COVID-19: Guidance for students planning study abroad and university-related international travel

April 2, 2020

Updated Sept. 29, 2020, 2:30 p.m.

The health, safety and security of MU students is our top priority. All decisions regarding study abroad and university-related international travel are made with that at the forefront. We remain optimistic, but realistic, about what needs to happen for international travel to resume. At this time, MU prohibits all non-essential travel.

In addition, the following list of required indicators must be met in order for MU to approve study abroad and university-related international travel:

If these conditions are not met for your program location, you also have the option to submit an appeal to the Student Travel Abroad Review Committee. Study abroad students should contact their adviser for more information about this process.

Given the uncertainties related to COVID-19, if you are planning study abroad or university-related international travel during the 2020/21 academic year, you should make back-up plans knowing that travel restrictions and other guidance can change unexpectedly and may alter plans.

Considerations for study abroad students: You will be notified via your MU email account if your study abroad program is canceled or altered. If your program is canceled or you are not able to participate, you should work with your program coordinator to defer to a later semester, find an alternative program or withdraw your application.

Flights: Do not purchase plane tickets or make other non-refundable financial commitments until after you have received a final acceptance decision from MU and your host university or program provider. MU will not be able to provide any financial assistance if your program is canceled or altered after you have purchased your plane ticket.

Courses: We understand you may have concerns regarding the possibility of your program being canceled and having to enroll in courses on campus last minute. Please schedule an appointment with your MU academic adviser to enroll in courses on campus; they can be dropped at a later date if your study abroad program is confirmed to operate as scheduled. 

Housing: We encourage you to work with MU Residential Life to secure a flexible housing lease should your travel plans need to be postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. To learn more about your housing options at MU, please email or call 573-882-7275.

Refunds: You are bound by the host institution or affiliated provider cancellation and refund policies regarding withdrawal from the study abroad program, which may prevent you from receiving a refund even if you withdraw prior to the beginning of the program. It is your responsibility to be familiar with and abide by all refund policies for your study abroad program. Given the fast-changing nature of the COVID-19 spread around the world, your MU program coordinator will provide you with key decision dates where you will have the option to either withdraw your application without owing the MU study abroad administrative fee or to stay committed to the program. 

Financial considerations: The University of Missouri is unable to assist you financially in the event that the program is canceled or to provide financial reimbursement for any additional costs you may incur, including the cost of return travel or quarantine. Therefore, we recommend the following to protect your study abroad investment:  

  • Wait to buy plane tickets until there is more certainty about international travel. Only purchase flights that offer refunds or maximum flexibility should you need to change or cancel your ticket.
  • Purchase a travel insurance policy that allows you to cancel for any reason.
  • Consider working with a travel agency that can provide in-person support to ensure you fully understand the policies and can support you if any alterations or cancellations are made to your travel plans.

International travel: Check whether your destination has restricted travel from the United States and if it is processing requests for student or research visas (if applicable). This information is usually available on the websites of the appropriate U.S. embassy/consulate and foreign embassy/consulate.

For questions or concerns, please contact the Office of International Health, Safety and Security ( or your study abroad adviser.