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Petition Process

Important:  Since Cornell University offers hundreds of approved programs, petitions should be used for unusual circumstances only.  Approval of petitions is not guaranteed.

If you wish to study abroad on a program which is not currently on the approved list, you may petition approval for participation.  The petition enables you to make the case that your preferred program option meets Cornell’s principles and your academic goals for study abroad more effectively than programs already offered.  Petitions cannot be used for programs that do not meet the policies of your college for study abroad.

You may only petition one program application per semester.  

How to petition for program approval:
  1. Email Cornell Abroad with a request for an appointment with an advisor to discuss the program. Please make sure to include the term and year you would like to study abroad along with the name of the program of interest (petitions for Spring 2015 may not require all steps below).  
  2. If the program appears to fit basic Cornell University and college guidelines and promises to meet your goals more effectively than existing approved programs, you will be invited to submit an online “Petition for Program Approval” in which you will be expected to submit:
    • An outline of basic program information;
    • A 2-3 page statement of purpose/rationale explaining how the program advances your overall plans for your undergraduate education at Cornell more effectively than existing approved programs;
    • A student plan outlining the courses/requirements you will need to fulfill while abroad and after you return in order to graduate on time.
  3. Approval is on a case-by-case basis involving both Cornell Abroad and your college. Note: Successful petitions enable you to study on a particular program but do not lead to a program being added to the official approved list.
  4. If your petition is approved, work with Cornell Abroad to complete the program application and Cornell Approval.
  5. Upon return from studying abroad, you will be asked to complete a comprehensive assessment of the program.

Petition Deadlines:

Fall/Year study abroad:  Rolling, up to February 1
Spring study abroad: Rolling, up to September 1

Petition deadlines are for internal review and do not guarantee that decisions will be made in time for specific program deadlines.  An early petition application is essential for full consideration.

Important considerations when preparing a petition:

Programs should be:
  • academically rigorous
  • provide a high degree of cultural integration and (where applicable) linguistic immersion
  • unique (should not duplicate or compete for enrollment with existing Cornell approved programs)  
  • fit college guidelines for approval
Petitions are judged on the merit of:
  • clear student objectives and alignment of student goals with program structure and offerings
  • compelling academic or professional reasons (petitions may be granted for pursuing largely elective credit abroad, but should show how the courses fit broader academic/ professional goals)
  • the student’s academic and (as relevant) linguistic preparation in relation to the study abroad opportunity  
Petitioners are expected to:
  • have solid grades and sound academic preparation  
  • have strong support of advisor and department/college for particular program  

*Consider applying for a back-up study abroad program or university on the approved list in case your petition is not approved.

As with any program, application fees and deposits are the student’s responsibility. We advise students to not submit a program application/pay deposits prior to the petition approval. Program deposits will become part of a student budget and eligible for financial aid only if your petition is subsequently approved.


GSA Partner

Cornell Abroad 300 Caldwell Hall Ithaca, NY 14853 p: 607.255.6224 f: 607.255.8700

In an EMERGENCY for a student abroad, call the Cornell Police: 607.255.1111
Last modified 09/19/2014