Things to Consider as You Explore Programs

(Make sure to watch this important VIDEO before searching for programs so that you fully understand the various program models and search parameters to help you find the best program fit for you.)

No matter where life takes you after Franklin & Marshall, you will be working and living with people with vastly different ways of perceiving our world. Off-campus study will help you begin to understand how to negotiate these differences, strengthening your abilities to successfully live and work in our increasingly interconnected, global society.

Each off-campus study program offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and to explore academically-challenging coursework and experiential learning opportunities. Off-campus study is intended to deepen and bring fresh perspectives to your understanding of an academic field. You play an important role in ensuring your off-campus study experiences are meaningful and challenging -- and this starts with choosing your off-campus study program. We've included some things for you to think about as you begin to explore your program options. Please reference the Choosing Your Program video as well as the list below to help you throughout the process.

  • Your academic goals and needs: You will want to speak with your Academic Advisor(s) regarding your interest in off-campus study. Your Academic Advisor(s) may be able to help you think about what type of credit you need to fulfill abroad and what is appropriate for your major or minor.
  • Identify what is important to you and what you hope to get out of the experience: Do you want to explore family roots? Build your resume? Conduct field research? Learn another language? Experience a different political system? Learn more about global social justice or sustainability challenges and solutions? Explore more questions that will help you think through some of your goals for off-campus study.
  • Program model: Programs pre-approved by F&M may allow you to directly-enroll at a local university or take classes at a study center designed for students from other U.S. institutions. Other programs may have a significant fieldwork or internship experience. Other programs may be language-intensive and focus exclusively on language study. Each program type has benefits and challenges, so it is important to reflect on your goals and the learning environment in which you can be most successful and talk about this with your Off-Campus Study Advisor.
  • Housing Options: Housing options during your off-campus study program will vary by program. Some programs may allow students to choose their housing option; other programs require all students to live in a certain type of housing. Typical housing arrangements may include apartments, homestay, or on-campus housing at a local university.
  • Opportunities for community engagement: In addition to your coursework, you may want to consider what kinds of opportunities for engaging with the local community are offered. Programs may have opportunities for volunteer work, internship courses, or other study tours that may help you get to know local students and the community. Additionally, think about how the academic and housing components of the program can support you in getting to know the local community (for example, are you taking classes with local students or other American students, are you living in a local setting, etc....).
  • Don't forget to think about your own identity! When considering where in the world you might want to study, it's important for you to consider how your identity(ies) may impact and be impacted by your off-campus study experience and location both from a cultural and safety perspective. What program and location is best for you to feel comfortable being your true and unique self? Our partner, Diversity Abroad, has some fantastic resources and country guides available to help you think through some of this. It is also recommended that you visit the IFSA Student Stories webpage - "A Study Abroad Guide for Students Like Me." Categories of student stories include Career BuildingFaith CommunitiesFamily Matters; First Generation; Gender Abroad; LGBTQ+; Money Matters; Racial and Ethnic Identity; STEM; Student Athletes; and Students with Special Accommodations.


Individual Program Approval Request

If you are interested in participating in a program that has not been pre-approved by F&M, you may request consideration for individual approval of an off-campus study program. Students must submit a formal request through the online Individual Approval Request form by the following deadlines:

  • April 15 (for off-campus study during the next spring term)
  • November 15 (for off-campus study during the next summer or fall/academic year term)

Before completing this request form, students must first complete the regular advising application process and meet with an Off-Campus Study Advisor to discuss their intended program and overall plan.  Only after that meeting should you complete this request form.

All programs will be evaluated for quality of academics and student support services. Your submitted Individual Approval Request form will be reviewed by the Office of International Programs in conjunction with the International & Off-Campus Study (IOCS) faculty committee, and you will be notified of the decision within a few weeks.


Students with an F-1 visa status

If you are a student with an F-1 visa status planning to study abroad on a non-approved F&M summer program (including in your home country), there are extra considerations to keep in mind. Please make sure you understand the following:

  • Neither the Office of the Registrar nor the Office of International Programs can confirm or guarantee credit transfer in advance.

  • Once the foreign transcript is received by the Office of the Registrar, you may be required to pay a foreign educational credential evaluation service to have the transcript evaluated, which could cost $1000 or more, and still does not guarantee credit will transfer back to F&M.

  • By choosing to participate on a non-approved program, Franklin & Marshall College cannot verify the quality of the educational experience at the host institution and will not be able to provide assistance throughout the application process.

  • In all cases, before taking courses at another institution you should first talk to your faculty advisor.

  • Please refer to this page for additional details.