Policies & Procedures
Typically the Off-Campus Study application deadlines are in early October for spring programs, and mid-February for fall and academic year programs. However, please note that students must also meet the deadline for the application to their program of choice. These deadlines may be earlier than the Off-Campus Study deadline (in some cases by a semester or a year), and in the case of programs with rolling admissions, it is important to apply early in the application cycle.
Note that applications to study at Oxford or for the spring semester are due in January or February of the prior year, so early planning is advised.
Here are the dates and deadlines to remember.
Using the Online Application System
You apply through the Off-Campus Study portal for permission to participate in the Swarthmore College Semester/Year Abroad Program. Once you have selected a program, you will open an application through that program's brochure page on the Off-Campus Study portal by clicking on the "Apply Now" button. Please do not open an application until you have made up your mind that you definitely intend to study. Remember that your OCS advisor is available to meet with you to talk through your options if you are unsure. You can open up to two applications in the OCS portal. If you really wish to apply to three, get in touch with your OCS advisor.
You are also responsible for completing the applications for the specific program(s) you are interested in on that program's website. For example, if Joan Jones is applying for fall semester at SACI in Florence, Italy, they will open an application with SACI directly, and also a SACI application in the OCS portal.
Once you have an open application in the OCS portal, you can save and edit your responses as often as you like by logging in here.
International Students Abroad
International students at Swarthmore may be subject to different travel requirements for leaving the US, entering their destination countries, and re-entering the US, than those to which U.S. citizens are subject. International students consult with the Director for International Student Services about their plans well in advance of their scheduled travel, and must explore what the student visa requirements are for their destination country (if any).
F1 regulations require students to be enrolled in a full course of study in the U.S. for at least two semesters prior to the study abroad experience [8 CFR 214.2(F)(10)]. During study abroad students must registered as full time students. Students who intend to be outside the U.S. for more than 5 months are strongly encouraged to review their plans with the Director for International Student Services. Students will not be considered enrolled at Swarthmore College during a non-Swarthmore sponsored study abroad experience. All F1/J1 students must be enrolled full time in order to maintain their student status. There are some rare exceptions to this regulation however, please talk to the Director for International Student Services before you drop below full time enrollment or take a leave of absence.
You will need a student visa to study abroad in certain countries. Your study abroad program will provide guidance about deadlines, important documents and other visa requirements. Be sure to follow their instructions carefully, and don't put it off to the last minute! Some student visas are relatively easy to obtain, while others take (literally) months to prepare for. If you are an international student, check on the website of your host country's embassy whether students of your nationality require a visa to study in that country.
Transit Visas/ Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV)
You may need a Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) if you’ll be changing flights without going through immigration control. If you are planning to transit through certain countries, make sure to check if you are required to obtain any type of airport transit visa well in advance based on your country of citizenship. It is crucial to check the relevant website of the embassy for each country that you are traveling through before you depart the United States. This type of visa typically requires a processing fee and may take weeks to process. Travel Agencies and Swarthmore College are not responsible for transit visas.
Letters of Reference
Some study abroad programs require one or more letters of recommendations. Be sure to follow their instructions, as letters may need to be submitted through an online system or mailed in a sealed envelope directly to the program or study abroad office abroad. It is your responsibility to contact the recommender to request the reference and to provide them with instructions how 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,
In order to participate in the Off-Campus Study Program, students must be in good academic and conduct standing as determined by the Dean’s Office (note that this normally includes no outstanding incompletes), must have a zero balance on their student account, and must meet the eligibility requirements of the program to which they apply.
Most students will be enrolled in CISI insurance (see below for a quick video that explains CISI coverage, and tips on how to get started with your ID card, the app, and the website). In the case that a student's program offers insurance coverage that is equal or better than CISI, the student will not be enrolled in CISI. You can access the CISI portal here.
Program Policies Abroad
Students are subject at all times to the policies of the host institution. Under no circumstance are students allowed to negotiate a different end date to their program. Students are required to take final examinations according to the scheduled program timetable. Conflicting start dates of summer jobs and internships are not considered valid reasons to request an early dismissal from the program.
After being admitted to your program, you will be added to the Off-Campus Study Moodle site. That site contains all the information about post-admission processes that you need. It's where you'll find the videos from the pre-departure gathering if you missed it, the study abroad handbooks, the schedule of post admission events such as the intercultural orientations, and more. Be sure to check it regularly! It's also a great way to connect with other Swatties who are going abroad the same semester as you - there's a discussion forum and a list of all OCS participants for that particular semester.
Post Admission Processes
You will attend a post-admission group orientation. These sessions will give you basic information on policies and procedures including credit transfer, booking travel, and insurance. Students who cannot attend the orientation are required to review this material which is available to them on the OCS Moodle site. Admitted students will also meet with an OCS advisor for a program-specific post-admission session that will cover information specifically related to participation on your program including credit evaluation, budgets, and visas.
All students attend the Pre-Departure Gathering. This is a wonderful event where you get to meet with all the students who are planning to study abroad the same semester as you, enjoy good food (and cake!) and to hear from many offices on campus on how to make the most of the abroad experience. Students who cannot attend this event are required to review this material, which they can access on the OCS Moodle site.
After completion of your abroad program, you are required to complete a written program evaluation, a course evaluation, and a reflection on the abroad experience in your OCS portal. The evaluations must be completed prior to the program debriefing with the OCS Faculty Advisor – no exceptions.
All students have a required meeting with the OCS Faculty Advisor upon their return to Swarthmore College. The Faculty Advisor will talk to you about your academic experience and any outstanding credit issues, as well as a broader discussion about the abroad program. These meetings are a great opportunity to reflect on what you have learned abroad.