Study Abroad

Many EPS students choose to study abroad, typically in the spring semester of junior year or in the fall semester of senior year. Some students spend their entire junior year abroad. Students can also spend a semester or year in a study away program at a domestic institution. All of these programs (including domestic programs) are managed by the Overseas Programs office.

1. General Procedure

The general procedure for a student to study abroad/away is as follows:

i) Obtain WashU Approval

Students must obtain WashU approval to participate in a program. To do this the student should complete the steps below. Students are encouraged to begin this process as early as possible; a suggested timeline is given here. Allow additional time if petitioning for an alternative (not pre-approved) program

  • Determine which hard deadline for the WashU application applies
  • At least four weeks before application deadline: Select a program. Determine the required application material for that program (including required recommendations)
  • At least four weeks before application deadline: Obtain a Study Plan from the Overseas Program office.
  • At least four weeks before application deadline: Meet with the major advisor to ensure that the student meets all WashU and EPS requirements to participate in a study abrad/away program. Students and advisor should ensure that major progress will not be adversely affected by participation. The student should select program courses in which to enroll, and discuss with major advisor
  • At least four weeks before application deadline: Meet with the study abroad/away advisor (SAA) to ensure all EPS requirements are met and to discuss how selected program courses will transfer for major credit. The SAA will, in consultation with the student, complete the course transfer section of the Study Plan and sign the Study Plan.
  • At least three weeks before application deadline: Request recommendations for study abroad application. Students should discuss the program with recommenders.
  • By the application deadline: Submit all required materials, including Study Plan, to the Overseas Program office.

ii) Obtain Program Approval

Many study-abroad programs have their own application that is separate from the WashU process. Students are responsible for understanding the requirements and deadlines for these applications and submitting material. As a general rule, these deadlines are usually much later than the WashU approval deadline.

2. Requirements and Policies

 Students wishing to study abroad/away must meet and abide by the requirements of i) the Overseas Program office, ii) the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and iii) the program to which they apply.

i) Requirements of the Overseas Program Office

To applyStudents must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better at the time they apply to study abroad/away.

While abroad: Students must take their program’s equivalent of 14-18 WashU credits per semester. In order to earn WashU credit, students must earn the equivalent of C or better in a program course.

Up to 6 credits per semester abroad may be used to satisfy to NSM/SSC/HUM/LCD area requirements. Determination of which program courses may satisfy this WashU requirement should be determined by a conversation between the student and the four-year advisor.

Note: generally, neither the EPS major advisor nor the SAA can assist with questions about area requirements. The SAA has no role in approving these credit transfers.

ii) Requirements of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

To apply: Students must be on-track to complete their major requirements. Students should have (at minimum) completed EPS 201, and generally should have completed some upper level courses. Students should have a planned academic schedule that will allow them to complete the major based on courses completed at WashU and abroad.

While abroad: Students must complete a minimum of 2 and no more than 3 program courses that count towards the major. The program courses must be upper level. Major credit will only be given for program courses that transfer to WashU as the equivalent of upper-level (300- and 400-level) courses. No major credit is transferred for 200-level courses. Students will not receive EPS credit for the program equivalent of EPS 201 during their program semester; EPS 201 must be completed before departure.

iii) Requirements of the specific overseas program

Each program has its own set of requirements or suggestions for preparation. While these requirements may be waived in some instances, this decision is made by each individual program and not by anyone at WashU. Students should be encouraged to take these requirements literally. The SAA can provide guidance when there are questions about the likelihood of a student’s admission to a particular program.

3. WashU Application Deadlines

The dates listed below are the deadlines for submission of the application to study abroad/away. All materials must be submitted to the Overseas Programs office before this deadline in order to receive WashU approval.

Deadlines for EPS-approved programs:

The deadline for fall or full-year study-abroad/away is February 1.

The deadline for summer study-abroad/away is February 15.

The deadline for spring study-abroad/away is May 1.

Deadlines for petitions for alternative programs:

The deadline for fall or full-year study-abroad/away is January 15.

The deadline for summer study-abroad/away is February 15.

The deadline for spring study-abroad/away is April 15.

Students should not assume that alternative programs will be automatically approved. EPS advises that petitions to alternative programs be submitted well in advance of the official deadlines.

4. EPS-approved Programs

The WashU Overseas Programs office maintains a database of all programs that have been approved by academic departments at Washington University. The list of programs approved by EPS can be found in the program database and later in this document.

Explanation of pre-approved programs

Pre-approved programs have curricula that have been reviewed by EPS and the Overseas Programs office and determined to meet the needs of WashU students.  Certain courses in pre-approved programs will be automatically awarded credit as though students had completed their EPS equivalents. Students can make progress towards their EPS major by completing these courses.

Students and major advisors should be aware that this equivalency also holds in the sense that courses cannot be repeated for credit. Therefore, i) a student generally cannot receive major credit for a program course if the student has already completed its equivalent EPS course, ii) a student cannot receive credit for an EPS course if the student has completed its equivalent program course.  For example, the University of Edinburgh program offers ECSC 08003 – Soil, Water and Atmospheric Processes, which transfers to WashU as EPS 413. A student that had completed EPS 413 could not receive major credit for ECSC 08003. A student that had received program credit for ECSC 08003 could not subsequently receive major credit for EPS 413.

Program courses with substantial EPS content but no direct EPS equivalent receive transfer credit as EPS 494 (general EPS credit for study abroad/away courses). Up to three 3-credit courses of EPS 494 can be used by any EPS major to fulfill EPS elective requirements.

 Determination of program course equivalents

The EPS equivalents of program courses are determined by the SAA in consultation with the EPS Director of Undergraduate Studies. The SAA maintains a schedule of program courses and their EPS equivalents.

Students should be sure they understand how program credit will transfer. The student and SAA will discuss this prior to filling out the Study Plan. By signing the Study Plan, the SAA indicates preliminary approval for the specified credit transfers.

Students sometimes decide to adjust their program course schedule after arriving at their program. It is strongly recommended that students contact the SAA before changing their plan of study. Students should not make any assumptions about how alternate courses will transfer for WashU credit. The details of credit transfer for program courses not indicated on the Study Plan can be worked out with the SAA by email. The student must ensure that their adjusted courses in their program conform to all WashU and EPS requirements for study abroad/away.

5. Current EPS-approved programs

EPS currently (Spring 2019) has nine pre-approved programs (eight foreign and one domestic). Two of these can be used to fulfill the field camp requirement for Geology majors. Prior to study abroad/away, students should verify field camp credit with the SAA based on their projected course schedule.

Pre-approved with Geology field camp credit

Frontiers Abroad: Geology of New Zealand (program link)

University of St Andrews (program link)

Pre-approved (no field camp credit)

Frontiers Abroad: New Zealand Earth Systems (program link)

SIT Study Abroad Iceland and Greenland: Climate Change and the Arctic (program link)

Trinity College Dublin

University of Cape Town
University of Edinburgh

University of Queensland

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (program link)

6. Credit transfer

Upon return to WashU, each student must ensure that the program submits an official transcript to the Overseas Programs office.  Each student completes a credit request questionnaire that summarizes the program coursework and the student’s preference for how program courses will satisfy WashU requirements.

These two documents, along with the original Study Plan, are sent by Overseas Programs to the SAA. The SAA makes the final determination as to how program courses will transfer for EPS credit. The policy of the SAA is to approve all credit transfers that were agreed to on the Study Plan or by later arrangement with the student, as long as minimum grades were achieved. (note: the SAA makes no determination about credit transfer for courses that do not satisfy EPS requirements)

If a student requests a credit transfer to EPS was not agreed to by the SAA before the student enrolled in the course, this request is evaluated by the SAA. The guidelines for this evaluation are: i) credit can only be transferred if the grade was the equivalent of a C or better; ii) if the program course has an EPS equivalent indicated on the schedule maintained by the SAA, credit will transfer as per the schedule; iii) if the program course is not indicated on the SAA schedule but the course has substantial EPS content (in the judgement of the SAA), the credit transfers as EPS 494; iv) if the program course does not have substantial EPS content (in the judgement of the SAA), no EPS credit will be transferred. In some cases, the credit transfer per SAA schedule could result in a student inadvertently repeating a course for which the student cannot receive credit twice. For this reason, before enrolling in any program class not on the Study Plan it is strongly recommended that students contact the SAA to ensure they understand how credit will transfer for each of their program classes. 

7. Alternative programs

EPS students who wish to participate in a study abroad/away program that is not currently approved by EPS can petition to participate in an alternative program. The mechanism for doing this depends on the nature of the program.

 i) Programs approved by WashU but not by EPS

The student should:

  • Contact with the SAA as far as possible ahead of the application deadline to discuss the program.
  • Contact Amy Suelzer at the Overseas Program office to discuss the petition and receive the petition paperwork (Departmental Petition for WU-Approved Program)
  • Write a Statement of Purpose: Please address your academic goals as well as how the proposed study abroad/away program and curriculum will enhance your progress in your major field of study or another academic area above and beyond the existing portfolio of study abroad/away program options approved by your department
  • Arrange for a letter of recommendation from an EPS faculty member (usually the major advisor) to be sent to the SAA
  • Provide the SAA with the Statement of Purpose, and an Unofficial Transcript. In conjunction with the SAA the student will complete a Study Plan
  • Submit the Study Plan, Statement of Purpose, and Petition to the Overseas Program office

 

If approved by EPS, the SAA will submit a Letter of Endorsement to the Study Abroad Advisory Board (SAAB).

ii) Programs not approved by any department at WashU

The student should:

  • Meet with Amy Suelzer at the Overseas Program office to discuss the petition (Petition to Participate in an Alternative Program for Study Abroad). This is a mandatory in-person meeting.
  • Complete the Petition Data Sheet
  • Write a Statement of Purpose: Please address your academic goals as well as how the proposed study abroad/away program and curriculum will enhance your progress in your major field of study or another academic area above and beyond the existing portfolio of study abroad/away program options approved by your department
  • Arrange a meeting with the SAA to complete the Study Plan
  • Arrange for a letter of recommendation from an EPS faculty member (usually the major advisor) to be sent to the SAA
  • Provide the SAA with the Statement of Purpose, and an Unofficial Transcript. In conjunction with the SAA the student will complete a Study Plan
  • Submit all required materials to the Overseas Program office

 

If approved by EPS, the SAA will submit a Letter of Endorsement to the Study Abroad Advisory Board (SAAB).