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Policies

This page lists or links to policies that are specific to Vanderbilt-run or Vanderbilt-affiliated study abroad programs administered through the Global Education Office (GEO).

Eligibility and Participation

Study abroad programs and remote international 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 the student’s application must also be approved by the appropriate host university, institute, or consortium. Study abroad and remote international programs that are either managed or approved by Vanderbilt offer special Study Abroad/Away Credit toward the Vanderbilt degree. Hours earned through these programs and approved in advance by the appropriate department can serve to satisfy major and minor requirements as well as the residence requirement. Note that A&S AXLE credit is not awarded for study abroad or remote international 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 these approved programs are billed through Vanderbilt Student Accounts and will pay Vanderbilt tuition.  Students studying abroad will also be billed an administrative fee covering international health insurance, and a program fee, which may include housing, board, etc.

GEO checks Vanderbilt students’ academic, disciplinary, and financial standing after applications are received, and again later in the semester or summer before the program start date. 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 their program.

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 or remote study 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.

Release/Waiver

Every student who participates in a GEO-sponsored study abroad program must (digitally) sign the Release, Indemnification, and Conditions of Participation form (Assumption of Risk, General Release, and Indemnification for Student Participation in Activity Outside the United States).

Academic Policy

Grades earned while participating in a study abroad or remote international program are based on the student’s performance as judged by program 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 Vanderbilt credits earned for each individual course they take.

Students must follow both the program provider’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 or remote international program.
  • While abroad or on a remote international program, 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 or on a remote international program.
  • Individual courses taken abroad or on a remote international program do not count towards College of Arts and Science AXLE requirements.

Study Abroad and Remote International Course Equivalency Review Policy

Vanderbilt’s University Registrar governs the policies and processes related to faculty review of study abroad and remote international courses. All courses taken abroad in person or remotely must be evaluated by Vanderbilt faculty before the transcript from that term 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, including remote international programs, 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 international program courses 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.

Commitment Policy

Students must commit to attending their chosen study abroad or remote international 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 chosen study abroad or remote international 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; see section on Withdrawal Policy below.

Withdrawal Policy

Students are expected to complete all credits in which they are enrolled at the start of the program, and all students on semester-long programs must take a full, normal academic load as defined in the University Enrollment Bulletin. Under no circumstances will students receive a partial tuition refund for study abroad or remote international studies if they “drop” courses, modify their enrollment status, or otherwise elect to complete fewer credits than originally undertaken.

Students withdrawing from study abroad programs will be responsible for any fees associated with the program, including nonrefundable deposits and application fees. In cases where GEO does not itself charge withdrawal fees, it is possible to incur such fees in cases where the student has made a commitment agreement with one of our on-campus or external partners.

Students are responsible for properly communicating their decision to withdraw with both GEO and our program partners (if applicable). See the sections below for instructions for specific types of programs.

Students may be withdrawn administratively by Vanderbilt 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 or remote international platform 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 notify GEO and our program partners (if applicable) 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 or fees, which have been paid directly by the student; such costs might include (but are not limited to) airfare, passport or visa fees, vaccinations, and housing deposits. Where applicable, students are encouraged to purchase trip cancellation insurance to help defray such costs and are further 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 and remote international 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–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

The University’s on-campus tuition refund schedule does not apply to students studying abroad or on remote international programs. Students who fully withdraw from a Vanderbilt-administered or partner program after the program begins, or before they have begun coursework, may be entitled to a refund of Vanderbilt tuition, or the amount of tuition charges remaining after all fees owed to program partners under the terms of individual student agreements are paid in full. Students who elect to “drop” courses, modify their enrollment status, or otherwise take partial credit for the term are not eligible for a partial tuition refund. The University encourages all students, including study abroad students, to consider tuition insurance. Students who are dismissed from a study abroad or remote international 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.

Conduct Policies

All guidelines and regulations provided in the Vanderbilt Student Handbook apply to students while they are studying abroad or participating in a remote international program. 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 and remote international 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 or remote international program that is well-suited to their area of study and academic interests.

VU students participating in these study abroad or remote international 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 or remote international 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 part of the program fee. Students are responsible to Vanderbilt’s partners for other expenses, including housing; wherever possible, however, Vanderbilt will attempt to simplify payment by billing these expenses through a program fee to the VU student account.

In addition to the above, VU students receive administrative support throughout the study abroad or remote international 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 and remote international programs of comparable quality and academic standards to those they receive at Vanderbilt.

Housing Policy

Housing arrangements for students enrolled in approved 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 encourages students to reside in program-provided housing where available. If housing is not provided by the program (this is more common on exchange programs), students may seek independent living arrangements.

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.

Accommodations Policy

Students who have registered with the Student Access Services office (SAS) to receive academic, physical, or other accommodations at Vanderbilt may seek similar accommodations for their abroad or remote international programs. 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.

Study Elsewhere

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. You may contact us at geo@vanderbilt.edu for more information.

Students and the campus entities that approve their study for transfer credit are responsible for compliance with the Student International Travel Policy.