Boston University Study Abroad and COVID-19
Boston University’s Study Abroad locations around the world continue to prioritize the health, safety and security of our students, faculty, and staff.
In delivering our programs, we will make compassionate, respectful decisions in consultation with local public health authorities, experts at BU, and our sites around the world.
We look forward to welcoming students again in Fall 2021. Much information about COVID-19, travel regulations, and on-site health and safety protocols will change in the coming months. Please check this page regularly for the latest information and updates.
Fall 2021 Programs
We are no longer accepting applications for the fall 2021 semester programs.
The following programs are not offered in Fall 2021:
- Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) Exchange
- Nanyang Technological University Exchange
- London Art History with the Courtauld Institute of Art
- London History & Literature History track
- London Internship Art & Art Administration track
- London Royal College of Music
- Singapore Management University
- Sydney STEM
- Tec de Monterrey Campus Puebla Exchange
Fall 2021 Applications
Should I pay a deposit?
For Fall 2021, we are waiving all deposit requirements.
If you have not already accepted your spot on the program, please take the following steps to ensure our office can process this deposit waiver:
- Log back into your application and complete your Participation Confirmation.
- When prompted to select a deposit payment method, make sure to select the “I have made other arrangements” payment option.
When will Fall 2021 registration begin?
Fall 2021 registration for Study Abroad will not begin until June 1st at the earliest, and BU students are encouraged to register for on-campus courses in the interim. You’ll want to ensure our office can register you for your placeholder block of courses by completing all your general pre-departure documents within your online application. If your Fall semester program were to be canceled, or you were to change your mind about participating, the transition back to a semester in Boston would be easier if you had previously registered for on campus courses.
Visiting students, please check with your Study Abroad Office for advice on whether or not you should also register for on-campus courses.
Can I defer my application to a future semester?
Our application system does not currently allow students to defer applications to a future semester. However, you can withdraw your application from the current semester and reapply for a new semester when you are ready. If you intend to withdraw, please contact email@example.com or your Program Manager. When you reapply, you can reuse a number of application documents from your current application, and you should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request to do so. Please note that our application fee is a one-time fee, and you will not be prompted to pay it again when applying to a future semester. Spring 2022 applications open on April 1, 2021.
Should I still apply for my student visa?
We encourage you to continue to move forward with preparing your documents for your visa application as instructed. However, please do not submit anything for your visa application until we provide further information. Your Program Manager will be in touch with updated instructions and will do everything they can to help you navigate the process during these unprecedented times.
Should I book my flight or wait?
We encourage you to hold off on booking flights until we send out detailed flight information for your program. We recommend that you make your flight reservation on the University-organized group flight, which will provide better opportunities to modify flights and minimize expenses related to changes. If your program does not have a group flight or you decide to book independently, we still urge that you wait until we send further information on flights, in addition to making sure you check your airline’s change and cancellation fees before booking.
Do you recommend travel insurance?
This is your decision; we recommend talking to the airline about the cancellation and change fees before booking, and then decide whether travel insurance is worth it to you.
Will I get reimbursed for my flight if the program is cancelled?
We strongly recommend that you make your flight reservation on the University-organized group flight through Advantage Travel, which will provide better opportunities to modify flights and minimize expenses related to changes. If the cost of your program includes a flight, then your reservation on a group flight will be cancelled, with any penalties assessed per the Advantage Travel cancellation policy. If you book your flight independently and/or the cost of the flight is not included in your program fee then it is up to the airline whether or not they provide you a refund, in line with their terms and conditions.
Is there anything else I should be doing right now?
- Renew your passport, please be aware the passport application process may not be delayed due to COVID-19 and it is important that you apply as soon as possible.
- Admitted students will be receiving an email with their Pre-departure page which contains important information and instructions on next steps in your planning process.
- Check email regularly for updates.
We hope this information helps to answer some of your questions. We encourage you to share this information with family or friends who might also be invested in your fall 2021 plans. If you have further questions, please email us at email@example.com, or contact your Program Manager directly.
What if I decide not to go?
We understand that students and families are making difficult decisions about participation and that unforeseen circumstances might arise. Please review the Policy on Refunds and let us know if you have any questions. We hope you will be able to join us for a future semester!
Do I get my money back if the program is cancelled?
Should a program be canceled prior to departure, the Study Abroad Program Tuition and Study Abroad Program Fee will be fully credited back to enrolled students, following university procedures.
What about my health and safety?
BU Global Programs monitors health and safety conditions at all our locations daily, working with our staff on the ground to ensure compliance with local regulations, including, of course, COVID-19 precautions and protocols. We are committed to ensuring your safety while you are on our programs and will update students regularly in the pre-departure phase.
Will I be able to study abroad with Boston University in Fall 2021?
Our expectation is that BU’s study abroad programs will be offered in Fall 2021. Many of the specifics still depend on factors beyond our control, especially the state of the pandemic at any given location, success with vaccination rollouts, and above all the rules, requirements, and restrictions of local and national public health authorities. We will keep all students as up to date as we can. We encourage all students to manage the risk associated with possible program cancellation by registering for Fall 2021 classes on the BU or home campus.
Will internships be available for interested students?
For the most part, yes, though the details of in-person versus hybrid or virtual/remote internships are not yet finalized.
If I’m not vaccinated can I still study abroad?
Boston University requires all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of classes in the Fall 2021 semester. We are also monitoring requirements for entry into your destination country.
How will BU keep me informed of any program updates?
Once a student is accepted into a program, their assigned program manager will stay in regular contact, to provide pre-departure program information and all updates related to COVID-19. Once abroad, BU site staff members will maintain ongoing communication with students.
How and when will you communicate with parents, or home institutions in the case of non-BU students, about changes at study abroad sites after programs begin?
We communicate with emergency contacts when a substantive change or threat to the normal operation of the program is evident. Updates to parents or other emergency contacts, and advisers at non-BU home institutions, are communicated by email.
Travel, Logistics and On-Ground Support
Will I need to quarantine when I arrive?
The details of quarantine arrangements will depend on the policies of the host country. Currently, many countries require a quarantine upon entry lasting from 5-14 days, but this may change before your program start date.
What happens during the initial quarantine period?
As necessary, quarantine housing will be arranged for students. The program staff and faculty will work to deliver a program of remote orientation activities, and, if necessary, classes may also begin remotely or in a short-term hybrid mode.
What can I do to help keep myself and the other members of my program community healthy and safe?
You should continue to observe the precautions you take now and follow all recommendations and directives of the local authorities and program staff. Remember always that you are responsible not only for your own wellbeing, but also for the wellbeing of other participants in the program. It is likely that masks will still be required in all common areas (and in the community at large) at BU Study Abroad sites. Frequent hand-washing, social distancing where appropriate, and health self-monitoring will always be important.
Do I need to buy insurance?
Comprehensive medical and evacuation insurance coverage with GeoBlue is included in your program fee. For travel insurance, we recommend talking to the airline about their cancellation and change fees before booking. You can then decide whether travel insurance makes sense for you.
Testing, Symptom Monitoring and Positive Tests
Will BU implement testing and symptom monitoring?
At this point, students should expect to be tested upon arrival, in line with local requirements, and on a regular basis during the semester. Students may be asked to complete a daily online questionnaire about their current health conditions. Students who have any COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive, have missed a test, or have been a recent close contact of a person who has tested positive, will not be permitted to attend classes or program activities in person until the isolation period has concluded.
Will these requirements be different for students who are vaccinated?
BU will maintain the same public health protocols for all program participants until we know definitively the potential for viral transmission by vaccinated individuals who may have been infected, but who are otherwise asymptomatic.
Will there be contact tracing?
Local health authorities in most cases conduct contact tracing after positive tests, and we will work closely with them; BU Study Abroad staff will remain in regular contact with all students, including in the event of a positive test within a program, to supplement the contact tracing effort.
Are there any Apps for symptom monitoring and contact tracing?
Many countries have developed Apps to help track the individuals infected by COVID-19 disease, and trace close contacts. Where available, you will be asked to download the appropriate App for your location and keep it updated with symptom information and test results.
What if I test positive?
If you test positive, you should inform a staff member immediately. We are developing a detailed positive test protocol, and this FAQ will be updated with this protocol, which will include information about housing and other support.
What if I am exposed to someone in my class or someone where I live who tests positive?
Our positive test protocol will include details of contact tracing and housing and related support for close contacts. Should quarantine required, your program site may have designated quarantine housing, or you may be asked to quarantine in your residence.
What if I need to seek professional medical care or need to go to the hospital?
Program staff and your insurance provider will work with local medical personnel to assure prompt and thorough medical and/or mental health treatment (whether the issue relates to COVID-19 or another medical issue).
What will my living space look like?
Students on Boston University Study Abroad Programs live in homestays, Boston University residences, or other student residences depending on their program.
- If you are living in a homestay, you will have a single room within a larger house or apartment. All local regulations regarding shared space and gatherings will be observed by both the student and the host family. The program staff will ensure that the homestay maintains ample supplies of sanitizer and other cleaning supplies.
- If you are living in a BU residence hall or other communal residence arranged by BU, rooms may be double- or single-occupancy depending on the program, and availability. You should expect to share a kitchen and common spaces with a limited number of other students and follow local guidelines for social distancing and hygiene; schedules may be -introduced to -manage student numbers using common spaces. A full supply of cleaning supplies will be maintained in all kitchens and shared bathrooms. Program staff will also provide information on food and grocery delivery.
- If you are a BU student on an exchange program, you will be responsible for your own housing. It is very important that you verify that your landlord or university-affiliated housing provider is in full compliance with applicable health and safety regulations. BU Study Abroad will also be working with exchange partners to ensure they are providing detailed on-site guidance.
Program Activities In and Out of the Classroom
What will my classrooms look like?
BU-controlled classrooms and staff offices will feature the kinds of safeguards you are used to seeing now, including deep-cleaning, de-densification, and desks/chairs spaced according to local regulations. Hand sanitizer, wipes, and cleaning supplies will be available in each classroom and in program offices. Chairs, desks, and keyboards will be wiped down by students and instructors before and after use.
Lounge and other communal spaces will have posted capacity limits in compliance with local regulations.
Students will be required to provide their own face masks and wear them in classrooms, offices, and common areas, or while participating in program gatherings. Other measures will be shared with students before arrival on site.
Exchange program institutions will follow their local procedures, which may vary from institution to institution. We will be working with our exchange partners to ensure a full understanding of their Fall 2021 procedures.
Can I take any of my classes remotely?
At present, our plan is to return to in-person classes for the fall, unless remote learning is required during quarantine or isolation.
Can I work remotely for my internship?
The specific logistics of your internship are established by your internship employer, working with your program faculty and staff. All internships include an academic component, and class meetings will normally be conducted in-person.
How are internship placements vetted for safety?
All potential placements will be interviewed and physically inspected if possible. The placement will be asked to share their COVID-19 protocols, and their expectations of the student in their workplace. This information will be provided to the student.
Will programs offer excursions?
Local excursions are an important part of a student’s experience abroad. Excursions will be offered to the extent permitted by current program and public health protocols.
Can I travel on my own?
Independent travel away from the program site will depend on several factors, including the state of the pandemic, local and international travel restrictions, and guidance from U.S., local and national public health authorities; we are assessing our travel policies for Fall 2021. Students who travel away from the program site on non-program travel would be responsible for any inconvenience or incurred costs resulting from COVID-19 restrictions or requirements. We strongly encourage students to get to know their host city and host country better while abroad, as we anticipate continued restrictions on travel.
Can friends and family visit me during the program?
We strongly discourage any visitors while you are enrolled in the program until the pandemic is under control. Outside visitors will not be allowed into our program facilities.
What if the program were to close early? Are there decision points you use?
The health and well-being of all members of the BU Study Abroad community are always our highest priorities. In all matters of evacuations, lockdowns, curfews, or other local restrictions, Boston University follows the guidance of U.S., national, and local health authorities and we expect students to comply with any such guidance. Boston University will also consider COVID-19 positive test and transmission rates, vaccination success, and access to international travel as points for consideration before any alteration to the program.
Decisions of such seriousness are not taken lightly and will be communicated immediately to students, parents or other emergency contacts, and home school advisors.
Could I continue classes remotely if the program site were to close and students had to depart?
In this scenario, Boston University programs are prepared to pivot to remote instruction so that students can finish the semester and receive full credit. For students directly enrolled at a partner university, the details of remote instruction will depend on the host institution, and we will be working with partner institutions to ensure an understanding of their academic continuity plans.