Study Abroad

Frequently Asked Questions

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It is essential that you get academic advising before you go overseas to ensure that you understand how these courses will apply to your specific degree requirements. 
 
You must fulfill two types of requirements to get a degree:
          1.) General education requirements, and
          2.) Major requirements. 
 

Advising is NOT course approval.  Advising directs your course of study before you actually register for classes.  Professors suggest possible transfer equivalencies prior to departure. Course fulfillment decisions happen after you have taken the courses and faculty see an official transcript (and supporting materials).

Faculty may approve equivalencies for credits earned on an exchange, direct enrollment or study abroad...after you return.   

 
Transfer credits are ultimately awarded by the Record's Office. Before you see your advisor, do the following steps.  (*When you are enrolled in GS 251, you will meet with your major advisor and fill out advising forms.)
  • With your transcript and catalog in hand, do your own graduation check.   Which requirements have not yet been fulfilled, and which courses do you still need to take?
  • Which courses MUST be taken at FLC and when?
  • Become familiar with program materials, including course options. Which of the courses on your study abroad program could possibly be used to fulfill these requirements?
  • Do you need to take some FLC prerequisites PRIOR to signing up for a study abroad program or exchange?  Do these sites offer lower level courses or all upper division courses?
  • What courses must you take when you return to FLC?  Find out what classes cannot be fulfilled overseas.   
  • If you want to satisfy general education requirements, check the list of suggested courses in the FLC catalog.
  • Remember, faculty will have to evaluate these courses eventually and need as much information as possible.  They are interested in the course description, the number of contact hours with the professor, the syllabus, textbook used, types of assignments, etc.  The more information available, the better.  This step will have to wait until your meeting after you return, but try to research as much as possible prior to your appointment.
  • Depending on the courses available and what you want to take, have your major advisor indicate which courses could satisfy major requirements.  Include as many courses as possible since you won't know what your actual choices are yet.  Keep this list with you or saved on your computer.
  • Keep a copy of this advising form for yourself and turn the other one into the International Programs Office with your application packet. 

If your program lasts more than 90 days, usually student visa is required.  Visa procedures vary depending on countries, check with consulate/embassy.  Some countries, such as Spain and France require students to submit their visa application in person in LA consulate.  More and more countries started requiring FBI background check.  It will take a month or more to require FBI background check, so make sure to check all your requirements and procedures carefully and plan ahead.

 

  • Each exchange program has its own requirements, but generally, for the exchange programs in Spain, France and Germany, and Latin America...two years of the appropriate college level language is required.   One of your recommendations must be from the Modern Language Department if you are attending one of these programs.
  • Individual Study Abroad programs will have their own language requirements.  Make sure you have read all of their material and know what they require.  Recommendations are always required and often a pre-test will be part of the application process.
  • If your goal is to study abroad to LEARN a language, you need to look for programs that offer intensive language courses.  These courses usually offer classes at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. You will be given a placement test on arrival (or sometimes in the application packet) to make sure you are in the appropriate level for your initial abilities. 
Note: Some programs require at least one year of language before they will accept you into BEGINNING classes.  Usually, semester long intensive language courses meet 4 hours per day, 5 days a week (20 hours).  Some may offer academic classes in English at the same time; others may allow you to take courses from the regular curriculum.  Check individual programs for details.

 

If you are a senior during your planned term(s) abroad, there are a few obstacles you must clear before you sign into GS251. 
You must be prepared to have graduation postponed for at least one term because many study abroad programs are not over by FLC graduation deadlines. 
If you are completing final credits abroad, you will need to make sure all grades are posted before your final graduation check by the Record's Office. The general advice is if you have all of your major department requirements COMPLETED by your senior year, and you are going abroad for elective credits only, you will probably be granted approval - but this is entirely up to your advisor, department chair, and/or Records Office (not the IPO). 
 
Check with your advisor and the Record's Office PRIOR to departure regarding petitions to graduate, grad checks, and exception to graduation applications. 
 
If your graduation is dependent upon taking one or a few specific courses while abroad, you are taking a big chance.  Course schedules are usually not available in advance and you may not know what courses are being offered until you are there.  Certain FLC courses, i.e. Senior Seminars, are seldom available anywhere else and equivalencies are not normally accepted.  Check with individual departments and faculty before you count on fulfilling your last credits abroad. The IPO does not make this decision or advice on this issue. It is up to each student to have this discussion with their department advisor prior to enrolling in GS251 or going abroad their senior year. 
 

 

Student status: You need to be at least sophomore. 
Required Classes: GS250 and GS251
GPA: You need at least a cumulative GPA of 2.5 (some programs require higher GPA) 
Students must be enrolled in GS251 the term immediately PRIOR to their expected term abroad.
  • GPA of 2.5 is a minimum.  Some programs are very competitive and their GPA requirement may be higher.  Always check the individual school and/or program for their specific requirements.
  • If you do not have the 2.5 GPA, but feel you will have it by the time you go abroad, you may still register into the GS 250.   Your ultimate acceptance will be contingent on producing an official transcript with proof of the 2.5 GPA by the time you complete GS 251.   It is your responsibility to produce this transcript to the International Programs Office before you will be registered into one of the specially designated exchange or study abroad courses.
 

Enrollment in a program of study abroad approved for credit by Fort Lewis College may be considered enrollment at the College for the purpose of applying for Federal Title IV, HEA (Financial Aid) program.
  • If you are deemed an eligible recipient of financial aid to attend Fort Lewis College, you may be able to use this same aid toward your exchange or study abroad.   Check the Fort Lewis College Financial Aid website.
  • During GS 251 you will make a program budget.  If you receive institutional Financial Aid you will need to submit this budget and a "Request for Award Adjustment" to the financial aid office as soon as possible.   Most awarded financial aid can be used for exchange and study abroad programs, but you must request it.  We do not require a budget form for students not receiving financial aid, but it is highly recommended that you prepare one, so you (and your parents) are clear on the total costs of your program.
  • Please be aware that most study abroad programs will require payment prior to your departure from the US.  If you are anticipating payment from financial aid then you will need to verify appropriate procedures with the program sponsor.  In many cases they will defer any payment from your financial aid with proof the aid will be awarded.  It is your responsibility to clarify payment procedures with the sponsor.
  • You must be enrolled full-time and be maintaining satisfactory academic progress to continue to receive financial aid.  Verification of your enrollment in an approved program will be sent to the financial aid office within one month of your program start date.
  • Scholarships specific to study abroad are rare.  Some program providers have their own scholarships for program participants. 
  • Students on FLC tuition waivers may only participate on FLC exchanges if they wish to utilize this institutional aid.  They are welcome to participate in study abroad programs, but they would be responsible for associated tuition costs charged by these programs.

CLASS STANDING: 
You will need to have at least sophomore standing (a minimum of 30 completed college level credits) for most exchanges and study abroad programs.  These credits must be earned on a university campus, not through Advanced Placement high school programs.  Adjusting to college is difficult enough in the United States.  You have a better chance of success overseas if you have experience on an American campus first.  
HOLDS:
You cannot have any academic, financial, or disciplinary  HOLDs on your record when we complete the processing of your paperwork during the term you are enrolled in GS251.   Registration into the Studies Abroad CRN is contingent on you having a clean record.   All HOLDS must be cleared before we can register you into the appropriate CRN for your overseas experience. If you are not clear to go when applications are processed, you must wait until the next term to participate. If you still have a HOLD when GS251 is over, you will be dropped from the class with a "W" and you must re-enroll in GS251 the next term. 
 
ACADEMIC PREPAREDNESS: 
Do you have the prerequisites completed that will make this experience successful? There's no sense taking courses in a foreign country if you don't understand the basic concepts they are referring to.  Most international universities do not offer lower level courses to get you up to speed.  They expect you to have this academic background in core classes BEFORE you get there.  Taking the appropriate introductory courses at FLC will prepare you for the more advanced courses abroad.  Read course descriptions carefully and plan your semesters at FLC prior to departure carefully. 
 
Are you aware that all academic systems and teaching methodologies are not alike? In general, students in Europe and elsewhere in the world are expected to be much more independent and more actively involved in their own learning process and education than in the U.S. The bulk of the learning is expected to happen "outside" the classroom through reading, research and writing - and this is not necessarily work that is assigned, collected or graded. 
 
The class lectures are designed to give you the framework necessary to explore the subject on your own.  There are few of the mechanisms we Americans are used to that "make" students do the work.  (i.e. required class attendance, quizzes, daily homework assignments). The professor or faculty member is not expected to make you learn. 
 
The assumption is that you are there by free choice and that you will do whatever is necessary to learn the required information.  Lectures are merely the "framework" necessary to explore the subject further.  Your semester or year grade may be based entirely on one comprehensive exam with oral and written components, or one final paper.  Are you ready for this? 

There are thousands of study abroad programs and sites, making the choice process extremely difficult.   Before you start randomly picking a program, it is extremely important that you understand that your choices are limited.   Credit from every program is not guaranteed. The International Programs Office is the liaison between these programs and the administrative offices at FLC.  Programs must be evaluated and consortium agreements established before credit will be accepted and financial aid disbursed.  Please see [Programs] for approved programs.

The experience literally expands your world.  The people you meet, the places you visit and the perspectives you gain in a foreign learning environment will change the way you think and deal with life's challenges.  Returned students feel more confident and independent.  They now see themselves and their own community in the context of the world.  Their classes gain new meaning and enrich their academic pursuits.  Global awareness and having a global perspective are qualities that will enhance employment opportunities in all professions in the 21st century.

 

FLC students who participate on programs run through the International Programs Office receive transfer credit after transcripts are received and processed through the Records Office. Students are required to seek advisor recommendations PRIOR to departure to give them an idea of what courses may fulfill certain requirements AFTER they are transferred back to FLC.   An advising session to go over course selections is required from all applicants during the application process.
 
After transcripts are received from foreign institutions, and posted to FLC transcripts, the student will need to sit down with their advisor and/or professors who teach similar courses here to determine if it is indeed a course that can be used to fulfill a requirement.   Not all courses are equivalent. A course approval form will be filled out at this time that will require signatures of appropriate faculty and chairs of each department where credit is desired. Courses may possibly be substituted, or requirement exceptions made, but this is ENTIRELY the decision of the department chairs and Records - not the IPO.
  • ONLY classes that appear on an OFFICIAL transcript will be awarded credit at Fort Lewis.  Be aware that many institutions offer "off-campus" classes or courses taught "in association" with the university.  Make sure every course will be recorded by the university.  P.E. courses and "cultural" experience courses often fall into this category.
  • Each term you will register into a special exchange/study abroad course for 15 credits that will have an unpublished CRN (Course Registration Number).  The IPO gives this information to Records and that office registers you. This is done during the GS251 process. You will be given this number after you complete GS 251. 
  • All courses will initially be recorded as "Incomplete" and remain so until an official transcript is received, approvals are obtained from faculty and all paperwork is submitted to the International Programs Office.  The International Programs Office will submit these administrative Drop/Add forms and supporting documentation to the Record's Office.  The Record's Office will subsequently post these classes and grades to your transcript.
  • Remember:  Incompletes revert to F's after a year.   It is your responsibility to request transcripts BEFORE you depart and then follow up with your host school to make sure they are sent to the International Programs Office.  Your G.P.A. and financial aid eligibility could be jeopardized because of procrastination.
  • You may not take an "Incomplete" at your host school.   You must finish all course work while at the program site.  Don't leave any work unfinished, expecting to complete it later; such incompletes are routinely awarded as FAILS.  It is common for Europeans to "re-sit" a final exam.  This means if you fail the final the first time, you are allowed to retake the exam again. 
  • It is the student's responsibility to retain the syllabus, papers, exams, even textbooks, to make their case to the credit awarding department.  It is not guaranteed that every course will be treated as an exact equivalent.  Many courses will be treated as Special Topics (190 or 390 courses).  Each department has its own requirements for their majors.  Talk to your advisors - they know what will work and what won't. 
  • Courses will be recorded at the level they were taught. You cannot get upper division credit for a lower division courses even if you thought it was "really difficult" or "10 times more work" than the equivalent course here. If it says "intermediate" on the transcript, it cannot be recorded as "advanced" on your FLC transcript. Make sure you are enrolled in the appropriate level courses and that you are not repeating a level you have already taken here.
  • Because of the difficulty of "translating" grades from international academic systems to our own, credit will be recorded as PASS (A through C-), NC (no credit for D's), or FAIL (equates to an F), Only the F's affect your cumulative GPA.
  • Credits earned on international programs with a PASS/FAIL policy are exempt from FLC limitations placed on pass/fail course maximums. Credit may be used to fulfill major requirements or general distribution requirements - with approval.
Courses that do not meet equivalencies may be used as elective courses - with approval.

 

 

  • The maximum number of credits you may earn either through exchanges, study abroad, or a combination of both is 54 during your college career at FLC.  Students may register for a maximum of 18 credits per 15 week term.  Summer sessions usually carry between 4-6 credits each. 
  • The minimum is 12 to maintain full-time status and to be eligible for financial aid. 
  • Check with individual departments for the maximum number of credits they will accept to put toward your major.  Normally, you CANNOT fulfill a major entirely on credits earned abroad. 
  • In all cases, the ultimate decision regarding how the credit will be recorded on the Fort Lewis College transcript will be made by Fort Lewis College faculty and the Record's Office and not by the individual student.