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Study Abroad Policies & Expectations

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) encourages and supports undergraduate study abroad as one of the most important ways to prepare for the challenges of global citizenship and artistic practice in the 21st century. Study abroad allows you to build skills that will enrich you intellectually and artistically now and in your future career.

MICA Students

We wish all of our students a safe, productive, and wonderful experience abroad! Students are encouraged to be mindful of MICA's policies and expectations while abroad to ensure smooth transitions to and from your study abroad program and are expected to be familiar with MICA's academic and conduct policies. Students are also reminded that study abroad participants are ambassadors of MICA and of the United States and are encouraged to represent both institutions honorably.

Academic Expectations

On exchange programs, MICA emphasizes academic immersion alongside regular degree-seeking students from the host country. Do your best to duplicate the experience of the host country student and be aware that the host institution will teach and evaluate you according to the same standards that it applies to its own students. Expect to encounter different teaching styles and to have to adapt to different academic expectations.

It is not unusual to find that your grades are not as high as you are used to receiving at home, particularly if you encounter difficulty adapting to new academic expectations. When receiving your final grades, be careful not to confuse your hard effort with your actual performance judged objectively: remember that the goal of study abroad is to build knowledge and competence, not just to earn a good grade. It is also important to note that each host institution or program will have its own grading system based on cultural norms. In many countries, a B or C is considered very good, and the highest grades are extremely hard to achieve. It will be your job to learn about your host culture's system and adapt accordingly.

Learning Attitude

A successful study abroad experience really depends on your positive predisposition to learn in an unfamiliar academic and social system. You won't understand everything immediately. However, work hard and maintain an open mind. If you take a proactive approach to learning and engage voluntarily in learning activities that complement your curriculum, you will develop your artistic and cross-cultural skills.

Although challenging, we urge you to distance yourself as much as possible from other U.S. students. Make a conscious effort to expand your academic and social interactions beyond the students on your program. Staying in a group is often a barrier to integration into local society, reducing opportunities for new cultural experiences and learning.

Preparation for Study Abroad

MICA's Office of International Affairs provides advising, pre-departure sessions, and a study abroad student handbook to guide you in your preparation for and adaptation to living and studying abroad. You are required to attend a pre-departure orientation and read the study abroad handbook. Both the pre-departure orientation and handbook provide essential information on traveling, safety, academics, cultural adjustment and more.

Fee and Payment Policies

You will be charged by MICA for regular MICA tuition during participation in the program. You must make payments in accordance with MICA's published schedule for payment of tuition. MICA tuition does not cover the costs of accommodations and meals, transportation, host institution fees (e.g., studio fee, activity fee, etc.), insurance, passport and visa fees, and personal expenses. Students do not need to pay tuition at the host institution.

Health Considerations and Insurance

You are expected to obtain insurance coverage valid in the host location to protect against the costs of hospitalization and physician care in the event of sickness, accident, disability, and death resulting therefrom, and to offset expenses of unexpected emergency evacuation and possible repatriation. It is recommended that you also purchase insurance to cover trip cancellation and loss of property. Students are solely responsible for obtaining said insurance.

Please note that upon returning to the USA, most study abroad insurance policies are no longer in effect. In case of injury or serious illness resulting in the need to return to the US for treatment, you will also need to have coverage that is effective in the US. Therefore, we strongly advise that students maintain a US health insurance policy while abroad in addition to a policy that covers needs specific to study abroad.

Students are reminded that good physical health and emotional stability are very important to academic performance and a successful study abroad experience. Permission to study abroad may be rescinded if a student's medical or psychological condition may be a detriment to a student or to other program participants.

Withdrawals and Adjustments of Fees

If you are offered approval to participate in the program to which you have applied and subsequently decide to withdraw, you must notify MICA's International Affairs office in writing. The effective date of withdrawal is the date that the written request for withdrawal is received by the International Affairs office.

Before the Program Begins

Please be aware that if you accept an offer of admission to a program, deposits and/or advance payments related to your participation may be required by the affiliated institution(s). student who withdraws voluntarily at any time after accepting admission or if a student's acceptance to the program is rescinded, the student will be charged via her/his MICA student account for any unrecoverable deposits and/or advance payments made on the student's behalf. If a student withdraws at any time after accepting an offer of admission, the student remains individually responsible for any financial obligations due to an affiliated institution or to MICA.

After the Program Begins

The program begins on the date of the first scheduled activity for which attendance is required (or the official start date of the host institution's term, whichever is earlier). After that date, any adjustment of billed tuition and fees due to involuntary or voluntary withdrawal can be made only as approved by MICA and in accordance with the published MICA policy on refunds. The student must satisfy all financial obligations due the host institution abroad before any refund may be made.
Any decisions a student might make after the program has begun and while the program is in operation regarding her/his individual participation and continuation in the program are personal and students are individually responsible for a personal decision to withdraw from a program or return home early. There can be no guarantee of credit should a student withdraw from a program before the completion of scheduled instruction and examinations.

Students must also notify the host institution or program provider of the decision to withdraw following the guidelines set forth by the program. The student should also contact his/her academic advisor about the decision to return to MICA for the semester and to ensure that all holds are removed from the student's account to register for MICA classes. If the student receives any type of financial assistance, he or she must also notify the Financial Aid office of the decision to return to MICA. Students should be aware that courses available to them for the semester may be limited due to the late date of their subsequent registration.

Students who must withdraw from a study abroad program due to emergency or illness should contact MICA's International Affairs office for assistance and instructions as soon as it is possible.

All decisions concerning the cancellation or modification of a MICA study abroad program are made by the International Affairs office in consultation with the Provost and responsible authorities at the host site. MICA's policy on refunds may be modified only if a decision is made to cancel a study abroad program.

Course Selection and Approval Process

While researching and applying to study abroad, all students are responsible for working with their academic advisor and department chair to understand how the course credit from study abroad will fulfill degree requirements and to obtain the required course approvals on the Study Abroad Course Approval Form.

Students are required to seek approval for courses they intend to take abroad as part of the application process. The process is discussed at length during required group advising sessions. In addition, instructions can be found on the Course Approval Form. Many students will know their course schedules ahead of time, but students on certain direct exchange programs may not know their schedules until they arrive abroad. Therefore, we advise students to have as many potential courses as possible pre-approved, which will provide maximum flexibility when finalizing the schedule once abroad.

All students are advised to document carefully and thoroughly all of the work they do abroad and to keep copies of all syllabi, course work, papers, and exams in case these are needed upon their return to MICA. If works completed abroad are too large or fragile to ship home, students should document these works through photographs or a similar means.
Note that department chairs can also e-mail International Affairs directly in place of signing the Study Abroad Course Approval Form if a student's courses change when they arrive abroad. Although International Affairs still needs a completed Course Approval Form by the application deadline, this form will serve as a list of courses a student intends to take abroad and a blueprint for what they will need in order to graduate.

To obtain e-mail approval, students should contact the appropriate MICA department chair via e-mail once their schedule abroad is finalized and/or during the host institution's add/drop period. Students should copy the Study Abroad Advisor of International Affairs on all emails pertaining to course approvals. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that International Affairs has a copy of all course approvals in writing and that any e-mail approval requests they send to chairs address all of the same information as the Study Abroad Course Approval Form. International Affairs can receive the e-mail approval either as a "cc" of the student's e-mail exchange with the department chair or directly from the department chair. Students should also keep copies of course approvals for their own records.

Students may not receive credit for courses that were originally taken at MICA.

Credits and Course Load Requirements

Students must be registered through MICA's Office of International Affairs for study abroad status to be eligible to earn credit toward their MICA degree from a program abroad.

Specifically, students must:

  • Attend an approved study abroad program through MICA's Office of International Affairs.
  • Obtain approval for courses abroad from the appropriate MICA department chair(s) using the Study Abroad Course Approval Form.
  • Submit required forms to the Office of International Affairs prior to departure.
  • Receive a C or above to receive credit.
  • Arrange to have an official transcript sent directly from the host institution to MICA's Office of International Affairs.

During the semester abroad, most students will be registered at MICA for a study abroad placeholder course to indicate their continued full-time student status at MICA. The number of credits associated with this placeholder course may not correspond to the actual number of credits that a student will take while abroad. Upon the student's completion of the study abroad program and MICA's receipt of an official transcript and Study Abroad Course Approval Form, the actual number of credits earned while abroad will be posted to the student's MICA record.
Students are required to carry a full-time course load - defined as the equivalent of at least 12 MICA credits - while studying abroad. Students with MICA scholarships or financial aid must maintain a full-time course load while abroad and maintain standards of financial aid satisfactory academic progress in order to meet the award renewal requirements. Before leaving MICA, students are responsible for knowing the required number of credits that they must take abroad and approximately how much MICA equivalent credit will be awarded by discussing this with their academic advisor and MICA's Study Abroad Advisor. The maximum amount of MICA-equivalent credit that may be awarded for a semester of study abroad without incurring additional tuition charges is 19.5 credits. SACI is an exception to this rule. If you attend SACI, you can only take 15 credits or you will have to pay SACI tuition for additional credits.

Credit systems vary throughout the world and it is important to understand how the credit systems abroad relate to the credit system at MICA in order to ensure full-time enrollment (i.e., the equivalent of 12 or more MICA credits). Students are advised to contact the International Affairs office with any questions about credit equivalency in their host country. Credit conversions cannot be altered (i.e. a 2 credit ECTS class at Willem de Kooning is equivalent to 1 credit at MICA).

At some institutions, the number of courses that constitutes a full-time course load of 12 or more MICA credits may be different from that at MICA due to differences in the academic calendar or course weighting. If, for example, a full-time course load is three or five, or six courses per term at a study abroad site, students are required to observe local regulations, even if the number of courses they would typically take at MICA is higher or lower. However, students must ALWAYS maintain a minimum of 12 MICA credits.

Study abroad credit is not transfer credit, so students who transferred to MICA or who are seniors may be eligible to study abroad if they meet all other eligibility requirements.
Note that some study abroad programs may have credit limits. For example, some partner institutions in the United Kingdom may have short (e.g., 12 week) terms for which a MICA student can earn a maximum of 12 credits.

Grading Policies

Grades will be assigned by the host institution based on host institution policies. Grades earned during study abroad are not included in a student's MICA grade point average, and only the credit values are recorded on the MICA transcript. Students must receive a "C" or above in order to obtain credit for courses taken abroad.

MICA@SACI and the New York Studio Program are exceptions: All grades from these two programs are recorded on the MICA transcript and are included in participants' grade point averages at MICA.

Grades earned during study abroad are based on students' academic performance as judged by individual instructors according to local practice. Grades earned abroad may be appealed through a process determined solely by the host institution, and only if such a process exists. The MICA appeals process does not apply.

Add, Drop, and Withdrawal Procedures

In some cases, registration for specific courses actually takes place shortly after the student has been accepted to the host program. In other cases, registration will take place on site after the student consults with local staff and instructors upon arrival.

When studying abroad, the rules for dropping and adding a new course and/or withdrawing from a course may be different from the rules at MICA. At many institutions, students are normally not permitted to withdraw once they have registered for and begun attending a course. Some programs may grant permission in exceptional circumstances. In making any adjustment to a course roster, students are entirely subject to the policies of the host institution. The host institution is under no obligation to grant a withdrawal, especially when it is apparent that a student has done no work in a course.

Students are expected to complete all assigned work before leaving the study abroad site at the end of the term or semester. Students are not permitted to request early departure, early exams, pass/fail grading, or incomplete grades abroad. Under no circumstances is a student allowed to completely withdraw from a semester abroad without prior approval of MICA's Director of International Affairs in consultation with the host institution. Failure to follow these procedures will result in a failed semester and no refund of paid tuition and/or of fees charged by the host institution.

Transcript Policy

MICA's International Affairs office must receive an official transcript directly from the student's host institution in order to evaluate and record study abroad credit. Please note that it may take up to several months for some host institutions to finalize and mail transcripts to MICA.

Unlike MICA faculty, instructors at institutions abroad are usually not obliged to report grades within a limited time frame. Therefore, official transcripts from some host institutions may take several months to reach MICA and MICA has no power to influence that process.

If MICA does not receive a student's transcript as required, the student may risk his/her enrollment ranking and/or graduation date. If a host institution does not issue transcripts, students must have the institution send a certificate of attendance or diploma indicating the courses taken and a written evaluation of work completed.

It is the student's responsibility to verify with MICA's International Affairs office that the transcript or other official, acceptable course record has been received and that the number of courses and credits the student took abroad appear on that record.

Study Abroad Credits and Leaves of Absence

Students must choose MICA sponsored programs. Students who do not receive approval through MICA's International Affairs office for semester study abroad and/or who take a leave of absence will not receive credit at MICA for courses taken abroad during that leave, even if the student attends a MICA affiliated program. This includes international students who may return to their home country and take classes at an institution there.

Conduct Policies

Students are required to observe all academic and disciplinary regulations in effect at the host institution which may differ significantly from that of MICA. Students are also advised that they are subject to any consequences as set by the host institution for breaking with conduct policy.

MICA and the host institution have rules and standards concerning student behavior. While studying abroad, the student remains concurrently enrolled as a degree candidate at MICA and, consequently, continues to be subject to MICA's Student Rights and Responsibilities as outlined in the Academic Bulletin.

Misconduct of any kind will be referred to MICA's Office of Student Affairs. Students are expected to have read and understood all MICA and/or host institution rules and standards concerning student behavior or to have had such rules and standards explained to her/him as the case may be. Students are expected to comply with MICA's and the host school's rules, standards and instructions for student behavior.

Students should also note that penalties for drug violations in many host countries are often harsher than in the United States. Use of illegal drugs can result in expulsion from the study program, as well as possible criminal prosecution.

Remember that students traveling abroad are subject to the laws of the country they are visiting; their own country's laws do not protect them. The United States and other governments can only seek to ensure that their citizens are not discriminated against - that is, that they receive the same treatment as citizens of the country in which they are arrested who are charged with the same offense.

Students are subject to the laws of the host country and any policies and regulations of the host university regarding drugs and alcohol.

Alcohol abuse by students is viewed by MICA as a serious violation of the terms of participation and will be treated accordingly.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages that results in any of the following is the most serious degree of alcohol abuse and may result in immediate expulsion from the program: loss of consciousness or vomiting, destruction of property or abusive behavior, endangerment of self or of others, admission to a hospital or emergency room, treatment for alcohol poisoning, incarceration, or any instance of these circumstances or other circumstances of equivalent severity.

MICA encourages students to use good judgment and always consider the safety of themselves and others.