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Guiding Principles

Bates students study in countries as distinct as Australia and Vietnam, Chile and China, and Ireland and Israel.

While the locations reflect the range of student aspirations and imaginations, the advising process and the approval of individual programs are guided by principles developed over the years by the faculty and the Off-Campus Study Committee at Bates.  The most central of these principles with examples of their applications or an explanation are presented below.


1. Your study abroad curriculum should reflect the values established by Bates’ faculty.

Application:  Programs that focus on liberal arts are approved; internships are approved for credit only if they represent a small portion of the course work and are in languages taught at Bates.

Application:  Students with advanced language skills may not “study down” on programs that may be approved for less skilled students.

Application:  The duration of semester abroad programs must be equal to the length of the Bates semester, including vacations. Year programs must equal at least two semesters.


2. The principal educational advantages of study abroad are usually the in-depth exposure to a different culture and language learning. Additionally, it provides students the opportunity to enrich their majors with courses that are not available at Bates.

Application:  When a choice exists, programs that provide full immersion in a foreign educational system and culture are approved; “tour” and “island programs” with American students only are not approved.

Application:  Students must live with a family or students from the host country when these housing options are available.

Application:  While students are free to study in “western” countries, they are encouraged to evaluate seriously the opportunities in developing countries and other “non-western” societies.

Application:  Students are encouraged to pursue programs that build upon previous language study.

Application:  To maximize language learning, students are expected to have completed the equivalent of at least two years of language course work prior to study abroad in French-, German-, or Spanish-speaking settings. Instruction must be primarily in the foreign language. In Chinese-, Japanese-, and Russian-language settings, the equivalent of at least one year of college-level study is required.  Prior language study is not required elsewhere, but students must include language study, ancient or modern, as part of their coursework.

Application:  International students may not return to their home country to study.


3. Study abroad should be a serious academic experience comparable as much as possible to that at Bates. Preferably, it is integrated into a student’s on-campus academic program.

Application:  Students are urged to start evaluating study abroad early in their time at Bates as their major is still taking shape and when additional language courses may be taken. The major must be declared and the department chair must approve the student’s plan of study and off-campus study application.

Application:  When a choice exists, programs sponsored by peer institutions or otherwise known for their selectivity, student quality, and academic rigor are approved; other options are not.

Application:  To obtain full credit, students must take the full course load, must earn the equivalent of a 3.00 GPA, and must pass all courses. If attending an English language university, at least half the course work must be above the first-year level.  Students must take all final exams at their regularly scheduled times and locations.  Students at foreign universities are exempted from this requirement only if host country students in similar academic circumstances are also exempted.


4. Participants must be four year students and in residence their sophomore year to participate on the Junior Year Abroad Program.

Explanation:  Study Abroad is not intended to provide a means of obtaining a Bates degree without attending the college and benefiting from on-campus guidance and course work during sophomore year.


5. Participants must have a 2.50 grade point average at the time of application.

Explanation:  Study Abroad typically requires greater independence, maturity, and academic motivation to be successful.  Students with weaker academic records are less likely to succeed without the support network provided on campus.


6. Study abroad should be available to students without regard to financial circumstances.

Application: Financial aid is available for participants on the College’s programs up to the amount the student would have received had she or he remained on campus.


7. Students may petition for exceptions to these principles on academic grounds or on the basis of exceptional extenuating circumstances.

Explanation:  Study Abroad experiences are best when tailored specifically to a student’s interests and academic background.  A student may petition the Off-Campus Study Committee if she or he wants to participate on a program that they believe meets the overall “spirit” of these guidelines, but conflicts with a specific principle.


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