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Santa Clara University

Policies & Procedures

 Study Abroad Policies & Procedures



The study abroad application process is competitive during the fall, winter, and spring terms meaning that not every eligible student will have their application nominated for approval. Applications that are approved are referred to as nominated. The number of applicant nominations varies from year to year and is dictated mainly by our allotted program budget. Other factors that are considered in the nominations each year are the review committee recommendations, cost of programs, and program capacity limits. 

Summer study abroad is not competitive.

Eligibility Requirements 

Students from all majors are eligible to apply to study off-campus and students from the sciences and other underrepresented disciplines are encouraged to apply.  For eligibility related to independent programs see Approved and Non Approved Program section.  

These eligibility requirements apply to all programs abroad administered by Global Engagement including: 

  • Study abroad programs
  • Domestic off-campus study programs, 
  • Virtual programs, 
  • Global Explorations faculty-led programs, 
  • Global Fellowships
  • Undergraduate research abroad

Eligibility During the Fall, Winter, Spring Terms:

Students must: 

  • Be matriculated, degree-seeking students at the University
  • Complete 88 units by the start of the academic program
  • Students must declare their major with the Office of the Registrar before submitting their application to off-campus study.
  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.75
  • Meet the GPA requirement of their specific program, if higher than Santa Clara University’s GPA requirement 
  • Not be on “disciplinary probation, interim suspension, deferred suspension, suspended, or expelled, the student is not eligible to apply to study abroad or participate in the program.” as described in the Santa Clara University Student Handbook.
  • Participation is contingent upon satisfactory completion of all program prerequisites and related courses, as well as satisfactory academic progress 
  • Participation is contingent upon completing the mandatory pre-departure orientation.
  • The study abroad application process is a two-step process and participation is contingent upon approval by the individual program, as well as the Santa Clara University’s Study Abroad. For further information, review the Application Process & Deadline
  • Students who earn a grade of D or F in any course in the term preceding their program may become ineligible for off-campus study. 
  • Students must clear any outstanding balances with the Bursar’s Office in accordance with the Bursar’s Office payment schedule to remain eligible for participation. Students approved to participate in SCU Study Abroad must have courses approved by the appropriate major, minor, or core department to receive credit toward graduation requirements.
  • Failure to complete prerequisites and continue making academic progress will make students ineligible to participate. 

Eligibility During Summer:

Student must:

  • Be matriculated, degree-seeking students at the University
  • Have completed 44 units by the start of the program abroad; students may apply as early as their first year for summer programs abroad
  • Minimum GPA 2.75
  • Meet the GPA requirement of their specific program, if higher than Santa Clara University’s GPA requirement 
  • Failure to complete prerequisites and continue making academic progress will make students ineligible to participate.
  • Not be on “disciplinary probation, interim suspension, deferred suspension, suspended, or expelled, the student is not eligible to apply to study abroad or participate in the program.” as described in the Santa Clara University Student Handbook.

Two-step Application Process

  • The study abroad application process is a two-step process and participation is contingent upon approval by the individual program, as well as the Santa Clara University’s Study Abroad. For further information, review the Application Process & Deadline
  • Students whose applications are approved are first “Nominated” by SCU, and second must have their program-specific application approved by the overseas university and/or program provider.

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Standards of Conduct

Students on programs abroad sponsored by Santa Clara University are held to the same standards of conduct found in the SCU Office of Student Life Student Handbook as well as departmental policies and procedures relevant to their program. In addition to SCU’s policies, students abroad are held to standards of conduct set by the host institution, program provider, and host country. Students are expected to follow guidelines about culturally appropriate conduct and should confer with on-site staff about local practices.

The host institution or program provider may, at their discretion, impose disciplinary measures or dismissal from the program if a student’s behavior is found to be damaging to the program, institution, student themself or other students. In the case of dismissal, determinations on credits, grades, and finances will be made by Study Abroad in consultation with the program provider or host institution.

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There are two types of student withdrawals: Voluntary and Involuntary Withdrawals. 

Voluntary Withdrawals

Students who wish to voluntarily withdraw from off-campus study after confirming participation in the program should contact Study Abroad as soon as possible. The student account will be charged a $500 withdrawal fee, as well as all unrecoverable costs incurred on the student’s behalf. Some unrecoverable costs may be but are not limited to, program deposits, housing deposits, program tuition, and fees.  Students will not be able to register for classes on campus during their assigned registration appointment until their withdrawal is fully recorded by the Office of the Registrar.

To withdraw, students should complete the Request to Withdraw form.

SCU Study Abroad will notify the Registrar, Bursar, and Financial Aid Offices that the student has withdrawn, normally within three business days.  In addition, SCU Study Abroad will work with the program provider or host university to determine the implications for grades, credits, and finances.

Administrative Withdrawals

Students who are administratively withdrawn or are dismissed from a program are responsible for all program costs and may receive no credit. Students will not be able to register for classes on campus during their assigned registration appointment until their withdrawal is fully recorded by the Registrar’s Office. Reasons for administrative withdrawal include, but are not limited to, failure to comply with SCU, program provider, or host institution’s deadlines or standards of conduct.

Deferring Program Participation

Students who withdraw may not defer their application to a subsequent term, but they are welcome to re-apply. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their intent to withdraw with an SCU Study Abroad staff member to be certain they fully comprehend the academic and financial implications before making their decision.   

Program Cancellation

Santa Clara University reserves the right to alter or eliminate academic programs at any time.  Programs may be canceled due to health and safety reasons or other unforeseen circumstances.  Normally, if a program is canceled after it has started, Santa Clara University will work with the student to obtain academic credit for the remainder of the term. Financial implications will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

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Program Costs and Financial Aid

Fall, Winter, Spring Programs

Program Costs

Program costs are approved by the SCU Board of Trustees each spring for the following year and are published in the Tuition & Fees Schedule on the Bursar’s website.  We have provided further explanations specific to off-campus study in Understanding the Cost of Participation. Santa Clara University follows a structure similar to the Home School Tuition financial model for off campus study programs during the academic year. Students pay SCU tuition and program fees in keeping with quarter or semester program duration and they earn SCU academic credit on all off-campus study programs. Students approved to study off-campus on SCU approved programs are eligible for financial aid abroad on the same basis as when they are studying at SCU on-campus. 


Tuition cost is based on the SCU tuition rates pending approval of the Santa Clara University Board of Trustees each spring. Tuition is charged in keeping with quarter-length programs or semester-length programs which differ in terms of weeks of instruction and number of credits. 

Summer Programs

Students pay program costs directly to programs abroad.  In addition, the $500 Summer Program Fee is charged to the student account.  

Program Fees

In addition to tuition, students will be charged a Program Fee to cover the following:

  • Basic Housing (excluding summer)
  • Insurance
  • Program Deposits
  • Administrative fees
  • Trackable mailing
  • Site assessment visits
  • Risk management evaluations
  • Critical incident response support
  • Academic assessment/accreditation
  • On-site student support activities
  • International program consortium/membership/partnership fees
  • Transcript analysis and credit transfer
  • Major/Minor/Credit allocation
  • Mandatory pre-departure orientations
  • Study abroad advising
  • Study abroad workshops
  • Peer Advising
  • Ecampus maintenance
  • Enrollment management services

The Program Fee does not include supplemental course fees. Course fees that are not included in the program tuition are the responsibility of the student.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

During the academic year, all SCU financial aid applies during participation in approved off-campus study programs. This includes federal, state, and institutional aid and scholarships. Financial aid is not always available for summer off-campus programs. Students may request a Financial Aid Estimate prior to applying to an off-campus program.

Housing Stipends

Some off-campus programs require participants to arrange their own housing. SCU Study Abroad still covers housing costs for these programs in the form of a stipend. Student accounts will first be charged for the SCU Study Abroad Tuition and Program Fee. Students will then receive a credit to their Bursar’s account, not in the form of a check, to cover the cost of housing abroad. Stipends are based on the average cost of standard housing on the specific program and location. Refunds will only be given if their tuition and fees have already been paid. Students are advised to reach out to Financial Aid early to determine how to factor in the housing stipend in their Financial Aid package.

Off-campus Study Program Evaluation

The program evaluation is a mandatory component of all Global Engagement programs abroad. Students who do not complete the evaluation by the last day of the quarter following participation in the program will result in $300 being charged to the student account. 

SCU Withdrawal Fee

Students withdrawn, voluntarily or administratively after they have committed to a program will result in $500 being charged to the student account. Students will also be responsible for any non-refundable fees, such as deposits, that were paid on their behalf by SCU. In addition, overseas universities and partners may charge a separate withdrawal fee and follow their own schedule for withdrawals. Students should verify withdrawal fees with SCU and their program before making an official withdrawal request. For more information, see Withdrawals on the SCU Study Abroad website.

Travel Expenses 

The University does not pay travel costs to/from the academic program. Travel outside of program dates and during breaks is not subsidized by the University. Students should plan their personal budget accordingly by utilizing the resources on Make Your Study Abroad Budget.

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Grades, Transcripts, Pass/No Pass, Appeals

Enrollment Abroad

Students who participate in an SCU-approved off-campus program must be fully enrolled at their host university/program provider. Full time enrollment on a semester length program is typically 15 US semester credits or 30 ECTS credits. If a student requires a reduced course load due to accessibility needs and is registered with the Office of Accessibility Education or has a documented medical need, a student may submit a Study Abroad Appeal Request to the Director of Study Abroad.

Credits and Grades

Credits and grades earned for approved courses on all SCU-approved off-campus study programs are treated as SCU credits and grades. All SCU academic regulations apply to students studying for SCU credit abroad. The courses, credits, and grades are reviewed, approved, and posted on the SCU academic transcript and course grades are calculated into the student’s cumulative grade point average.

Dual Enrollment

Students studying abroad during the Fall, Winter, or Spring terms are enrolled into a 19 unit placeholder course entitled UNIV 199. This course indicates that they are participating as a full time student on an SCU Study Abroad program. Dual enrollment in on-campus SCU courses, in addition to UNIV 199, is not permitted. Students are encouraged to work with their department to take on-campus courses in the quarters prior to or after their term abroad. 

Language and Culture Course

All students are required to enroll in either a language or culture course while abroad. Students on programs in non-English speaking countries must take a language course and students in English speaking countries must take a culture course that focuses on the country’s culture or history. 


At the conclusion of an off-campus program study program, the program provider or host institution will send the student's official grade report or transcript to the SCU Office of the Registrar. It is the student's responsibility to designate the Office of the Registrar as the place to send their transcript with their off-campus program. Typically, transcripts are received from abroad between one and four months following the completion of their study abroad program. Students who intend to apply for national fellowships, or graduate programs, should keep this time frame in mind at the time of application for off-campus study. Once the SCU Office of the Registrar receives transcripts from abroad it may take several weeks for courses to be posted to the SCU transcript. 

Pass/No Pass (P/NP)

Students may elect to take one course off-campus Pass/No Pass (P/NP) per term if this option is available through the program.  Some programs do not offer P/NP grading. Students will not receive major/minor/Core credit for courses taken P/NP.

Students must request authorization from SCU Study Abroad by the end of the fourth week after the first date of class of their study abroad course abroad.

The transcript received by SCU must provide the grade earned in the course and the SCU Office of the Registrar will convert the grade to P/NP upon receipt of the transcript. Once a P/NP request is approved by the Director of Study Abroad, it is irreversible.

To request a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) grade for a course, students must complete the Pass/No Pass (P/NP) Request Form by the end of the fourth week of the course.

The following program providers/host universities do not offer Pass/No Pass grading:

  • API - ISCTE (Portugal)
  • Arcadia Abroad
  • Australian Catholic University
  • Center for European Studies - Maastricht
  • CIEE
  • FIE
  • IES Abroad Language Courses
  • IES Abroad Courses at Local Universities
  • ISEP - UPF
  • Lund University
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Sophia University
  • Spring Hill College
  • UMN Learning Abroad Center
  • University College Cork
  • University College Dublin
  • University of Deusto

Grade Appeals

The presumption at Santa Clara University is that the instructor alone is qualified to evaluate the academic work of students in their courses and to assign grades to that work. Students will be graded within the context of local circumstances abroad and SCU respects the integrity of different academic systems internationally; therefore, most grades are not subject to appeal. If a student believes that a grade has been assigned in error, or in the case of extraordinary circumstances, the student may appeal the assigned grade as follows:

  1. The final grade must be initiated by the end of the fourth week following the posting of the overseas grades to the SCU transcript by the Office of the Registrar. The student should communicate with the Director of Study Abroad to initiate the appeal process within the appropriate time frame.
  2. The student should contact the instructor of the course to discuss their concerns and verify the accuracy of the grade, as well as the basis for it. Students should include the Director of Study Abroad on this correspondence with the instructor.
  3. Following communication with the instructor abroad, if the student believes that the grade issue has not been resolved, the student should contact the overseas program administrator so that the grade may be appealed within the context of local circumstances and administrative processes. The student should include the Director of Study Abroad on this correspondence with the program. Santa Clara University respects the differing academic processes of other cultures and therefore supports these processes as part of the academic experience abroad. However, if after participating in the local process abroad the student believes that the error or assigned grade issue has not been resolved, the student may submit an appeal to the Director of Study Abroad to review by completing the Study Abroad Appeal Request form. In the grade appeal, the student should include a written explanation of the concern about the grade and copies of all communication with the overseas instructor and program. The Director of Study Abroad is responsible for the decision. 
  4. The student may request that the Study Abroad Director present their appeal to the Associate Provost for International Programs to review. The Associate Provost will review the appeal, and determine a final resolution. The decision of the Associate Provost is final.
  5. A grade appeal based on an accommodation need will be referred to the 504 office and resolved in the disability grievance procedure.

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Approved & Non-Approved Programs

Approved Programs

Santa Clara takes great care to offer programs of high academic standards and reputation that align with the University's curriculum as well as goals for cultural integration. Study abroad programs that are approved by Santa Clara University have gone through a vetting process and have been approved by Global Engagement. To ensure continued academic quality and effective management of health and safety issues inherent in study abroad, SCU Study Abroad monitors programs through returned student evaluations and close communication with partners on an on-going basis. Santa Clara University is obliged to alter or eliminate programs at any time.

Non-Approved Programs and Study Abroad While Independent from SCU

Students who decide to pursue a non-approved program must withdraw from the University for the term they intend to study abroad and may receive transfer units for the coursework taken abroad in keeping with the University’s regular policy on transfer credit. The University’s transfer credit policy allows for a lifetime maximum of ten units to be transferred to Santa Clara from all outside institutions and these units may not count toward major/minor/core requirements. Students are also ineligible to use Santa Clara’s financial aid while on leave from the University. Students who pursue a non-approved study abroad program must complete the leave of absence paperwork with the Drahmann Center. Students should refer to the Undergraduate Bulletin for complete information on the University withdrawal process. 

Santa Clara University cannot provide authorization for non-approved programs.  This means that neither SCU Study Abroad, nor any other SCU staff or faculty, can complete this form for non-approved programs that are independent of Santa Clara University. If a non-approved program requires a “home school authorization” or approval form, students should communicate directly with their program to see if they are able to complete this requirement without Santa Clara University's authorization.

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Accessibility Accommodations

The University is committed to offering equal access to off-campus study programs for students with accommodation needs. Accessibility and learning support systems may differ dramatically abroad and therefore it is essential that students in need of accommodation communicate with SCU Study Abroad early in the advising and exploration process to identify a specific program capable of accommodating needs.

Academic Accommodations Abroad

Before applying to study abroad, students should discuss their accommodation needs with their SCU Study Abroad staff member. The Study Abroad staff member can assist students in identifying a program that can accommodate the student’s needs. Once a program is identified, students who receive academic accommodations through the Office of Accessible Education should obtain a letter that verifies that their academic accommodations are documented through Santa Clara University and describes the accommodations currently received and the accommodations desired abroad. 

Medications Abroad

Students requiring medication should check with their medical practitioner during the pre-departure process to discuss their medical needs. Host country national laws mandate the specific medications and quantities that students can bring into a country. Although medications in amounts for personal use are rarely inspected or questioned, customs officials can become suspicious of medications in large quantities and students should refer to embassy guidance. Students should communicate with the program onsite about any medical accommodations needed overseas.

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Participation Process

Nomination Letters and Waiver

Students are required to confirm their nomination and complete the waiver in the SCU Study Abroad portal in order to secure their place in the study abroad program by the deadline provided in the nomination letter. Nominated applicants who do not confirm their participation by the deadline will be removed from participation. Once the confirmation and waiver have been submitted to SCU Study Abroad, students move from being Applicants to Participants. Participants who withdraw after submitting their confirmation and waiver are responsible for fees associated with withdrawal, see the Study Abroad Withdrawal Policy. 

Partner Applications, Application Fees, and Confirmation Deposit

After confirming their nomination to SCU Study Abroad, students must then submit their program-specific application directly to their program provider and that application must be approved to participate in study abroad. Students are responsible for paying application fees directly to the program.  Students should not pay confirmation deposits to programs directly as these fees are paid directly by Santa Clara University. For a complete description of the fees see Financials.


In order to study abroad, students must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond the date of return to the US following their study abroad program. If a student does not have a passport or needs to renew it, they should do so immediately following notification of acceptance from Santa Clara in order to allow ample time for a possibly lengthy visa process. Passports are issued by the US Department of State

International students should communicate with SCU’s International Students and Scholars at about maintaining immigration status while  abroad.

Visas/Residence Permits

SCU Study Abroad does not advise on program or country-specific visas. Students should work directly with their program providers/host institution for assistance with visas. Students participating on exchange programs will work with the Assistant Director of Study Abroad on initial guidance. 

Enrollment Verification/Visa Letter

If your program provider. host university or visa application requires an Enrollment Verification/Visa Letter, students should complete the Enrollment Verification - Request Form as soon as they are able to. When the student letter is ready, SCU Study Abroad will communicate via email to the student informing them it is ready to pick up at Global Engagement (Varsi Hall, 1st Floor)

Pre-Departure Orientation 

Santa Clara University provides mandatory pre-departure orientation for all students participating in off-campus study programs. Attendance is required and students are expected to make arrangements in their schedules to attend.  Failure to participate in orientation will result in withdrawal from study abroad.

Travel Arrangements 

Students must arrive by the designated start date and time for their program, including onsite orientation. Students should remember to allow for time changes, connecting flights, possible inclement weather, and in-country transportation from the airport to the program site. Be aware that in many cases travel may take one or two days to reach one's destination. Before making travel arrangements, it is the student’s responsibility to verify program dates, entry requirements and arrival instructions with the program provider or host institution. 


Students are required to be covered by comprehensive health insurance licensed to operate abroad in their host country. Depending on the student’s program, insurance will be provided by the program provider or Santa Clara University. The cost of insurance is covered by the SCU Study Abroad Program Fee. Exceptions, waivers, or refunds of insurance are not accepted.

Independent Housing

Students are required to apply for and live in the housing stated in their SCU program brochure.

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Ethics and Programs Abroad


Santa Clara University actively promotes respect for the cultures and values of communities in which we send students by following local practices, whenever possible. We seek partnerships with institutions that are of mutual benefit to both institutions.

Membership in The Forum on Education Abroad

Santa Clara University is a member of The Forum on Education Abroad, the federally designated Standards Organization for Education Abroad and subscribes to best practices in keeping with The Forum’s Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad.

Membership in Diversity Abroad Network

Santa Clara University is a member of The Diversity Abroad Network. Their goal is to ensure that students from diverse economic, educational, ethnic, and social backgrounds are aware, have equal access, and take advantage of the benefits and opportunities afforded through global education exchanges.

Transparency Statement on Partner Programs

Santa Clara University operates overseas educational programs in partnership with international institutions of higher learning and education providers. Santa Clara University does not receive payment for providing students to these universities or organizations. Programs are selected based on curricular alignment, academic excellence, and congruence with Santa Clara’s mission and goals. Some travel or other costs may be shared with the overseas partner when Santa Clara faculty and staff conduct site visits for assessment, risk management, and other professional activities. Santa Clara faculty and staff serving on partner institutions' advisory boards or taking part in other professional governance or assessment activities may be partially or fully compensated for travel and other relevant expenses. Santa Clara faculty or staff receive no other compensation from partner educational institutions.

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