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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 in Rome, CAPS program, 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
Education Abroad administers Cornell Global Programs, Exchange Programs and other Approved Programs.
- Cornell Global Programs are advanced language or specialized programs designed specifically for Cornell students.
- Exchange Programs are reciprocal partnerships with select international universities and schools that provide an avenue for Cornell students to study for a semester or year at those partner schools, and in exchange, Cornell hosts their students. Exchanges are managed by OGL and/or Cornell colleges or schools.
- Approved programs include direct enrollment at select universities, programs with special language or topic focus (global health, business, sustainability), and programs with an internship, research and/or service focus.
The Education Abroad website shares advising, program, and financial information. The Experience Cornell website houses all approved semester study abroad opportunities for Cornell undergraduates. Some short-term options are also listed.
Petitions: Students who wish to study on non-approved programs, even with one of our current partners, will have to take a leave of absence to do so. In such a case, Cornell cannot offer any administrative or financial aid support, nor award credit. For future terms, as health and safety circumstances permit, the Office of Global Learning will determine a petitioning process through which a student may petition to study at a non-affiliated program. Further information will be provided on our 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. 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 undergraduate students study abroad annually 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, some students who transfer to Cornell 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 for the fall or spring semester or for the academic year. To maximize options, early planning is advised. 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 internationally-focused 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: Typically, 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.
- Deadlines may vary. Please check Experience for all program application deadlines.
Seek admission from program:
- Programs run by foreign university partners or approved providers maintain their own application systems. After Cornell approval, 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 including orientation. Obtain a visa. Understand the billing and financial process and policies. 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 generally available for Cornell credit through the School of Continuing Education. Students may petition their college to transfer credit from other short-term programs.
Foreign Language Requirements
English-language study abroad programs are 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.
Undergraduates participating on Office of Global Learning approved semester programs and college or school programs and exchanges pay regular Cornell tuition, program fees, and out-of-pocket expenses. Program fees and out-of-pocket expenses depend on the program, living arrangements, and other local costs.
Please review the specific program page on Experience Cornell for estimated program budgets and financial information. Estimated program budgets indicate which study abroad costs are billable through Cornell, through the host institution, or out of pocket.
All students who participate in Office of Global Learning approved study abroad programs are required to acknowledge and agree to financial policies prior to participation.
Visit the Finances page for more information on semester study abroad costs and FAQs.
Students attending summer/short-term programs managed by other universities or organizations pay the program directly. 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 will apply to all approved semester and yearlong programs. The Office of Global Learning or the college/school sponsoring the program will prepare an estimated student budget based on a student’s approved program and submit it to the Office of Financial Aid on their behalf. Financial Aid will use the cost estimates provided to repackage aid for the semester(s) that a student will be abroad. Financial aid awards are adjusted in line with the higher or lower costs of the program. Family and student contribution will remain the same as on campus, regardless of the estimated cost of attendance. Federal work study is converted to a loan when students study abroad. Students may choose to take this out as a loan or not. If a student opts to decline the loan, alternative aid resources will not be available to replace that award.
Visit the Finances page for more information.
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 may exist.
Health and Safety
The decision to study in a particular region of the world must be made by each student and their family in light of their own interpretation of current events.
Students will be expected to follow the requirements of their program and host country regarding health and safety which may include restrictions on travel and mobility that can change at any time. There are risks associated with all travel, and the ongoing pandemic enhances those risks. The novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is a highly-infectious, life-threatening disease, spread through person-to-person contact. Cornell cannot guarantee a COVID- or disease-free environment on any program. This means that each traveler must familiarize themselves with the risks, assess their comfort level with an experience abroad, and be willing to take responsibility for their own risk mitigation.
All study abroad participants are required to complete the Travel Registry wherein students acknowledge and agree to the Hold Harmless and General Standards of Conduct for off-campus international activities.
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.
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 advising portfolios for each advisor.
Office of Global Learning Administration for Education Abroad: Brandon Lanners, Executive Director; Cindy Tarter, Senior Associate Director; Kathy Lynch, Finance Manager.
College Advisors who Approve Study Abroad
Agriculture and Life Sciences: Jessica Hawkey, 140 Roberts Hall; Architecture, Art, and Planning: Jenn Michael, 235 Sibley Dome; Arts and Sciences: Margaret Parmenter; Paul Sulzer, G17 Klarman Hall; Engineering: Ryan Delany, 180 Rhodes Hall; Hotel Administration: Taylor Sweazey, 180 Statler Hall; Dyson School: Kaitlin Berry; Renee Poullot, B34 Warren Hall; Human Ecology: Paul Fisher, Deanne Maxwell, 172 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall; Industrial and Labor Relations: Tamara Ingram, 121 Ives Hall.