Princeton faculty play an important role in facilitating the international component of students' undergraduate experiences through their advising, support, and critical evaluation of programs. This section has been designed to help Princeton University faculty members in two ways:
- To provide information to current departmental representatives or faculty members who are speaking with students interested in attending a Princeton-approved study abroad program.
- To provide information for faculty who may be interested in developing and/or offering a faculty-led program abroad.
The Study Abroad Program relies on departmental representatives to provide strong support and guidance to students who wish to integrate study abroad into their studies.
General Advice: Study Abroad
Students may study abroad in the spring term of sophomore year, one or both terms of junior year, or during the fall term of senior year. It is critical, therefore, that their plans include a strategy for fulfilling departmental requirements. We encourage students who plan to study abroad to speak to departmental representatives early on about how best to schedule courses at Princeton to allow for a well-integrated term abroad.
On our website, students will be able to view study abroad advice by department or certificate. We are eager to provide interested students with the most comprehensive information and advice. If you would like to change or add information that is on the website, please contact Gisella Gisolo, director of the Study Abroad Program.
First-year students and sophomores who are interested in studying abroad may seek out the departmental representative for a number of different reasons, including:
- They may want to take departmental courses early in order to have more flexibility when abroad.
- They may seek help in finding the equivalent of a required departmental course abroad.
- They may ask for advice about study abroad destinations and the strengths of different overseas universities in your field.
- They may ask you to help them determine which semester abroad would be best given their particular background and requirements.
- If they are planning to study abroad for the full year, they may ask to become an early concentrator in order to complete some independent work before the junior year abroad.
Approving Programs of Study
- Once students have been admitted to a study abroad program, they must complete a Study Abroad Course Approval form, which can be found in the student's GPS application. The form requires students to list all courses they intend to take while abroad. Any courses they wish to count toward departmental requirements must be approved by the departmental representative. Normally, departments allow students to count up to two courses for departmental credit during a term of study abroad and up to four courses for the year. However, the exact number of departmental courses a student may take abroad varies from department to department.
- Departmental concentrators also need to indicate on the Study Abroad Course Approval form what arrangements have been or will be made for completing any required independent work. Departmental representatives are responsible for making sure that students who study abroad have reliable academic advising while they are away. In some departments, junior independent work is guided and evaluated by an on-site adviser, who is nominated by the department and appointed by the Dean of the Faculty as a visiting professor at Princeton. In cases where a department does not appoint an on-site adviser, students sometimes find a faculty member abroad who can help them informally with their research.
- If the local academic calendar abroad is different from Princeton’s, the deadline for Junior Independent Work (JIW) is usually adjusted accordingly. For example, a student studying in a German university for the spring begins spring-term classes only in April. To ask the student to keep to the JIW deadline of late April (in some departments) or early May (dean’s date) is unreasonable. In such cases, the deadline can be extended so that it falls near the end of the semester in Germany, just as the deadline at Princeton falls at the end of the Princeton semester. If the JIW is a yearlong project instead of a one-term project, the department may decide to keep to the original deadline.
- Students who wish to fulfill a distribution area requirement abroad must have the course approved by the departmental representative in the department that would offer a similar course at Princeton. For example, an English major who wants to take a politics course at the University of Cape Town to fulfill an SA (Social Analysis) requirement would ask the politics departmental representative to approve the course for distribution credit. This approval may take place either before or after the term abroad, as long as the course itself had been reviewed for general credit. Students who study abroad for a semester or year can fulfill two distribution requirements in any area, not only in those areas that require two courses to complete the requirement. Courses taken for general elective credit are approved by the director of the Study Abroad Program.
- Final approval to study abroad is formally granted by the Committee on Examinations and Standing. To be eligible, students must have a B average for the two semesters preceding their term abroad, as well as approval of their home department. Lastly, students who are not in good disciplinary standing may be deemed ineligible to study abroad even if they meet the academic requirements.
Credit and Grades for Courses Taken Abroad
After a student returns from studying abroad, a transcript is sent to the Study Abroad Program. Courses that have been pre-approved and for which the student has received a D or better are listed on the Princeton University transcript along with the program/university attended and the cumulative credit earned for each term. In most cases, grades are not recorded on the transcript, but do appear on the online internal student record, which is available to the student’s home department. (The exceptions are the grades earned in the courses taught by Princeton faculty in faculty-led semester-long programs, e.g., the field study programs offered by the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Kenya and Panama, which do appear on the Princeton transcript.) The grades for a student’s Junior Independent Work are always recorded on the transcript. Grades that do not appear on the Princeton transcript are not included in calculations for departmental honors.
Students should be reminded that if they apply to graduate or professional schools, they will usually be required to present an original transcript from their study abroad program in addition to their Princeton transcript. It is therefore important that they work conscientiously even though the grades from study abroad courses are not calculated in their departmental average.
A Note on non-Princeton Summer Courses Taken Abroad
Summer courses taken abroad that are not offered by a department or program at Princeton go through an approval process similar to that of summer courses taken domestically. Like all summer courses taken outside of Princeton for credit, the course must be pre-approved by the appropriate departmental representative, but the final approval comes from the director of the Study Abroad Program instead of the college dean. Students should earn at least a C on summer non-Princeton courses abroad in order to receive Princeton credit. After completion, they must have their programs submit transcripts to the Study Abroad Program in order to receive credit.
Faculty Leading Study Abroad Programs
The Study Abroad Program aims to provide faculty with resources to successfully develop and offer a faculty-led study abroad program. If you have additional questions, please reach out to the office directly.
Handbook for Faculty-led Study Abroad Programs
This handbook is intended for faculty members who accompany students on a Princeton study abroad program. Here, you will find information outlining the rights and responsibilities of both faculty and students, travel guidelines, suggestions for dealing with behavioral problems, procedures to follow in the event of an emergency, and other important topics.
- Be sure to review the information on the Vice Provost of International Affairs and Operations website.
- We also recommend reading the International Travel Handbook as it includes useful general information about preparing for international travel.
- While participating in Princeton-sponsored travel abroad, students, faculty, and staff will remain a part of the Princeton University community and, as such, agree to adhere to the University’s standards of conduct as described in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities
Policies for Princeton Summer Courses Abroad
Our policies for Princeton Summer Courses Abroad are outlined on our website for students. Please visit this section of our website for more information.