Applying to study off campus is not a one-step process. It is multi-faceted and requires careful consideration, time, and active participation on the part of the student. We recommend that you begin planning and working on your application and required assignments at least 9 months before your planned off-campus study stay.

The process has three phases:

1. STATEMENT OF INTENT                                                                                                                           2. COLBY APPROVAL                 to study off-campus on certain programs during certain term 3. ONLINE APPLICATION  TO YOUR SPECIFIC UNIVERSITY/ PROGRAM                                           
DUE: NOVEMBER 15 DUE: FEBRUARY 20 DUE: deadlines vary




The application process starts with submitting your STATEMENT of INTENT to OCS by November 15th of your sophomore year for study away in the following academic year. You will be asked to log in to the Colby OCS online portal system to set up your account and fill out a Questionnaire. We will ask you to share information about your semester choice, academic background, foreign language proficiency and your goals for off-campus study. It is important that you justify your choice of semester with an academic reason. If you are planning to be away for a full year and are not a language major, area studies major, or Dartmouth or Bigelow applicant, you will need to justify your choice for a full year off campus, in one site or two. It is important to plan ahead for a full year as extensions will not be granted once you are abroad. After we evaluate your application, you will be notified about your eligibility to begin the Colby Off-Campus Application for a specific program or university.


Semester choice is NOT guaranteed. Due to the College’s need to balance enrollment across the fall and spring semesters, students may not be able to study off campus in the semester of their choice. Academic reasons for needing to study away during a specific semester take precedence over extracurricular and athletic participation. Academic reasons for choosing a particular term may include a program that is particularly appropriate for you and only runs in a particular semester; courses for your major that you must take on campus in a particular semester (you must specify them); an off-campus program focus that is different in different semesters; specific courses toward your major that you intend to take off-campus; language preparation for a particular program that would require an extra semester at Colby prior to departure.

Full Year Abroad. Only language and area studies majors (studying in the target language both semesters), participants on the Dartmouth and Columbia engineering programs, and students who enroll in the Fall Colby at Bigelow program are automatically granted a full year abroad, all other students will be asked for an academic justification as part of the Colby Approval Application due Feb. 20th. 



You will likely be notified about your eligibility to study off-campus in your semester of choice by early December, but in the meantime, you should start researching programs in the Colby OCS online portal system. All semester and year-long abroad experiences must be approved through OCS in order for credit to transfer back to Colby. By-passing Colby OCS procedures will result in no credit transfer. Once approved, you can search by region, location, academic focus, language of instruction; additionally, each program has a rich brochure page. Do not wait until February to do your research as you may need advising from OSC and your academic advisor. You can only apply for one approved program in the online portal. If you change to another approved program, you will need to withdraw your application from the online portal and apply again. After you have selected your program, click on the “Apply” button. You will land on the application page where you will find links which require your response. You are not required to fill out all submissions at once as you can come back to your account at any time. Plan ahead and be mindful of the February 20th deadline. Remember that this is your application for Colby approval; you will need to apply directly to your program provider via their web site.



We recommend an individual meeting with an OCS advisor at least two weeks before the February 20th deadline. Before making an appointment, please be sure to familiarize yourself  with the application process and deadlines.

If you would like to petition for a program which is not on the Colby approved list, you are required to meet with an OCS advisor, and are required do so in the fall semester. Waiting until February is not feasible because you will need time to discuss your options with your academic advisor. You should always have a back-up program chosen from the approved list.


During the application process you will be required to meet with your academic advisor to discuss your OCS program, academic options, course credit transfer etc. You will be asked to print a PDF form which your advisor will sign. You will be responsible for scanning and uploading the form back into your online profile.


Your course proposal is a part of your Colby application to study off-campus. You will be meeting and consulting about your course selection  with your academic advisor and with departmental representatives. Important considerations for you and your academic advisor are what courses you still need to complete at Colby, what courses your department will allow you take off campus and what other recommendations your academic advisor might have.

Colby Course Approval Structure:

General Credit Academic Advisor Full course load (depends on credit value)
Distribution Requirement

International Diversity Requirement

Departmental representatives

(see the OCS department liaisons list)

No limit
Major or Minor credit Departmental representative Varies by department









See the current list of OCS department liaisons HERE.



A petition is required in the following circumstances:

    1. If your GPA is below 2.7 after Jan Plan.
    2. If you wish to study in a country/region where the spoken language is taught at Colby, and you have not completed the equivalent of three semesters (through 127) of the given language.
    3. If you wish to study in a country currently under U.S. State Department Travel Advisory Level 3.
    4. If programs on the Approved list do not meet your academic needs. See “NON APPROVED PROGRAMS” below.

You will be guided on how to submit your petitions after you select a specific program in the Colby Online portal.

For “NON APPROVED PROGRAMS” see description of the process below.


Petitioning a non-approved program

Colby College ensures that students participate in academically rigorous programs which include rich intercultural experiences. Consistent with Colby’s educational philosophy, OCS adheres to core principles when approving, reviewing, and recommending off-campus programs; as a result, Colby has an extensive list of quality off-campus programs, both foreign and domestic.

Students wishing to pursue a program not currently on the approved list must have strong academic reasons as to why they want to petition and must demonstrate why approved programs do not meet their academic needs. Only one program petition is allowed. IMPORTANT: Petitions for non-approved programs MUST be submitted in advance of the Feb. 20th deadline. Under no circumstances will petitions be accepted after the deadline, so students are encouraged to do their research in advance.

DOWNLOAD: PETITION for non-approved programs.

Required Steps:

  1. Meeting with an OCS advisor (at least two weeks in advance of the Feb.20th petition deadline). Come prepared to state why this particular study abroad program meets academic needs that cannot be met by one of the approved programs. If there is a Colby-approved program in the same location as the program being petitioned for, it is unlikely your petition will be approved unless you have compelling academic reasons.
  2. Submitting a Petition. If a petition is encouraged at your advising meeting, you will then be provided with the form and instructions for submission.
  3. Academic Advisor Support. Your academic advisor will be asked to write an endorsement for you.

After your petition is received via email, it will be reviewed by the Off-Campus Study and the Dean of Global Engagement. You will be notified by email about the decision. Please note that you must apply to your petition program through the portal. You should choose a back-up program on the approved list and apply through the providers’ website. In the event your petition is denied, you will need to withdraw your petition program application from the online Colby portal and apply again, listing your back-up program. NON-APPROVED PROGRAM PETITIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AFTER THE FEB. 20TH DEADLINE IN ANY CASE. If you are planning for a full year off-campus, you must apply in advance as you will not be able to extend your stay unless you have been approved for a full year ahead of time.




After your COLBY APPROVAL APPLICATION has been submitted, you will be notified about your status and can start applying to your program providers or foreign university directly through their website by their stated deadline. Be sure to check application deadlines for your program, as some are earlier than others. We recommend applying early; many programs fill up before their stated deadlines.