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Guide to receiving academic credit

Guide to receiving academic credit

If you’re like most students, you will want to explore the possibility of receiving academic credit for your experience abroad. University students are all about killing his many birds with one stone as possible. And the study abroad experience is a perfect example of this. Going abroad let’s you travel around the world, take courses that may not be available at your home university, learn a foreign language, expose yourself to cultural values different than your own, perform an internship, make friends for a lifetime while satisfy university requirements.

While the resume enhancing benefits of going abroad maybe reason enough, there are very convincing reasons why you might want to receive credit for the experience. Receiving credit towards your major while abroad may help you graduate earlier, or at least avoid postponing your graduation date. The academic credit you transfer from abroad may be less expensive than acquiring the credit directly from your home university. Financial aid may also be applicable to the program if it is academic in nature. And finally, more scholarships are available for programs that are credit-bearing.

So how does one go about acquiring credit?

First of all, it’s important that you understand that the student is responsible for securing the proper transfer of credit. What do I mean by proper transfer of credit? Two things occur when a transcript from another educational institution arrives to your home university. The first thing is that your home university will determine is if the credit issuing institution (a.k.a. host or foreign institution) can be recognized. Once it is determined that’s the transcript comes from a valid institution, the next thing that needs to be determined is how the credits will be received. In other words, you will need speak with your academic advisor to ensure that any course you take outside of your home university will be matched to specific or elective requirements towards your degree.

Specific courses vs. electives

In general, elective requirements are much easier to satisfy then core or specific requirement. Why? Let’s say you’re a business major and you need to take an upper level history course. Your academic advisor we’ll most likely to be very open to accepting and applying a wide range of courses towards a history elective. For example, History of Spain, Spanish Civil War, or European History in the 20th Century. A specific requirement towards a major such as Biology II, is much more difficult to satisfy because the learning objectives of that course must be satisfied by the course that you take abroad. In this case, your academic advisor is more likely request the syllabus of the course rather than make a judgment call based on the course title.

Who do I speak to at my university?

Normally, the study abroad advisor at your university we’ll be your first point of contact. The study abroad office will usually qualify the program first, and then work with you to secure credit, and then apply any available financial aid you may have.

If your university has worked with the study abroad provider or host institution before, that past experience of receiving academic transcripts will benefit you and may save you the need to speak with your academic advisor. That being said, you should prepare to speak with your study abroad advisor, your academic advisor and your financial aid representative.

Preparing for your first meeting with your study abroad advisor

Before you meet with your study abroad advisor, you will want to collect the following information:

  • Basic Program Information
    • Who is the program provider?
    • Program location
    • Program dates and fees
  • Transcript issuing institution(s) and courses available
    • If your home university has worked with the transcripting institution before, additional information on the institution is not needed. Otherwise, you’ll want to provide some information about the transcripting institution.
    • Course lists – your study abroad advisor will want to know the courses that are available. Printing a simple list should suffice if you haven’t decided on what courses you need yet.
    • Syllabi – if you have a specific course that you’re interested in, printing out the syllabus will facilitate and expedite the approval process.
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