Why Study Abroad?
There are many reasons to study abroad!
- Experience a different educational system
- Earn credits towards your major, distribution requirements, and graduation
- Learn an entirely new language or become fluent in one you have already studied
- Take courses from faculty from around the world to enhance your perspective
- Re-energize your studies
- Learn about another culture firsthand
- Expose you to new ways of thinking, living, and viewing the world.
- Step out of your comfort zone & enhance your self-confidence, resilience and independence
- Experience a new way of learning and living
- See the world and broaden your experience
- Gain a new perspective on the united states
- Explore your heritage
- Dispel your own stereotypes and fight stereotypes by educating others
- Make friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime.
- Become a 'global citizen'
- Employers increasingly seek graduates who have international experience, and a study abroad experience will enhance your employability.
- Enhance your resume
- Explore career opportunities
- Do an internship abroad
- Demonstrate to employers and graduate schools that you can adapt to new situations
- Develop connections for future international travel and/or work
- Learn new skills like cultural awareness and leadership for your future career
- Gain skills in cross-cultural communication, flexibility, and problem solving
What will be YOUR reason?
You can learn more about some of the benefits of study abroad in terms of language, creativity, career development and more. Most students return from study abroad with a new sense of self, a focus on their academic pursuits, and an appreciation of the different culture, language, and learning environment they were a part of while abroad.
Who can study off-campus?
- Students of any major
- Students in good standing (with a GPA of 2.7or higher)
- Students in junior year (generally)
- Additional qualifications may exist depending on the program to which you apply
- Minorities or students from majors typically not associated with study abroad are encouraged to study off-campus
- Extra assistance may be available to students with disabilities
- Students of any race, gender, or sexual orientation can study abroad. See some reasons why.
With careful planning any student can study off-campus. However, off-campus study is not necessarily for everyone, and should not be entered into lightly, with no forethought as to how it fits in with your personal, academic, or career goals. You may have to make some hard choices; but remember that there are other off-campus study opportunities, including summer, JanPlan, and graduate study, if a semester or year abroad is not feasible.
Check out some famous people who studied abroad.
In recent years, about 50% of Colby’s junior class studies abroad (not including JanPlan).
With the exception of Colby’s language-acquisition programs in Salamanca and Dijon, which are open to sophomores, you must have junior standing when you study abroad. If a students decides they would like to spend a semester abroad during their sophomore or senior year a petition may be required. Students should contact the off-campus study office and determine if study abroad makes sense for their overall program in consultation with their academic advisor.
Yes, but Colby will not grant financial aid to international students who plan to study in their home country.
Seniors may apply to study off-campus in the fall semester of their senior year by contacting the Off-Campus Study office early in the preceding fall. Colby requires seniors to spend their last semester on the Waterville campus. It is crucial that you discuss your plans with your academic advisors and meet with OCS to apply.
Yes, in recent years over 30% of Colby students who study off-campus are double majors. But this requires additional advance planning in order to work out course credits in one or both majors. In any and all cases, it is essential to speak with your major advisor(s), or someone in the department(s) to make sure you will be able to satisfy your requirements.
Absolutely! With good planning, many pre-med and natural science majors find a way to study abroad for at least a semester or more. It requires some carefully planning, consulting with the pre-health advisor in the Career center and it depends on your timeframe for pursuing your medical degree.
To discuss this, schedule an appointment with Cate Talbot Ashton the Pre-Health Advisor in the Colby Career Center.
There are numerous opportunities for science students to study abroad. Students in disciplines such as Biology and Mathematics, which do not have a great degree of vertical structuring in their curricula, have the most opportunities for study abroad. However, even in the more sequentially organized disciplines, such as Chemistry, Geology, Psychology and Physics, foreign study is possible with advanced planning and consultation with advisors within the department. Regardless of your discipline, a valuable program of foreign study requires careful planning and discussion with your advisor well before you participate in the program.
Pre-medical and pre-dental students can also consider international study. While it is generally advisable not to take required pre-medical or pre-dental courses at a foreign university, it may be possible to do so after a thorough examination of the course in question, and a careful comparison of its content with that at a US university. There are many health related study abroad programs which offer an excellent opportunity to explore the health field and gain some valuable hands-on experience (review the Opportunities list by searching on “health” in the programs filter).
In some cases it may be possible for a science major to study abroad for a semester without studying science. This requires careful planning in consultation with your major advisor so that you do not have an unusually heavy course load upon your return.
Where can I study?
Colby has a list of over 200 approved programs in over 60 countries worldwide. There are many types of programs depending on your goals, from language intensive programs to internship programs or options for direct enrollment in a foreign university.
Choosing the right program for YOU is a crucial part of the study abroad process. You might try to break the decision down into two areas: destination and type of program. Start by asking yourself the questions in the Choosing your OCS Program Worksheet to help you decide what type of situation is best suited to your preferences and needs.
What about language?
Colby believes that foreign languages are the key to understanding foreign cultures and that the most rewarding experience abroad includes living in and speaking a language other than English. To study abroad in regions where the spoken language is taught at Colby, students are expected to have completed the equivalent of three semesters (through 127) of the given language (Spanish, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian) prior to study abroad. (For study in Portuguese-speaking countries (Portugal or Brazil), Colby requires the equivalent of 3 semesters of college level study of Spanish or another romance language).
Keep in mind that some majors and some programs may have a higher requirement than Colby’s.
Exceptions to this rule are the Colby in Salamanca and Colby in Dijon language semesters, which accept students who have had only one semester of language at the college level or three years at the high school level, and any exemptions specific to majors and programs that are listed in the Academic Department Policies and Recommendations section.
Students are urged not to put off their Colby language requirement beyond their sophomore year.
In addition there are many universities and programs in English-speaking countries such as Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Students studying on programs in countries where the host language is not English are required to study the local language for the duration of the program. This includes both languages taught at Colby College and languages that are not included in the Colby curriculum. In some programs such as DIS (Denmark), the Danish language course will be in addition to 4 other courses for a total of 5 courses.
In some programs in countries/regions where the language is taught at Colby (Spanish, French, German, Italian) some or all of your classes may be taught in that language. In other programs, you may have a choice of a mix of classes. You are encouraged to take as many classes in the local language as possible in order to maximize your language practice. You should also be aware of your major department’s requirements.
Yes, There are many quality program opportunities where the language of instruction is English even if English is not the official state language. For example, the approved programs list includes programs taught in English in the Czech Republic, Denmark, The Netherlands, and many others European, African or Asian countries. You must, however, take at least one course in the local language for the duration of the semester.
How long can I go?
The answer to this question really depends on many factors including your goals for study abroad, where you want to go, what your major is, what requirements you need to fulfill, whether your program is available either semester, what plans you have for senior year and many other factors specific to your individual situation, use the Choosing your OCS Program Worksheet and some advantages of of-campus study during the fall semester to help you figure this out.
You should expect to study off-campus for one semester. You should understand that Colby can only guarantee that you will be able to study abroad for at least one semester, and we cannot always guarantee which one due to the need to balance enrollment over the two semesters.
With the exception of language and area studies majors (studying in the target language both semesters), participants on the Dartmouth engineering exchange, students who enroll in the fall Colby at Bigelow program, and students who participated in a program abroad during their first semester, all others are required to petition the Advisory Committee on Off-Campus Study. When you request to study off-campus for a full year that is considered above and beyond the norm and . There are a limited number of slots available for full year off-campus study. We do the best we can to accommodate student wishes. Language studies majors are encouraged to study in the target area for a full year to maximize their language fluency.
Most students who have studied abroad for year recommend that others considering study abroad should indeed commit themselves to a full academic year, rather than a semester. Even some who have chosen to study for only a semester report that it was too short a period of time to become part of a foreign culture, gain fluency in the language, get acclimated to a new educational system, make friends, and travel. Others have found a semester just right. Nearly all study abroad "alumni" agree, however, that if your choice is between going abroad for a semester or not going at all, you should definitely not miss the experience, whatever its duration. What is important is that you do what is appropriate and what is possible for you.
With the exception of language and area studies majors (studying in the target language both semesters), applicants to the Dartmouth Engineering Dual Degree program, and students who enroll in the fall Colby at Bigelow program, all others are required to petition the Advisory Committee on Off-Campus Study. When you request to study off-campus for a full year that is considered above and beyond the norm and there are a limited number of slots available for full year off-campus study. We do the best we can to accommodate student wishes.
- Think about the dates of your program and if they interfere with other plans you may have (summer jobs, internships, sister’s wedding, etc..)
- Are there any required or desired courses which take place during certain semesters
- Is your chosen program/university available/approved for either semester?
- Are you planning to do an Independent study or honors project senior year?
- Do you need to keep your summer free for work or internship?
- Do you expect to / need to receive JanPlan credit for your program abroad?
What are the requirements for off-campus study?
Colby requires that you:
- Have a minimum cumulative GPA is 2.7 by the end of January of the year in which you are applying. You may not be on academic probation. If your GPA is lower than 2.7 (but no lower than 2.5) at the time of application, you may be permitted to petition the Advisory Committee on Off-Campus Study before March 1, 2012, if you can show compelling academic reasons to study abroad, and meet a variety of other conditions. Each program may have its own requirement which may be higher than Colby’s.
- You must be in good academic and social standing to be approved for off-campus study at Colby. This means that you may not be on academic probation. If you are on disciplinary probation please discuss this with OCS
- Have the language pre-requisite required for study in the country of your choice. To study abroad in regions where the spoken language is taught at Colby, students are expected to have completed the equivalent of three semesters (through 127) of the given language (Spanish, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian) prior to study abroad. (For study in Portuguese-speaking countries (Portugal or Brazil), Colby requires the equivalent of 3 semesters of college level study of Spanish or another romance language). Each program may have its own requirement which may be higher than Colby’s.
- In other non-English speaking countries, students are required to study the language of host-country for the duration of their program.
- You should have declared or be in the process of declaring a major and have a faculty advisor within that major.
How do I apply?
All Colby students who wish to study off-campus must follow these steps:
Step 1: Attend the Sophomore Information Session in September of your Sophomore year
Step 2: Attend the Off-Camus Study Fair in early October
Step 3: Use the Choosing your Off-Campus Program resources and explore the list of approved/petitionable opportunities. (in handbook & on website)
Step 4: Submit the preliminary Preliminary Proposal For Approval To Study Off-Campus by November 15 of your sophomore year.
Step 5: In March of your Sophomore year you will then submit 1-2 Colby Applications for Approval to study at a specific programs/universities off-campus.
Step 6: Apply to the program/university you have decided to attend and for which you have gotten Colby approval. (Except if you are attending a Colby program, in which case this step is not needed).
Step 7: Prepare to depart. See Pre-Departure Planning resources (in handbook & on website)
Review the application process guidelines and timelinehere.
On what programs can I study?
Colby programs are administered and supervised by Colby College. They are: Colby in Salamanca, Colby in Dijon, Colby in St Petersburg, or Colby at Bigelow Laboratory. Grades received and courses taken abroad on a Colby program will appear on your transcript and will count in your Colby GPA like when you are on campus.
These programs are sponsored by other American and foreign universities and are approved for Colby students by the Advisory Committee on Off-Campus Study. Colby approved over 200 approved programs in over 60 countries worldwide. Grades earned and courses taken abroad on a Non-Colby program are posted on your transcript by the registrar but do not figure in your Colby GPA.
Colby policy is that students who wish to study in a country in which there is a Colby-approved program available, for which they qualify, must attend this program. Where there are no such programs available, or when the approved programs do not meet the student’s academic needs, the Off-Campus Study Office will work with the student to try to find an acceptable program. Approval of the major advisor(s) is also required.
Colby offers students the opportunity to study on Non-Colby programs that meet our criteria and are consistent with our philosophy of study abroad and have been tried by Colby students and approved by Colby’s Off-Campus Study Advisory Committee. These programs are listed in this handbook; these are the programs/universities listed as "A" or approved and where it does not indicate that a petition is required.
Knowledge of these programs is kept current through student evaluations and faculty visits. Programs may be added to or removed from the list as more appropriate opportunities emerge. Please do not assume, because you know that a Colby student participated in a particular program in the past, that the program is on the approved list.
All Colby-approved study programs abroad must meet the following standards:
- They must provide an educational experience which is consistent in quality with the educational experience at Colby, and which can reinforce, complement, and broaden a student’s educational program at Colby.
- They must contain a substantial academic component of high quality.
- Study abroad programs must provide a cultural experience and, when appropriate, a linguistic experience that are consistent with the goals stated above. To promote cultural integration, at least a full semester must normally be spent in a single host country.
While most students select a program that is related to one of their majors or minors, some students see study abroad as an opportunity to study something different altogether. Some students choose to do something related to potential career interests.
How does credit transfer?
If your plans are approved by OCS you will receive a full course load of 15-16 credits per semester (as long as your classes and grades meet the guidelines). Upon completion of your program a transcript will be sent to Colby and credits, courses and grades will be posted on your Colby record.
Grades received and courses taken abroad on a Colby program (Colby in Salamanca, Dijon, St Petersburg, or Bigelow Laboratory) will appear on your transcript and will count in your Colby GPA. This includes passing and non-passing grades. You may elect to take a course satisfactory/unsatisfactory prior to a specific deadline, which will be announced once you arrive on-site. Resident directors of Colby programs submit the grades for students in their program directly to the registrar at Colby.
Grades earned and courses taken abroad on a Non-Colby program are posted on your transcript by the registrar but do not figure in your Colby GPA. These grades do appear on your Colby transcript, and it is quite legitimate for you to count them when you are asked to compute your own GPA for the purpose of employment or graduate school. The policy to grant credit, but not factor grades into the GPA for non-Colby programs stems from the inherent impossibility of controlling the curricula of all the programs that we approve for credit transfer. On a Colby program, we exercise control over the curriculum, the faculty and staff, the content of the courses, and the grading practices. The policy to factor grades earned on one's own program into the GPA, but not those of other institutions and providers, is quite standard at institutions like Colby.
Yes but approval of courses toward the major, minor, distribution or diversity credit is decided by academic departments. For course credit to count toward your major or minor or a college requirement, these courses must be approved in writing by the appropriate academic department according to its policies.
How should I decide where to go?
- You should speak with as many people as possible including your academic advisors in your majors, your department’s Faculty Liaison for OCS, your parents, and returned study abroad students
- Consult with Off-Campus Study by appointment - call (207) 859-4500
You should also:
- Attend the Off-Campus Study Fair at Colby in early October
- Use the Choosing Your Off-Campus Study Program resources including reviewing student profiles, contacting student ambassadors, reading student evaluations of their experience.
- Check your department recommendations and off-campus study policies of your major department
- Consult with the off-campus Faculty liaison in your department.
- Consult program information in the back of the OCS handbook, the OCS library (Eustis 103), and on the OCS Opportunities list on the website.
- Review feedback from recent Colby students in the student evaluations
- Talk to students who have recently returned from study abroad
- Attend any relevant information sessions (in October-November).
- Program representatives will participate in the Off-Campus Study Fair at Colby in early October
- Each program’s website accessible through the OCS Opportunities list on the website
- Review feedback from recent Colby students in the student evaluations
- Consult program information in the back of the OCS handbook and the OCS library (Eustis 103)
Gathering as much information as possible can makes the decision easier.
Where and when do I begin planning?
Start by thinking about your goals for study abroad and use the Choosing Your Off-Campus Study Program Worksheet to help you narrow it down. Do you want to improve your proficiency in a foreign language? Sharpen your focus on your major? Learn about a culture very different from your own? The more clearly you can articulate your goals, the easier it will be to find a suitable program. Talk with your advisor about how to integrate study abroad into your overall program here.
Early planning is the key to successful study abroad. Hundreds of study abroad opportunities exist; they differ in location, duration, curriculum, language, degree of cultural immersion, cost, and many other factors. In order to find the program that is the right “fit” for your personal and academic objectives, you should begin planning early.
You will begin planning and applying for your OCS experience early in your sophomore year. You will be contacted by the office of off-campus study for a series of informational opportunities starting with the Sophomore Information Session in mid September.
What does it costs and how do I pay?
Costs vary by program type, foreign university tuition, location, duration, currency exchange fluctuations, and other considerations. Students on Colby programs (Colby in Salamanca, Dijon, St Petersburg, Bigelow Laboratory, and selected affiliated exchange programs) are billed by Colby in the same way as a semester or year on-campus. When a Colby student attends a non-Colby program for a semester/year, program fees will be paid by the student and directly to the program. Off-campus study program fees vary a lot so please refer to the specific program provider or university. All students studying on non-Colby programs will also be billed by Colby for a $1,000 off-campus study fee for each semester they are away (excluding certain Colby affiliated programs).
Many programs on the approved list cost less than Colby College, including overseas airfare and other travel expenses; a few (in large cities) cost more. Direct enrollment in a foreign university on the approved list is usually less than enrolling in that same institution via a U.S. college (e.g., Butler-Institute for Study Abroad). But students also receive less in terms of support services such as orientation, accommodations, excursions, and expediting credit transfer. Make sure you have a realistic estimate of all costs and arrangements before you
make this decision. The Financing Off-Campus study page has some resources which can help, including a Off-Campus Study Budget Planning Worksheet
Only when studying on a Colby program will you pay Colby tuition while studying away. On a non-Colby program, fees will be paid by the student and directly to the program/university. See Program Cost, Billing, and Refunds.
Students studying on a non-Colby program will be billed by Colby for a $1,000 off-campus study fee for each semester they are away (excluding certain Colby affiliated programs). The charge will be billed to your home address by Colby’s Office of Financial Services. For students on financial aid, this charge is built into the aid package.
If you receive financial aid at Colby, your aid is portable to both Colby and non-Colby programs as long as your plans have been approved by the Off-Campus Study office. In any of these courses of study, a student’s aid is based on the actual cost of the program up to a maximum of Colby’s student expense budget. The evaluation of the aid application includes consideration of necessary personal and travel expenses, and currency exchange rates. If the program away costs less than Colby, financial aid will be reduced accordingly. Therefore the amount of your aid may differ from what you receive when you are on campus. Financial aid funds will be disbursed directly to the student (not the program) and it is the student’s responsibility to assure that program/university fees are paid. Some costs including application fees, incidental expenses for passports, visas, immunizations, gym/club memberships, etc., are not covered by financial aid.
For information on how to apply your financial aid towards your study away plans refer to the Financial Aid for Study Away section.
Yes. There are some undergraduate scholarships and fellowships for study abroad listed in the scholarship section of our website. Many study abroad program providers have their own scholarships for students who participate in their programs.
If you receive financial aid at Colby, please note that any additional scholarships you may receive must be disclosed to Student Financial Services and may be deducted from your aid.
What about summer and Jan Plan or domestic study?
Some students who decide a semester or year off-campus is not appropriate for them during their undergraduate years may opt to pursue a summer or JanPlan experience or not go at all.
Common reasons for not doing so include:
• Hesitation to give up even a semester's worth of campus academic study, fearing that overseas courses will not be as good
• The need to fulfill College curricular requirements on campus, especially when double-majoring
• Conflicts with campus obligations, such as sports, arts, or other extracurricular activities
• Lack of parental support
• Concerns over health, safety, and security issues which might arise abroad
These are all valid concerns and only you can decide what is right for you. We are here to help you decide if you want to talk about it.
While many students choose to study off-campus for a semester or year during their junior year, in some cases this may not be feasible for a variety of reasons. You may consider off-campus study during the summer. There is no list of Colby approved summer programs but OCS can assist you in selecting an appropriate quality program to meet your needs. A sampling of recommended summer programs and application procedures can be found in the OCS library in Eustis 103 and website.
Note: Colby financial aid is NOT portable to summer off-campus study. Certain departments on campus may have special funds available. Ask your academic advisor.
Students who wish to transfer credit back to Colby need to seek faculty approval for their courses in advance through the Registrar’s office using the Transfer of Credits Form available on the Registrar’s webpage under “forms for students”. If your summer off-campus program requires an approval signature from a study abroad advisor or home school approval please bring that form to OCS along with your completed Transfer of credits form.
Yes. You may consider off-campus study or an international experience during JanPlan including a Colby off-campus JanPlan course led by a faculty member, an independent study experience, or a JanPlan course taken through another institution. See some suggestions and application procedures.
Note: Colby financial aid is NOT portable to off-campus study during JanPlan. Certain departments on campus may have special funds available. Ask your academic advisor.
Colby has Exchange programs with The Claremont Colleges, Howard University, and Clark Atlanta University. For this or for the Dartmouth College Engineering program, students apply via the Off-Campus study office during their Sophomore year. For any other off-campus study at another U.S. institution during the summer or academic year, students must seek approval in advance through the Registrar’s office using the Transfer of Credits Form available on the Registrar’s webpage under “forms for students”.
Note: Keep in mind that financial aid is NOT portable to domestic study while on leave from Colby.
What if I apply to study off-campus and then decide not to go?
If you change your plans (change of semester, change of program, decide not to study off-campus) after you submit the preliminary application in November, you must notify OCS in writing ASAP to be removed from the list and have your leave of absence modified to make sure you have housing and can register for classes on campus.
Do I need a passport and visa to study abroad?
Yes, you will always need a valid passport (valid for 6 months after your expected return), U.S. or foreign, to travel to any country.
In addition, most countries require students to obtain a student visa in advance in order to enter and study in their country. You cannot apply for a visa until you have a passport and have been accepted to your program or host university. Visa requirements vary from country to country and are different depending on the student’s country of origin.
More information is available in Pre-Departure Planning.
What if I have special needs?
Students needing accommodation for physical or learning differences (or any chronic medical conditions or other concerns) should discuss this with a member of the Off-Campus Study office and/or contact the program(s) to which they are applying. Not all locations will be able to accommodate all needs; if you address those needs at the beginning, you will be better able to find a program that will work for you.
Students should consult with their physicians, psychologists and counselors extensively regarding study abroad plans. They should also self disclose to the program administrators about their circumstances. This will allow the program administrators to appropriately assist the students. Students should also continue their prescribed medications while abroad, which may mean bringing a supply sufficient for the duration of their sojourn.
What about my safety and security while abroad?
The safety and security of students are always of utmost priority for Colby and all study abroad program providers, particularly given international developments over the past few years. National and international security issues necessitate that you respect safety recommendations and security policies established by your sponsoring organization and the U.S. Embassy in the country of your destination.
While there is no reason to assume that going abroad will compromise your safety, you must be sure to follow safety guidelines provided by your program at all times. Your program/university will likely go over security policies and advice in depth during their orientation and we advise you to follow these carefully. Remain attentive to information provided to you and stay in contact with your program, Colby College, and your family throughout the duration of your study abroad program. Always inform your program’s resident director or contact person at the university of any incidents that may arise. You must also take personal responsibility for informing yourself of risks in locations in which you might study or travel; a good source of basic information is the U.S. Department of State Web site.
Note: The US State Department has advised Americans traveling anywhere to remain inconspicuous for their own safety, and we strongly support this advice. You are advised to keep a “low profile” wherever you may travel. Pay attention to culturally appropriate dress and behavior. Keep your voice down and avoid congregating in large, noisy groups, and avoid US entities considered symbols of US capitalism. Use restraint in situations that could get out of hand; your personal safety is far more important than your “honor” or your need to express yourself.
In the unlikely event local or world conditions should lead the program to suspend or cancel a program, the program’s cancelation or refund policy, if any, will apply. Please refer to Colby's safety and refund policies if you are studying on a Colby-run program. For a non-Colby program, please refer to the safety, cancelation, withdrawal, and refund policies of that program.
The Office of Off-Campus Study is in contact with Colby OCS program directors or program representatives from Non-Colby programs regarding safety and security.