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When should I study off campus?

Integration with Bowdoin

Bowdoin allows students to study away for a semester or year. The key to deciding when and for how long to go is in planning out how the time away fits into Bowdoin academics and other commitments. Students should first and foremost consider the availability of Bowdoin classes, particularly those needed for their major/minor. Meeting with a major advisor can help clarify scheduling opportunities and roadblocks. There may also be non-academic commitments such as athletics or leadership of a club that influence timing.

Academic Calendar Abroad

Off-campus academics also play a role. Some programs are only run once a year, and others are only available for students for a whole year (Oxford, LSE). Some academic calendars are very different from Bowdoin’s: for instance southern hemisphere universities run about six weeks off from Bowdoin, likewise universities in Germany can’t accommodate visiting students in the fall, but those who go in the spring study from March-July. Lastly, there may be program requirements to consider, such as language level, GPA, and program class offerings (some are only offered in one semester or another; also some programs only run once a year or run only for a full year). 

Being asked to switch semesters

While some students study away for a full year, most only go for a semester. However, occasionally more students register intent on the November 1 form to go in one semester than in another. OCS is responsible for balancing these numbers if possible. Semester preference that’s based on an academic need or leadership role is always taken very seriously by OCS and priority is given to those students. If a student has not demonstrated a strong reason behind his/her semester preference, s/he may be asked to switch to another semester. (Note: Achieving a balance is ultimately in students’ best interest. An example of this is that if lots more students are away in the fall than in the spring, then in the fall there is extra housing but in the spring housing is very tight and room assignment preferences may be difficult to accommodate.)

Not all students can study away in the academic year. Those seeking an alternative international experience can visit our Other Options page to learn about summer programs and other ways to have an international experience.