Student Travel Abroad – Destination Restrictions and Crisis Management


Issued: September 15, 2009
Last Revised: November 17, 2023  
Last Reviewed:  April 1, 2022                                                              

2. Policy Purpose

As a global university, USC encourages students to gain international experience through a variety of programs abroad, including study abroad and student exchange, internship, service learning, field study, research and other professional development activities. Given the growing number of programs and activities taking place outside of the United States, this policy outlines the responsibilities of students, faculty and staff engaged in the process of organizing and managing student travel abroad. The policy also covers the decision making process on appropriate destinations for University-related activities and provides guidance on how to respond to emergencies that might occur abroad.

3. Scope and Application

All USC students, faculty, and staff involved in student travel abroad for any university-related activity.

4. Definitions

Student Travel AbroadAll University-related international travel by undergraduate or graduate students, whether as part of program, group, or individually.
Study AbroadPrograms that are usually organized or facilitated by the office of study abroad within a school or initiated, supported, or led by faculty, staff or student organizations. It includes but is not limited to exchanges, internships, community work, and other forms of experiential learning.
Independent Student Travel AbroadStudents traveling independently of a study abroad program. It may include but is not limited to travel to perform field study, research, attend conferences, or other professional development activities.
Program CoordinatorDepartment designated Program Coordinators (faculty/staff) acting as liaisons between programs and the Office of Global Initiatives, the Student Health Insurance Office, and Campus Support & Intervention.

5. Policy Details

The Provost and/or the Vice President for Global Initiatives and Online Initiatives may restrict University-related travel by students to destinations with U.S. Department of State (DOS) travel warnings, Center for Disease Control (CDC) warnings, or other indicators that might suggest conditions are unhealthy or particularly dangerous for travel; if the coordinating department or individual traveler still wishes to seek an exception to the restriction, they must contact the Office of Global Initiatives so that the Vice President for Global and Online Initiatives can consult with other members of the USC community, and outside experts as needed, to determine if the University will allow the continuation of the program, with the ultimate decision to be made by the Provost.

Additionally, travel to countries with U.S. sanctions is prohibited and can only be undertaken after review by the Office of the General Counsel and with the approval of the Provost.

Those traveling individually or as part of a program are strongly encouraged  to take necessary precautions (such as purchasing travel cancellation insurance through a travel agency) in case it becomes necessary to change plans or cancel travel on short notice. Students should also be encouraged to have back-up plans for alternative destinations.

6. Procedures

Study Abroad Programs

All programs, including student-initiated and faculty-led groups traveling abroad, are required to have a Program Coordinator. The University depends on Program Coordinators for compliance with travel guidelines and with their department’s data collection and crisis response. More guidance for Program Coordinators is available at  

Independent Student Travel Abroad

Students who travel abroad independently for research or professional development activities such as conferences, are expected to coordinate with designated staff in their program or school. Students will be expected to discuss the health and safety situation of their travel destination(s), sign travel release forms, and share their travel itinerary in order to secure USC-sponsored travel health insurance and International SOS coverage in advance. More guidance for students traveling abroad independently is available at

Crises/Emergencies during Travel Abroad

In the event of an emergency or crisis that threatens immediate safety during travel abroad, USC students should call International SOS at +1 (215) 942-8226 and provide USC’s membership number 11BSGC000010 to receive on-the-ground support. Students may also call the Department of Public Safety (DPS) emergency line at +1 (213) 740-4321 for assistance.

7. Forms

Forms and documents are available at  

8. Responsibilities

Faculty and Staff acting as Program Coordinators1. Certify that program has been reviewed and approved by the Off-campus Studies Panel (OSP).
2. Collect the required student information to be shared with the Office of Global Initiatives and the Student Health Insurance Office.
3. Collect student signatures on all required travel release forms.
4. Confirm that students have secured University-sponsored travel health insurance and International SOS coverage.
5. Consult DOS and CDC information resources and monitor the health/safety situation of study/travel destinations before and during program and travel dates.
6. Review all pertinent policies, procedures, and guidelines prior to travel.
7. When circumstances arise that call into question the safety of participants, immediately contact Campus Support & Intervention and the Office of Global Initiatives to initiate the discussion about an appropriate University response.
Students1. If traveling as a group, identify a faculty or staff to act as Program Coordinator and fulfill those responsibilities.
2. If traveling independently, coordinate travel with staff in their programs and schools.
3. Comply with general travel requirements/recommendations, share travel information, sign travel release forms, and secure University-sponsored travel health insurance and International SOS coverage prior to travel.
4. Consult DOS and CDC information resources and monitor the health/safety situation of study/travel destinations before and during travel dates.
Office of Global Initiatives1. Track and report on all student travel abroad.
2. Coordinate with departments for the successful operation of programs or individual student travel abroad, provide guidance, and set policies and procedures.
3. Convene the travel abroad emergency response team to gather information and make recommendations to the Provost about whether to cancel/suspend a program/travel and how to best respond to the needs of the students.
Campus Support & Intervention1. Assist students, faculty, and staff in navigating complex issues and emergencies.

9. Related Information

Additional information and resources for health and safety issues abroad, including the full text of the Campus Based Response to Overseas Crises, are available through the Office of Global Initiatives and Campus Support & Intervention.

10. Contacts

Please direct any questions regarding this policy to:

Office of Global

General questions may be emailed to