Study Abroad Information for Faculty

Advising Students Interested in Studying Abroad

Programs Approved by Amherst

Faculty Oversight on Study Abroad

Petitioning Non-Approved Programs: Faculty Letter of Support

Faculty Opportunities Abroad


Advising Students Interested in Studying Abroad

Throughout the study abroad application process, students are reminded of the importance of discussing their study abroad goals and interests with their academic advisers. We encourage them to share with you how studying abroad fits into their Amherst education and to seek advice on whether or not courses taken abroad can count toward the major. This important conversation does not require faculty to have extensive knowledge about study abroad programs, but rather an understanding of the departmental policy on transfer credit from abroad and courses appropriate for the major. However, should your advisee inquire about programs more broadly, please consider the following:

  • Do the course descriptions seem suitable for Amherst's liberal arts curriculum? Do they seem appropriate for the student? Many programs have course descriptions online or they can be provided by request.
  • Who are the teaching faculty? (Most programs offer credentials of the faculty online.)
  • Does the student have particular academic or personal needs while abroad (e.g. specific course requirements, disability accommodation)? (Please refer students to the Study Abroad Office with specific questions.)
  • Has the student met with the Study Abroad Office to discuss their program choices? We have developed an advising checklist that we use with students to help them identify their academic and personal goals for their time abroad. (If you would like to see a copy of this form, we would be happy to share it with you.)
  • Has the student reviewed the college's academic policies and deadlines related to study abroad?

The Study Abroad Office will evaluate the overall quality of the program in consultation with the faculty Committee on International Education, peer institutions and The Forum on Education Abroad, a prominent professional association for study abroad that has established standards and best practices for the field. Please remember that you may always defer to us for program-specific advising.

There are three stages throughout the study abroad experience (from application to overseas departure) where we ask students to consult with their academic adviser:

  1. The Intent to Study Abroad is an online form that students considering study abroad must submit in the semester prior to the semester abroad. We ask students to inform us with whom in the major department they have discussed their study abroad interests.
  2. The Educational Leave Form and Waiver of Liability is the form that notifies all relevant offices that a student is on educational leave (i.e. domestic study or study abroad). Students are required to provide a preliminary course list and they must obtain their academic adviser's signature.
  3. Once abroad, students submit the online course approval form during their program's registration period to have their courses officially approved by the Amherst Registrar. At that time students are reminded to consult with the academic adviser(s) for any courses that might be considered for the major(s).

Programs Approved by Amherst

Programs approved for credit must have a strong academic curriculum and be run by experienced administrative staff in the host country.  They must also offer substantial opportunities for immersion, as defined by the learning goals drafted by the faculty Committee on International Education. We have, therefore, selected programs for the approved list that reflect our expectations:

  • The curriculum is appropriate for the liberal arts.
  • The majority of the semester or year is spent in one country.
  • The program offers substantial opportunities for immersion.  For example, the majority of faculty are drawn from local institutions and organizations.  Living arrangements are with host families, dorms with local students and/or other international students.  Living with other Americans is strongly discouraged, but possible if there is a compelling reason.  Extra-curricular activities at the host university or in the community must be available for program participants.
  • If the program is in a country where there is at least one non-English language spoken, students are expected to take one language course (at a minimum), should it not be required. (In most instances, it is.)
  • Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the policies for academic credit and information about transcripts from study abroad.
  • Please note: no credit is awarded for orientation courses/programs.

Students may always petition to attend a program that is not currently approved. The faculty Committee on International Education reads petitions once per semester.

Programs may be added to (or removed from) the approved list in the following ways:

  • Academic departments may make recommendations to the Commitee on International Education.
  • Successful student petitions (two or three) would prompt the Committee on International Education to consider the program for addition to the approved list.

Faculty Oversight on Study Abroad

Formed in 2008, the faculty Committee on International Education offers guidance for international education initiatives at the college. Activities of the Committee have included: 

  • Reviewing student petitions for non-approved programs
  • Adding or removing programs from the approved list
  • Consulting with departments regarding programs appropriate for majors
  • Considering requests to join consortiums and exchange proposals
  • Creating new and revising existing study abroad policies and guidelines
  • Awarding summer study abroad fellowships
  • Drafting learning goals for study abroad

The Committee welcomes the opportunity to meet with faculty and their departmental colleagues with study abroad questions, suggestions, concerns, etc. Please contact the Director of Education Abroad to schedule a meeting or send feedback.

Petitioning Non-Approved Programs: Faculty Support

When a student petitions a non-approved program, the faculty Committee on International Education would like to hear from an Amherst faculty member about the courses offered and their appropriateness for the student and for Amherst. Students are asked on their petition form to share with us the name of a faculty member who will share this information. We then share the petition with the faculty member and a link to an online form addressing these points. Please note this is not a typical letter of reference, but rather an evaluation of the course content and assessment methodology as written in the program materials. Faculty are not responsible for evaluating the program beyond what is stated in these materials as the Director will determine the accuracy of the program's written information and reputation through a well-established peer and professional association network. Above all, faculty are asked to verify that the academic content of the program being petitioned is the 'right' program for this particular student.

If you are approached by a student to write such a letter and have questions about the program or petition process, please contact Janna Behrens.

Faculty Opportunities Abroad

Some program providers have teaching and research opportunities for faculty at their centers overseas. For example: