Dean of the College

Before You Go Away: What You Need to Know and Do

(This page is being updated during the month of February 2014. Please return here often for new information.)

The Basic Ten: Steps to Studying Abroad
Study Away Questionnaire
Study Abroad Advising at Williams
Academic Requirements
Applying to Study Abroad Programs
Letter for Study Away to Foreign Embassy
New Program Approval
Passport and Visa

Approved Foreign Study Programs
Financial Aid
Student World Fellowship
Alternatives to International Study

Additional Resources
Returning to Williams

Materials You Will Need:

Study Away Petition – PeopleSoft Instructions
Study Away Essay Questions
Study Away Checklist
Exploring Diversity Initiative
Instructions for Students with Study Away Approval
International SOS
ISIC Card Application
Off-Campus Health Coverage Form
Risk and Release Agreement

The Basic Ten:  Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Familiarize yourself with this website.  It is informative and instructional.  Any questions you may have are covered here.
  2. Attend one of the “General Information Sessions” held in the Fall and Spring. Meetings are announced in the Campus Daily Messages, WSO announcements, and notices are sent to sophomore email. Attendance at ONE of these meetings is MANDATORY. You will be required to complete the “Study Away Questionnaire” before you meet with Dean McKeon. It is submitted electronically.
  3. Stop by the Dean’s Office and read and research the program literature and the evaluations from students who have studied away. This is a critical step when choosing where you want to study.
  4. Talk with students who have studied abroad in the country or program in which you are interested. A list of students who have recently returned from abroad is available on this website .
  5. After you have an idea of where you wish to go, make an appointment to meet with the Dean to discuss your plans. Walk-in hours are posted on the website or call for an appointment if these hours are not convenient for you. Be sure you have completed your Study Away Questionnaire and done your research so the Dean can review and discuss it with you.
  6. If you are considering a program not listed in PeopleSoft, please email studyaway@williams.edu with the name of the program and country. It is possible that it is on our inactive list. If it is a new program, you will need to complete a “New Program Approval” form. When you have decided on a program or programs, complete the study away petition on PeopleSoft. Download the program applications or fill them out online. Check deadlines carefully and submit all materials well before the deadline. Remember, you may apply to as many programs as you like, but your petition requires one program. If this is not the program you are ultimately accepted to, you are allowed to make one change to the petition once you have confirmed your acceptance to that program.
  7. Discuss your plans with the study abroad advisor, usually the Chair, of your major department. He/she can approve your plan for credit in the major on PeopleSoft at anytime before or after the deadline for submission but prior to the completion of your program.
  8. Submit a study away petition (requesting permission from the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS) to study away in your junior year) by the deadline in early March. This form must be submitted by the early-March deadline if you wish to study away in the FALL, FULL YEAR, OR SPRING of the following year. NO study away petitions will be accepted after the deadline. The program designated on the study away petition may be changed only once after submission. Be sure you have done your research! You may apply to more than one program simultaneously, however, you must list your first choice initially. NOTE: You will need to submit two petitions only if you plan to study away for a full year on two different programs, one for each semester. All instructions apply to both petitions submitted.
  9. You must confirm your intent to study on the program you have been accepted to via email to studyaway@williams.edu and include the name of the program, country, and exact dates of the program.
  10. Attend the mandatory pre-departure meeting held in the spring semester if you plan to study away for the upcoming fall semester or full year away.  Attend the mandatory pre-departure meeting held in the fall if you plan to study away in the spring semester.

Study Abroad Advising at Williams

Program Literature

There is an extensive library of study abroad brochures and catalogs in the Dean’s Office for most programs which Williams approves. Sawyer Library has a large selection of books specific on countries and area studies which will help you to learn more about possible destinations. You are expected to have read the literature on your program before meeting with the Dean. This is very important, come to your meeting prepared!

General Information Meetings

In September, November and February the Dean will hold general information meetings on study abroad. You must attend one of these sessions before meeting with the Dean. The meetings will be announced in Campus Messages, the Daily Advisor, WSO Announcements,  and a Schedule of Study Abroad Events will be emailed to sophomores and posted in the Dean’s Offce.

Study Abroad Fair

Many program representatives will come to campus in mid-September to attend our Study Abroad Fair.  They will be available to talk with prospective applicants and to describe their programs.  The Fair goes on for several hours at mid-day and students are strongly urged to attend.  The program representatives can provide you with first-hand information about the programs in which you are interested, as well as brochures, catalogues and applications.

Student Evaluations

The program evaluations from students who have previously studied away are kept in notebooks in the Dean’s Office. Students considering study abroad should read these evaluations carefully and talk to students who have returned recently from study abroad. Each student who studied abroad is required to complete a program evaluation when he/she returns. Your program transcript of grades will not be processed for Williams credit until we receive your program evaluation.

Meetings with the Dean

You can schedule an appointment with the Dean after you have attended a study abroad information session, done your research and have a plan of where you want to study and why. The appointment will last approximately 30 minutes. Please call x4262 to set this up or come in during walk-in hours.

Academic Requirements

In order to study away you must:

  • Be in good academic standing with no deficiencies. The junior year is the traditional time for study away. If you wish to study away in your sophomore or senior year you must petition the Committee on Academic Standing for permission. All students are expected to be in residence during the final semester of their senior year.
  • Have completed at least 2 out of 3 distribution requirements in each division. You may not complete distribution requirements elsewhere.
  • Have completed two writing intensive courses by the end of the sophomore year if you plan to study away for a full year. If you plan to study away for one semester, you must have completed one writing intensive course by the end of the sophomore year.
  • Have completed the Quantitative Formal Reasoning (QFR) requirement if you are studying away the full year.
  • Declare your major and discuss your plan to study abroad with the chair of the department or designated advisor.
  • Submit the study away petition and the essay by the designated deadline (early-March) for study away during Fall, Spring, or Full Year.
  • Meet the language requirements of Williams and of the program.
  • Attend a program approved by Williams, or a new program approved by the CAS.
  • Have completed all of the 4 P.E. credits by the end of the sophomore year. (Contact Athletics if you need to make arrangements for Study Away approval and completion of PE credits.)
  • Have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 for most programs. Some programs may require a higher grade point average. Williams does not have a grade point average requirement for study away.


Many, but by no means all, programs require 2 years of college-level language study OR THE EQUIVALENT, which can be determined by taking a placement exam. This is typically true of the languages taught at Williams and commonly available in high schools (e.g., French, Spanish, German). IF a student places into Spanish 105 (or beyond), for example, or is a native speaker, he/she has met the requirements of two years of college-level work or the equivalent. Italian programs typically do not require two years or the equivalent of college-level work.

Language courses taught at Williams are hyphenated; i.e., the work of two semesters constitutes an integral, indivisible course. The hyphen rule applies to French, Spanish, German, Russian, and Italian language studied abroad as well. This means that if you are studying abroad for only one semester you are advised to take one semester of language at Williams in the fall before you go and complete the second semester while abroad. An alternative option is to complete the equivalent of the first semester of language during the summer and complete the second semester while abroad. If you decide to study the first half of one of the languages regularly taught at Williams while abroad, you must complete the second half when you return. This may be difficult to accomplish and is not recommended.

If the courses in your study away program are taught in English, but English is not the native language, you are required to study the language of the country the entire time you are there.


All courses must be in the liberal arts and similar to those offered here at Williams.  In order to receive credit toward your Williams degree for your study away, you must take the full course load of the program in which you are studying and fulfill the credit requirements stated in your formal CAS approval letter. This is usually 5 courses per semester (equal to 4 courses at Williams), although at some programs it is 3 or 4 courses or even as many as 6. Most departments will accept between l and 3 credits toward your major, with prior approval. All work successfully completed on an approved program will apply toward the Williams degree. Unless you are attending a Williams Program in this country or abroad, grades earned on study away are not factored into your GPA.

Williams requires that each course meet for at least 12 weeks. One term out of a three-term calendar (e.g., in the UK) is not a sufficient period of classroom instruction. Students should plan to attend two terms in spring or choose a program on a semester calendar. Final assessment must be by examination or a final paper. You must sit all examinations at the same normally scheduled time as those host country students working toward the degree. Special exam arrangements are not acceptable unless the same options are offered to host country degree candidates.

Study Away Program Transcript: It is your responsibility to request a transcript from your program and see that it is sent to the Dean’s Office at PO Box 518, Williamstown, MA 01267. You are strongly urged to request a transcript for yourself for future references for graduate school and/or employment at the same time. You will not be able to retrieve the Williams copy of your transcript.

Applying to Study Abroad Programs

1. Applications can be downloaded or you may apply directly online.

2. Most applications require one or more of the following:

a) Essay. Programs usually wish to assess your motivations for study abroad and will ask for a short essay. This also serves as an example of your writing ability.

b) Letters of recommendation. These should be written by professors who know you and your academic abilities. Ask a faculty member who knows your work best, even if the professor is outside your major. Be sure to give the form to the professor at least 10 days before you wish it to be submitted. The recommendation can be mailed directly to the program or university, or you can ask for it in a signed and sealed envelope to enclose with your application. Always request to have recommendations from your professors completed on a specific date so there can be no confusion.

c) Dean’s Approval. Many programs require the signature and assurance of the Dean that you are in good academic standing and will receive transfer credit upon successful completion of the program. The Dean’s Approval From needs to be downloaded and printed from your online application for the Dean to sign, and my be simply dropped off in the Dean’s Office; you need not make an appointment to have this form signed. However, the Dean will not sigh this form if you have not met with her about your study away plans. In this case, you may schedule a meeting with her and bring the form with you. Since hundreds of students submit applications to study abroad in a year, it is imperative that you submit your approval forms to the Dean several weeks before the deadline. Do not wait until a few days or even a week before the application is due. It is to your advantage to submit the application to the program as early as possible. Many programs fill their quotas early and acceptance is on a rolling basis.

d) Transcripts. You must order an official copy of your transcript(s) from the Registrar’s Office. Some programs request two copies. You may have your transcript sent directly to the program or you can pick it up and enclose it with your application. Transcript requests require a signature so e-mail is not acceptable. Allow a few days for the processing of your transcript request.

e) Medical Report. This form can be completed at the Health Center. Be sure to discuss with the folks at the Health Center any physical or medical/psychological problems which might interfere with your ability to take full advantage of your foreign study experience.

3. Application Deadlines: The deadlines vary from program to program. Basically deadlines for fall or full-year programs are from December l to mid-April; for spring programs from October l to mid-November. Be sure to check deadline dates carefully. Many programs have rolling admissions rather than a specific deadline, so the general rule is: submit your application as soon as you know which program(s) you want to apply to. You must assume responsibility for checking on the application deadline and on the status of your completed application. Normally, applicants will be notified of acceptance to the program within four to six weeks after receipt of the completed application.

4.  Passport and Visa:

  •       Do you have a passport?  If you do not, begin the application process immediately.
  •       Is your passport current?  If you have a children’s passport, you will need to reapply for a new one.
  •       When will your present passport expire?  You must renew your passport if it will expire before or during the time you expect
    to study away.
  •       You will need a visa to enter the country of your study away program. You should receive instructions for obtaining a visa
    from your program during the application process.
  •       Your program may require a letter from Williams stating that you are a student in good standing.
  •       Any questions regarding this process may be directed to Jenifer Hasenfus.

5. Confirmation of intent to study away: You must confirm your intent to study away with the Dean’s Office. Email studyaway@williams.edu including the program name, country and exact dates of the program.


You will pay the fees of the institution you attend directly to that institution plus a $1,500 study-away fee to Williams. Financial aid will cover the fee for students on aid. If you are attending the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford, the Williams Mystic Program, or the Williams in Africa Program, you will pay Williams tuition with no study-away fee.

Financial Aid

Students receiving Financial Aid from Williams may take advantage of studying away. Financial aid eligibility can be applied to your study away program, provided your plans receive approval by the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS), via the Dean’s Office. The Financial Aid application process remains the same as if you were attending Williams. You should be sure to attend the Financial Aid information meeting for study away students in February, keep the Office of Financial Aid informed of your plans to study away, and complete all necessary forms at the appropriate times. A seperate Study Away Budget Proposal must be submitted when your study away plans and costs are firm.

The Office of Financial Aid will use your study away budget, up to the cost of attending Williams, whichever is lower, to determine your level of need for Williams scholarship assistance. You will not receive more Williams scholarship if your budget is higher than the cost of attending Williams. However, it may be possible to offset a higher cost by increasing the student loan component of your package.

Your family contribution, including your student summer earnings expectation, remains the same proportionally as if you were attending Williams. A less expensive program of study does not affect your family contribution (unless the cost of your program is less than your family contribution).

Your award is based on your study away budget less your family contribution. Your total self-help (loan and job) expectations will be the same as if at Williams. Whenever possible, we will replace the normal job expectation with additional student loan. In those cases where the study away budget is significantly lower than the Williams budget the loan component will be reduced proportionately.

Summer Travel Fellowship

Williams offers three fellowships in support of student travel abroad during the summer following their junior year (i.e., rising seniors). The Wilmers, World, and Lawrence Fellowships support travel outside the United States only, and projects must be fully designed and implemented by the students who propose them; fellowship funds may not be used to pay tuition or expenses for any organized coruse of study aborad. The World Fellowship provides support for research during the academic year for those students who are studying abroad during their junior year, as well as continuing assistance for summer study leading towards a senior thesis.  The application deadline for the summer travel fellowships is in mid-February.

New Program Approval

If you are considering a program not listed on the website, email studyaway@williams.edu with your program request. It is possible that the program you are interested in is on our inactive list.  If it is not, you must complete a “New Program Approval Petition” form to be submitted to the Committee on Academic Standing.  The form is available in the Dean’s Office.  You will be asked to provide the Dean with program literature including:

  • The Course Catalog
  • Course Syllabi for two or three courses, especially in the area of your major or other subjects in which you are interested
  • Student evaluations of the program and the names of some students who recently attended the program
  • A list of colleges that approve the program
  • A list of faculty and their credentials and teaching affiliations


Alternatives to International Study

There are several study away alternatives available for students who do not wish to study abroad. Students can study at any four-year liberal arts institution or with one of the programs in which Williams participates listed below:

Williams-Mystic Seaport Program (Semester)

in American Maritime Studies

Williams-in-Africa (Semester)

Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford (Full Year)

Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole (Semester)

Additional Resources

Academic Year Abroad . Published by the Institute of International Education. Lists more than 2,000 foreign study programs offered for the full academic year or a semester (Fall or Spring). Listings arranged by country and city, with an index of programs by field of study.

Online at http://www.iiepassport.org/

Peterson’s Study Abroad . Lists programs offered during academic year, arranged by country and city. Good introduction on choosing a program and arranging details. Online: http://www.petersons.com/stdyabrd/us.asp?sponsor=1&path=ug.fas.go

IAU International Handbook of Universities .  Addresses and brief profiles of universities worldwide.


Returning to Williams

You may register online for the next semester’s classes or request by e-mail that a registration packet be sent to you at your study away address. All registration deadlines for students on campus will also apply to those studying away.

When you return to campus there will be a reception with the Dean and other returnees where you will have an opportunity to celebrate your return and talk about your experiences.

The evaluation of your program is a vital part of the study abroad process and your transcript will not be evaluated for credit by the CAS until you have submitted a program evaluation to the Dean. The evaluation form can be found on the Dean’s Office web page under Study Away and can be submitted electronically.

Reading materials to help you put some of the many contradictory feelings you may be having in context:

The Captive

The Piazza Tales

When Rolling Stones Roll Home

Yard Sale

Inquiries regarding Study Away at Williams should be
directed to studyaway@williams.edu.