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Abroad Policies

Students are responsible for knowing and understanding the study abroad policies set forth by Cornell and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. If you have any questions about the policies, please reach out to cals-studentservices [at] (CALS Student Services). Please carefully review the following:


  • Resolve all University Record holds and be a full-time student in good academic standing.
  • The study abroad program must not prevent you from delaying graduation.
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher (be advised that some programs may require a higher GPA).
  • Meet the minimum requirements of CALS and the program (GPA, prerequisites, study focus, etc.)
  • Be in good standing with the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (NOTE: Students in “restricted good standing” will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis)
  • Where possible, have finished any work required to resolve any incompletes. If you have more than two incompletes, you must meet with the CALS Student Services advisor to determine eligibility to study abroad. 
  • Meet application deadlines

Course Approval

Studying abroad involves both applying to your specific program as well as obtaining formal college and major advisor approval for your planned course of study.

  • Apply to your program through Education Abroad.
  • Obtain signatures by completing the CALS Study Abroad Course Approval Form.
    • Major advisor signature is required before submitting to CALS Student Services.
  • All course approvals are provisional, dependent on successful completion of the courses and submission of syllabi and work to the appropriate department.
  • Any changes to pre-approved courses must be approved by the college or major advisor prior to enrollment.
  • Students may not register for independent study credit or any other Cornell courses while enrolled in programs abroad.


  • Participation in a semester (fall, spring) abroad semester program requires students to maintain good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 2.75 (may be higher if required by my program).
  • Students must enroll in a language course to study the official language of the host country if English is not a government-recognized language (ex. Studying in Spain, take beginning level Spanish). If you are fluent in the host country’s language, you may get approval to waive the language class requirement if you are able to take a course taught in the host country language. If English is an official language, no language class is required. A language course is not required prior to departure. 
  • Students cannot enroll in online coursework through the host institution/program, Cornell, or elsewhere. This includes independent study. If planning to take a winter course prior to departure to a program that may overlap slightly with a spring program, students must get prior approval for the winter course. 
  • Students should not enroll in duplicate courses (overlaps of classes taken or planned at Cornell). The policy at Cornell regarding cross-listed/overlapped courses applies to abroad classes as well. It is at the student's discretion to know a course taken is a course that contains a majority of content either abroad or at Cornell. If unsure, please contact the cals-studentservices [at] (CALS Student Services) prior to your departure. If you are unsure, it is recommended you choose another. 
  • It can take up to 3 months (rarely longer than this) for abroad credits to be processed depending on when they are released by the host institution/program.

Academic Credit and Transcripts

Academic Credit:

  • Students must enroll in the equivalent of 15 U.S. credit hours at the host institution/program.
    • Credits earned through Education Abroad programs count toward the maximum 60 transfer credits permitted; credits transferred are limited to 15 credits per semester, 30 per academic year even if the program is above 15 credits per semester.
    • CALS Exchange program credits may earn more than 15 credits per semester. Students should consult with CALS Student Services for specific details.
  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade while abroad (no pass/fail, S/U classes).
  • Students must earn the equivalent of a U.S. grade of C or better to receive credit for the courses taken abroad. Disclaimer: International grading scales may differ from US grading scales. Cornell references WES for grading scale comparison. 
  • Any major or minor credits must be approved by faculty advisors/department advising coordinators.
  • CALS distribution must be approved by the CALS Student Services team.  
  • Internships, experiential learning, and certain other courses do not count for credit.
  • Save all syllabi, reading lists, and completed work for all courses taken abroad. These materials are often required to confirm if a course can fulfill college distribution and/or major requirements.
  • If courses at the host institution change, students must notify faculty advisors if the course is related to the major.
  • If the course at the host institution changes and the course is related to the college distribution, contact cals-studentservices [at] (CALS Student Services) with the update. 

Enrollment Restriction:

  • While on a leave of absence, study abroad undertaken during a leave of absence will not receive academic credit. International students on leave of absence from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences may enroll in courses at a college or university in their home country of residence only, as such enrollment is not defined as study abroad. They should pre-approve the transfer credit ahead of enrollment to ensure the coursework will be eligible to transfer to Cornell CALS. 


  • Grades earned abroad will NOT be factored into a student's GPA.
  • All courses taken abroad and grades received will appear on the official Cornell transcript exactly as they appear on your study abroad transcript.
  • At the conclusion of your study abroad experience, and after final grades have been posted, request an official transcript from your host institution/program. For specific instructions,  see the "Where Should I Direct My Transcript?" FAQ.
  • Credit is only granted once an official transcript is received from the host institution/program. 
  • Study abroad courses may not fulfill the PE or swim test requirement.

Summer or Winter Abroad:

Cornell has no objections to students pursuing summer/winter abroad experiences. Students will follow the application processes of their chosen program and do not apply through Cornell University. Students may receive transfer (non-Cornell) credit for courses taken abroad over the summer or winter but must get the courses approved PRIOR to going abroad. Students can complete a pre-approval by submitting the CALS pre-approval form linked here. All CALS transfer course policies apply and should be reviewed ahead of applying to a summer or winter program.

An official transcript from the accredited institution bearing the institutional seal and registrar's seal must be sent directly from the institution to CALS Student Services following the completion of the coursework. 

A non-Cornell summer or winter program is not considered Cornell travel and students are responsible for matters related to the program and international travel such as but not limited to health, safety, finances, housing, travel, and conduct while participating in the experience.