Working With Your Academic Adviser

Academic Adviser's Role

The course selection process can be difficult to navigate, as students have to shuffle between their education abroad adviser and academic adviser. This section will explain the role of academic advisers in the study abroad process so that students understand what questions they should be asking and are generally well-prepared for each advising session. 

What can Academic Advisers Do?

Academic advisers can:

  • Explain rules or requirements particular to a department or college that might affect eligibility of a student for a particular program or their choice of courses.
  • Help students plan for their education abroad program by identifying unfulfilled course requirements, flexibility within their degree audit, and mapping out an academic plan. For example: if a first-year student decides to study abroad in their third year, they can work with their academic adviser to set aside 9-12 credits of general education or elective courses to be taken abroad, along with 3-6 major or minor course credits.
  • Determine how a course will fit into a student's degree audit if the course has already been assigned a Penn State course equivalency number. If a course has not been assigned one, academic advisers can still provide insight into course selection. 

What Can’t Academic Advisers do?

Academic Advisers cannot:

  • Identify education abroad programs that offer specific course types; often, they are not familiar with searching for course listings on an education abroad program (though some may be more familiar than others).
  • Override the course equivalency process. Even if your adviser has pre-approved the courses you will take abroad, you must complete the course equivalency process.
  • Guarantee that the course will count within a student's major or minor if a course has not yet been approved with a course equivalency number at Penn State. 
  • Provide specific information regarding the study abroad application process, housing options, program fees, billing, passport/visa information or any other travel information. For questions about program logistics, contact your Education Abroad adviser.

Discussing Which Courses to Take Abroad with Your Academic Adviser

Questions to ask at your advising appointment:

  • Are there any departmental restrictions on courses I can take abroad?
  • Are you aware of any approved programs that students in my major have done in the past that would be a good fit for me academically?
  • How will these courses fit into my degree audit?
  • Which courses should I take prior to and after my study abroad to ensure I stay on track to graduate on time?
  • If considering an internship abroad: Can I receive academic credit for an internship abroad? Is there a special process or any paperwork I need to complete for getting the internship credit approved?