/ Center for Global Engagement


Go on your off-campus study programs with Hope College.

Student dancing in Africa


You’ve completed your application and have been accepted into your off-campus study program. Now’s the time to prepare for your trip and head out.

  • Attend the orientation sessions. First, all students who study off-campus through Hope College are required to attend an orientation as scheduled by the Center for Global Engagement. You will receive more information about date, time and location after your program application has been processed. Second, your off-campus study program will provide you with an on-site orientation once you arrive. You will receive more detailed information from your program about its orientation once you have been accepted.
  • Read the Off-Campus Study Handbook. The handbook is available on the website of the Fried Center for Global Engagement and is reviewed with you during the required Off-Campus Study orientation session. A link to this handbook is also shared with a parent/guardian that you identify.
  • Apply for a passport. Make sure you apply for a passport early — during busy times, the State Department can take months to issue a passport, and you don’t want to wait.
  • Check if you need a visa. Your program can advise you about visa requirements. Be sure to read all the material your program sends you. If you have questions about visa requirements, contact your program.
  • Prepare a budget. Preparing a budget in advance helps ensure you have a productive and worry-free trip off-campus. Take a look at our budget worksheet for guidance to make sure you are well-prepared.
  • Get a physical. The Health Clinic can fill out your physical form. Visit the Hope Health Clinic Travel Information page for more details.  Please note that your HopeHealth insurance will not cover the cost of the physical; payment is expected up front. The Health Clinic is available to answer any questions and can recommend a travel medicine specialist who can advise you about immunizations and precautionary measures for certain African, Asian and South American countries.
  • Choose your courses. Most students carry a full load (15–16 credit hours) while studying abroad. Students usually take a variety of courses including some that will meet general education and elective requirements, as well as courses specific to their major and minor.
  • Get course approval. All credits taken on an approved program will be counted as Hope credit. To make sure your credits are counted for the appropriate major, minor or gen ed requirements, complete the Course Approval Form through your department chairperson and advisor and get approval before starting your program.
  • Count academic credits. Credits you earn off-campus count as Hope College credits and appear on your transcript. You need to decide how you want your credits applied (i.e., as a general education requirement, major/minor credit or an elective). You must complete a Course Approval Form through the Registrar’s Office. That form must be signed by the head of the department from which you would like to receive credit. If you want to receive major/minor credit, be sure to talk to the appropriate advisor to find equivalent courses. For general education courses, talk to the Registrar.
  • Double-up credits if you can. Some courses taken off-campus may count towards both your general education requirement and your major/minor. This is most common for students earning a double-major or minor in a second language. For example, if you study in Paris and take an art history course that’s taught in French, the course could meet the FA1 general education requirement and count toward a major or minor in French. Talk to your advisor.
  • Get your grades. Very few universities outside the United States have grading procedures like American universities. Your program will send an official transcript to the Registrar’s Office. The grades you earn while off-campus are converted into letter grades according to your program’s recommended scale. Those grades will appear on your transcript and are then figured into your overall GPA.

Your packing list has been triple-checked and you’ve studied up on your new country. It’s time to go! Make sure to fully immerse yourself in your new country — this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. While you’re off-campus, be sure to think of these things:

  • Take a look at what others are up to on the student blog. Perhaps you’ll get ideas for your own trip. Either way, you’ll be able to relate to other students’ joys and pangs as they navigate a new place.
  • Are you in choir or orchestra? Do you love to hike, work out or find the flow in yoga? Perhaps you’re passionate about urban gardening? Find local clubs and organizations that allow you to meet others who share your passions and interests.
  • As your trip winds down, make sure to look ahead to our Reflect page and think about your role as an off-campus study returnee.
  • Don’t forget to register for next semester’s courses! Make sure you’re all set for arrival back on Hope’s campus when you return at the end of your off-campus study program.