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Washington and Lee University

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Policies and Procedures

Eligibility, credit transfer, finances and fees, etc.


  1. Eligibility for Off-Campus Study:  1) Students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.500 and a 2.500 GPA in the last semester to apply for off-campus study for W&L credit.  2)  Students are not eligible to study abroad if on academic or social probation during their semester abroad. Students must consult with their academic adviser(s) to ensure that their proposed course of study will enable them to make normal progress toward completion of major and degree requirements in a timely fashion. Seniors engaged in approved study abroad will have the first term of the three-term senior residency requirement waived. Requests for exceptions to these or other academic rules must be submitted in advance to the Committee on Courses and Degrees through the Dean of the College. To study abroad, students must consult with the staff of the Center for International Education, attend on-campus orientations, and, upon their return, complete an evaluation of their study abroad experience for the Center for International Education. Students will be expected to disclose medical and or counseling-related conditions or current treatments so that appropriate consultations can occur with deans, Student Health and Counseling Services, etc. to ensure that all critical needs can be met during the student's time away from campus.
  2. Program Approval: Undergraduate students seeking to study abroad for W&L degree credit must submit an Application for Degree Credit for Off-Campus Study to the Center for International Education by the specified deadline for the period in which they plan to be absent from campus. They must enroll in a program which has received approval by the International Education Committee and pursue a full-time course of study as defined by both the host institution and W&L. Program approval is based upon precedent, past experience, faculty, departmental and administrative knowledge and recommendation of a program, and/or site visits, whenever possible, to the program by a W&L faculty member or administrator. Students and faculty are referred to the Study Abroad area of the Center for International Education Web site for information on programs which are generally approved for W&L student use.  Should a student wish to study on a program that has not been approved, a petition must be obtained from the Study Abroad Advisor for submission for approval to the International Education Committee.
  3. Course Approval: Students studying abroad are required to seek approval in advance from the appropriate department head (or academic dean) and academic adviser for all courses to be attempted while abroad. Such approval is granted only through the signature of that department head or academic dean on the student’s online Application for Degree Credit for Off-Campus Study. Students must maintain a full-time load of academic coursework comparable to that at Washington and Lee in level, nature, and field, applicable to a W&L degree program. Course approvals must be secured prior to taking the course(s) so that the student is clear on the transferability of all courses and credits. Should a student’s course selection change for any reason after submission of their application, substituted courses are not transferable unless approved by an appropriate Washington and Lee department head (or academic dean) and academic adviser. Such approval must be sought immediately (e.g. e-mail, fax); copies of any such correspondence should also be directed to the Director of International Education. Credit will not be transferred for any course for which a student has not obtained pre-approval unless retroactive approval is granted by the appropriate department head or Dean after the student’s return. Such retroactive approval is not guaranteed and must be obtained before the conclusion of the first 12-week term completed by the student upon their return to W&L. Any exceptions to this policy must be obtained from the Committee on Courses and Degrees.
  4. Award of Credit Hours: The approval of credit hours applied to major requirements and the level at which they are applied (100, 200, etc) will be determined only by the appropriate department head or dean at W&L, as recorded on the student’s Application for Credit for Non-W&L Off-Campus Study. Those credits approved as equivalent to a specific W&L course number will meet the same requirements that W&L course does. Those credits approved as non-equivalent electives may be applied to major requirements with permission of the department head but in order to meet general education requirements will require a separate petition to the Committee on Courses and Degrees.
    Credit for courses taken off campus will only be transferred once an official transcript for the work completed has been received by the W&L University Registrar and approval for all courses has been given by the appropriate department(s) as noted above. Credits may be transferred only if a grade equivalent to a C (2.0) or better is received. The actual grade on an abroad course is not transferred to the student’s W&L record and therefore does not affect the W&L cumulative GPA.
  5. Number of Credit Hours: No strict correlation exists between contact hours in courses taken abroad and credit hours awarded by W&L. W&L does not award more credit for a program than that awarded by the host institution, as determined by the host's official transcript. If the host program's transcript does not translate easily to "American" credit (e.g. quarter hours, semester credits, units) or provide a conversion scale, or if the host institution's academic calendar differs significantly from W&L’s, the following can act as general principles:
    1. A student pursuing a fully approved, full-time course of study abroad for a period roughly equivalent to W&L's fall or winter term will usually receive 12 credit hours from W&L upon the successful completion of all courses in this study.
    2. A student pursuing a fully approved, full-time course of study abroad for a term of approximately 14 weeks or more will usually receive 15 credit hours from W&L upon the successful completion of all courses in this study.
    3. A student pursuing a fully approved, full-time course of study abroad for a full academic year will usually receive 30 credit hours from W&L upon the successful completion of all courses in this study.

    In the event of a discrepancy between departmentally authorized credit hours under Section 4 above and the guidance offered under a, b, and c in this section above (12, 15 or 30 credits, respectively), a student may petition the appropriate academic Dean for consideration of additional credit approval.
  6. Language Study Abroad: Students studying abroad in a non-English speaking host culture will be required to study the language of that culture at an appropriate level during the period of their enrollment there. Exceptions to this requirement may be granted by the Committee on Courses and Degrees upon recommendation of the Committee on International Education. This policy is not intended to cover W&L Spring Term Abroad programs.
    Students studying in a host culture whose language is taught at W&L are strongly encouraged to undertake at least one year of study of that language prior to their abroad experience. Language study abroad must be approved in advance by the head of the relevant language department at W&L or if there is no department offering that language, such approval must be sought from the Dean of the College. Approval must be sought prior to departure; approval is not guaranteed if not obtained in advance. Students seeking pre-approval for foreign language credit will be expected to attend one of the recommended programs. Students who seek credit for foreign language study at a non-recommended program may be required to take an oral, aural, and/or written test upon their return to W&L before a determination of credit approval is made.
  7. Financial Aid for Study Abroad: Most W&L financial aid may be transferred to help cover the costs of a study abroad program. The level of aid may be adjusted to reflect the actual cost of the study abroad program. Students on financial aid who wish to apply to have this aid available for study abroad MUST request the appropriate consortium agreement from the Office of Financial Aid at W&L and assume responsibility for its prompt return. Failure to do so may result in the forfeiture of financial aid for study abroad. Students on financial aid must consult with the W&L Business Office to ensure proper transfer of their financial aid funds to their study abroad program or university.
  8. Special Rules for Summer Off-Campus Study: A maximum of four courses (14 credits) is allowed toward degree requirements for study away from W&L whether in the U.S. or abroad during the summer break. Of these, a maximum of two courses may be taken for general education or for cognates in the major. These may not include courses in the major subject or major group, except repeats. A maximum of two courses may be repeated. Even when a course is repeated, the old grade remains on the W&L transcript and in the GPAs. A student may not take a course which is a specific prerequisite for a course which has already been taken. Official transcripts are due to the University Registrar by December 1 of the year in which summer study is completed.
    For summer study abroad, it is the expectation that in order to meet the objectives of the Study Abroad Mission Statement, a program will normally meet for a period of no less than four weeks or longer and offer at least 6 credits.
  9. Study Abroad Fees: Students will pay study abroad fees to:
    1. W&L, if it is a W&L sponsored and administered program; in this case, a special program fee will be established, or
    2. the sponsoring institution or program; in this case, an administrative fee of $1,250.00 per 12 week term of study will be assessed on the student's W&L term bill.   There is no fee associated with summer study abroad.

    It is important that a student ascertain which services are included in the program fee and the dates by which payments must be made.