“Studying abroad was one of the most beneficial experiences in my college career! I was emboldened by my international student background and was able to discover myself in a brand-new country while gaining an understanding of a different culture. The weekend trips I would take to neighboring countries was also a big highlight. I would advise others to take the opportunity to travel the world with no commitments but to study and learn.”
-Rikako, Global Edge London, Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
As an international student, studying at UC Berkeley may be your study abroad experience already! To deepen your experience in the USA, one option to consider is applying for the Global Internships Program in a domestic location. This eliminates the need to obtain a visa for a second country, and will allow you to gain practical experience and academic credit in a domestic USA city.
Alternatively, you may wish to explore another culture outside of the USA. Studying outside of the USA with University of California Education Abroad Programs (UCEAP), Berkeley Global Internships, or Berkeley Summer Abroad will maintain your status as a current Berkeley student. Studying abroad on an Independent Program requires you to take a leave of absence from UC Berkeley, which may have different implications for your US visa status. It is important you reach out to the Berkeley International Office (BIO) if you are considering any study abroad program.
Going abroad during your final semester at Berkeley may present implications for your post-completion work authorization application, so please communicate with Berkeley International Office so they can help you plan and you can understand your options and make a decision that works for you and your immigration status about when to study abroad.
While it is possible to study abroad while you attend Berkeley, there are important US visa considerations to plan around and we strongly encourage you to reach out to Berkeley International Office to discuss your study abroad plans.
F-1 international students participating in Berkeley Global Internships in a US location will need to obtain Curricular Practical Training to remain in compliance with their F-1 visa. The CPT process should be completed after your internship placement has been confirmed, with the support of your Global Internships Adviser and the Berkeley International Office. If you are a J-1 student, please reach out to the Berkeley International Office about Academic Training. For any/all other visa statuses, please consult your immigration attorney if you have questions about work authorization, or implications of studying abroad on your current status.
International students (and US Permanent Residents) participating in a study abroad program outside of the USA will likely need to obtain a visa for the country they are studying abroad in. This also may vary depending on the length of your program. It will be your responsibility to research the type of visa and application process for your study abroad country. If a confirmation letter is required for your visa application, please reach out to your Berkeley Study Abroad adviser and request their assistance generating this letter on your behalf.
Independent programs allow students to take advantage of hundreds of study, internship, volunteer, and teaching opportunities around the world. These programs are not affiliated with the University of California and are typically administered by another university, institution, or organization. International students who wish to participate in an independent study abroad program may need to take a Planned Leave of Absence from UC Berkeley. The Berkeley International Office treats a Planned Leave of Absence in the same way as a withdrawal, which can have implications to your US visa status, so please be sure to consult with BIO early if you are considering an independent program. To learn more about participating in an Independent program, please refer to the Independent Study Abroad Guide. F-1/J-1 students who wish to have a Planned Leave of Absence for non-University of California Study Abroad must have approval from the Berkeley International Office. See Returning Students for information regarding how to return to UC Berkeley in F-1/J-1 status to complete your studies.
Here are common questions to ask during advising:
Berkeley Study Abroad
Do I qualify for scholarships?
Which program is best for my major?
Where can I study abroad?
What are the housing options for this program?
How do I pick between multiple programs?
When will I hear back about my acceptance decision?
Berkeley International Office
How does studying abroad on a UCEAP or Berkeley program impact my US visa status?
I want to do an independent program—how will this impact my US visa status?
Can I study abroad during my final semester at Berkeley?
How does studying abroad in my final semester impact my post-completion work authorization (OPT or Academic Training)?
What do I need to do to re-enter the US after my study abroad?
"Because everyone knows their time during a study abroad semester is limited, they tend to open up and be their true self, which makes it easier for genuine and meaningful friendships to be formed. Trying to adapt to a new environment together makes people closer than they imagine, and I'm blessed to still be in contact with the friends I made while studying abroad almost two years ago."
Robin: Environmental Science, Singapore
"What struck me was how naive I was to the reality of how deeply ingrained caste was. I was never asked this question before, yet I saw that it became a defining feature of everyone- no matter how foreign your accent was. The question about caste from then onwards kept recurring, from taxi drivers to school boys. This made me realize the distance that exists between studying a society from lectures versus seeing these social structures manifest in real experiences."
Meher: Political Science and Economics, India
“I think studying abroad is the best way to be exposed to different cultures and meet new people.”
Sara: Business, United Kingdom - London