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, with the exception of Vanderbilt’s program in France, the student’s application must also be approved by the appropriate host university, institute, or consortium. Study abroad programs that are either managed or approved by Vanderbilt offer direct credit toward the Vanderbilt degree. Hours earned through these programs and approved in advance by the appropriate department are treated as if earned on the Nashville campus and serve to satisfy the residence requirement. Note that A&S AXLE credit is not awarded for 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 in direct-credit programs 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 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.
Eligibility also depends on completing all of the items required in the 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 will 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 Program Release Form (Statement of Responsibility, Release of Liability, and Agreement to Participate in a Vanderbilt University International Student Program). The form will be delivered to your GEO account after you have been approved to study on the program.
Grades earned while studying abroad are based on the student’s performance as judged by local instructors according to the host institution’s standard practices. Once reported to Vanderbilt, grades cannot be changed, except when amended via a newly issued transcript from the host institution.
While studying abroad for a semester or a full academic year, students are required to take the equivalent of 12-18 Vanderbilt credit hours each term. Underloading (bringing back under 12 credit hours) will result in academic probation, and may also jeopardize financial aid eligibility. It is critical to understand that the Vanderbilt course equivalency evaluation determines the number of credits awarded, so students need to consider the credits earned for each individual course they take.
Students must follow both the study abroad program’s and Vanderbilt’s academic requirements. For example, students must take the minimum number of credits required by the partner to be considered full-time, and must also take the minimum required number of credits required by Vanderbilt.
There are some unique policies that apply to coursework taken overseas. These are university-wide policies and govern students in all four undergraduate colleges:
- Classes may not be taken as Pass/Fail on any study abroad program.
- While abroad, a student may not retake a class that they have taken on campus; that is, a course having the same Vanderbilt course number. Similarly, a student may not retake a class on campus that they have taken abroad.
- All course credits on your foreign transcript will appear on your Vanderbilt record. You cannot “opt out” of any credits you received abroad.
- Individual courses taken abroad do not count towards College of Arts and Science AXLE requirements.
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 Withdrawal 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 fail to commit by the Withdrawal Deadline.
Students withdrawing after the Withdrawal Deadline specified by GEO may be responsible for fees associated with the program. In cases where the student has made a commitment agreement with one of our partners, it is possible to incur such fees even before the GEO’s Withdrawal Deadline.
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 that supersede the Global Education Office’s published Withdrawal Deadline. 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 still responsible for the partner’s assessed withdrawal fees regardless of when they withdraw.
Withdrawal from Vanderbilt-Administered Programs
Vanderbilt-administered study away programs offered through GEO—such as Vanderbilt in France and Maymester courses away from campus—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 these study abroad programs:
- Receive direct VU credit and grades that factor into the GPA for courses taken;
- 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 and
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.
This arrangement was established to afford all VU students with an equal opportunity to participate in study abroad programs of comparable quality and academic standards to those they receive at Vanderbilt.
Housing arrangements for students enrolled in direct-credit study abroad programs vary according to the local partner. Vanderbilt requires students to reside in program-provided housing where available. This is important for program design, safety, and security. If housing is not provided by the program (this is more common on exchange programs), students may seek independent living arrangements.
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 them 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.
Other study abroad programs may be approved for transfer credit by the dean’s office of the student’s college/school. It should be noted, however, that 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. The University Registrar provides further information about the option to study elsewhere.
Students and the campus entities that approve their study for transfer credit are responsible for compliance with the Student International Travel Policy.