Study Abroad Student Interviews

Students and a professor sit on a boat and do research.

Study Abroad Student Interviews 

Faculty directors are strongly encouraged to interview all applicants to their study abroad programs. Before beginning student interviews, you must consider which criteria you will use to make your acceptance decisions. Develop your own rubric for rating applicants on all or some of the following acceptable criteria. 

Study Abroad Selection Criteria

  • Ability to function in stressful or ambiguous situations; 

  • Ability to interact with a group; 

  • Adaptability; 

  • Class year;

  • Classification status;

  • Conduct history; 

  • Faculty recommendation;

  • GPA;

  • Independence; 

  • Major/Minor; 

  • Maturity;

  • Motivations for applying (academic and non-academic); 

  • Performance in any pre-requisite or related courses;

  • Prior study abroad experience; 

  • Reliability; and 

  • Willingness to engage in cross-cultural opportunities. 

The use of approved selection criteria and a rubric allows for a fairer and more objective decision-making process for students. It also gives faculty a written record of how decisions were determined, should these ever be called into question. 

Interviews should last approximately 15 to 20 minutes each. While in-person interviews are preferred, you can also make use of video chatting applications or telephone to conduct your interviews. All but last-minute applicants should be interviewed before the application deadline so that acceptance decisions can be made immediately thereafter. 

Set the Tone.

Consider the interview your first opportunity to set the tone for your program, including priorities for academics, sight-seeing, weekend travel and other program-related activities. Let students know, for example, how many days per week you expect them to devote to class meetings and other structured activities, and how many are open for free activities. Make your attendance policy clear and repeat it periodically during both pre-departure and on-site meetings.

Some students believe they will be more independent when studying abroad than they are when studying on campus. To be sure, they will experience greater independence. However, students will need to be told during the interview that this greater freedom calls for self-discipline and that the program is first and foremost an academic learning experience, not a tour.

The program is likely to go more smoothly if you communicate your expectations on these and other matters at the very beginning of the process. Once the group is abroad, provide regular reminders on these critical issues.


Build Rapport. 

Use the interviews to start building relationships with students and developing a sense of community. Keep in mind that you will work closely with the students for several weeks. While there is no formula for interviewing, open-ended questions may yield the most useful responses. 

The University of Delaware does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, genetic information, marital status, disability, religion, age, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by applicable law in its employment, educational programs and activities, admissions policies, and scholarship and loan programs as required by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other applicable statutes and University policies. The University of Delaware also prohibits unlawful harassment including sexual harassment and sexual violence.


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Photo taken by Stephanie Dohner on the 19W Bermuda GEOL/MAST study abroad program.