Domestic Programs

A domestic leave is one that is taken at an institution located within the United States or Canada. There are two general types of domestic leaves; programs to which Vassar financial aid can be applied and programs to which it cannot.

The domestic leave without Vassar aid is an Academic Leave of Absence (LVA). The procedures for applying for both an LVA or a domestic exchange with aid will be described in brief. For a complete explanation of which financial aid is applicable to each of these types of domestic leaves, please consult the Financial Aid web site.

There are specific deadlines for the Twelve College Exchange institutions and programs and for Academic Leaves of Absence and for and these are posted below. The final review of the application is done by the Committee on Leaves and Privileges (CLP), whose approval permits the student to take an LVA and also pre-approves all course selections for transfer.

Financial Aid in Relief

Please note: Students who are eligible to apply their Vassar financial aid toward their leave may only do so if they meet the deadline for applications which is February 1st. This deadline is firm for Vassar application forms regardless of any other deadline required by the program or institution to which the student is applying.

Although work-study is part of Vassar’s financial aid package, host institutions are not obligated nor do they usually offer work-study to visiting or exchange students. Work-study money does not apply on an LVA. When a student applies to take any kind of domestic leave regardless of whether Vassar aid travels, work-study is treated as an unmet need.

Preliminary Application Requirements

Students may apply for either type of domestic leave for either the fall (a) or spring (b) semesters or for an entire academic year, in accordance with the student’s academic plan.

Preliminary requirements of applicants include a minimum GPA of 2.7, no incompletes, and have no outstanding financial obligation to the College. The domestic leave is open primarily to sophomores who have declared a major and have developed an academic plan for completing the degree. Sophomores apply to take a leave for their junior year.

Students are advised to begin looking into programs in the fall semester before the spring application deadline. Those students interested in the Thayer Dual Degree Program in Engineering should find out about the requirements in their freshman year so that they will become familiar with the prerequisites needed for admission to the program. The Domestic Exchange coordinator, Pauline Saavedra has catalogues and other materials that students may review, and she is located in the Dean of Studies Office, 125 Main North (within the Dean of Studies Office complex.)

Complete requirements for each of the domestic leaves are contained in specific application forms and can be obtained in the Dean of Studies Office, 128 Main North.

Students may pick application forms for domestic leaves (either LVA or Twelve College Exchange) in the Dean of Studies Office, 128 Main North.

Domestic Leaves with Vassar Financial Aid

These include the 12 College Exchange, the *Urban Education Semester, and the *Historical Black Colleges.

12 College Exchange in Brief

The participants are: Amherst; Bowdoin, Connecticut College, Dartmouth, Mt. Holyoke, Smith, Trinity, Vassar, Wellesley, Wesleyan, and Wheaton. Students may also apply to Connecticut College’s *National Theater Institute, the *Dual Degree Program at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, and *Williams College's Mystic Seaport Maritime.

*An asterisk above the name of an institution or program indicates that both a Vassar application and a specific program application is required.

The 12 College Exchange colleges provide a liberal arts curriculum similar to that of Vassar. However, they also offer a variety of course offerings which may augment or complement Vassar’s academic programs.

The 12 College Exchange Programs are more specialized. They have their own self-contained facilities separate from their sponsoring institutions. They also have their own admissions process. A brief description of the three programs follows.

  • *The Dual Degree Program at Dartmouth University is a five year program in which a Vassar student spends his/her entire junior year at the Thayer School of Engineering. The student returns in his/her senior year to graduate from Vassar, and then goes back to Thayer for a fifth year, enabling the student to earn both a Bachelor of Arts degree at Vassar and a Bachelor of Engineering at Dartmouth in five years. Please consult the Dartmouth-Thayer Dual Degree web site for a list of prerequisites for the program as well as areas of specialization within the engineering field.
  • *The National Theater Institute (NTI) is located in the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. NTI offers students majoring in some form of theater arts the opportunity to take a semester of conservatory based training. The curriculum which is standard for all students consists of intensive courses in Directing, Playwriting, Design, Acting, and Movement and Voice. Two weeks of the semester are spent at either Stratford-upon-Avon in England or in Moscow.

    NTI also offers students a chance to study for a semester at the Moscow Arts Theatre. Although students live and study in Russia, this program is still part of the domestic leave Twelve College Exchange. The curriculum offered consists of Acting, Russian Theater History, Russian Language, Movement and Voice and Design.
  • *The Williams-Mystic Seaport Program is located in the historic Mystic Seaport Museum village in Mystic, Connecticut. The Program allows students to spend a semester studying America’s relationship to the sea through courses in Marine Policy, Literature of the Sea, Maritime History, Oceanography and Marine Ecology. During each semester students participate in a ten day voyage exploring either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts.

The Historic Black Colleges

The historic black colleges: *Howard University, *Morehouse College and *Spelman College were established in the 19th century and are located in the South in Nashville, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia, respectively. To apply to the historic Black Colleges, students must first complete an Academic Leave Application form, and then apply individually to the college in which they are interested.

Students apply to be visiting students as if they were taking an Academic Leave of Absence, but unlike an LVA, the student’s Vassar aid will be applied toward the cost of their tuition.

Please be advised: Spelman College does not offer campus housing to visiting students and Vassar students will be expected to make their own arrangements for accommodation if campus housing cannot be secured.

*The Urban Education Semester

The full name of this program is the Urban Education Semester at Bank Street College of Education, which is located in New York City. The institutions participating in the program are members of the Venture Consortium. For students considering a career in teaching, particularly teaching in urban areas, the Urban Education Semester combines field work placements in New York City public schools with course work and advisement at Bank Street College on developing effective education strategies and policy is in urban public schools.

Students must complete an Academic Leave of Absence form as well as the Urban Education Semester application form. The application process for this program is on a different schedule. Students cannot submit their Urban Education Application until the Program’s stated deadline. However, students who need their Vassar aid must submit their completed LVA form in time to meet the Vassar application deadline of Feb. 1st.

Programs without Vassar Financial Aid

The Vassar Domestic Study Office has information on a few programs that offer the chance to concentrate on a particular field of study. Courses successfully completed in these programs will receive transfer credit. Please note: Vassar institutional financial aid does not travel for those taking academic leaves of absence (LVAs). However, if you or your parents have received federal loans in prior years to help pay for the cost of education and wish to have these funds applied toward the cost of your LVA, you must complete a Worksheet for Domestic/Exchange Programs before April 20th for Fall LVAs and October 20th for Spring LVAs.

The SEA Semester, Woods Hole

The SEA Semester is a twelve week program with two components. The Shore Component consists of students studying maritime policy, history and literature, in addition to ship navigation and oceanography. The Sea Component comprises the second half of the program in which students put to sea for six weeks and design research projects that will be the focus of their work in addition to sailing the vessel.

Earlham College Border Studies Program

Study is spread among three areas:  Tuscon, Arizona, Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales Sonora, Mexico.  Students explore controversial issues related to immigration, human rights, the environment, public health, and the consequences of globiliation.  A minimum of two semesters of college Spanish is required.  Students will live with families in both Arizona and Mexico and the families in Mexico will be Spanish language dominant.

Bard in New York City: Globalization and International Affairs Program

A program that combines academic study at Bard Hall in the heart of Midtown Manhattan with internships at a variety of national and international government and non-government organizations and media centers.

“Spring in New York” New York University

An opportunity to attend New York University for the spring semester and take classes in one of their undergraduate schools. Choose one of eight programs in your field with the flexibility to take one elective outside your approved area of study.

The Washington Semester

The Washington Semester program offers students from all over the world the chance to study how policy is made in the nation’s capital. The Program offers students an opportunity to focus their study in one of thirteen areas of specialization: American Politics, Economic Policy, Foreign Policy, International Business and Trade, International Environment and Development, Journalism, Justice, Peace and Conflict Resolution, American Public Law, and Transforming Communities. In addition to taking seminars in which the guest speakers include notable leaders and policy makers, students may select from a array of internships in their area of interest. Also, selected programs offer opportunity for travel abroad.

The Shape of Two Cities: New York/Paris, Columbia University

The Shape of Two Cities Program is year long program on the study of architecture and urban planning and preservation in which student spend half their academic year in New York and the other half in Paris. It attracts students who are interested in art history and architecture, as well as urban planning.

The Trinity La MaMa Program

The Trinity La MaMa program is an intensive program which encompasses not only the artistic side of the theater but the practical and administrative side of operating a non- profit cultural institution. The program is based in New York, and students may select an internship from among the city’s brilliant and diverse theatrical and dance institutions.

Semester in Environmental Science, Woods Hole

Spend a semester studying science at the world-renowned facilities of the Woods Hole Scientific Community. Students learn state-of-the-art techniques for measuring biogeochemical processes in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and then tackle an independent research project of your choice.

"A Semester ALMOST Abroad" at the University of Hawaii, Manoa

ASAA program offers students the opportunity to study in an ethnically diverse environment which is reflected in the university population and academic offerings.  Programs include Ethnic Studies, East Asian Languages and Literatures, Geology and Geophysics, Oceanography, and Marine Biology.  Also, the arts courses (Music and Theatre) have a dinstinctly Asian flavor.

How Credits are Transferred from a Twelve College Exchange and an Academic Leave of Absence

Students are expected to take a regular full course load for each semester they are on leave. In most cases, this would be four courses. For institutions operating on a system of four quarters rather than two semesters (including Dartmouth) a full course load is considered three courses. Course selections are to be worked out between the student, her advisor in the major, and if need be, the chair of the department of the major and must be listed in detail on the 12 College Exchange or Academic Leave application form. The application is then submitted for the approval of the Committee on Leaves and Privileges (CLP.) Since CLP approval is based in part on the course selections in the application, should a student find after her arrival that her proposed courses are not offered, she must contact her advisor and Pauline Saavedra with descriptions of her alternative selections.

Although the grades you earn will appear on your Vassar transcript they will not be factored into your GPA. However, in order for a course to transfer a student must have achieved a C or better and the course must be at least the equivalent of three credit hours. One three credit hour course will transfer in as one unit of credit. In the case of institutions using the quarter system the course must be at least five quarter hours in order for a student to receive one unit of Vassar credit.

Courses which WILL NOT transfer include pre-professional courses, vocational courses, physical education courses, independent study courses, field work, and, except in certain specific cases such as the Washington Semester, internships.

Please note: It is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements to have her transcript sent to Vassar, and it is very important that this is done as soon as possible following the completion of the leave.

Billing Arrangements for Students Taking a Domestic Leave

In most of the domestic programs students will be billed directly by the school or program they will be attending during their leave regardless of whether they are taking a leave in which their Vassar aid is applicable. Students receiving Vassar aid which they are able to apply toward their school or program’s tuition must inform the Office of Student Accounts where they would like to have their credit balance sent. The only exception to this is the Urban Education Semester in which the program bills Vassar and Vassar bills the students.

A Final Word about the Academic Leave of Absence (LVA)

Students taking an Academic Leave of Absence must complete an Academic Leave of Absence Application form. The deadline for submission of this form to the Dean of Studies Office is February 14th. The form must then be reviewed and approved by the Committee on Leaves and Privileges.

Upcoming Events will be published on the Study Away Calendar on the web site. In the fall, program representatives regularly visit Vassar to meet with interested students and answer questions. Please look out for the dates of these visits.

For More Information

Please contact the Program Coordinator:

Pauline Saavedra
Dean of Studies Office
124 Raymond Avenue Box 0005
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0005 United States