Fall 2021 FAQ

Education Abroad is dedicated to supporting you in achieving your global learning goals during your time at Cornell and simultaneously committed to your health and safety abroad.

In consultation with the International Travel Health and Safety team and with the support of Cornell leadership, we are excited to open applications for a limited selection of fall 2021 and academic year 2021–22 study abroad programs in parts of the world where health and safety considerations permit.

At this time, all study abroad programs are accepting applications on a preliminary basis. The university is expected to make a final decision about fall programming after an additional health and safety review in June. Spring 2022 programs remain undecided at this time.

Explore the Office of Global Learning’s approved study abroad programs

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Programs and Application Process

What study abroad programs are offered and how do I apply?

Visit Experience Cornell to see all study abroad programs approved for fall 2021 and academic year 2021–22. Be sure to filter by your desired term in the left sidebar. You can apply directly from the program listing in Experience. Click “apply” to begin your application.

Spring 2022 programs remain undecided at this time and may or may not differ from the programs approved for the fall semester and academic year.

If you have any questions about a program or the application process, please reach out to the advisor listed in the right sidebar of the Experience program page. Visit Get Advice to make an advising appointment or reach out to us by email. We’re here to help!


Why are there limited options for fall 2021?

Due to the unpredictable nature of global travel during COVID-19, there are fewer approved locations offered for study abroad this fall. Specific program sites were selected based on health, safety, and programmatic criteria. All domestic and international Cornell-related travel is currently restricted.


How did Cornell select the program options?

The Office of Global Learning, in consultation with International Travel Health and Safety and Cornell leadership, has identified study abroad locations that align with health and safety criteria. Program partners and sponsoring Cornell units underwent a first review and analysis of appropriate measures in place. A second partner review will be conducted in June. The second review will be a more exhaustive assessment of site-level health and safety factors closer to the time of departure.

If programs continue to appear feasible, they will remain on offer. However, sponsoring units and student applicants should be aware that programs are subject to cancellation at any time due to changes in health and safety circumstances or other factors beyond Cornell’s reasonable control.

All domestic and international Cornell-related travel is currently restricted. Due to the unpredictable nature of global travel during COVID-19, study abroad will only be permitted in the locations currently accepting applications. Given the extensive nature of the review, there are no exceptions to this decision, even if other locations improve in health and safety criteria in the months ahead.


Can I have a valuable study abroad experience?

Like anything in life, adaptability and personal responsibility are key. An international experience always provides opportunities for personal and professional growth through the challenges it presents and the people you meet who share those challenges. The experience in fall 2021 may not be like the experience a student had in fall 2019—or the one that may be possible in fall 2022—but it can be yours and that can be invaluable.

Before applying to a program, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the specifics of how it will be taught, the precautions expected of students, and other policies to make sure it will provide you with an engaging experience.


Should I apply to more than one opportunity?

Plan on applying to one program—and perhaps a back-up, if you are concerned about admission into your preferred program. An Education Abroad advisor can help you determine if you need a back-up option and if your back-up option is appropriate. In most cases, if you are nominated for a college exchange program, you should not have another application in the works. There is generally no reason to apply to more than two programs.


May I petition to attend or receive credit from another program that isn’t approved?

No. We are not accepting study abroad petitions for the fall 2021 term or academic year 2021–22. If you want to enroll in a non-approved program—even a different program with one of our fall 2021 partners—you will have to take a leave of absence to study abroad. In such a case, Cornell cannot offer any administrative or financial aid support and will not award credit.


I previously applied for one of the programs offered in fall 2021. Will I be given priority?

No, all previous applicants will need to submit a new application, and all applications will be reviewed under the same criteria. Our advisors are ready to support all students throughout the application process.


My application was deferred, but I don’t see my program on the approved list. Can I still go?

No, in the fall 2021 semester, you may only apply for approved programs currently advertised on Experience Cornell.


I heard that fall study abroad participation is conditional. What does that mean?

With the global health crisis ongoing, a study abroad program may be canceled at any time for reasons beyond Cornell's control or due to policy changes. Sudden border closures, significant changes in the risk environment, or a host's decision not to hold in-person instruction can occur at any time and lead to program cancellation, either by the host and/or Cornell.


Even after I apply, how should I prepare for the possibility that my fall 2021 study abroad may be canceled?

Considering the uncertainty around travel, we encourage you to consider alternative plans for the fall 2021 semester—one of which should be remaining at Cornell. It is important to connect with your college to discuss your options and to understand academic policies and deadlines around enrollment.


Should I pre-enroll for fall?

Yes, we advise you to participate in pre-enrollment for fall 2021 if your college allows it. If you do study abroad, you or your college will be able to drop your course enrollments to facilitate your study abroad registration.


What about housing? Should I get 2021–22 housing in Ithaca?

If you have already applied for 2021–22 on-campus housing, we recommend that you do not withdraw your application. We will share a final list of study abroad students with Cornell Housing, so they are aware of potential adjustments. However, you are fully responsible for notifying housing of any changes, including requesting a single-semester spring 2022 housing assignment.

All decisions, including financial, about off-campus housing are independently made by students. Cornell Housing offers suggestions for off-campus students planning to study abroad.


Can my program be canceled after I am accepted and start the onboarding process? 

Yes. Due to the global health crisis, there is a great deal of uncertainty about travel safety.

Our goal is to ensure you are prepared if study abroad can move forward for fall 2021, but it’s important to understand programs may be canceled at any point up to the start date and once the program has started. Please plan accordingly, review the applicable program policies in detail, and make sure you understand the financial, academic, and logistical risks involved. 


I’m planning for spring 2022. Will the programs be the same?

The short answer is we do not know yet. We anticipate offering more program options in spring 2022, but the portfolio will remain limited. Prospective applicants will have an opportunity to sign up to receive program announcements for spring 2022.


I’m not sure I’ll be able to study abroad before I graduate. Are there gap year or post-graduate opportunities?

Yes! There are many opportunities for students and recent grads to gain international experiences not tied to a semester at Cornell. Cornell Career Services offers resources for recent graduates looking for an international experience, such as working or interning abroad, gap year options, graduate school abroad, fellowships, and more.

If you’re a U.S. citizen, take a look at Fulbright opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni to study, research, and teach English abroad. You might also consider Peace Corps. Find more ideas and resources on our Opportunities Abroad page.


Health, Safety, and Travel

Visit our Health and Safety page for more information about managing your risk during international travel and campus resources to support your international experience.


How will fall 2021 be different from other study abroad terms?

Studying abroad during a pandemic will undoubtably be different, and it is important to consider this as you decide whether to apply. Students will be required to adhere to host and country policies and laws in place to manage COVID-19. Public health policies might include limitations on regional travel, citywide curfews, lockdowns, and courses moving online. You should research your host country and prepare for these possibilities.

If you’re unable to adapt to these changes for any reason, you may want to consider studying abroad at a later time. A study abroad experience should always be taken on with careful deliberation and planning, and we encourage you to consider if this is the semester for you. Remember to honor yourself and your comfort level when making this decision.


What travel and mobility limitations should I expect?

You will be expected to follow the requirements of your program and host country regarding health and safety, which may include restrictions on travel and mobility that can change at any time. Cornell may institute additional requirements or restrictions. Don’t plan on any extensive travel! Be prepared to spend the entire semester within your host city's borders—and possibly even your campus or housing. Even if travel from the host country is legally permissible and allowed by your program administrators, Cornell would advise against it. Sudden border closures could mean an inability to return to your study site and continue your studies as planned.


Is it safe for me to go abroad? 

There are risks associated with all travel, and the ongoing pandemic enhances those risks. COVID-19 is a highly infectious, life-threatening disease, spread through person-to-person contact. Because it has a long incubation period—when carriers may not show symptoms, but still be highly contagious—and the ability to mutate into novel variants, it is very difficult to control the spread of COVID-19.

While we have worked hard to identify partners abroad who can mitigate some risks, Cornell cannot guarantee a COVID- or disease-free environment at any program. This means that each traveler must familiarize themselves with the risks, assess their comfort level with an experience abroad, and be willing to take responsibility for their own risk mitigation.

Please take advantage of Cornell's partnership with International SOS and call their assistance center at any time to ask questions about your destination. Find more resources on our Health and Safety page.


Do I need to sign any special documents for study abroad during COVID-19?

All students who participate in Office of Global Learning study abroad programs are required to acknowledge and agree to financial, withdrawal, cancellation, and refund policies prior to participation. Applicants are also required to complete the International Travel Registry. In this secure registry, you acknowledge and agree to hold harmless and general standards of conduct for off-campus international activities. Please review all documents and language carefully, being sure you understand all contents and risks associated with study abroad during COVID-19. Talk with one of our advisors if you have questions or concerns.


Is COVID-19 vaccination required to study abroad?

As of March 2021, Cornell is not requiring students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to studying abroad. However, particular study abroad programs, institutions, and locations may require evidence of vaccination upon enrollment or entry into the country. As updates and guidance are received from Cornell and from our partners abroad, we will share updates to vaccine requirements with applicants. Students will be required to adhere to any vaccine requirement in order to participate in the program.


The CDC says to avoid all travel to my destination. Shouldn't I listen? 

Yes. You should make your decision to study abroad in the fall after careful consideration of all available information. The CDC is a valuable resource for advice and guidance as you assess your comfort level with the risks associated with travel. CDC advice is based on specific criteria that consider incidence rate and new case trajectory and is one of many sources Cornell—and you as a traveler—need to consider. Some people are comfortable taking on more risk than others. If you decide to pursue study abroad, you should commit to making every reasonable effort to mitigate risk. Visit our Health and Safety page for more information about managing your risk during international travel.


Can I get a visa to go abroad? 

As of March 15, the date study abroad applications opened, acquiring the appropriate visa seemed possible. Visa service availability has fluctuated this past year, however, and getting the proper visa may take much longer than it did before the pandemic. You'll need to work with your program administrator and be extra-diligent in the application process. Every country's process and time frame are different, and Cornell has no control over these factors.

You may need to incur expenses related to getting your visa before Cornell has completed the program review in June. As fall study abroad programming is currently conditional, you should be aware that these expenses may be lost and are not refundable by Cornell or the agency that issued the visa.


Will I have to take a COVID-19 test to enter my host country or return to the United States? 

This is very likely. There is currently a requirement for all U.S.-bound travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours or evidence of recovery from a previous infection. Many other countries have this or similar requirements. Cornell’s travel medical insurance does not provide a benefit to cover the cost of these tests. Your primary insurance may, but most likely on a reimbursement basis. There may also be specific requirements about which type of tests will be accepted and additional verifications or forms. A couple of good sources on entrance restrictions are International SOS's COVID-19 page, which you can access through the Cornell International SOS portal and Fragomen’s Immigration Update: Coronavirus


Will I need to quarantine in my host destination, and what would that entail? 

It depends. Quarantine means different things in different countries and may or may not be required. In some locations, a quarantine may be in a government-arranged facility or hotel with prescribed meals and no ability to leave your room until released. In other locations, you may be asked to self-quarantine in your own accommodations. It is very important to follow all quarantine requirements. In most cases, violators are subject to fines or criminal prosecution. Cornell cannot assist if you break your quarantine and incur penalties.


What if I get sick or injured while abroad? 

All Cornell travelers are covered by travel medical insurance, which provides 100 percent coverage for any “urgent or emergent” ailment while abroad. If you test positive for COVID-19 while abroad and need hospitalization, this means the insurance will cover the cost in the same way it would for a twisted ankle or medically necessary evacuation. Take the time to understand this insurance and the benefits provided and not provided. Visit our Health and Safety page for more information.

Getting sick or injured while abroad does not mean you can choose to return to the United States for care and have the insurance cover those costs. Evacuation from a destination must be medically necessary, and in most cases, the patient is transported to the nearest facility that can care for them. You should also understand that medical systems abroad may not always provide the same level of access or standards of care that are available in the United States, and that the availability of some resources may be or become limited due to the pandemic.


What if I test positive for COVID-19 while abroad? 

If you test positive for COVID-19 while abroad, immediately contact the appropriate staff at your host institution and seek medical care. International SOS can help arrange medical care, if necessary. All Cornell students abroad are covered by a travel medical insurance plan, which includes care for COVID-19. Please also reach out to Cornell by email or via International SOS.

Be aware that you may not be able to return to your home country right away or have a family member swiftly join you in your host country. Cornell support to return to your home country for continued medical care, if not medically required, will be limited or not possible. Options for a family member to join you in-country may be limited or not possible due to travel restrictions, required quarantine, and the like. Cornell, International SOS, and your host will remain in communication throughout any prolonged illness to support you to the greatest degree possible.


What if my school or program shuts down after I arrive? 

We have worked with each school or partner abroad to ensure contingency plans if in-person classes cannot continue or must be paused. In most if not all cases, you can expect to be allowed to complete the semester virtually. Each program is different, however, and you should speak with your advisor about the nuances of your program.


Will I be able to return to the United States when my program is complete? 

Currently, U.S. citizens and other specific persons (including students on a valid F-1 visa) are able to enter the United States from any country. If you are not a U.S. citizen, there is the chance that you will not be allowed to return to the United States as planned. If you are not able to return for any reason, you may be required to incur additional unexpected costs.

Restrictions on entry into the United States and other countries have changed often in the past year, and you should plan to monitor them very closely while you’re abroad. Aside from contacting the appropriate embassy or consulate directly, a couple of good sources on entrance restrictions are International SOS's COVID-19 page, which you can access through the Cornell International SOS portal, and Fragomen’s Immigration Update: Coronavirus.


Financial Questions?

Check out our Finances page and new Finances FAQ for answers to your questions about program costs and other financial considerations.

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