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.
Academic credit is awarded for successful completion of your coursework while abroad. To receive 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.
Course Equivalency Approval
What Is Course Equivalency Approval & 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 credits toward their degree or certificate program requirements.
Here Are the Steps In the Course Equivalency Approval Process:
- Complete the Course Equivalency Approval Form.
- Make an appointment to meet with the appropriate Department Chair or Faculty Advisor to obtain equivalency approvals.
- Provide course descriptions and/or syllabi.
- Department Chairs or Faculty Advisors should indicate any appropriate course equivalencies and sign the form.
- 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.
- It is highly recommended that students keep a copy for themselves as well as a copy for their Academic Advisor.
As an Academic Advisor, planning with students to determine what study abroad courses may benefit their degree and lead to their academic success is essential. You may be presented with the Course Equivalency Approval form for students that are intending on studying abroad, those that are currently studying abroad and those that have already returned.
This form should be completed by the student.
This form needs to be approved and signed by the appropriate Department Chair or Faculty Advisor; otherwise, the form will not be valid by the Center for International Education.
It is also recommended to make a copy of the completed and approved form for the student’s record. In effort to be more transparent and efficient with grade processing for students once the student’s courses and transcript has been processed the Enrollment Coordinator will upload the student’s transcript, and supporting documents to the student’s record on Navigate.
Study abroad students need your assistance in determining the appropriate equivalencies for the courses they have taken, are currently taking or will take abroad. This important approval form helps students to determine how their coursework abroad will be applied to their degree program.
In order to evaluate courses taken abroad, please read and consider the following:
- Students are required to provide a course description and syllabi for each course taken abroad.
- For each course listed on the form, please determine one of the three options:
- an exact equivalent to a course at UWM
- an exact equivalent with GER designation
- elective credit — please indicate upper or lower level
- If not enough course information has been provided to you by students, you may opt to give tentative approval of the equivalency. Please request that students supply more detailed course information so you may properly evaluate the course. When this is accomplished, you will be asked to sign and date the form to indicate final approval.
If there are any questions, please contact the Center for International Education at Overseas@uwm.edu or 414-229-4846.
Students who participate in UWM-sponsored exchange and 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. Each course is assigned a section number in the appropriate department. Typical study abroad course numbers are 197, 297, 397, 497, 597, 697, 797.
Study abroad coordinators will review students’ course equivalency approvals and confirm that the students completed the courses as they were evaluated. If students were enrolled in courses while abroad and that have not been evaluated, they may need to obtain additional course equivalency approvals.
Academic advisors and UWM schools and colleges use the course equivalency approval form as an internal reference document when conducting the graduation clearance audit for students.
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 the Center for International Education.
If the student receives a US Institution transcript from their program, then the Enrollment Coordinator will send the student’s transcripts and supporting documents to the Registrar’s office to be processed by the staff.
If the student receives a Foreign Institution transcript the Study Abroad coordinator will review the courses taken abroad, gather any supporting documents (i.e. Course Equivalency Approvals), evaluate the grades and courses taken abroad, and finally give all the documents to the Enrollment Coordinator to post via PAWS.
If the student enrolled in courses that have not been evaluated, they need to obtain additional Course Equivalency Approvals.
Once the Center for International Education has completed processing the Foreign Institute transcripts, the transcript and supporting documents are sent to the Registrar’s office to be added to the student’s official academic record.
Frequently Asked Questions
Credit for non-UWM programs will transfer as long as:
- The program is sponsored by an accredited institution.
- Passing grades are earned in courses taken abroad.
- Grades are verified by an official transcript from the host university.
- Work done abroad does not duplicate previous work.
- UWM departmental approval was obtained for all completed coursework.
External applicants may need to submit an official transcript from their home college/university.
Do keep in mind, however, that graduate schools typically request a transcript for any courses taken abroad to recalculate an applicant’s GPA.
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.
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.