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International Student and
Study Abroad Services

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course approval form
Study Abroad Course Approval Form.pdf (33KB PDF)

Academic Information

Registering for Credits at NDSU

All NDSU students studying abroad are registered for NDSU general study abroad credits, regardless of program. All students are required to pay student fees in order to retain full-time status, use their NDSU email account, register for classes and retain financial aid. As part of the preparations for going abroad, you will register for the proper amount of credits in one of the following courses:

  • UNIV 492 - semester or year-long programs
  • UNIV 379 - summer study tours

Study Abroad Course Approval Form (CAF)

This form is used for Exchange, Direct, and Affiliate programs. You (or the department) must complete the Study Abroad Course Approval Form (available only at ISSAS) and return it to ISSAS (in person or via email), who will then send it to the Office of Registration and Records. Registration and Records will use this form when evaluating your transcript from abroad for how to interpret your courses.

On the CAF, write down the classes you plan to take abroad and set up a meeting with the chair of your department to approve the classes you have chosen. Depending on what you would like to use your classes for, follow these steps:

  • If there are classes with an NDSU equivalent, then the department can use this form to indicate what the equivalent course is at NDSU and sign off that this equivalency is approved.
  • If you are not concerned about using a class to fulfill a specific component of your degree, you can either chose to not include the course on the CAF, or simply write "no equivalent" in the middle "NDSU" column on the CAF. Any class that is included on your transcript from abroad that does not have an equivalent listed automtically comes back as a free elective.
  • If there are classes you wish to take abroad that do not have an NDSU equivalent, you can still get free elective credit but those classes cannot be substituted for classes at NDSU using this form. You can still request that the department approve the alternative class using the Substitute/Waive a Course form, but this is a separate process from the required Course Plan. Talk with your department to see if they are able to approve this.
  • If you are looking to have a class count towards a General Education requirement at NDSU, programs in which you register for UNIV 492 can complete certain requirements:
    • 3 credits of UNIV 492: When completed successfully and transferred back to NDSU, will qualify for either Cultural Diversity or Global Perspectives credit.
    • 6+ credits of UNIV 492: When completed successfully and transferred back to NDSU, will qualify for both Cultural Diversity and Global Perspectives credit.
    • For other courses (including faculty-led programs) and/or general education requirements: You must complete the Appeal General Education Requirements form found on the Bison Connection website. You must explain concisely how the proposed course will fit into the general education category description from the Undergraduate Bulletin. 

Reminder: Please be sure to sign the Course Approval Form before turning it in to the study abroad advisor.

Host School Credits and Classes

You will officially be able to register for classes at your host school once you arrive. Some schools may allow you to register online before you depart from the U.S. It is important that you have the email address of your NDSU academic advisor in case you have any questions about the classes you are taking at your host institution. You must also be aware that credits at your host school may be measured differently in comparison to NDSU credits. For example, a 2-credit class abroad may transfer back as 1.5 credits at NDSU. Please see below for more information. Ask the study abroad advisor or your overseas program coordinator if in doubt.

Be aware that the classes you are actually able to enroll in and those you put on your course plan may end up being different. You must be FLEXIBLE! It is best to list more classes than you think you'll be taking.

Credits Abroad Equivalence

Below are guidelines about how the number of credits awarded per class abroad compare with the number you might receive at NDSU upon return.
  • Australia: University of the Sunshine Coast & Charles Sturt University: 1 class is equivalent to 4 NDSU credits - to maintain full-time status, students must take at least 3 classes per semester.
  • Chile: Credits are evaluated at a 2:1 ratio with 8 credits being equivalent to 4 NDSU credits - to maintain full-time status, students must take at least 24 credits per semester.
  • European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) (e.g. Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, etc.): ECTS is evaluated at a 2:1 ratio with 8 credits being equivalent to 4 NDSU credits - to maintain full-time status, students must take at least 24 credits per semester. Some universities may require that you take 30 ECTS to be full-time at their institution.
  • France: If the university follows the ECTs credit system please see above, but if it uses the French system NDSU will evaluate the amount of credits based on contact hours. Total contact hours/ 12.5 = NDSU credits. Students must take a minimum of 150 contact hours per semester to be considered full-time.
  • United Kingdom: Credits from Leeds Met are evaluated at a 4:1 ratio and each module (course) is generally worth 10 or 20 credits; 2.5 or 5 NDSU credits. Students must take a minimum of 48 credits per semester to be considered full-time.
  • Italy: University of the Sacred Heart: The transcript from UCSC is issued with U.S. credits.
  • Mexico: Credits are evaluated 1:1, so students must take a minimum of 12 credits per semester.

Placement Tests for Host Schools

Language placement tests are often required and are especially important for those studying in another language at a foreign institution. If you will be taking classes abroad in English, you probably won't need any placement tests unless you also plan to study in the native language and feel you might have adequate previous knowledge.

If you are a language major, you must verify that you language courses abroad are at an advanced level if you want the credits to transfer back for your degree. If you have any questions, please speak with your academic advisor and language professors.

Transcript and Transfer Credits

Semester or year-long students must maintain full time status equivalency of at least 12 NDSU credits. Before you leave your host school, make sure your host university sends your transcripts directly to the NDSU ISSAS. You will be notified when it arrives and a copy will be made for the OIP's records before sending it to Registration and Records for processing.

If they are sending it by EXPRESS MAIL:   If they are sending it by REGULAR MAIL:
International Student and Study Abroad Services
Tanya Kramer
1401 Administration Ave MU 116
Fargo, ND 58102
International Student and Study Abroad Services
Tanya Kramer
PO Box 6050, Dept 4620
Fargo, ND 58108

Credit transfer decisions are based on the information contained in your host university transcript. Remember that you must abide by host institution requirements if you add, drop, or withdraw from classes. If you make any special arrangements to deviate from normal academic procedures at your host institution, be sure to get the conditions of your agreement in writing. Also be sure to keep copies of course descriptions, syllabi, assignments, and any other records you feel may be important for the proper evaluation of your courses which have not received prior approval on your Course Plan.

Transfer for Courses Not Pre-Approved

By default, courses listed on your transcript from abroad will return to NDSU as general education. If you did not pre-arrange for courses to be approved towards your major, minor or general education requirements using a Course Plan, you can still request to have them approved upon return. The process depends on what you want to use your classes abroad to replace.
  • Courses for your major or minor: Work with your advisor to complete a Substitute/Waive a Course form.
  • Courses for general education requirements: Complete the Appeal General Education Requirements form. As part of this process, you must supply documentation of what you learned in the class and you must provide an explanation as to how the proposed course "satisfies" the general education category description. It is very important that you show understanding as to why this course satisfies the requirement.
    • Cultural Diversity: Cultural diversity requirement can be fulfilled by any 3 credit class taken abroad. 
    • Global Perspectives: You must request your appeal under "I" on form, and explain, in detail, why your experience fits the definition of Global Perspectives as defined in the NDSU Bulletin: "focus on analysis of world-wide issues illustrating the interdependence of the world and its people".
    • If you are looking to fulfill both Cultural Diversity and Global Perspectives, you may put both requests on same form, noting your Cultural Diversity request under "III" on form. 
Both of these forms are available on Bison Connection at

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will study abroad affect my GPA?
A: No, study abroad credits are considered transfer credits and do not affect your cumulative GPA. However, transfer credits can affect your honors standing, so please see the NDSU Undergraduate Catalog for more information on transfer credit policies.

Q: Am I required to earn certain grades while abroad?
A: If you plan to have classes abroad substituted for classes at NDSU, it is important to meet with the chair of your department prior to leaving to determine the department's policies. Even though study abroad courses will not affect your cumulative GPA, some departments will require students to earn a minimum grade for classes that count towards their degree. Be aware that your overseas transcript will record the classes you took and your grades will follow the foreign university's grading system.

Q: What happens if I fail a class?
A: Some schools may record failed classes on their transcript, but the credits will not transfer back to NDSU. Failing or dropping a class will lessen the amount of credits that will transfer back and may affect your student status (here and abroad) and likewise your financial aid eligibility at NDSU. If you are considering dropping a course while abroad for any reason, please fist consult with your host school, your academic advisor and department, and your study abroad advisor. If you fail the majority of your classes abroad, it is possible to receive an F for your study abroad experience.

Q: Can I retake a class I failed at NDSU while abroad?
A: No, the course would not return to NDSU.  Study abroad is considered transfer credit and according to transfer and repeated courses policy students who wish to repeat a course for grade improvement are required to repeat that class at NDSU where the attempted credit and honor points can factor into the cumulative GPA.  In addition, as part of the repeated courses policy it mentions duplication of credit;  students who attempt to repeat classes elsewhere are not eligible for this credit as it is considered "duplicate credit" at NDSU.

Q: How long will it take to get my transcripts?
A: The normal time frame is 2-3 months, but this may vary from school to school. Your NDSU transcript will show an "I" (incomplete) for the semester(s) you were abroad until the transcript from the host school is received. When transfer credit is granted, the "I" will convert to a "P" (pass) unless you failed the majority of courses, in which case you may receive an F. Please note: any incompletes must be off your record in order to graduate.

Q: What will my NDSU transcript look like when I graduate?
A: It will show that you were registered at NDSU for study abroad and that you earned transfer credit from your host institution. On your NDSU transcript, only the name of your host school and the number of credits that transferred back will appear on the transcript. Although the details of your classes and grades abroad are not shown, that information is available on your host school transcript if needed for graduate school or other reasons.

Q: Can I take my final credits while abroad? 
A: Please fill out the form and submit to Registration and Records: Appeal for Exceptions to Academic Regulations. If you want to graduate while abroad, please contact Registration and Records and discuss your plans.