Internship Program require an advising appointment with a Penn Abroad staff member as part of the application process.
In addition, students often find it helpful to connect with past participants to learn more about different global opportunities from peers of similar academic backgrounds. Penn Abroad Ambassadors and Recent Exchange Students are excellent resources for students to connect with as they continue to consider global opportunities at Penn.
PASSPORT is Penn Abroad’s searchable database of global opportunities at Penn. PASSPORT can be searched by program name, term available, or location. The “Advanced Search” option also allows students to find opportunities by program type, the language of instruction, credit type, or field of interest (for GRIP opportunities only). Students are encouraged to attend drop-in advising or contact Penn Abroad if they are experiencing challenges navigating the PASSPORT database.
Every Penn Abroad program has an online program brochure on PASSPORT which includes a summary overview, location, eligibility criteria, funding structure, and housing/living information for a program. In addition to information on PASSPORT, parents and/or guardians are also encouraged to speak with their student about their abroad program and what the student is receiving direct from the abroad program. Most programs provide further information on arrival, housing, courses, etc., directly to the student once the student is accepted to the program.
I am concerned about the safety of my student’s abroad location. Where can I find out more information about how Penn assesses safety abroad?
The safety and security of students abroad is our top priority. To understand how Penn Abroad assesses safety and how and when we communicate about safety incidents around the world, please review our Health & Safety page.
All students traveling abroad on a Penn Abroad program are members of International SOS, which includes travel medical insurance for the duration of a student’s global opportunity. Details on travel medical insurance coverage are available on the “Summary of Benefits & FAQ’s” page of the Penn International SOS portal.
If you have concerns about your student’s health or well-being, you may contact Penn for support in reaching your student and in providing resources to your student:
Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm ET: Contact your student’s Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager directly if you know who this is. If you do not know who your student’s Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager is, contact:
Outside of US Business Hours, Weekends, & During University Holidays: Contact Penn Police at +1 215 573 3333 and indicate your student is currently abroad. Penn Police will redirect your inquiry to Penn Abroad after-hours staff for assistance.
Does Penn Abroad provide regular emails or updates to parents and/or guardians while students are abroad?
No, Penn Abroad does not provide updates to parents and/or guardians while students are abroad. Penn Abroad expects that students are checking in with their family and are sharing any relevant information with their family as they deem appropriate.
Should parents or guardians choose to call Penn Abroad to discuss their student’s abroad program, we will only provide follow-up if the student has provided consent to speak to the parent and/or guardian via their Penn in Touch “Consent to Disclose Academic and/or Financial Data” settings.
All students participating in a Penn Abroad program are required to complete the online pre-departure orientation, which includes six general modules and then one program-specific module. Some Penn Abroad programs also require additional in-person pre-departure preparations prior to travel and/or additional on-site orientation after arrival. All students traveling on a Penn Abroad program are required to engage in all online and in-person orientation sessions, both pre-departure and on arrival.
Every year, Penn Abroad hosts an informational meet-and-greet session for students and their parents during Family Weekend in the fall semester. The date and time of the session will appear in the Family Weekend schedule of events. We encourage students and their parents to attend this session even if they are unsure of the exact type of global opportunity (or opportunities!) they may pursue while at Penn.
If you have a question and it has not been answered above, please contact your student’s Global Programs Manager directly. If you do not know who your student’s Global Programs Manager is, then you may contact: