- Complete and submit the online inquiry form.
- Apply for a passport.
- Identify study away programs that interest you. You can do this on your own or you can meet with a member of the Study Away staff.
- Talk to your academic advisor about your plans to study abroad. This is necessary to ensure that studying abroad will not impede your progress towards your degree.
- Contact the Study Away Office.
A passport is your official identification as a United States citizen. A passport is needed to enter and leave the United States and to enter and leave foreign countries.
You MUST have a valid passport to study outside of the United States. Your passport must be valid for at least six (6) months after a program’s end date.
Furthermore, a passport will be needed when applying for a student visa (required for most study away programs).
Passport applications can take up to eight (8) weeks to process. Apply for your passport AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to avoid delays caused by high demand.
What you need to get a passport:
- Application for Passport, Form DS-11
- Proof of Citizenship (The original or an official copy of your birth certificate – a photocopy will not be accepted)
- Proof of Identity (Driver’s license)
- Two (2) passport size photos
- Application fee
For more information, instructions, and to download the application form visit the U.S. Department of State web site.
Locally, passport applications can be obtained and submitted at:
St. Joseph Post Office
201 S. 8th St.
St. Joseph, MO
Monday – Friday. 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Western Institute – Study Away and Exchange Programs
Visa Application Information
Some students require Visas in order to take part in Study Away or Exchange experiences. These students generally fall into three categories:
- US citizens who plan to study abroad for an extended time period
- Incoming international students to MWSU who plan to study abroad through an established MWSU program
- Students participating in short-term study away trips when visas are required by the country being visited.
For category 3, the faculty member leading the trip should consult with the Study Away and Exchanges Programs’ coordinator, but the faculty member should be responsible to work with the students to obtain necessary visas. As noted below, the Study Away and Exchange Programs’ staff have little experience in obtaining visas and this is an issue of significant complexity. It is understood that most faculty members will have even less experience with visa issues than the Study Away office. Thus, students, faculty and Study Away staff may have to rely on vendors for assistance. But the faculty member should begin her/his investigation by contacting the relevant embassies.
For categories 1 and 2, the traveling student is responsible for ascertaining what visas are needed and for obtaining his or her own visas. The student must contact the embassies of the appropriate countries to learn current, authoritative information on the requirements for their planned travel. Visas may take weeks or even months to process, and we encourage students to apply as soon as they know they will be traveling.
Staff members in the Office of Study Away and Exchange Programs encounter these situations only rarely and are not trained to give legal advice on Visa requirements or procedures.
Travel to an embassy to apply for a visa can be difficult for some students, and they may wish to use a third-party visa assistance company. Although the Office of Study Away and Exchange Programs does not recommend one specific company above another, we have researched and compiled a partial list of reputably rated companies to assist students in obtaining this service. Please note that many other companies also offer these services.
The following list is taken from the New York Times and from Yelp reviews:
VisaCentral is a web site that can assist users by detailing the visa requirements for different countries, depending on the traveler’s nationality and the location they wish to visit. https://visacentral.com/.
Passport and visa service companies, along with their Better Business Bureau ratings, include but are not limited to:
Allied Passport and Visa www.alliedpassport.com (BBB A+ rating)
CIBT www.cibtvisas.com (BBB A+ rating)
Passport Rush www.passportrush.com (no rating on BBB)
TravelVisaPro www.travelvisapro.com (BBB A+ rating)
TraVisa www.travisa.com (not BBB accredited)
VisaHQ www.visahq.com (BBB A+ rating)
All international students who plan to take part in a MWSU program abroad should also discuss their plans with these staff members:
International Admissions Coordinator (currently Tina Washburn)
Director of International Student Services (currently Ann Rahmat)
Assistant Director of International Student Services (currently Fumi Matsumoto Cheever)
The Office of Study Away and Exchange Programs is a part of the Western Institute. We are committed to serving our students as they travel to enhance their educational experience. By referring students to the appropriate embassy for visa information, we can be certain they will receive the timeliest information for their needs.
There are many benefits of studying away. Here are just a few of them.
- See new and different places
- Meet new and different people
- Gain a broader perspective of the world and your place in it
- Develop international friendships
- Improve your proficiency in other languages
- Enhance your communication, leadership, and decision making skills
- Enhance your resume
- Must be enrolled as a student at Missouri Western
- Must be in good academic standing at Missouri Western
Studying away presents numerous challenges that are different from traditional university study in the United States. Students are therefore encouraged to engage in a candid self-assessment of their strengths and weaknesses before enrolling in a study abroad program.
The following questions are designed to aid you in such a self-assessment. Your answers will help you determine if you are up to the challenges of studying abroad. They can also help the Study Away staff find a program that best suits you.
- Why do you want to study abroad?
- Have you ever traveled outside of the United States?
- In what country or countries would you like to study?
- Do you speak a foreign language?
- Would you like to learn to speak a foreign language?
- Do you want to study abroad for a year, semester, summer, or just a few weeks?
- How does study abroad fit into your academic plans?
- How does study abroad fit into your personal and/or career plans?
- What kind of living arrangements do you prefer (on-campus dormitory, off-campus apartment, host-family, etc.)?
- Are you aware of financial aid, personal loans, and scholarships to help fund study away?
- What scares you about studying abroad?
- Do you believe you are emotionally stable enough to be away from home for an extended period of time?
- Would you prefer a program in which you are mainly with other American students or would you like to completely immerse yourself in another culture?
- Do you feel comfortable traveling on your own or do you prefer to travel with others?
- What type of location would you prefer (small town, big city)?
In most cases, the financial aid that you receive to attend Missouri Western can be used to pay for your study abroad experience.
If you are interested in studying abroad, the Study Away staff will create a budget of total costs associated with the program. This budget will be submitted to the Financial Aid office to calculate the amount of aid available to you.
There are also external sources of financial aid available for study abroad.
See the Financial Aid link on the main menu.