How to Apply: Petition

Petition to Attend a Non-Approved Program/University

The Study Abroad Program provides students with a list of approved semester study abroad programs. These programs have been reviewed for quality and for their compatibility with Princeton academic standards.

Students interested in attending a semester program that is not on the approved list must petition to have the program approved on a one-time basis.

Petitions will not be considered for the following programs:

  • Semester programs substantially based on internships or community service as opposed to academic coursework
  • Programs that take place in multiple locations/countries as opposed to one host location/country only
  • Programs that do not offer a minimum of credits equivalent to 15-16 U.S. credits (equivalent of four Princeton courses/credits) per semester
  • Programs that are located in places that are off-limits to undergraduates due to the University Travel Policy 
  • Programs that do not guarantee a level of academic excellence/student support comparable to those offered by our pre-approved programs
  • Programs that have significant academic/country/regional overlap with already approved programs will not be considered. 

Petitions will be considered only if:

  • There is no other pre-approved program that can meet the specific academic needs of the petitioner.
  • The petitioner can demonstrate a compelling academic reason for needing to participate in the petition program (e.g., a very specific set of courses that would not be available elsewhere, and that the student can be guaranteed to being able to register for at the petition institution; a very location-specific Junior Independent or Senior Thesis topic the petitioned needs to be working on for that semester).
  • There is strong support from the department (or prospective department) the student will be majoring in.
  • The prospective petition program is collaborative in providing answers to our inquiries and can demonstrate to be academically rigorous, well-endowed in terms of student support, and to be meeting the highest standards for safety/security as per the guidelines mentioned above.

Petition applications tend to be very labor intensive, as they normally require multiple levels of review/assessment (academic rigor/course availability/credit equivalency/school educational accreditations/grading system/format of transcripts; student and pastoral support; safety/security; costs and other financial aspects; the signing of institutional or contractual agreements or other mutually-binding legal requirements, as needed) and may sometimes require a site visit from University personnel. For this reason, there is a very strict timeline to be followed:

  • Petition by no later than mid-August for spring semester study abroad, and
  • Petition by no later than the end of February for fall semester study abroad.


The following steps will guide petitioners through the petition process. 

Step 1: Meet with the Director of Study Abroad

  • Schedule an appointment with the Director of Study Abroad, Dr. Gisella Gisolo, to have an initial meeting regarding your petition interest. Be prepared to articulate how the program meets your academic goals and needs, specifically compared to similar pre-approved programs.    
  • In advance of the meeting, please send all the information (in the form of links, attachments, etc.) about the program to the Director of Study Abroad, so that there can be a preliminary review of the materials informing the conversation.
  • The initial petition information should closely follow the above timeline. Petitions require thorough investigation of several dimensions (academic rigor, administrative support, health and safety assessment, etc.) and therefore require adequate research and time.

Step 2: Submit a formal petition

After a successful preliminary review of the program (which may take several weeks), you will be notified of the outcome and you may then be instructed on how to submit a formal petition in GPS, which includes:

  • A letter describing the relevance of the program to your academic goals at Princeton and why current approved programs do not meet your academic needs.
  • A letter of support from a faculty member who can assess the program either because of his/her area of expertise or because of direct knowledge of the program/university.
  • Comprehensive published information about the program, which includes:
    • A description of the academic program, with information on the academic/course structure, credit system, grading system, faculty qualifications, school accreditations, etc.
    • Information about housing, administrative structure, academic support services, and costs.
    • For programs located in high-risk countries, the petition will also require a careful vetting of health and safety/security information. You will be notified about this particular set requirements (which may vary greatly country by country) at the time of preliminary approval.   

Step 3: Complete the formal Princeton Study Abroad Approval Process

  • Your petition to attend a non-approved program/university is only one piece of the study abroad application process. Once your formal GPS petition application is approved, the application in GPS will be switched under the actual program name (a program brochure for your specific petition program will be created ad hoc). From that point on, you will need to follow the same GPS steps as for any term-time study abroad application:

Complete all the GPS application items according to regular study abroad application process, most importantly the Study Abroad Course Approval process, by the due deadlines (end of April for fall semester and mid- October for spring semester programs).

Important Note

Your petition information should reach the Study Abroad Program no later than the end of August for spring semester study abroad, and no later than the end of February for fall/academic year study abroad. Petitions require thorough investigation of several dimensions (academic rigor, administrative support, health and safety assessment, etc.) and therefore require adequate research and time.