Pre-Departure Steps

Before you leave

Congratulations on your acceptance to an IPD study abroad or exchange program. The next steps include completing requirements, preparing to leave campus, and planning for travel.

If you fail to complete pre-departure requirements in a timely manner, you risk your participation in study abroad. Many details regarding program requirements and planning steps will be communicated via email and through Canvas. It is your responsibility to read and respond promptly. 

Step 1: Confirm your participation

To confirm your participation in an IPD program, you must complete the following by the confirmation deadline for your program.

  1. Submit a Study Abroad Confirmation Form. All students who have been approved to study abroad must complete and submit an electronic Study Abroad Confirmation Form to indicate the program in which they intend to participate. Take note of these steps in the confirmation form:
    • You must verify that you have a valid passport – or provide proof that you have applied for a passport. If you do not have a passport or your passport expires within six months of the end date of your program, you must apply for or renew your passport; information about applying for a passport can be found at
    • You must complete a pre-departure health assessment, an important first step in taking responsibility for your health and well-being abroad. The information you elect to disclose will be treated confidentially by study abroad staff and will not affect your admission to study abroad.

Step 2: Complete program requirements

Download and review the Pre-Departure Orientation Guide (2017-2018) for information about preparing for your study abroad experience, including general program information, program policies and expectations, and requirements. Once you have confirmed your place in your IPD program, you will be enrolled in an IPD Study Abroad course in Canvas. Through Canvas, you will receive information about pre-departure requirements, forms, and other paperwork that must be submitted for your program.

Step 3: Make travel plans

For most programs, you will be responsible for making your own flight reservations to and from your study abroad destination. For students participating in IPD specially designed programs, IPD will provide more details about travel planning, such as a suggested flight itinerary and/or required arrival times, after confirmation. For IPD exchange programs, students should refer to materials from their host institution regarding appropriate arrival and departure dates.

Also consult the Money Matters resource page for information about paying for airfare and other pre-departure expenses. 

Step 4: Obtain a visa

Many program locations require a visa for entry. To learn more entry requirements and paperwork, refer to and the Chicago-based consulate for your host country, as well as any additional guidelines provided by IPD in Canvas.

All students must obtain a visa if required to do so by their host country in order to participate in their program. Although IPD will assist students with the visa application process, IPD is not responsible for visa complications, delays, or denials, nor do we have any control over visa requirements or granting visas. The decision to issue visas rests solely with the consulate or embassy of your host country.

Step 5: Complete required pre-departure orientation modules in Canvas

The IPD Study Abroad course in Canvas will include a number of pre-departure orientation modules covering money matters, health and safety, and cultural adjustment. Completing these modules is mandatory for all study abroad students and must be completed by the date of your in-person pre-departure orientation session. 

Step 6: Attend your program's mandatory pre-departure orientation

This in-person session will cover program-specific details and will give you the opportunity to meet and talk with past and current program participants. Refer to the sidebar for orientation dates for your program.

Step 7: Review other Northwestern requirements

See the Outbound Students webpage and refer to Canvas for important information about requirements and contingencies.

Step 8: Register your travel with the U.S. State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

This can be completed online after you have your flight itinerary at

Step 9: Access your GeoBlue health insurance card

Northwestern University requires all study abroad participants to be covered by GeoBlue health insurance regardless of any other coverage they have from their parents or Northwestern, unless they are a citizen of the country in which they will be studying. 

IPD will enroll you in GeoBlue health insurance for the duration of your study abroad program, and the cost of this coverage is included in your program fee. After enrollment, you will receive an email confirmation of coverage and information about how to download a PDF copy of your insurance card. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms of your coverage before you depart. 

Step 10: Prepare to leave campus

Be sure to cancel your on-campus housing and make arrangements for your departure from campus for the terms you will be abroad.