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Frequently Asked Questions


General FAQs


Why did Vassar College decide to suspend fall 2020 study abroad?

Due to considerations for student health and safety, the Vassar College Policy on Student Travel prohibits College study abroad to be sponsored for locations with a U.S. State Department/United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) travel advisory of level 3 or above. Therefore, the current CDC level 3 advisory and Department of State level 4 preclude the operation of study abroad programming. Please note that the suspension of study abroad is also applicable to all virtually offered programs. 

Additionally, the following factors make study abroad for the fall 2020 semester unfeasible:

  • Unreliable access to evacuation services, due to in-country conditions and travel restrictions

  • Possibility of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Potential in-country quarantine requirements

  • Uncertainties of future conditions/health care systems and facilities in various countries

  • Disruptions to the academic integrity of programs 

  • Impact upon quality of cultural immersion including loss of residential and host family interactions 

  • Significant delays in passport/visa processing

  • Travel restrictions in and out of various countries


What is Vassar's policy on international travel?

The Vassar College Policy on Student Travel follows the guidance of the Travel Advisories issued by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Student travel, including study abroad and academic study trips, is permitted to countries (or regions within countries) designated by the U.S. State Department and the CDC as level 1 or level 2. College policy prohibits students who study abroad and students or alumni traveling with college funds from traveling to countries with a current U.S. Department of State general travel advisory at level 3 or 4 or a CDC travel advisory at level 3. 

It is important to  note that currently:

  • The State Department has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory, which applies to all countries, regardless of their individual Travel Advisory levels.

  • The CDC has issued a Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice which applies a Warning Level 3: Avoid Non-Essential Travel to all countries.

  • Due to these advisory levels and in light of the Vassar College student travel policy, students are currently not permitted to participate in college sponsored international travel.

The Dean of Faculty, Health Services, and Office of International Programs together engage a variety of resources to evaluate travel risk to Vassar students. Vassar may also prohibit student travel if the College determines that travel to the country poses a credible health or security risk to students. 

For more details, please read the College Policy on Student Travel


If my program isn’t canceled, may I still go abroad even though Vassar has suspended fall 2020 study abroad?

All students enrolled at Vassar require college approval in order to study abroad. Students who wish to study abroad without Vassar approval would need to take a personal leave of absence. However, please be aware that you cannot receive any financial aid for your semester of leave or transfer any course credits completed back to Vassar, and the College will not be able to provide any support while you are abroad. Given the uncertain nature of international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this option is not encouraged.


How do I request Vassar housing for the fall?

The room draw process was delayed until July, so you may still participate. The Housing Office will reach out to you to let you know what to do in order to be included in the Room Draw process that will take place in July, so please continue checking your Vassar e-mail.

How do I register for fall courses at Vassar?

All study abroad students were allowed to participate in pre-registration in April. If you did not do so, you will still have the opportunity to register during Phase II of pre-registration (dates to be announced by the Registrar).


Who will Vassar contact with further updates?

No changes will be made to the decision regarding fall 2020 study abroad between June and the start of the fall semester, even if any circumstances change. The timing of this decision is intended for the sake of student and College planning purposes for the fall term. OIP will communicate with students directly to let them know if there are any updates related to 2021 study abroad plans. We always encourage you to share updates with your family so they can also stay informed. 


What happens if I already paid a program deposit?

For Vassar sponsored programs and Vassar exchanges, students do not pay any program deposits. 

For Vassar approved programs, students should contact their study abroad program directly to inquire about their refund policy. Many programs are offering flexibility with financial policies due to the COVID-19 situation, but students should always communicate directly with their host programs regarding these policies. 


What if I already made my flight reservation?

You should contact the airline directly to ask about their refund policy. Vassar cannot assume any liability for costs incurred by students for personal travel plans or for any program-related out-of-pocket costs (such as airfare, visa fees, vaccinations, if applicable). 


Can I defer my study abroad plans to a later semester?

Any student wishing to petition to change the term of their study abroad plans to another semester (Spring 2021 or Fall 2021) should contact OIP directly. Petitions will be reviewed by the Committee on Leaves and Privileges (CLP) when they meet in the fall semester.


Should I notify my program that I will not be studying abroad?

Yes, you are responsible for contacting your study abroad program or host university to alert them of your change in plans. You should let them know that your home school has suspended study abroad for the fall 2020 semester, and you should inquire as to their withdrawal/refund procedures. Please do this in a timely manner, in order to avoid any non-refundable program expenses.


General FAQs

What is the minimum GPA requirement for permission to study abroad?

It is recommended that students have a cumulative and major GPA of 3.2. However, the committee evaluates each application on an individual basis. Therefore, students who do not meet the recommended GPA are encouraged to submit their application if there is a compelling academic reason for international study.


Do I have to pay Vassar's tuition while I am away?

Yes, when studying abroad, all students pay Vassar tuition and receive Vassar credit. Vassar considers charges for expenses that are required as part of the academic program (i.e. Cultural events or field work that the program considers necessary to the academic program) as part of tuition. Program tuition is billed to Vassar, not to the student. Students are responsible for room and board fees and any other unique program charges. All fees must be paid in full in order for the Office of International Programs transfer credit to be applied to a student’s Vassar transcript.


Will credit for courses I take while abroad be transferred?

Students must receive a passing grade of C or better in courses take abroad in order to get credit. A “C-“ will not transfer but the grade will still be recorded on the transcript. The Registrar has established semester or quarter hour equivalencies to Vassar's unit system. However, the precise number of units a student receives often depends on how the courses and hours are listed on the transcript and how many credit hours are awarded per course by the host institution.


Can I take courses in English in countries where the official language is not English?

In countries where the language of study is taught at Vassar students must study in that language. In many other countries there are approved English language international study programs, but you will be required to study the language of the host country while you are there. There are a limited number of exceptions to this policy for example certain specialty programs such as those taught in studio art, architecture or art history. Please check with the Office of International Programs for clarification.


How do I know if a program is approved or not?

The Office of International Programs and the Committee on Leaves and Privileges review study abroad programs annually to approve programs that meet Vassar's academic standards. Students should refer to the current list of approved study abroad programs before beginning their research, as participation in only an approved program will ensure that study abroad credits are transferable.

If you cannot find a program on the approved list that meets your academic needs, you may petition the Committee on Leaves and Privileges to attend a non-approved program. This entails providing materials with pertinent information on academic courses to the Office of International Programs. You will be notified of the committee’s decision in a timely manner.


Do I need a passport to study abroad?

Yes. It is your responsibility to make sure that you have a passport that is valid for 6 months beyond your expected return date. You need a passport before you can apply for a visa. The application process for a new passport can take from 4 to 6 weeks.

Requirements for student visas vary from country to country. You will need to check the State Department website for the consulate that has jurisdiction over your residence. You must have all of your documents in order before you apply for your visa. Some countries also require proof of immunization in order to obtain your visa. Please be sure to read the information on the consulate website carefully! Consulates are very unforgiving if you are not prepared! If you have any questions you can consult the Office of International Programs or your program contact for non-Vassar study abroad programs for assistance.

Getting a visa is your responsibility. Most consulates require that you appear in person to obtain the visa. Please be aware that the application process can take several weeks and in certain cases, there may be a limited window of opportunity to apply for the visa due to restrictions imposed by the consulate. For example, some countries will not allow you to apply for your visa more than 60-90 days in advance of your departure.


Will I need special vaccinations to go abroad?

You should check with the State Department website, the program, or the U.S. Public Health Service Centers for Disease Control - 800.311.3435 (hot line), 888.232.3299 (fax) - for information on malaria, health advisories, immunization schedules, bulletins on disease outbreaks, etc. Please note that some immunizations must be started 12 WEEKS before your departure. Tetanus/diphtheria, measles, polio, and hepatitis A and B are some of the recommended vaccinations for all travelers. Some countries will require vaccinations for yellow fever and cholera.


What is available at the Vassar College Health Services?

The Vassar College Health Services offers travel counseling as well as immunizations for students studying or traveling abroad that can prepare and protect you against many of the most common travel related illnesses such as: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Other travel immunizations available at the Health Center include: Tetanus/diphtheria, Typhoid, and Polio. Health services can also advise about and prescribe anti-malaria medications. Call for a travel clinic appointment. Please note that several travel immunizations are only available off-campus. These include Japanese Encephalitis, Yellow Fever, Rabies, and Oral Typhoid. They are available at these local locations:

Dutchess County Department of Health
387 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 486-3432

International Travel Health Consultants
243 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 454-7367


How do I obtain an International Student I.D. Card?

Students may obtain an International Student Identification Card before leaving the U.S. In addition to receiving discounts on meals at some restaurants, museums, trains, flights, hostels, etc. your ISIC card also serves as an acceptable form of identification while you are abroad. The card also provides supplemental medical insurance in the form of basic accident, sickness, medical evacuation and repatriation for travel outside of the United States. Please note that this is not meant to be a substitute for your regular health insurance plan.

You can get your ISIC card from the Registar’s office on campus or order it online at: