Academic Credit Abroad
What better way to earn credit towards your degree than through a study abroad program? WKU offers a variety of overseas academic programs, ranging from traditional coursework to international internships, service learning, research, student teaching abroad, and the list goes on!
All study abroad programs are credit-bearing, but the way the credit is awarded and how it appears on your transcript differs according to the type of study abroad program you pursue. The information below explains what you need to know about earning credit abroad.
Types of Credit and Enrollment Process
Depending upon the program you choose, the credit you earn abroad will be awarded as either WKU credit or transfer credit. Programs which offer WKU credit directly include WKU Faculty-Led Study Abroad programs arranged through the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach (DELO) and programs offered through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) and the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA). All other WKU-approved study abroad programs offer transfer credit, which is awarded upon completion of the program based on a transcript issued from an accredited academic institution (either a foreign university or a school of record in the United States).
Students who are participating in a study abroad program for transfer credit will be enrolled in a CSA 999 space holder course for the study abroad term. Enrollment in CSA 999 indicates to WKU that you are participating in a study abroad program as a WKU student and will receive the given number of credit hours upon completion of the program. In order to ensure that transfer credit from study abroad program counts toward specific degree requirements, students must receive approval from appropriate departments through the course approval process.
The grades that students earn in their study abroad courses transfer to WKU and appear on their WKU transcript. These grades factor into the transfer GPA, and therefore the overall GPA.
Course Approval Process
If the study abroad program you select does not offer WKU credit directly, you will need to complete a Course Approval Form and receive approval to earn WKU credit for any study abroad courses which have not been previously accepted by WKU. See Transfer Credit Articulation database and search by credit-granting institution to find courses which have been previously accepted for your program. Programs which require a Course Approval Form include WKU Exchange Partner Programs, Harlaxton College, Semester at Sea, direct enroll programs, and all other WKU-affiliated and third party study abroad provider programs (CIEE, ISA, CISabroad, ISEP, CET, Sol Education Abroad, Amideast, IFSA-Butler, AIFS, SIT, etc.).
The Course Approval Form indicates the exact WKU equivalent credit you have obtained approval to receive for each of the courses you will take abroad. When SAGL receives your study abroad transcript, it is sent to the Registrar’s Office along with your Course Approval Form. The Registrar’s Office uses the Course Approval Form to properly record your study abroad credit; therefore, it is essential that the form be uploaded to your study abroad application before your transcript arrives. If at all possible, you should complete the course approval process before you leave for your study abroad program to avoid delays and other complications with credit transfer.
Instructions for Completing the Course Approval Form
1. List all possible courses you might take on your study abroad program.
- If you are participating in a semester program, it is recommended that you choose 6-8 possible courses, just in case you are unable to get into your first choices.
- If you will not know for sure which courses you will be able to choose from or will not be able to register for courses until you arrive, choose from the courses which have been offered in the past. Obtain approval for more than you would actually take.
- If you are spending a full year abroad, complete two separate course approval forms for each semester.
2. Gather as much information about the courses as possible (course descriptions, syllabi, number of contact hours, etc.).
3. Search the WKU Course Catalog for the courses that seem to best match the study abroad course descriptions.
- If the program you are participating in is popular, or if you know other students to have participated in it in the past, check the Transfer Credit Articulation database to see if any of the courses you plan to take have been previously accepted. If so, you can indicate on the Course Approval Form that it has been previously accepted and you will not need to obtain a signature for approval.
4. Meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss the courses you have selected. Ensure that they are a good fit for your degree program and determine possible WKU equivalents. Have the course descriptions/syllabi available. Ask your Advisor to sign the bottom portion of the Course Approval Form.
5. Obtain signatures from all appropriate Department Heads/Chairs. The chair of the department from which each course will be granted will need to sign for that specific course (i.e. Art Department Head for a course that will count as Art Appreciation).
- Department Heads may decline approval or grant approval for a different equivalent course.
6. Once you have received all necessary signatures, scan and upload your Course Approval Form to your WKU study abroad application.
Amendments to Your Course Approval Form
Once abroad, some students find that one or more of the courses they hoped to take is no longer available or was not the right fit after all. If you run into this situation and end up having to enroll in courses other than those listed on your Course Approval Form, you should submit an amended Course Approval Form, with approvals for all of the new courses. You may wish to communicate by email with your Advisor and obtain approvals from Department Heads while you are abroad to ensure that you can earn appropriate credit from the course(s). Have the Department Heads sign and scan the form back to you by email. Email the amended form to your Study Abroad Advisor to include in your online application.
Non-WKU Affiliated Programs
If the program you wish to participate in does not appear in the SAGL program catalog and is not offered through a WKU-affiliated study abroad provider or university, you will need additional approvals in order to participate in the program and receive credit. First, check with your Academic Advisor or academic department to determine whether they will support your decision to study abroad on the particular program for credit. Next, send information about the program (links, dates, location, courses, etc.) to the Study Abroad Advisor who advises on programs in the particular region and set up an advising appointment to discuss your study abroad plans.
If you receive approval to participate in the non-WKU affiliated program, you will need to either independently arrange to obtain WKU credit through your department or obtain approval from the appropriate Department Head on the Course Approval Form for transfer credit. You will also need to register for your study abroad program through SAGL and complete the same application process as student who are participating in WKU-affiliated programs.
Students who wish to study abroad for extensive periods of time should be aware of WKU residency requirements. At least twenty-five percent (25%) of all coursework must be earned at WKU and at least one-third (1/3) of the hours used in the major and minor must be earned through instruction at WKU. For more information, click here.
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