International Center
Markim Hall, Second Floor
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

Please read through this information carefully and follow the below steps to apply for off-campus study. 

Are you ready to apply? 

You are ready to apply if you have completed the following steps: 

Online Macalester Proposal for Off-Campus Study

Once you have completed the above steps and decided upon your program, you're ready to open an online application. Applications will open on November 5, 2013 and close on February 25, 2014

  1. Find your program on the Recommended List or using the Advanced Search feature. If your program is not on the Recommended List, go to the Non-listed Programs page.  
  2. Click on the "Apply Now" button located on the right side of the page. 
  3. If you are not yet logged into the StudioAbroad system, you will be prompted to log in using your Macalester username and password. 
  4. Follow the prompts and select the semester in which you would like to study off-campus. 
  5. You will be taken to your program application page where you can see the different elements of the Macalester proposal. 

Please keep in mind the following:

  • Completed elements will be checked off as "received." 
  • Your application is complete once all the elements are checked off. 
  • You can save your work and return to your application at a later date. Bookmark or save this web site to easily log in again:
  • You may submit only one application for off-campus study in an academic year. If you have more than one application open (i.e. one for Fall 2014 and one for Spring 2015), you must withdraw one of the applications prior to the deadline. 
  • It is recommended that you write your essays in a separate Word document. This allows you to reflect upon the prompts and edit them easily. You can then upload your document or copy and paste your essay text.
  • Two parts of the proposal - Four-Year Plan and Coursework Approval Form - need to have faculty signatures. Give yourself enough time to meet with the appropriate faculty members before the deadline. The completed forms will be turned into the International Center, located on the second floor of Markim Hall. This must be done by the proposal deadline.
  • Your application will close automatically on the deadline day. You will no longer be able to access or edit your application after this time. Late proposals will not be considered. 

Apply directly to your program or university

You can apply to your program before receiving approval from Macalester’s Study Away Review Committee (SARC). In fact, students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible in order to secure a place in their preferred program, as applications are often considered on a rolling basis. If admission is particularly competitive for your program, you may want to consider applying to another program as a backup choice. 

 You can only submit one proposal to Macalester. If SARC grants approval for that program but admission is denied, the original proposal may be revised to include a suitable alternative program. A student may not pursue an alternative program if s/he is granted admission to the program that was originally proposed. 

Please note that students applying to Macalester-run programs and DIS in Copenhagen, Denmark, do not need to apply separately. For these students, their Off-Campus Study Proposal will determine both their admission into their program and Macalester approval. Macalester students applying to one of our exchanges cannot apply independently to the institution. For these students, their Off-Campus Study Proposal will determine Macalester approval and nomination to the exchange. Once approved, students will be nominated to the exchange institution and will then be directed to complete the application process.

What are the essay prompts?

All students write the Educational Goals Essay:

1. Macalester College highly values off-campus study and expects students to work towards developing intellectual independence AND self-awareness. We recognize there are different opportunities leading to achievement of these goals: cultural learning, discipline-specific experiences outside the classroom, language learning, OR enhanced learning through curricular opportunities unavailable at Macalester.

Describe your rationale for off-campus study, which of these four opportunities you will pursue, and how your proposed program and its location will facilitate the accomplishment of the two goals of off-campus study.

2. Off-campus study provides an educational experience different from a semester at Macalester. Whether a US-based or international experience, you should thoughtfully engage with the location and cultural context of your program in a way that deepens your self-awareness, which means:

  • Being exposed to multiple ways in which people draw upon aptitudes, values, and aesthetic interests in professional work and civic involvement.
  • Considering experiences in the context of the program/host community from the perspective of that community or its members.
  • Being exposed to the ways in which life in the host community interacts with or otherwise relates to life in their home environments.

Some programs incorporate location-specific coursework and/or opportunities for critical self-reflection. For others, students will need to intentionally seek out these opportunities independently.

Describe how your choice of location and course of study will deepen your self-awareness through thoughtful engagement and self-reflection.

3. Describe how you are prepared academically (e.g. GPA, related research experience, previous coursework), culturally, and linguistically (if applicable) for your proposed plan of study. Your proposed course of study should be a relevant extension of - not a hiatus from - your on-campus curriculum, particularly within a declared major. Also, list the courses you plan to take and describe how your off-campus coursework relates to your plan and your overall Macalester education.

Students proposing a program that includes an optional program before the semester begins write the Early Start Essay:

Persuade the Study Away Review Committee that:

  1. The early start is essential to the successful completion of your off-campus study experience.
  2. The extra cost is worthwhile (please list the cost of your proposed plan with the early start and without the early start and note the cost difference).

Students proposing year-long study write the Academic Year Essay:

1. Persuade the Study Away Review Committee that:

  • A full year is essential to the completion of your primary academic goal(s) and/or your Macalester liberal arts course of study;
  • The institution you propose has a record of excellence in your area(s) of focus;
  • You are well prepared academically, culturally and (if applicable) linguistically for the proposed program.

2. Describe a one-semester backup plan.

Students proposing study at a program that is not on Macalester's Recommended List write the Non-Listed Program Essay:

If your non-listed program is run by one of the following institutions, you must cover only items 1 though 3 in your essay: ACM, ACTR, Alliance for Global Education, CIEE, HECUA, IAU, IES, IFE, IFSA, IHP, Middlebury College, MSID, SEA, SIT.

If your non-listed program is NOT run by one of the above institutions, you must cover all items, 1 through 6, in your essay. Please note that choosing such a program means you may receive less administrative support and expertise from the International Center. If you are unsure, talk with your Study Abroad Advisor.

1.Why have you chosen this particular program or institution instead of one on Macalester's Recommended list?
2. Compare the proposed program with three (if possible) recommended programs that are most closely aligned with your educational goals. Describe how the proposed program meets your goals better.
3. Persuade the Study Away Review Committee that your academic experience will be equal to or better than an experience gained from a recommended program. Describe the sources of information you used to make your judgments.

Only for students proposing an institution NOT listed above:
4. Programs on the Recommended List have established good practices in safety and emergency procedures and have adequate staffing and support services (housing, counseling, etc.) for visiting students. Explain how the proposed program provides similar assurances of safety and administrative services.
5. Give contact information for the institution, as well as the name, title, and email address for at least one person who can provide the International Center with reliable information about your program (including financial details).
6. State the cost of your proposed program and describe what is included for that cost and how this amount compares with the programs cited in #2 above.

Students planning to do research write the Independent Study or Directed Research Essay:

  1. What is the theme or topic of the project? Explain how you know that carrying it out will be safe, worthwhile, culturally appropriate and feasible.
  2. What research methods do you plan to use? What training and experience do you have in using these methods (including language training, if relevant)?
  3. What resources (human, bibliographical, physical, technical) will you be able to access on site to complete your project?
  4. Will you need Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval? If so, how will you get it? (More information on IRB can be found on the International Center's website)
  5. How does this project relate to your academic goals at Macalester in general and to your off-campus study goals in particular?

Students planning to do an internship write the Internship Essay:

  1. What type of organization will you work for?
  2. Describe the work that you expect to do.
  3. How many hours will you work per week? Will you work throughout the semester or only during a specific part of the term?
  4. How will the work be graded/evaluated?
  5. How does the work fit into your goals for off-campus study?

Students proposing to study on a Macalester exchange write the Exchange Essay:

Exchange programs are bilateral agreements between Macalester and another university. As a part of this relationship, Macalester receives exchange students from partner institutions and sends Macalester students for a semester of study to partner universities. The relationship between exchange partners is significantly different from other off-campus study programs, as it is a college-wide partnership. With that in mind, students proposing off-campus study at an exchange partner university are asked to provide additional rationale for their program choice. Not all qualified Macalester students may be approved because of exchange balance requirements.

  1. How will you be a positive representative of Macalester College and strengthen our institutional relationship with the host institution – both during your semester off-campus and upon return to Macalester?
  2. Building upon the rationale for your program choice given in your Educational Goals Essay, explain how a semester of study at this host institution fits with your academic plan, with particular emphasis on your declared major(s), minor(s), and concentration(s). Include information on the specific strengths of the partner university and its coursework.

What Makes a Strong Proposal?

Including the following elements will not only increase the chance of your proposal being approved, you will also be better prepared for completing a successful off-campus study experience.

  • Good academic standing and on track for on-time completion of your major and general distribution requirements.
  • Macalester coursework, completed or in progress, provides adequate preparation for the proposed off-campus study program.
  • Educational Goals essay:
    • Adequately describes how your proposed off-campus study will enhance your liberal arts education. As a place to begin, we recommend Professor William Cronon's essay published in The American Scholar, "'Only Connect . . .' The Goals of a Liberal Education." This concise essay offers a variety of tools to use in thinking about how study abroad and liberal learning may complement one another.
    • Mentions the elements of cultural immersion and Global Citizenship as part of your off-campus study. Global Citizenship is described as "action in addition to scholarship," whether the action takes place during the experience or upon your return to Macalester. We recommend that you read Professor Andrew Latham's Project Pericles Paper for a more detailed explanation.
    • Describes a plan for making use of your off-campus study experience in the future at Macalester or beyond (e.g. graduate studies, career, etc).
    • Establishes a solid sense of why the program you have chosen is the best fit for you academically.

Note: The Study Away Review Committee recognizes that it is often enthusiasm for a particular place that drives the choice of an off-campus study program. SARC is interested in location only insofar as it has to do with academics and your preparation as a global citizen.