As part of the study abroad application process, students are required to obtain approval from their academic advisors. Academic advising is a critical part of preparing a UMass Amherst student to maximize his/her study abroad experience.
The pre-approval process requires students to identify courses specific to their major, minor or certificate programs. Each department has the authority to pre-approve courses that replace either core requirements or upper level electives. This process of pre-approval is quite different from a semester of transfer credits and therefore, courses taken abroad and pre-approved count as residency credits.
The course approval process is dependent upon the faculty advisor in each major. If you are unfamiliar with the process, please feel free to contact the International Programs Office for information. In either case, it is most helpful if you discuss the following areas with the student:
- Academic preparation for study abroad including meeting GPA and prerequisites for study abroad programs.
- Undergraduates must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 for permission to study abroad. Many universities and programs require a GPA of 3.0 or better.
- Students must enroll as fulltime students while abroad (12-16/sem; 6 cr+ for summer)
- Consider graduation requirements: credits available and credit approvals toward degree.
- Inform the student of particular terms that may be best for study abroad (i.e. Engineering might be second semester sophomore year while Psychology students are encouraged to complete the 300 level stat course(s) before studying abroad).
- Discuss study abroad course options with students and suggest courses that may be particularly helpful for the major/minor.
- Be familiar with major/minor requirements and know which ones students may be able to take abroad and which requirements must be fulfilled at UMass Amherst.
- Help students plan course sequence to leave a "flexible term" abroad with more elective options.
- General Education requirements vs. Major requirements may be considered.
- Discuss courses that may only be offered during a specific term on campus, which would interfere with study abroad during that specific term.
- Consider advising students to take a minor or enroll in a certificate program, especially in content areas that complement the major, along with their program choice abroad.
- Ask IPO for a list of courses in your field that have been pre-approved in past few years.
Faculty or Instructor Recommendations for Applications
As part of the study abroad application process, students are required to obtain 1-2 recommendations from instructors. These recommendations are a key component in the selection of participants for study abroad and international internship programs.
The Letter of Recommendation form contains a section for the student to choose whether or not to waive inspection rights, and suggestive guidelines for the Recommender.
For UMass Amherst Programs, the IPO study abroad on-line application includes an online recommendation form for some programs. Students may choose to submit the recommendation request electronically by entering the Recommender's contact information. The submitted request will then be e-mailed to the Recommender, who can use the link in the e-mail to visit the IPO website and submit the recommendation. The primary way of submitting a recommendation continues to be submission a printed letter of recommendation on UMass Amherst letterhead, and signed by the Recommender. Programs run by external organizations (Partner or approved, Non-UMass programs) may require either written or on-line recommendations.