Frequently Asked Questions Fall 2021 Abroad Locations & FAQs

Keeping health and safety forefront, Penn Abroad is committed to providing as much opportunity for semester abroad as possible in fall 2021. This opportunity will be limited in scope and the number of students that can participate; however, this is necessary as we continue to navigate a public health situation that continues to fluctuate around the globe.

In consultation with Penn’s Committee on Travel Risk Assessment (CTRA) and with the support of Penn Leadership, Penn Abroad is providing the opportunity to apply to study abroad in select program locations during fall 2021. Review the Frequently Asked Questions below to learn more about fall 2021 Semester Abroad options, as well as the application process and other important health and safety criteria for resuming undergraduate student travel.

Penn Abroad continues to assess the public health situation worldwide and will update the Frequently Asked Questions as needed throughout the semester. All further questions not addressed below should be directed to

Frequently Asked Questions

Fall 2021 Program Options & Application Process

Travel & Flight Booking

While Abroad

To which locations does Penn Abroad have open applications for fall 2021 study abroad?

Penn Abroad is only accepting applications to a limited number of programs in each of the following locations in fall 2021:

Hong Kong




South Korea





United Kingdom



The exact programs available in each location can be found using the “Search Programs” feature of our online program database, PASSPORT. In addition, linked here please find a list of program opportunities by academic credit per home school:

The select destinations where Penn Abroad is accepting applications for fall 2021 abroad will be the only programs where students will be permitted to apply for fall 2021 abroad.

Students may not petition to study in other locations or at any other programs in fall 2021.

Why are there limited options for study abroad in fall 2021?

Due to COVID-19, all domestic and international Penn-affiliated travel is currently suspended. Penn’s Committee on Travel Risk Management (CTRA) has developed a matrix to guide resumption of travel. Penn Abroad, in consultation with CTRA and Penn Leadership, have worked together to identify abroad locations that have the greatest likelihood of meeting health and safety criteria to be approved for travel by petition in fall 2021. Final approval to study abroad at any location currently accepting applications for fall 2021 is contingent upon approval of the petition to travel from Penn’s CTRA in May 2021.

Given the unpredictable nature of global travel during COVID-19, study abroad will only be permitted to the locations currently accepting applications. There are no exceptions to this decision, even if other locations improve in health and safety criteria including Department of State or CDC risk levels in the months ahead.

I was previously an applicant for one of the programs currently accepting applications for fall 2021. Will I be given priority in the application process?


All applications will be reviewed equally and without preference whether you are a new applicant or were previously an applicant to one of the programs currently accepting applications. Fall 2021 abroad includes new guidelines and criteria that are different from when you originally applied. It is therefore critical that all students re-start the abroad process from the point of advising., All students will be assessed equally within this new process.

How do I open an application for fall 2021 abroad?

All fall 2021 abroad applicants are required to attend an advising session on studying abroad during COVID-19 prior to opening your abroad application. Advising sessions will be available for registration according to the undergraduate school in which the student hopes to earn academic credit. Sessions will be held several times a week between February 15 and March 15. Register for an advising session on the Meet with an Advisor page.

Upon successful completion of an advising session, you will be provided details on how to open an abroad application.

I took several classes pass/fail since spring 2020. How will this impact my academic eligibility for study abroad?

As part of their academic review of study abroad applications, the undergraduate divisions of SAS, SEAS, and Wharton will not uncover or factor in letter grades earned in any courses that were taken on a pass/fail (P/F) basis during the spring 2020, fall 2020, and spring 2021 terms AND for which students earned credit. In keeping with professional standards of patient care, the School of Nursing will include the letter grades earned in any clinical courses and courses that serve as pre-requisites for clinical training as part of its academic review of study abroad applications.

Some abroad institutions may require that applicants have taken specific pre-requisite courses for a letter grade. A student may receive academic approval from Penn but be denied admission by the abroad institution if pre-requisite courses were taken on a P/F basis.

Studying abroad requires students to adapt quickly to a new set of social, cultural, and academic conditions and expectations all at once, sometimes without the benefit of familiar support structures. Though an imperfect guide, earned course grades – particularly those earned in foundational and core courses – are key indicators of a student’s capacity to meet the added challenge of studying in a new academic environment. Without the benefit of such grades for courses taken P/F, students contemplating study abroad are urged to discuss their academic preparation for the abroad experience with the academic advising office in their school. An honest assessment of their readiness to handle their proposed aboard courses as part of the application process will only benefit students in the long term.

Even after I apply, how should I prepare for the possibility that my fall 2021 abroad program may not move forward?

CTRA approvals will not be known until May 2021. In addition, CTRA approval may be rescinded at any time. Programs may also be cancelled independently of the CTRA process or move to a fully virtual format. Any of these scenarios would result in your fall 2021 abroad term not moving forward.

To prepare for any of these scenarios, all fall 2021 abroad applicants should participate in advanced registration in March-April 2021 and develop a fall 2021 academic contingency plan with their academic advisor in the event their fall term abroad does not come to fruition. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to develop a contingency plan for fall 2021 housing.

By May, all students will be notified if CTRA has approved the petition for undergraduate student travel to the select locations for fall 2021 study abroad.

For all CTRA-approved locations, students will receive detailed next steps regarding committing to their program, booking flights, making course arrangements, etc.

For all locations that do not receive CTRA approval, students will be redirected to other programs if space remains available and if academically appropriate. Alternatively, students may also simply remain enrolled in Penn courses for fall 2021.

Where can I find further information regarding the CTRA petition process, and my options if travel to my abroad program is approved, denied, or changes at any time during the summer and leading up to my abroad program start date?

Full details on the CTRA petition process, as well as additional COVID-19 quarantine information and financial considerations per location are available on the “COVID-19” tab of each program brochure on PASSPORT. Please read this tab in detail.

Do I need to sign any special documents regarding study abroad during COVID-19?


All students participating in fall 2021 study abroad are required to review and sign the COVID-19 Heightened Risk Region Liability Form prior to departure. This form will be shared with students at the time they receive CTRA approval in May 2021. Students are expected to review this document carefully before signing, being sure they understand all contents of the document and all risks associated with study abroad during COVID-19.

In addition, all approved study abroad locations for fall 2021 will have a written set of parameters set by CTRA, which students are required to follow while abroad. Students are expected to review this document carefully before signing, being sure they understand all contents of the document including that a violation of any parameter set forth by CTRA is a violation of Penn’s Student Code of Conduct.

If my travel is approved by CTRA, I will want to book my flight independently due to personal reasons (travel points, loyalty programs, seeking flexibility of booking independently). Can I do this?

CTRA policy for travel during COVID-19 requires all Penn-affiliated travelers to book their flights using Concur, Penn’s travel management system. This applies to all fall 2021 study abroad students. The cost of travel remains the student’s expense.

Penn Abroad will provide details on how to book flights using Concur once CTRA approval is received in May 2021. Students will be expected to book roundtrip flights. Students can apply airline loyalty program details to their booking when using Concur.

What are the most up-to-date CDC travel recommendations?

Please use the CDC Travel Recommendations page.

What are the most up-to-date Department of State travel recommendations?

Please use the Department of State International Travel page.

Will I need to quarantine upon arrival to my host country/city?

Quarantine requirements vary at all abroad locations. Details available to Penn Abroad as of January 2021 regarding quarantine at each abroad location can be found on the “COVID-19” tab of each program brochure on PASSPORT. Penn Abroad will provide confirmed details on the quarantine process by location at the time of CTRA approval for travel in May, though this is subject to change prior to arrival.  

Is a COVID-19 vaccine required to study abroad?

As of January 2021, Penn is not requiring students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to studying abroad. However, abroad institutions and/or abroad locations may require vaccine upon entry to the country or upon enrollment to the university. As updates and guidance are received from Penn Wellness and/or our partners abroad, updates to vaccine requirements will be shared with relevant applicants, and students will be required to adhere to any vaccine requirement in order to participate in the program.

I am interested in traveling while abroad. Is this allowed, and what are the parameters?

Students are expected to spend the majority of their time in their host city, with limited exceptions for travel within their host country only if approved by government and/or University regulation and by Penn’s CTRA. Further guidance on personal travel during your abroad term will be provided by CTRA in May. Students will be required to register all approved travel in MyTrips.

What are the communication expectations while studying abroad? Am I required to touch base with Penn Abroad regularly?

Given the nature of fall 2021 study abroad, it is expected that all students abroad remain in consistent communication with Penn Abroad. It is required that students respond to all Penn Abroad communication in a timely manner, which means a 24-hour response time. It is critical that your communication with Penn Abroad is prompt and consistent.

What if I test positive for COVID-19 while abroad?

In the event you test positive for COVID-19 while abroad, immediately connect with the appropriate personnel at your host institution and seek proper medical care. All Penn students abroad are covered by International SOS for travel medical assistance, including care for COVID-19. Please stay in communication with Penn Abroad, and maintain your health insurance policy information on you at all times (Penn International SOS membership card and local health insurance policy information (if applicable)).  

If I test positive for COVID-19 or fall ill during my time abroad, can I depart my host country?

In the event you test positive for COVID-19 or fall ill during your time abroad, you may not be able to return swiftly to your home country and/or your family member may not be able to swiftly join you in your host country. Options for International SOS support to return to your home country for continued medical care, if not medically required, will be limited or not possible. Options for a family member to join you in country may be limited or not possible pending travel restrictions, required quarantine, etc.

All Penn students studying abroad are covered by International SOS for travel medical assistance, including care for COVID-19. Penn Abroad, International SOS, and your host institution will remain in communication throughout any prolonged illness, to support you as best as possible.