Study Abroad Course Approvals

Each GW department determines whether or not they consider the transfer course material comparable to their discipline at GW. If approved, the department designates a GW equivalent (DEPT XXXX), to indicate how the course will appear on the transcript when transferred. Departments can only approve courses for their individual departments.


Obtaining Course Approvals

Students are encouraged to obtain course approvals prior to studying abroad. However, there are some programs that do not allow students the flexibility to pick courses prior to arrival in country. 
  1. Form Approval - It is the student’s responsibility to know which form they should be using. After approvals are received, they should be submitted to the Office for Study Abroad by the student. 
  2. ​Study abroad/International students studying in their home country - use the Study Abroad Course Approval Form

Designating the Course for Approval 

1. Exact Equivalent – A specific course listed in the GW Bulletin. An exact equivalent directly substitutes for taking that course at GW (ex. PSC 2442, SPAN 2005)
2. Variable Credit Within a Department – Courses that may not have an exact GW equivalent subject and number. 
  • Courses labeled DEPT 1099 (ex. GEOG 1099) are lower-level courses without an equivalent in the designated department
  • Courses labeled DEPT 3099 (ex. GEOG 3099) are upper-level courses without an equivalent in the designated department. 
3. Variable Topics Within a Department – Courses that align with the merit of a special topic area more specifically for the major within a designated department (ex. HIST 3101, CLAS 3115)
4. No Equivalent Department – Courses that do NOT have an equivalent department (ex. Swahili) are transferred as IDIS 1099/3099. Students may submit the Course Approval Form and the syllabus to Phillips 107 to review for Interdisciplinary (IDIS) credit. Students should exhaust all options with potential departments before submitting the syllabus for review. Occasionally, a student will be denied IDIS credit and are sent suggestions for other academic departments on campus to review. 

Fitting the Course into a Student’s Curriculum

The departmental faculty determine how courses transfer and in turn, students will need to work with both their Faculty Mentor and Professional Advisor to determine how the course best suits their degree requirements. 
 
1. Course Equivalents - If a course is approved as a GW course equivalent and transfers exactly as a specific course requirement (ex. ECON 2101) for a major or minor, then the course will automatically apply towards the degree requirement. 
2. Variable Topics Within a Department 
  • Courses that are approved as the special topic number within the student’s major department (ex. HIST 3101),  will directly apply towards the specific requirement for that major. For example, HIST 3101 will apply directly towards the US History requirement for the major. 
  • Courses that are approved as the special topic number within the student’s major department (GER 4195), that will NOT directly apply towards the specific requirement for that major. For example, if a student wishes for GER 4195 to apply towards specific requirements within the German major, then the student should gain approval through the Faculty Mentor and the faculty should submit a petition on DegreeMAP to officially approve the substitution. 
3. Variable Credit Within a Department
  • Courses that are approved as 1099 and 3099 within the student’s major department, may directly apply towards the specific requirement for that major, depending on the curriculum. 
  • Courses that are approved as 1099 and 3099 within the student’s major department that can NOT apply towards a specific requirement can apply in consultation and approval of the Faculty Mentor. If approved, the faculty should submit a petition on DegreeMAP to officially approve the substitution. 

Lead faculty mentors are encouraged to work with the DegreeMAP team to figure out ways of being more strategic in transferring study abroad credit towards specific major requirements. 


Pre-requisites

GW faculty cannot dictate the pre-requisites for courses taken at another institution.  For example, if a student plans to take ECON 3142 at another institution that does not require a pre-requisite equivalent to the one here at GW (ECON 2101 or 2103), the student should still be eligible to transfer the course with no questions asked. However, approving a course at another institution in which the student has not met the pre-requisite at GW, will NOT constitute a waiver at GW. For example, if the Economics department approves a study abroad course as ECON 3142 at another university (that does not require a pre-requisite), the student will still have to take ECON 2101 (GW’s pre-requisite) upon return in order to complete their remaining degree requirements.

No “Special-Cases”

Faculty should approve an abroad course for a specific designation and not change the designation depending on the student.  A specific course at a specific institution can only be approved one way for all students; it cannot be approved as one course for one student and as a different course for another.  Course approvals must be consistent and should not vary based on student’s major, but rather the subject material itself.

Determining the Number of Credits for the Course

Faculty cannot dictate the number of credit hours for a course. Students will receive the number of credits that appear on the other institution’s transcript (i.e., a course of 4 credits abroad will apply as 4 credits at GW), and credit hours taken at institutions following different scales will be converted to semester credit hours through the Office for Study Abroad. 

Questions?

Please contact Cameron Ertley at cklem@gwu.edu