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Step-by-Step: The Process

Photo credit: Ayleah Johnson '22 (Switzerland, SIT, fall 2021)

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As Early as Freshman Year

1. Explore program options

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2. Learn about experiences of prior participants

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3. Attend Study Abroad 101/ Intro to Study Abroad

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

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8-12 Months Before Program

1. Submit your Advising Questionaire

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2. Meet with an Advisor

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3. Identify and confirm your selected program(s)

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6-8 Months Before Program

1. Apply for Swarthmore Study Abroad

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2. Receive Approval Decisions from Swarthmore

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3. Submit External Program Applications

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5-6 Months Before Program

1. Respond to Decisions of Foreign Program(s)

You may be accepted by multiple programs and need to decide between options.  When you are prepared to commit, it is your responsibility to notify the program that you accept their offer and follow the program/university’s admission instructions.  If you receive offers of admission to multiple programs, it is your responsibility to notify any programs you do not plan on attending.

2. Notify Swarthmore of your Decision

You must notify the Global Engagement Office when you accept admissions to a study abroad program.  Their study abroad portal will be updated to reflect your status as "committed" for their specific study abroad program. This will then trigger next steps in the Swarthmore process. 

3. Follow Program-specific Instructions

It is your responsibility to follow instructions provided by your program to apply for housing and attend the orientation program (if that is a separate process).


3-5 Months Before Program

Predeparture Checklist

Students will then see a checklist of pre-departure items to complete

Credit Pre-estimation

Follow pre-departure steps for Credit Pre-estimation in the Credit Evaluation System.


During your Program

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Credits While Abroad

Follow while abroad steps for Credit Pre-estimation in the Credit Evaluation System.

Immediately After you Return

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First Month Back on Campus (or sooner)

1. Request Official Transcript

It is your responsibility to ensure that Swarthmore receives your official program transcript. The Registrar cannot put your courses on your Swarthmore transcript without the official transcript from abroad.

Some programs, especially direct enroll universities, require students to request that transcripts be sent to Swarthmore. Your transcript may be electronic or on paper, but it needs to be official.

  • Electronic transcripts must be sent to the Registrar's Office ( from the program, not from the student.
  • If a paper copy is sent to you personally in the mail, DO NOT open the envelope. Bring it unopened to the Registrar’s office. Once you open the envelope it is no longer official and cannot be accepted by the Registrar at Swarthmore, resulting in your having to request another official transcript. Normally the Registrar will send you a copy of your abroad transcript.

Many programs send transcripts directly to the Registrar's Office or GEO (in which case the student does not need to send a transcript to the Registrar). If either office has received a copy of your official transcript, it will be checked off in your study abroad portal. 

If you have any questions about your responsibility concerning your transcript, please contact GEO.

2. Returning Student Evaluation 

Students are required to complete the Returning Student Evaluation. Completing the evaluation form is an important requirement. You will need to complete it prior to receiving your credit. It is important to save the questionnaire frequently as you work on it, otherwise, you will lose your entries.


  1. Go to the OCS portal.  Log in using your Swarthmore credentials.
  2. Under Requirements, please click on the link to OCS Returning Student Evaluation. (It is the 4th item listed under Online Application.)

At the completion of each evaluation section, you will be asked if you are willing to share it anonymously with future students. We hope that you will indicate YES, so that students and other members of the Swarthmore community can read them.

3. Final Credit Approval

Follow steps for Final Credit Evaluation in the Credit Evaluation System.

4. Optional Debrief Meeting

If you wish to discuss the credit process in detail or simply want the opportunity to discuss your off-campus study experience, please schedule a meeting with a GEO staff member on your return. 


Anytime After your Experience

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