Semester Abroad Spring 2022 FAQs

Penn Abroad is committed to safeguarding the health and safety of the Penn Community and our partners. Penn Abroad continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and remains abreast of new developments. After careful consideration, consultation with Penn’s Committee on Travel Risk Assessment (CTRA), and with the support of Penn Leadership, Penn Abroad is providing the opportunity for students to apply to study abroad during Spring 2022.

Penn Abroad is currently advising on and accepting applications for Spring 2022 only. However, as Penn Abroad continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, programs that are currently listed as part of the initial portfolio offerings may be suspended. Students who are affected by the suspension will be redirected to a suitable alternative. Approval of all Semester Abroad opportunities for Spring 2022 is contingent upon meeting the guidelines for travel set forth by CTRA.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions below to learn more about Spring Semester Abroad options, as well as the application process and other important health and safety criteria for undergraduate student travel.

As Penn Abroad assesses the public health situation worldwide, Penn Abroad will update the Frequently Asked Questions as needed throughout the semester. All further questions not addressed below should be directed to goabroad@upenn.edu.

Spring 2022 Program Options & Application Process

Which locations/programs is Penn Abroad accepting Spring 2022 applications for?
Penn Abroad is accepting applications to numerous programs across many regions. However, please review individual program brochures for specific updates and available programs. Options can be found by using the “Search Programs” feature of our online program database, PASSPORT. Each program brochure lists details about the program, including academics, financial information, and more.

I am interested in attending a Semester Abroad advising session or opening a program application for the Spring 2022 semester. How do I sign up for advising?
Please visit the Penn Abroad Meet with an Advisor page to sign up for an advising session for Semester Abroad to explore program options. After the advising session, you will work directly with a Global Programs Manager to apply to a program and navigate the process of spending a semester abroad.

What is the status of Semester Abroad and international travel in Spring 2022?
As of May 18, 2021, all domestic and international Penn-affiliated travel is in “restricted status,” which means that:

  • Vaccination against COVID-19 is required for any travelers unless there is a medical or religious exemption.

  • Students may travel to countries rated CDC Level 1 or CDC Level 2 without travel approval needed from CTRA.

  • Travel to countries rated a CDC Level 3 or CDC Level 4 require a petition to CTRA to determine whether or not travel approval will be granted. Note: Penn Abroad will submit a CTRA petition on behalf of students applying to approved semester abroad programs in these locations.

CTRA approval may be rescinded at any time and programs may be canceled by the host university, independent of the CTRA process. Programs may also be moved to a fully virtual format by the host university. If a program moves to a fully virtual format prior to the program’s start, it will be suspended by Penn.

How do I determine the CDC level of my study abroad location?
To determine the CDC level of your study abroad location, visit the CDC COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination website. CDC level information is subject to change at any time without warning.

Regardless of CDC Level, your study abroad location may still require COVID-19 testing or quarantine on arrival. Quarantine and arrival information changes regularly. The most current arrival and quarantine information for your abroad location can be found on the International SOS website:

What if my program of interest is in a CDC level 3 or 4 Country?
Penn Abroad, in conjunction with CTRA, may update the Spring 2022 study abroad portfolio of approved programs throughout the fall semester. By mid-October, Penn Abroad will submit a petition for travel to CTRA for remaining locations rated CDC Level 3 or 4. Penn Abroad expects a reply from CTRA in mid-November, and applicants to locations that are not approved will be redirected to a new program if timing and space permit and if academically suitable.

Program locations rated at a CDC Level 1 or 2 at the time of Penn Abroad’s CTRA petition submission in October, but which subsequently become CDC Level 3 or 4, will require Penn Abroad to submit a late petition prior to students’ departure.

Can I petition to a program that is not Penn-approved?
Students can petition to do a program that is not Penn-approved, only if the program is in a CDC level 1 or level 2 country. Please review the Penn Abroad petitions page for more information regarding the petition process. Petitions for non-Penn-approved programs are due September 15. At this time, student petitions for non-Penn-approved programs in CDC level 3 and level 4 countries will not be accepted.

Am I permitted to take personal/leisure trips on my own while abroad?
All personal travel while participating in a Penn Abroad program is subject to CTRA policies. Students wishing to travel to a CDC Level 3 or Level 4 destination would be required to submit a petition to CTRA to gain approval for leisure travel. Other restrictions, including quarantine requirements, may apply. Students must also register all personal travel details into MyTrips.

What if my program is suspended and a global experience is a core element to my academic studies?
If a global experience is a core element to your academic studies and your preferred program has been suspended, please contact Penn Abroad to discuss your options further.

I took several classes pass/fail since Spring 2020. How will this impact my academic eligibility to 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 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 institutions abroad 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 institution abroad 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 home school. An honest assessment of their readiness to handle their proposed abroad courses as part of the application process will only benefit students in the long term.

Spring 2022 Planning

How should I plan for Spring 2022 if I am interested in study abroad?

  • Check your eligibility. Use the “Search Programs” feature of our online program database, PASSPORT, and look at the “Eligibility” tab on the program brochures for programs you may be interested in.

  • Meet with a Global Programs Manager to discuss your plans and identify a program that matches your goals and interests.

  • Speak with your academic advisor if you need help with your academic planning.

  • Check out our Penn Abroad Ambassadors page to read about past participant study abroad experiences.

  • Discuss your plans with your family.

  • Mark all study abroad deadlines on your calendar!

Preparation for Departure

Is a COVID-19 vaccine required to study abroad?
For any Penn-affiliated travel occurring after May 18, 2021, including all participants in Spring 2022 study abroad, COVID-19 vaccinations are required*. Travelers must be fully vaccinated prior to departure. The timeframe to be considered fully vaccinated is two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson/Janssen) or two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine (such as Pfizer or Moderna). Students should upload documentation of their COVID-19 immunizations here: Uploading Immunization Records – Student Health Service (upenn.edu)

*Vaccination is required unless an exception has been granted for medical or religious reasons. If you have a question related to this guidance, please email travelsafety@pobox.upenn.edu. More information is available on the CTRA Travel Guidelines website

Will I need to quarantine upon arrival to my host country/city?
Quarantine requirements vary at all abroad locations. Quarantine and arrival information changes regularly. The most current arrival and quarantine information for your abroad location can be found on the International SOS website:

What type of Penn support resources will be available to me?
All students traveling on Penn-affiliated programs will have access to Penn resources while abroad.  Penn Abroad is available to assist students via email, phone, and Zoom 5-days per week from 9 AM to 5 PM ET. Penn Police are available for 24/7 support in case of emergency outside of normal U.S. working hours. Students who contact Penn Police (+1 215-573-3333) should identify themselves as a “Penn Abroad Student” to be redirected to a Penn Abroad support person after hours. All students also have 24/7 health and security support via International SOS.

Health & Safety Resources

What are Penn’s most up-to-date travel guidelines?
Please see Penn’s International Travel Guidance.

What is Penn’s International SOS Insurance Information?
All students studying abroad in Spring 2022 are members of International SOS, which includes travel medical insurance. Details and insurance contact information are available on the insurance section of Penn’s International Travel Guidance website. 

What are the most up-to-date CDC travel recommendations?
Please review the CDC Travel Recommendations page.

What are the most up-to-date Department of State travel recommendations?
Please review the Department of State’s International Travel page.