Not sure what the au pair education requirement is? This blog will answer all of your questions!
As part of the Department of State’s Au Pair Program regulations, au pairs are required to complete at least six semester hours of credit at an accredited post-secondary institution during their program year. This educational requirement provides a fantastic way for you to pursue your educational interests, meet new people, and experience an important aspect of American culture. Your host family will give you $500 towards these classes.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the education requirement. This information is also in the Au Pair USA Au Pair Handbook. Your Local Coordinator will have advice about appropriate classes in your area.
How many credits are required?
6 credits over the course of the year are required. A typical college-level class earns 3 credits and lasts several months so make sure you get started taking classes right away.
What if the class I want to take does not earn credits?
If the class you want to take is at an accredited post-secondary institute but it doesn’t offer credit, you may be able to count the number of hours of class time are in the course. Each 30 hour class is equal to 3 credits so you’ll probably have to take more than one course.
Where can au pairs take classes?
Classes must be on the campus of and/or be associated with an accredited post-secondary institution, which is generally a college or university. Keep in mind, library, community center, and church-based classes typically are not accepted unless they are offered by an accredited, post-secondary institution.
How can au pairs know their class will count towards the educational requirements?
You should always submit a Class Pre-Approval Form to InterExchange before enrolling or paying for a class. Complete this form, and we’ll let you know if the course will be approved and how many hours or credits you will receive.
When should au pairs start their education requirements?
Sooner is better! We recommend researching the types of classes you want to take right away. This will give you enough time to discuss the schedule with your host family and get the Pre-Approval process started.
What type of classes should au pairs take?
Most classes that earns academic credit at an accredited post-secondary institution are accepted. Classes that are part of a university Continuing Education Program or Adult Education Program and earn (CEUs) should have an academic focus such as language, marketing, history, science, psychology, English as a Second language, and so on. Make sure you get Pre-Approval for all classes.
What about yoga, fitness, martial arts or sports classes?
In general, these classes are not acceptable unless they have a strong academic component and earn credits (not CEUs) at an accredited university.
What about art classes such as photography, music, painting, drawing or sculpture?
In general, if these classes are held at an accredited academic university, they will be approved.
What classes do not count towards the education requirement?
- Physical activity classes such as yoga, swimming, aerobics, martial arts at a gym or yoga studio
- Vocational courses such as cosmetology, modeling, bartending, etc
- Online courses
How can au pairs make sure the classes they want to take is acceptable?
The most important thing to do is submit a Class Pre-Approval Form. Your Local Coordinator can also help you find course options and answer your questions. Check your Passport profile as some pre-approved classes may be listed there as well. Your host family may also be able to help you with local options.
Can au pairs take an online course?
Online and self-study courses do not count. You need to attend the class in person.
Can au pairs take a 3 credit weekend-long au pair course?
Weekend au pair courses which earn three credits from an accredited university provide you with an opportunity to earn credit quickly. This is especially useful if you are not able complete a longer course due to time constraints. However, there are many different class operators and you will still need to make sure that the class you want to take is acceptable to InterExchange and affiliated with an accredited university.
Can au pairs take a weekend-long course that earns 6 credits?
InterExchange does not accept courses that earn 6 credits in one weekend unless they involve 60 hours of classroom time. Some courses advertise that they will fulfill 60 hours worth of educational hours. However, when looking at the class schedule, only 30 hours are with an instructor learning in an educational environment, and the other 30 hours are assignments before and after. In this case, we would only be able to count the 30 hours of class time.
What is the deadline for completing the educational requirement?
If you are going home after the 12-month program is over, your education must be completed before your program end date. If you plan to extend your program, you have to complete the educational requirement before you can submit the extension application, which is no later than 45 days before your scheduled program end date. We recommend you plan early! We cannot submit your extension request to the Department of State without your completed education component.
How do au pairs prove they completed the education requirement?
When the course is finished, au pairs must obtain a school document as proof that they completed the class. This might be a letter, certificate, or transcript from the school. Au pairs then upload those documents to the "End of Year" tab in Passport. You must complete and upload these documents in order to successfully conclude the program.
How do host parents support au pairs in completing the education requirement?
Host parents support au pairs in three ways:
- Supply up to $500 to pay for appropriate classes.
- Assist their au pair in finding a class in the community that will fit the family schedule.
- Provide their au pair with transportation to the class, whether it’s borrowing a car, paying for public transport or rideshare service, or driving the au pair to class.
If an au pair extends, do they have to take more classes?
Yes. If you decide to extend, you must fulfill new education requirements, and host parents must help pay.
- 6 - month extension - 3 credits (30 hours), $250 paid by the host family.
- 9 - month extension - 6 credits (60 hours), $500 paid by the host family.
- 12 - month extension - 6 credits (60 hours), $500 paid by the host family.
We hope these FAQs helped clear up any confusion about the educational requirement for au pairs! Remember, your Local Coordinator or Au Pair Handbook are wonderful sources of information if you have questions.
Joy is a huge advocate for cultural exchange. She's lived across the USA, then moved overseas to London and Sydney. She currently resides in Jakarta, Indonesia, giving her a unique perspective on working and thriving in a culture not her own. Joy graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Marketing and started her career in the au pair industry. She works on the blog and social media for the Au Pair USA program.