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Academics & credits

Earn UW residence credits by studying abroad and fulfill your degree requirements.

How it works

  • UW Study Abroad students earn UW residence credits upon program completion. This fulfills the UW’s requirement to complete 45 of the last 60 credits in residence.
  • UW Study Abroad students are enrolled in an FSTDY placeholder course during their term(s) abroad. For details, visit our Study abroad enrollment page.
  • This placeholder course will be replaced with regular UW residence credits upon returning to UW.
  • All credits and grades earned abroad will be reported to UW, added to your UW transcript, and calculated into your UW grade point average, regardless of the final grade or need for credit.

Action plans for academic planning

Action plan

Perform your degree audit using the UW’s tool like DARS early and understand your outstanding requirements to fulfill for your graduation. Then, take this into consideration when you are narrowing down the types of credits you will want to earn abroad.

Learn the availability and frequency of UW courses required for your degree throughout the academic year. Certain courses are part of a series, requiring you to take all of them at UW, while others are offered only in specific quarters. Once you have this information, you can then determine which type of credits you will want to earn abroad and the optimal term to study abroad.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want to apply study abroad credits to my major?
  • Do I want to apply study abroad credits to my minor?
  • Do I want to apply study abroad credits to my general education requirements?
  • Do I want to fulfill my language requirement?
  • Do I not care about earning credits from studying abroad? – you will still be required to earn credits. Then, which type of credits should I earn?

Once you know your answers, you can narrow down the types of credits you want to earn abroad and programs that fit your needs. Some credits are easier to earn abroad simply because of the availability.

  • Early and regular discussions with your academic adviser about incorporating study abroad into your academic goals are essential.
  • Exchange Partner Program
    Share the course information you’re interested in taking abroad with your adviser and discuss how those courses will fit into your academic path and degree.
  • Each UW department has its own policy regarding credits and how they award those, so it’s important to check with a departmental adviser to understand how those courses can be credited.
  • If you are planning to take courses outside of your major or for your minor, it is important to reach out to a departmental adviser at the relevant UW department and how those credits will be awarded to non-major or minor students.

  • Faculty-led
    The credits you will be earning are listed in the online brochure. While they are mostly pre-determined, there are some variations based on individual needs or status, so it is important to closely communicate with the program director regarding which credits you are being awarded.
  • Exchange Partner Program
    Sharing a syllabus with a departmental adviser in the relevant department can help clarify potential credit conversion. Note that this is not a guarantee. This proactive approach informs your planning.
  • Most study abroad options do not require pre-approval of your credits.

  • Exchange Partner Program
    Universities around the globe operate on diverse credit systems, often differing from UW’s quarter credit system. Many adopt a semester credit system, while certain European universities utilize the ECTS credit system.
  • Exchange Partner Program
    Review the credit conversion scale for your host institution you will be studying abroad. The link to the conversion scale can be found within the online program brochure.

  • Faculty-led
    In most cases, it is possible for students to participate in a Faculty-led program in their last term at UW and graduate on schedule. However, it is important to communicate your graduation plans for the quarter with the Faculty-led program director to ensure timely grade reporting and the release of an official transcript.
  • Exchange Partner Program
    In certain situations, we do not recommend studying abroad in the term you hope to graduate. It is important to speak with a study abroad adviser if you are planning to study abroad in the term you hope to graduate.
  • Exchange
    Certain universities release transcripts a few months post-program. If you are participating in an exchange program, we recommend checking the transcript release timing with your host institution.
  • Exchange
    If you are participating in an exchange program in the term you hope to graduate and find that your foreign transcript arrives too late to meet the registrar’s quarterly deadline for grade reporting, you may be required to delay your graduation by a quarter.
  • Exchange
    If you plan to study abroad in the term you are graduating and intend to start graduate school immediately afterward, please be aware that your undergraduate degree might not be officially awarded by your graduate school’s deadline. The process, including receiving the official transcript and converting foreign credits to UW credits, takes time. We recommend carefully considering your graduation timing in light of these factors.

Visit our Pre-departure requirements & enrollment page and understand the enrollment process. To earn credits abroad, being enrolled in a Study Abroad placeholder credit is crucial.

Exchange Partner Program
Ensure registration for sufficient courses to fulfill UW’s full-time requirements (12 credits for undergraduates; 10 credits for graduates). For example, in the ECTS system, taking five 5-credit courses (25 ECTS credits) results in 20 UW quarter credits. This is suitable for a single quarter abroad. However, if you study abroad in spring semester (typically UW’s winter and spring quarters), you’ll only have 10 UW quarter credits between 2 quarters, which doesn’t meet the full-time requirement. The link to the conversion scale can be found within the online program brochure.

[Common credit conversion examples]
1 semester credit = 1.5 UW quarter credits
1 ECTS credit = 0.75 UW quarter credits

What you should know to stay on track

What you should know to stay on track

Exchange Partner Program
While studying abroad, maintaining good academic standing is crucial. If you encounter any challenges, don’t hesitate to reach out to an academic adviser at your host institution.

In an unfortunate case that you are failing a course, it is important to know that some host institutions automatically exclude courses with failing grades or grades below a certain level from transcripts. This might help you maintain your GPA level, however, for those receiving financial aid, it will impact your financial aid eligibility negatively. It can be challenging to prove registration and attempted credit-earning. So, it is important to save all course materials, keep a record of correspondence with advisers, and capture your progress on the online course management platform.

If you are considering dropping a course, It’s important to be aware of the following:

  • Full-time consideration
    Exchange Partner Program
    You are expected to maintain your full-time status if you are receiving financial aid or an international student on a F-1 status. If you drop a course, it may impact your financial aid eligibility or your F-1 status. If you are considering dropping a course and you are a financial aid recipient, please reach out to the Office of Student Financial Aid. If you are considering dropping a course and you are an international student, please reach out to International Student Services.
    Students are not eligible to drop courses on UW faculty-led programs. It is mandatory that students attend and participate in all courses abroad and entirely complete the coursework included in the program.
  • Withdrawal process

    • It is important to check with your host institution about their official withdrawal process and how dropped courses are reflected on your transcript. The way in which dropped courses appear or do not appear on your transcript varies among foreign institutions.
    • Not every institution abroad has a process for withdrawing from a course – be sure to document any changes (such as adding or dropping a course) you may have attempted to make while studying abroad to your transcript.
  • Omitting a course from transcript
    Exchange Partner Program

    • UW Study Abroad is required by the University of Washington to report all courses listed in the official foreign transcript regardless of your final grade or need for credit. We do not exclude any courses listed on your official foreign transcript from reporting to the University of Washington.
    • The only way to officially omit a course from being reported is by contacting the foreign institution or partner to update your foreign transcript. You will need to follow the institution’s regulations on how to have an updated foreign transcript.
    • Be aware that omitting a course from your transcript will impact your full-time status.

  • By submitting an S/NS Grade Request available in MyGlobal, you can change the grading option for one or more of your study abroad foreign courses to a Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS) basis.
  • S/NS grading option helps reduce students’ pressure associated with traditional numeric grading, allowing students to focus on learning and understanding the material rather than being overly concerned about grades. The primary objective of this grading option is not to safeguard students’ GPAs.
  • The S/NS Grade Request must be submitted in MyGlobal by the last day of your program as specified in your itinerary. Our office does not accept S/NS Grade Request submitted after this deadline for any reason.
  • If you later realize that you need the credits graded on an S/NS basis to meet your major or minor requirements, you can petition for a late grading option change back to a numeric grade. This requires submitting a formal letter or email of support from your academic adviser. The adviser must confirm that the course with the S grade is a required course for your major or minor.
  • An “S” grade is automatically converted from a numerical grade of 2.0 or above for undergraduates. Courses graded with an “S” can only be used as general electives and cannot be used to satisfy a university, college or department course requirement. An “S” is not computed in GPA calculations.
  • A grade less than 2.0 for undergraduates is converted to “NS.” “NS” is not included in GPA calculations. No credit is awarded for courses in which an “NS” grade is received.
  • No more than 25 S/NS credits may apply toward an undergraduate degree.

Exchange Partner Program
Although you will still have access to the syllabi for the courses you took abroad, some institutions limit access to those who have completed their program. It is important to retain your syllabi and documents related to your coursework for future credit evaluations.

You have completed your study abroad and returned to UW. Now, learn how to actually have your credits and grades on your UW transcript.

Receiving credits post-program

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

The type of credit is dependent on the foreign course the student took while abroad.

For example, once the Credit Evaluation Form is prepared; the student will upload all relevant course documents and share the link to the form with the documents with the appropriate department. If a student took a psychology course while abroad, they would share the form with the UW Psychology department and that department’s adviser will assign the equivalent UW Psychology course. Advisers may request additional information or meeting in order to provide an accurate UW course equivalent.

If a student cannot find a department with equivalent credits, the student can ask Undergraduate Advising and they can assign General Studies credit.

We recommend reaching out to an academic or departmental adviser within the relevant department while planning your study abroad and academic path. Sharing a course syllabus can assist in clarifying potential credit conversion, although it’s important to note that credit approval is not guaranteed. This proactive step will aid in informed planning. Course syllabi are downloadable from most institutions’ websites.

Yes. Credits earned while studying abroad through UW Study Abroad are converted to UW residence credits upon your return.

Yes, you can take study abroad courses on an S/NS basis. An S/NS Grade Request is available in MyGlobal and the deadline is the last day of your program.