Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

International Center
Markim Hall, Second Floor
651-696-6310
651-696-6129 fax

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Academic-Year Hours
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Summer Hours
Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m.-noon

Who can study off-campus?

Any Macalester student can! The college encourages all students to pursue off-campus studies and experiences as an enriching component of their liberal arts education along the path of global citizenship. The following majors require a semester of off-campus study: Anthropology, Asian Studies, Chinese, Classics, French and Francophone Studies, German Studies, Hispanic and Latin American Studies, International Studies, Japanese, and Russian Studies. The following minor requires a semester of off-campus study: Hispanic Studies minor in Portuguese Language, Literature, and Culture. All students who wish to study off-campus for a semester or longer must receive approval from the Study Away Review Committee. Read the Applying for Off-Campus study section for more details.

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Do I have to take courses for my major or minor during off-campus study?

No, unless your major or minor requires it. Most people do earn credit towards a major or minor, but it is not required. Some people use off-campus study to explore other areas of their liberal arts education.

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Do I have to declare my major, minor, or concentration before I study off campus?

You must declare at least one major by the time you submit your Off-Campus Study Proposal. You may declare a second major/minor/concentration after submitting, but you must get departmental approval for courses to count before you leave. Students fill out Coursework Approval Form(s) as part of their Proposal. The chair of the department that you would like to receive credit for will sign the form and indicate what courses will/may/will not count.

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Where can I study?

You may study in nearly any destination, including other U.S. cities. Macalester does not allow students to study abroad in countries, or in some cases specific regions of countries that are listed on the U.S. State Department's Current Travel Warning list.

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How long can I go?

Due to off-campus enrollment limits, Macalester students may apply for a single semester off-campus during their tenure at Macalester. Only in very exceptional cases will students be considered for an academic year abroad, and in these cases only on certain programs or in extraordinary cases where a full year of study is essential to the student's educational program. Please refer to the evaluation criteria in the Off-Campus Study Handbook.

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When can I go?

Students can study off-campus during their sophomore, junior, or senior year. First year students and transfer students who enter as juniors may not participate in off-campus programs (except January, summer, and special Macalester-organized programs).

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Can I go during J-term or summer?

Yes, but the process and level of support is different than for semester programs. More information can be found on the January and Summer Programs page.

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How do I find an off-campus study program?

Read more about how to find that right program for you in our Choosing a Program section.

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When do I submit my proposal?

Students submit their Off-Campus Study Proposal the spring before the academic year they would like to study off-campus. Whether you are off-campus in the fall or spring semester, the deadline is the same. This means that if you want to study off-campus as a senior, you submit your proposal in the spring of your junior year. If you want to study off-campus as a junior (as most students do), you submit the proposal in the spring of your sophomore year. And if you want to study off-campus as a sophomore, you submit the proposal in the spring of your first year.

The deadline for off-campus study in Fall or Spring of 2014-2015 is February 25, 2014.

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Why is there a single annual deadline for off-campus study?

The main goal of this policy is to achieve rough equality between the two semesters, which helps the college with planning and finances. By reducing the overall cost of off-campus study, college leaders hope even more students can take advantage of this excellent learning opportunity.

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Can I choose which semester I go?

On your Off-Campus Study Proposal, you will indicate your semester preference. You will also have space to explain your reasons for choosing a particular semester. We cannot, however, guarantee that you will be approved for your preferred semester, as our goal is to have roughly the same number of students off-campus in both semesters. You can read more about deciding between fall and spring semester on the Planning page. 

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Who reviews the Off-Campus Study Proposals?

The Study Away Review Committee (SARC), consisting of the Registrar and two faculty members, reviews and approves all proposals.

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What happens after I submit my proposal?

Approval letters are usually sent to students via SPO within five weeks after the submission deadline.

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Do I need to wait for Macalester approval before applying to my program?

No. In fact, students are encouraged to apply to their first choice program as early as possible, as admission is often contingent upon meeting the application deadline or granted on a rolling basis. If the program requires a "Home School Nomination" form to be signed by college staff, the International Center Director or Advisor can usually sign it before SARC sends out approval letters.

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Can I apply for more than one program?

If your first choice is competitive, you may wish to apply to another program as a backup choice. However, you may only propose one program to SARC. After your proposal has been approved, you may go on a different program only if you are denied admission to the program you proposed.

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What should I do if my plans change?

If your off-campus study plans change, it is important to contact the International Center immediately. You may have the option to defer your plans to a future semester, cancel your plans, or change programs. Which of these options are open to you depends on the point in time that your plans change, whether a change is voluntary or not, and other factors. The deadline for all deferrals and changes of program from a prior semester to spring semester is the first Friday of October. The deadline for all deferrals and changes of program from a prior semester to fall semester is the same as the yearly proposal deadline (generally in late February). Please contact International Center staff and refer to the Handbook for Off-Campus Study for more details.

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Will my grades count?

Grades earned during off-campus study will appear on your transcript and are figured into your GPA. The majority of Macalester students actually increase their GPAs during this time. See a recent report about grades and off-campus study at Macalester.

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How much will off-campus study cost? Is it covered by Financial Aid?

For answers to these questions and more, please see our Finances section.

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Can international students study off-campus?

All international students are eligible to study off-campus at Macalester. Macalester financial aid can be applied to off-campus study costs for international students only in the following circumstances: 

  • Off-campus study if required for a formally declared major or minor; or
  • The student has been approved to study on the Macalester Perspectives on Globalization Program; or
  • Effective for off-campus study in the academic year 2014-2015: The student has been approved to participate in a Macalester exchange (not all qualified students may be approved because of exchange balance requirements). Please note that this policy is an interim measure. 

Students who have permanent residence status or dual U.S. and other citizenship are eligible for Macalester financial aid when studying off-campus. In some cases, international students may be eligible for merit scholarships from the program provider. 

Note: Study at Macalester fulfills the study abroad requirement for international students majoring in International Studies. As a consequence, international students may not apply financial aid to study abroad for that major.

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Where can I find complete information about the college's policies and procedures for off-campus study?

Detailed information can be found int he Handbook for Off-Campus Study, available for download in the “Quick Links” section of the International Center homepage.

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I am an incoming international exchange student. Where can I find information about spending a semester or year at Macalester College?

Information for incoming international exchange students is found here.

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