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.
For Academic Advisors

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.

For Department Chairs or Faculty Advisors

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:

  1. Students are required to provide a course description and syllabi for each course taken abroad.
  2. 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
  3.  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 or 414-229-4846.

Credit for UWM-Sponsored Exchange and Non-Exchange Programs

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.

Credit Processing:

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.

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.

Credit Processing:

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.