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Incoming Exchange Student Resources

Incoming Exchange Resources




Fact Sheet: UGA Exchange Program Info Sheet 2024_25.pdf

VIDEO: All about the University of Georgia for exchange students! 

Please click to expand the sections below for incoming student frequently asked questions:
Prior To Arrival

1. What are the English language requirements of the program?

The TOEFL minimum scores are 550 (paper) 214, (CBT) or 80 (iBT). IELTS minimum score is 6.5. These are set by UGA Admissions. Students who do not meet the minimum required standards in this test can retake the test as long as the scores are submitted to UGA prior to the application deadline. For application purposes, the highest score achieved on those tests will be considered by the university. Please note that no other English proficiency tests are accepted. 

2. How to get the student visa? 

After acceptance into the exchange program, students will receive instructions to request the DS-2019 form which is needed to apply for a J-1 Student Exchange Visa. Students should be able to demonstrate the required funding cost per semester for academic and personal expenses. Find out more information on becoming an international student by visiting our website

For any questions about the visa/immigration process, students should reach out to

3. How to arrive on campus from the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport?

Students flying into Georgia through the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) airport and heading to Athens are encouraged to take the Groome Transportation Shuttle. The shuttle works on an hourly basis and it stops in different places in Athens. For students who plan on living on campus, the closest stop to get off the shuttle is the UGA Georgia Center, which is on campus. Tickets can be booked online: select “Arrival Reservations”, fill out the form with personal information and complete the booking process by choosing payment type.

4. Which orientation sessions are offered for exchange students?

Incoming international students are encouraged to attend the International Student Life (ISL) Orientation. ISL Orientation for the Fall semester is one-week long and for the Spring it is reduced to a couple of days. While attending ISL Orientation, students will stay in on-campus housing and eat at the UGA dining halls. Students must pay a fee in advance to register for ISL Orientation.

ISL Orientation will cover many aspects of student life at UGA. Additional resources posted by ISL can be found here.

If exchange students are unable to attend ISL Orientation, they should plan on attending the makeup OGE Orientation, which is typically scheduled the day before classes begin. At this time, the Incoming Exchanges Coordinator will provide students with useful information regarding class registration, Student Account balance payment, health insurance and waivers, resources on campus, and other important topics. There is no cost associated with this Orientation. If students attended the ISL Orientation, there is no need for them to also attend the OGE Orientation.

5. What housing options are available?

The majority of incoming international exchange students opt to live on-campus in the East Campus Village (ECV) residential halls or in Brown Hall. The ECV apartments are some of UGA’s newest residential facilities and are conveniently located next to the Ramsey Center, the Performing Arts Center, the Georgia Museum of Art, the University Health Center, the Village Summit dining hall, and the Intramural Fields. All of these facilities are located right on the UGA bus line. Graduate students may be interested in living in UGA's Graduate Housing. Brown Hall dorms are located on the Health Sciences campus in the quaint neighborhood of Normaltown. UGA on-campus housing is NOT guaranteed. The Housing Office will assign spaces. Students cannot choose which building they will live in.

Apartments at ECV are fully-furnished and move-in ready. They are usually four bedroom/two bathroom, with a common living room and kitchen area to be shared with roommates. OGE assigns two exchange students to live with two UGA students in each dorm room. Resident Assistants are available to provide support to students. There is also a 24/7 help desk service at the main ECV office. University Housing is open during university breaks so students can travel and leave their belongings safe in the apartments.

Students living in Brown Hall on the Health Sciences Campus take advantage of living in Athens’ trendy Normaltown neighborhood while still enjoying an on-campus, community lifestyle free from the hassles of monthly bills. Dorms in Brown Hall are double with a suite-style bathroom. The Niche, operated by Dining Services, serves the Health Sciences Campus and offers made-to-order entreés to any student on a UGA meal plan. All residence halls have secure two-factor building access, WiFi and Ethernet internet access, laundry rooms, study lounges, community kitchens and access to a 24-hour desk. Rooms in Brown Hall include a microfridge, a microwave/refrigerator combination unit.

Students may also opt to live off-campus as a cheaper and more independent option. Off-campus housing arrangements are made by students without the assistance of the Office of Global Engagement.

6. What is the application process for on-campus housing?

Although UGA Housing sets aside a certain number of rooms for incoming exchange students each semester, exchange students must register for housing and execute a contract. After students have been accepted to the exchange program, they will receive step-by-step instructions from their incoming exchanges coordinator regarding how to sign up. A small fee will be requested through the website for reserving a room. It is important that exchange students wait for instructions from the incoming exchanges coordinator before signing up for housing, as there are specific instructions for them to follow that are different from other groups of students. UGA on-campus housing is NOT guaranteed. 

Once students sign their housing contract, they will be billed for the on-campus housing on their Student Accounts. Students must pay the fees in accordance with the payment deadlines set by the UGA Bursar's Office. All deadlines will be after students have arrived on-campus.

7. What is the process for class registration?

Every international student is required to have a minimum number of credit hours in order to comply with U.S. immigration requirements. For undergraduate students, the course load is between 12-17 hours. For graduate students, the course load is between 9-15 hours (and the minimum depends on whether or not they have an assistantship).

Course Request Form

After students have been accepted to the exchange program, the incoming exchanges coordinator will ask them to complete a Course Request Form. The purpose of this form is to assist with the process of securing permission for students to take courses with special permissions. The course request form is not for every course that a student wants to take. If a course does not require any permissions (such as Permission of Major, Permission of Department, Permission of Professor) or pre-requisite classes, it is open for enrollment and students do not need to include it in their course request form.

In order to correctly complete the course request form, we recommend that students complete the following steps:
  • Consult the UGA Bulletin
    • This is a tool for finding all courses available at UGA
    • If a course has permissions or pre-requisites, that information will be available here
    • If you need syllabi or course descriptions, that information will be available here
  • Consult the Schedule of Classes
    • This is a tool for finding which courses are available at UGA during a specific semester
    • If you would like to know what time a class is, what day(s), the professor, etc., that information will be available here
  • Complete the Course Request Form (as directed by exchanges coordinator) 

Remember: The course request form does not guarantee access to a course, and it does not sign you up for a course. It only allows the incoming exchanges coordinator to facilitate permissions for students requesting restricted classes. Some possible limitations that could prevent students from being able to sign up for a class that they requested include:
  • A student not having the required pre-requisites to take a course
  • A course being in high demand, full, or exclusive to UGA students
  • Business, Journalism, Public Relations, and International Affairs have specific limitations - please consult the incoming exchanges coordinator each semester to learn about which courses will be available
  • No courses in law or veterinary medicine are open to exchange students
The incoming exchanges coordinator should always be the students' point of contact for course requests. Unless specifically instructed to do so, students should not directly contact professors or departments regarding course requests.

Course Enrollment

Students may enroll for courses prior to their arrival on campus and are encouraged to do so. Each semester, the incoming exchanges coordinator will provide students with the dates during which they can register.

The platform used to look up and register for classes, add/drop courses, and check schedule is Athena. Once students are registered for the minimum amount of credits, they should never go below this minimum. If students need to add a different class and drop one they have, it is important to always add a course before dropping another one. Otherwise, students will not comply with the minimum number of credits required and it may cause them problems with their status as international students at the university.

Drop/ Add Period

After students arrive on campus, they will be able to once again register for courses. After classes begin, all students enter into the "Drop/Add Period," where they can continue adding and dropping courses.
After Arrival On Campus

1. 5 Things To Do Once You've Arrived

  1. Get a UGA student ID. THE UGA ID is a very important document and it grants access to most of UGA facilities/services. It contains a student’s 81#, which is the UGAID number. For example, students use the UGA ID to ride the city bus for free, to have student discounts around town (on and off-campus), and so forth. To get a UGA student ID, a student needs to go to the UGA Card Office, located in the Tate Center. They will pay $35, have their picture taken, and will be able to leave with their card in 5-30 minutes, depending on the line. The UGA ID is ready after a few minutes. For more information, please check the UGA Card Office website.
  2. Check-in with your assigned dorm. Students should check into their on-campus housing when they arrive. UGA Housing staff will provide apartment and mailbox keys and show the student to their room. For more information about housing on campus and check-in dates/ procedures, please reference the University Housing website.
  3. Attend Orientation events
  4. Explore the UGA campus. The campus map is a good resource to be used to understand where different classes will be located. Students have access to free UGA buses on campus and can check live bus routes. Students who live off-campus and ride a city bus need to check the time tables on the Athens Transit website. Students who wish to park a motor vehicle at UGA can find information about fees and parking decks.
  5. Update U.S. address in Athena. In order to successfully register for some services at the University of Georgia, such as the Health Insurance Waiver, students must provide a U.S. address in Athena (on or off-campus).

2. What is the UGA Meal Plan and how to sign up?

All students, especially those living on-campus, are encouraged to consider signing up for a Meal Plan. Participants enjoy unlimited access to all the dining halls on campus: Bolton Dining Commons, Oglethorpe Dining Commons, Snelling Dining Commons, The Village Summit, and the Niche. There is a great variety of options on a daily basis, including vegetarian, vegan, and other healthy options. The menu, the nutrition guide, and the serving hours are available on their website. Once students sign up, the charge is automatically added to their Student Account. Students are able to sign up for the meal plan at any time before or during the semester. 

There are a couple of situations when students can order meals to go: if they are sick to the point that they might transmit a virus to other people (ex. if you have the flu) or when they have a packed schedule of classes around a mealtime, for example, if you have classes from 11am to 2pm without a break that allows you to go to dining halls. Students can talk to one of the meal plan dietitians, show a doctor’s note or class schedule and permission will be granted to order a meal sack, and bring it home or to class.

3. How to pay the Student Account balance?

Most international students pay their Student Account balance using Flywire. Other options include cash, money order, paper check, electronic check from a U.S. bank, international credit card, or a U.S. credit card. You will not pay your student account balance until you get to campus. 

Attention: Be aware of the deadlines to pay your student account bill. Paying within the deadlines to avoid issues such as extra fees, having holds on your account and/or having your classes dropped. You may be charged a reinstatement fee if you do not comply with the deadlines. Plan accordingly to making wire transfers or any other money management strategy because bank transactions may take a few business days.

4. How to enroll in the UGA Student Health Insurance Plan?

Every international student must enroll in a Health Insurance plan. UGA offers the student mandatory plan. It consists of an accident and sickness insurance policy that provides coverage worldwide. No action is necessary for students to enroll in this plan; it will automatically be applied to each student at the beginning of the academic semester and will be billed on the student's account. 

Questions about student health insurance may be directed to or 706-542-2222. Questions concerning plan benefits or claims may be directed to United Healthcare Student Resources customer service at 866-403-8267.

5. If I already have health insurance, how can I waive the UGA Health Insurance Plan?

Students who are mandated to have coverage under the mandatory student health insurance plan may request to waive out of the mandatory plan if they have other acceptable health insurance coverage.

If you are staying in the U.S. longer than one academic semester, you should submit a waiver application every semester. 

Students can submit waivers once they have arrived on campus. All students' accounts will be billed for the UGA Health Insurance Plan; once a waiver is submitted and approved, the charge will be waived.

6. How to save money on textbooks and school supplies?

Students who wish to save some money on textbooks and other school supplies can refer to the five strategies below:
  1. Check the textbook availability in the UGA libraries: The University of Georgia Libraries include four main facilities on the UGA campus in Athens: the Main Library, the Science Library, the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, and the Miller Learning Center. Together the Libraries own over 4.6 million volumes and 6.6 million microform units, and we subscribe to over 7,000 print journals. UGA provides online access to over 48,000 electronic full-text journals and approximately 400,000 full-text e-books. Librarians are available to help students over the phone, via online chat or in person. 
  2. Use Gil Express: Gil Express is a service offered at all libraries within the University System of Georgia (USG). This is an innovative resource sharing initiative that allows students, faculty, and staff access to all eligible circulating material at all USG libraries. If a textbook is not available in one of the UGA libraries, students can check libraries from different universities within the state of Georgia and order it through Gil Express.
  3. Post on the Facebook group UGA Textbooks. There are always students interested in buying, trading, and selling textbooks. You can post the reference to your books and see if anyone is interested in selling them for a cheaper price.
  4. Look for your books online. There are many used books websites with cheaper prices or renting services. These websites are usually reliable and the book is received within a few business days. Remember: if you rented a book online, it needs to be returned by mail.
  5. Read it on the screen. You can also choose to have the electronic version of a textbook in an e-reader or mobile device. Electronic copies are cheaper and they are also available for purchase or rent. This may be a good strategy to save some money for those who do not mind reading on the screen.
  6. Discounts on electronics. Students can also save some money on electronics. Some brands and stores have online and in-store student discounts. When buying an electronic device or textbook, always ask if educational discounts are available for students.

7. What is the Add/Drop period?

The Add/Drop period consists of the first five business days after classes start. During this first week, students can get a sense of classes and adjust their schedules with no penalty by choosing a different class section (if available), adding or dropping classes. This week is very important for students to review course syllabi and schedules and analyze whether they will be able to stay and succeed in classes they chose. The add/drop process is all online in Athena and students can do it on their own (though they can ask for assistance from the incoming exchanges coordinator for advice or to add classes that require special permissions).

8. How to add classes after the Add/Drop period?

The process to withdraw or add classes after the Add/Drop period is more complex and has more serious implications. To add a class, students will need to talk to the instructor and ask for permission. Students should talk to the instructor in person and provide a reason for adding the course so late. If permission to add the class is granted by the instructor, students will have to fill out this late add form, and get the instructor’s signature and the Department chair’s signature. Once all signatures are collected, students will take the form to the Registrar’s Office or email it to
  • Note: Late added courses might generate late add fees charged to one’s student account. 
  • Note: Always add a course before dropping another one.

9. How to withdraw from classes after the add/drop deadline?

Every student can withdraw from classes if necessary before the withdrawal deadline, which is usually in the middle of the semester. If a withdrawal is necessary before the withdrawal deadline, a WP (Withdraw Pass) will be placed on a students’ transcript. But if the withdrawal happens after the deadline, a WF (Withdraw Fail) will be placed on the transcript. Please check the deadlines and the academic calendar.

Students should ensure that they still meet the minimum amount of hours required by their visa before withdrawing from a class.

10. What can students do if they struggle in classes?

Students struggling in a class are always encouraged to talk to their professor and ask for extra resources that could be helpful for learning. Each professor can be reached using the information listed on your course syllabus, although students are always encouraged to meet with their professors in-person, especially during office hours.

Some classes have Teaching Assistants (TAs) who are usually graduate students and help teachers with grading, taking attendance, planning, lab hours, tutoring, and etc. If your class has a TA, they likely also have office hours to help students with questions about class, assignments, or content. The Division for Academic Enhancement also offers tutoring in many classes, in addition to Student Success Workshops and Academic Coaching. If you think you need guidance on writing in English, you can also look for help at the UGA Writing Center.

11. Are deadlines and test dates negotiable?

Professors typically provide the class syllabus in the first week of class with a description of all the expectations and requirements, a list of assignments/tests and their deadlines for the whole semester. However, adjustments might be necessary throughout the semester as unexpected events might occur. Not all professors negotiate deadlines and usually, students have to follow them strictly on the penalty of having points deducted or not receiving any points. Therefore, always check the syllabus and the assignments schedule.

Students can talk to their instructors and try to negotiate an extension to the deadline if a plausible reason for that is provided ahead of time. If students get sick and miss a test, for example, students will need a doctor’s note to justify their absence and prove they were not in a condition to take the exam. In case you have an emergency, always contact your instructor. Never wait until the next time you are able to go to class. If you send an email, your instructor will make arrangements and plan how you can make up for missing the test or the assignment deadline.

12. Which resources does UGA offer to improve English skills?

Students struggling with the English language may consider several options offered at UGA:
  1. Global Buddies Program: this program pairs up an international student with an American student so they can mingle, meet periodically, and converse in English. It is not unusual that the US student will also interested in your native language and culture, so you can make arrangements to practice both languages if this is the case.
  2. UNIV Courses: UNIV courses are designed to teach students academic and English skills. They are all for academic credit.
  3. International Coffee Hour: Coffee Hour at the University of Georgia is a weekly program that brings UGA students, faculty, staff, and community members together over coffee and international cuisine. Excluding scheduled University breaks, this event occurs every Friday during the fall and spring semesters from 11:30 am until 1:00 pm in the Memorial Hall Ballroom. Hosted each week by our International Student Organizations and campus departments, the UGA Coffee Hour is one of the longest running programs of its kind across the United States. 

13. Which academic writing format is adopted by UGA?

Even though most international students might be used to specific text formatting rules in their own countries, the University of Georgia only accepts the APA (American Psychological Association) style. Every student should be familiarized with this writing format before submitting their assignments to UGA at the expense of having points deducted. To further understand the APA style guidelines you can purchase their book and/or check their website.

14. Are international students allowed to work or have a paid internship?

Exchange students can work during their exchange program as long as it is an on-campus job. Examples of on-campus jobs include working for the UGA Food Service system, at one of the libraries, as a research assistant, and some others. Exchange students can only work within the university and there is a maximum workload of 20 hours/week. While searching for Academic Training opportunities, students can take advantage of resources offered by the UGA Career Center, including a variety of activities, career fairs, and workshops to help UGA students succeed in the job market. You can attend events about job searching, cover letter and resume writing, interviewing and networking. Some of their events target international students specifically. Don’t miss their activities, they can definitely make you a stronger candidate for jobs out there. Check out their calendar to see upcoming events.

Student workers are required to have a Social Security Number. However, students can only apply for one after receiving a job offer letter. A second letter is issued by OGE to officially state eligibility to undertake the job opportunity. These two letters must be taken to the SSA office. Please contact for more information about this process. 

Remember: As international students, your main priority at the University of Georgia is to succeed in your exchange program. Thus, your main focus must be on classes, labs and/or research projects. Students should only search for a job or internship opportunity once their schedule is set. It is necessary to thoughtfully consider how many hours can be dedicated to working so that it does not affect academic performance.

15. How do I get around town?

To move around town, UGA students can use their UGA ID to go to many places for free on Athens Transit. Check the Athens Transit website to see bus schedules and routes. The bus routes are very convenient and they cover a variety of places such as the Georgia Square Mall, grocery stores, downtown, and others.

Some exchange students who are studying at UGA for longer than a semester opt to get a Georgia driver's license. More information on that process can be found on ISL's resources page.  

16. Do students need authorization from the university before traveling?

Most exchange students want to travel during university breaks, extended weekends, or holidays. If students plan on traveling within the country, there is no need for special authorization from the university. However, it is recommended that students:
  • Avoid traveling alone if you haven’t been in the country for more than a couple of months. Traveling in groups is more fun, safer, and cheaper!
  • If traveling on a holiday or extended weekend, be aware of the day classes resume and plan accordingly to be back in town before classes start. To avoid missing class due to unexpected flight delays, plan on returning the day before classes resume.
  • Be aware of class assignments before departure. Traveling is not an excuse for negotiating deadline extensions unless the trip has a professional and/or academic purposes. When in doubt, always talk to the course instructor ahead of time.
  • Carry documents, money, and other personal belongings close to you all the time and never leave them unattended.
For international travel, the process is a little bit different. Besides all the instructions above, if you plan on going home or to another country, you need university authorization before departing. You have to visit the Office of Global Engagement and request a travel signature from OGE Immigration Advisors on your DS-2019. This document needs to be used in US customs on the way out and back into the country to prove the student immigration status.

For questions about international travel, please email

17. Is it necessary to carry a passport all the time?

After activation of the UGA ID, there is no need to carry important documents such as the passport around town. Taking these travel documents everywhere only increases the chances of losing them or even having them damaged or stolen. A UGA ID and a driver’s license (if applicable) is enough.  Students who do not own a driver’s license should carry a copy of their passport with them when traveling. Only use the original document if it is really needed.

18. What is the UGA Alert Emergency Notification System?

UGAAlert is the UGA emergency mass notification system. Effective communication is one of the major challenges in emergency management. UGAAlert is used to communicate prior to, during, and after emergencies. UGA students, faculty, and staff with a valid MyID can register up to three telephone numbers and two email addresses to receive emergency alerts. The system can push out thousands of messages within minutes. All international students should register and comply with instructions provided by UGAAlert in emergency situations.

19. What resources are available for students with disabilities?

The Disability Resource Center (DRC) at the University of Georgia is committed to providing equal access for students with disabilities at UGA.

In order to receive accommodations and assistance, students must register with the DRC online.

It is important to keep in mind that the registration process can take 1 to 4 weeks. The timeline depends on a number of different factors, including the nature of the requested accommodations, the evaluation of supporting documentation, and the availability of coordinators for scheduling appointments. We advise students to start the registration process as soon as possible. Accommodations are not applied retroactively, so it is important to begin the process early. 

In order to register for services at the DRC, please complete the required steps.
Before Leaving UGA

1. When should students expect their Exchange Program transcript?

The UGA Exchanges Coordinator will request all exchange student transcripts at the end of each semester. An electronic copy of the official transcript will be sent to students and their home university coordinators. Upon request, the UGA Exchanges Coordinator will also send a physical copy of the official transcript to the partner universities. 

In addition, students can submit a request to the UGA Registrar's Office to receive their own copy of the transcript. The request may take 6-13 days for one to receive the transcript in their home address.