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How Do I Apply for Study Abroad?

Applying to study abroad is a two-stage process at Vassar. First, you submit an application for permission to study abroad to the Committee on Leaves and Privileges (CLP). Once approved you complete the application for your chosen program.

Students are eligible to study abroad in junior year or first semester of senior year. Students apply for permission to study abroad in the fall term prior to the year they would like to study abroad. For example, to go abroad during junior year, students apply during the fall term of the sophomore year. The application period opens at the beginning of October. The deadline to apply is always the first Monday in December.

Applications are submitted online via the Vassar Global Learning Portal. Navigate to your desired program, click “apply now” and login with your Vassar credentials. You should have a clear idea of where you want to go and why. Normally only one application is warranted, but in some cases, you may be advised to apply for a back-up program, for example, where the first-choice program is highly competitive. With the exception of the Berlin Consortium for German Studies, the Vassar-sponsored programs do not require a secondary application.

Vassar Requirements

To be eligible to apply, you must have:

  • Declared a major, chosen a major adviser, and discussed study abroad plans in detail with that person.
  • Support of your major adviser and major department.
  • A language faculty recommendation if applying for a program in which the instruction is other than English.
  • Fulfilled the college quantitative requirement before study abroad term.
  • Completed sufficient area studies courses or have a plan to take them.
  • Satisfied the applicable language requirement and demonstrated a sustained interest in language acquisition.
  • Selected an appropriate program or programs.

A GPA of 3.2 or higher is also recommended. If you have any concerns about this, please contact our office.


The application will ask you to list the courses you propose to take while abroad. This will require some research to determine which programs offer appropriate courses of interest to you. You should also consult with your major adviser to determine if there are any required courses you will need to take while abroad.

Please be aware that some course listings may not be published at the time you submit your application. Therefore, it may be necessary to use general categories, such as 19th c. British Literature or Politics of the Middle East. Regardless, the Committee on Leaves and Privileges (CLP) expects you to adhere to the spirit of your Course Proposal. Any substantial changes made during course registration must be done in consultation with your major adviser and submitted to the OIP for approval.

You will also be asked to list courses you have already taken that have prepared you for your experience abroad. For example, if you are seeking permission for an environmental science program in Panama, the CLP would expect you to have taken related science courses (i.e., Biology, Environmental Studies), Spanish language, and Latin America Area Studies courses.

Please note that as a liberal arts college Vassar does not allow students to take pre-professional coursework, such as Business or Marketing, while abroad. If unsure whether your proposed coursework falls within this category, please contact the OIP.

Statement of Purpose

The personal statement is one of the most important parts of your study abroad application. It should demonstrate your motivation to study abroad and how the location, proposed coursework, and specific aspects of your desired program fit in and enhance your academic plan and goals beyond Vassar. Your statement should be limited to one page, double-spaced, and should follow the standard academic approach. Make sure it includes an introduction, a reasoned argument (with evidence and proving points), as well as a conclusion. Review the statement with your major advisor, before you submit it.


Recommendations are required from:

  • our major adviser (if a double major, then both advisors).
  • From a faculty member whom you know or with whom you have taken a class.
  • From a language faculty member if your proposed coursework is to be taken in a language other than English.

A few points to consider regarding faculty recommendations:

  • Be sure to request recommendations well in advance of the deadline; the semester end is just as hectic for faculty as it is for you.
  • BEFORE entering the names of recommenders into your application, speak with each of them to make sure they have time and are willing to give a recommendation.
  • Provide your recommenders with a copy of your personal statement and proposed coursework so they have time to review it before you meet. They may have feedback to make your application stronger and will be better prepared to write a recommendation if they know your plan.
  • Let your recommenders know that they will receive an online form to complete.