REG 02.55.01 – Student International Travel and Approval of Study Abroad

Authority: Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

History: First Issued: February 14, 2017. Last Revised: July 12, 2022.

Related Policies:
REG 02.45.02 – Grade and Credit in Graduate Courses

Additional References:
Minutes of the April 22, 2004 Deans’ Council Meeting
Study Abroad Office
University Courses & Curricula Committee


In order to encourage further growth in both the scope and variety of NC State’s international engagement in a safe and compliant manner, it is important that faculty, staff, and students take advantage of NC State’s institutional resources to support education abroad.  Furthermore, as the University’s global engagement continues to increase, it is important to centralize the efforts in the coordination of these international programs, particularly for liability and risk management purposes.  Therefore, the purpose of this regulation is to designate the Study Abroad Office (SAO) as the coordinator for all NC State study abroad programs and activities, and to designate the SAO as responsible for tracking all University affiliated student international travel.


When used in this regulation:

2.1  “Departments and/or units” include NC State’s colleges, institutes, centers, departments, programs and units.

2.2  “Study Abroad” means any program or activity outside of the United States and its territories, for which NC State students can earn academic credit while enrolled at NC State. Study abroad includes student exchange programs, faculty-led and other group programs, programs sponsored by NC State departments or units or other providers, field trips to foreign countries that are embedded in a university course if the activities on the field trip contribute to the academic credit earned by the student, credit-bearing internships, research, or service-learning abroad, and independent study projects in a foreign country.  Due to the nature of graduate degree programs, many educational or professional activities carried out in another country by graduate students, such as data gathering or other research, contribute to academic credit earned and are therefore also defined as study abroad. (See Section 3.2)

2.3 “Non-Credit International Travel” means any activity affiliated with NC State which is outside of the United States and its territories, is carried out by an individual or a group, and does not contribute to an academic degree as described in 2.2.

2.4 “Restricted Travel Areas” means any location for which the U.S. Department of State (DOS) has issued a Level 3 or Level 4 Travel Advisory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Warning Level 3, or NC State has restricted travel.


3.1 All Student International Travel

3.1.1 All students engaging in international travel in any way affiliated with NC State, whether Study Abroad or Non-Credit International Travel, must register their travel in advance through the SAO for risk management and emergency support purposes.

3.1.2 Students intending to travel to Restricted Travel Areas must complete any additional petition processes required by the SAO and receive approval to travel.

3.1.3 All students are required to purchase travel insurance with the provider contracted by the UNC system, to gain access to international emergency assistance and evacuation support networks. International students traveling to their home country may request approval to waive the insurance requirement.

3.1.4 Faculty, staff, and students engaged or participating in any student international travel affiliated with NC State must comply with all standards, protocols, and procedures of the SAO.

3.2 Non-Credit International Travel and Graduate Independent Research

3.2.1 Non-Credit International Travel to areas not defined as Restricted Travel Areas will only be tracked in the International Travel Gateway database managed by the SAO for risk management purposes, and does not require approval. No approval is required to areas where the U.S. State Department has issued a Level 1 or 2 Travel Advisory, or the CDC has issued a Warning Level 2; however, travelers are advised to review all DOS Travel Advisories and CDC advisories and make well-informed decisions prior to traveling to such areas.

3.2.2 Graduate research abroad is defined as study abroad, and students use the SAO’s regular application process. However, an individual graduate student may waive the full services of the SAO and choose to use the International Travel Gateway if the student is: (1) not traveling as part of a group of three or more accompanied by a faculty member, (2) is not enrolled in a course related specifically to their activity abroad, and (3) is not prohibited by their Dean or Department Head from choosing the International Travel Gateway option.

3.2.3 Graduate students attending conferences abroad may choose, based on the nature of their participation and the advice of their advisor or instructor, to use the SAO’s regular application process and receive full services; however, conference attendance typically will be tracked through the International Travel Gateway as Non-Credit International Travel.

3.3 Study Abroad

All Study Abroad must be reviewed and approved by the SAO or its designee, except as specified in Section 3.2. The evaluation and approval process will follow internationally recognized best practices and criteria developed by the SAO, and will vary as appropriate to activity type.

3.3.1 When NC State credit is offered, the SAO will facilitate the academic department or unit’s review of the proposed academic content and instruction to ensure that the course(s) meet academic accreditation standards. Course approval authority, including approval of the instructor and the instructor’s credentials, will follow the normal departmental and university approval process.

3.3.2 When transfer credit is offered, the SAO will facilitate the academic department or unit’s review of the transcript and course materials. Course approval authority will follow the normal departmental and university approval process.

3.3.3 For all Study Abroad programs, SAO review and approval will include risk management considerations, a review of the program’s goals and objectives, consideration of strategic priorities of the Office of International Affairs and the academic unit, and documented support from the college dean and department head. For programs with budgets administered by the SAO, review and approval will also include an assessment of financial feasibility and program sustainability.

3.3.4 Approval for more independent types of Study Abroad will focus primarily on student safety and support, and include documentation that the student has departmental approval for the international activity.

3.4 Denial of Approval

3.4.1 If Study Abroad is not approved by the SAO, or if proposed Non-Credit International Travel in a Restricted Travel Area is not approved, and efforts toward resolution between the SAO and responsible faculty or administrators are unsuccessful, the department, unit, or student organization with documented approval from their advisor may petition the Provost or designee to reconsider the decision. The Provost or designee’s decision shall be the final decision on the matter.

3.4.2 If proposed Study Abroad is not approved, or if proposed Non-Credit International Travel in a Restricted Travel Area is not approved, then the program/activity cannot be affiliated with NC State.  The program/activity cannot use university resources, names, marks or logos in any way, be sponsored or endorsed by a University department or unit, receive university funds, or be housed or promoted on University servers or websites.

3.5  Process Outcomes

3.5.1 Students engaging in any form of NC State affiliated travel will purchase low-cost health and evacuation insurance for the time abroad, and receive assistance with risk management and emergency support. Students participating in approved Study Abroad will also receive a wide range of additional support services from the SAO. These benefits include, but are not limited to, eligibility for scholarships and financial aid, various models of advising and orientation, registration into specially scheduled courses as needed, assistance with obtaining academic credit from the appropriate department or unit, transcript documentation, and opportunities to apply and continue expanding global competencies upon return from abroad.

3.5.2 Faculty, department, and college benefits may include, but are not limited to, liability and risk management support, student participation statistics and reporting, access to national best practices on program development and administration, ongoing training and access to professional development activities for faculty directors, budget management and oversight of SAO administered programs, university wide marketing and advocacy initiatives, and curriculum integration of study abroad into the academic disciplines.