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FAQ - Travel and Study Abroad

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Study Abroad


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

Official university travel outside of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area will remain suspended through the end of the spring semester (May 7, 2021).  All spring and summer 2021 study abroad programs have been suspended. Requests for travel exceptions for certain university functions may be considered by the President/Provost/Vice Presidents and require approval before any travel arrangements are made. Faculty travel for research purposes is subject to the Return to Research guidelines, and research-related travel exceptions can be requested by contacting the Vice Provost for Research at In-season travel by AU’s Patriot League intercollegiate teams is allowed under the approved plan for competition.

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. Please note that the US Department of State issued a press release on Monday, January 25, 2021 requiring negative COVID-19 test for air travel to the United States. This order applies to both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens.

I am a faculty member or graduate student who needs to travel 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.  

Please note that effective January 26, 2021: If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get tested no more than 3 days before you travel by air into the United States (US) and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel). Please see the CDC's Requirements for Air Passengers Arriving in the United States for additional information.

Study Abroad

What is the university doing about study abroad programs? 

AU Abroad is still accepting applications for students to study abroad for fall 2021 and academic year 2021-22. All spring and summer 2021 study abroad programs have been suspended.  

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 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.   

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

Application fees and deposits which have already been paid for AU Abroad Summer 2021 programs will be refunded. 

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

Yes! Courses 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. More information will be available when the registration period for Summer 2021 is open.   

In addition, students have the opportunity to apply for virtual internships through AU Centers in Madrid and Nairobi.  

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.  

Can I still apply for a Permit to Study Abroad on a non-AU program this Summer? 

Yes. However, if the university extends its suspension of travel outside of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area into the summer, permits for in-person study abroad will be cancelled.