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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.


Depending upon the program you choose, the credit you earn abroad will be awarded as either WKU credit or transfer credit. Programs that offer WKU credit directly include WKU Faculty-Led Study Abroad programs and programs offered through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) and the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA). All other 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 transfer credit hours upon completion of the program; however, it is not an actual course that will appear on your WKU transcript. 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.

Grades earned in study abroad courses transfer to WKU and appear on students' WKU transcript. These grades factor into the transfer GPA and therefore contribute to the overall GPA.

Course Approval Guide

If the study abroad program you select does not offer WKU credit directly (all programs except WKU Faculty-Led, KIIS and CCSA), you will need to obtain pre-approval in order to earn specific WKU credit for courses which have not been previously accepted by WKU. Check the Transfer Credit Articulation database under the name of the institution granting the credit (school of record) to find previously-approved equivalents. Because there are so many program choices, it is normal for there to not be anything already approved for your program in the transfer database. 

Study abroad course approvals should be recorded on the Request for Transfer Equivalency form (used for study abroad courses that are similar to already existing WKU courses) and a copy should be uploaded to your study abroad application. A separate form is needed for each department from which you are seeking course approval for transfer credit. Refer to the detailed instructions in your application regarding completing the form for more information about the process.

Your study abroad transcript should be sent to the WKU Transfer Center along with your approval form(s), that should already be in the Transfer Center, for processing. Appropriate department head signatures are required in order to properly record your study abroad credit. The department head authorized to approve a specific equivalency is the chair of the academic department at WKU that offers the course.  You should complete the course approval process before you leave for your study abroad program to avoid delays and other complications with credit transfer.

  1. Select the courses you would like to take on your program. Gather as much information about the courses as possible (course descriptions, syllabi, number of contact hours, etc.).
  • If you are participating in a semester program, please choose 6-8 possible courses in case you are unable to get into your first choices or a class is canceled at the last minute. You will save yourself a great deal of stress by having options pre-approved.
  • If you do 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 courses which have been offered in the past.
  1. Check the transfer credit articulation database under the institution name to see if any of the courses you plan to take have established transfer equivalencies. You do not need to obtain approval for these courses. 
  2. Check your Degree Audit and search the WKU Course Catalog for the WKU courses that might be potential equivalents for courses you plan to take.
  3. Take all of this information to your academic advisor to review so that s/he can help you to add or change courses based on the requirements of your degree program.

5. Completing the Transfer Equivalency Form: For each course that is not yet in the transfer database and thus needs approval, contact the Department Head of the academic department that offers the course equivalent at WKU. Request that s/he review the international course syllabus/description and your suggested equivalents and determine the equivalent course at WKU. (For instance, you should contact the Political Science Department Head to request approval for international affairs and government courses.) Fill out the top portion of the form, and allow the Department Head to complete the bottom portion. In the space next to “Transfer Institution,” write the name of the university issuing the transcript and the country and term of study abroad.

  • If you are taking courses from a variety of academic areas (history and art, for example), you will need to use a separate form for each department and obtain signatures from each department head.
  • The department head may grant approval for a different equivalency than you have suggested or they may decline approval as an equivalent class, in which case it may still be counted towards a major/minor elective (see below) or general elective credits.

6. Once you have received all necessary signatures, scan and upload all Request for Transfer Equivalency to your study abroad application before having the form processed.

If the department head determines the overseas class has no equivalent at WKU, they may approve it as a course substitution. This means that it is approved for you only to count in your iCAP/Degree Audit toward a major or minor requirement. The department will need to complete a course exception form and send to the Registrar's Office. Approval decisions should be made prior to your program, but the course exception form may not be able to be completed until your study abroad transcript has been received by WKU after your program.

Many education abroad programs available through WKU—including WKU Faculty-Led, KIIS, and CCSA programs—offer WKU courses that fulfill Colonnade general education requirements. Students who study abroad on other types of programs through third party providers or overseas partner institutions must obtain course approval from the appropriate department to receive Colonnade transfer credit through the process outlined above. The department head authorized to approve a specific equivalency is the chair of the academic department that offers the Colonnade course at WKU.  

Approvals of Colonnade equivalencies should be recorded on the Request for Transfer Equivalencies form and must be made applicable to all students. Approved course equivalents will be added to the Transfer Credit Articulation database, and students who take the same courses in the future will not be required to request approval. If a department head indicates s/he would only support a one-time approval (course substitution) for Colonnade credit, the student may appeal to the Committee on Credits and Graduation (see instructions here).

It is often easiest to obtain approval for study abroad courses to count in the Explorations portion of the Colonnade program; whereas, it can be more challenging to match study abroad coursework to Connections courses, many of which are unique to WKU. The most current listing of approved Colonnade courses can be found under the “Approved Courses” link on the Colonnade website.

If the program you wish to participate in does not appear in the WKU Global 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 Global Learning 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 receive approval for transfer credit via the study abroad course approval process. You will also need to apply and be approved to study abroad through the WKU Global application process and attend pre-departure orientation.

Students who wish to study abroad for extended 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 at WKU. For more information, click here.


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 Last Modified 6/28/24