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Frequently Asked Questions for Incoming Exchange Students


Where will I live during my time at KU?

KU offers on-campus housing in residence halls, scholarship halls, and apartments. Visit the housing website to find out more information on each type of housing. 

How does the housing selection process work?

Students who want to live in on-campus housing should first sign a contract for on-campus housing as soon as possible after being admitted to KU. When contracting, students will indicate their preference of either residence halls or apartment living. Note that indicating a preference does not guarantee that there will be spots available. About 24 hours after signing this contract, students will receive an email from KU housing describing the selection process and giving them their group number. This group number indicates when students will select their rooms.

When it is time for you to select your room, you will log into your myKU housing portal to do so. Study Abroad and Global Engagement office holds rooms in the residence halls to ensure that all exchange students can live on campus, if they so choose. If placed on the waitlist, students will then have the opportunity to indicate their preferences (4 person room vs. 2 person room; renovated vs. unrenovated). The more flexible you are with your preferences, the more likely it is you will get a room. In early July, all students on the waitlist will be removed from the waitlist and will need to select a room in the residence halls if they wish to live on campus. Note that signing a contract for on-campus housing is binding so students who break the contract will be charged cancellation fees.

Is there a fall-only contract option?

The on-campus housing contract is for the academic year (fall and spring terms) but exchange students staying for the fall semester only, will be permitted to cancel their contract at semester without incurring cancellation fees.

What happens if my first choice housing option is not available?

When contracting for on-campus housing, you have a range of options from apartments (Jayhawker Towers, Stouffer and McCarthy), 10 residence halls, or 12 scholarship halls. If your first choice is not available, you may choose other options. If you’re having difficulty, call housing, 785-864-4560..

What if I want to live in the scholarship halls?

The scholarship halls are cooperative living communities in which “schol-hallers” take on tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and doing other chores. Exchange students interested in living in one of these communities must first sign an online contract for on-campus housing. Students are encouraged to preference residence halls on their contract. Once this contract is signed, students complete the scholarship hall application (found on KU’s housing website) Applications for scholarship halls are reviewed on a rolling basis, and offers are made depending upon availability in the individual communities. Additionally, scholarship hall students currently answer a single short-answer question https://housing.ku.edu/scholarship-halls/application

Students are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible, as this increases the likelihood of getting in. Because space is limited, students are encouraged to choose a room in the residence halls when it is their designated time (i.e., if your group number chooses rooms on May 30th and you still have not heard from the scholarship halls, choose a room in a residence hall). It is possible that spots in scholarship halls could open up in the late summer, and if you are made an offer to live there, housing can switch your contract from the residence halls to the scholarship halls.

Where will I live during orientation?

You will sign up for orientation housing when you pre-register for orientation through the International Student Services (ISS) iHawk system. You will receive an email from ISS 1-3 months before arrival, which provides instructions on how to do so.


When and how will I enroll in my courses?

New exchange students enroll in classes after they have arrived on campus and completed the mandatory check-ins that take place during orientation (there are holds on your record that prevent you from doing so beforehand). Given that this is the case, you will be asked to submit course requests in your Jayhawks Abroad account shortly after being admitted to KU. Study abroad and Global Experience (SAGE)  will work to obtain any necessary permissions prior to your arrival and then you will meet with an advisor in Study Abroad & Global Engagement to complete your enrollment once orientation ends.

What courses am I allowed to enroll in at KU?

Students can view available courses online at classes.ku.edu. Click the “More Options” button to search by academic discipline. Each student is able to submit 5 different course requests through their Jayhawks Abroad account, as well as two alternate courses. When looking at course offerings, it is important to note whether or not they are at capacity (how many seats are available), what days/times the course is offered at, and whether or not there are any prerequisites. Some departments have restrictions on courses available to exchange students, especially when the course is required for graduation from KU and availability is limited. If there are courses you are interested in but are unsure whether or not it is possible for you to take them, please email osaexchange@ku.edu.

How can I tell what times/days a class meets by looking at the timetable?

Say you were to look up the course ENGL 211. There are four different sections of this class, which meet at four different times during the week. The prerequisites for this course are listed under the course description, and the seats available indicated on the right hand side of the screen. The course meets MWF from 9:00AM until 9:50AM. The abbreviations used for days of the week are as follows: M = Monday, T = Tuesday, W = Wednesday, R = Thursday, and F = Friday. Note also that right next to the time it says “LAWRENCE,” indicating that this course is held at the Lawrence campus. In general, exchange students tend to enroll in courses on the Lawrence campus, as they are not allowed to enroll in courses at the medical school in Kansas City and the Edwards campus is about a 50 minute bus ride away.

What do LBN, LEC, and DIS mean?

Some courses offered at KU consist of only a lecture component, where others include both a required lab and/or discussion section. When planning your schedule, make sure to pay attention to lecture times as well as lab/discussion times, as you will need to enroll in both if a discussion or lab is part of the course.

What happens if a course is at capacity?

If there is a course that you are interested in taking but that does not have any available seats, it is still okay to submit the course as one of your requests. Study Abroad and Global Engagement will request permission from the department, however, the instructor may or may not grant permission, as it depends on room capacity as well as whether or not he/she is willing to take on additional students. This is one of the reasons we ask for two alternative course requests.

How many courses can I request for a semester at KU?

Undergraduate exchange students must enroll in between 12 and 15 credit hours (4-5 courses) and graduate students in 9 and 12 credits (3-4 courses). Please note that on-line courses do not count toward the minimum requirement so an undergraduate planning to take a 3-credit on-line course, would need to take 15 credits in total in order to meet the minimum requirement. If a student does not wish to take the maximum allowed, they may simply leave the additional course request questionnaires in the Jayhawks Abroad account blank. Even if you do not plan to take the maximum allowed, please submit 2 alternate courses.

How does the final exam schedule work at KU?

Exam schedules are posted online at www.registrar.ku.edu/exams. Exams take place during the final week of the semester. Final exam times may differ from actual class times, so be sure to check online to confirm.

When does the semester end?

The academic calendar can be found at www.registrar.ku.edu/calendar. You should plan to stay on campus through the last day of final exams because you will not know your exam schedule until your enrollment for the semester is finalized. Although residence halls close on the evening of the last day of final exams, exchange students living on-campus can make arrangements through Housing Department to check out the following day.


How does health insurance work during my time at KU? Is coverage already included in the exchange, or am I required to purchase my own plan?

All international students are automatically enrolled in the KU health insurance plan unless they apply for a waiver and it is approved. Information about the minimum requirements and waiver application process can be found at www.iss.ku.edu/insurance. Health insurance is not covered by the exchange agreement, so you will be billed for it after you have arrived at KU via the Enroll and Pay system. Insurance is coordinated by the International Student Services Office (ISS), so you will want to direct any questions to issinsurance@ku.edu.

How much will it cost for me to see a doctor at the on-campus medical center if covered under the KU health insurance plan?

You will be able to see a physician at Watkins Health Center at no charge, unless there is a medical procedure performed or you have an ancillary charge for lab, x-ray, pharmacy, or Physical Therapy (none of which you may need). The costs for those services are generally covered at 100% by the KU insurance.

I read that I need to have a Tuberculosis vaccination in the US. Will I be able to get this at the on-campus medical center during Orientation and how much will it cost under the KU health insurance plan?

Students will take a blood test that checks for TB during International Student Orientation. It is covered by the KU insurance at 100%.

Life at KU

I am trying to book the "All Sports Combo" in "Enroll & Pay" (Optional Fees for a Student) but I don’t seem to be able to do so. Am I not eligible to book such options as a-non degree seeking exchange student, or is this just a technical difficulty?

Exchange students are not able to purchase the combo online until they have gone through orientation as there are holds on their records that prevent them from doing so. After August 1st, students cannot purchase them online anymore but can purchase them in-person at the Allen Field Ticket Office after completing orientation and obtaining their KU student ID card.


Where can I learn more about how to apply for a J-1 visa?

Please refer to the US Department of State website regarding the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program.

How long before my J-1 program starts can I arrive in the United States? How long can I remain after my program ends?

You may not arrive more than 30 days before the program start date shown on your DS-2019. Upon completion of your exchange program, you have a grace period of 30 days to depart the United States.

Arriving at KU

Am I required to participate in the “You at KU” Orientation?

Yes, orientation is mandatory so please plan to arrive in Lawrence on the arrival date specified or earlier. Orientation activities will officially begin the following day. In the fall there are separate orientations for graduate and undergraduate students, however, graduate students may choose to attend the undergraduate one if they prefer. Graduate orientation typically begins 3 weeks before classes start and the undergraduate one 2 weeks prior. There is only one orientation in the spring (for graduate and undergraduate students) and it typically begins about 1.5-2 weeks before classes start. 

Where will I stay during orientation since on-campus housing contracts do not begin until shortly before classes start?

Students are encouraged to sign-up for the orientation housing option when they pre-register for orientation. Details regarding how to pre-register will be sent via email by International Support Services (ISS) 1-3 months prior to arrival. The cost of housing during orientation is the student’s responsibility (unless an ISEP or Tsuda student) and will be billed via the KU Enroll & Pay system after arrival.

What is the best way to get to Lawrence after arriving at the Kansas City Airport?

The drive from the Kansas City Airport to Lawrence takes approximately 45 minutes so it is important to make shuttle arrangements prior to arrival. There is a limited free shuttle as well as a number of commercial shuttle options that can be booked prior to departure. Click here for details.


What fees will I be personally responsible for covering while at KU?

Tuition and Course Fees, Technology Fee, International Student Service fee,  Infrastructure Fee, and Campus Fee will be covered by Study Abroad and Global Engagement.  Campus fees fund access to recreation and fitness center, on-campus bus system, library and software resources, health center and student events.  Exchange students will be responsible for housing and meals (unless a Tsuda or ISEP student), books,  KUID card ($15), Orientation Fee ($235), ISS Check-In Fee ($40), and the required health insurance (subject to change but currently $709 per semester).  These will be billed after you have arrived on campus and enrolled in your classes. 

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9th among public universities in the country for high quality, low cost study abroad programs — U.S. News & World Report
Longest-running exchange program in Western Hemisphere (begun in 1958) between KU and University of Costa Rica
18th in the nation among public universities for undergraduate participation in study abroad — Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange
28.1% of KU undergraduate students study abroad prior to graduation.
KU students who study abroad graduate in four years at twice the rate of students who do not study abroad
More than 160 study abroad programs in 75 countries, with instruction in all disciplines and 20+ languages
Students can study abroad for an academic year, semester, summer, spring break, or winter break
Programs include international study, internships, service, and research opportunities
Students participating in semester, academic year, and select summer programs fulfill Goal 4.2 of the KU Core curriculum
Students can fulfill major, minor, certificate, elective, and KU Core curriculum requirements abroad
Programs are available for students in every major at KU
Financial aid is applicable to study abroad programs, and most KU scholarships and grants can be applied to study abroad
Study Abroad & Global Engagement and many academic departments offer scholarships to qualified KU students
By studying abroad, students gain a global perspective on the world and strengthen their career opportunities
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times