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Explore Programs

Approved Programs

The GEO program database includes all Swarthmore-approved programs.  You can search for programs on the database by selecting from a range of parameters (e.g., location, area of study, academic focus, housing options, languages of instruction, etc.).

Click here to access the program database.

Factors to consider 

Students base program choices on the factors that they value most, but there are many aspects to consider in your search.

What type of location are you seeking?

Are you interested in a particular country or region? Research the local culture, history, geography, politics, etc.

What academic subjects do you need a program to offer?

Do you wish to explore your academic interests in a new location and possibly receive credit toward your major or minor? Research courses offered by program(s) of interest and familiarize yourself with Swarthmore's credit policies.

What are you looking for in a living situation?

Would you prefer to live with a local family or other students who attend the same program or host university? Depending on the program, housing options may include a homestay, a dorm room, or a shared apartment off-campus. Do you want to cook for yourself while abroad? Some programs provide meals, while others require you to prepare your own food.

What are your preferences for language learning/immersion?

Are you seeking full language immersion, a language course, or a program with no language requirement? Swarthmore offers programs in each category.

Are you looking for structured learning outside the classroom?

Do you hope to participate in an internship, field experience, service learning, etc.? Many programs offer these opportunities, sometimes for academic credit. Some programs offer trips and cultural activities as part of the academic curriculum (which the programs pay for).


Program Models

What is "Direct Enrollment," and how is it different from other types of study abroad programs?

At a direct enrollment institution, you essentially become a student at a university abroad. You'll have an immersive academic experience, since you'll need to adapt to another country's academic system. Most Swarthmore-approved direct enrollment institutions are in English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. You often take classes with local students and other international students, taught by local faculty. Direct enrollment programs require independence and initiative, since there is often more planning that you're responsible for (e.g., less hands-on support to secure housing and apply for a visa).

What is an "Exchange Program" and how is it different from other types of study abroad options?

Exchange programs are direct enrollment institutions that have a special partnership with Swarthmore College. Swarthmore both sends and receives students from partner institutions. Our current exchange partners are Ashesi University, the University of Tokyo, Middlebury College, and Pomona College. Exchanges programs have a unique application process and timeline and are often selective.  Meet with a GEO advisor early if one of these programs interest you, so that you can learn the details.

What is a "Third-Party Provider," and how is it different from other types of programs?

The majority of Swarthmore-approved programs are organized by a third party that creates programs specifically for study abroad participants from U.S. institutions.  These programs often offer local activities, paid travel, and opportunities for community engagement. Providers will arrange your housing and provide on-site support during your term abroad.

There seem to be a lot of third-party providers for study abroad!   How are they alike and unalike?

Providers of Highly Integrated Programs
Programs that are highly integrated have study abroad students enroll in coursework alongside local students at a host university.  Unlike a "direct enrollment" program (see above), students apply to and work through a provider organization.  These providers may provide additional services such as assistance with course registration and language tutoring. 
(Example Program: ISEP)

Providers of Highly Customized Programs
Some programs offer customized coursework to meet the needs/interests of students from U.S. colleges.   Students take classes instructed in English exclusively with other study abroad students in a study center. These courses usually follow the U.S. education model. ​​​
(Example Programs: DIS, AIT Budapest, Temple Rome, etc.)

Providers of Programs Blending Integration/Customization
On some programs, certain classes will be in a study center.  But there is also the opportunity (or requirement) to enroll in classes at a local university.  Some (but not all) of these programs may require a level of language fluency to ensure that you can take university-level classes in the local language.  
(Example Program: CIEE, the Swedish Program)

Providers of Field-based Programs
Unlike programs serving broad general interests, field-based programs involve a specific thematic focus.  Instead of open course selection, there is a proscribed set of courses assigned as part of the program structure.  These programs typically include resarch methodology training (in social or natural sciences).  Generally these programs conclude with an independent/directed study project.  In some cases, even where there is no pre-requisite for fluency, language study during the program may be required. 
(Example Programs: SIT, SFS)


Can I apply for a program that is not on Swarthmore's Approved list?

When you have a valid academic reason for proposing to study abroad on a program that is not on Swarthmore’s approved list, you may submit a request that such a program/institution be considered on a petition basis.   

You will need to discuss this request with a GEO advisor, who can open a petition request in your GEO portal. You will then have an opportunity to elaborate on the details of your proposed program. 

In order to considered by the faculty committee, completed petitions must be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the application deadline for your semester of study (i.e., by May 1 for Spring or December 15 for Fall).  Your petition on behalf of a non-approved program will be considered on its own grounds and apart from your subsequent student application to be approved for study abroad. 

Can I study abroad in a country with a travel warning for elevated risk? 

Any time a student is seeking to study or conduct research in an elevated risk location,  their petition must be pre-approved by the International Travel and Risk Management Committee (ITRMC) . 

This mandatory review is required even if a program has status as one of Swarthmore's "approved programs."  The latter is a merit-based determination, rather than a reflection of fast-changing safety variables in a given location.

Please request an advisory meeting as soon as possible if you are seeking to study abroad in a country that has been classified by the U.S. Department of State as:

  • Level 3: Reconsider Travel
  • Level 4: Do not Travel
  • Other (with an orange-coded advisory)

Your advisor can open a "Petition to Study or Research in Elevated Risk Location" in your GEO portal.   You will need to submit your completed request for ITRMC consideration 30 days prior to the application deadline for your semester of study.

When reviewing requests, the ITRMC considers a number of factors including, but not limited to, the academic value of the proposed travel and the student’s preparedness and understanding of the risks specific to the region.

The ITRMC will continue to monitor locations where travel approval has been granted. In the event the risk rating changes and/or the travel environment deteriorates, the College reserves the right to rescind approval or revise the conditions of travel. 

Can I take a leave of absence to study abroad?

Occasionally a student may choose to take a "leave of absence" to pursue an independent opportunity abroad, before returning back to their academic program at Swarthmore.  

Students who choose this option are NOT eligible for financial aid and can NOT transfer the credit earned while on-leave overseas to your program at Swarthmore College.

For planning purposes, please be aware that some institutions and/or programs will only allow students to participate if they are "study abroad" students who have been approved by the Global Engagement Office and are not able to host unaffiliated students. 

If considering a leave of absence, please follow the instructions on the Office of Academic Success' website  about taking time off: consult the Leaving and Returning pages, and be sure to remain in regular contact with your academic/major advisor, and/or Dean.