Course Equivalency Process

Before the Education Abroad office can post grades from your time abroad, we must have a Penn State course number established for each course you took. The course equivalency process is the manner in which we have your abroad courses reviewed for Penn State course numbers. It involves obtaining course information from you, the student, and having it evaluated by the appropriate Penn State academic department. The process must be completed through the Education Abroad office. Students are not able to graduate from Penn State until the course equivalency process is complete for all courses taken abroad. You should begin this process while abroad and expected to see your courses and grades within 2-4 months of receiving your transcript.

Please note that if you are going abroad on a faculty-led program, any course that is taught abroad by your Penn State professor already has a Penn State course number assigned to it.  There is no need to complete the course equivalency process for a course taught by a Penn State professor.  However, if your faculty-led program also includes a course - or multiple courses - taught by international faculty at a host institution, the course equivalency process will be required for that particular course.

How Do I Start the Course Equivalency Process?

Follow the steps outlined on this page for each class you take abroad. This process should be started after you have finalized your abroad course schedule and once your program has started.

Review Historical Course List

  • Historical course lists are linked on each program brochure page with the title "Program Historical Course List” 
  • If your study abroad course is on the historical list, the process is complete for that course. If your abroad course does not appear on the historical list, proceed to ‘Submit a Course Equivalency Request’.

Submit a Course Equivalency Request

  • Complete your online Course Equivalency Request to provide the Education Abroad Office with information about your abroad course. Do not forget to upload the course syllabus!
  • All syllabi must be submitted in English unless seeking language credit.
  • For internships and special cases, please review the Additional Information section on this page. 
  • Once you have submitted your course equivalency request, the Education Abroad Office will have your course reviewed by the appropriate Penn State academic department.
  • The review process can take two to four months (from receiving your transcript) to complete, so please be patient.
  • You will receive an email notification once your request has been assigned a Penn State course number.

Additional Information

Please review this additional information for completing the course equivalency process in special cases.

  • If an abroad course has been assigned multiple Penn State course numbers (i.e., ANTH 111 and SOC 112), students should complete the online Course Equivalency Request to indicate the preferred course number.

  • The course equivalency form allows students to request that a particular academic department evaluate the course. This is not a guarantee that the requested department will approve it.

  • If you do not have a syllabus, please supply the following information about the course:
    1. A detailed summary/description of the course including weekly topics covered and the course format (i.e. lecture, discussion, internship).
    2. Total number of contact hours with the professor/adviser.
    3. Number of hours per day or week spent working on this specific course.
    4. All assignments and/or exams.
    5. All required reading.
    6. Must be formatted into a single document (doc./docx./PDF only)


Because each internship placement is unique, all abroad internships require a course equivalency request. Instead of solely a syllabus, please upload with your equivalency form a description of your internship that includes:

  • Syllabus from the institution (if available)
  • A detailed summary of the work you did on the internship
  • Internship location
  • Number of hours worked
  • Language in which the majority of the work was completed
  • Daily duties
  • Special tasks and projects
  • Must be formatted into a single document (doc./docx./PDF only)

The academic portion of the abroad internship often requires a final paper that covers the required information. It is acceptable to submit this final paper as the summary for the course equivalency request if the required information is included in the paper.

Records Specialists Appointments for Grades, Transcripts, and Course Equivalency Questions

Records specialists can meet with students who went abroad on any education abroad program (i.e., they do not have a geographic portfolio). Please note that for questions about how a course will fit within degree requirements or degree audits, students should consult with their academic advisers. To contact or schedule an appointment with a records specialist, please email