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The How-to’s of Study Abroad

There’s a lot to learn before and during your time abroad about the best ways to get the most out of your experience. After surveying the others on my program I figured I’d put a positive spin on some advice about studying abroad: See! Take the time to get to know your area of the [...]

The post The How-to’s of Study Abroad appeared first on The API Study Abroad Blog.

How to Facilitate Transfer Credit

Talk to a study abroad advisor at home

Each U.S. university sets its own guidelines regarding how it accepts credit from abroad. All API program participants are advised to discuss credit transfer policies with their home university. API strongly recommends that students obtain pre-approval for coursework abroad whenever possible and speak with their study abroad advisor to obtain the necessary paperwork. Students should also take an advisor’s contact information with them abroad, in the event that course offerings change once on-site. An official transcript from the accredited U.S. or foreign institution with an English translation (as needed) is sent to the registrar or study abroad advisor upon each student’s successful completion of a program.

Understand how universities measure credits

CONTACT HOURS (predominantly utilized among our France, Hungary, Latin American, Poland, and Spain programs) One unit of measurement that many American universities and foreign universities use to determine transfer credit is the CONTACT HOUR. A contact hour is a 50 minute block of time spent in the classroom. To determine transfer credit equivalencies within the semester system, divide the total number of contact hours by 15. For a quarter system equivalency, divide the total number of contact hours by 10.

EUROPEAN CREDIT TRANSFER AND ACCUMULATION SYSTEM (ECTS) (predominantly utilized among our Ireland programs) Universities in the U.S. typically award .5 credit hour for every 1 ECTS credit. For example, a course worth 5 ECTS would transfer to the U.S. as 2.5 U.S. semester credit hours.

BRITISH CREDITS (predominantly utilized among our England programs) Universities in England and the U.K. have varying methods of indicating transfer credit for U.S. study abroad students. Some use proprietary systems, while others use “British” transfer credits. A brief explanation of the variations is offered below:

  • The University of the Arts, London issues 12 semester credits for a term, based on a calculation of credits allocated per course per term.
  • Students at University College London (UCL) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) (both constituents of the University of London) utilize a version of “British” credits in which courses/units are worth 8 times a U.S. semester credit. In other words, a 1 unit course is worth 8 U.S. semester credits, and a .5 unit course is worth 4 U.S. semester credits.
  • Similar to the UCL and SOAS programs, courses at the University of Westminster are worth 4 times a U.S. semester credit – so for 4 modules (courses), students earn 16 semester credits.

U.S. SEMESTER CREDITS (predominantly utilized among our Italy and Middle East programs, but also utilized in other countries) Many API partner universities overseas indicate credits as U.S. semester credit hours in their course descriptions, syllabi, and transcripts – so no translation is required!

Know how grades are determined abroad

Grades abroad are affected by attendance and class participation in many programs. Failing to meet the established attendance requirements may result in a failing final grade and no credit transfer. Grades are assigned by the host institution.

Speak with the language department about course levels

API provides the following general guidelines for converting language courses abroad into the American system.

NOTE: These guidelines are based on approximations of experience and level. European programs are migrating to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which are indicated in each respective country section where applicable.

FRANCE, LATIN AMERICA AND SPAIN

LOWER DIVISION

Beginning (100 level) – This level requires no previous language study. One semester of first-year, college-level language is generally still equivalent to beginning level Spanish.

Intermediate (200 level) – To be considered for the intermediate level, students must have completed 2-3 semesters of college-level language or the equivalent (i.e., by testing out of your home university’s placement test or AP tests).

UPPER DIVISION

Advanced (300 level) – Advanced students have completed 4 semesters of college-level language or the equivalent.

Superior (400 level) – The superior level is appropriate for students who have completed 5-6 or more semesters of college-level language or the equivalent.