Studying Abroad on a Non-Approved Program

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College Study Abroad

College Study Abroad


You finally found the PERFECT study abroad or internship program, but you get the thumbs down from the study abroad office at your school. What now?

  1. First, understand that there are thousands of study abroad and international internship programs available, and not all are top notch. Your school’s roster of “approved programs” has been carefully vetted to ensure each best meets the academic, financial, and health and safety needs of students.
  2. Choosing an approved program means your study abroad office has the knowledge to advise you on course selection and assure credits you earn abroad will transfer to your home school with ease. BONUS.
  3. If you find a program not on your school’s approved list, set up a meeting with your study abroad office immediately. Some schools allow students to petition – but you’ll need to start the process early on to ensure you meet all program deadlines. In addition, there’s no guarantee your petition will be granted.
  4. Your petition will need to include a valid academic reason for pursuing the program, an explanation on why approved programs don’t meet your needs, and evidence that the program meets the academic standards of your school. This requires ample research on your part.
  5. In some cases, you also have the option to go on an unapproved program and then submit your transcript from the provider’s School of Record (SOR) in the hopes that your school will recognize the credits. This option is risky and could mean the loss of your study abroad credits and a delay in graduation date. Consider carefully.
  6. Keep in mind, if you participate in a non-approved program, you may not be considered a matriculating student at your college and may need to apply for re-admittance upon your return.
  7. Finally, it’s possible your non-approved program may not be eligible for any financial aid you are receiving.

Bottom line? It may be possible to earn credits abroad on a study abroad or internship program that hasn’t been approved by your school, but it’s a case-by-case basis. Petitioning your school will take plenty of foresight, research, and planning that may not net the credits you hoped. Conversely, it could mean you introduce an amazing new experience to your school and fellow students.

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