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Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is "study abroad?"
Study Abroad is the opportunity to earn Southern Miss credit that will apply to your degree plan, in countries outside the United States. See here for an overview presentation on study abroad. 

2. What types of Study Abroad programs does USM offer?
  • Short-term faculty-led programs: 2-5 weeks
  • Semester programs: fall or spring
  • Exchange programs: semester or academic year
  • Internship programs: duration varies
  • See here for more information on program types. 

3. Do I have to speak a foreign language?
No!  While a few programs require some level of another language, most programs are taught in English.

4. Do I need a passport?
Yes! Your passport must be valid for SIX months after your return date. If you already have a passport, check the expiration date to make sure it is VALID.

5. How do I apply for a passport?

Visit the State Department's website for detailed information on how, where and when to apply for a passport.

6. How long does it take to get a passport?

That depends on the time of year it's submitted. Check here to see current processing times. If you need a passport more quickly, you can expedite processing for an additional fee, or you can apply in-person at a passport agency and receive same-day service. Same-day service is not guaranteed.

7. What is a visa?

A visa officially grants permission for the holder to enter a country for a particular purpose (e.g., study). For most countries, it appears as a stamp in the passport; other countries issue electronic visas. Each country has different rules and regulations regarding student visa requirements, so it is best to check with your host country’s embassy to inquire whether you are required to have a visa for your stay abroad. For more information, visit the State Department’s website for traveling overseas: and type in the country in which you plan to study. From there, you will find more information on entry/exit requirements, safety, customs, vaccinations, etc. In most cases, this site will lead you to the specific embassy site of the country where further information may be obtained regarding visa requirements.

8. Do I need a visa?

It depends on the country and how long you will be there. For most programs under 90 days, U.S. Citizens will only need a valid U.S. Passport with an expiration date of at least 6 months after the return date. Students who are not U.S. citizens should check the host country’s entry requirements based on passport citizenship. 
Students who are participating in programs 90 days or longer, will need a visa. Please visit for details pertaining to the host country’s requirements. The Exchange Program Coordinator is available to assist students with this process. 
Please note: visa requirements are subject to change.

9. What is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)?

The Office of Study Abroad will enroll all students studying abroad into STEP. This is a registration with the U.S. Department of State for U.S. citizens and nationals to notify their travel with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

10. What do I need to know about the country I'm traveling to?

The U.S. Department of State offers great information specific to the country you are traveling to. Check out these websites for information about cultural norms, entry/exit requirements, and more. Visit and Students Abroad.

11. Can freshmen study abroad?

Yes! The first opportunity is the Château Program: Semester in France or our summer programs, as long as the student meets the eligibility requirements.

12. Can non-USM students go on a Southern Miss program?

Yes! Most of our programs allow non-USM students to attend for transfer credit. However, additional documentation is required before acceptance into the program. If you wish to apply financial aid to a USM program, it must come from your home institution. 
  1. An official transcript must be sent to the Southern Miss Office of Study Abroad. This can be submitted electronically to or a physical copy can be mailed.
  2. The home institution’s Study Abroad office and/or Dean of Students must complete a home institution clearance form (provided on application). 
  3. Students must submit immunization records to the Southern Miss Office of Study Abroad. 
    See immunization requirements here.

13. Can graduate students study abroad?
Yes! Many USM programs offer graduate-level classes. 

14. How much does studying abroad cost?

Program costs vary by program. The cost is posted as it becomes available under the budget sheet tab of the program's webpage. The budget sheet includes billable fees that will be paid to USM as well as non-billable estimated expenses that the student will need during the program. 

15. What do my billable fees include? 

Billable fees include tuition, mandatory healthcare coverage, accommodations, in-country transportation, and program excursions. Specific details are provided under the program's budget sheet tab.

16. Can I apply my financial aid to my program?

Yes! Financial Aid is available to qualified students, and more information is available on our Financial Aid & Scholarships page.

17. Are scholarships available?

Yes! Most OSA scholarships are for USM students. Please visit the Foundation's GO system and complete your application for fall, spring, or summer. Check out our scholarship page for other scholarship opportunities.