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Academic credit is the basis for your study abroad experience. After all, it is study abroad, right? To ensure that your participation in your chosen study abroad program provides you with maximum academic success, you should work closely (and early on) with your academic advisor.

Study abroad academic credit is awarded for successful completion of your coursework while abroad. To receive academic credit you will need an official transcript from an accredited institution displaying courses, letter grades and credit amounts.

If you would like your classes abroad to count as specific UWM courses (or as upper-level electives), you can use the Course Equivalency Approval form (PDF).

Credit Processing

Credit for UWM-Sponsored Programs

Students who participate in UWM-sponsored exchange or non-exchange programs earn UWM credit (not transfer credit), and the grades they receive abroad are factored into their GPA. 

Students are registered in a placeholder that consists of Global 297 for non-exchange programs and Exmural 100 or Exmural 700 for exchange programs. The enrollments are completed by the Enrollment Coordinator once the student has been accepted and confirmed into the program. The placeholder enrollment allows the student to maintain full-time status and receive financial aid to use towards their study abroad costs. 

After studying abroad, the Center for International Education receives transcripts from students’ host universities or programs, and their coursework and grades are posted to PAWS. 

Credit for Non-UWM Programs

Students receive transfer credit for participation in non-UWM-sponsored study abroad programs and must register through CIE. 

Students are first registered in Exmural 099, a full-time placeholder that allows students to maintain their status at UWM and allows them to apply their financial aid toward their study abroad program costs. 

Students who participate on non-UWM sponsored study abroad programs MUST have their transcripts sent to the Center for International Education in order to be processed. How the student’s courses and grades are processed depends on the type of transcript that is received by CIE. Once transcripts are evaluated by CIE, credits and grades are uploaded to students’ PAWS accounts. 

Course Equivalency Approval

What is Course Equivalency Approval and why is it important?

The course equivalency approval process is used by the Center for International Education and study abroad students to determine the appropriate equivalencies for coursework taken abroad. The course equivalency process gives students the chance to apply their study abroad academic credits toward their degree or certificate program requirements.

Steps in the Course Equivalency Approval Process

  1. Complete the Course Equivalency Approval Form (PDF).
  2. Make an appointment to meet with the appropriate Department Chair or Faculty Advisor to obtain equivalency approvals.
  3. Provide course descriptions and/or syllabi.
  4. Department Chairs or Faculty Advisors should indicate any appropriate course equivalencies and sign the form.
  5. A physical or digital copy must be sent to the appropriate Study Abroad Coordinator or be returned to the Center for International Education in Garland Hall 138.
    1. It is highly recommended that students keep a copy for themselves as well as a copy for their Academic Advisor.

Study Abroad Frequently Asked Questions

Will students remain enrolled at UWM while abroad?

If the student chooses a UWM program, they will be registered as a UWM student and can use financial aid. If the student chooses a non-UWM program, there is a separate application and program fee that is necessary for maintaining enrollment, transferring credits, receiving advising and orientation. They will initially be registered in a placeholder course that is used to generate eligibility for financial aid. Upon their return and submission of an official university transcript to CIE, the transfer credit and courses will be placed on their UWM record.

Can students improve language skills abroad?

Absolutely! Studying in a country where students would be immersed in the language is the best way to maximize and improve language skills and competency. UWM offers various programs in which students have the opportunity to continue learning and improving in many modern languages. These programs generally require a minimum of 4-5 semesters of college level language study or the equivalent.

I only speak English. Can I study abroad?

Yes! UWM has several study abroad programs in English speaking countries, including Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, programs with courses taught in English are available in many non-English-speaking countries, such as France, Germany, Korea, Sweden and others.

Do I have to be a junior to study abroad?

No. Students are eligible to study abroad any time after completing two semesters at UWM, although some programs require junior standing to participate. Transfer students are eligible to study abroad at any time after their first semester at UWM.

Are there specific programs for my major?

UWM offers a wide variety of study abroad programs that are suited to many different majors. Many of our programs are at comprehensive universities like UWM, where they offer courses in many different subject areas. We also offer some programs that are focused on certain subjects, such as the arts, social sciences, business or foreign language. The best way to find out what subjects are offered is to browse specific program pages. Another good strategy is also finding the provider’s or university’s website to see what courses may be offered now and in the future.

How do students receive credit for studying abroad?

On UWM-sponsored programs students will be registered as a UWM student and earn 3 to 18 UWM credits, depending on the length of the program. Students attending non-UWM-sponsored program will receive transfer credit. This is a very important distinction in many majors and minors, so it is important that students speak with their academic advisors. All courses taken abroad will come back as electives; if a student needs a course taken abroad to count as a specific UWM course, they must complete the Course Equivalency Approval Form (PDF). This form will allow them to have course approved by the appropriate department/faculty prior to departure.

Credit for non-UWM programs will transfer as long as:

  1. The program is sponsored by an accredited institution.
  2. Passing grades are earned in courses taken abroad.
  3. Grades are verified by an official transcript from the host university.
  4. Work done abroad does not duplicate previous work.
  5. UWM departmental approval was obtained for all completed coursework.
Where can I find my unofficial transcript?

UWM students can obtain their unofficial transcript via their PAWS account.

External applicants may need to submit an official transcript from their home college/university.

How will grades earned abroad affect a student’s GPA?

All the grades that a UWM student receives while abroad on a UWM-sponsored program will appear on their transcript and be calculated into their grade point average. If they participate in a non-UWM-sponsored program they will earn transfer credit and their grades will not count toward their GPA.

Do keep in mind, however, that graduate schools typically request a transcript for any courses taken abroad to recalculate an applicant’s GPA.

Will students have to delay graduation if they study abroad?

Not necessarily. With careful planning, students can remain on track to graduate on-time. Some of our study abroad students have even finished their undergraduate education in less than 4 years!

CIE advises students to start planning early and to work closely with their academic advisors to design the best course of study that will ensure that they remain on track toward graduation. Some students find that it is best for them to remain at UWM for an extra semester or year after studying abroad (which is why many choose to study during their junior year) because of the new focus they gained as a result of their time abroad.

How do students register for their next semester at UWM while abroad?

UWM students may register for the next semester’s courses via PAWS the same way they would at home. They should maintain contact with their UWM academic advisor for course selection and advising.

When registering for classes, students must take into account any time differences between Milwaukee and where they will be studying. Maintenance is often scheduled late at night in Central Standard Time, and therefore they may have to plan their usage accordingly. Furthermore, PAWS will work only on computers that are in the English language, so you must set your computer to the English language to use PAWS. Alternatively, you can change the three-letter code in the URL for PAWS to “lang=ENG” to trick the computer and use PAWS.

What if a student wants to participate in a volunteering abroad program?

Unfortunately, CIE typically only assists students who are looking for opportunities where they receive credit. If the student is looking for non-credit programs or opportunities, CIE most likey cannot assist.

How can I find out more about the academic workload, grading style, etc. of the program?

For faculty-led programs, please contact the program leader. For non-faculty-led programs, please refer to the program’s brochure page, website and your coordinator.