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FAQ: Knox Off-Campus Study


Tim Foster

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401



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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Frequently Asked Questions & Off-Campus Study Planning and Preparation Timeline

1. How long can I participate in an off-campus program?

A student can apply for a maximum of three terms (or two semesters) of off-campus study

2. Can I participate in more than one program?

Yes. As long as you make a compelling case for each program and you are aware of the difficulty for adaptation and reorientation that will come with switching cultures and/or languages. You will also need to think through the timing of visa applications, if you need two visas for two programs.

3. Do I still have to submit the application for approval to apply by February 1 even if the program-provider's application for admission deadline isn't until later in the spring or next fall?

Yes. Knox requires you to meet this deadline so that we can approve your application before the program provider requires your application for admission. This will also give you ample opportunity for any needed rewrites, completion of additional Knox coursework, or other additional paperwork.

4. May I still apply after the February deadline?

Late applications are not normally considered by the faculty off-campus study committee. You may contact the Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies with a letter explaining the late application. The College will assess a $100 late fee.

5. Do I need my parent's or guardian's signature on the Cost Estimate Worksheet & Financial Declaration of Good Standing at Knox form (and Student Contract form, a required form for students accepted into the Knox Besancon, Barcelona or Buenos Aires program)?

Yes, yes, yes!!!

6. How many letters of recommendation do I need?

For Knox College you need two faculty recommendations. If your program requests two or more faculty recommendations, you may ask the same faculty recommenders to provide letters for both the internal and the external processes. However, if your program provider does not require recommendations, or only one recommendation, you still need to get two recommendation for the Knox internal application process.

7. How are recommendation letters submitted?

The Knox application process ( - the online application system) includes a recommendation module for the names and email addresses of your faculty recommenders, who will then receive email instructions about uploading their letters into your application account. You will also need to give clear and careful instructions to faculty recommenders when you apply to your chosen program's provider about how their letters are to be conveyed:  many programs have online application systems; some require letterhead for recommendation letters; a few still require snail mail letters sent directly from faculty recommenders.

8. Do my letters have to be from faculty members?

Knox requires that two recommendations be from professors. A third recommendation may be from a coach, mentor or supervisor.

9. How can I make a strong and convincing case for participation in the off-campus program of my choosing?

Applications will be evaluated on the clarity and persuasiveness with which they present the academic merits of participation in the proposed program. Among the qualities for judging academic merit are: the applicant's level of preparation, including attention to program prerequisites and the fit between the coursework on the proposed program and the student's major(s) and minor(s), and graduate-school and/or career aspirations. Applicants are expected to demonstrate their academic preparation for off-campus study by maintaining good academic standing. The applicant's short- and long-term plans are an important consideration. The applicant should work with her or his faculty advisor and/or with the faculty program advisor in preparing the application, especially the Study Plan form and application essay. The off-campus committee does not approve all proposals, but it does endorse strong, reflective, meritorious applications. Strong applications show how the plan of off-campus study fits into the student's curricular goals and long-term interests. They show careful research into the chosen off-campus study program. They include positive faculty recommendations.

10. What if my grade point average isn't stellar?

Knox requires all approved applicants to be in good academic standing. Applicants with a GPA below a 3.0 can strengthen their application essay by providing a paragraph describing how their academic performance demonstrates appropriate preparation for the demands of off-campus study. It is still possible to be approved for off-campus study! The committee may require an improvement in grades in the trimesters between application and participation. Note that program providers may have strict GPA requirements of 3.0 or higher.

11. Who decides if my application for permission to study abroad or off campus is approved?

The Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies first asks the faculty program advisor for each program to evaluate all applications. The applications are then reviewed by the faculty off-campus study committee (composed of faculty, the director of the Stellyes Center and an associate academic dean). In some cases, the committee will ask to interview applicants or request additional information before making a final decision on an application.

12. When will I find out if I'm approved by Knox?

Knox will make every effort to notify you by the end of Winter term. Notifications will come through campus mail (be sure to set approval for emails from so that the email doesn't hit your spam filter).

13. What if Knox does not approve my application?

Read carefully the rationale for having been denied. If you feel there has been a misunderstanding or you want a chance to have your case heard again, you may appeal the decision. Contact the faculty chair of the off-campus study committee or the Center director: your appeal will go to the committee for reconsideration based on additional information you provide or will be referred directly to the Dean of the College. A second appeal may go directly to the Dean of the College, who will render a final decision or in special cases ask the Curriculum Committee to review the application. You may apply again for permission to study abroad in the following year: it is often the case that the next year's application is much stronger and will be approved.

14. If Knox approves me, what happens next?

Approval by Knox for permission to study abroad / off campus does not automatically admit a student into their requested program of study.  Approved students may begin the process of applying for admission into the program of their choice. Each program provider has a different process. Approved students may visit the Stellyes Center to review the next steps for their particular program (for example, IES, ACM, CIEE and SIT have on-line application systems; DIS and FIE accept a list of approved students directly from the Stellyes Center at Knox and will reach out to students about next steps in their online application and information portals, and so on). Students should begin corresponding directly with their chosen program provider, watching closely for application guidelines and deadlines.

15. What if Knox approves my application but the program provider does not?

This happens. If you still wish to study off campus, contact the Stellyes Center for Global Studies for assistance in identifying another appropriate program for your intended area of study. You will not need to complete a new Knox application to apply to another program in this case.

16. Do I need to pay the program deposit to the program provider or does Knox pay the deposit?

When a student is accepted into a program, a deposit is usually required to secure the student's place in that program. Knox does not pay these deposits. Students pay these deposits directly to the program providers (i.e., ACM, DIS, IES, SFS, SIT, CIEE). Later, this deposit will be deducted from your off-campus study bill.

17. If I do not need all 4.5 credits for a semester program, can I sign up for 3 credits?

No. Program providers base their fees on participants' enrollment as full-time semester students and fees are not reduced even if a student enrolls in fewer classes. Usually, a 3 credit load (in Knox's terms - that is, 3 courses) is still considered full-time by the program provider, and therefore they still charge Knox full price. Students should know that their need-based financial aid is calculated on their enrollment as full-time students, so each student needs to take enough credits on their off-campus program to retain full-time student status. Knox College allows both need-based and merit financial aid to travel with students on approved programs (in varying percentages based on the semester/term of the chosen program).

18. May I study abroad in my sophomore year?

Yes, but you should expressly address your choice of timing in your application essay, explaining why you want to study abroad in your second year of college, what academic preparation you have made for the experience of study abroad, and how an earlier-than-usual experience of international study on the particular program you have chosen will help to shape your academic career at Knox. You'll need to make a good case for the timing, the choice of program, and your readiness for the experience. You will want a good set of grades in your first fall term as evidence of academic ability (the application process requires that you upload a transcript - you'll have fewer courses on record than sophomores applying for study abroad in their junior year).

19. Do I pay Knox tuition?

Yes. You will pay Knox tuition (a semester is half of the total tuition for the year; a term of tuition is just the same as if you were at Knox). You will also pay the *program provider's* fees instead of Knox room and board fees - you will want to research carefully what is covered (for example: meals? housing? some meals but not all? some in-country transportation costs for program excursions? supplemental health and accident insurance?) and what out-of-pocket expenses you will need to budget for. Each program is different (*and some programs have different fees for fall and spring semesters as the semesters vary in length).

20.  What happens if I withdraw from a study abroad program I have selected?

This depends on when you withdraw.  If you withdraw soon after receiving approval from Knox to study abroad / off campus and before you have submitted a non-refundable deposit to your chosen program provider (or to the Knox business office for a Knox study abroad program), there are actions you need to take to be sure you are well set for courses and housing, etc., at Knox instead of abroad.  If later:  Be aware of your chosen program provider's deadline for notification of withdrawal from the program after which your tuition and fees will not be refunded or will be refunded only in part.  It can be more expensive to cancel a study abroad experience at a late minute than to continue with your plans for the semester abroad. Do not proceed deeply into the application process if you are profoundly uncertain about your financial ability to afford the experience - the deposit you will be required to pay to your chosen program provider will be non-refundable; your ability to withdraw from a program just weeks before it begins has serious financial consequences.  In every case, you will want to inform the Stellyes Center, the Registrar, the Dean's Office, the Student Billing Coordinator and Housing of your decision as soon as you have made it.

21.  I am an international (F1 Visa) student at Knox - how does study abroad work for me?

International students will want to be sure to work closely with the Knox Office of International Student Services to ensure that your passport and student visa are valid and up-to-date (and will remain up to date beyond the term of the study-abroad experience) and that your I-20s will have a valid travel signature when you return to the United States. If you are only going to be gone for one term, the Associate Director of ISS signs the I-20 form before you leave; if for longer (a semester or two or more terms or a year), ISS makes arrangements to send an updated I-20 before you return to the States. If you (international student) are studying off-campus but within the United States, you will want to keep on hand an up-to-date I-20 form and valid passport but do not need a new F-1 student visa from the United States.   If you (international student) are studying in a country other than the United States for your short-term (non-degree) study abroad experience:  You WILL very likely need to apply for a visa into the country in which you wish to study. You will want to research the requirements for the necessary student visa *from the host country* carefully:  requirements depends upon your country of citizenship and the country in which you intend to study abroad. The process can be long and costly, so it is best to research the process carefully and be sure to inform your chosen program provider of your citizenship so that they can give you advise about feasibility of an application (they may also be able to give you suggestions about timeline and process).

22.   I am a DACA student - how does study abroad work for me?

You may apply to USCIS for an Advance Parole authorization to travel outside the United States. See the USCIS website for information about the application process and for the link to the appropriate form.  Off-campus study opportunities within the United States (such as the ACM Newberry Library program or the ACM/GLCA Oak Ridge program or the Washington Semesters program in Washington DC) are available to you as to all Knox students (and without any USCIS-required travel forms). 

23.  What pre-departure resources and advice are available on-line for Knox students?

See the Pre-Departure Overview & Re-Entry Resources in the navigation bar to the left-hand side of this page!

Knox College

Printed on Monday, July 22, 2024