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Credit and Policies

Study Abroad Credit Transfer - Spring and Fall (for summer, click here)

To apply, students must:

  • be a registered, full-time student;
  • be in good academic standing and have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or above. Keep in mind that many programs have their own GPA requirements;
  • have attended a CALS Study Abroad 101 Session. These meetings cover CALS policies and factors to consider when selecting a program, the study abroad application and approval process, and other important information;
  • apply by the stated deadlines;
  • apply and register through Cornell Abroad or the CALS Exchange Program; there are no exceptions to this rule. Credit is not awarded retroactively after a return from a leave of absence during which you may have studied abroad independently; and
  • receive approval on the “proposed course of study” from their faculty advisor and the CALS study abroad advisor.

Programs must:

  • be a “CALS-approved” accredited study abroad program or university. Search “approved by CALS” on the CU Abroad website and/or visit the CALS Exchange Program for a list of options.
  • run a minimum of 14 weeks for full credit.

While abroad, students are:

  • required to study the language of the host country in non-English-speaking countries;
  • expected to enroll for a full course load (equivalent to 15 credit hours at Cornell)
  • subject to CALS good academic standing requirements. Failure to meet the requirements will result in academic action upon return.

Credit will be received for courses:

  • for which an equivalent to letter grade of C or above is received; and
  • that are recorded on the official transcript from abroad (e.g. certificates are not eligible for credit)

Receiving CALS distribution credit abroad

  • Students must ensure the course is worth a minimum of 3 US credits (for Written/Oral Comm & Humanities & Social Sciences), then email cals-studentservices@cornell.edu the name(s) and description(s) of each course
  • Students will receive a decision via email and a note will be placed in your DUST file
  • Petitioning for Human Diversity distribution credit is a lengthy and cumbersome process.  It is not recommended that students attempt to fulfill that requirement abroad.

Credit will not be awarded for:

  • courses taken on a “pass/fail” basis
  • duplicate courses for which you have already received credit at Cornell
  • physical education (PE)
  • courses completed outside the United States in the fall or spring semester while on a leave of absence*
  • you may not take courses online or by distance learning at the host university

* If you are a transfer student and studied abroad while at your former university, or an incoming first-year student who studied abroad at the university level prior to matriculation, you may be eligible to seek pre-matriculation study abroad credit.

Transcript recording procedures

  • Cornell Abroad credits are considered non-Cornell credit and count against the sixty (60) maximum transfer credits permitted; credits are limited to 15 credits per semester, 30 per academic year.
  • CALS Exchange credits are considered Cornell credit, not transfer credit; there is a possibility of earning more than 15 credits per semester. Students should consult with the CALS Exchange advisor for specific details.
  • The name of the program or university will be noted on the Cornell University official transcript.
  • Course titles and grades will appear on official Cornell transcript.
  • For most programs, grades will not figure into your cumulative GPA (exceptions include Cornell in Rome and SEA Semester).
  • Credits may be designated as CALS credit if it is similar to coursework taught in CALS.
  • If a grade of C- or lower was earned, or a course was taken pass/fail, the Cornell transcript will note zero (0) credit and a grade of “U” for unsatisfactory.

Transfer students studying abroad

Transfer students are able to participate in the same study abroad opportunities as all CALS students.  For students with 45 or less transfer credits, studying abroad for a semester can fit into a Cornell degree quite seamlessly.  However, students with more than 45 transfer credits should discuss their individual situation with the CALS Study Abroad and Exchange Advisor.  The CALS Exchange Program is a great option since credits earned abroad don’t count toward the transfer credit limit.

Seniors studying abroad

It is possible for CALS students to study abroad during their final semester as long as they can meet all graduation requirements before leaving. Students must complete a “Study Abroad in your final semester” petition (via DUST).  The following important issues should be kept in mind:

  • Students must stay in contact with the CALS Registrar before and while abroad to discuss the timeline of graduation.
  • It can take around two months for study abroad transcripts to arrive at Cornell University and additional time for credits to be posted and applied towards your degree program, which may delay your actual date of graduation.
  • Some programs do not end until after Cornell’s semester is over, and students are required to complete all courses, coursework, and final assessments on-site. If a program does not end until after Cornell’s graduation, students are not permitted to return early to walk in the graduation ceremony.
  • For students hoping to apply to graduate schools for the semester immediately following a study abroad program and Cornell graduation, students should ensure graduate schools understand that his/her final diploma and transcript from Cornell may not be available until straight away.

Graduate Schools and GPAs

While grades from most coursework completed abroad do not affect the Cornell GPA, it is important to remember that graduate schools (including medical, business, and law schools) generally instruct applicants to provide study abroad transcripts and then recalculate GPAs so that they include the study abroad grades.

Official Copies of Your Study Abroad Transcript

Contact your study abroad provider or host university for an official copy of your study abroad transcript. Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, Cornell University or CALS cannot release or issue one.

We recommend that students request multiple official transcripts for future use from their study abroad program or host university soon after completing their semester abroad.

Summer or Winter

Students who plan to study abroad during the summer or winter should complete a Study Abroad Participation and Course Approval Form prior to leaving campus if they would like to obtain transfer credit upon return. Transfer credit policies apply to study abroad summer and winter credit and should be reviewed prior to application. Students are responsible for dealing directly with the programs to which they apply. This includes the application process, costs and billing, academic credit, travel plans, housing, visas, etc.