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How to Apply

1) Applying for Swarthmore Approval

How do I access the Swarthmore Study Abroad application?

Before you can access the Swarthmore Approval for Study Abroad application, you need to:

  1. Attend a Study Abroad 101 session - During this group meeting, you will learn essential information to consider while planning, as well as next steps to choose and apply for programs. 
  2. Submit a Pre-Advising Questionnaire - This will let us know more about your goals and interests in study abroad, as well as other important information to consider during your advising meeting.
  3. Complete a GEO Advising session - As part of your GEO Advising meeting, your advisor will create the Swarthmore Approval application for you. This application will be available on your GEO portal after your meeting.
How many programs can I apply for?

The Swarthmore application allows you to list a maximum of three program options. Many students list fewer than three programs if they have a clear top one or two choices.  It saves time, effort, and possible external application fees to narrow down your choices before you apply.

Most programs have high acceptance rates for Swarthmore students, provided students meet all eligibility requirements and apply early.  However, there are a few exceptions, such as Oxford/Cambridge and exchange programs, which are highly competitive. 

In rare cases when none of a student's initial program choices are feasible, the student can contact GEO to check whether an alternative option should be considered.

What materials are needed for the Swarthmore application?

Most of the application can be completed within the GEO portal (personal information, short answer questions, etc.). The Swarthmore Approval for Study Abroad application only requires you to upload two external documents:

Are letters of reference required?

While letters of reference are not required for Swarthmore's internal application, some study abroad programs require one or more letters of recommendation for their external applications.

What does Swarthmore look for when granting approval for study abroad programs?

GEO looks at your academic, personal, and/or professional reasons to study abroad and your preparation for the experience. We also check whether you have provided a rationale for your specific interest in each program you've listed in your application, which demonstrates your research on the program. 

Additional Swarthmore offices and departments (e.g., the Division of Student Affairs and the Bursar's Office) also review your application to ensure that you meet Swarthmore's eligibility requirements for study abroad. 

How do I access my Swarthmore decision letter?

After Swarthmore Approval decisions have been released, your letter will be available in the "Documents" tab of your Swarthmore Approval for Study Abroad application. Carefully review your letter, which includes important information about the programs Swarthmore has approved for you, as well as required post-application steps through GEO.


2) Submitting External Applications

Where can I find links/instructions for external applications?

Remember that you need to apply to Swarthmore (by the deadline) for approval to study abroad BEFORE applying submitting an external application for a specific program.  Your Swarthmore Approval letter will describe the next steps and requirements to submit an external application.

Most programs' websites include external application links and instructions. However, programs will require a approval from your home institution before you can complete/submit an application.  Additionally, some programs, (e.g., CASA programs, exchange programs, several direct enroll universities) operate on a nomination-only basis.  

How do I send my Swarthmore transcript to a program?

If you're required to send a program your official Swarthmore transcript, follow the Registrar's Office's instructions.  If the transcript needs to be sent the Registrar's Office, use the National Student Clearinghouse. Following the Clearinghouse's instructions, request an electronic or paper transcript to be sent to the email/physical address of the program(s) (there is a $3.00 processing fee). Allow up to five business days for requests submitted via the National Student Clearinghouse to be processed. 

If you can upload the transcript yourself, request the free "Official PDF Transcript Issued to the Student" via MySwarthmore. 

Are letters of reference required?

Some study abroad programs require one or more letters of recommendation for their external applications. Be sure to check guidelines on recommendations provided by your program(s) of interest. It is your responsibility to contact the recommender to request the reference and to provide them with instructions to submit their letter. Remember, you may not be the only student requesting a letter, so be considerate of your recommender's time! Give them as much time as possible to complete the reference, and be sure to give them whatever information may be helpful to them in drafting their letter.  Did you get into your program of choice? Share the good news with your recommender! They will appreciate hearing from you.

How do I request advisor/institutional approval for my external application?

Most programs require advisor/institutional approval as part of their external applications.  After Swarthmore has approved your internal Swarthmore Study Abroad application, please direct such approval requests to the GEO advisor identified in your decision letter.

If the program asks you to request approval via its application portal, simply select the name of your GEO advisor or enter their contact information. The advisor will then complete the approval form via the program's application portal. If the program asks you to send a form to your GEO advisor to sign, fill out your section(s) of the form then email the form to your advisor to complete. The advisor will complete the form then either email it back to you or send it directly to the program (depending on the program's instructions).

If I'm required to pay an application fee, can Swarthmore reimburse me?

Some programs have an application fee, while others do not. Swarthmore can later reimburse the application fee for the one program you ATTEND, after you have received and accepted an offer of admission from the program. You're responsible for fees at the time you apply, but make sure to save receipts so that you can request reimbursement if you commit to a program.

If a program offers a scholarship, is it worth it to apply?

It depends on how the scholarship is awarded. Scholarships that are discounted from the study abroad program's tuition and fees cannot benefit the student. Because of how billing works for Swarthmore Study Abroad, the student pays tuition, room, and board fees to Swarthmore rather than to the program. The amount of financial aid that Swarthmore awards the student is calculated as if the student were on campus for the semester and is not impacted by the amount that the program bills to Swarthmore.

Scholarships that can be awarded directly to the student (as a stipend, check, etc.) can often benefit the student. Still, it's possible that this type of scholarship could impact the student's financial aid. For details about how a specific scholarship is awarded and how the scholarship would factor into a student's aid, the student should consult the study abroad program and the Financial Aid Office