January and Summer Programs

In addition to or in lieu of semester long study away, students may choose to participate in January and/or summer programs at any point in their Macalester career. However, enrollment, credit, and financial aid are handled differently for these short-term options than for semester programs. Students arrange most short-term opportunities independently and work with the relevant Macalester departments for advising, requesting credit, and seeking financial aid and funding support.  Students are also STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to register their international travel plans with the International Center.

Below you will find tips and resources to guide you in reviewing a program and incorporating that experience back into your Macalester education:


A few academic departments at Macalester (Geology, Classics, occasionally Psychology and Educational Studies ) offer for-credit January courses abroad. Keep an eye out for information on these opportunities. Up to $500 in financial aid is available for students on Macalester January programs. Contact the organizing department for more information.



What do you want to accomplish during study away?
Reflecting on your answer to this key question is the best way to begin the process of study away and will direct your program search. Here are some common goals to get you started:

  • Focus on cultural learning
  • Apply your knowledge through learning opportunities outside of the classroom (volunteer, internship, research, etc.)
  • Focus on language learning
  • Expand your learning through opportunities, curricular and otherwise, that are unavailable at Macalester
  • Fulfill major or degree requirements (see section on academic credit)

All of these goals can be accomplished during study away, but not all programs include all options. Reflecting on what is most important to you is the first step in narrowing in on the type of experience that will help you accomplish your goals.

What are important considerations for your study away experience?
Now is a good time to think about any topics that may affect your study away choices and experiences.

Topics to consider include: graduation or major requirements, finances, health concerns, special dietary needs, mental health needs, sexual orientation, identity (race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, ability), or anything else that is important to you.

To pursue credit, or not to pursue credit?

The question of pursuing a program for credit is a common one when seeking a short-term program. For some, the answer is simple if that is your primary goal, to either catch up or get ahead in fulfilling degree requirements. Below are some reasons to help you decide if credit should be a priority in your program search:

Reasons you may choose a for-credit program:

  • You may be able to apply these credits towards your Macalester education as general credit, fulfilling distribution requirements, and/or fulfilling major/minor/concentration requirements (see section on academic credit).
  • You have some assurance that your program has been vetted by a set of accreditation standards; even so, not all for-credit programs are created equally and you should still review the below section on program quality.
  • Some types of experiences may only be offered for-credit. For example, studying on summer program hosted by a university (US or international). Also, some internship experiences require that you earn credit (see the Internship Program for more information).

Reasons you may choose a not-for-credit program:

  • Many types of experiences or programs do not offer credit, for example: volunteer programs, some research opportunities, some language programs or scholarships, and many more. One of these might be the best fit to meet your goals.
  • Often, not-for-credit programs are less expensive than their for-credit counterparts. This is because they do not need to pay for accreditation. Even so, be sure to review the below section on program quality to be sure you are receiving good value for your money.

Where to search for programs

Summer programs exist in abundance, while January opportunities are also available, but with fewer options. In both terms, the opportunities vary greatly in terms of the type of opportunity, length, amount of academic credit offered, and cost. Once you have narrowed in on your goals, availability, and budget, there are few ways to begin your search…

  1. Known providers: Many of the universities and program providers from the list of Macalester Approved Study Away Programs also offer short-term programs. While the short-term programs have not been vetted, these are institutions/providers that Macalester has a relationship with and, thus, a good starting point.
  2. International Center Library: In the IC, we have a section of our library dedicated to brochures for short-term programs. Come check it out!
  3. Macalester Internship Program: The staff in the Internship Program can direct you to known internships or providers that facilitate internships.
  4. Search Engines: There are some search engines that are designed specifically for searching for short-term programs. Here are a few to get you started:
  5. See the below section on fully or partially funded summer opportunities.
  6. International Center Advisors: We are here to help you think through all of the above, feel free to schedule an appointment by contacting or calling 651-696-6310.


Just as the program opportunities vary, so can the quality of a program. Macalester does not directly control how study away programs operate; the responsibility for determining the "proper fit" of the program and a successful learning experience rests with the student. Below are some tips for reviewing a program for academic quality; health, safety and security standards; and student support standards:

Academic Quality

  • Is the program accredited? (for-credit programs)
    Specifically, does the program meet the one of the following criteria: (1) is offered by a U.S. or international accredited, degree-granting institution of higher education; or (2) issues transcripts through a U.S. or international accredited, degree-granting institution, or has a special credit-granting relationship with Macalester (e.g. ACM, CIEE, DIS, HECUA, IES, etc.).
  • What are the credentials of the faculty and instructors?
    Do they hold terminal degrees? How much location-specific experience do they have? What is their experience teaching the course content?
  • Is the program culturally aware and appropriate?
    Does the program incorporate local staff, knowledge, and resources? What resources do they provide to support you in learning about the place you will be studying?

Health, Safety & Security

  • Is the country or region under U.S. State Department Travel Warning?
    Macalester College does not allow students to study away in countries or areas within countries that are under a U.S. State Department Travel Warning. 
  • Does the program provide or recommend supplemental travel insurance?
    It is recommended that anyone traveling internationally should maintain existing comprehensive coverage and seek supplemental travel insurance, if it is not already included. Recommended coverage options to seek, include:
    1. Emergency medical evacuation
    2. Political and natural disaster evacuation
    3. Repatriation of remains
    As a Macalester student, please keep in mind:
    1. If you are currently enrolled on the Macalester plan through Aetna, you are covered for the above recommended coverage.
    2. If you are seeking additional coverage, the International Center works with iNext for student travel insurance plans; you are welcome to pursue a plan with them independently.
    Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure proper insurance coverage and the above are intended as recommendations.
  • Does the program offer a clear plan for risk management and emergency response?

Student Support

  • Does the program offer adequate student support for administrative processes, housing, co-curricular support, etc.?
    Administrative support can depend on the size and scope of a program, but in general, you should seek a clarity in who handles your billing, housing support, emergency response, curriculum, and any travel. These supports are often divided between the organizing agency and the on-site staff and partners.
  • Who will be on-site during the program? 
    Who will be the primary on-site contact? Does the program partner with other local providers or organizations? Is this information accessible? 
  • Is an orientation provided? 
    It is a best practice that any program provide an orientation to the local culture, customs, and safety protocols. What does your program provide prior to departure and once on site?
  • Can the program support physical, learning or dietary accommodations? 
    On a US college campus, there are legal obligations and ethical standards to provide accommodations. An international program/organization’s obligations, standards, and capacity can vary greatly. If you are seeking any accommodations, be sure to ask prior to making commitments.


Many students pursue non-credit bearing programs, but for those that are seeking credit towards their Macalester education, this is an important section to review in advance.

Download the Summer/January Study Away Checklist

January and summer program applications are not reviewed by Study Away Review Committee (SARC) for pre-approval for credit, but students are strongly encouraged to notify the International Center of such study away plans. While academic credit cannot be officially pre-approved, below are steps to follow to ensure your program participation is credit-eligible:

  • Check the dates: Ensure the program does not present an irresolvable conflict with Macalester’s academic calendar.
  • Review the security policy: Macalester College does not allow students to study away in countries or areas within countries that are under a U. S. State Department Travel Warning
  • Review the following registrar policies and tips:
    • Transfer credit: Credit for non-Macalester January and summer programs are added to the student’s Macalester transcript as transfer credit and grades are not factored into the Macalester cumulative grade point average (with the exception of ACM & HECUA programs). A maximum of two credits may be earned each January; there is no limit on summer.
    • Transfer credit limits: Review your transfer credit balance; no more than 64 transfer credits may count towards the 128 required for graduation.
    • Accreditation: Ensure the program (1) is offered by a U.S. or international accredited, degree-granting institution of higher education; or (2) issues transcripts through a U.S. or international accredited, degree-granting institution, or has a special credit-granting relationship with Macalester (e.g. ACM, CIEE, DIS, HECUA, IES, etc.).
    • Make sure an official transcript is sent by the program/school directly to the Registrar at Mac.
    • Liberal Arts: Courses should be similar to what’s offered at Macalester. Check with the Registrar if you have doubts.
    • Grades: Must be C- or higher for credit to be accepted.
    • Credits earned may fulfill distribution requirements, please see the registrar if you would like advice on specific coursework in advance.
  • Review the following tips for fulfilling major/minor/concentration requirements:
    • Fulfillment of major/minor/concentration requirements is at the discretion of the department chair or concentration director; they then communicate your progress to the Registrar.
    • If possible, review coursework syllabi with Dept. Chair or Concentration Director prior to program enrollment.
    • Follow-up upon return to confirm major/minor/concentration credit.


The cost of short-term study away opportunities can vary greatly. For students choosing to participate in a January or Summer programs, it is important to know that these costs and payments are handled on an individual basis and the student is ultimately responsible for these costs. Even so, here are some tips to aid you in the process:

  • Be sure to review program financial policies, including deposit and withdrawal policies.
  • Contact Macalester Financial Aid if either of the following apply:
    • You receive need-based financial aid and are participating in a Macalester-run January program. (You may be eligible for a $500 grant). Not available for summer study away or non-Macalester programs.
    • You are interested in financing your study away with additional student loans (summer or January); eligibility varies.
  • Check these Macalester funding sources:
    • Ask your department. Some departments have funding set aside for student research and travel.
    • Student Travel Committee: This committee has funding available for student travel through a central application system. The committee considers each individual funding request based on its individual merits and connection to the mission of the College.
  • Search and apply for scholarships.
  • See the below section on fully or partially funded summer opportunities.