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International study is an integral part of a Cornell education. To help students develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for informed citizenship in today’s world, studying abroad offers a wide range of study abroad opportunities that reflect the fundamental educational goals and objectives of the university. Study abroad is a continuous and complementary experience with study on campus, enabling students to make regular progress toward the degree.
To earn credit for overseas study during the fall and/or spring semester(s), students must apply through Education Abroad in the Office of Global Learning, whose staff members advise students on options and assist with all aspects of the study abroad process. College Programs (AAP-Rome, CAPS major, CALS and ILR exchanges) apply through the college. Education Abroad serves as a resource for short-term study abroad (summer/winter). Differences in semester and short-term policies and procedures are highlighted in the following sections as appropriate.
Study Abroad Program Options
From Argentina to Zambia, students can study abroad in over 350 programs in roughly 75 countries around the world. Whether students want another perspective on their major field of study, hope to learn another language, or desire to explore something new, there is an option for everyone. See the Education Abroad website for information and highlighted programs. The Experience Cornell website houses all approved semester study abroad opportunities for Cornell undergraduates. Some short-term options are also listed.
Cornell Global Programs: Education Abroad administers Cornell Global Programs, advanced language or specialized programs designed specifically for Cornell students.
- Direct enrollment in select universities around the world
- Programs with a special language or topic focus (global health, business, sustainability)
- Programs with an internship or service focus
- Programs with independent field study or directed research opportunities
Petition Process: Students with a strong academic rationale may petition to apply to programs not on the approved list. The advisor in Education Abroad for that region and the relevant college advisor must approve the program in order for the student to receive credit from Cornell. For procedures and deadlines, see the petitions section of the website.
Short-term Options: Short-term options are increasingly listed in the Experience Cornell opportunity database, though they may be administered through other units. Students who find their own summer options work with their colleges directly on questions of transfer credit and register their short-term study.
- Cornell courses offered during summer and winter sessions
- Cornell courses with an international travel component
- Short-term credit-bearing programs through other universities and organizations (transfer credit)
Who Studies Abroad
Students from all undergraduate colleges and major fields study abroad. Students must be in good academic standing and meet the requirements of their college and program. A 3.0 GPA is a typical requirement, but programs may be available for students with lower Cornell GPAs. Over 600 undergraduates studied abroad last year through Education Abroad for a semester or year.
Because some colleges require that students complete at least 60 hours of undergraduate credit on the Ithaca campus, students who transfer to Cornell as juniors may be unable to count study abroad credit toward their Cornell degree. Students should check with their college for eligibility. Some college-based exchange programs have been designed with the needs of transfer students in mind.
When Students Study Abroad and for How Long
Students may study abroad during their sophomore, junior, or senior year. To maximize options, early planning is advised. Academic-year programs are highly recommended when possible. The majority of Cornell undergraduates who study abroad as part of their degree do so for a semester.
Short-term programs vary in length from less than two weeks—if connected to a course on campus—to 12 weeks abroad. Most short-term programs are 3-6 weeks.
Step 1: Get Ready
- Consider academic requirements, college policies and personal and professional goals.
- Gather information from the website, or individual advisors, information sessions with returned students and meeting with faculty.
- Drop-in advising and advising by appointment are available every weekday, while classes are in session on campus. See the Get Advice page for more information.
- See the Cornell events calendar for the annual International Fair at the start of the Fall Semester and other events.
- Follow our Facebook page for program updates and info on pop-up events happening throughout the semester.
- Follow us on Instagram to get inspired by what Cornell students are doing abroad.
Step 2: Apply
Obtain Cornell approval for semester study:
- Review program options, college requirements, and degree plans with faculty advisor and college.
- Open and complete the Cornell study abroad application from the Experience Cornell listing of your chosen program.
- Meet deadlines: September 15 for spring programs or March 1 for Fall/Year programs. Some programs have earlier deadlines. The deadline to study at Oxford or Cambridge is early: apply by November 15 of your sophomore year to study at Oxford or Cambridge during the academic year or spring of your junior year.
Register summer/short-term study plans:
- Register summer study, when not on a Cornell course, via the Cornell Travel Registry.
- Registration enables students to receive access to Cornell’s emergency travel assistance provider.
Seek admission from program:
- Programs run by foreign university partners or approved providers maintain their own application systems. After starting the Cornell process, apply directly to programs for admission.
- Advisors in Education Abroad provide proof of university approval when required for program admission or visa purposes.
- Application deadlines vary by program and may be earlier or later than the deadline for Cornell approval.
Note: Many universities and programs admit on a rolling basis and fill by early fall or mid-spring for the following semester. Early application may improve students’ chances of admission. In all cases, it is a good idea to check with the relevant study abroad advisor in Education Abroad.
Step 3: Go Abroad
Complete the pre-departure requirements. Obtain a visa. Brush up on the history, politics, security situation, current events and language of host country, and go with an open mind.
Registration, Credit Transfer, and Grades
All students who wish to receive academic credit for semester study abroad must apply through Education Abroad and their undergraduate college. Students remain registered at Cornell University during their semester or year abroad. They are eligible for financial aid and receive full academic credit for pre-approved courses of study completed with satisfactory grades, equivalent to a “C” or higher.
Students enroll for a normal full load of courses abroad, according to the standards of the institution or program overseas, and usually receive 30 credits per year, or 15 credits per semester (exceptions apply). Courses must be taken for a letter grade. The colleges review course work taken abroad and make the final decisions concerning credit transfer and distribution. When study abroad credit has been transferred, the Cornell transcript will indicate the names of the courses taken, the grades received, and the total credits earned for each semester. Grades earned abroad appear on the Cornell transcript as they are received on the official transcript; Cornell does not translate the grades, nor are they averaged into the Cornell grade point average.
Summer and winter session programs are available for Cornell credit through the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions. Students may petition their college to transfer credit from other short-term programs.
Foreign Language Requirements
English-language study abroad programs are widely available in non-English–speaking countries. Cornell requires students who participate in programs in a non–English-speaking country with English-language course work to take at least one language course as part of their program of study and strongly encourages them to take more.
Students in the College of Arts and Sciences must follow college policies regarding previous language and area studies preparation at Cornell. Study abroad programs in non–English-speaking countries that offer direct enrollment in universities generally require the equivalent of at least two years of college-level language study. Students should make firm plans for any requisite language courses early in their freshman year.
Study abroad programs generally provide housing in halls of residence for university students, in the homes of local residents, or in rental apartments. Advisors in Education Abroad can help students understand their housing options. When planning for a semester of study abroad, be sure to consider the housing situation in Ithaca. Students in Cornell residence halls can have a single semester contract when studying abroad for a semester.
Semester/Year students studying abroad in Cornell-managed programs pay a fixed Cornell Global Program fee per semester, which covers tuition, housing during term (with some exceptions), orientation, program-sponsored trips and events, and administrative and financial aid costs, including emergency medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. It may include other items (e.g., meals, commuter passes) depending on the program. Students pay other costs (e.g., airfare and personal expenses) directly. Please review the specific program page on Experience Cornell for financial information including withdrawal and refund policies.
Semester/Year students studying on approved programs run by other universities or organizations pay the tuition and other costs charged by their programs and a Cornell International Program Tuition (CIPT). The CIPT covers the direct and indirect costs of study abroad to the university and helps offset part of the cost of financial aid for study abroad students. Students studying in the United Kingdom on direct enrollment programs at British universities pay a slightly higher CIPT that covers the cost of on-site support services. See Finances section of website for details.
Students attending summer/short-term programs managed by other universities or organizations pay the program directly. No fees apply since the student is not enrolled at Cornell. Note that the average costs per week of summer/short-term programs tend to be higher than for semester programs. For cost information, see the specific program.
Financial aid applies to all approved semester/year undergraduate study abroad. Aid is need-based, consistent with university and government policies and covers all costs relative to study abroad including international airfare, any necessary immunizations, and local costs of living. The normal work-study component of the aid package will be converted to student loans.
The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) remains the same for the academic year and aid is adjusted according to the higher or lower costs of the program.
Some programs abroad offer need-based and merit-based scholarships; there are also external sources of aid for which Cornell students are eligible. Consistent with university policy, external grants and scholarships must be reported to the Financial Aid office.
Financial aid is not typically available for summer/short-term study, though limited funding opportunities exist, including Cornell University’s Off-Campus Opportunity Fund.
Security Abroad and Related Issues
The decision to study in a particular region of the world must be made by each student and his or her family in light of their own interpretation of current events. Study in any country that is considered a higher risk country as determined by Cornell’s Emergency Travel Assistance provider or where the State Department suggests that citizens reconsider travel, must be approved in advance by the university’s International Travel Advisory and Response Team. Nothing is as important as student security and well-being.
Responsibility for a decision to withdraw from a program or return home early rests with the student and his or her family. There can be no guarantee of credit for students who withdraw from programs sponsored by colleges and universities other than Cornell; they are advised to inquire about the policies of those institutions regarding the completion of academic work and the potential financial implications of premature departure. In the event of a disrupted semester for health or security reasons, refunds of tuition and fees, and the number of credits to be awarded, will be reviewed by Cornell and affiliated institutions on a case-by-case basis. Most institutions sponsoring study abroad programs strive to facilitate student completion of academic programs even under unusual circumstances and have tuition refund policies based on prorated formulas. Cornell does not exercise control over another institution’s withdrawal and refund policies.
Sources of Information and Advice Concerning Study Abroad
Office of Global Learning – Education Abroad, abroad.globallearning.cornell.edu, B50 Caldwell Hall, (607) 255-5243, firstname.lastname@example.org.
See website for dates and locations of Annual International Fair, Cornell International Programs Fair, and Information Sessions
Study Abroad Advising Staff: Kristen Grace, Ph.D.; Alayne Prine, M.S.; Rebecca Dlubac, M.F.A. See “Get Advice” page of website for information on regional portfolios for each advisor.
Office of Global Learning Administration for Education Abroad: Brandon Lanners, Executive Director; Kathy Lynch, Finance Manager; Cindy Tarter, Senior Associate Director.
College Advisors who Approve Study Abroad
Agriculture and Life Sciences: Jessica Hawkey, CALS Student Services, 140 Roberts Hall; Architecture, Art, and Planning: Andrew Meis, 235 Sibley Dome; Arts and Sciences: Margaret Parmenter, G17 Klarman Hall; Engineering: Engineering Advising, 167 Olin Hall; Hotel Administration: Erin Fitzgerald, 180 Statler Hall; Human Ecology: Paul Fisher, 172 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall; Industrial and Labor Relations: Tamara Ingram, 121 Ives Hall.