There is a lot to think through as you consider when and where to study off campus! We created this list of Frequently Asked Questons (FAQs) to help you in this process. Take a look at this information to answer all of the questions that you might have and maybe some that you didn't know you had!
In the sections below, we cover general information about studying off-campus with BestSemester. Click on the links under each program name to read FAQs specific to your program.
If your campus doesn't allow your financial aid to support an off-campus semester, you might have a lot of questions about how to strategize financially. In the FAQs below, we answer common questions about finances:
How much will the program cost?
Fees differ for each student depending on their campus policies and student aid arrangement. This means it is very important for you to contact the Off-Campus Study Coordinator or Financial Aid Office at your school to determine how much you will pay to study with BestSemester. Make sure you do this prior to committing to participate in the program!
In most cases, your costs will reflect the program's instructional fees, room and sometimes board (food). You can find detailed information about costs, anticipated additional expenses and billing for each program at www.bestsemester.com/costs.
Will I be able to use my financial aid?
All Federal and State financial aid will apply to your studies with BestSemester. Additionally, most (but not all) campuses allow students to transfer some or all of their institutional financial aid, scholarships and grants.
Again, it is very important for you to check with your school to determine if/how campus aid or scholarships are applied to a semester off campus on a BestSemester program. Let us know what you find out!
Are there any scholarships available?
BestSemester does not offer any direct scholarships for participants. But there are a lot of scholarship opportunities out there for students who plan to study off-campus! Check with your campus for scholarship listings or go online to search on sites including:
If you are applying to an international BestSemester program, you can check out the following:
- Gilman Scholarship Program
- Boren Undergraduate Scholarships
- Hagan Scholarship Foundation (summer programs only)
By now you have probably realized (or will soon!) that there is a lot to get done before you can have your BestSemester. But you may not know that there is actually a lot that needs to be done on your own campus before you can study off-campus. Read the FAQs below to find out what preparations you need to do on your campus.
How do I get campus approval?
You must be enrolled in a home campus while you participate in a BestSemester program, and your school must approve you to participate.
Each school has a different procedure for approving off campus study. You may need to complete additional paperwork or have an interview on your campus before your school officially approves you to apply to BestSemester. The best place to find out the details of that process is your campus's off-campus study office/contact.
Your campus must verify that you are approved to participate in a BestSemester program through the Certification Form. You should print the form from your application or and submit it to be signed by an off campus study contact and an academic officer (i.e. Registrar or Chief Academic Officer).
How do I send BestSemester my transcript?
BestSemester requires that you submit a transcript from your current campus, as well as any college, university or community college from which you have received credit.
To request a transcript from your college or university, contact your Registrar's/Records office. You can use the transcript request form we provide here, but the Registrar might have their own form or an online transcript request process.
Where do I send my transcript and certification form?
Please send your certification form and transcript to to following address:
321 8th St NE
Washington, DC 20002
Remember: Make sure to give your campus enough time to process the certification form and transcript prior to the admissions deadline! We can accept faxed or scanned copies to use to review your application, but BestSemester must receive an official hardcopy before we send you an admissions decision.
What are the equivalent courses on my campus for the courses I would take through BestSemester?
Campuses work out course equivalencies differently. It is your responsibility to work with your academic advisor, off-campus study advisor and/or registrar to determine credit and equivalent courses. If possible, try to finalize course equivalencies before you leave campus or, better yet, while applying. This will make your transition back to campus much easier!
BestSemester does not assign course numbers due to the variety of campus/department policies. However, we provide resources to help. Each program's "Academics" section on the webpage includes course descriptions and syllabi. Since courses do not frequently change from semester to semester, the posted syllabi will give you and your academic advisor a general idea of the coursework you would take while studying with BestSemester.
I do not attend a CCCU school. Can I still participate in a BestSemester program?
You bet! Most students who attend BestSemester programs are from CCCU institutions, but we welcome applications from non-CCCU students! To learn more about the procedures for non-CCCU student participation, please contact the BestSemester offices at 202.548.5201.
Sometimes, the online application process can get a little confusing! What do you need to turn in? And when? Then what happens? In the FAQs below we cover information that will be helpful as you go through the BestSemester online application process:
Should I apply at the early or regular deadline?
The main advantage to applying for a BestSemester program at the early application deadline is that you will receive an admissions notification (accepted, not accepted, or hold to review at the regular deadline) sooner. This lets you make plans and start preparations for your year earlier than if you apply at the regular deadline.
But if your campus will not approve you in time to meet the early deadline, don't worry! We intentionally leave spots open for students apply at the regular deadline. However, if you can, it is never a bad idea to secure your participation in the program earlier, rather than later!
How do I know if you have received my requirements?
After you have submitted your online application, you can check the status of your requirements in your application on TerraDotta. Simply log into your appliction at www.bestsemester.terradotta.com, and look to see if there is a check next to the required items you are wondering about. If there is a check they have been received!
Please note that transcripts and certification forms may take several days to arrive by mail and 1-2 business days to manually process.
Before submitting your application, you will have no way to check the status of your requirements online. If you have questions or concerns about the status of your required materials, please contact your BestSemester program advisor.
When will I find out if I have been accepted?
Admissions status notifications (i.e. accepted, waitlisted, not accepted, etc.) are sent by email two to three weeks from the posted application deadline.
What do I need to do after I'm accepted?
First, celebrate!!! Then, get back to business...
Your acceptance begins what we call the "confirmation process." Two weeks after you are accepted, you will need to confirm your intent to participate and pay a non-refundable deposit of $300. (This is why it's a good idea to check out things like courses and finances BEFORE you receive an admissions decision!) Afterwards, you must submit additional materials in preparation for your time with BestSemester. We will send you all the little details about those requirements when the time comes. Until then, just focus on the application!
If you haven't already started talking with your parents about your plans to study abroad or off-campus, now is the time to start! To help get the conversation going, the FAQs below answers questions commonly asked by parents.
What important information should I share with my parents?
First, you should tell your parents why you are interested in studying off-campus with BestSemester. Share your excitement! Explain to them how you heard about the program, why your interest has grown and how you think the experience will benefit you.
From there, you can get into the nitty-gritty details. Everyone's parents are going to have different concerns and questions, but some important topics to cover are program dates, costs, safety and communication. While some topics are covered below, we also encourage you to share the program's website with your parents. It contains a world of information about everything from housing to academics to program staff.
Who should my parents contact if they have questions?
It is bound to happen: your parents are going to ask you a question that you don't know how to answer. If that happens, take note of their concerns and give your advisor a call! While we don't mind talking with your parents, you are the one who wants to study with us so you should be our main point of contact. If your parents ask tough questions, use it as an opportunity to learn more about the program and then communicate the answers back to them. This is the best way to make sure that both you and your parents are informed.
Will I be safe during the semester?
We understand that safety is a big concern for your parents, whether you are studying stateside or internationally. While BestSemester cannot guarantee that you will not experience any risks, we can affirm our longstanding commitment to student safety and stewardship, and the readiness to deal with emergencies in a responsible manner.
BestSemester has been in operation for more than 35 years. We only operate programs in locations where we are confident that you will be safe. We continually monitor the news and safety conditions for changes, responding as necessary. Each program has an emergency plan that is reviewed regularly in light of standards of good practice in off-campus programming, local regional advice, risk management consultations and experience gained through previous emergency events. Program staff members are well connected within their local communities with many years of experience and deep networks of resources to draw upon for advice and assistance. Additionally, each program includes safety topics in orientation in which we ask students to do their part to stay safe as well.
If your parents would like more details on this issue, please direct them to BestSemester's statement on its commitment to safety and security.
Will BestSemester ever contact my parents?
Before you begin the program, BestSemester considers you to be our primary point of contact. So we will not be in regular contact with your parents. However, we will notify your emergency contacts when you arrive on the program (international programs only), in the case of an emergency and/or if any safety announcements need to be sent out during the semester.
International programs: How often will I be able to communicate with my family and friends back home?
During the semester you will live in and travel to places that might not always have access to telephones or email. Although there will be time for you to connect with those back home, we encourage you not to be in daily contact with family and friends. Instead, it is important to spend your "emotional energy" identifying with the local culture-you will have a better semester as a result. We suggest that you prepare your family and friends that they may not hear from you as often as they might when you are on campus back home. It is best not to commit to calling friends and family at a set time until after you arrive at the program and become more familiarized with the schedule.
In the case of emergency: BestSemester programs always have means of communicating with our U.S. offices, including times when the group is traveling.