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Study Abroad Policies & FAQs

Study Abroad Policies and Frequently Asked Questions

What is study abroad?

Study Abroad refers to a college or university student’s participation in a structured, credit-granting program of academic study in a foreign country. The academic program of study is sponsored either by an accredited U.S. university or by a foreign university that is recognized in its own country. About 225,000 US students (out of 16 million university students) study abroad annually.

When and how long can I study abroad?

You can study abroad any time during the academic year—for a summer, a semester, or whole academic year. Study abroad programs vary in length from1-3 weeks (for May Term Study Experiences), to 4-8 weeks during the summer, to approximately 15 weeks for Fall or Spring semester, to approximately 30 weeks for a full academic year.

Am I eligible for study abroad?

Eligibility requirements vary by program, but these eligibility requirements apply to all Westminster students:

  • You must be in good academic standing at Westminster College at the time of application and you must also meet the specific GPA requirements for the program that you are applying to.

  • You must have completed at least one full-time academic semester at Westminster before you study abroad (completion of two full-time semesters prior to departure is encouraged).

  • You must have the personal maturity needed to study abroad.

  • You may not study abroad during your last semester at Westminster. (Note that study abroad allows for an exception to the Residence Requirement that states that you must take your last 36hours at Westminster.)

  • You must have no medical withdrawal hold or accounts receivable hold on your account at the time of your application.

Do I have to have a certain major to study abroad?

No, Westminster works with a variety of study abroad program providers who offer programs in nearly every major.

Where can I study abroad?

Westminster recommends that you choose your study abroad program based primarily on the academic offerings and secondarily on the destination. With the help of a study abroad advisor and with some consideration of the kind of living situation you prefer, you should be able to find a program that meets your needs.  Beginning in 2013, Westminster has undergone a review process to select program providers that most closely align with our College-wide learning goals.  This list of recognized providers is being introduced in Fall 2013, and the 13-14 academic year will be a transitional year.  Beginning in the 2014-15 academic year, Westminster study abroad can only be approved through providers that are on the list of recognized providers.

Can I study abroad more than once? What is the longest period I can study abroad?

You can study abroad for a maximum of one full year (one summer semester and two academic semesters). There is no limit to participating in May Term Study Experiences. Some academic majors and minors limit the number of transfer credits that can be applied to a Westminster degree, so be sure to discuss your plans with your academic advisor.

Do I need to speak a foreign language to study abroad?

No. Although many study abroad programs offer the opportunity to learn a foreign language as part of the curriculum, you do not have to learn a foreign language to study abroad. Many programs in non-English speaking countries offer courses in English. However, study abroad is a great way to learn a language or deepen your language skills, so don’t be afraid to try something new!

Where will I live?

Every program is different.  The most common housing options are in a student dormitory, an apartment, or with a host family.

What is Westminster’s relationship with the institutions and organizations that offer study abroad programs?

Westminster College encourages its students to study abroad in high-quality and challenging programs that include a combination of academics and cultural immersion. Talk to a study abroad advisor and your faculty advisor to identify the study abroad program that best fits your academic and personal needs.

I am an international student. Can I study abroad?

Yes, you may study abroad. In most cases, your options will include any country except your home country. If you wish to study abroad in your own country of origin, you will need to provide good academic reasons for this and your plans must be approved by the Director of Student International Services and the Associate Provost for Diversity & Global Learning.

I am a student athlete. Can I study abroad?

Yes, you may study abroad. Your position on the team may or may not be guaranteed after you complete your study abroad. In addition to working with the Study Abroad Advisor and your faculty advisor, you will need to discuss your eligibility standing with the registrar prior to and after completing your study abroad.  If you have an athletic scholarship, you should also discuss your study abroad plans with the Financial Aid advisor.

I am a student who needs accommodations for a disability. Can I study abroad?

Yes. However some programs/institutions will be better able to meet your needs than others. Work with the Director of Student International Services and the Disability Service Coordinator to identify a program that is best for you. (Disability services are not mandated overseas, so depending upon the nature of your disability, you may be required to provide for your own accommodations. This makes the conversations with the study abroad and disability services directors very important.)

How does the credit process work?

When you study abroad you earn transfer credits from the institution where you study. As part of the application process you will have your proposed schedule and class syllabi reviewed by your academic advisor or a faculty member from the relevant department to determine if credits can transfer to Westminster and count toward your degree.  You must earn a C- or better for the credits to transfer.  Transfer credits are never calculated into the Westminster GPA, but graduate and professional programs will look at your study abroad grades when reviewing admissions applications. 

Note: If your study abroad transcript is not in English and/or is not issued by a U.S. institution, you will be responsible for any costs related to having the transcript and course descriptions translated into English and having your transcript evaluated by a foreign credential evaluation company. This costs an average of $200.

How do I know that the credits I earn will count toward my graduation requirements?

Planning ahead is the best way to ensure that the classes you earn abroad will count towards your degree at Westminster. With careful planning, study abroad does not extend your time to graduation. Work with both the study abroad advisor and your academic advisor to identify courses that count toward your graduation requirements before you leave for your program. If you fail to complete the pre-approval of transfer credit form before you participate in study abroad, there is no guarantee that you will receive credit.

How many course credits can I earn through study abroad?

The number of credit hours you earn depends on the planning you do with the study abroad advisor and your academic advisor. Most students will earn between 12-18 transfer credits per semester abroad.

How does the Residence Requirement impact study abroad students?

Approved study abroad programs are the only exception to the Residence Requirement policy that states you must take your last 36 hours at Westminster. You may study abroad on an approved program during your last 36 hours; however, you may not study abroad during your very last semester.

Can students repeat a course taken at Westminster during a study abroad experience?

Students may repeat a course during Study Abroad. If the course credit transfers to Westminster, Westminster accepts the course as fulfillment of the repeated course, but the new grade does not impact the Westminster GPA.

Can students who are on academic probation because of grades they earned the semester between being accepted to Study Abroad and actually Studying Abroad continue with their Study Abroad plans for the following semester?

Students may still be able to study abroad with the permission of the Director of Student International Services and the Dean of Students. In addition students will need to check with the Financial Aid Office to determine whether relevant scholarships or aid will be impacted.  

If a student participates in Studies Abroad after being put on academic probation at Westminster, what grades will be used to determine whether the student is off probation or suspended?

The grades earned at Westminster the semester following Study Abroad are used to determine whether a student returns to good standing or is suspended.  Students must receive a C- or higher for study abroad credits is to be transferred to Westminster.

Can I apply my Westminster scholarship to my study abroad tuition?

Westminster scholarships can be used only on programs that require you to pay Westminster tuition to study abroad. These programs include ISEP-Exchange, the Prinicipia Honors Consortium, and universities with which Westminster has established exchange agreements. Westminster scholarships can be used for up to one academic year (two semesters) on ISEP-Exchange and can be used only one time for the Principia Honors Consortium or other exchange programs. Westminster scholarships can not be used for summer study abroad or May Term Study Experiences.  If you choose a study abroad program that does not allow you to apply your Westminster scholarship, that scholarship will be put "on hold" for you and you can use it when you return, if necessary.

Can I use my Federal Financial Aid to study abroad?

Federal Financial Aid can be used on some, but not all types of study abroad programs.  Students are encouraged to meet with a Financial Aid Advisor early in the process to determine transferability of aid.

Are scholarships available for study abroad?

Yes, many study abroad scholarships are available through study abroad providers, non-profit and private organizations, and federal agencies. Review the list of study abroad scholarships to understand what is available for you. Note: Most scholarships are for a full academic semester and very few scholarships are available for summer programs.

Can I work while I study abroad?

In most cases, you will not be able to work while on study abroad. One exception is Australia, which allows students to apply for a special student visa that also authorizes part-time employment.

My parent works at Westminster College. Does the tuition remission benefit apply to study abroad?

Yes, tuition remission may be used for one semester of a study abroad program that requires you to pay Westminster tuition (exchange program). This benefit does not apply to other study abroad options.