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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Access Abroad

We admire the fact that the world is comprised of people with many different identities, cultures, belief systems, and levels of ability, and all are needed in order to make this world a more understanding and accepting place. Across the U.S., CIS Abroad is working closely with study abroad offices and college faculty to encourage all students to participate in education abroad programs. Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is made real as we push for access abroad for all year after year. 

We support students as they seek out opportunities to grow. Our goal is to provide prospective students with information, resources, and questions to ask themselves so that they can best determine where they want to go abroad.

Our continued support of students is included but not limited to:


As a member of the Diversity Abroad Network, we are committed to increasing access, diversity, and equity in international education through programming and funding; in fact, we offer a Student of Color Scholarship, a Rainbow Scholarship for LGBTQIA+ students, a First-Generation Student Scholarship, and a TRIO Student Grant to financially support participants. Additionally, CIS Abroad pledges to increase knowledge about and access to education abroad for diverse populations. In 2016 and 2018, we have been recognized by GoAbroad.com with the Innovation in Diversity Award for our LGBTQIA+ Ally Training for International Educators (2016) and for our Diversity Audit Tool  (2018) that you can download to help you make your own marketing materials more inclusive.

CIS Abroad joined the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to help more Americans gain international experience through study abroad programs. As a commitment partner, CIS Abroad has pledged to increase knowledge about and access to education abroad for LGBTQIA+ students.


There are many factors involved in ensuring a safe and successful program abroad. Key among these are the mental and emotional well being of our participants. The stress of adjusting to an unfamiliar culture, different time zones, a change of academic environment, being far from friends and family, and/or adjusting to a new system of support services (and perhaps one that is not as robust as you might find at home) can bring about a variety of unexpected and potentially overwhelming reactions.

Our advisors and program coordinators will do their best to make sure studying or interning abroad is the best choice for you. What can you expect from CIS Abroad?

  • Be a safe sounding board for you to discuss any known/disclosed medical conditions or concerns about race, ethnicity, gender, ability, gender identity/expression, or sexual orientation
  • Encourage you to speak to trusted advisors, counselors, or medical professionals about traveling abroad and how the experience might affect your mental and emotional well-being
  • Inform you of available resources and support organizations abroad
  • Make every effort to have you attend the program and be adequately supported
  • Always keep your best interests at heart. If we perceive conditions to be a concern to your health and safety or our ability to provide a quality overseas experience, we’ll talk to you about it.


If you’re overseas and are struggling emotionally or mentally, we can deploy the following resources to assist you:

  • Talking with our trained, local Site Directors about the issues you’re experiencing. Culture shock affects everyone at some point in time, and an overwhelming majority of emotional issues can be worked through with our staff.
  • Referral to a trained professional, either at the host institution or through a private contracted service.

Our goal is for all participants to have a healthy experience abroad. In nearly ALL cases, with prior preparation, disclosures and expectation setting, CIS Abroad can work with both you and your home university to make that a reality.

Racially and Ethnically Diverse Students

Students that are underrepresented in higher education in the United States may find the same trend while studying abroad. The good news is that racially and ethnically diverse students take part in life-changing study abroad programs every day. We know it takes extra initiative to reach out and ask questions and our staff is knowledgeable and equipped with tools to guide students who identify as racially and ethnically diverse, ready to help with any perceived challenges. Learn more.

We also offer a scholarship for students of color (up to $500). Read more about it on our Scholarships and Grants page.

Read more: Kansas University Student Alexzia Plummer reveals challenges that we can help overcome in her writing titled, “Both Feet”.

High Financial Need Students

CIS Abroad gives grants and scholarships to 70% of accepted students, and we are known for high value and affordable prices. We understand that financial need is an important factor, and we are here to help you navigate how to make your dream a reality. We support our students and parents by providing scholarships, payment plans, and offer flexibility in program packages. We train our staff to identify financial need early on so they may begin to assist students with aid from the start of the process, all the while offering our programs at the highest quality.

First-Generation College Students

Many of our participants find that they are the first in their family to attend college or university. Some are the first in their families to travel internationally. We have several first-generation college students on staff and we know firsthand the extra excitement and challenge of studying abroad. During both the application process and on-site, first-generation college students get the support they need from us.

We also have a scholarship for first-generation students (up to $500). Read more about it on our Scholarships and Grants page

“My greatest challenge was adapting to the city and learning from its unique culture. As a student with a physical disability, my main concern was accessibility. However, CIS Abroad was always attentive and the responses I received whenever I had a question put me at ease.”

Shalom Hernandez, UT Austin, Intern in Barcelona – Spring 2017


Students with Disabilities and Mental Illness

Students with mobility issues, learning disabilities, and mental illness study abroad with us every year. Our knowledgeable advising staff knows our host institutions well and can advise on what accommodations are offered. Our site directors are available to offer extra support and work closely with individual students and the overseas institutions they are attending to ensure the best possible experience.

Students from Minority Religious Groups

Students who have belief systems outside the majority in their host country may need extra support to find resources abroad to maintain their spiritual practice. Our advisors work with students to talk about what their host country is like culturally and what supports are available.

LGBTQIA-Identified Students

Studying abroad as an LGBTQIA+ or gender nonconforming student brings an additional set of challenges and options to consider. There are some questions you may want to ask yourself, and research to be done, before choosing a study abroad location. Being safe and comfortable is important to any study abroad adventure, and CIS Abroad wants to ensure both of those for our students. As a proud supporter of Generation Study Abroad, we are focusing on the LGBTQIA+ student population in an effort to not only increase students’ knowledge about and access to education abroad, but to also better serve those students as Ally Advisors.

Some questions to ask yourself before studying abroad: 

  • How out do I want to be to my host family or roommates?
  • Is it important for me to participate in LGBTQIA+ activities and events while abroad?
  • Is discussing my sexual orientation or gender identity something that is important to me?
  • What are the social attitudes towards being LGBTQIA+ in my host country?
  • Are there resources for LGBTQIA+ students in my host country or at my place of study?
  • Are there any LGBTQIA+ groups or LGBTQIA+-friendly establishments in my area?
  • Are sexual orientation and gender identity openly discussed and accepted, or more taboo in my host country?
  • Will I be staying with a host family or roommates who will be accepting of me if I choose to come out?
  • Are there safety and legal issues for LGBTQIA+ individuals in this area?


We sent an in-depth survey to our program partners, and combined with positive feedback from students, the following have made the list. We acknowledge that not everyone will have the same experience in every location, but research and expectations are key. Find out more info (like prices, dates, and application deadlines) on each of these programs at cisabroad.com.

Read our LGBTQIA+ Alumni Stories!

Additional Resources for LGBTQIA+ Students

University guides with additional information and resources: