You may receive college credit towards the Amherst degree for participating in an approved study away program and:
- You must take the equivalent of a minimum of 15 semester credits of liberal arts courses each semester you are away. Course(s) must be approved by the registrar and by the major adviser(s).
- Courses may not be taken pass/fail.
- Courses which duplicate or substantially overlap previous courses taken are not credited.
- Internships courses will not count as part of your 15 semester credit hours. You may take an internship course above and beyond what is required by Amherst, but only if the program allows you to do so.
- You may not double count courses. For example, an economics course taught in French cannot count toward the French major AND the economics major. You must choose the major to which it will be applied.
- Earn grades of C or better. Failure to transfer in the equivalent of 4 Amherst credits may require a student to make up the deficiency prior to returning to Amherst.
- Credit is not awarded for orientation courses or programs. (If you are attending the Sweet Briar College Paris program for the fall term, please contact GEO about the orientation course.)
- The semester must be a minimum of 12 weeks, or if slightly less than 12 weeks, it must be considered a semester at the host institution and award an equivalent of 15 semester credits at a minimum.
- Amherst requires a degree-granting institution to issue the transcript for the semester or year on educational leave. Program providers that are not degree-granting institutions (e.g., CIEE, IES) have a "school of record" that will issue the transcript. Amherst students are required to have the school of record provide the official transcript and there is usually a fee associated with this transcript. Financial aid recipients are able to include this fee in the study away budget. (More information about guidelines for schools of record is available from The Forum on Education Abroad, a professional association for study away.)
- You must consult with the academic department directly to learn if and how you may receive credit in the major. (Check the department website for details or ask your academic adviser.)
If you receive academic and/or housing accommodations at Amherst, it is the responsibility of the student to learn what accommodations are available on your program or institution. The study away program or university are excellent resources to help identify what is – and what may not be – available in the new environment. If a program or university needs documentation of an existing accommodation, please contact the Accessibility Services Office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and request an accommodation letter at least one month before you depart.
It is important to note that the Student Code of Conduct applies while you are on educational leave, whether it be on study abroad or domestic study. While the large majority of students have an incident-free experience, on occasion students violate the academic or disciplinary policies of the host institution/program or host country laws. Any academic or disciplinary infractions issued to you by the study away program or local authorities may result in similar and/or additional sanctions at Amherst. Incidents are reviewed on a case-by-case basis with the Office of Student Affairs and any other necessary parties.
As noted above, you must receive a C or better in a full schedule of liberal arts courses while away. It is imperative that you monitor progress in your courses while on educational leave very closely. Because many programs and host universities do not continuously assess a student's performance as is done at most U.S. institutions, including Amherst, you need to familiarize themselves with course expectations and how you are - or are not - meeting them. Communicating with faculty and program staff can help you understand what is expected of them. In instances where students are given access to an online system that provides course details, including grades, we strongly encourage you to use this system regularly to know how you are performing in the course and to learn of areas where you may need improvement. Remember the following:
- If you do not receive a C or better in all of your courses, you will not transfer in the equivalent of four Amherst credits and, therefore, will have deficiencies.
- You will be required to make up any deficiencies prior to graduation and, at times, prior to returning to Amherst to complete your degree studies.
- Half-credit courses at Amherst may not be combined with study away credit to make up deficiencies.
- If you do not perform well while on your program, you are also subject to review by the Committee on Academic Standing and may be put on probation, warning, or even dismissed.
- How and where the student makes up the deficiencies must be approved by the Registrar and the Class Dean. Students who wish to apply transfer credit to the major must have additional approval from the major department.
- Students who must make up deficiencies will only have three semesters (if studying away in the fall) or two (if studying away in the spring) to make up the deficiencies.
Students must complete the online Off-Campus Study Checklist (available on the Amherst College Travel Registry) to receive credit and transfer financial aid for their semester or year away.
- April 1st for fall or full year study, and
- October 1st for spring study.
Students interested in petitioning a non-approved program must meet with an adviser in the Global Education Office to discuss the petition process and receive the petition form at least two weeks in advance of the petition deadlines, which are
- April 1st for fall or full year study, and
- October 1st for spring study.
Students are eligible to study away once they have declared a major and may study away for up to two semesters. Students may study away in the second semester of their sophomore year or during the junior year; students interested in studying away at different times should consult with their class dean.
Students are strongly encouraged NOT to participate in study away if:
- they fail two courses in the semester immediately prior to study away
- they have more than one deficiency in the semester prior to study away
- grades from courses in the semester immediately prior to study away are not recorded before the official start date of the program or if hte student has earned an incomplete.
If you think you want to voluntarily leave your program prior to completion, you must contact Amherst College for approval prior to departure. Voluntary withdrawals have serious implications for credit and financial aid and may impact your graduation date. If you withdraw from the program and receive a “W” in every course, those course deficiencies must be made up in a replacement term of residence at the college. However, if you receives an “F” in any course, your readmission is subject to review by the Committee on Academic Standing. In this instance, it is possible that you will be required to make up the deficiencies prior to returning to Amherst and/or may be placed on probation, warning, or dismissal from the college. If you receive grades of “C-“, “D+/-“ you will not receive credit and will have to make up those deficiencies before your final semester in the senior year and you need to discuss these options with your class dean.
Students are fully responsible for all financial aid funds dispersed on their behalf. Voluntary withdrawals will result in the full cancellation of all Amherst financial aid funds paid on the your behalf. Federal funds will be subject to federal regulations that might require you to repay federal aid funds. Cancellation of financial aid funds, both institutional and federal, will result in a charge to your Amherst student account. The balance of that account must be repaid before you can return to Amherst College.
Students who are considering leaving their program early - a voluntary withdrawal - must contact the Director of the Global Education Office immediately to ensure that they understand the likely consequences of the choice they are considering.
Amherst expects students to live with locals, when offered by the program, and the college does not support or recommend that students secure housing independent of their study abroad program. Housing not arranged through the program can lead to less cultural engagement. More importantly, neither the program nor Amherst would be able to provide support or resources to students living independent of the program (e.g., understanding rental contracts, assessing housing for safety and security), even in an emergency. Students who wish to pursue independent housing must do so through their program and, in many instances, programs will not support this option. In cases where a student has family in the host country, independent housing may be an appropriate option, should the program permit it. All students studying away must abide by their program's housing policies.
Amherst requires a school of record, a degree-granting institution, to issue a transcript for the study away semester or year. (Fees, if any, associated with the school of record transcript can be included in a student's financial aid budget.) Students are responsible for ensuring that an official transcript be sent to the Registrar at the end of the semester that succeeding the semester away:
- Fall study away students are expected to have the transcript sent to the Registrar by May 1
- Spring study away students are expected to have the transcript sent to the Registrar by December 1
If you believe that you may have a course deficiency, which means a grade below a C in any of your courses, you must meet with the Registrar and your Class Dean to discuss how you will make up the credit as soon as possible (even if your official transcript has not yet been issued).
Grades from your semester or year away will not appear on your Amherst transcript nor will they be calculated into your Amherst GPA. They do not, however, go away. Should you apply to graduate or professional school, all transcripts from academic institutions - including study abroad and domestic study - will be required. Any additional questions regarding academic credit should be directed to the Registrar's Office.
Final Year Students
First semester seniors may study away, but only with approval from the class dean. Approval can be granted by petition to the class dean for an exception to the expectation that students remain on campus in the final two semesters at Amherst. In addition to following the academic policies stated above, students interested in studying away in the first semester of the senior year must abide by the following:
- Students must accept a delayed graduation if the study away transcript does not arrive in time for it to be processed by the Registrar. The deadline for December graduates is August 1 the deadline for May graduates is April 1st. It is highly recommended that students, when researching study away programs, consult with the programs to learn when transcripts will arrive to the home institution. It is not recommended that students attend a program that issues transcripts after the start of the final semester.
- Should a student have a deficiency (i.e. take less than a full semester's worth of Amherst credit, take a non-liberal arts course, and/or receive below a C in any course), the student agrees to make up these courses prior to graduation and accept that graduation may be delayed. Half-credit courses at Amherst may not be combined with study away credit to make up deficiencies. Deficiencies must be approved by the registrar and the class dean and, when appropriate, the major department. Concurrent with Amherst policies regarding financial aid, students will not receive additional assistance to make up a deficiency. (Some exceptions are made for high need students; students should contact Financial Aid to see what type of assistance for which they may be eligible.)
- Students must have support of the academic adviser(s) and/or major department(s) in order to study away in the senior year. This support must come in the form of a letter supporting your course of study away.
Students willing to accept the conditions above may petition to study away in the senior year. Follow these steps to start the process:
- Meet with the Director of the Global Education Office (x5691) to discuss your options, why you want to study in the senior year and what programs are of interest to you. You will then be given instructions on writing your petition.
- Discuss study abroad or domestic study with your academic adviser(s) and request him/her to write a letter of support. The faculty member can send the letter of support directly to the class dean.
- Share your petition with your class dean (meetings can be scheduled by calling x2337), who will determine approval for study away in the first semester senior year.
- Be certain you apply to an approved program and, if not, that you meet all deadlines for petitioning a non-approved program (see "Choosing a Program" under "Resources for Students").
Amherst students who have spent time at another institution prior to attending Amherst must review credit transfer and residency requirements. Amherst students are required to take a minimum of four semesters in full time study in residence at the college. Transfer students who enter with four semesters of credit toward their Amherst degree are not permitted to transfer in additional credit, as per policy the Amherst College catalog Section IV: Degree Requirement (p70).
A large number of students write their senior theses related to a course or experience from the study away term. As a transfer student, it is possible to study away AND write a thesis, but the planning phase is truncated for transfer students. You will need to be proactive with regard to your major department requirements and deadlines, especially if you are an E and/or studying away in the fall semester, when official communication about the thesis tends to be sent. Be sure to have discussions with your academic adviser about the program and about writing a thesis. Don't worry, you do not need to have chosen a destination or thesis topic in order to start this dialogue!
Transfer students who have five or more semesters at Amherst may study away and but they must confer with their academic adviser and the Director of the Global Education Office (x5691) about receiving credit and to select of an appropriate program.
Students on academic or disciplinary suspension or dismissal may not participate in educational leave (see p. 66 of the Catalog). Academic or disciplinary warning may also prohibit a student from studying away until s/he is in good standing. Students can discuss this scenario with the Director of the Global Education Office and the Office of Student Affairs.
Students who are on personal or medical leave from the college and wish to return to their degree studies by taking an educational leave rather than returning to the Amherst campus must 1) complete the readmission process by the appropriate deadlines and 2) consult with the Office of Student Affairs for a review of the proposed educational plan well in advance of any deadlines set by the study abroad or domestic study program, the Office of Student Affairs and the Global Education Office at Amherst College.