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Study Abroad FAQs

street in Stockholm, Sweden

Photo credit: Jessica Sang '23 (Sweden, The Swedish Program, fall 2021)


Why should I study abroad?

We're glad you asked! Research has shown that NOT studying abroad is the number 1 regret College graduates have. Make sure you don't graduate with that same regret! Studying abroad has many benefits - it often leads to personal growth, it expands your personal and professional network, you gain new perspectives on your academic field, you work on intercultural competence, there are often opportunities for global community based learning, and the list goes on! For more on the benefits of study abroad, click here

Studying abroad sounds expensive. What does it cost?

We have good news for you! The Global Engagement Office works tirelessly to make study abroad affordable for all students. When you study abroad on an approved Global Engagement program, you are charged regular Swarthmore tuition, housing,  and food and you keep all your awarded financial aid. Your program's tuition, housing, and food are covered for the duration of your program. In addition, Global Engagement pays for a round-trip flight (PHL-host city); you are enrolled in CISI insurance at no additional charge to you; and your visa fees are also covered. There may even be a few additional items covered by Global Engagement! 

Are there ways to get additional funding for my study abroad semester?

Yes. There are many scholarships available for study abroad. Many programs offer scholarships for their students, usually intended for a specific audience (financial need scholarships; study abroad ambassador positions; diversity scholarships; etc). There are also federal and national scholarships and grants that you can apply for. See here for more specific information. Be sure to always check in with the Financial Aid Office if you have been awarded an outside scholarship so they can inform you how the outside scholarship may impact your financial aid. 

Who can study abroad?

Swarthmore students with any major can study abroad! Yes, that includes engineering, honors students, double majors, or any other major you thought could not study abroad! In some cases, you will have to plan well in advance, and work closely with your academic/major advisor to make sure you can fit it into your plan of study, but we have programs to accommodate all academic needs.

If you are an undocumented or DACAmented student, please refer to the next question.

Can I, an undocumented or DACAmented student, study abroad? 

Depending on your immigration status, there may be limits on your ability to travel abroad and return to the U.S. Off-campus study, including study abroad, may be possible in certain circumstances.  DACA students can study abroad and return to the United States when granted advance parole. There are strict requirements and you will need to plan ahead well in advance. Undocumented students may be able to participate in off-campus study within the US. For support with understanding your options, don't hesitate to contact Jennifer Marks-Gold Assistant Dean and director of international student Programs and/ or Lauren Owens, Director for Global Engagement as soon as you are considering off-campus study.

Can I transfer the abroad credits back to Swarthmore?

Yes! Global Engagement has an online credit system that you will use to request pre-approval for your credits. Provided you obtain pre-approval for the equivalent of 4 Swarthmore credits, and provided you obtain passing grades abroad, Global Engagement guarantees that you will get at least 4 credits for your abroad semester. 

Is it possible to use coursework completed abroad towards major requirements at Swarthmore?

Absolutely! In fact, we encourage students to find a program that allows them to take classes in their chosen field of study. It tends to be very rewarding to study something related to your major/minor in a different academic and geographical setting. Before you depart, you will work closely with academic departments to determine whether the courses you intend to take abroad will count for credit, will check off any major/minor requirements, etc. Click here for information about credit.

When can I study abroad?

Students can study abroad for a semester or a full academic year in spring of their sophomore year, junior year, or fall of senior year (with departmental approval). You can participate in an embedded study abroad program (a short-term study abroad program that is part of a class you take at Swarthmore) as soon as your freshman year!

Do I have to speak another language to study abroad?

No, this is not a requirement. We offer many programs in Anglophone countries and we also offer a range of programs in non-Anglophone countries where classes are taught entirely in English. Most programs offer classes in the local language(s) that may be optional or required. If you do speak another language, study abroad is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in that language and to acquire more confidence and fluency. If you have advanced language skills, you can even decide to take some or all your classes in the target language!

How do I know if I am ready to take content classes in another language?

In most cases, you will work with the appropriate Swarthmore department. They can advise you on the process, from Swarthmore courses they recommend you take prior to your study abroad program, to any other details pertinent to your ability to take content classes in the target language . If you intend to take classes in a language that is not offered at Swarthmore, you will work directly with the study abroad program. Most programs have specific language requirements that they will communicate to you. They will sometimes ask you to do a placement test, or will conduct a Zoom/Skype interview to get a sense of your language skills.

Can I go abroad more than once?

You can study abroad for up to two semesters. You could spend the full academic year at one abroad institution (choosing from our direct enroll programs) or you can spend each semester at a different institution, in a different location. Being away for a year requires careful planning, but it is definitely possible!

I plan to apply to become an RA next fall. Does this mean I cannot study abroad?

Good news! The Office of Student Engagement is moving to a model of employing RAs for one term. Therefore, if you wish to study abroad in the spring, you could be employed as an RA in the fall, or vice versa.