This page lists or links to policies that are specific to undergraduate study abroad at Vanderbilt.
Eligibility and Participation
Study abroad programs are open to students in good academic, financial, and disciplinary standing, with an overall grade point average of 2.700 or better, or a grade point average at this level in each of the two most recent semesters. Many programs require a higher grade point average and, where applicable, the student’s application must also be approved by the appropriate host university, institute, or consortium. Study abroad programs that are managed by Vanderbilt, such as Maymester courses, offer direct Vanderbilt credit. Beginning with students abroad in Fall 2019, approved programs offered by Vanderbilt’s exchange, consortium, or provider-partners are articulated as Vanderbilt Study Abroad/Away Credit. Hours earned through these programs and approved in advance by the appropriate department serve to satisfy the residence requirement. Note that A&S AXLE credit is not awarded for individual study abroad courses except for select Maymester courses.
Students studying on Vanderbilt programs or Vanderbilt-affiliated programs (i.e., programs offered through the Global Education Office) for the academic year or semester are eligible for federal and VU financial aid. This includes merit scholarships but excludes work-study. All participants are billed through Vanderbilt Student Accounts and will pay Vanderbilt tuition, an administrative fee covering international health insurance, and a program fee, which includes housing.
GEO checks Vanderbilt students’ academic, disciplinary, and financial standing after applications are received, and again later in the semester or summer before departure. If students are not in good academic standing at either of these checks, GEO will consult with the student’s academic dean and, if necessary, administratively withdraw the student from study abroad. Students who have been placed on disciplinary probation which ends after the start date of their study abroad program will, without exception, be ineligible to study abroad. Their applications will be administratively withdrawn. See the withdrawal policy below for potential consequences of withdrawal.
Eligibility also depends on completion of all the items required in the student’s online GEO account, as well as requirements imposed by our on-campus and overseas partners. If required items are not completed, GEO may administratively withdraw students from their study abroad enrollments. GEO will provide at least two written warnings to the student’s Vanderbilt email address. The final warning may be copied to the office of the student’s academic dean. If requirements are not completed by the day specified in the final warning email, GEO will remove the student from the program. This withdrawal may have financial consequences, which will be the sole responsibility of the student.
Every student who participates in a GEO-sponsored abroad program must (digitally) sign the Release, Indemnification, and Conditions of Participation form. The form will be delivered to your GEO account after you have been approved to study on the program.
Study Abroad Course Equivalency Review Policy
Vanderbilt’s University Registrar governs the policies and processes related to faculty review of study abroad courses. All courses taken abroad must be evaluated by Vanderbilt faculty before the transcript from a term abroad can be articulated to the student’s Vanderbilt record. See the University’s website related to Study Abroad Course Review for more information.
Institutions abroad have their own customary schedules for reporting grades and producing transcripts. Vanderbilt has no control over this process, which may take up to six months in extreme cases. Vanderbilt’s University Registrar will work as quickly as possible to process your Vanderbilt transcript, but only the host institution can expedite the reporting of your grades to VU.
Vanderbilt translates grades from a number of institutions’ local scales. Where this is the case, prior to enrollment in courses abroad students will be provided with Vanderbilt’s official grade conversion for the host institution. Vanderbilt will use this scale to articulate all grades from the host institution, regardless of the subject area or language of instruction.
Students must commit to attending their chosen study abroad program by the Commitment Deadline specified in the instructions in the Vanderbilt Global Education Office (GEO) online account. Students should be sure to withdraw applications to other programs before committing to their chosen program.
Commitment enables Vanderbilt and GEO to register the student and to bill the student account for tuition and fees associated with the study abroad program. Commitment also entails the acceptance of the Withdrawal Policy (see below). Note that signing commitment paperwork with one of our partners may also create a direct financial relationship between the student and that partner.
GEO may administratively withdraw the applications of students who have been accepted into their program(s), but fail to commit by the Commitment Deadline.
Students who have entered into a confirmation agreement with one of our partners may face withdrawal fees if they withdraw after signing the agreement. Students may also be responsible for other fees according to the partner’s refund schedule. For more information, please contact the partner organization.
Students are responsible for properly communicating their decision to withdraw. See the sections below for instructions for specific types of programs.
Students may be withdrawn administratively for reasons including, but not limited to:
- Failure to complete pre-departure requirements assigned by GEO, other Vanderbilt offices, or by our international partners; this includes failure to commit to attending the program.
- Failure to maintain good academic, disciplinary, or financial standing at Vanderbilt.
- Failure to appear at the study away site on the program’s designated arrival date, including in cases where the student was unable to secure necessary visas, passports, or other travel requirements.
Withdrawal and refund policies remain the same regardless of the reason for withdrawal. Students who intend to withdraw from a program but fail to do so may not retroactively date their withdrawal.
Non-refundable costs will be charged to the Vanderbilt student account and are due upon receipt.
Vanderbilt is not responsible for indirect costs paid directly by the student; such costs might include (but are not limited to) airfare, passport or visa fees, vaccinations, and housing deposits. Students are encouraged to purchase trip cancellation insurance to help defray such costs, but are also advised to read the policy’s exclusions and requirements carefully before purchase.
Withdrawal from Vanderbilt Partner Programs
Vanderbilt partners with a number of institutions and organizations to make study abroad programs available to our students. Withdrawal from partner programs is subject to the refund policy of the partner institution.
Students are responsible for properly communicating their decision to withdraw. To withdraw from a partner program, students must communicate their withdrawal to both GEO and to the partner administering the program.
Students may enter into their own contracts with Vanderbilt’s partners. For example, the CIEE Participant Contract, the IES Intent to Enroll form, the DIS Terms and Conditions, and the Conditions & Terms of CET Academic Programs form are direct contracts with those providers, and students who complete one of these or similar forms are responsible for the partner’s withdrawal fees and subject to their refund policies and timelines.
Withdrawal from Vanderbilt-Administered Programs
Vanderbilt-administered study away programs offered through GEO—such as Maymester abroad courses—have their own refund policies. Generally speaking, any expenses incurred on a student’s behalf once the student has committed to the program will be the student’s responsibility and charged to the Vanderbilt student account.
Students are responsible for properly communicating their decision to withdraw. To withdraw from a Vanderbilt-administered program, students must communicate their withdrawal in writing to GEO. In the case of faculty-led courses, students must also inform the faculty leader and the Vanderbilt Summer School.
Further information on the Summer School’s policies can be found here: Maymester Commitment and Withdrawal Policy.
Withdrawal After the Program Begins
Students who withdraw from a Vanderbilt-administered or partner program after the program begins will be reimbursed for tuition according to the University’s withdrawal schedule. The university encourages all students to consider tuition insurance. Students who are dismissed from a study abroad program may be eligible for tuition refund, but are not exempted from paying fees owed to partner organizations.
Withdrawing after your program begins may impact financial aid. See the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships for more information on the financial aid impact of withdrawal.
All guidelines and regulations provided in the Vanderbilt Student Handbook apply to students while they are studying abroad. There is also a special section of the Handbook that includes regulations that apply specifically to study abroad.
Finances and Credit Policy
Vanderbilt University (VU) study abroad programs and Vanderbilt-affiliated study abroad programs are administered through the Global Education Office.
These programs are available to students for the academic year, fall/spring semester, summer, or Maymester. VU believes that study abroad is an integral part of the undergraduate experience and encourages all students, regardless of major, to pursue a study abroad program that is well-suited to their area of study and academic interests.
VU students participating in study abroad programs:
- Receive Vanderbilt Study Abroad/Away Credit;
- May utilize full financial aid and/or VU scholarships while abroad, excepting work study awards;
- Remain fully registered at VU while abroad, allowing them to register while abroad for courses and housing for the semester they return to campus.
As a result, students pay regular VU tuition for participation in GEO study abroad programs. Students are charged VU tuition each term they are enrolled, whether they are on campus or overseas. This tuition payment is equivalent to the cost of a term on campus. If the academic expenses for a semester abroad exceed the cost of tuition at Vanderbilt, the difference will be billed as a program fee. Students are responsible to Vanderbilt’s partners for other expenses, including housing; wherever possible, Vanderbilt will attempt to simplify payment by billing these expenses through the VU student account.
In addition to the above, VU students receive administrative support throughout the study abroad process, including but not limited to: advising on all VU approved programs, application management and assistance, transfer and processing of grades/credits, pre-departure orientations, information sessions and fairs, course equivalency evaluations, and reentry programming.
Housing arrangements for students enrolled in study abroad programs vary according to local conditions and the design of the program. This can include, but is not limited to, differences in size, location, catering, and other qualities or amenities. Vanderbilt’s partners take time and effort to research available housing in each program location and to carefully prioritize individual students’ health and safety in evaluating housing. Neither Vanderbilt nor its partners are obligated to consider housing preferences not already in their list of pre-approved housing.
Vanderbilt students are required to follow their abroad program’s housing policies. Students who seek their own housing must have approval to do so from their study abroad program. If approved for non-program housing, students will be required to advise the Global Education Office of their address and local contact information, sign the Vanderbilt University Study Abroad Housing Waiver form, and understand the potential risks associated with finding, renting, and living in independent housing.
Students who wish to study in non-program housing must follow these steps below:
- Student must petition and receive the approval from their study abroad program to live in non-program housing. Note that the program’s decision is final and the Global Education Office will not advocate for individual student exemptions.
- Student must provide this approval documentation to GEO.
- Once GEO has received this approval documentation, GEO will provide the student with a PDF of the Study Abroad Housing Policy Waiver Form.
- Student will complete and sign the Study Abroad Housing Policy Waiver form and return the completed form to GEO.
- GEO will send a copy of the completed Study Abroad Housing Policy Waiver form to the program provider if this is required to satisfy the provider housing policy.
Students who have registered with the Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services (EAD) to receive academic, physical, or other accommodations at Vanderbilt may seek similar accommodations abroad. While GEO can and will advise students, it is the student’s responsibility to consult with the EAD and appropriately communicate requested accommodations to overseas partners.
Laws in other countries regarding required or reasonable accommodations often differ from what is mandated by law in the United States, and not all requests will be met exactly as Vanderbilt meets them. Vanderbilt is not able to advocate or intervene on the student’s behalf to secure specific accommodations. Students are encouraged to request accommodations early so that they can understand the accommodations plan before committing irrevocably to the program.
Health Insurance Policy
All students who study abroad on GEO-facilitated programs will be enrolled in Vanderbilt’s international health insurance plan. Coverage is mandatory and cannot be waived. The cost is covered by the Study Abroad Administrative Fee. (More information about GeoBlue coverage.)
Some of Vanderbilt’s partners will also provide students with additional health insurance that they makes it easier for those partners to facilitate care. In addition, some institutions or countries may also require that students independently purchase additional insurance. These situations are specific to the program/country of study. In no case will the existence of these other obligations waive the need to purchase Vanderbilt’s international health insurance.
Student Records Confidentiality
The private information of Vanderbilt students is protected under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA regulates Vanderbilt’s ability to share students’ private information, including program participation, grades, student status, and health details. More information about FERPA.
Student International Travel Policy
All students traveling abroad on Vanderbilt-sponsored activities are required to comply with the Student International Travel Policy. GEO incorporates compliance with the policy into its application and predeparture processes.
If a program has been approved for direct credit by Vanderbilt, it must be taken for direct credit by matriculated Vanderbilt students. In no case, after matriculating at Vanderbilt, may a student apply to participate in an approved direct-credit program for transfer credit through a different university, or through an external agency, and then seek to transfer that credit into Vanderbilt.