Frequently Asked Questions
We have created the following list of most frequently asked student questions. Please note that they are organized both by topic and by relevant stage of the off-campus study process. To see questions that only relate to finances and financial policy, for example, type “Financial” in the Search feature to limit the list to questions only relevant to cost, finances, financial aid, and scholarships.
[Getting Started] Where should I start?
[Getting Started] When should I go off-campus?Like many aspects of off-campus study, the answer to this question depends on the student. In general, students tend to go off-campus during their junior year. The decision on when to go will depend on several factors, including how your off-campus study fits into your four-year academic plan. If you are planning to go off-campus during your last semester senior year, you will need to petition for approval from the Committee on Academic Status. Talk to your faculty adviser and your OCS Adviser to determine what is best for you.
[Getting Started] How many semesters can I spend off-campus?Your four-year academic plan is an important planning piece. If you are considering more than one semester off-campus, check with your major department to find out if this will be possible before applying to any program. You may also check with your OCS Adviser. The earlier you start planning, the more possibilities are open to you. International students should consult the Off-Campus Study Financial Policy, as well as their student visa, for restrictions.
[Getting Started] Can I do two programs back-to-back?Yes. In addition to spending the full year off-campus in a yearlong program, students have the option of splitting their experiences between two different programs and locations. Doing this requires more planning, but can certainly be done. You can explore these possibilities with your off-campus study adviser and with your faculty adviser.
[Getting Started] How do I make an appointment with an OCS adviser?
[Getting Started] What if I can’t find a program that fits my cultural and academic interests on the pre-approved list?The pre-approved list is meant to be comprehensive but not exhaustive. If a program that meets your academic goals is not represented on the list, your OCS adviser will guide you through the Individual Program Approval Request process, which can be found on the OCS Programs page.Please make sure you have gone through all the steps listed on the Get Started page, including meeting with an OCS adviser, before you submit an individual program approval request.
[Getting Started] When should I get started with the planning for off-campus study?Ideally you should be planning your off-campus study at least a year in advance. For science majors, you should begin as early as your freshman year. Refer to this timeline as often as you need to as a reminder of when you should be working on certain tasks.
[Applications] How to I begin my application to a program?After you have met with your OCS Adviser, you will need to let your adviser know which program you have decided to apply to. The OCS Adviser will then update your F&M Off-Campus portal application to reflect your specific program.
You will also need to apply to the program through the program’s direct website. Many programs have their own application portals that you will work within. Some programs have paper applications (e.g. Advanced Studies in England). The process differs by program, but it is important to note that you will be working in both your F&M Off-Campus portal AND your program portal/application to complete requirements both for F&M and for your program.
[Applications] Who do I contact if I have a question about my application?If you have a question about something in your F&M Off-Campus portal, you should contact your F&M OCS advisor with your question. If you have a question about the application for the program that you are applying to, you should contact your program advisor within that organization. Please watch the Who to Contact video for more details.
[Applications] How do I request that my F&M transcript be sent to the program I am applying to?
[Applications] My program is asking where the final transcript from the program abroad should be sent.
Your transcript from the program should be sent directly to the F&M Registrar’s Office. We will fill in this information for you on the Program Approval we submit to your program. The contact is:
Sarah Esh, Associate Registrar
Registrar’s Office, Franklin & Marshall College
P.O. Box 3003
Lancaster, PA 17604-3003
You may also wish to have an additional transcript sent to your home or campus address for your own record.
[Applications] What is the application deadline?Deadlines will differ depending on the program you apply to. To find your program deadline, please note the dates on the program page of the F&M off-campus portal. See this program page as an example of where this information can be found.Though this deadline may be different in other places, you should submit all application materials based on the deadline that appears here on the F&M Off-Campus website. Please note that this date is NOT when the initial application to the program is due. You must have completed all of your application materials and be moved to an "F&M Approved" status by this deadline for your F&M application, as well as the program you’re applying to. This could include your F&M transcript, any letters of recommendation required, and any essays you need to submit.We recommend that you watch the Off-Campus Study Timeline video to learn how to find your program’s deadline.
[Applications] The program I’m applying to is asking that F&M sign a Program Approval Form. What is this and how do I get it signed?
Your program wants to make sure that our office knows about your application and that we approve you to apply to that program. We will sign the approval once the following conditions are met:
- You have told your OCS adviser which program you are applying to and the F&M off-campus portal has been updated accordingly, meaning you can sign in at offcampus.fandm.edu and see that your selected program name and term appears.
- When you sign in at offcampus.fandm.edu and click on your program, all items that appear in your portal have check marks next to them. This includes making sure your current faculty adviser has submitted the Academic Adviser Approval.
Once these two conditions are met, it will take one to two weeks for our office to sign and submit the approval form. (Once we have signed this approval form for your program, OCS staff will then check off that requirement in the Material Submission section of your F&M Off-Campus portal.)
[Applications] How do I ensure my current faculty adviser has submitted the Academic Adviser Approval in my F&M Off-Campus portal?Login at offcampus.fandm.edu, click on your program application, and in the box titled “Academic Adviser Approval” (bottom-right), click on “Request Electronic Adviser Approval”. Send this to your faculty adviser. When you see that the box has been checked on your main program application page, you will know the adviser has submitted the approval. (Please note that this is NOT a faculty recommendation that may be required in your program application. If faculty recommendations are required, those will be requested by your program and submitted through a different process specified by your program, not through the F&M Off-Campus portal.)
[Courses & Academics] How will my grades appear on my F&M transcript, and will they affect my GPA?
For all students:
The letter grades you receive from your off-campus study program will appear as letter grades on your F&M transcript.
For students participating in the Advanced Studies in England program or an F&M Summer Travel Course:
Those grades WILL be factored into your cumulative GPA.
For students not participating in the Advanced Studies in England program or an F&M Summer Travel Course:
Those grades WILL NOT be factored into your cumulative GPA. (Keep in mind, however, that future employers and graduate schools might recalculate your GPA based on your grades from off-campus study.)
Courses on off-campus study programs must be taken for a letter grade and cannot be taken on a pass/fail/audit basis.
[Course & Academics] Can I take courses toward my major or minor or distribution requirements?Yes! Remember to look at your Degree Works! You may be able to earn credit toward your major, minor, and/or distribution requirements (Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Non-Western) while abroad. You will work with your faculty adviser, someone in the relevant department, and your OCS adviser to see about getting courses pre-approved. There will also be a more formal course approval process that you will go through later in the application process.
[Courses & Academics] What other courses can I take?For any courses that you take that do NOT apply to your distribution, major or minor credits, you will most likely just receive general elective credit so that you accrue hours needed to graduate. There ARE certain categories of courses that cannot transfer back to F&M for any kind of credit, even general elective credit: Courses in vocational, physical education, engineering, drafting, military science, criminal justice, communications, most education courses, and music lessons may not be transferred back to Franklin & Marshall for credit.If you have a question about whether or not a course can be taken for credit, ask your F&M OCS adviser.
[Courses & Academics] How do I know how much credit I will receive for the program?
The general rule is: 4 U.S. semester credit hours = 1 F&M credit.
When you are looking at your program, calculate the number of U.S. semester credit hours and then divide by 4 to determine the F&M credit equivalent. For a semester, you must enroll in what is considered a full-time schedule abroad, which is determined to be 15-16 U.S. semester credit hours, or 4 F&M credits.
For students taking courses directly at a university abroad, you may have to do two calculations. For example, at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, 15 points = 4 U.S. semester credit hours = 1 F&M credit.
[Courses & Academics] What if I have not declared my major/minor yet? How do I know how credit taken off-campus will transfer back?
- Remember that you will not need ALL courses from off-campus to count toward your major/minor. You can enroll in courses that you want to take that will just come back as general elective credit.
- If you have an intended major/minor, remember to us the “What If” feature in your Degree Works to see what requirements you would have for that major/minor.
- Have conversations with your intended major/minor department(s).
- You can still write in courses for your intended major/minor in the course approval questionnaire in your off-campus portal, which is a formal course pre-approval process that we’ll take you through later in the semester. Even if you haven’t declared, we will still contact the department through this process to see if the course(s) would count toward your major/minor.
- If you still have not declared your major/minor when your transcript from off-campus arrives in the F&M Registrar’s Office, the credit will simply be applied as general elective credit initially (except for the categories of courses listed in the “What other courses can I take” question above). Then once you have officially declared, the credit can be applied according to how it was pre-approved.
[Courses & Academics] What if my courses change once I arrive on my off-campus program?
It is very common for your courses to change once you arrive on your program. There could be course cancellations, scheduling conflicts, or a number of other reasons that your course enrollment is not exactly how you planned it. Please don’t panic!
For courses you just want general elective credit for, there is nothing you need to do about the changes other than keep in mind the categories of courses not appropriate for any type of credit at F&M (see “What other courses can I take?” above). If you want to make sure the course is appropriate for general elective credit, email your OCS adviser.
For courses that you want to count toward your major, minor, or a distribution credit, there is a formal process in your portal that you’ll go through. On the start date of your program, if you log in to offcampus.fandm.edu, and click on your program, you’ll see a new document available in your Learning Content titled “Additional Course Approval Process”, which will walk you through your next steps.
[Financial Policy] How much will it cost?
For the semester or academic year:
Your tuition will remain exactly the same as it is now at F&M, billed by the F&M Business Office with any financial aid you normally receive applied to that bill.
That tuition bill will also automatically reflect an airfare allowance credit if you will be studying outside the United States. You can see how much will be credited to your tuition bill depending on where in the world you study by visiting the Financial Policy page.
You will not pay any room & board to F&M, but your program (for example IFSA-Butler, IES Abroad, SIT, BU, etc.) will bill you directly for your program deposit, housing, and any other non-tuition fees.
Except for campus employment packages, all other financial aid applies as normal, including any aid you would normally receive for your F&M room and board. Students who have financial aid should contact Tonya Hsiung in the Financial Aid Office for specifics about how your financial aid would apply to your chosen program.
You and your parents may also reference this F&M Off-Campus Study Financial Aid Information Sheet.
For summer programs:
All fees will be billed directly by the program, not by F&M. The exception to this is F&M Summer Travel Courses, which will be billed by the F&M Business Office.
You should also factor in other expenses that might be required, such as passport fees, visa fees, books, meals, and any personal travel. Sample budgets can be found on each program page on our website or on your program website.
[Financial Policy] Will my financial aid apply?Except for campus employment packages, all other financial aid applies as normal, including any aid you would normally receive for your F&M room and board. Students who have financial aid should contact Tonya Hsiung in the Financial Aid Office for specifics about how your financial aid would apply to your chosen program. You may also find information on the F&M Off-Campus Study Financial Aid Information Sheet.
[Financial Policy] Are there additional funding opportunities or scholarships?
[Financial Policy] How do I make sure the airfare allowance credit is applied?The F&M Business Office will automatically credit your tuition bill for the semester that you will be studying outside the United States. They will apply the amount that is found on the Financial Policy page. Keep in mind that you will still book your own travel as specified by your program. The amount credited to your tuition bill is a fixed amount and is not a reimbursement based on how much you actually spend for your ticket. Please also remember that this is for semester and academic year programs only, not summer.
[Financial Policy] My program is asking for a deposit. Who pays that?You are responsible for all deposits, housing fees, and any other non-tuition fees. All program deposits are to be paid directly to your program by you (this deposit will be credited back to you in some way, either on your program housing bill or on your F&M student account).
[Preparing to go] How do I get a passport?For U.S. citizens, you can find more information on how to apply for or a renew a passport online at www.travel.state.gov/passport. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please confirm passport requirements with your home country. Please remember: Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your return date in order to obtain permission to enter your host country. If your passport will expire early, you should renew your passport.
[Preparing to go] How do I get a visa?
Your off-campus study program should provide you with specific information regarding any visa requirements and the process to obtain a visa. It is important to note that not all countries require student visas, and that visa requirements are different for non-U.S. citizens.
If you are required to obtain a visa, it is important that you begin your application as soon as you are allowed to, and you should carefully read all required visa materials provided by your off-campus study program. Students who have questions about their specific visa process should first contact the adviser for the program their applying to, but you can also contact your F&M Off-Campus Study adviser for support.
[Preparing to go] How do I arrange my housing for my return to F&M?Lori Foust is F&M's Residential Coordinator. She will contact you while abroad to arrange the housing lottery and roommate matching for when you return to campus. If you have any specific requests or concerns, you should contact her directly. Otherwise you should continually check your F&M email while abroad, and make sure to read and respond to emails from Mrs. Foust.
[Preparing to go] How do I register for my next semester’s F&M courses while I’m away?Laura Medvic is F&M's Assistant Registrar. Midway through your off-campus semester, she will email you with instructions for F&M class registration for the following semester. Please be sure to regularly check your F&M email for any emails from Laura Medvic or the Registrar's office. If you have any specific questions or concerns, you should contact the F&M Registrar's office directly.
[Preparing to go] What else do I need to be doing and thinking about before I go?