First Steps

To determine which program is right for you, determine your academic, professional, and personal goals, desired timetable, and potential constraints. There will likely be several programs that fit most of your criteria, but perhaps not one program that meets all of them. It is important to know what priorities are most important to you. Consider the following as you work toward deciding which program is best for you.

Explore My Study Abroad

If you have questions that cannot be answered by our Frequently Asked Questions, an information session or this guide, please feel free to email IPENG or set up an appointment with an advisor on Microsoft Bookings.

Keep these tips in mind as you work through the First Steps process:

  • As you explore programs, be aware of the differences (financial, academic and other) between the types of programs offered
  • Consider talking to your academic advisor to determine what courses you need to enroll in to help narrow your search
  • Use that information to examine the academic system, level of academic and social support, accommodations options, available extracurricular activities, and other factors that will affect your experience
  • Have a serious review of finances and the options to help fund study abroad
  • It is good practice to select a first choice program and a serious second choice as some of out programs are highly competitive
  • You can only apply to one program and name one alternate


Learn About the Study Abroad Process


Contact an IPENG Study Abroad ELA

Contact an IPENG ELA, who are current Illinois students that have studied abroad and can provide information about the application process, insight into their time abroad, and advice how to make the most of your study abroad experience!


Visit with an IPENG advisor

In accordance with advice from the University about slowing the spread of COVID-19, the IPENG office is temporarily closed to all walk-ins. If you have questions or need assistance, visit the Advising page to schedule a virtual appointment with an IPENG advisor. You can also get in touch with our office by phone (217-333-6322) or email us ( with your contact information and availability for a staff member to respond to your questions via phone or video call.


Complete a First Steps Meeting

First Steps Workshops are offered in-person during IPENG walk-in hours or by appointment during the Fall and Spring semesters. Complete one of these workshops to learn about what it means to study abroad and the factors to consider when selecting a program. Check our Microsoft Booking page for available appointments.


Identify Your Goals & Create a Plan


Meet with Your Academic Advisor

Discuss with your academic advisor how study abroad fits within your plan of study. Your academic advisor can answer questions about when to study abroad as it relates to your academic schedule and how study abroad credits will fulfill academic requirements.

Explore Your Program Options

Do an Online Program Search in My Study Abroad

All programs offered at Illinois are listed in an online platform called "My Study Abroad." All programs, regardless of campus sponsor, can be found in My Study Abroad. Each program title begins with an acronym that designates its sponsoring unit. Programs we administer begin with the acronym "ENG" and programs that the College Study Abroad Offices administer begins with an acronym specific to their name (e.g. ACES, BUS, IAGE, LAS, etc.).

Narrow Your Program Options

Schedule an Advising Appointment

Once you have a couple of programs of interest, make an appointment with the IPENG advisor who advises for those programs. Talk to them about the goals you have for study abroad and they can help you choose the study abroad program that will best fulfill those goals.

Understand Your Finances

Meet with the Office of Student Financial Aid

Most financial aid packages will apply to study abroad program costs, so it is important to understand how much of your financial aid will transfer. Start by visiting our Financial Aid page.

Apply for Scholarships

There are Illinois-sponsored, donor-funded, and national scholarships available to many students. Explore the Scholarships page for more information and a comprehensive listing.