You are here: American University Coronavirus Community Resource FAQ - Travel and Study Abroad

FAQ - Travel and Study Abroad

Jump to section:


Study Abroad


What is AU’s current policy on student/faculty/staff travel?

All official university travel outside of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area will remain suspended until February 6th, 2021. The policy will be reviewed again in November 2020. Additionally, all Spring 2021 study abroad programs have been suspended. Future travel policies will be based on Centers’ for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government agencies’ guidance, and the university’s risk assessment of travel conditions and exposure risks.

I am a faculty member or graduate student who needs to travel in order to conduct research, what should I do?

A petition can be made for an exception to the moratorium on travel by contacting the Vice Provost for Research at The petition should include: AU research participants; travel details including location, timeframe, and mode of transportation; a brief description of the purpose of travel and a rationale for the exception that explains why delaying this research will harm the effort; and grant or funding source, if applicable. 

For human subject's research, the petition should also include the status of AU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Researchers are reminded that all requests to restart human subjects research must be submitted directly to IRB for consideration and approval. For more information, see the IRB website.

Are there COVID-19 related reentry restrictions to the U.S.?

At the moment there are travel restrictions for certain countries, including the US. For travel inquiries and up-to-date information on travel restrictions, please visit the US Department of State's COVID-19 Country Specific Information page, and for travel health guidance, visit CDC's COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Country page

Study Abroad

What is the university doing about study abroad programs?

American University’s goal is to run our programs if it is safe to do so. Unfortunately, this is a rapidly evolving situation that may warrant suspending or canceling current or future programs. At this time, the University has made the difficult decision to suspend all Spring 2021 study abroad programs. 

What criteria does AU use to determine when it is safe to resume international travel associated with its programming?

American University has implemented a comprehensive approach led by a cross-functional emergency response team to respond to the COVID-19 situation and support our community. 

This team continues to monitor the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation in the United States and around the world. We continue to follow guidance of global, national, and local health and government officials. Any decisions regarding the continuation or cancellation of our study abroad programs will be made by the emergency response team in accordance with this guidance. 

What does it mean when a program is suspended?

A program suspension means that a particular program has been temporarily canceled for that term only. This suspension will not be re-evaluated, and the decision of AU is final. 

What about my health and safety?

AU monitors health and safety conditions daily and works with our on-site staff to ensure compliance with local regulations, including COVID-19 precautions and protocols. The University is committed to ensuring students’ safety while on our programs and will update students regularly in the pre-departure phase. Specifics of entry requirements, testing, distancing, and other health and safety measures will be updated and shared with participants as procedures are finalized for each study abroad program. 

Do I get my money back now that my program is suspended?

Any student who has committed to a spring 2021 semester study abroad program has the option to defer their study abroad program to the fall 2021 semester. If the student would rather withdraw completely from study abroad, they will receive a refund of their deposit back to the original form of payment. 

What if I decide not to go?

You must notify your AU Abroad advisor if you wish to defer your study abroad to another semester or if you wish to withdraw completely. If you withdraw, AU Abroad will refund your deposit. Students planning to participate in a study abroad program managed by a different academic unit or office at AU should contact that unit directly for guidance. 

If a payment or deposit is made directly to a partner institution or third party, those payments are not recoverable by American University and, therefore, cannot be refunded by AU. Instead, such payments are subject to the partner institution’s cancellation and refund policies.

Can I defer my study abroad to fall 2021?

You may defer participation in your AU Abroad program until the fall 2021 semester. Contact your AU Abroad advisor to notify us officially of your request to defer. Your AU Abroad advisor will then work with you and your program abroad to arrange for the deferral of your application. In general, many application materials can carry over to fall 2021. Depending on the program, however, some items may need to be resubmitted.  

Students who want to defer for a study abroad program managed by a different academic unit or offices at AU should contact that unit directly for guidance. 

I was planning to study abroad with an approved program provider or at a partner university. What do I need to do to withdraw my application or defer to another semester?

Once you notify your AU Abroad advisor or the study abroad advisor in the academic units, they will email your program provider or partner university letting them know that AU has suspended participation in your study abroad program for the spring 2021 semester and inform them of your decision to defer or withdraw. If you choose to defer, this email will also include the next steps you should take and the materials you may need to re-submit. 

Students planning to participate in a study abroad program managed by a different academic unit or office at AU should contact that unit directly for guidance. 

I’m not able to study abroad in a future semester. Can I still take courses through an AU Centers program in spring 2021?

Yes! Courses (including internships) from our AU Centers in Madrid, Brussels, and Nairobi will also be offered online by our faculty on the ground.  You can enroll in these classes and learn from our overseas experts. See the virtual offerings page for more information and use EagleService to register for these courses on your spring 2021 schedule. Please let AU Abroad know if you have any problems registering for one of our courses.  

If my study abroad program is being offered virtually, can I still participate and get credit at AU?

If your program has procedures in place to offer a full semester of course work virtually, it may be possible to enroll in a full semester of coursework remotely. If you choose to participate in a virtual study abroad semester, you do not have authorization to travel across borders to participate in the program.  

If you intend to take courses virtually with your study abroad program, you must enroll in a full-time course load with that program or partner. You will need to be approved by your AU Abroad Advisor to participate in a virtual semester abroad and you should contact your advisor directly with questions. AU Abroad will register you for your virtual full-time semester abroad. 

Also keep in mind that our AU Centers in Madrid, Brussels, and Nairobi are offering online classes, so if you’d like to take courses from an interesting international perspective, we encourage you to explore those options at the virtual offerings page

Students planning to participate in a study abroad program managed by a different academic unit or office at AU should contact that unit directly for guidance. 

Can I take a leave of absence to participate in a program independently from AU?

No. AU Academic regulations don’t allow you to enroll in another institution during an official leave of absence. 

I received an AU Abroad Grant for fall 2020 and now I am deferring to fall 2021. Can I defer the grant as well?

Unfortunately, no. You would need to reapply for the AU Abroad Grant for fall 2021. 

Will incoming exchange programs run in spring 2021?

American University has suspended all in-person exchanges for the Spring 2021 semester.  If an incoming exchange student would like to participate in a fully virtual semester exchange program, they should contact the office that manages their program at American University.