The university said TeNiya Elnora Jones, a 19-year-old sophomore, was swimming with two other students in Tel Aviv shortly after midnight on Sunday when they were "caught up in a strong current and were pulled out to sea."
Two of the students were able to make it back to the shore, but Jones was not.
Officials conducted a "major search and rescue effort" that was unsuccessful in locating the woman, according to the university.
Jones was part of a group of seven students, including five from the University of Kentucky, studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan, since June. The university said she and three other students traveled to Tel Aviv for the weekend.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with TeNiya, her family and the students and others impacted," said Kentucky President Eli Capilouto. "We are in continual contact with Teniya's family, officials in Israel, officials from the State Department and our Congressional delegation, to provide all the support we can for the family, students and others involved. We will do everything possible to provide whatever support is needed."
The school said it was in contact with the Council on International Exchange, which runs the program Jones was a part of, as well as officials at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.
Jones' mother and grandfather are traveling to Tel Aviv from her hometown of Fort Myers, Florida.
The summer abroad program was scheduled to end this week.