Student's Guide to Semester Study Abroad Programs at HWS







About 60% of HWS students study abroad, compared to 1% - 2% of college students nationally. Studying abroad will set you apart when you begin the job hunt or apply for competitive places in med school, law school and graduate school. Most students tell us that studying abroad was one of the best experiences of their lives.


  1. What do I to hope to gain from an off campus experience a) academically, b) culturally, and c) personally?
  2. What considerations do I have with respect to academic focus, timing, foreign language ability, health, etc. that may restrict the range of Global Education options I can consider? How flexible am I in considering other options if I don’t meet the criteria for my first choice program?
  3. What experience do I already have living away from home that might indicate how I would respond to being in a foreign country?
  4. How do I respond to the cultural diversity that I am already exposed to? To what extent do I make the most of opportunities before me to interact with people from other cultures? Do other people see me as open-minded, tolerant, and sensitive to others?
  5. To what extent am I willing to invest time preparing for an off campus experience (e.g.: studying a language, earning extra money to cover additional expenses, taking prerequisites, reading about the culture, completing applications, attending orientation meetings)?

These questions will help you as you investigate study abroad programs to find those that are most appropriate for you. We encourage you to seek advice from CGE staff members first and foremost, as well as from classmates who have studied off-campus, family, faculty, and deans. This will help you make an informed decision about programs that will be the best fit for you.


The following guidelines apply to students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges who wish to study off- campus, either on programs sponsored by the Colleges or those sponsored by another institution.


Sophomores, juniors and seniors in good academic and social standing, although some programs require junior status or higher. No student may be accepted for participation in an off-campus study program while on academic or social probation.


Program participation is a privilege to be earned through solid academic achievement, demonstration of maturity, and strong motivation for program participation.  Matriculation at the Colleges, in and of itself, does not guarantee the “right” to study off campus.  Students who wish to participate in a Global Education program sponsored by the Colleges must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. (However, note that some programs require a higher minimum GPA.) In cases where a program attracts more applicants than available places, even students meeting the GPA requirement might not be selected. Students who wish to join another institution’s program or study independently at a foreign institution will be expected to have established a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better and be a junior or senior by the beginning of the proposed program (NOTE: Approval to participate in these non-HWS programs is highly competitive, see #7 below.) All students must be in good academic and social standing in their college to be eligible for off-campus study. Some programs have prerequisites that must be fulfilled prior to participation. Students must be on campus the semester before their program starts in order to meet the pre-requisites and attend all mandatory meetings (except under extraordinary circumstances, which you must discuss in advance with the CGE).


Admissions decisions are made jointly by faculty (including the faculty director(s) of the program, if applicable) and the staff of the Center for Global Education in consultation with the Deans’ Offices. For affiliated programs, the final decision rests with the program administrator. Students are encouraged to speak with CGE staff or faculty directors prior to applying to learn more about program criteria. Students may appeal admission decisions by submitting a written letter within one week of the date of the decision letter. The appeal letter must be submitted to Dr. Thomas D’Agostino, Associate Dean for Global Education and will be reviewed by the Provost and Dean of Faculty.


Students participating in HWS off-campus programs are required to take a standard HWS course load (4.0 credits), except in cases where the host institution has a different requirement. Students will not be permitted to exceed a standard course load of 4.0 HWS credits except in extraordinary cases as determined by a student’s dean’s office, academic advisor, and the Center for Global Education.


Students participating in CGE programs retain financial aid on the same basis as previously awarded (with the exception of work study) as determined by merit and/or demonstrable financial need. The Financial Aid Office should be consulted to determine the exact details of aid to be awarded. Tuition and associated fees are charged at the same rate as on the HWS campus, plus an administrative fee of $600. Room and board charges may vary. Consult the informational brochures or the program descriptions on the CGE webpage for further details.


If a student withdraws from an off-campus program, their $350 deposit will be forfeited. In addition, students may be responsible for additional expenses beyond the $350 if they withdraw from the program while it is in progress or less than 90 days before the program arrival date. Specifically, students will be held accountable for any expenditures made on their behalf that the CGE is unable to recoup, such as housing or hotel deposits, tuition payments to other institutions, excursion deposits, contracts for coursework or internships arranged specifically on their behalf, etc.

A student participating in an HWS or non-HWS off-campus program who withdraws from that program after arrival at the program site may not return to campus to take classes that semester except under extraordinary circumstances, as determined by the student’s dean’s office, the Center for Global Education and the Vice President for Student Affairs.


Receiving approval to transfer credit from a non-HWS program to fulfill HWS degree requirements is highly competitive. A limited number of slots to participate in such programs will be approved annually. These slots are reserved for students whose academic needs/degree requirements cannot be met by any HWS off-campus program.  Merely preferring another location is not a sound academic reason for petitioning for credit for a non-HWS program. Some non-HWS programs are ineligible for consideration of transfer credit (for example, the Semester at Sea, SEA Semester, Sea-Mester and NOLS programs). Therefore, a student who wishes to participate in a program sponsored by another institution should check first with the CGE to ensure that the program is accredited and that credit transfer is allowed. The student should present his/her case in writing as follows:

  • The student submits an application stating a strong academic justification for the program, a supporting recommendation from his/her advisor attesting to the lack of fit of HWS’ own off-campus programs and endorsing the non-HWS program, and a full description of the program he/she wants to apply for to the Center for Global Education no later than Friday, October 9, 2015 for Fall 2016 and full year 2016-17 programs and no later than Friday, March 4, 2016 for Spring 2017 programs. Green Non-HWS Program Application forms are available from the CGE.
  • The student's application is reviewed by the Committee on Global Education and a representative of both Deans' offices.
  • If an application is accepted, the student goes to the appropriate departmental chair to request preliminary approval of courses, providing evidence of the substance of each course (course description, syllabus, reading list). Upon return, the student must submit an official transcript. As with all transfer credit, a course in which a grade below C is earned will not be accepted. Departments will decide if and how many credits from a non HWS program may count toward the major/minor.
  • A student on a non HWS program will pay an administrative fee of $600 billed directly by the Business Office after he/she submits a transcript and requests a credit transfer. Students will pay all other fees directly to the non-HWS program. Note that HWS-based aid cannot be applied to such programs. State and Federal aid is transferable, however.
  • Transfer credit will not be awarded for students who have not completed this process and received written approval in advance.


Upon submission of all required application materials, your candidacy will be reviewed by the appropriate faculty and the Center for Global Education. Due to the selective nature of the programs and the limited number of spaces available in any one program, it is not possible to accept all applicants. Therefore some applicants will be placed on a waitlist.

We strongly recommend that students apply for more than one program. All programs are competitive and there is no way to predict how many applications we will get for a particular program in a given semester. Students who apply to only one site are very likely to be disappointed and will be left with no backup options if they are not accepted to their first-choice program. Note that separate applications and essays are required if you are applying to more than one program.

Accepted students are given a date by which they are required to place a $350.00 non-refundable deposit with the Business Office and sign (online) their “acceptance of admission” form to secure their place in a program. If you do not confirm your participation by the stated date and there is a waitlist, you will forfeit your place. Students who have been accepted to participate in an HWS Global Education program must contact the Registrar’s Office to register for classes during normal HWS registration for the semester you will be abroad. This is very important!

If you have been placed on a waitlist, you do not need to take further action. If/when a place opens you will be contacted by the staff of the Center for Global Education. Many students who are initially waitlisted do receive an acceptance offer, but this cannot be guaranteed. Note that students who are on a waitlist must fulfill all program prerequisites in order to be accepted into a program if space becomes available. This means, for example, that if you are waitlisted on a program that has a language or other pre-requisite, you MUST register for this course in order to be offered a place on the program if one becomes available.


Priority will be given to applicants on the basis of academic achievement (i.e. GPA), quality of study abroad essay, the “fit” of the student to the program curriculum, and class standing. Factors that might impact an admission decision include social/disciplinary record and previous participation in an off-campus study program. Students on academic or social probation are ineligible for off-campus study. First-year students and transfer student without HWS grades, as well as students who have already participated in an off-campus study program, will typically be placed on the waitlist until slots become available. If you have any questions with respect to the application process, please contact the staff of the Center for Global Education.


Your essay is a very important part of your application. We encourage you to start writing early, so that you’ll have enough time to rewrite and revise. Be sure to read the essay questions carefully and respond specifically to each question. Although you are welcome to include examples of your previous personal experiences or describe why a particular program is your “ideal”, the most successful applicants describe a strong academic motivation for the program(s) of interest. Be sure to include information about how the particular program will help strengthen your major or minor or otherwise support your long-term academic or career goals. If writing is not your strong point, we encourage you to take your essay to the Center for Teaching and Learning for assistance.
Remember – the best essays interest your readers, express something unique about you, demonstrate knowledge about the country and program, and fully address the essay questions!


Students who already receive financial aid and who intend to participate in a Global Education program sponsored by Hobart and William Smith Colleges will continue to receive financial aid (excluding work study) for the time they are off-campus. Any student, even those not currently receiving financial aid, can apply for aid based on economic eligibility.

Financial aid applications will be available in early January for the following academic year. Students desiring an early evaluation should have the application completed and mailed to the processing center by the deadline determined by the Financial Aid Office. A photocopy of the application must be sent directly to the Financial Aid Office on campus at the same time.

All off campus programs sponsored by the Colleges require a non refundable deposit of $350.00. If this payment presents a significant and demonstrable burden, an applicant should contact Student Accounts to ask for payment of a reduced deposit.

Students who apply for and are granted permission to participate in a non-HWS program will not receive institutional aid from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Students should also check into how their other financial aid may be affected by participation in an off campus study program sponsored by another institution. Finally, students who know that they will be off-campus during the application period for financial aid for the following year must make arrangements to complete all application materials in advance or from off-campus. Late applicants will be penalized.

Students with questions about financial aid matters should seek the advice of the financial aid officers on campus well in advance of submitting their applications for participation.

See the CGE’s Study Abroad Scholarships document for information about applying for outside scholarships.


Center for Global Education
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
300 Pulteney Street
Geneva, NY 14456
Phone: (315) 781-3307
Fax: (315) 781-3023


Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

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