Cal Poly International Center

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Cari Vanderkar, Assistant Vice Provost for International Programs

Bldg (52), Room E-32
Phone: 805.756.1477

The primary mission of the Cal Poly International Center is to provide leadership and coordination for Cal Poly international activities and to serve as the principal catalyst for internationalization efforts at Cal Poly. The International Center maintains administrative authority and university-wide oversight of international engagement, including international initiatives, programs, and activities supported by the campus.  The International Center offers programs and services for both international students studying on campus and students preparing to study abroad.  Additionally, the Center supports international travel authorizations for employees traveling on Cal Poly business and for students on non-credit programs.  

Cal Poly’s vision for internationalization is to provide foundational experiential learning, teaching, service and scholarship opportunities at home and abroad that will best equip graduates and the campus community at large to solve complex global challenges sustainably, ethically and inclusively.  Learn by Doing in a global context drives students, faculty and staff to critically evaluate themselves, their own cultures, their values and place in the world. It promotes growth in character, ability to handle ambiguity, reflexive and relative thinking, and ultimately, greater personal fulfillment. It fuels informed global systems thinkers and doers, and activates Cal Poly students to be positive forces in the world.

International Travel

Phone: 805.756.6118

All faculty, staff, and students traveling outside of the U.S. on university business are required to obtain approval and will be enrolled in the foreign travel insurance program (FTIP) through Cal Poly. All documentation must be submitted by the stated deadlines prior to travel and approvals received before travel expenses are incurred. Travel abroad may include activities such as attending or presenting at conferences, participating in tours, conducting funded research, student internships, club activities, or taking students on non-credit international field trips. Please check to see if your destination is deemed high hazard. In general, student travel to countries listed on the high hazard lists will not be approved unless the student is accompanied by a Cal Poly faculty or staff member. Students must remain in good academic and disciplinary standing to participate. For deadlines and information on how to complete a travel packet, please go to and select International Travel. Please note, researching or applying for a Study Abroad program is a separate process under Study Abroad.

International Students and Scholars

The International Students and Scholars unit of the International Center provides services and programs aimed at meeting the unique needs of international students and scholars throughout their academic careers at Cal Poly. International Center staff provide immigration advising and visa documents, pre-arrival information, orientation programs and cross-cultural programming for all international students, which include degree-seeking students and non-degree students (those attending Cal Poly through our Cal Poly International Exchange Programs and the VISIT Cal Poly Program).

International Students and Scholars provides support programs for students such as the International Welcome Ambassador Program which brings international and domestic students together to share their cultures and to develop friendships. Cal Poly International Welcome Ambassadors also provide a support system to assist new international students with adapting to Cal Poly and the “SLO Life.” The Poly Hosts Program and the English Conversation Program are some of the other programs provided by the International Students and Scholars unit to assist students with cultural adjustment and connecting to the community.

The International Students and Scholars unit is also the first point of contact for those who want to invite visiting scholars such as faculty, staff, and researchers from abroad to come to Cal Poly to help foster collaboration, joint research, and cross-cultural exchange.

Find more information about International Students and Scholars online.

Study Abroad Programs

Students interested in studying abroad should begin by visiting the  Cal Poly Abroad website, registering for and participating in a Study Abroad 101 Workshop, and planning ahead to meet their academic, financial and personal goals. Peer Advisors and Study Abroad Advisors are available to provide guidance. Please check the Cal Poly Abroad website for drop-in advising hours, appointment hours, workshop and info sessions, along with study abroad planning resources.

Study Abroad and Exchange Eligibility Requirements 

Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at Cal Poly in order to be eligible to participate in study abroad or exchange programs. In addition, students must meet the eligibility requirements of their chosen programs. Academic eligibility standards vary by program, and most require a minimum 2.5 GPA and at least one letter of recommendation. Participants may not study abroad during their first quarter at Cal Poly. Students who are on Academic  or Disciplinary Probation at the time of application, or the term prior to studying abroad,  are ineligible to participate in the program. Students are strongly encouraged to seek pre-approval for courses prior to departing for their terms abroad. If a program is located in a country where there is a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory of Levels 3 or 4, Cal Poly may not provide the approval to participate in the program, or  pre-approve the transfer of credits.

Cal Poly Global Programs

Cal Poly Global Programs are study abroad programs that offer students opportunities to study abroad with Cal Poly faculty. Ranging from one week to a full term in length, these programs present a highly flexible model capable of responding to specific curricular goals. Planned with a focus on general education courses and/or courses applicable to one or more Cal Poly major(s) and minor(s), Cal Poly Global Programs may be open to students in all majors or to students in targeted fields of study only. Check our website for the current program offerings.

Cal Poly International Exchange Programs

A number of Cal Poly colleges and departments have individual exchange agreements with a variety of universities around the world. Through these exchanges, students have an opportunity for cost effective, easily arranged study abroad experiences within their own academic disciplines. Students who qualify for one of these exchanges pay Cal Poly tuition fees and applicable fees. Students can spend up to one year at overseas universities as regularly enrolled students. For further information about international exchange programs, students should check with the Cal Poly Abroad website.

California State University (CSU) International Programs

These CSU systemwide programs allow participants earn resident academic credit at their home CSU campuses while they pursue full-time study at host universities or study centers abroad for an academic year. The CSU International Programs suite of options serves the needs of students in over 100 designated academic majors. Affiliated with more than 50 recognized universities and institutions of higher education in 18 countries, CSU International Programs also offers a wide selection of study abroad destinations and learning environments.

Cal Poly Partner Programs

Cal Poly has formal partnership contracts with several private sector, non-profit and/or consortium program providers to place Cal Poly students in reputable study programs, usually cooperating universities or specialized study centers.  Each partner offers specializations and a variety of locations, and all have been vetted by the Cal Poly International Programs Committee.  For further information about partner programs, students should check with the Cal Poly Abroad website, visit partner websites, or schedule an appointment as needed with an Affiliated Partner advisor in the International Center.

National Student Exchange (NSE) Consortium

Undergraduate students are able to spend up to one calendar year at another NSE member college or university in the U.S., Canada, and the U.S. Territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands).  Since its founding in 1968, more than 118,000 students from all majors nation-wide have had the opportunity to study away through the National Student Exchange (NSE). Because students have the option to pay in-state tuition and can use their financial aid funds, it is an affordable study away program option. 

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