Academic Credit

Statue of girl reading a book.Students can enhance their Western Michigan University degree program and increase global engagement by earning academic credit for studying abroad.

For courses taught by a WMU professor during a short-term, study abroad program

  • Students are advised to consult with their academic advisor to determine how a WMU study abroad course will count toward degree requirements. A Course Equivalency Approval form is not required for a course taught by a WMU professor abroad.

For courses offered by a foreign university

  • Students are responsible for meeting with their academic advisors to obtain study abroad course equivalency approvals for major, minor, general education or other degree requirements. Only the academic advisor in the department or college from which a student wants academic credit has authority to approve WMU equivalencies for study abroad courses.
  • A Course Equivalency Approval form can be obtained from a study abroad specialist. Students should then bring the form and descriptions of the courses they are interested in taking overseas to their advisor to obtain equivalency approvals. This enables the advisor to review course content and determine the appropriate WMU equivalency. This is an important step to verify how study abroad courses will count toward WMU degree requirements. Students are encouraged to obtain approved equivalencies for more courses than they are planning to take abroad so that alternate courses are identified in the event first-choice classes are not offered, or have full enrollment upon arrival. The original completed, signed Course Equivalency Approval form must be provided to the Study Abroad office prior to departure for later use during the transcript evaluation process.
  • It is the student's responsibility to ensure that study abroad course equivalency approvals correspond to the courses that appear on their study abroad transcript. An academic advisor must approve any changes before credit can be issued. Students must provide a copy of any equivalency approvals secured during the program to the Study Abroad office. Any courses appearing on the study abroad transcript, for which a student does not have prior written approval from their academic advisor, will be treated as graded electives. Course equivalency approvals cannot be obtained after the program concludes.
  • For some foreign language programs that require a placement test upon arrival, course equivalency approvals may be obtained after determining which courses will be taken abroad.

All students enrolled in a study abroad course will automatically be registered for graded credit. However, if a student would like to have certain courses processed for credit/no credit (permissible only with elective courses that will not count for WMU major, minor or general education requirements), this must:

  • Be indicated on the Course Equivalency Approval form prior to departure.
  • Or, the student must notify their study abroad specialist via their University email account ( within the first 10 class days of a fall or spring semester program, or within the first five class days of a summer semester program. After this period, the grade mode cannot be changed. This time frame is strictly observed.

Students abroad are required to maintain full-time enrollment during fall and spring semester (equivalent of minimum 12 U.S. credit hours). Registration for study abroad courses is handled by study abroad specialists. Students who are unsure of the number of courses they would like to take will automatically be registered for 12 credit hours during fall and spring semesters. If necessary, the credit hours can be adjusted at the transcript evaluation stage. Summer semester enrollment hours may vary depending on the program. Students are responsible for consulting with Student Financial Aid and Scholarships to verify how the number of enrollment hours may impact their financial aid funding.

Study abroad grades

  • All courses taken at the host university must appear with a grade on the official transcript to receive WMU credit. This includes courses to be processed as credit/no credit. Do not enroll for pass/fail grading at the host institution.
  • A grade of C or better is necessary to receive credit (CR) for CR/NC elective courses.
  • All courses appearing on the host university transcript will be entered on the student's WMU transcript. No study abroad courses can be omitted.
  • Courses taken abroad that were not approved by an academic advisor will be processed as graded, elective credit at WMU and will not apply toward major, minor or general education requirements.
  • Study abroad grades are computed in the student's WMU GPA.
  • Students should comply with the drop/add period at the host university. An unauthorized or unofficial withdrawal from a host university course will convert to a failing grade at WMU.
  • When processing study abroad grades, WMU uses the recommended grade conversion scale provided by the host university or, if one is not provided, the grade conversion scale of World Education Services (WES).

Transcript evaluation can take up to six months after completion of a study abroad program. After conclusion of an overseas program, the host institution must submit an official transcript to the Study Abroad office. Study abroad students are required to request their official transcript from the host institution, which must be sent directly to Study Abroad. The WMU Registrar's Office is unable to process study abroad grades without the official transcript of the host institution. Students are encouraged to handle this transaction in a timely manner to avoid delays in having academic credits posted that may be prerequisites for upper-level classes at WMU, or to avoid delays with graduation audit. At the end of the semester abroad, an incomplete (I) is placed on the student's record until the study abroad transcript is received. The transcript must be processed within one year of the semester of study abroad or the incomplete credits will convert to a failing grade (E).

Special note to seniors

Seniors should take into consideration the time necessary to receive the study abroad transcript when making post-graduation plans. The WMU degree cannot be awarded until after the study abroad transcript is processed; this is often one or two semesters later than the semester of study abroad. Information about requirements and eligibility to participate in commencement following study abroad can be obtained from the WMU Registrar's Office.

Study abroad course repeat policy

If a student wishes to repeat a course taught by an overseas institution during a WMU-sponsored study abroad program, the WMU equivalent course may be repeated for credit pre-approved by the department. A Study Abroad Repeat Course Permission Form must be submitted to the WMU Registrar's office prior to starting the repeated course.