Attend and Explore

  • ATTEND the HWSabroad Information Session, offered each semester in September and late January/early February. Read the Student’s Guide to Semester Study Abroad Programs at HWS (this document!)
  • EXPLORE to search online brochure pages for programs that are a good academic fit. READ all the information about the programs and meet with your academic adviser to discuss how off-campus study fits into your academic plan.
  • Need guidance? Arrange an advising meeting with CGE Program Manager Amy Teel to discuss programs available to you based on your academic interests, get tips on preparing application essays, and learn more about credits/grades, financial aid, the application process, etc. You may visit the Center to meet with CGE staff during selected drop-in advising hours available in the weeks prior to the Fall and Spring application deadlines.

Complete an online application. Click on the Apply button on the online program brochure to create an account and begin. Write strong essays, get your application e-signed by your academic adviser, and make sure all components of your application are submitted online BY THE DEADLINE.

NOTE: If you are interested in a non-HWS program, you must meet with Amy Teel in the Center for Global Education as a first step.

Ask Questions

About 60% of HWS students study abroad – nationally, less than 2% of US college/university students do so each year. Studying abroad will set you apart when you begin searching for jobs or applying for competitive places in medical school, law school and graduate school. Most students tell us that studying abroad was one of the best experiences of their lives.

Questions to Ask Yourself as You Consider Program Locations and Types

1. What do I hope to gain from a study abroad experience a) academically, b) culturally, and c) personally?

2. What considerations do I have with respect to academic focus, timing, foreign language ability, etc. that may impact the range of Global Education options I can consider? How flexible am I in considering other options if I don't meet the criteria for my first choice program?

3. What experience do I already have living away from home that might indicate how I would respond to being in a foreign country?

4. How do I respond to the cultural diversity that I am already exposed to? To what extent do I make the most of opportunities available to me to interact with people from other cultures? Do other people see me as open-minded, tolerant, and sensitive to others?

5. To what extent am I willing to invest time preparing for a study abroad experience (studying a language, earning extra money to cover additional expenses, taking prerequisites, completing applications, attending orientation meetings)?

These questions will help you as you investigate study abroad programs to find those that are most appropriate for you. We encourage you to seek advice from CGE staff members first and foremost, as well as from classmates who have studied off-campus, family, faculty, and deans. This will help you make an informed decision about programs that will be the best fit for you.

Investigate the Guidelines

The following guidelines apply to students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges who wish to participate in an international study program, including those sponsored by the Colleges or (in extraordinary cases) those sponsored by another institution.


Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in good academic, financial, and social standing are eligible to participate in HWS semester-long off-campus programs. Please note, however, that some programs require junior status or higher. No student may be accepted for participation in an off-campus study program while on academic or social probation.


Program participation is a privilege to be earned through solid academic achievement, demonstration of maturity, and strong motivation for program participation. Matriculation at the Colleges, in and of itself, does not guarantee the “right” to study off-campus. Students who wish to participate in a Global Education program sponsored by the Colleges must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 (certain programs require a higher minimum GPA.) In cases where the number of applicants for a program exceeds the number of available spaces, even students meeting the GPA requirement might not be selected.

Admissions decisions are made jointly by faculty (including the faculty director(s) of the program, if applicable) and the staff of the Center for Global Education in consultation with the Deans’ Offices (for affiliated programs, the final decision rests with the program administrator). A variety of criteria are used in evaluating student applications. As these are academic programs, a student’s “fit” with the program curriculum is very important. In addition to prior academic performance, those reviewing applications also look closely at application essays in which students must articulate how a program would meet their academic needs and why they are a good fit for the program. Other factors that may impact admissions decisions include class standing, previous participation in an off-campus study program, and social/disciplinary record. A pattern of I, W, or NC grades may be reviewed unfavorably. Students on academic or social probation are ineligible for off-campus study. Students without HWS grades (including new first-year and transfer students) will be placed on the waitlist until they have completed a semester at HWS and grades can be reviewed. Students who have already participated in semester-long off-campus study programs will typically be placed on the waitlist until slots become available. Students may appeal admissions decisions by submitting a written letter within one week of the date of the decision letter. The appeal letter must be submitted to Dr. Thomas D’Agostino, Dean of Global Education, and will be reviewed by the Provost and Dean of Faculty whose decision will be final.

Additional Information:

  • We strongly recommend that students apply for more than one program. All programs are competitive and there is no way to predict how many applications will be submitted for a program in a given semester. Students who apply to only one location will be left with no backup options if they are not accepted. Note that separate applications and essays are required if you are applying to more than one program.
  • Due to the selective nature of the programs and the limited number of spaces available in any one program, it is not possible to accept all applicants. Therefore, some applicants will be placed on a waitlist. If you have been placed on a waitlist, you do not need to take further action. If a spot opens you will be contacted by the CGE. Many students who are initially waitlisted do receive an acceptance offer, but this cannot be guaranteed. Note that students who are on a waitlist must fulfill all program prerequisites in order to be accepted into a program if space becomes available. This means, for example, that if you are waitlisted for a program that has prerequisite, you MUST register for this course in order to be offered a place in the program if one becomes available.
  • Application Essay Tips: Your essays are a very important part of your application. We encourage you to start writing early so that you’ll have time to rewrite and revise. Read the essay questions carefully and respond specifically to each question. Although you are welcome to include examples of your previous experiences or describe why a particular program is your “ideal”, the most successful applicants describe a strong academic motivation for the program(s) of interest. Be sure to include information about how a program will help strengthen your major/minor or otherwise support your long-term academic or career goals. We encourage you to reach out to the Center for Teaching and Learning for assistance. The best essays interest your readers, express something unique about you, demonstrate knowledge about the country and program, and fully address the essay questions.


Some programs have prerequisites that must be fulfilled prior to participation. If a student has not fulfilled a program prerequisite at the time of application, they will need to do so if admitted to the program. Students must be on campus the semester before their program starts in order to meet the prerequisites and to attend all mandatory meetings. Exceptions will be made only in extraordinary circumstances, as determined in advance by the Center for Global Education. Once admitted, students must remain in good academic, financial, and social standing through the date of departure. The CGE reserves the right to withdraw students from their respective programs if they fail to meet these conditions, miss required meetings, or do not submit required documents in a timely manner.

Once admitted, students are responsible for acquiring all necessary travel documents, including passport, visa (if required), and other items mandated by the host country. Students must submit a notarized waiver of liability form, signed by their parent(s) or guardian(s), along with a medical form, as a condition of participation.


Students participating in HWS off-campus programs are required to take a standard 4.0 credit HWS course load, except in cases where the host institution has a different requirement. Students may not withdraw from courses that are a required part of an off-campus program and will not be permitted to exceed a standard course load of 4.0 HWS credits except in extraordinary cases as determined by a student’s Dean’s Office, academic adviser, and the Center for Global Education.


In order to encourage students to pursue opportunities to gain valuable international experience, the HWS curriculum has been designed to integrate off-campus study into the academic program. An HWS global education program functions in many ways just like an on-campus semester: grades and credits for the courses students take will appear on their HWS transcripts and the grades will factor into their GPA. Students may receive credit toward their major, minor, or other graduation requirements as determined in consultation with their academic adviser and appropriate department chairs.

Students participating in HWS global education programs may request to take one course outside their major or minor on a credit/no credit basis. Consult the individual program handbook for information on deadlines.


Students participating in semester-long HWS off-campus programs through the Center for Global Education retain financial aid on the same basis as previously awarded (with the exception of work study) as determined by merit or demonstrable financial need. Any student, even those not currently receiving financial aid, can apply for aid based on economic eligibility. Students interested in off-campus study who have questions about financial aid matters should seek the advice of the Financial Aid officers on campus well in advance of applying.

Financial aid applications will be available in early January for the following academic year. Students desiring an early evaluation should have the application completed and submitted to the processing center by the deadline determined by the Financial Aid Office. A copy of the application must be sent directly to the Financial Aid Office on campus at the same time. See the Financial Aid and Scholarships page on the CGE website for information about applying for additional grants and scholarships (both internal and external funding is available).

Students participating in semester-long HWS off-campus programs will be charged tuition and associated fees at the same rate as on the HWS campus (with the exception of the Student Activities fee, which is not charged), plus an administrative fee of $600. Room and board charges vary, depending on what is provided as part of the program. Consult the individual program pages on the CGE website for more specific information on costs.


A student who withdraws from a CGE off-campus program once accepted and committed will incur a $500 withdrawal fee. Note that students also will be responsible for additional expenses if they withdraw from a program while it is in progress or within 120 days prior to the program arrival date. Specifically, students will be held accountable for any expenditures made on their behalf that the CGE is unable to recoup, including but not limited to housing, tuition and program fees paid to other institutions, and excursion expenses. A student participating in any off-campus program who withdraws from that program after arrival at the program site may not return to the HWS campus to take classes that semester except under extraordinary circumstances, as determined by the student’s Dean’s Office, the Center for Global Education, and the Vice President for Campus Life.

Any student whose admission to a CGE off-campus program is rescinded due to a disciplinary violation, failure to comply with academic requirements (meeting GPA requirements, successfully completing courses, including program prerequisites), failure to submit required documents and/or attend mandatory pre-departure meetings will be responsible for all unrecoverable expenses. No refund will be provided to any student who is removed from a program in progress for a violation of the Behavior Standards Agreement.

A student who takes a leave of absence or transfers after committing to participate in a program must notify the CGE directly and will be responsible for a $500 withdrawal fee and unrecoverable expenses as outlined above.


Students who wish to join another institution’s program or study at an unaffiliated foreign institution must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better at the time of application and be a junior or senior by the beginning of the proposed program. Receiving approval to transfer credit from a non-HWS program to fulfill HWS degree requirements is highly competitive. A limited number of slots to participate in such programs will be approved annually. These slots are reserved for students whose academic needs/degree requirements cannot be met by any HWS off-campus program.  Merely preferring another location is not a sound academic reason for petitioning for credit for a non-HWS program. Some non-HWS programs are ineligible for consideration of transfer credit (for example, Semester at Sea, SEA Semester, Sea-Mester, and NOLS programs). A student who wishes to participate in a program sponsored by another institution should check with the CGE to ensure that the program is accredited and that credit transfer is allowed. The student should present their case in writing as follows:

  • The student submits a Non-HWS Program Application form (available from the CGE) outlining a strong academic justification for the program, a supporting recommendation from their adviser attesting to the lack of fit of HWS’ own off-campus programs and endorsing the non-HWS program, and a full description of the program they want to apply for to the Center for Global Education no later than Friday, September 29, 2023 for Fall 2024 and full-year 2024-25 programs and no later than Wednesday, February 28, 2024 for Spring 2025 programs.
  • The student's application is reviewed by the Committee on Global Education, including faculty, CGE staff, and a representative of both Deans' Offices.
  • If an application is approved, the student goes to the appropriate departmental chair to request preliminary approval of courses, providing evidence of the substance of each course (course description, syllabus, reading list). Upon return, the student must submit an official transcript. As with all transfer credit, a course in which a grade below C is earned will not be accepted. Departments will decide if and how many credits from a non-HWS program may count toward the major/minor.
  • Students who apply for and are granted permission to participate in a non-HWS program will be billed an administrative fee of $600 after submitting a transcript and requesting a credit transfer. All other fees will be paid directly to the non-HWS program. Students participating in non-HWS programs will not receive institutional aid from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. State and Federal aid is transferable and students should check into how their other financial aid may be affected by participation in an off-campus study program sponsored by another institution. Finally, students who know that they will be off-campus during the application period for financial aid for the following year must make arrangements to complete all application materials in advance or from off-campus. Late applicants will be adversely affected.
  • Transfer credit will not be awarded for students who have not completed this process and received written approval in advance.


Hobart and William Smith Colleges offer a broad menu of off-campus study options around the world and the safety and security of our students, faculty, and staff participating in these programs is of the utmost importance. The staff of the Center for Global Education regularly monitors a variety of sources of information regarding the safety and security of our off-campus program sites, including communications from domestic and international institutional partners as well as official government sources. Primary consideration is given to information and recommendations provided by the US Department of State.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges have established an international travel policy that applies to students participating in off-campus study programs offered through the Center for Global Education, students traveling abroad with HWS faculty or staff for various types of academic, athletic, or cultural activities, and individual students or groups of students pursuing any independent international activity funded, credited, or otherwise supported by the Colleges..

The full description of the policy is available HERE.