Planning the academic component of your study abroad experience is an important part of the preparation but it doesn't have to be complicated. Please read through the information below to learn about the aspects and options for academic planning.
Some of the information on this page applies only to certain program types. If you have any questions about whether something applies to your program, please contact your Study Abroad Advisor.
Study Abroad and Credits at NDSU
All NDSU students studying abroad are registered for NDSU general study abroad credits, regardless of program. All students are required to pay student fees in order to retain full-time status, use their NDSU email account, register for classes and retain financial aid. As part of the preparations for going abroad, you will register for the proper amount of credits in one of the following courses.
- NDSU Global Faculty-led Programs : UNIV 379 or a department-specific course number
- Exchange, Direct, and Affiliate Programs E D A : UNIV 492
Exchange, Direct, and Affiliate Programs E D A
Courses abroad return to NDSU as transfer credits, which are evaluated on a Pass/Fail basis and can be used to complete requirements at NDSU. Depending on how you want to use courses, follow these steps:
- Free Elective Credits
You only need to complete courses abroad and make sure that your transcript is sent to NDSU Study Abroad Services. Any class that is included on your transcript from the accredited institution abroad comes back as a free elective, unless it has been designated otherwise using one of the following two forms.
- Majors or Minor Requirements
- Talk with your academic advisor to determine what classes you may want to take while studying abroad.
- Look at the courses available where you want to study, and identify courses that might be similar to the classes that you need. If you need help with locating courses abroad or course descriptions, talk to your study abroad advisor.
- Request that the department approve the alternative class using the Substitute/Waive a Course Form. The department may require documentation such as a syllabus to verify that the content of the course will be sufficient to replace the course at NDSU. Contact the department to ask what is needed for approval and to start the form. The substitution form can be completed, during, or after your program. Because the form is completed electronically, it will automatically route to the appropriate people for approvals and then to Registration and Records on your behalf.
- Take the course abroad as planned and make any arrangements needed for your transcript from abroad to be sent to Study Abroad Services at the conclusion of the program.
- No further action is usually needed on your part. Upon receipt of the transcript from the institution abroad, Registration and Records will evaluate the transcript to determine the number of credits transferred and note any course substitutions that have been approved by the appropriate departments as part of the transfer process.
- General Education Requirements
You can complete the Appeal General Education Requirements form (complete form online or PDF version) found on the OneStop website by November 15 for approval during fall semester and April 15 for approval during spring semester. Visit our General Education page for help on filling out the appeal form. Several options apply:
- 3 credits of UNIV 492, when completed successfully and transferred back to NDSU, will qualify for either Cultural Diversity or Global Perspectives credit. Check the box for "Study Abroad Students—Cultural Diversity or Global Perspectives" and select which of the two requirements you would like fulfilled.
- 6+ credits of UNIV 492, when completed successfully and transferred back to NDSU, will qualify for both Cultural Diversity and Global Perspectives credit. Check the box for "Study Abroad Students—Cultural Diversity or Global Perspectives".
- For other study abroad courses and/or general education requirements, you must explain concisely how the proposed course will fit into the general education category description from the Undergraduate Bulletin. Check the box "Substitution of a course into a general education category" and complete the requirements listed on the form. The intention of the appeal process is for you as the student to explain how the course you took fulfills the General Education area you wish to substitute in your own words.
Courses at Universities Abroad E D A
You will officially be able to register for classes at your host school once you arrive. Some schools may allow you to register online before you depart from the U.S. It is important that you have the email address of your NDSU academic advisor in case you have any questions about the classes you are taking at your host institution.
Be aware that the classes you are actually able to enroll in and those you have had approved may end up being different. You must be FLEXIBLE! When getting courses approved using the Substitute/Waive a Course Form it is best to list more classes than you think you'll be taking so you have more options to chose from when finalizing your schedule.
Language placement tests are often required and are especially important for those studying in another language at a foreign institution. If you will be taking classes abroad in English, you probably won't need any placement tests unless you also plan to study in the native language and feel you might have adequate previous knowledge. If you are a language major, you must verify that you language courses abroad are at an advanced level if you want the credits to transfer back for your degree. If you have any questions, please speak with your academic advisor and language professors.
Transcripts from Abroad
Before you leave your host school, make sure your host university sends your transcripts directly to NDSU Study Abroad Services using the addresses listed on the Returning to NDSU page. You will be notified when it arrives, and then Study Abroad Services will send it together with any Course Approval Forms to Registration and Records for processing. See the Credit Transfer Process page for more details on this process and timeline.
Credit Numbering at Universities Abroad E D ACredits at your host school may be measured differently in comparison to NDSU credits. For example, a 2-credit class abroad may transfer back as 1.5 credits at NDSU. Below are guidelines about how the number of credits awarded per class abroad compare with the number you might receive at NDSU upon return. Ask the study abroad advisor or your overseas program coordinator if in doubt.
- Australia: At the University of the Sunshine Coast and Charles Sturt University 1 class is equivalent to 4 NDSU credits, so to maintain full-time status students must take at least 3 classes per semester.
- Chile: Credits are evaluated at a 2:1 ratio with 8 credits being equivalent to 4 NDSU credits, so to maintain full-time status, students must take at least 24 credits per semester.
- European Credit Transfer System (ECTS): ECTS is used in countries such as Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, etc and is evaluated at a 2:1 ratio with 8 credits being equivalent to 4 NDSU credits. To maintain full-time status, students must take at least 24 credits per semester. Some universities may require that you take 30 ECTS to be full-time at their institution.
- France: If the university follows the ECTs credit system please see above, but if it uses the French system NDSU will evaluate the amount of credits based on contact hours. Total contact hours/ 12.5 = NDSU credits. Students must take a minimum of 150 contact hours per semester to be considered full-time.
- United Kingdom: Credits are usually evaluated at a 4:1 ratio and each module (course) is generally worth 10 or 20 credits (2.5 or 5 NDSU credits). Students usually take 60 credits per semester (15 NDSU credits), though some schools may be able to allow students take fewer.
- Italy: The transcript from the University of the Sacred Heart is issued with U.S. credits.
- Mexico: Credits are evaluated 1:1, so students must take a minimum of 12 credits per semester.
The short answer is that generally students studying abroad for a semester are required to take the equivalent of at least 12 credits during their semester abroad. To avoid any possible issues with future financial aid, students are required to register for as many or more credits abroad (when taking into account credit equivalence as explained above) as you have registered for UNIV 492 at NDSU.
The reason for this is that students studying abroad are required to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements. This means that the number of credits that you actually complete abroad must transfer back to NDSU as at least two-thirds (66.67%) of the number of UNIV 492 credits that you were registered for at the equivalent of a 2.0 GPA for the semester or else your future financial aid may be in jeopardy. Students who do not meet SAP for one semester are placed on "Financial Aid Warning", which does not affect the receipt of financial aid. Students who do not meet SAP for more than one semester may be placed in a status of "Financial Aid Disqualification". If you think you might not complete the necessary number of credits to meet the SAP requirements, please contact your study abroad advisor immediately to talk through the possible implications.
If you are the recipient of a tuition waiver, grant, or scholarship that requires the completion of a certain number of credits per semester, you will also need to meet this requirement both through the UNIV 492 placeholder course and the number of credits completed abroad. Be sure to talk with your financial aid administrator or scholarship administrator to verify any requirements that you must follow to receive your planned aid and maintain eligibility for future terms.
- Free Elective Credits
NDSU Global Faculty-Led and Internship ProgramsCourse numbers are pre-determined for these programs, and courses will show on the transcript as NDSU courses. Courses may fulfill certain degree requirements as based on their course number, but check with the faculty leader and/or your department for more details. If you would like to use a course to fulfill a requirement that is not pre-approved, you can complete the appropriate form:
- Major and Minor Requirements - Your department can approve class substitutions using the Substitute/Waive a Course form. Talk with your department to see if they are able to approve this substitution.
- General Education Requirements - You can complete the Appeal General Education Requirements form (complete form online or PDF version) found on the OneStop website by November 15 for approval during fall semester and April 15 for approval during spring semester.
You must explain concisely how the course will fit into the general education category description from the Undergraduate Bulletin. This explanation from you explaining your reasons why this course should fulfill the General Education Category is the most important part of the appeal process. Students that successfully appeal are the ones who are able to make a solid argument and show their understanding of how the faculty-led course teaches you those concepts. Check the box "Substitution of a course into a general education category" and complete the requirements listed on the form.
Here is what we recommend for how to organize your essay to be more successful with your appeal:
Please give a brief overview of the course and experience in the first paragraph. Then write a header with every one of the learning outcomes for the General Education Category you are appealing, as you will elaborate on them in at least 1-2 paragraphs per outcome. Under each outcome header, respond to the learning outcome in specific detail. Explain what you learned through the class (assignments, lectures, etc.) and experience (site visits, guest lecturers, interactions with locals, etc.) about each learning outcome. You need to be able to show that you understand and have successfully learned about each outcome through participation in the class and experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some questions in the FAQ below only apply to certain program types, which have been labeled as Exchange, Direct, Faculty-led or Affiliate. If you have any questions about whether an answer applies to your program, please contact your Study Abroad Advisor.Q: Can my study abroad count as upper division credits?
Q: Will study abroad affect my GPA?
E D A : No, study abroad credits are considered transfer credits and do not affect your cumulative GPA. Transfer grades are recorded on your advising transcript for purposes of departments determining course applicability toward respective degree programs, but the transfer grades do not appear on your official NDSU transcript.
G : Yes, because NDSU Global Faculty-led and Internship programs are NDSU courses, they are usually graded on a letter basis and would affect your cumulative GPA.
Q: Am I required to earn certain grades while abroad?
E D A : Even though study abroad courses will not affect your cumulative GPA, some departments will require students to earn a minimum grade for classes that count towards their degree (including courses that satisfy general education requirements). Program grade restrictions can be found on official curriculum guides. If you plan to have classes abroad substituted for classes at NDSU, it is important to meet with the chair of your department prior to leaving to determine the department's policies. Be aware that your overseas transcript will record the classes you took and your grades will follow the foreign university's grading system.
E D A : Yes, as long as the institution abroad indicates that the credits are considered upper division credits. You may need to provide documentation of this if the transcript does not clearly distinguish the level of credits taken. Contact your study abroad advisor with any questions.
G : Because NDSU Global courses are NDSU courses, the courses will count as upper division if they are numbered as such.
Q: What happens if I fail a class?
E D A : Some schools may record failed classes on their transcript, but the credits will not transfer back to NDSU. Failing or dropping a class will lessen the amount of credits that will transfer back and may affect your student status (here and abroad) and likewise your financial aid eligibility at NDSU. If you are considering dropping a course while abroad for any reason, please first consult with your host school, your academic advisor and department, and your study abroad advisor. If you fail the majority of your classes abroad, it is possible to receive an F for your study abroad experience.
G : Failing a study abroad course is rare, but would be similar to failing any other course through NDSU. It would be difficult or impossible to retake a study abroad course though, so if you are concerned about how you are doing in the course, please be sure to talk with your faculty leader right away to address any difficulties.
Q: Can I retake a class I failed at NDSU while abroad?
E D A : No, the course would not return to NDSU. Study abroad is considered transfer credit and according to transfer and repeated courses policy students who wish to repeat a course for grade improvement are required to repeat that class at NDSU where the attempted credit and honor points can factor into the cumulative GPA. In addition, as part of the repeated courses policy it mentions duplication of credit; students who attempt to repeat classes elsewhere are not eligible for this credit as it is considered "duplicate credit" at NDSU.
G : It may be difficult or impossible to retake a study abroad course due to available, costs, and program policies. If you are concerned about how you are doing in the course, please be sure to talk with your faculty leader right away to address any difficulties.
Q: How long will it take to get my transcripts?
E D A : The normal time frame is 2-3 months, but this may vary from school to school. Your NDSU transcript will show an "I" (incomplete) for the semester(s) you were abroad until the transcript from the host school is received. When transfer credit is granted, the "I" will convert to a "P" (pass) unless you failed the majority of courses, in which case you may receive an F. Please note: any incompletes must be off your record in order to graduate.
G : Grades are posted during standard times for term grades in most cases. When travel dates overlap the end of the term, such as with a spring semester course that leaves at the end of the semester, an I may be issued until the grade can be submitted after return.
Q: What will my NDSU transcript look like when I graduate?
E D A : It will show that you were registered at NDSU for study abroad and that you earned transfer credit from your host institution. On your NDSU transcript, only the name of your host school and the number of credits that transferred back will appear on the transcript. Although the details of your classes and grades abroad are not shown, that information is available on your host school transcript if needed for graduate school or other reasons. Click here to see an example transcript.
G : NDSU Global Faculty-led and Internship courses are NDSU courses and so will be listed on your transcript the same way as other NDSU courses.
Q: Can I take my final credits while abroad?
E D A : Due to the 3-4 month timeframe for your transcript from abroad to arrive and be processed by Registration and Records, taking your final credits abroad may delay your graduation date. If you want to graduate while abroad, please contact Registration and Records and discuss your plans.
G : NDSU Global Faculty-led and Internship courses are NDSU courses that usually post grades during the standard times for the term, however sometimes the travel dates extend past the normal end of the semester. If you are planning to do this, please contact your faculty-leader to discuss when your grade will be posted to be sure it will not delay your graduation date. If you have any questions on deadlines for grade posting and your graduation date, contact Registration and Records for assistance.