Directly enroll in a foreign university and take classes in a wide variety of disciplines
An exchange program is a specific type of study abroad program in which the University of Oregon and a partner university overseas agree to exchange students on a regular basis. Exchange students enroll in regular classes alongside full-time local students for a semester or full academic year. You have access to most courses that the university offers in a wide range of academic disciplines.
Exchange programs are a great option if you're looking for an immersive, flexible experience. Students most comfortable and successful in exchange programs are typically self-reliant, resourceful, and willing to adapt to unfamiliar teaching styles and living arrangements.
While on-site student support services such as academic advising, health, and counselling services vary from one university to the next, you will have access to the same services and resources as full-time students at your host university. Many exchange students get involved with local student organizations and clubs while abroad.
For many students, participating in an exchange program is one of the highlights of their UO experience. Studying abroad with an exchange program is a great way to learn both about another culture and about yourself.
Applications for exchanges in summer 2024, fall 2024, spring 2025, and academic year 2025 will open in the fall. Go to the program's webpage that you are most interested in and select "Start an Application."
What are the Pros & Cons of Exchange Programs?
Typically the most affordable type of study abroad program
More immersive and integrated into the local culture - join local clubs and organizations
Flexible and diverse course work
Strong international reputations of partner universities
Learn from local professors teaching your discipline from their country's perspective
Two-step application process
Application deadlines are farther in advance than other program types (so plan ahead!)
Limited number of exchange placements at each university
Courses are not designed to fulfill UO graduation requirements, but most can be converted for UO credit to fulfill requirements
Limited on-site support from UO while abroad
Frequently Asked Questions
How does the application process work?
The application process for exchange programs has two steps—the initial GEO application and the host university application. After the initial application is complete, GEO will review your materials and select successful candidates for nomination to each host university. This process often involves a short interview with each applicant. GEO advises you to have backup exchange or study abroad programs in mind when applying for an exchange in case we are not able to offer you a placement at your first choice university. You will be able to identify backup options in your exchange application and we will automatically consider you for all the programs you list.
Students nominated by GEO will then need to complete a secondary application for the host university, which typically consists of an application form, copy of passport, official UO transcript, study plan, etc. GEO provides next steps for each secondary application process, which can range from fairly straightforward online forms to more complex processes that involve submitting hard copies of documents to GEO. The final decision regarding acceptance is made by each host university. For programs that start in the fall, secondary applications usually take place from February to May, and for programs that start in the spring, secondary applications usually take place from August to October (specific deadlines are determined by your host university).
When should I start planning for an exchange program?
The sooner the better! We recommend starting to plan for an exchange program about 12-18 months in advance. Because the application deadline is so far in advance, early planning is essential. GEO strongly encourages you to meet with your UO academic advisor as soon as you know that you want to participate in a study abroad or exchange program, even if you are not sure when exactly you want to study abroad. Your academic advisor will be able to help you plan out your UO courses and requirements so that you can incorporate a study abroad or exchange program into your UO experience without affecting your degree completion.
What do I need to know about exchanges?
Each program is unique! Even though GEO may have multiple programs in some countries that offer similar subjects, every university has its own nuance and unique character. Especially important to consider is whether there are any specific requirements for exchange students that affect your interest in the university. For example, will you be required to take most of your classes in one subject area? Will you be required to live in on-campus housing, or will on-campus housing even be available?
In addition, participating in an exchange program will require you to demonstrate high levels of independence. You may be one of the only UO students studying at your exchange university, so it’s helpful to spend some time reflecting on how you will adapt to your new environment and find ways to get connected to your host university and host culture.
Are exchange programs competitive?
The number of exchange placements available for UO students each year depends on a variety of factors, including the number of students from the partner university who study at the UO. Because there are a limited number of placements available each year, this means that some exchange programs may be selective or more competitive than other GEO programs. If there are not enough exchange places available in a given year, qualified applicants will be offered the opportunity to apply as a fee-paying study abroad student or to apply for an alternate exchange or study abroad program.
How should I choose the exchange program that is right for me?
Research, research, research. Reading over the GEO program pages for the programs you are interested in is one of the best ways to start narrowing down programs that you are interested in. The GEO page will include basic information about the location, the types of courses offered, and information important to exchange applicants from the UO.
In addition, each GEO program page for our exchange partners includes a list of “Host University Resources” links in the right-hand sidebar that is especially helpful in determining which programs are the best fit for your academic, personal, and career goals. The “Student Guide” and “Course Search” links are some of the most helpful tools that you can use to research exchange programs.
In some cases, GEO will also have a “fact sheet” about some exchange programs that outlines important information about course restrictions, housing information, approximate costs, visa information, and program eligibility. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about whether a fact sheet is available for the program you are interested in.
How do the finances of an exchange program work?
As an exchange student, your host university agrees not to charge you any tuition. Instead, GEO will charge a flat exchange program fee to your UO student billing account based on your residency status and the number of semesters you spend abroad. The exchange program fee is billed instead of your usual UO tuition. You can review the current exchange program fees here. The exchange program fee is the same for all exchange programs.
Additional expenses, such as accommodation, meals, flights, visa costs, personal expenses, transportation, and more, will be paid by you directly to the organization or person providing the services. For example, if you live in university residence halls, you will pay the university housing office directly for your housing costs. GEO provides an estimated budget of additional program expenses on each exchange program page so that you can estimate your total cost of attendance based on the cost of living in your host city. However, depending on your chosen lifestyle and expenses, your actual expenses may vary from our estimate budget. GEO tends to budget for a mid-range lifestyle.
How do I know what type of UO credit I will receive for the classes I take on exchange?
Some UO equivalencies may be listed on the UO Course Equivalency Database. This will allow you to see how previous courses have transferred to the UO. For courses that do not appear on this list, please work directly with the academic department you wish to receive credit from. For general education courses, you will work with the Registrar’s Office directly.
Each credit-bearing class that you take on exchange will earn UO credit, GEO just cannot guarantee whether those credits will be able to cover specific major, minor, or other degree requirements at the UO. Each exchange university has a specific credit and grading conversion that the Registrar’s Office will apply once your transcript is received.
What if I don't see the course(s) I want to take listed in the UO Course Equivalencies database?
Good question! Courses from exchange universities will only appear on the UO's Course Equivalencies database if another UO student has taken that specific class at that specific university in the past. For exchange universities, there are so many classes to choose from that there will almost certainly be courses listed on the host university website that do not appear on the UO's course equivalency database.
This doesn't necessarily indicate that you cannot get UO credit or major credit for the courses that do not appear on the UO database—it just means that the UO does not already have an equivalency recorded because you will be the first UO student to take that specific class. In order to determine what type of UO credit you would receive, you would submit the course syllabus to the department you want to get credit from (or the Registrar's Office directly if you want it to satisfy a general education requirement). Once we receive your transcript after the program, the database will be updated and the new courses you took would be added.
Which exchange programs offer classes in my major?
Most likely, lots! When GEO identifies new exchange partners, we do so because the programs they offer align well with UO programs. However, not every exchange university will have a business school, or a communication and journalism department. You will be able to check which universities offer courses related to your studies by clicking on the “Academics” or “Course Search” links in the host university resources sidebar. It’s important to be aware that courses at exchange universities may change from year to year or have restrictions or pre-requisites, just like UO classes do. It’s important to be flexible with your course selections in case you are unable to take your first choice classes.
What kind of support do I have onsite?
Each university we work with has a designated coordinator for incoming exchange students. They are a great resource for many questions you have about your host university. In addition, you will have access to the same support services and resources that full-time students at your host university have. GEO will provide a pre-departure orientation and your host university will provide an on-site orientation upon arrival.
Please be aware that university systems outside the US may differ from what you are used to at the UO, both in terms of academic structure and student services. Though there is support available, learning how to navigate another university and access that support may take time.
What criteria does GEO use in the selection process?
GEO weighs your written application, your academic record (including transfer work, if applicable), and exchange interview equally in the selection process. In addition, GEO will look to confirm that you meet the program’s eligibility requirements (GPA, class standing, and in some cases, language requirements or coursework requirements). Please review the GEO program pages carefully to ensure you understand the eligibility requirements for the exchange you are interested in.
Why is the application deadline so early? Can you accept late applications?
During the fall quarter, partner universities will confirm the number of exchange placements GEO will be able to offer to UO students for the following academic year. For example, in Fall 2021, we will be confirming placements for programs in academic year 2022-2023. In most cases, these placements can be used for either Fall, Spring, Academic Year, or Summer programs, so we set one deadline early in the process so that all students have an equal opportunity to apply for exchanges placements.
If GEO has open spaces after the exchange application closes, we will re-open Spring applications for any programs with availability. However, we can’t guarantee that the program you are interested in will be re-opened after the deadline, so we advise you to apply by the January 1st/February 1st deadline to have the most options.
I only want to miss one term at the UO. Are there exchange programs that can accommodate this?
Yes there are! Each of the universities we work with have semester-based academic calendars rather than the term-based calendar that the UO uses. This means that by carefully planning which programs you are interested in based on the semester dates, you can still participate in a full semester exchange while only missing one UO term.
An important consideration to be aware of is that if the semester abroad overlaps with any part of a UO quarter, you would be considered abroad for that full quarter, even if the overlap is just a week or two. The naming conventions for exchange terms will help you determine if your semester abroad would overlap with one or two UO terms:
- Fall Semester exchanges = UO Fall term only
- Fall/Winter Semester exchanges = UO Fall and Winter term
- Spring Semester exchanges = UO Winter and Spring term
- Spring Quarter exchanges = UO Spring term only
- Academic Year exchanges = 3 UO Terms: Fall, then Winter, then Spring
- Calendar Year exchanges = 3 UO Terms: Winter, then Spring, then Fall
- Japanese Academic Year exchanges = 3 UO Terms: Spring, then Fall, then Winter
- Summer exchanges = no overlap with the regular UO academic year