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Choosing an Off-Campus Study Program

Back of student with backpack headed up Arthur's Seat in Glasgow

photo by Bryce Lew '19


The programs featured in this site have been carefully selected and represent some of the best opportunities available in off-campus study today. From the broad academic and geographical range of options, most students should be able to identify a program meeting their goals.

Core Academic Rationale  

Grinnell asks you to select a program compatible with your academic goals as set out in your four-year plan and off-campus study essays. Define your goals in discussion with your academic adviser(s). Begin by thinking about your purpose in seeking to study off campus, i.e., your core academic rationale. Many students choose to link off-campus study to their major or concentration, others want to enhance their understanding of other subjects studied on campus. The link you choose should provide a sense of academic direction for studying off campus.

Additional Objectives 

In addition to the core academic rationale, your program choice may be partly determined by additional objectives, in consultation with your academic adviser, a program adviser, or OCS staff. For example, you may wish to broaden your liberal arts education by studying a language or taking liberal arts courses not offered at Grinnell. You may also have broader educational and future goals connected to the experience of engaging with another culture. The possibility of community service, fieldwork or an internship might be an important consideration. Such additional objectives are important to consider along with your core academic rationale and should be of help in guiding you towards a program that is a good match. You may have other considerations as well. Keep in mind your finances and other personal considerations such as health and wellness.

Program Selectivity

Programs vary considerably in competitiveness. Highly competitive programs may have an enrollment cap or only accept students with higher GPAs and specific course preparation, other programs may have more relaxed criteria for admission. Prerequisites and GPA requirements are normally set by the program itself, however, the Off-Campus Study Board may increase or extend them. In the unusual event that a student meets Grinnell's eligibility requirements but is denied admission, OCS staff will provide assistance in identifying an acceptable substitute program.


OCS Program Comparison Tool