How OSAP is Different from Other Overseas Programs

Students should bear in mind that about 80% of U.S students studying overseas do so in “island” or “non-integrated” programs. That is, they are taught under the supervision of an American college, have classes with only other American students, are taught by American professors (and sometimes by some local professors appointed by the U.S. college) and live in housing with other American students only (sometimes with local families but not with local students).

:: I ::

OSAP has made arrangements with several colleges in Oxford (the college welcomes qualified students) to consider one year or one term or two term students who meet certain qualifications and who are recommended by us.

As a result, a qualified student who initially applies through OSAP will be certain that he or she will have eight of the most important elements of an excellent foreign study program. Together with its co-operating colleges programs, the OSAP overseas program in Oxford hosts the largest number of students each year (over 400 last year).

Since 1987, OSAP has gradually made arrangements to recommend highly qualified students to study as Registered Visiting Students (with University privileges) in 6 of Oxford University’s 45 colleges and halls. OSAP works with more colleges and halls than any other program. No other program offers students the opportunity to study as graduate students in three of the graduate colleges of Oxford – St Antony’s, Linacre and St Cross.

No other program has built up relationships over many years with two of the ten medieval colleges of Oxford University – New College (1379) and Magdalen (1458). The older colleges are collectively more selective than the ten newer colleges which offered about 350 Visiting Student places to Americans in 2006/07. (The ten Medieval Colleges offered fewer than 50 Visiting Student places to U.S. students).

Registered Visiting Students are full members of their colleges and have university privileges on the same basis as degree candidates. They have full use of the university library (the Bodleian) and the faculty (departmental) libraries and may normally use laboratory facilities. They have the same rights to attend University lectures, seminars and classes as do candidates for Oxford degrees (which they are not). Students in the natural sciences are definitely welcome; we have always been able to meet their needs in the past.

Such qualified students, recommended by OSAP, who are accepted as Visiting Students, receive letters from college officers officially admitting them to an Oxford college. They are academically supervised by the college and taught in the same way and to the same standards as degree candidates. At the end of their studies they receive academic records directly from the college (not from a U.S. educational institution) authorized by the University.

We must stress that we can only recommend students; admission is always entirely the responsibility of the Oxford college.

Applicants for Magdalen College should have completed two years of university with a minimum GPA of 3.7 and have two strong recommendations from professors; in practice, given the competition among excellent students for scarce places, successful candidates will probably come from the best US colleges and have GPAs above 3.8 with exceptional recommendations. (A few of the Oxford colleges we work with will consider applications with GPAs of 3.4, preferably higher).

Although applicants for the academic year will be given preference, the colleges are aware that some students are only able to study abroad for one term; therefore, a few one-term applicants will be considered.

Such students are able to apply for any term, not only for the Fall term or for the combined Winter and Spring terms. This option may be helpful to students from trimester colleges such as Dartmouth, Northwestern, University of Chicago, etc.. (Most Oxford colleges still admit Visiting Students for one full year only).

Students who have a minimum grade point average in their major of 3.2 and two years of university-level work may be welcomed as Associate Members in several Oxford Colleges. They are taught by scholars who normally teach candidates for Oxford University degrees by the same methods and to the same standard, but are not academically supervised by their Oxford College. Discipline and pastoral care are the responsibility of OSAP. Associate members are not normally eligible for college rooms.

Many students prefer to apply as Associate Members. Although there are a few limitations (compared to Visiting Student status) the fees are lower and a lower GPA (3.2) is acceptable.

As Associate Members of an Oxford College they have almost full use of all facilities, Junior Common Room, dining hall, library, sports centers and access to hundreds of clubs and societies, including the Oxford Union Society (if they wish to join). They have full use, including borrowing, of their college libraries. Not all colleges have computer facilities available, but all students are welcome to use computers (including e-mail) and faxes in the OSAP office (when not in use).

Most overseas study programs sponsored by U.S. colleges work with the ten or so newer colleges (chartered in the last few decades).

It should be said that some students prefer the newer colleges since they are thought to be less traditional, more friendly, more like American colleges, etc.

OSAP regularly works with four of the oldest and most distinguished colleges in Oxford: Magdalen (founded in 1458), New College (founded in 1379), Trinity (founded in 1554), and Christ Church (founded in 1546). OSAP may recommend Visiting Students to the first two colleges and Associate Members to the last two. These four colleges rank in the top quarter of the Oxford Academic League Tables.

As Junior Year Abroad students, they remain degree candidates in their U.S. home colleges and they naturally are not degree candidates in Oxford University. Their U.S. colleges must evaluate and approve their academic work. Associate Members, if they wish, may apply to receive a transcript from an accredited U.S. college (see Records of Academic Work for details).

:: II ::

Visiting Students and Associate Members are taught in the tutorial system, usually one tutor and one student (rarely two). This highly personal and intensive method allows students to choose from a very wide variety of academic courses (see recommended course list); almost any academic subject may be studied in Oxford given its faculty: student ratio of 1:4. (In most overseas programs conducted by US colleges in Britain, the students may choose from only a few classes each term which are taught in US lecture style for 20-30 students).

:: III ::

Upon the invitation of their own tutor and of the lecturer, Associate Members will be able to study alongside British degree candidates in small classes or seminars which often supplement the basic educational system (the Oxford tutorial). They have full use of the University Library and access to most of the Faculty Libraries.

:: IV ::

The academic advisers of Associate Members forward to home college registrars certified copies of the tutorial reports which Oxford tutors write for their students. As a further guarantee of academic quality, a letter is included from a senior member of a college certifying that the student was properly taught by Oxford University tutors and completed satisfactorily all the requirements of the course.

:: V ::

Since 1985, students from 46 states who had previously studied in over 650 colleges, have studied in Oxford through OSAP and its related programs with various US colleges. Every student who applied received credit from his or her home college for his or her academic work. Such transfer credits have been approved by hundreds of US home colleges, including almost every leading university: Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Penn, Barnard, Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell, Stanford, Chicago, Northwestern, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Berkeley, etc. Naturally, proper arrangements for credit transfer must be made (by the student) in advance.

:: VI ::

Students are able to learn a great deal, not only from the British and other international Oxford students but also from the other students who come through OSAP – over the past few years their average academic index has been 3.7; substantially higher than the minimum – and these students almost always do a bit better work in Oxford, because of the highly personal teaching. Many say they learned more in even a six-week session at Oxford than they did in two years previously.

::: VII ::

To make sure everything goes well and any problems are solved quickly, OSAP has a large office with a staff of seven at the very center of Oxford. The President of OSAP has visited England every year since 1959 and is an alumnus of Christ Church, Oxford; he has taught for several years in St Andrews (Scotland) and Oxford. As a former Fellow of an Oxford college, he is able to deal efficiently with Oxford tutors and administrators to make sure each student is well cared for.

In addition, there is an experienced British staff who look after the housing, arrange tours and social events, and help students solve problems and take advantage of opportunities of all sorts.

:: VIII ::

To promote further social integration and knowledge of Britain, OSAP organises parties with British students and faculty (in addition to the many college social events), and at least five educational tours of Cambridge, Oxford, Stratford, Windsor, Stonehenge, Bath, etc. a term. We sometimes have optional tours (at cost) to Ireland, France, The Netherlands, etc..These educational tours are an integral part of our one credit, core course in British Culture and Society, which has been organized by OSAP on the recommendation of several study abroad advisers. We also have a British student advisor in each college who is helpful to entering students.

Any student contemplating overseas study should make certain that his or her chosen program includes most of the above eight elements (unless the student prefers to live and study with Americans only).

The OSAP programs have been strongly recommended by many US overseas advisers and by previous students because they do include all of these eight elements. Written evaluations, which OSAP asks students to complete every term, are available. Also, a student may speak to a former student from his or her home college or field by phone.

OSAP also has a medical plan (the New College doctor will treat non-graduating Students for half his normal consultation fee).

Visiting Students and Associate Members may borrow from at least five libraries in Oxford. They can have full access (borrowing) to libraries which include over eleven million books. No one may ever borrow from the main University Library, but Associate Members have full use and they may use most of the Faculty Libraries.

There is also a Summer Session; students may study in tutorial courses at any time of their choosing between mid-May and mid-September.

So far as we know, OSAP is the only educational institution which offers a money-back guarantee to any incoming students who request it. If even one of 21 verifiable promises is not kept, the student receives a full refund for that term. We have been advertising this offer since 1994 (in Academic Year Abroad, the Internet, etc) and no one else has said “we do that also.” Our guarantee has always been kept and we have never had to grant a refund.

"I would say OSAP is better because there is more integration with British students and a better safety net. Plus, the housing is better."

"My academic program was very good."