National Registration Center for Study Abroad
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About Academic Credit for International Studies

Hundreds of universities accept transfer credit for study abroad - and thousands of school districts and employers grant CEU units or provide tuition reimbursement for study abroad. However, all have their criteria which you should know in advance and follow. Here are a few suggestions to aid your planning:

1. CREDIT GIVEN vs CREDIT ACCEPTED. Many schools around the world may grant credit - but that credit is of limited value to you unless your home institution accepts it. Check with your university or employer in advance to determine if they will accept work transferred directly either from the foreign school or from another US university working with that foreign school.

Most foreign schools in the NRCSA Consortium teach the language of their country to foreigners. For advanced students, some also offer a limited number of humanities courses taught in the foreign language. A few also offer a few courses in English for which there is no foreign language requirement.

Course selection must be flexible. Humanities courses may be canceled or filled so you should have alternatives. Foreign language courses will be given at all levels - and foreign schools will assign your course based upon their placement test, not upon your preferences. Course titles & sequence may vary according to each school's criteria.

2. CREDIT & CLASS HOURS. Most US universities require 15 class hours for 1 semester credit (10 class hours for 1 credit using the quarter system) - and usually no more than 25 class hours/week are transferable (often no more than 1 credit per week). Example: 3 Semester Course usually requires attendance at and successful completion of 45 class hours i.e. three weeks at a foreign school offers 20 hours/week of class. Suggestion: It is good planning to take more foreign classes than you need - so you don't have a problem if you miss some classes due to illness or a local holiday.

3. COURSE DESCRIPTIONS, SYLLABI & TRANSCRIPTS The majority of NRCSA schools are able to provide course descriptions, syllabi and transcripts for students who are seeking academic credit. Once you have chosen a school, please contact the NRCSA office to discuss the availability of course descriptions and/or syllabi information. Transcripts are provided by the foreign schools after the completion of your course.

4. US SPONSORING UNIVERSITY. In the event that your home university or employer will only accept credit transfer from a US university, you may enroll in a study abroad program sponsored by a US university approved by your university or employer in advance. You pay tuition to the US university since they will monitor your courses and issue your transcripts, as well as tuition to the foreign school which you plan to attend. US Universities work with all schools in the NRCSA Consortium which teach Spanish ... plus many in other areas of the world.

5. INDEPENDENT STUDY & INTERNSHIPS. If your home university will not accept credit transfer from a foreign school, they may structure an accredited independent study, reading course or internship which you may take abroad ... or grant credit based upon performance testing. Check alternatives.

6. GET IT IN WRITING. It is imperative there be no misunderstanding about your objectives or your institutions expectations regarding transfer credit. Review your foreign study objectives and your institution's administrative requirements with your advisor or administrator and get written guidelines. (You may need to bring back attendance reports, teacher evaluations, etc.)

The foreign school will not be familiar with your transcript requirements so: (A) advise them upon arrival of your needs; (B) show them your written administrative guidelines; and (C) work with them well before your completion of classes to gather the paperwork needed by your home institution so you bring it home with you and avoid costs of tracking items lost in the international mail. (Even if records are faxed home, hand-carry a copy with you.) Be prepared to pay extra for photocopies, faxes etc.


National Registration Center for Study Abroad
P.O. Box 1393    Milwaukee, WI   53201   USA
Tel: (414) 278-0631    Fax: (414) 271-8884    E-Mail:
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