in the Philippines
Frequently Asked Questions
The University of the Philippines at Los Baños
The University of the Philippines at Los Baños, one of Asia's leading comprehensive universities, is renowned for its excellence in education, research, and training. Over 7,100 undergraduates and 2,300 graduate students attend UPLB. Its 36,189 acre campus lies adjacent to the city of Los Baños, which is the headquarters of several major Asian agricultural and development research institutions.
UPLB's courses and its academic programs are comparable to those of Michigan State. As English is the medium of instruction, MSU students will find is easy to interact with Filipino faculty and students.
Who can participate in the exchange program?
The program is open to undergraduates enrolled in all colleges at MSU, who have completed one year of study (30 credits) by May 2012 and have a GPA of 2.5 or higher.
How much will it cost to study for a semester at UPLB?
The cost of studying for a semester at UPLB is approximately $9,370, which is about $2,300 LESS than the cost of attending MSU for a semester. Estimated costs are (based on Fall 2012 costs, as Fall 2013 costs are not yet available):
|Books & Supplies||$900||$100|
|*12 credits, in-state tuition, **Dorm room, double occupancy, Gold Plan|
When is the program offered?
Most students prefer to study in the Philippines during UPLB's first semester (June-October). After completing a semester at UPLB, a six to eight week internship can be arranaged for interested students. However, you can also attend UPLB during the second semester, which runs from November through March.
Can I attend UPLB for two semesters?
Yes, you can study at UPLB for either one or two semesters. Be sure to note on your program application when you plan to attend UPLB.
What courses can I take at UPLB?
UPLB offers over 1,000 courses in agriculture, arts and letters, communications, economics and management, engineering, forestry, human ecology, natural and social science, and veterinary medicine. UPLB courses are very similar to courses offered at MSU. While at UPLB, you will enroll in regularly scheduled classes and earn credits that will apply towards meeting your MSU degree requirements, subject to approval by your department. For more information about courses, contact Sandy Tupper (firstname.lastname@example.org) at MSU's Office of Study Abroad.
Applying to the Program
How do I apply to participate in the exchange program?
Contact Sandy Tupper (Office of Study Abroad, 109 International Center, email@example.com, 432-4341) to obtain a MSU Study Abroad application and a UPLB application form. Complete the forms and return them to Sandy by February 1. All applicants will be contacted for an interview and notified by late February, regarding the decision of the Philippine program selection committee. Appendix I describes the steps in the application process and the timetable for completing each step.
How do I identify an internship opportunity?
Internships are arranged individually, based on each student's background and interests. Six to eight-week internships (mid-October to mid-December) can be arranged for students interested in gaining experience working at a newspaper, at an agribusiness firm, for a research agency (e.g., International Rice Research Institute, Philippine government agencies) or a non-governmental agency. Campus-based internships are available in several departments. Students interested in discussing internship options should contact Rick Bernsten (Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, firstname.lastname@example.org, (cell) 517-648-4378).
How do I get MSU's approval for the courses I want to take at UPLB?
All of the courses that you take at UPLB are "potentially" transferable for MSU credit. However, you must obtain pre-approval for each course that you wish to transfer back to MSU before leaving MSU. First, review the UPLB Course Catalog to identify the courses you wish to take, and photocopy each course description. We recommend that you enroll for 12 credits.
Second, meet with your academic advisor, show her/him the list of courses that you'd like to substitute for MSU courses (along with the course description in the UPLB catalogue), and obtain a Guest Course Approval Form. Many UPLB courses have already been approved by MSU as substitutes for MSU courses. You can see these pre-approved courses by going to Transfer MSU. At that site, set "State/Country" to "Philippines", set "Institution" to "University Philippines-Los Banos", choose the "Subject" you want, and click "Search". Many UPLB courses have already been approved for MSU credit. See the list of pre-approved courses that you can take at UPLB and the MSU course for which each substitutes.
Third, after your academic advisor approves your course plan, you must go to the department which offers a similar course at MSU to request its approval of each course you plan to take at UPLB. The MSU department offering each course will evaluate it to determine if the UPLB course is comparable to a course at MSU. Departments have the option of designating a UPLB course 1) as a direct substitute for a course it offers, 2) for general credit, or 3) as unacceptable for credit at MSU. Typically, departments only approve of a course as a direct substitute if the UPLB course is very similar to a course offered by the department. If the department approves a UPLB course as a direct substitute or for general credit, a faculty member (or the department's academic advisor) must sign the Guest Course Approval Form. If the department will not approve the course for credit at MSU, you must select a different course. However, the specific steps that you must follow to obtain course approval depend on whether you want the UPLB course to substitute for a course that is required by your: 1) department, 2) your college, or 3) to meet a university requirement.(1)
If you have any problems in obtaining approval for the courses that you plan to take at UPLB, ask your academic advisor or Sandy Tupper for assistance. After completing the Guest Course Approval Form (including all required signatures), return it to the Office of Study Abroad.
Once you have returned your signed Guest Course Approval Form to the Office of Study Abroad, they will send a letter to MSU's Registrar's Office enrolling you in a special category of classes (INX). After completing your study abroad program, you must submit to the Office of Study Abroad an official transcript of your grades from UPLB. The Office of Study Abroad will make a photocopy for your file and forward the original to MSU's Credit Evaluation Office. When you have done so, you will receive credit for all pre-approved courses that you took at UPLB.
Completing the Guest Course Approval Form can be time consuming, so begin this process as soon as you decide to participate in the program.
How do I register to receive credit for an internship?
While Rick Bernsten (Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics) can help you identify an internship opportunity, you must see your academic advisor regarding internship credits. Most departments will require you to identify a faculty member in your department (or another department) who agrees to serve as your internship supervisor. Typically, internship supervisors require students to complete written assignments to receive academic credit.
After you have received approval for doing an internship from you academic advisor, register for internship credit. Students selecting the internship option may enroll for a total of 12 academic credits and 3 internship credits.
How do I know that UPLB will allow me to take the courses that I have selected?
After your academic advisor approves your course selections and you have completed the Guest Course Approval Form, see Sandy Tupper to obtain the form, Request for Enrollment in UPLB Courses. Complete this form and return it to her by early March, along with a copy of your MSU transcript. Sandy will fax these documents to UPLB and UPLB will enroll you in your courses.
How do I register my selected courses with MSU?
Once UPLB has approved the courses you have selected, give your completed Guest Course Approval Form to Sandy Tupper, who will register you at MSU for these courses.
If I'm a senior, can I take my final classes at UPLB?
The MSU Academic Programs publication states: "A note to seniors. A senior who has earned sufficient credits from this university and met the minimum requirements (as stated in this publication), through prior arrangement with the assistant dean of the college and the Registrar, may be permitted to transfer not to exceed 10 of the last 30 credits from an accredited four-year college or university." In special cases, MSU may allow students to take up to 12 or 15 of their final 30 credits abroad. So, if you plan to take 12-15 of your final 30 credits at UPLB, you must obtain prior permission from the assistant dean of your college and the Registrar. Contact your academic advisor and/or your assistant dean for more information.
Can I study the Filipino Language?
While UPLB classes are taught in English, Pilipino the most widely-spoken local language. If several MSU students are interested, a non-credit class in Pilipino can be organized for a nominal hourly fee.
How do I apply for housing at UPLB?
As soon as you are accepted, you must complete an Application for UPLB Housing. Obtain this form from Sandy Tupper and return it to her by March 1. See below for more information on housing.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Can I receive financial aid while studying at UPLB?
Students who are eligible to receive financial aid while attending MSU are eligible to receive financial aid while studying at UPLB. The Office of Study Abroad has estimated the cost of studying for one and two semesters at UPLB and submitted this information to the Financial Aid Office. If you plan to study at UPLB during the summer/fall semesters (June-October), you must contact MSU's Financial Aid Office and inform them that you plan to study at UPLB. The Financial Aid Office will revise your 2012-2013 FAFSA application to include financial aid for studying a semester at UPLB. You may want to complete the forms required to have your financial aid deposited directly to your bank account.
Are scholarships available for studying at UPLB?
The Office of Study Abroad offers scholarships to students who wish to study abroad. Obtain an application from the Office of Study Abroad and return it to that office by March 1 to be considered for a summer/fall semester scholarship. Students applying for a Office of Study Abroad scholarship must have a 3.0 grade point average. Scholarships range from $1,000 for one semester to $1,500 for two semesters.
In addition, some colleges (including the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources) offer study abroad scholarships. Contact your college dean's office for more information. CANR students should contact Rhonda Crackel, 121 Agriculture Hall. In past years, CANR students have received $800-$1,000 in scholarship assistance. Applicatons are due March 1.
If you are a ABM, FIM, or EEP major, you may apply fot the Ferris Study Abroad Scholarship. In past years, students have received up to $2,000. Contact Ruthi Bloomfield, Room 1 Agriculture Hall, for more information.
How do I obtain a US passport?
You must obtain a US passport to before you can apply for a Philippine visa. Because it may take up to two months for the State Department to process your passport application, apply for your passport in early January. (For more information, see: http://travel.state.gov/)
How do I obtain a Philippines visa?
You don't need to obtain a visa before traveling to the Philippines. When you arrive at the airport in Manila, you will get a tourist visa. After you arrive on campus, Dr. Merca at UPLB's Office of International Linkages will obtain the visa that you need to study at UPLB.
What vaccinations should I take?
MSU recommends that you make an appointment at Olin Health Center (Travel Clinic, 353-3161) to receive a health orientation and obtain all recommended vaccinations. During your visit to Olin Health Center, the staff will give you written information on how to stay healthy.
Things to Consider Bringing/Doing Before Leaving the US
What consumer goods are available in Los Baños/Manila?
In Los Baños, you can buy almost everything that is available in East Lansing, and if it's not available in Los Baños, it's definitely available in Manila. However, if you take any special prescription drugs, you may want to bring a supply of these items to the Philippines.
Can I bring my electronic equipment?
In the US, our electricity is 110 volts but in the Philippines it is 220 volts. So, if you plan to bring any electronic equipment, be sure to purchase a 110-220 step-up transformer before traveling to the Philippines. Be careful! If you plug a US appliance (radio, tape recorder, hair dryer, computer) into a socket in the Philippines, without using a transformer, you will burn out the appliance!
What type of clothing should I bring?
The climate of the Philippines is tropical. Summer (March to May) is always hot and dry, with an average daily maximum temperature in the low 90s. The rainy season (June to October) is typically cooler, with temperatures typically in the 80s. In the winter (November to February), the climate is cool and dry, with the daily maximum in the mid-80s. Light cotton clothing can be worn throughout the year.
Should I designate someone in the US as my power of attorney?
Yes. Complete the forms required to appoint someone as your power of attorney. Then your designee will be able to file your US tax forms, renew your car registration, etc.
Traveling to the Philippines
When do classes begin at UPLB?
Classes for UPLB's 1st semester begin in early June. However, you must arrive two weeks prior to the beginning of classes to participate in the new student orientation and the Convocation. So, plan to arrive in the Philippines by June 1. Classes for the first semester end in early-October and the final exam period is mid-October.
UPLB's 2nd semester begins in early November and ends in the last week of March.
Who will arrange for my travel to the Philippines?
Students must make their own travel arrangements. Ask your travel agent for student fares. A round-trip ticket costs approximately $1,400. Filipino travel agents typically offer the lowest fares.
How will I get from the Manila airport to Los Baños (UPLB)?
If you give Sandy Tupper your arrival time and flight, she will fax this information to UPLB. UPLB will send a car and driver to pick you up at the airport and take you to the UPLB campus. This service is provided free of charge.
UPLB Campus Contacts and Foreign Student Orientation
In case of an emergency, how can my parents contact me?
Dr. Jean Layola, Director, Office of Institutional Linkages, is MSU's contact at UPLB. Your parents can contact her by phone (63-49-536-2239) or e-mail (email@example.com). The time in Los Baños is 12 hours ahead of East Lansing (11 hours when the US is on daylight savings time).
Who will help me to get settled in at UPLB?
The MSU-UPLB Study Abroad Program is coordinated by UPLB's Office of Institutional Linkages (OIL). As soon as you arrive on campus, go to the OIL office and ask for Dr. Loyola or Mrs. Madie Ebora (Dr. Loyola's assistant), who will take you to the dorm and answer your questions. Mrs. Ebora lived in East Lansing for several years while her husband did his Ph.D. at MSU in Crop and Soil Sciences.
How do I enroll, once I arrive at UPLB?
When you meet with Dr. Loyola, she will tell you what you need to do to register.
Who will be my academic advisor?
Each MSU student will be assigned an academic advisor, who is a faculty member in the student's department. Dr. Loyola will tell you the name of your academic advisor.
Is an orientation provided to new foreign students?
Yes, UPLB's Office of Student Affairs, International Student Services, will host an orientation for new foreign students.
How can I meet MSU alumni who are on UPLB's faculty?
Over 20 MSU alumni teach at UPLB and/or live in Los Baños. Several alumni have volunteered to serve as "host families" for MSU students. If you would like to have a host family, ask Dr. Merca to arrange this for you.
Studying at UPLB
How are classes at UPLB different form classes at MSU?
While classes at UPLB are very similar to those offered at MSU, the grading scale ranges from 1.0 (4.0 at MSU) to 5.0 (failed). Also, UPLB has a strict attendance requirement. "The number of absences from a class should be less than 20 percent of a the hours of the schedule work or you will be dropped from the rolls" and receive a 5.0. See Getting to Know UPLB: An Information Brochure for New Students for more information about UPLB's academic policies.
How much will I have to spend on books?
Students attending UPLB typically spend $75-$100 per semester for books.
Living in Los Baños
How can I learn more about what it's like to live in Los Baños?
A great deal of useful information about the Los Baños community (including housing, getting around, shopping, education, medical services, religious services, recreation, and maps) is found in the book, Los Baños: A Practical Guide for Newcomers. Contact Sandy Tupper to borrow this book.
Where will I live while studying at UPLB and how much will it cost?
Most MSU students choose to live on campus in a dormitory. Double rooms are available for $100 per month. Some of the dorms have a free wireless connection.
May I find my own living accommodations?
Students are free to find their own housing after arriving at UPLB. However, we recommend that you reserve a room at the dormatory so that you will have a place to stay when you arrive. As soon as you find an apartment, you may move off campus.
Where can I eat my meals?
You can eat either at one of UPLB's cafeterias which offer a wide selection of food choices at modest prices, or off-campus at private restaurants.
Food costs will average $100-$120 per month.
On-campus cafeterias include:SEARCA and Student Union Cafeteria: ala carte menu (approximately $1.00/meal).
Off-campus restaurants (range of prices for meals and drinks) include:
Restaurants located at/near Vega Center
3rd floor, Vega Center
Sizzling plates $0.90 - $1.10
3rd floor, Vega Center - with scheduled live band shows
Meals $0.90 - $2.40
Drinks (Coffee, Juice, Shakes) $0.50 - $0.90
*some meals include drinks
Chinese fast food - the only fast food restaurant at UPLB which opens at 6:30am
Meals $0.80 - $2.40
*some meals include drinks
Meals (with drinks) $0.76 - $1.70
Meals (with drinks) $0.90 - $1.60
KA / Kofiholics Anonymous
Also serve food for vegetarians such as mushroom special and meatless chopsuey; shakes and coffee
Meals and drinks $0.60 - $1.10
Restaurants at Olivarez
Serves thin crust pizza, chicken, and pasta
Meals $1.20 - $6.00
Serves hamburgers and fried chicken
Meals $0.80 - $1.50
Pizza $5.00 - $8.00
Pancakes $1.70 - $2.60
Meals $1.00 - $4.00
Meals $0.70 - $3.00
Drinks, Shakes and Desert $0.24 - $0.60
Italian Restaurant, quite far from campus but the place is nice and they serve good food
Pasta $1.60 - $2.50
Drinks $0.50 - $1.00
Dessert (cakes, bread, cookies)
Sizzling plates, good hot food
Meals $0.85 - $1.25
Soft drinks (1.5 liters)
Where can I access the internet?
There are several internet cafes near campus, where you can send/receive e-mail and surf the internet. Internet café charge about $1.50/hour for internet access. You may want to set up a free Hotmail, GMAIL, or Yahoo account before leaving MSU, and configure your pilot account to forward your e-mail to your Hotmail/GMAIL/Yahoo address.
Where can I use a computer?
Many students find it convenient to type papers at one of the off-campus Internet cafes, which charge approximately $0.75 per hour for using a computer. However, if you have a portable computer if is recommended that you bring it with you.
Are automatic teller machines available in Los Baños?
Yes, several banks have ATM machines which are connected to the CIRRUS network. You can use your ATM card to withdraw money from your US bank, but your money will be denominated in Philippine pesos. Don't bring a lot of cash! Instead, buy travelers checks, which you can change to pesos at any bank.
What medical facilities are available?
UPLB has a campus Dispensary, which is similar to MSU's Olin Health Clinic. In addition, there are two hospitals in Los Baños: the Los Banos Doctors Hospital and St. Jude Family Hospital. If you should require specialized care, there are several excellent medical facilities in Manila, including the Makati Medical Center.
How can I travel from Los Baños to Manila?
From the bus stop at the Crossing (1 km from campus), you can catch a local bus to Manila, which is available throughout the day.
1. Department Courses: Your academic advisor has the authority to approve UPLB courses as direct substitutes for a departmental courses, or for general credit. If your department only approves the UPLB course for general credit, you must also obtain approval from your academic advisor that your department will accept this course as a substitute for a course required by your department. Required College Courses: If you want to use a UPLB course as a substitute for a college requirement, you must contact the MSU department offering the course to obtain its approval. The department may approve the course as a direct substitute or for general credit. If the department only approves the UPLB course for general credit, you must obtain approval from both your department and your college's Dean that this course is acceptable as a substitute for a course required by your college. Required University Courses. If you want to use a UPLB course to meet a university requirement (i.e., integrative studies), you must contact the MSU department offering the course to obtain its approval. In order to use this course to meet a university requirement, the department must approve the UPLB course as a direct substitute for the MSU required course and agree that it satisfies your university requirement.