Which Program?

We offer several study away options worldwide. What are the differences and how do you choose the right program? Consider the following factors in order to achieve an individually meaningful and rewarding off-campus study experience.





Your Academic Goals

Start with asking yourself questions….. Do you want to:

  • Take in-depth courses in your major(s) and gain a different perspective on your major?
  • Explore a minor interest or a new subject for a semester?
  • Master a foreign language?
  • Conduct independent research or fieldwork?
  • Take courses not available at Colby?

Talk to your advisor about your academic goals and find out which credits you can fulfill abroad.

Types of Programs

University Based Programs:

Enrolling in regular classes and studying alongside local students at a foreign university.

  • Full cultural immersion
  • Wide variety of courses in many disciplines
  • Students expected  to perform at the same level as their native classmates, and will be graded as such
  • Academic work often structured differently than in the U.S.( grade might depend on the outcome of a final exam or paper and less on assignments throughout the semester)

Study Center Program:

Studying with other U.S. and international students at a site which might not be on a university campus and is often in the center of a city.

  • Coursework often theme-based and taking full advantage of the location
  • Courses offered in English or local language and structured similarly to U.S. university courses (discussion based, regular assignments, frequent exams)
  • Opportunities for internships and field work
  • Organized extracurricular events, such as museum trips etc.

Field Based Program:

Studying with other U.S. students in one or more locations, often out in the field in an experiential, interdisciplinary way.

  • Experiential, interdisciplinary learning, most class time spent out in the field
  • Specific themes such as ecology, marine biology, anthropology, social justice, etc.
  • Programs tend to be small (25 or fewer students)
  • Courses taught by professors, local experts and working professionals, with regularly scheduled assignments and exams.

Academic Internship Program:

Studying on a program in which the Internship includes considerable academic work done in tandem with the work placement and bearing  4 credits. Typical models consist of 16 credits with the internship counting for 4 credits and three other courses counting for 4 credits each.  Internship programs and independent study courses must have approval from the Office of Off-Campus Study and your academic adviosr in order to be accepted for credit.

  • Unique immersion in the local society
  • Gaining deep understanding of a particular field
  • Real world experience
  • Courses taught by professors, local experts and working professionals, with regularly scheduled assignments and exams.

Language  Intensive Program:

Studying language and other courses on culture, literature, art or history in the local language ( adjusted to your level of ability ).

  • Intensive Foreign Language Learning
  • Full cultural immersion
  • Usually accompanied with homestay

Housing Options


Some programs give you a choice of housing options or a mix of several over the course of the semester, while others have just one option. Some programs require all students to live in a certain type of housing. Typical housing arrangements may include homestays (living with a local family), apartments, dormitories (living with local or other international students) or on-campus housing at a local university. In many field-based programs, housing is usually some combination of small local hostels, field station dormitory, homestays, and/or camping during the semester.

Cost and Fees


Program and university costs differ. You will be paying the cost of the program (not Colby tuition) and Financial Aid is available. In general, fees for direct enrollment in a foreign university are lower than applying through a program provider, but providers’ fees include a variety of services ( application, pre-departure, orientation, excursions, assistance with course selection, registration and other support services on site).

Use the Off-Campus Study Budget Planning Worksheet on the OCS website under Financing Off-Campus Study.

Community Engagement


Programs differ not only in curricular focus and language of instruction, but also in terms of extracurricular involvement. Consider additional opportunities for local community engagement provided to you by your program (volunteering, internships, study tour) or on your own.  Additionally, think about how your housing option will determine your contact with locals.




You may choose a program by the country or city, big city or small town in which it is based. Consider whether you will be able to travel in the region, and whether the political climate is conducive to your spending a semester or year there.

Learning Differences & Disabilities:

Not all destinations can provide the level of support that you may need or have grown accustomed to at home. If you have a learning or physical disability that could affect your participation, we would be pleased to help you identify suitable options.

Teaching and Learning:

Programs vary widely in terms of pedagogy, types of assignments and amount of supervision from instructors. Bear in mind that the method of assessment of many university courses remains heavily weighted towards final examinations, and most courses offer less direct contact with the instructor than you are used to at Colby.

Physical & Mental Health:

Studying abroad is by its nature intellectually, physically, and emotionally challenging. It can create stress that may trigger or exacerbate mental and physical health issues. Be sure to discuss your plans with your counselor or doctor. We can help you select a program that can provide the local resources or support that you need.



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.

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 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 one program on the approved list as a back-up option in the event that your petition is denied. This is for your own protection, so insure that you have a back-up plan.




Make your academic and personal needs your first priority, so that you do not waste energy on an unsuitable choice. Do not choose a program or a semester because that is where or when your friends are applying; find the best program for your own individual needs.


Keep in mind that it is perfectly fine to remain here. Deciding to go abroad because your friends are going, to escape from an unsatisfactory campus or personal situation, are not good reasons to study abroad. Remember that there are other study abroad opportunities, including summer, Jan Plan, and graduate study, if a semester or year abroad is not feasible now.