Education Abroad FAQs

What Courses Can I Take While Abroad, and Will Courses Count Towards My Major or Minor?

If you plan carefully, no matter what your college or specialization, you can enroll in courses abroad that may apply to your degree requirements here at Penn State. You must meet with your academic/faculty adviser to plan what courses you should take while abroad to maintain your progress toward degree completion requirements. Depending on the education abroad program, you can enroll in courses in the subject areas of your major or minor, or in courses that may fulfill elective, language, or General Education requirements. Your academic adviser will need to see course descriptions to give you approvals in advance, and syllabi are sometimes also available, depending upon the program. The Education Abroad advisers can help you to identify programs in your field of study.

If I Study Abroad, Will I Be Able to Graduate on Time?

If you plan far enough in advance you and your adviser can map out a program that should allow you to keep a normal progress towards your degree. Keep in mind that you can also study abroad during the summer months, which is a good choice for students who have a very strict schedule of courses to complete at their campus location.

What is the Best Education Abroad Program for My Major?

Peer advisers and/or Education Abroad advisers can help you to narrow your choices of study abroad locations to match your academic interests. With so many Penn State programs, the information can be overwhelming. After you have selected a few possible program choices with one of our advisers you can take that information to your academic adviser in your college for further discussion of course descriptions and more detailed curricular decisions.

How Do I Know My Courses Will Be Approved?

If you select from among our list of programs sponsored by Education Abroad, you can be assured of full credit for the courses you take overseas. Education Abroad will receive your foreign transcript and will enter the courses and grades onto your official Penn State transcript. How the courses will count in your audit will be the decision of your academic adviser/department, but there is no question that you will receive Penn State course numbers and grades for the work you do overseas.

How Do I Know If There Are Prerequisites for My Chosen Study Abroad Program?

Each program brochure page on this website will list any prerequisite courses that are required. Normally, prerequisites pertain to a certain level of language instruction for a particular program, but you may also find programs that require some background in a particular area of study. All programs have a specific cumulative grade point average that is required, and this will vary by program.

Do My Grades Count in My Cumulative GPA?

Yes, all courses will have a grade, and all grades are reported on your transcript.

Can I Take Courses Taught Pass/Fail?

No, it is a Faculty Senate policy that no course taken on an officially sponsored PSU program can be taken on a Pass/Fail or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. You may be on a program with students from other institutions who are able to take the same courses you have on a P/F basis, but you will be graded and the grades will be reported to Education Abroad.

How Many Credits Do I Need to Take While Abroad?

We require that all students on Education Abroad programs enroll as full-time students according to their host institution's policies, as well as meeting Penn State's minimum requirement for full-time status (12 credits). Therefore, if your host institution requires 15 credits (or equivalent) for full-time status, you must enroll in 15 credits. If, on the other hand, your host institution only requires 10 credits (or equivalent) for full-time status, you must still enroll in at least 12 credits so that you satisfy Penn State's requirement. Speak with an Education Abroad adviser ahead of time so that you can plan appropriately.

If I Study Abroad Outside of Penn State, Will My Grades and Credits Transfer?

Only your credits will transfer if you attend a non-PSU sponsored program. You will receive a Pass/Fail designation in place of your grades.

Can Graduate Students Study Abroad Through Penn State?

All of the semester-long PSU programs are designed for undergraduate students. Applications by graduate students are handled on a case-by-case basis, and students should discuss their goals with the faculty director of the program, their academic adviser, and their Education Abroad Adviser. Outside of Education Abroad programs, many academic departments have funding for graduate students to conduct research overseas, so students should check with their departmental adviser to find out about these opportunities. Graduate students can also apply for Fulbright grants to study overseas.