Academic Policies - Life at Colby - Colby College, Waterville, ME


An important part of your preparation to study off-campus is familiarizing yourself with OCS policies and understanding the process of selecting and obtaining Colby credit for your courses. Schedule an individual meeting with an OCS advisor during the fall semester to discuss OCS policies and procedures.

1. Eligibility

To participate in a semester or year long off-campus study program, you must meet certain eligibility criteria.

You need a cumulative GPA of at least 2.7. to be approved by Colby to study off-campus.
If your GPA is lower than 2.7 (but no lower than 2.5), you may be permitted to petition the Advisory Committee on Off-Campus Study. Students with a GPA below 2.5 after Jan Plan will generally not be considered eligible to petition.

With the exception of Colby’s language-acquisition programs in Salamanca and Dijon, which are open to sophomores, you must have junior standing when you study abroad. If you wish to study off-campus during your sophomore or senior year, you must contact the office of Off-Campus Study. Students participating in  year-long study abroad in one site or two are required to apply ahead of time, as part of the application due February 20th. The college plans its enrollment in advance. Extending your stay for another semester once on site is not permitted.

Students who were not able to participate in study away their junior year are permitted to study away first semester of senior year; please contact us.
Note: Colby requires seniors to spend their last semester on the Waterville campus.

Colby believes that foreign languages are the key to understanding foreign cultures.

  1. For regions where the spoken language is taught at Colby, students are expected to have completed the equivalent of three semesters (through 127) (Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Russian, Hebrew) prior to studying abroad.
  2. For study in Portuguese-speaking countries (Portugal or Brazil), Colby requires the equivalent of 3 semesters of college level study of Spanish or another romance language.
  3. In countries where the host language is not English, students are required to study the local language for the duration of the program

You must be in good academic and disciplinary standing to be approved for off-campus study at Colby. This means that you may not be on academic or disciplinary probation. If you are on disciplinary probation, please contact us to discuss your options.

2. Courses Off Campus

An important part of your preparation is understanding the process of selecting your courses and transferring them to Colby for credit. You will be meeting with your academic advisor, who will help you to choose the right courses and understand your academic progress towards graduation. Before your meeting, take time to research your host university or program web site and pre-select courses which you find interesting and/or which you think you need to fulfill your requirements.

You must register for a full course load, equivalent to 15-16 Colby credits per semester. Credit transfer is determined by Colby. Do not assume that the credits which appear on your transcript for your program will automatically convert to the same number. If you have doubts about whether you are taking the correct number of courses to fulfill 15-16 credits, please check with your academic advisor and OCS. Online and hybrid courses are generally not allowed for study away since we want to increase students’ cultural engagement. However, due to COVID disruptions, the college has made concessions for the classes of ’24 and ’25, so allowing hybrid or online courses is up to the discretion of the students’ academic advisors and their departments.

You may take courses fulfilling major and minor requirements, diversity requirements, as well as courses for general credit. You are required to fulfill the Colby Language Requirement Abroad : you must take at least one course each semester in the language of the host country for the duration of the program, either as an academic subject course or an appropriate language/grammar course. Certain courses in subjects not taught at Colby (such as agriculture, archaeology, architecture, business, engineering, law, or veterinary studies) or courses that do not meet Colby’s standards of academic rigor (for example physical education, music lessons, vocational courses or certain service-learning courses) may not be approved for credit transfer. Online and hybrid courses are generally not allowed for study away since we want to increase students’ cultural engagement. However, due to COVID disruptions, the college has made concessions for the classes of ’24 and ’25, so allowing hybrid or online courses is up to the discretion of students’ academic advisors and their departments. Please consult OCS for advice on approving your courses in advance.

You will be asked to select courses early in the process and your course proposal will be a part of your Colby application to study off-campus. As part of the application process, you will be meeting and consulting about your course selection with OCS and with your academic advisor. Important considerations for you and your academic advisor are what courses you still need to complete at Colby, what courses your department will allow you take off campus and what other recommendations your academic advisor might have. You can find the Course Approval form for Off-Campus Study on the Registrar’s website under “Forms for Students.” This form must be completed, with the appropriate faculty signatures and approvals, and returned to [email protected] 

Colby Course Approval Structure:

General CreditAcademic AdvisorFull course load (depends on credit value)
Distribution or Diversity RequirementDepartmental representativeNo limit
Major or Minor creditDepartmental representativeVaries by department

Departmental Chairs & Liaisons CONTACT LIST

All-College Distribution Requirements CONTACT LIST

Departmental Chairs & Liaisons CONTACT LIST

All-College Distribution Requirements CONTACT LIST 

You will be asked to select courses early in the process and will have to submit your course approval form as part of your Colby application (in the on-line portal) to study off-campus. However, often you will finalize or change your course registration once you arrive at your program/university. Notify your academic advisor and OCS about any changes and include a full course syllabus by email to allow your advisor to evaluate the course content. This step is very important as it insures that you are taking the number of courses equivalent to a 15-16 credit semester.  If you are intending to count courses towards your major, minor or distribution requirements, it is best to secure these approvals ahead of time.

You must take courses for a letter grade; no pass/ fail is allowed. Minimum grade for transfer of credit is C and grades below that will not receive any credit but they will appear on your Colby transcript. The non-US grades will be converted to US grades according to established conversion scales provided by the issuing institution.

You are expected to attend classes regularly and to comply with all the requirements of your program. Be aware that if you leave your program early or for extended periods of travel while classes are in session, the amount of credit you receive might be reduced. Please familiarize yourself with exam policies as you plan your stay abroad. You are required to take the regular and final examinations for all courses in which you are enrolled. You are required to abide by the add/drop period of your program. While your grades do not factor into the g.p.a. for non-Colby programs, they will appear on your transcript, so it is imperative that you take your studies seriously.

Note: Students attending approved fall semester programs which continue into January should expect to stay into January to complete their courses and exams, unless there is an early start program in September.

3. Faculty Mentor Program

As part of your off-campus study experience, you will participate in the OCS Faculty Mentor Program, designed to help you fully integrate your education and learning experiences away from Mayflower Hill into your Colby course of study.

Prior to departure, you will be assigned to a small cohort of students advised by a faculty mentor outside of your major. Your faculty mentor will engage with your group prior to, during, and after your time away from campus. You will be given advice and guidance during special orientation and mentoring sessions to identify and develop your final research or cultural engagement project. Additionally, as part of the assignment, you will be participating in the student-run Off Mayflower Hill Blog. Upon completion of your semester(s) away, you will receive a one-credit non-graded course notation which will be included in your Colby transcript.

4. Credit Transfer and Transcript

Upon successful completion of your program, you will typically receive 15-16 Colby credits per semester. You may transfer a maximum of 20 credits for a semester and 32 for a full year back to Colby. You may also be granted more than 16 credits for work that exceeds the normal course load of the program, but this requires a petition to the Registrar. You are required to receive a grade on your transcript (including internships, independent study, research) in order to receive Colby credit and all courses must be taken for a letter grade and not as pass/fail. You must receive a C or above in order to get credit for a course. Credit transfer is determined by Colby. Do not assume that the credits which appear on your transcript for your program will automatically convert to the same number. If you have doubts about whether you are taking the correct number of courses to fulfill 15-16 credits, please check with your academic advisor and OCS. On-line courses are not approved and Colby does not give credit for on-line courses in any case.

We encourage international or domestic internship programs, but to receive academic credit, the internship must be non-paid, include considerable academic work done in tandem with the work placement, and not exceed 4 credit hours. Typically, an internship is one of four 4-credit courses. Please consult with OCS and your academic advisor to ensure that your internship will receive credit.

Jan Plan credit will be awarded for:

  • a full academic year program in 1 or 2 sites.
  • Students who are studying away, either domestically or internationally, for a full year in either one site or two are given credit for a JanPlan for that January. This exemption means that they are not permitted to participate in a JanPlan during the year they are off campus.
  • a fall program which is in session through most of January
  • a spring program which is in session for most of January and whose total duration is at least eighteen weeks. (Holidays and vacation periods are deducted from the 18 weeks)

See the list of eligible programs here.

  • Your grades will factor into your g.p.a if you are on a Colby Program (Bigelow, Salamanca, Dijon)
  • Your grades will not factor into your g.p.a., but will appear on your transcript if you are on a non-Colby Program

If you were on a non-Colby Program, your letter grades will appear on your Colby transcript, but will not be factored into your Colby GPA. It is, however, legitimate for you to include them for the purpose of employment or graduate school. For Colby Programs – Salamanca, Dijon,  and Bigelow- grades will appear on your transcript and will factor into your Colby GPA. Grades below a C will not receive any credit but will appear on your Colby transcript.

In order to have your off-campus transcript released to the registrar, you must submit your OCS Program Evaluation. The information you provide is very important for our program review process as we strive to offer high-quality programs and satisfactory experiences for Colby students. We value your input and feedback and constructive criticism.

You will be asked by most program providers for an address to which your transcript will be sent. Please use this address:

Lindsey Nelson, Registrar
4622 Mayflower Hill 

Waterville, ME 04901-8845

You may ask to have an additional transcript sent to your address for your own records. Programs typically send transcripts within eight weeks of the close of the program, but in some cases, it may take longer.

Grossman 100
(207) 859-4500
[email protected]

Office Hours:
Mon – Fri: 8am – 5pm

Walk-In Hours:
Mon: 9:30am – 10:30am AND
Tue/Thu/Fri: 2:30pm – 3:30pm