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Step-by-Step: The Process


Freshman/Sophomore Year

Attend a Study Abroad 101 session.

How does study abroad work through Swarthmore? It's never too early to learn what to expect so that you can plan ahead. The Study Abroad 101 Session will cover key information about planning your experience, choosing programs, and applying for Swarthmore Study Abroad. Here are the dates and times of upcoming sessions.

Explore program options.

All available programs are listed in GEO's database of Swarthmore-approved programs. If a program interests you, browse the program website (linked in the program page on Swarthmore's database) to learn details.

Learn about experiences of prior participants.

Who better to learn from about programs of interest than Swarthmore students who have participated in those programs? You can read student evaluations of programs or contact a student who attended a program of interest.

Attend live/virtual info sessions offered by specific programs/providers. 

Programs often offer virtual information sessions on their websites. Program representatives also might visit Swarthmore to host in-person information sessions. Attend these sessions to learn directly from programs about academics, housing, activities, student experiences, etc.

8-12 Months Before Program

1. Attend a Study Abroad 101 session (if you haven't already).

This session is the first GEO requirement in the Swarthmore Approval for Study Abroad process. You will learn essential information to consider while planning, as well as next steps to choose and apply for programs. Here are the dates and times of upcoming sessions. You are not required to sign up in advance; attendance will be recorded during the session.

2. Submit your Pre-Advising Questionnaire.

The Global Engagement Office will add the Pre-Advising Questionnaire to your GEO portal within 1-3 business days after you have attended a Study Abroad 101 Session. You will not have access to this questionnaire before you have attended a session.

Let us know more about your goals and interests in study abroad, and other important information to consider during your advising meeting. You'll need to submit the questionnaire before GEO contacts you to schedule an advising meeting.

3. Meet with a GEO advisor.

Within 5-7 business days after you have submitted the Pre-Advising Questionnaire, a staff member in the Global Engagement Office will email you a calendar link to schedule an advising appointment. This meeting can take place in-person in the Global Engagement Office or virtually. The Global Engagement Office is located in Cunningham House (under the dome in front of Scott Arboretum that faces College Ave).

You'll meet one-on-one with a GEO advisor who specializes in your program(s) or region(s) of interest. You and your advisor will discuss program options and prepare to apply. During the meeting, your advisor will give you access to your application for Swarthmore Study Abroad.

4. Identify and confirm your selected program(s).

You'll be able to rank up to 3 study abroad programs in your Swarthmore application (for all non-priority deadline programs). Swarthmore approval can only be considered for programs listed in your Swarthmore Approval for Study Abroad application prior to the deadline.

5. Apply for Swarthmore Study Abroad.

The Swarthmore Approval for Study Abroad application will be added to your GEO portal during the meeting with your GEO advisor (you will not have access to the application prior to the meeting). Make sure to complete both questionnaires in this internal application (the GEO Application and Good Standing Confirmation).

Swarthmore's internal deadline for most Fall or Full Year programs is January 15*.  The deadline for most Spring programs is June 1*

*Oxford, Cambridge, and London School of Economics have an earlier deadline of December 1 (for the following fall, spring, or full year).


6-8 Months Before Program

1. Receive approval decisions from Swarthmore.

Within 3-4 weeks after Swarthmore's internal application deadline, you will receive a letter from Swarthmore that states which program(s) you're approved to apply for. You will be notified via email once the letter is available. You can view the letter in the "Documents" tab of your GEO portal.

Swarthmore approval is not an offer of admission; the final admissions decisions will be released by programs after you have submitted external applications.

2. Submit external program applications.

Once you have received Swarthmore approval, you'll need to apply externally for the programs (usually on those programs' websites). 

Check each program's external deadline as early as possible to make sure you can apply on time. If a program has rolling admissions, you will increase your chances of admissions by applying early (some rolling admissions programs reach capacity well in advance of their stated deadlines). If materials such as an official transcript or letter(s) of recommendation are required for an application, request those materials as far in advance as possible. 


5-6 Months Before Program

1. Respond to admissions decisions of program(s).

Check your email (including Spam) for an Admissions offer from the program(s) you applied for. When you're prepared to commit to one program, it's your responsibility to notify the program that you accept their offer and follow their admissions instructions (within the time frame they give you).

You might be accepted by multiple programs and need to decide between options. If you receive offers of admission to multiple programs, you must decline offers from any programs you do not plan on attending. You may not commit to more than one program.

2. Notify Swarthmore of your decision.

Please notify Global Engagement as soon as you have accepted a study abroad program's offer of admission.  GEO will then update your study abroad portal to reflect your status as "Committed" to your specific study abroad program. This update will trigger next required steps in the Swarthmore Study Abroad process on your GEO portal

3. Follow program-specific post-admission instructions.

It is your responsibility to follow instructions provided by your program to apply for visas and housing. You should attend the program's pre-departure orientation (if offered).


3-5 Months Before Program

1. Post-Application Meeting

GEO will contact you with instructions to register for a required Post-Application Meeting. The meeting will cover pre-departure requirements and expectations.

2. Predeparture Checklist

Once you've notified GEO of your decision to commit to a program, a checklist of online pre-departure requirements will show up in your GEO portal. You will need to complete these requirements before Swarthmore can make payments to your study abroad program, book your flights, or deposit your study abroad stipend to your account.

Please complete the online checklist as soon as you can so that Swarthmore can make early payments on your behalf if necessary. Early completion of this checklist will also give you more time for predeparture preparations. Make note of the deadline to complete each requirement (listed on your GEO portal).

3. Logistical Arrangements

Complete steps to submit required medical forms, secure your airfare through Swarthmore's travel agency, etc. Wait for instructions from GEO before you begin these arrangements (e.g., do NOT book a flight on your own). Check your email regularly for updates from GEO and your program about time-sensitive tasks.

4. Credit Pre-estimation

All courses you plan to take abroad must be submitted to the online Abroad Credit Evaluation System (ACES) to be considered for Swarthmore credit. After GEO has instructed you to begin this process, follow Steps to Request Credit.


During Program

Stay on track with credits.

Follow steps to review and update your course list in ACES while abroad on How to Request Credit page. It's important to make sure that all your actual courses are pre-approved in ACES, or else credit cannot be guaranteed.

Save all assignments you complete abroad for courses that have not been approved for Auto Credit. For details about what materials to save, refer to GEO's Coursework and Credits page.

Complete Swarthmore requirements.

While abroad, you still have access to your Swarthmore email. Check this email regularly so that you can provide requested information and take any actions needed by various offices and departments/programs at Swarthmore. While abroad, you still need to complete all Swarthmore requirements you're notified about, such as the following:

  • Online course pre-registration for the following semester
  • Online application for Swarthmore housing during the following term
  • Any academic requirements that departments/programs share with you
Reach out for assistance.

If any questions or concerns arise during your program, don't hesitate to reach out for assistance. You can contact an on-site staff member in your program and/or Global Engagement about any issues related to academics, housing, flights, living abroad, etc. It's worth checking whether issues during your program can be addressed while there's still time to improve your study abroad experience.

First Month Back on Campus (or sooner)

Request official program transcript (if needed).

It's your responsibility to ensure that the Registrar's Office at Swarthmore receives your official program transcript. Find out whether your program will automatically send your transcript to Swarthmore, or whether you need to request that they do so. If you're required to request a transcript, review details on GEO's Coursework and Credits page.

Prepare your courses for final credit evaluation. 

Follow post-program instructions on GEO's How to Request Credit page. You will need to complete steps in the Abroad Credit Evaluation System (ACES) for all courses taken abroad.

Complete online post-program requirements. 

Students are required to complete all post-program questionnaires in the GEO portal, including evaluations of your program and courses. GEO will notify you once these questionnaires are available. You will need to complete all GEO portal requirements before any of your credits can be processed.

Attend an optional debrief meeting.

GEO will reach out to you to schedule an optional meeting to discuss your experiences abroad. GEO appreciates student feedback, which is important for staying informed about programs and advising future students.


Anytime After your Experience

Reach out to set up a meeting with GEO anytime.

Contact GEO any time you wish to meet with us. We appreciate receiving student feedback and can answer questions.

Share your study abroad experiences.

You're invited to answer questions from students interested in your program, send GEO photos or blog posts for our online platforms, discuss your experiences at student panels,  etc. 

Build on your international interests.

Through Career Services, you can search for professional opportunities relevant to your international interests and use your experiences abroad to build your resume/CV. You can also browse information about fellowships with an international focus on Swarthmore's Fellowships and Prizes website. The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility provides various types of support for events and projects related to issues of social justice and social action surrounding communities both locally and globally.