Academic Credit and Grades
Depending on the type of program, students may earn Ursinus credit or transfer credit for coursework and internships undertaken abroad. All credit earned through an approved study abroad can be counted toward graduation.
Academic Credit and Grades for Courses Taken Abroad
- Credit and grades for Ursinus “signature” study abroad courses. Ursinus runs several “signature” programs. These programs are typically Ursinus faculty-led, offer Ursinus catalog courses, and therefore count for Ursinus credit. Grades for courses taken in signature programs factor into a student’s GPA just like courses taken on campus. One example of a signature program is Biology of the Neo-tropics (in Costa Rica). Contact Paula Alvarez Tames if in doubt about whether a program is a signature program.
Credit and grades for external study abroad courses. Ursinus is able to provide and support far more opportunities to students through partnerships with external organizations and universities. Courses taken abroad in external programs are accepted for transfer credit much like courses taken at other U.S. colleges and universities. Students are granted transfer credit for all courses in which they earn a C or higher. Their grades do not factor into the Ursinus GPA.
- Letter grades. All courses taken abroad must be taken for a grade. Courses taken abroad Pass/Fail will not be accepted for credit.
- Number of transfer credits. Credit is granted for the same number of U.S. equivalent credits as recommended by the abroad program (i.e. a 3.0 credit course taken abroad yields 3.0 credits at Ursinus, not 4.0).
- Credit approval process. The Director of International Programs reviews the Proposed Course of Study for all students in advance of study abroad and the official transcripts for those who participate in external programs afterwards. The Director of International Programs, Paula Alvarez Tamés, gives final approval for the number, type and designation of credits to be counted for elective and core curriculum credit. Major departments approve courses to count in fulfillment of major requirements.
- Independent Learning Experience (ILE). All approved semester or academic year study abroad experiences automatically fulfill the ILE college requirement; however, not all summer or winter break study abroad programs meet the criteria. Generally, in order to qualify as an ILE, a study abroad program must be in a single country or destination, be six weeks or longer, and/or include some form of immersion (i.e. intensive language study, home-stay, internship, or sustained service). Short term programs are reviewed for eligibility to meet the ILE at the time of application. Contact Paula Alvarez Tamés with any questions about the ILE as it relates to study abroad.
International Internships. Many students pursue internships for credit as part of their course load abroad. Students may pursue internships abroad in one of several ways:
- Many study abroad programs offer and arrange internships as one of several course options. Information about those options is available in the Center for International Programs or contact Abroad. All internships that are offered through academic programs abroad that grant credit and/or transcripts should be treated as study abroad and follow the procedures outlined herein.
- A student may identify or prefer to pursue an international internship s/he wishes to pursue for credit that is independent of a structured program abroad, for example, one that is found through personal contacts such as family or a faculty member. Such internships require an Ursinus faculty member to act as mentor and grader in order for a student to get credit. Queries about those internships should be directed to the Career and Professional Development (CPD) office. The CPD may provide information on additional opportunities for international internships.
- A student may identify or wish to find an opportunity for a volunteer or other extracurricular experience independent of a structured program abroad. Such an experience may be quite valuable, but it does not count for academic credit. Questions about those experiences can be directed to UCARE.
- Culture-specific course. All students who study abroad for a semester must take at least one course that focuses on the specific host culture or country. This course can be chosen from any discipline and must be indicated on the application form.
- Course load abroad. All students should are expected to take a normal course load (i.e. 15-17 credits) during a semester abroad. A maximum of 18 credits can be earned or transferred per semester abroad. Students may take as few as 12 credits abroad with permission provided that they can demonstrate they are on track for graduation. Credit for courses taken in short term programs varies.
Minimum credits required for financial aid eligibility. Federal law mandates that students earn a minimum of 24 credits per calendar year to maintain eligibility for financial aid. Students are therefore encouraged to take more than 12 credits per semester abroad and to seek help if they have academic difficulties in order to remain eligible.
- Study abroad requirement for certain majors. Modern Languages is the only academic department that requires study abroad for its majors. Those majors must contact the chair of Modern Languages directly in order to get departmental approval in writing for the proposed study abroad program to count toward the major requirement.