First Things First

Before you do anything, make an appointment with the Office of International & Off-Campus Studies!

Getting approved

If you plan to study through an unaffiliated program, you must apply for admittance to the institution or program for which you wish to study directly and adhere to the deadlines of your chosen program. You must also complete and submit an Academic Leave of Absence (ALA) form to the International and Off-Campus Studies Office at least 90 days prior to the start date of your program.

Unaffiliated Program Application

This form must be filled out by any student wishing to participate in a program that is NOT on Cornell's list of affiliated programs.

  • Please check the correct box on the form, for off-campus studies with an unaffiliated program will mean you will take an Academic Leave of Absence.
  • Additionally, students who wish to study off-campus (on any program) but were not approved to take their need-based aid with them for Off-Campus Studies by the Academic Standing Committee will take an Academic Leave of Absence as well. (And use this form too.) 
  • Your Cornell financial aid will not transfer under an Academic Leave of Absence, but you may be eligible to have any Federal and State aid applied to the program costs. You will meet with Financial Assistance to determine how your aid will be affected.

You can find an official list of approved domestic and international programs here or in the academic catalogue. (Students going off-campus on affiliated or exchange programs can petition to take their need-based aid with them; deadline is early December.)

Passports and Visas


A passport is required for US citizens to travel to most foreign countries, including Canada and Mexico. Our office recommends that you apply for a passport ASAP, allowing at least 6-8 weeks for processing. Applications for new passports can be found on the US Department of State website.

  • It is important to remember that if you also need a visa to study abroad, you will mail your passport with your visa application to the embassy or consulate of the country where you will study. The visa application process can take months, so the sooner you obtain your new or renewed passport, the better. 

International Students will also need their passport for additional international travel.


A visa is required for US citizens to travel to some foreign countries for short or extended stays. It is your responsibility to determine if you need a visa.

  • Contact the study abroad program to learn if past students needed a visa.
  • Go to the website for the embassy of the country where you will study and research the need for a visa, based on the length of your study abroad experience.
  • If you plan to work or participate in volunteer work while abroad, you may need a different type of visa. (For example, students studying in the United Kingdom for a semester do not need a visa; but if they are also doing volunteer work (service learning), they do need a visa.)
  • (Also, when you stop in another country on your way to and from your program, you may need a transit visa for that country. So, please check your flight itineraries and then check these countries' embassy websites too.)

If you are an international student interested in participating in an off-campus opportunity you may need to obtain additional visas.

Please update International & Off-Campus Studies about your research to determine if you need a visa.

90 Days Before you Travel

Off-Campus Studies Petition

Obtain the proper signatures and submit this form to the Coordinator of International & Off-Campus Studies. Check the box that says "Academic Leave of Absence (Non-Affiliated program)."

  • This includes signatures from Financial Assistance, so plan ahead and schedule an appointment to discuss how studying off campus could affect your aid and how much you may need to pay out-of-pocket.

Student Waiver (Non-Cornell Programs)

This Student Waiver Form is required by all students studying off-campus on any program that is not a Cornell College course. This includes all exchange, affiliated, and non-affiliated program participants.

Please note that failure to turn in this information to International & Off-Campus Studies may result in removal from the program and/or the inability of Cornell College's off-campus insurance policy to provide coverage for the student. 

Country-Specific Health & Safety Information Meeting

Your health and safety is of utmost importance to us and to your family. Some countries will have require additional vaccinations, which you may need months before you travel in order to be effective. So, you are required to do one of these two things 90 days before you travel:

  • E-mail Nancy Reasland, RN, Director of Student Health Services to arrange a meeting OR
  • Go to a travel clinic or travel physician for country-specific information and submit proof of this visit to Nancy

Nancy will also send you important health and safety information by e-mail.

Petition for Transfer of Credit

Most students will need to submit Petitions for Transfer of Credit for their off-campus study programs. When petitioning for credit, one form must be completed for the department issuing credit for each credit a student wishes to bring back to Cornell. 

Submitting these forms before you start each course is the best way to ensure that you will receive credit for an off-campus course (which can go towards your Cornell degree).

  • Remember - you must receive a C or higher to receive credit.

(Credit earned on non-Cornell off-campus courses is not calculated into your Cornell cumulative GPA.)