Getting Started

Academic Credit

How to earn credit for courses and get approval for courses.

Types of Credit

MSU Credit

This credit is available to courses that are faculty-led programs taught by MSU faculty. Students receive a letter grade (A-F) for their course experience and no course approval form needs to be completed before leaving for the MSU study abroad program.

Transfer Credit

This credit is transferred from another institution to MSU, as is the case with Exchange and Provider Company programs. Students receive a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory grade (S or U) for these courses, not a letter grade. In order to receive transfer credit for study abroad, students are required to fill out the Study Abroad Course Approval form BEFORE leaving on the study abroad program.

Language School Credit

It is common for students taking a foreign language through an MSU faculty-led program to be enrolled in a language school while abroad.  If this is the case, a placement test will be taken to evaluate which language level the student tests into.  Upon completion of the courses at the language school, the credits will come back to MSU as transfer credits.

Course Approval Form

Students participating in exchange or provider company programs will have to fill out a Course Approval Form (CAF) with their Academic Advisor in order to guarantee credit transfer back to MSU. The form can be accessed on the student’s OSA application and must be signed by an Academic Advisor, Department Head, and Dean before being dropped off at the Registrar’s office. Once the form cycles its way back to our office, we will update the student’s OSA application with it.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Plan how to fund your study abroad experience and learn about available scholarships.


Students planning to study abroad should carefully calculate how much funding is available to them. Instead of being turned away by the initial ”sticker shock“ of study abroad programs, students should review their current expenditures at Mississippi State University to see the total program price increase, if any. Often, students will be surprised to see how affordable study abroad can be. Also, there are opportunities to help pay for study abroad.

Financial Aid

An MSU degree-seeking student who participates in an MSU sponsored or affiliated Study Abroad program is eligible to apply for Financial Aid to help cover the required costs. Each program is handled on an individual program and student basis, and most costs associated with the Study Abroad program can typically be taken into consideration when determining Financial Aid eligibility. The amount of aid received for Study Abroad is dependent upon the individual student's eligibility at the time of application. Students who wish to receive Financial Aid to help pay for a MSU Study Abroad program should contact Jackie LeSueur in the Department of Student Financial Aid to discuss Financial Aid options and availability. The Study Abroad Financial Aid Request form is available at

A student planning to participate in a Study Abroad program through an organization or school that has no affiliation or consortium agreement in place with MSU is not eligible to receive Financial Aid through MSU for the program. For additional information, please visit the MSU Department of Student Financial Aid.

MSU Scholarships

Some MSU Colleges and Departments have study abroad scholarships available for students of that college to apply for. The Office of Study Abroad encourages you to check with each of your academic colleges and/or departments to see about study abroad scholarship opportunities.

Below are a few scholarships but please check with your respective colleges and departments for more.

Shackouls Honors College Study Abroad Scholarship
College of Ag & Life Science Study Abroad Scholarship

Program-Specific Scholarships

Many of the provider programs that Mississippi State University partners with provide scholarship opportunities to students. To be eligible for these scholarships, you must study abroad with one of these particular programs.

Academic Programs International (API)
American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS)
CEA Global Education (CEA)
International Studies Abroad (ISA)
Semester at Sea
SIT Study Abroad - School for International Training (SIT)

National Scholarships

We have compiled a brief scholarship list for you! Thoroughly review this guide to determine what additional opportunities may be available. Most scholarships are designed for specific countries, languages, and students. The earlier you start planning, the better off you will be.


Also, keep in mind:

  • Your academic department may also have scholarships that can be used for study abroad.
  • You can consult with local civic, social, or religious organizations for possible scholarships or grants.
  • Don't forget to check with your parents' places of work for possible funding sources.

Travel Documents

Passports, visas, residence permits and International Student Identification Cards.


U.S. Passport

The International Institute is an official Passport Acceptance Facility. To acquire a passport, make an appointment to come to 116 Allen Hall from 9:00am-11:30am, Monday through Friday to apply. Bring a checkbook, your birth certificate, and your driver's license. Passport photos and applications will be processed on site.

Make sure you apply early! Without a passport you will not study abroad. It can take several weeks from the time of application to receive your passport. If you are rushed, you may pay for the expedited service and receive your passport quicker. Remember that your passport is required before you begin the visa process. Once you receive your passport, sign it and fill in the emergency information page. Visit the U.S. Department of State website for more information.


A visa is a document (usually in the form of a stamp or sticker in your passport) that gives you permission to travel into a specific country and stay there for a determined period of time. Visas vary greatly from country to country (and from applicant to applicant). To verify the specific visa you will need, it is important to communicate with the nearest U.S. consulate of the country in which you are studying. While U.S. citizens are able to travel freely for up to 90 days in many countries on a tourist visa, you may need a study visa if you plan to study in the same country. Those wishing to do international internships may need a work visa. The most common types of visas are study, work, and tourist. You must have a passport in order to apply for a visa. Processing times to obtain a visa vary greatly depending on the country, the purpose of travel, and your citizenship.

The Office of Study Abroad does not process or issue visas for students. We are here to assist students with the process, but obtaining a visa is ultimately the responsibility of the student going abroad.

If you are studying abroad with a provider company (AIFS, API, CEA, ISA, Semester at Sea, SIT, etc), the provider will be able to help you with this process.

All students should review the embassy or consulate web page of countries they plan to visit for updated visa and travel requirements. Visas may be acquired either directly from the consulate or from a visa service. Pay attention to detail when submitting paperwork to prevent delays.

The U.S. Department of State also has a good resource for Entry/Exit requirements. For information on entry requirements for a specific country, please go to the Entry/Exit Requirements section in the Country Specific Information for the country you are interested in at You may also contact the U.S. embassy or consulate of that country for further information.

Answers at consulates often change from day to day, consulate to consulate, and staff member to staff member. Be patient, friendly, and don’t wait until the last minute. They are only open a few hours a week and close for all their national holidays, as well as for all U.S. holidays. As part of this process, you may be required to visit the nearest consulate in New Orleans or Atlanta, for example.

While Mississippi State University does not endorse any particular company or agency, there are multiple agencies dedicated to helping travelers get visas. For more information, please visit:

For a list of embassies in Washington, D.C., please visit: You may need to locate the consulate that has jurisdiction over the citizens of Mississippi.

Residence Permits

Many countries in the European Union, as well as several others around the world, require that international students staying over 90 days get a residence permit upon arrival. This is usually a bureaucratic process that requires a visit to the local police station or city hall in your host country. Be aware that you may need a residence permit. Research your study abroad country's laws and any specific immigration rules that may pertain to you.

International Student Identification Card (ISIC)

Recognized by UNESCO, this card opens doors, gets discounts, and is relatively inexpensive to purchase. It is almost guaranteed that this card will make money for you if you plan on visiting many museums, theaters, concerts, and historic sites while abroad. It can even save you money on airfare and train tickets.

While we highly recommend this student card, students are not required to purchase it.