Study Abroad

Please schedule an appointment with the OCOB Study Abroad Team in order to complete major, concentration, or support course substitution forms for study abroad courses. OCOB students should not fill these out on their own. Bring the web links & course descriptions to your meeting and/or to drop in hours. 


STEP 1: Attend a Study Abroad 101 Workshop

  • Study Abroad 101 workshops are highly encouraged for any Cal Poly affiliated program.
  • At the workshop, Study Abroad Advisors will guide you through goal setting, financial and academic planning and inform on your study abroad options.
  • RSVP to attend a workshop using the link below. 

STEP 2: Meet with a Study Abroad Peer Advisor in the Cal Poly International Center

Study Abroad Peer Advisors can give you an overall picture of possible countries and programs. They have many resources for you to use both online and in the office.

STEP 3: Meet with an OCOB Study Abroad Peer Advisor

Once you have narrowed down your options to 1–2 possibilities, schedule an appointment with an Orfalea Study Abroad Peer Advisor to discuss major, concentration or support course options. Orfalea Study Abroad Peer Advisors can help you navigate the Major Course Pre-Approved List and complete course substitution paperwork for major courses. 

Scheduled Appointment:

If you have questions around course scheduling, how to ensure you make academic progress, or other more in depth questions, make an appointment by calling Student Services at (805)756-2601. This will allow us time to check what courses you have left and can fulfill abroad before your appointment.

STEP 4: Cal Poly Application

In order to participate on any affiliated program, you must complete an application for Cal Poly.

  • Make sure to watch for key application dates
  • Deadlines to submit your Cal Poly Application are often much earlier than partner program deadlines – if you miss this deadline, you will not be approved
  • Check with the International Center for specific dates.

WHEN should you study abroad?

Students have the option to study abroad during their fall, winter, spring, or summer quarters. Typically, study abroad programs offer semester-long options; which either start in August and end in December or start in January and end in May. Some programs also offer year-long programs which Cal Poly students have successfully participated in. Although it is popular for Orfalea students to study abroad in Fall of their junior year, we would encourage you to consider going earlier or in Spring of your Junior year to avoid missing our main recruitment period for internships. 

The “best” time will be different for every student; this will depend on your academic progress and the types of courses you want to take abroad. We recommend beginning your planning early (as early as your first year), and saving the following GE areas, which can be easily found abroad: C1, C2, C3, C4, C Elective, D2, D3, D5.  You won’t necessarily take all of these GEs abroad, but the more flexibility you have, the better.  You are eligible to study abroad as early as your 2nd year.  


  • Fall of Sophomore Year
  • Winter/Spring of Sophomore Year
  • Winter/Spring of Junior Year



Time Pros Cons
1st year Summer
  • Get ahead in classes
  • Do not miss recruiting season
  • Most classes open to potentially take abroad
  • Shorter summer programs
  • Less accustomed to collegiate lifestyle
  • Some programs require junior standing
2nd year Fall
  • Our most recommended quarter to study abroad
  • More classes open to potentially take abroad
  • Do not miss recruiting season for third year internship
  • Less accustomed to collegiate lifestyle
  • Some programs require junior standing
2nd year Winter/Spring
  • Do not miss recruiting season for third year internship
  • Can stay abroad for a longer period of time
  • Travel during the summer before school starts
  • Complete an internship abroad after your program
  • Can get behind on degree progress
  • Some Programs require junior standing
2nd year Summer
  • Opportunity to get ahead in units
  • Miss possible internship
3rd year Fall
  • More accustomed to collegiate lifestyle
  • Declared in concentration area – can take concentration courses
  • Miss fall recruiting season
  • Less classes to potentially take abroad due to concentration being declared and degree progress
3rd year Winter/Spring
  • Stay abroad for a longer period of time
  • Travel during the summer before school starts
  • Complete an internship abroad after your program
  • Planning required to find enough courses to meet requirements and complete enough units
  • Less classes to potentially take abroad due to concentration being declared and degree progress


Things to consider when choosing when to study abroad:

  • Summer and Fall are the most popular quarters to go abroad because of the number of units you are able to take to stay on track at Cal Poly.
  • If you are interested in studying abroad in Winter, Spring, or for a full year, make sure to make an appointment with the Orfalea Peer Advising Team to ensure you can enroll in enough units to make academic progress.

Full Academic Year:

  • Students are often reluctant to consider going abroad for a full year because they worry they will miss out on time here with their friends. The most common sentiment we hear from students who return after one semester is that they wish they had gone abroad for longer. Studies show that the longer a student studies abroad, the more integrated in the culture they become, and the more impactful their experience is. Some of our year long programs offer extensive business curriculum, internships, state and federal financial aid, and are comparable cost wise to studying at Cal Poly for one year. Additionally, you will make plenty of lifelong friends abroad and your Cal Poly friends will be here when you return, so definitely consider it.

Spring Semester (January – May/June):

  • Students often worry about going abroad for Spring Semester because it spans both winter and spring quarters here at Cal Poly. The common concern is that you won’t be able to take enough units to make academic progress. In a typical Spring Semester program, you would take between 12 – 15 semester units, or 18 – 22.5 quarter units (4– 5 Cal Poly Classes). However, if you do an “early start program,” you would take between 18 – 21 semester units, or 27 – 31.5 quarter units (roughly 7 – 8 Cal Poly classes). This would essentially look like two quarters at 12 units and 16 units, or two quarters at 16 units. This requires a little bit of planning but is easily manageable if your program offers early start options.

WHERE should you study abroad?

Cal Poly’s affiliated study abroad programs have a variety of diverse locations that students can study at. Orfalea students have typically studied abroad in Europe; however, it has become increasingly popular in our college to study in Southeast Asia, Africa, South or Central America, or Australia/New Zealand. We encourage students to pick a location that will allow them to gain a unique cultural perspective and get them out of their comfort zone.

WHAT courses should you take?

  • Plan to take 4–5 courses per quarter/semester, or 1–3 courses in summer
  • Depending on your program, you have the opportunity to take Major, Concentration, Support, and GE courses

HOW to calculate units:

  • Semester Units x 1.5 = Quarter Units (ex. 3 x 1.5 = 4.5)
  • ECTS Units / 2 x 1.5 = Quarter Units (ex. 6/2 x 1.5 = 4.5)
  • Free Electives: If you have free elective units to complete, any extra units that are not used to satisfy a class requirement after the conversion will be pushed towards your free electives. In the example above, this means if you took a 3 unit semester class abroad to satisfy a 4 unit GE at Cal Poly, .5 units would be pushed to your free elective requirement.


  • Once you choose your program, check the Study Abroad Pre-Approved List for classes that have already been approved to substitute for Cal Poly business requirements. If the course descriptions match, you do not need to submit a Major/Support/Concentration Substitution Petition form for the approved requirement.
  • If the class is not listed on the Study Abroad Pre-Approved List, you must schedule an appointment with an Orfalea Peer Advisor to fill out a course substitution form.


Business Administration

  • International Business Course
  • Economics Upper Division Elective (300 level)
  • Technology Management Course (ITP Requirement)
  • Concentration Electives


  • Concentration Electives
  • General Economics Concentration Courses
  • Economics Elective (300-400 Level)
    • 300 level is a lot more common than 400 level

Industrial Technology and Packaging

  • Industrial Technology Approved Electives
  • Packaging Approved Electives


  • Common GE’s you can take abroad:
    • C1, C2, C-Elective Lower Division, Upper Division C
    • Upper Division D
    • GE Elective (C or D)
  • Many language classes are pre-approved for area C2 or C-Elective Lower Division
  • If the class you want to take is not listed on the GE Pre-Approved List, you must schedule an appointment with the International Center to complete a course substitution.


If there is a course you would like to take that is not on the pre-approved list above, you will need to submit a course substitution petition.

  • Please start the course substitution process immediately after you decide on a program
  • The process can take over one quarter and should be completed prior to departure.
  • If you have questions about which classes to take abroad or which classes will substitute, please make an appointment with a Study Abroad Peer Advisor at Orfalea Student Services.


  • Course descriptions are required for each course you submit a substitution form for. Please have course descriptions readily available in your appointment.
    • Major, Support or Concentration Course: Provide Orfalea Student Services with course description and fill out the Study Abroad Petition for Course Substitution Form.
    • GE Credit: Provide the Cal Poly International Center with the course description and fill out a Study Abroad GE Substitution Petition Form.

HOW should you finance your trip?

To view the extensive list of available scholarships offered through the International Center, please visit under “Financial Aid & Scholarship.” Read through the information thoroughly and check what types of Financial Aid and scholarships are available for the program you are considering.  The International Center staff and Financial Aid office can help get you on the right track once you pick a program and determine your Financial Aid eligibility.


  • Review the Fund Your Study Abroad Experience PDF below
  • Complete the FAFSA by the March 2nd deadline prior to the year you go abroad
  • Review the list of scholarships and choose 3 – 5 you want to apply for
  • Total cost varies widely depending on program, location, and length. Although many programs are pricey, there are plenty of programs that are comparable to or less than the cost of going to Cal Poly. Make sure to do your homework!

If you are planning to go abroad in summer, remember that Summer Financial Aid is limited to your remaining eligibility from the prior year

USAC, Prague

Hi, my name is Brenna and I studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic in Fall 2016 with USAC. I initially chose this program based on the affordability, since the program is a non-profit organization. I also applied and received the USAC scholarship, Orfalea scholarship, Cal Poly International Center scholarship, and other various abroad scholarships for students studying abroad in Eastern Europe. My program allowed me to receive more credit than I typically would during a Cal Poly fall quarter by taking 4 semester unit courses. Overall, since I am an out-of-state student who pays per Cal Poly unit, I was actually able to save money studying abroad! I recommend students who hold their own financial responsibility look into affordable programs in locations that have a good exchange rate and apply for scholarships!   

Internships Abroad:

Students have the option to do an internship abroad through multiple Cal Poly Affiliated Programs and Non-Affiliated Programs. Programs that offer internships typically help students with placement opportunities, housing, and group excursions or activities. Summer is the most popular time to complete an internship and students often take one or two classes at the same time. Doing an internship abroad during the summer between your second and third year is a great opportunity to gain experience that you can use to find a domestic internship between your third and fourth year.


  1. When should I plan to study abroad?

The Orfalea College of Business Advising Center recommends that students study abroad during Summer or Fall quarter. This is due to the fact that most study abroad programs are on the semester system. Students who study abroad in the Fall on a semester program will only miss the Fall quarter here at Cal Poly. If a student wishes to study abroad on a Spring program, they will miss both the Winter and Spring quarters here at Cal Poly. Moreover, If students plan to go abroad for more than one quarter, they should plan at least nine months in advance and plan on selecting a program that offers both major, GE courses and/or minor courses.

  1. How many courses should I take?

Most students take 3-4 courses that will count towards their degree requirements while studying abroad. Cal Poly does not require students to do a minimum amount of units abroad however, some study abroad programs/school/financial aid policies many require a minimum.  Students should always consult with their program/school.

  1. What courses should I take?

In general, students are advised to take Education courses (Area Cs and Ds), Upper Division ECON, the International Business requirement, and courses from the College of Business Pre-Approved Study Abroad list. The Pre-approved Study Abroad List is a list of courses OCOB students have taken abroad and what they counted for at Cal Poly.  This list is quite extensive and can be found on the OCOB Advising website . If courses students wish to take are listed on the Pre-Approved Study Abroad list, with the EXACT same course description, they do not need to submit a course substitution petition. If students have a lot of free electives, they can apply their study abroad courses as general free electives rather than actual course requirements.

  1. Am I eligible for any scholarships and/or financial aid?

We recommend meeting with advisor in the International Center to discuss financial aid opportunities. You can also visit the Study Abroad Financing resources website here.

  1. What is the first step or when can I meet with an advisor?

The first step is to attend a General Study Abroad 101 Workshop. Locations, times, and dates can be found here.

After that, you can go to the International Center to speak with a Study Abroad Advisor. They are located in Building 52, Room E32 and can be contacted via phone at (805) 756-1477 or email at

Once you have finalized your program, the term, and the location, schedule an appointment with an Orfalea Study Abroad Peer Advisor to discuss major, concentration, or support course options. You can schedule an appointment with them via email at or by phone at (805) 756-2601.

GE or Program Specific Questions:
Visit the International Center and meet with a Study Abroad Peer Advisor.


  • Monday-Thursday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm (in person  bldg. 52, room E32)
  • Monday-Thursday: 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm (virtual)
  • Friday: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (virtual)

Major Related Questions:
Contact Orfalea Student Services to meet with a Study Abroad Peer Advisor.



Take major coursework –  Orfalea’s 4 International Business Exchange Programs offer students the opportunity to take major coursework and make significant academic progress towards their degree for up to one year.

Looking for a culturally immersive experience? Unlike many other study abroad experiences, exchanges allow students to directly enroll into universities abroad and build meaningful relationships with local students and faculty.

Exchanges are Affordable! Exchanges are one of the most affordable study abroad options because students continue to pay Cal Poly tuition! Although you will have other costs such as housing, food, and travel, your study abroad experience will be comparable to attending Cal Poly. Plus, all financial aid applies!

Universities: We partner with 4 amazing business universities in Europe that offer many courses that have already been pre-approved by Area Chairs.

  • HM Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences – Munich, Germany
  • University of Milan – Milan, Italy
  • Stockholm School of Economics – Stockholm, Sweden


  • Academic year-long programs for students from all universities within the CSU system.
  • Immersion programs at over 50 distinguished universities in 18 countries.
  • Take classes with local and international students at the university itself
  • Check for language requirements
  • Earn CSU credit towards your major, minor, and GEs.
  • State and Federal financial aid applies making these trips cost effective
  • CSU IP provides one of the most affordable study abroad options to CSU students. Students enrolled in CSU IP programs pay the same systemwide tuition fee, which is currently $5,742 per academic year for full-time undergraduate students. Campus-Based Fees are approximately equivalent to the CSU IP Study Abroad Fee.


Cal Poly has over 500 approved study abroad programs in 75 countries and a range of affiliated program partners. These programs attract a high volume of Cal Poly students so you can expect to have other students from our University in your program. These programs tend to have more pre-approved GE and major courses that students can take abroad and have transferred for Cal Poly credit. Affiliated programs also commonly offer specific scholarships for Cal Poly students.

Click on the links below to learn more about each of our programs.


Cal Poly Global Programs are international academic programs designed by one or more Cal Poly faculty members in collaboration with the Cal Poly International Center. These programs provide faculty with opportunities to share their international expertise with students, and to teach Cal Poly courses abroad. Programs vary in academic and learning objectives, locations, duration, excursions, cultural activities, and cost.

  • Take Cal Poly Courses
  • Go abroad with a group of Cal Poly students
  • Courses taught by Cal Poly faculty
  • Courses show up on your PolyLearn!
  • Summer or Quarter long programs
  • Know what courses you will take in advance(GE courses). Major courses taught when marketed for a specific major.


BUS 304 – Doing Business in Brazil

BUS 304 is a 4-unit course that satisfies the International Business requirement. The course consists of on-campus lectures on global supply chain foundations with a focus on Brazil as a successful model with its recent economic developments and its supply chain logistics. The students enrolled in the course and their instructors go to Florianopolis, Brazil for spring break to gain business and cultural insight. Watch the 2017 Business in Brazil video:

Orfalea Travel Grant

Orfalea College of Business students are eligible to receive funding from the Orfalea Travel Grant if they attend an International Business Tour or are enrolled in BUS 304. Award amounts are based on financial need and academic standing. To be considered, students must indicate their interest on their application.


The program offers coursework focused on Agribusiness as well as GE courses that focus on Australian culture and global issues. Students choose three of the four courses offered for a total of 12-units on this 7-week Winter quarter program.  All courses are taught in English by Cal Poly Faculty.

You will earn Cal Poly credit on this program, and it is open to all majors.


Ever thought about spending a quarter on the East Coast? Exploring New Orleans? Hawaii? Guam? This could be the program for you! Take the opportunity to explore the beautiful United States, U.S. Territories, and Canada!

National Student Exchange is a not-for-profit consortium of nearly 200 accredited, baccalaureate-granting colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through NSE, these member institutions provide exchange opportunities for the multitude of undergraduate students for whom an overseas experience is not appropriate, comfortable or affordable. This can be a great option for DACA or undocumented students who still want an experience abroad.

  • Universities across the United States, U.S. territories, and Canada 
  • Option to pay HOME institution or HOST institution tuition fees! Check with Cal Poly Coordinator.
  • In most cases, out of state students can pay in-state tuition to another university 
  • Great option for DACA students
  • Search for universities by location, diversity stats, demographic stats, etc.
  • Federal Financial Aid applies to locations inside the United States 


We recommend studying abroad on a Cal Poly approved program — there are over 500 of them in 75 countries.  However, if you prefer to study abroad on a program that is not Cal Poly approved, you are welcome to do so.  Please just be aware that this will take extra work and planning on your part. Financial aid is not typically available, advising resources are limited, and transfer credit is not guaranteed.  It is critical for you to confirm whether/how your courses can transfer back to Cal Poly before applying to non-approved programs.  


  • There may be a limited about of pre-approved courses depending on how many students have studied on the program before.
  • We do not provide official advising for non-affiliated programs.
  • We cannot guarantee the transcripts will be from an accredited institution. You must ensure this in advance if you want your courses to transfer back.