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Ursinus College Study Abroad Policies and Procedures

Last revised September 18, 2012
Subject to change


Major Changes for 2013-2014

The International Education Committee (IEC) and the College are committed to providing qualifying Ursinus students with the opportunity to pursue overseas study that will enhance and enrich their liberal arts education. In order to maintain our financial need-blind review of study abroad applications and our “all financial aid travels” policy, we reevaluate our list of preapproved programs annually and make changes to meet our standards for cost-effectiveness and high quality. Major changes in programs, policies and procedures are outlined below.

New Exchange Programs: This year a number of program offerings have been made available through two new exchange programs, one multilateral and the other bilateral. Unlike traditional study abroad programs that consist only of sending students abroad, exchange agreements allow Ursinus to receive international students on our campus as well. Participants live and study on partner campuses just as their local peers do, gaining access to the full range of academic and social opportunities. Our new membership in International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP Exchange) places us in a large network of university campuses across the globe whereas our bilateral exchange agreement with Lingnan University of Hong Kong allows us to target that particular region. Added to our ongoing exchanges with Akita International University and Tohoku Gakuin University of Japan, these agreements help us to reciprocate our commitment to internationalizing education with other institutions around the world.    

New Procedures for Advising: Our application review process is competitive, so it is incumbent upon students to make a strong case for their choice of programs, country, courses, etc. The Center for International Programs (CIP) is here to inform students about their options and guide them through the selection and application process. In order to provide you with the information and advising you need to be successful, we are implementing new procedures. All students interested in study abroad must do the following before submitting a study abroad application by the February 8, 2013 deadline. Please plan ahead!

1.      Complete the Study Abroad Advising Questionnaire. This information will be used to identify the program options that best match each student’s academic background and interests.

2.      Attend a Study Abroad 101 information meeting on campus OR familiarize yourself with the Policies and Procedures. 
3.      Come to the Center for International Programs during drop-in hours or schedule an appointment with a CIP staff member for individual advising.

Eligibility Requirements

Study abroad for academic credit toward an Ursinus College degree is a privilege. In order to be approved and receive academic credit for study abroad, all participants must apply to the IEC before embarking on study abroad. The College Catalog states: “Ursinus College students may spend a semester, a year, or a summer in an approved study abroad program, provided they are students in good standing, are recommended by their major adviser, and, in the opinion of the dean and the faculty, will be worthy representatives of the College and will profit from this experience”.

  • Competitive review. Students are approved for study abroad based on a competitive review of all applications by the IEC made up of faculty and staff. The committee takes a holistic approach and considers the appropriateness of the chosen program, the student’s statement of purpose, previous international experience, academic standing, year in school, and faculty and staff recommendations. Late applications are considered only if space remains available.
  • Disciplinary probation. Applications of students currently on disciplinary probation will not be considered. If you are on probation, wait until the probation is lifted to submit your application. It will be put on hold until then and considered only if space is available. In order to be allowed to study abroad you must be in good disciplinary standing during the semester immediately prior to study abroad.
  • Maximum number of terms abroad. With the exception of highly qualified students who present strong cases for a full academic year abroad in a single exchange program, students are limited to one semester of study abroad. Students may be approved for multiple short term (summer or winter interim) study abroad programs.  
  • Minimum preferred GPA. Space is limited in fall and spring, and the study abroad application process is quite competitive; therefore, previous academic performance is an important consideration and preference is given to students with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Space is not as limited in summer or winter, so GPA may be less a factor. Individual study abroad programs set their own criteria for eligibility. Approval by the IEC does not guarantee admission to the study abroad program, just as admissibility to the program does not guarantee approval by the IEC. 
  • Underclass students. Normally only rising juniors and seniors are considered for semester study abroad. Exceptional rising sophomores with very strong recommendations from their academic advisers may be considered if space is available. Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors may apply to study abroad in the summer or winter interim.
  • Travel warnings. Students may not study abroad for credit in countries under partial or full U.S. State Department Travel Warning.

·         Approved list of programs. We have made every effort to offer programs that meet the needs of every academic major or area of study offered at Ursinus. We will not consider petitions from students wishing to participate in programs not included on our list. Furthermore, Ursinus College will not grant transfer credit to students who attempt to take a leave of absence to pursue a non-approved program.

Academic Credit and Grades for Courses Taken Abroad

  • All courses taken abroad must be taken for a letter (or number) grade. Courses taken  abroad Pass/Fail will not be accepted for credit.
  • Courses taught abroad count for transfer credit but do not affect the Ursinus GPA. Students must earn a C or higher in order to get transfer credit.
  • Transfer credit is granted for the same number of U.S. equivalent credits recommended by the abroad program (i.e. a 3.0 credit course taken abroad yields 3.0 credits at Ursinus, not 4.0).
  • Normally, a maximum of 16 credits can be earned or transferred per semester abroad. For summer or winter programs, transfer credit cannot exceed 1.0 credit hour per week of the program.
  • Students who study abroad for a semester must take at least one course that focuses on the specific host culture or country. This course must be indicated on the application form and can be chosen from any discipline.
  • The Dean’s Office gives final approval for the number, type and designation of transfer credits. Address questions to Dean Hardin.
  • Modern Languages is the only academic department that requires study abroad for its majors. Those majors must contact the chair of Modern Languages directly in order to get departmental approval in writing for the proposed study abroad program to count toward the major requirement.

Independent Learning Experience (ILE)

Not all study abroad programs fulfill the ILE core requirement for graduation. Generally, in order to qualify as an ILE, a study abroad program must be in a single country or destination, be six weeks or longer, and/or include some form of immersion experience (i.e. intensive language study, home-stay, internship, or sustained service). Any student who wishes to fulfill the ILE requirement by studying abroad must indicate this in the corresponding study abroad application. If in doubt about whether a program will fulfill the ILE core requirement, contact Dean Hardin.

Late Withdrawal Policy

Upon admission to an approved study abroad program, students assume full responsibility for payment of any unrecoverable fees incurred by the College on their behalf in the event that they later withdraw from the program. Ursinus is a direct bill institution, meaning that the College pays study abroad programs on students’ behalf. These payments are typically due to study abroad programs well in advance of the usual Ursinus billing deadlines. Students must therefore be aware of and adhere to individual study abroad programs’ deadlines and policies for late withdrawals, refunds and penalties. If for any reason a student withdraws from a study abroad program after the program’s withdrawal deadline, the College will make a good faith effort to negotiate with the program for a refund of monies paid on the student’s behalf; however, any monies that cannot be recovered and/or any balances owed will be the complete and sole responsibility of the student. 

Proof of Health and Accident Insurance

  • Prior to studying abroad, all students must present proof of insurance coverage.
  • Students are advised to find out to what extent their primary health insurance covers them abroad and how to use it while overseas, and to what extent their belongings are covered against theft, loss and/or damage while abroad.
  • Many study abroad programs include in their fees or require students to purchase a supplemental medical, accident and/or travel insurance policy. This coverage may be limited. Students and their families are responsible for determining if they need to purchase any additional coverage for their particular needs.
  • All insurance expenses are the responsibility of students and their families.


Students who wish to appeal the decision of the International Education Committee must submit a formal letter stating the reasons they believe their applications should be reconsidered to Dean Terry Winegar, Dean’s Office, within two weeks of the decision announcement. Please send a hard copy letter to the Dean’s Office and/or an email attachment to Dean Terry Winegar C/O Mrs. Lynne Brault at lbrault@ursinus.edu.

Pre-Departure Orientation Requirement

All students approved to study abroad in a semester or academic-year program are required to register for and take a 1.0 credit pre-departure orientation course, IDS-210. This course is designed to help students prepare for the academic, intellectual and personal challenges associated with study abroad. The course meets for 75 minutes per week during the last seven weeks of the semester. Students take the course before studying abroad for the first time. Students planning to study abroad in fall 2013 or the entire 2013-2014 academic year must take this course in spring 2013. Students planning to study abroad in spring 2014 only may take this course in spring 2013 (space permitting) OR fall 2013. Students preparing to study in Japan should take EAS-398 instead of IDS-210. Short term summer or winter interim program participants must attend a general pre-departure orientation session conducted by the CIP on campus prior to departure.

Passports and Visas

Apply or renew your passport as soon as possible! Your passport must be valid a minimum of 6 months after your return date. You cannot apply for a visa without a valid passport! The Center for International Programs can provide assistance, but it is up to students to apply for and secure these documents. Students pay their own passport and visa fees.

Types of Programs

Study abroad programs come in all shapes and sizes. The descriptions below outline the general program types we offer, although not all programs fit neatly under any one category.

Exchange Programs

By special agreement, Ursinus students can opt to participate in exchange programs with universities abroad. Students pay Ursinus College for tuition, and pay room and board directly to the overseas program. Students enrolled in these programs have access to the full range of academic and social offerings for which they have the prerequisites. Participants are treated like any other international student (regardless of country of origin) on the host campus. Classes are usually conducted in the language of the host country, thereby requiring a high level of language proficiency, but many exchange programs offer English-language options. Overseas hosts have international student offices but the range of student services specifically designed for foreign students may be much more limited than in academic center or hybrid programs, therefore, the students who are best suited for these programs are those who demonstrate a high degree of initiative, problem-solving and independence.  A few examples of exchange programs: Lingnan University of Hong Kong, Akita International University in Japan, any of the universities in ISEP.

Academic Center Programs

These programs are designed especially for U.S. students. They are educational organizations, not universities, and are typically housed in a building in a city center although some are located on or adjacent to a university campus. Some academic centers may have agreements with local universities whereby qualifying students gain access to some courses taught at a local university, but the main academic and student affairs components of these programs are designed and directed by the academic center itself. Many academic center programs have well developed internship and volunteer opportunities. Academic center programs usually arrange housing with home-stay families to facilitate integration in the local culture and language. Because they are created specifically with the U.S. student in mind, they are ideal for students who desire access to a wider range of support services including a high level of organized co- and extra-curricular activities and/or facilitated integration in the local culture. They are also appropriate for students with little overseas experience, and/or those who do not have advanced foreign language skills in the target language. A few examples of academic center programs: AUCP France, BCA Ecuador, CAPA London.

Hybrid and Facilitated Direct Enrollment Programs

Hybrid and Facilitated Direct Enrollment programs combine access to the full curriculum available at foreign universities with support services, including academic advising, orientation and co-curricular activities. These programs typically place students in shared flats with other U.S. or international students, but some may arrange housing with local students. A few examples of hybrid and facilitated direct enrollment programs: IFSA Butler, CIEE.

Ursinus College Faculty-led Programs

These programs vary from one destination to another and from one term to another. Designed and directed by Ursinus College faculty in partnership with overseas organizations, they feature family home-stays and internships or intensive field work where available. Students who participate in faculty-led programs remain officially enrolled at the college; receive Ursinus College credit, and their grades in courses taught by Ursinus faculty factor into their overall GPA. A few examples of faculty-led programs: Fall 2013 UC in Beijing, Summer Study in Japan, Winter Tropical Biology in Costa Rica.


International Internships

Students may pursue internships abroad in one of several ways:


·          Many study abroad programs offer and arrange internships as one of several course options. Information about those options is available in the Center for International Programs.

·          A student may identify an international internship s/he wishes to pursue for credit that is independent of a structured study abroad program. Queries about those internships should be directed to the Career Services office.

·          A student may identify an opportunity for a volunteer or other work experience independent of a structured study abroad program that is not for academic credit. Questions about those experiences can be directed to UCARE.

Financial Aid

Ursinus College has a “financial aid travels” policy. According to this policy approved students can use their complete financial aid package (including both need and merit-based funding) for semester/academic year study abroad.

  • All students who hold grants and scholarships and/or federal and state grants and loans must (re-)apply for these funds annually by separate application to the Student Financial Services Office by April 1.
  • Questions about funding and financial aid should be directed to Suzanne Sparrow, Director of Student Financial Services, Corson Hall first floor.

Student Accounts and Eligibility

In order to remain eligible to participate in any study abroad program students must settle their Ursinus accounts by March 1.

Cost and Payment of Study Abroad

Regardless of their program of choice, all study abroad students pay Ursinus College tuition and room (plus board if provided by the program abroad), less any financial aid and/or funding award, directly to Ursinus College.

  • The College bills each student as usual and disburses payment to the study abroad program on the student’s behalf.
  • Students pay for their own passport and visas, airfare, books and supplies, insurance, personal expenses, and optional travel overseas.

Deposits for Study Abroad Programs

Upon accepting a student, most study abroad programs require a deposit demonstrating the student’s commitment. These are usually advance payments (not additional charges) and range from $250 to $750. Ursinus requires students to pay these deposits directly to the study abroad program and will credit students’ Ursinus accounts in the same amount for billing purposes. Deposits are nonrefundable, so if a student later withdraws from the program s/he forfeits these monies.


Financing Short Term Study Abroad

Since students do not attend Ursinus College during the interim period and do not receive financial aid for interim study, they bear the entire financial burden of interim
study abroad programs.

  • Whenever possible, however, the College will make available limited special funding to offset the expenses (rather than cover the entire cost) of such programs.
  • Interested students must apply for this competitive funding by separate application using the Short-Term Funding Application.
  • The International Education Committee will begin reviewing these applications on February 8, 2013, and will continue to accept applications as long as funding remains available.
  • Funding awards are based on financial need, academic excellence and merit of the proposal. Awards will be announced before spring break.
Ursinus College Center for International Programs