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Off-Campus Studies Tips for Faculty Advisers

Which office (Off-Campus Studies or the Registrar) do students apply through to request approval for transfer credit from studies elsewhere?

To determine which office to apply through, the most important variable is whether or not the course is taught outside the United States. If a course is taught outside of the US (even if the transcript for the studies comes from a US institution) then the request for transfer credit must be submitted to Off-Campus Studies (Mem 205).

If the course is taught in the United States, then the student completes the Registrar's Request for Transfer Credit Form prior to their studies away. The only exception is when students apply for study in the fall or spring semester on a Whitman US-based Partner Programs (American University Washington Semester, The Philadelphia Center, or the National Theatre Institute) in which case the student applies to Off-Campus studies.

How do Whitman students apply for study abroad?

Students must complete a Whitman Off-Campus Studies Application for study off-campus during the academic year. Forms are available in Off-Campus Studies (Mem 205) or can be downloaded on the OCS homepage. Students must apply for off-campus studies by the Whitman deadline which is usually in early September (for spring OCS) and early February (fall OCS and academic year). All study abroad students are expected to have at least one advising appointment with either the Assistant Director or Director of Off-Campus Studies to aid them in identifying a suitable program and course selection.

Can students take a leave of absence to attend study abroad programs during the academic year that are not on the Partner Program list?

No. Whitman offers a set list of study abroad programs that have been vetted by the Off-Campus Studies Committee and relevant faculty for students to attend during the academic year. [Insert link to OCS Program List.] Students are not permitted to transfer credit toward their Whitman degree for programs taught outside the United States that are not on the Partner Program list. There are multiple reasons for this limitation, including the need to monitor program quality and advise accurately about the programs. In addition, having a set list is also necessary to maintain the integrity of the fee model that enables students to use their Whitman aid to apply to the program fees and provides access to study abroad regardless of financial need. (See summer programs exception below.)

When should Whitman students study abroad?

Students who wish to study abroad during the academic year (fall semester; spring semester or a full academic year) must have attained junior standing by successfully completing at least 58 credits prior to departure for their off-campus studies. Students who wish to study off-campus on a summer program may do so at any point during their Whitman career, including after their first year.

How is summer study abroad handled?

Students may apply for permission in advance to transfer credit from any summer study abroad program through Off-Campus Studies using the Summer Study Abroad Transfer Credit Application. The summer program and courses will be vetted by the Off-Campus Studies Committee. There is no guarantee that transfer credit will be approved. At a minimum summer transfer credit must be awarded on the transcript of an accredited US university or a degree-granting college or university recognized by the Ministry of Education in the host country. Students may not transfer credit from private language schools that are not degree-granting institutions.

As Whitman does not have a summer term, there is no Whitman financial aid available for summer study abroad and program financial aid for summer study abroad is rare. As a consequence, summer study abroad is usually not a financially viable option for students who receive need-based aid for their studies at Whitman.

What are the typical prerequisites and eligibility for study abroad including language credit?

Students who participate in an off-campus studies program during their junior year need to:

  • Have made adequate progress toward completion of the major and ideally have earned a minimum major gpa of 2.8; for most majors this means having completed at least two courses in the major prior to the time of application.
  • Foreign language prerequisites vary from program to program. Students who wish to take courses taught in French, German or Spanish abroad usually need to have completed at least one semester of a 300-level course in that language with a B average or better. But there are a few program for which completion through 206 in the target language is adequate. Students who wish to study in Japan, China or Taiwan need to have studied at least two semesters of Japanese or Chinese with a B average of better.
  • For OCS Approval, Whitman requires that students have attained a minimum cumulative gpa of at least 2.8 at the time the student applies for OCS. But many programs require a 3.0 for admission and some are even more selective.

When should a student who wishes to study abroad declare his/her major?

Students who wish to study abroad in the fall semester of their third year should declare their major by the start of the previous spring semester. Students who wish to study abroad in the spring semester of their third year, should declare their major at the usual time in the middle of their fourth semester at Whitman.

What is the role of the major adviser when an advisee is applying to study abroad?

The primary role of the major adviser when a student is planning to study abroad is to review the student's academic progress especially in the major to assess whether or not the student is a good candidate for study abroad based on the likelihood of on-time graduation. In cases in which the adviser is unsure about suitability for study abroad for any reason (low major gpa or low cumulative gpa, lack of progress toward completion of the major, etc.), then the major adviser should call the Director of Off-Campus studies to discuss his/her concerns.

In cases when a major adviser supports a student's intention to study abroad, the adviser should assist the applicant with her OCS Application in the following ways:

  1. Review the student's intended off-campus studies courses (listed on the Course Approval page of the OCS Application) and indicate which courses are approved by the major adviser or major department for transfer credit into the major. Syllabi for most program courses are available on the program websites.
  2. Ensure that the student will complete at least 2/3 of his/her major credits at Whitman and not exceed the maximum number of allowable transfer credits toward the major.
  3. Indicate on the OCS Application how the courses that can apply to the major will count by designating one of the following 1) a specific Whitman course equivalent; 2) upper division major credit or lower division major credit; and 3) elective credit in the major.
  4. Check the student's proposed courses for their post- OCS/study abroad semesters on the OCS Application to make sure that all major credits will be fulfilled and senior year capstone requirements are accounted for.

Who determines how many credits study abroad/off-campus studies courses are worth?

The number of credits transferred from an individual course abroad is based on the transcript issued by the program. Neither the Whitman faculty member nor the Whitman Registrar changes the total number of credits awarded for a particular course. The number of transfer credits awarded is not based on a Whitman assessment of the course.

However, a major adviser can limit how many credits from a course are transferable to the major. In other words, if a course taught in Scotland is worth 5 U.S. semester credits, a Whitman major adviser may limit the number of credits that are used from this course to fulfill the minimum number of credits in the major to 4 credits or less as the adviser sees fit.

What if the course abroad is worth more credits than the major adviser wishes to approve for transfer into the major?

The student will receive the full amount of credits that the course is worth. However, only the amount of major credit that the major adviser has approved will transfer towards the major. The remaining credits will be transferred as general degree credit.

How is general studies distribution and general degree credit approved for off-campus studies?

On the Course Approval page of the Whitman Off-Campus Studies Application, the major adviser may opt to designate if study abroad courses should fulfill general education distribution requirements or general degree credit. The OCS staff will review these designations with the Registrar for consistency. If the major adviser chooses not to designate whether particular study abroad courses can be used for general studies distribution or general degree credit, the Director or Assistant Director of Off-Campus Studies will do so.

Are there any study abroad courses that cannot be transferred to the Whitman degree?

Yes. Only courses that liberal arts and sciences in nature can transfer toward the Whitman degree. Courses in business, journalism, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, and other vocational or pre-professional discipline that are applied rather than theoretical may not be transferred to Whitman. Credit for vocational-related courses may not be transferred even if the courses are offered at a Whitman Off-Campus Studies Partner Program.

Who approves transfer credit for the minor?

Students who wish to obtain pre-approval for study abroad courses to apply toward their Whitman minor should obtain the signature of the department chair in the minor field on the OCS Course Approval page of their OCS Application. Major advisers may not give consent for minor transfer credit in fields that are not their own.

What happens when my advisee wants to change her course selection once she is already studying away through Off-Campus Studies?

Students who wish to change their study abroad course selection should email Barbara Hoffman, Assistant Director. Barbara will contact the major adviser and/or Registrar as needed to obtain approvals. If the major adviser receives an email directly from the student about course changes, he/she should inform the OCS Assistant Director so that the approvals can be recorded in the student's OCS file and shared with the Registrar when the transcript arrives at Whitman.

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