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Courses Abroad

Academics & Study Abroad

So you want to learn more about the course planning process for undergraduate study and intern abroad've come to the right place! Please bookmark this page and refer to it anytime you have questions about courses abroad before you apply, during your program, and when you return to Santa Clara University.

Course Planning Resources:


Course Planning Guidance

Students applying to study abroad should be prepared to address how their program fits with their overall academic goals and trajectory in their application. Competitive applicants are those who can demonstrate a strong alignment between their programs of interest and their academics**

To compare global programs and explore all of your options, your very first step is to create a general 4 Year Course Plan that outlines the type of credit you need to stay on track to degree. You can co-create a general 4 Year Course Plan with your Faculty Advisor at Santa Clara, or if you are undeclared, with the Drahmann Center. A handy resource to begin crafting your 4 Year Course Plan is the Drahmann Center's Major and Minor checklists.

After you create a general 4 Year Course Plan, please join us during Express Advising Hours to learn your next steps. Our advisors will walk you through how to find the courses that are offered on specific programs, how to complete the Proposed Academic Plan for Study Abroad, and how to use the SCU Course Equivalency Database correctly + submit a new course evaluation request, if needed.

Please keep in mind that you must account for the following rules, requirements, and regulations when planning for a study or intern abroad experience: 

Credit earned during approved programs will count toward graduation requirements either as general elective credit or, with appropriate approval from academic departments at SCU, may fulfill major, minor, and core requirements. Grades are calculated into the Santa Clara University GPA, and all credit and grades appear on the student's Santa Clara University transcript. 

For a current list of the courses offered on a program, students must use the Course Catalogs. Students can find the Course Catalogs on the "Course Options" tab of each Digital Brochure in the Program Database.

Some courses abroad have already been evaluated previously for SCU credit and are listed in the Course Equivalency Database. Students may utilize this resource to assist them in crafting their 4 Year Course Plan and Proposed Academic Plans. If there is a course, internship, or service learning opportunity offered on a program that has not been evaluated previously for the type of credit a student wishes to earn, they will need to submit a Course Evaluation Request.

How Do Credits Abroad Transfer to SCU?

Programs abroad may issue different units than what Santa Clara students are used to earning here on campus. These unit systems help students to move between countries and to have their academic qualifications and study periods abroad recognized.

The Unit Conversions are as follows: 

Semester Units to Quarter Units

Most programs issue US semester units. 

  • 1 US Semester unit = 1.5 quarter units
  • 3 US Semester units = 4.5 quarter units
  • 15 US Semester units (full time course load) = 22.5 quarter units

ECTS Units to Quarter Units

Some universities abroad use the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). 

  • 1 ECTS unit = .75 quarter units
  • 30 ECTS units (full time course load) = 22.5 quarter units

ACU CR Units to Quarter Units

Australian Catholic University uses ACU CR units. 

  • 10 ACU CR units =  4.5 quarter units
  • 50 ACU CR units (full time course load) = 22.5 quarter units

**Many classes will come back as 4.5 quarter units.  Students can still receive upper-division credit for a 4.5 unit class.  If students are trying to fulfill a unit NUMBER requirement, such as 10 units of upper-division Spanish, they may need to take more than 2 courses abroad to successfully complete that requirement.**

All students participating in fall, winter, or spring study abroad programs are required to enroll in a language or culture course while abroad, depending on the program’s location. When completing their Proposed Academic Plans for Study Abroad, students should account for all language or culture course requirements. Failure to do so could negatively impact their application.

  • Students participating in study abroad programs in non-English speaking countries must take a language course in the country's local language. Some programs may also have additional language requirements a student must meet to attend the program. For example, it is common for language-intensive study abroad programs to require previous language experience. 
  • Students participating in study abroad programs in English-speaking countries must take a course that focuses on the country’s culture or history.

Summer study or intern abroad students are not required to enroll in a language or culture course.

Major & Minor Rules & Regulations for Study Abroad
Asian Studies The Asian Studies minor has a limit of no more than two upper-division courses in the student's major or three in any one department
Art History & Studio Art

Studio art or art history courses taken abroad may be applied to no more than half of the requirements for a major/minor in art history.  For majors, no more than three courses may be taken abroad to fulfill the five upper-division ARTH course requirements.  For minors, only one upper-division course may be taken abroad to fulfill the three upper-division ARTH course requirements.

Only one ARTH course may be taken abroad to fulfill the requirements of a major in studio art.   Studio art courses taken abroad may be applied to no more than half of the requirements for a minor in studio art.  ARTH courses taken abroad are not accepted for the minor in studio art.

Communications The Communication Department will accept no more that two courses taken abroad for the major. Approved courses count as COMM electives referred to as "COMM 199." Lower division required COMM courses (COMM 1, 2, 12, 20, 30 or 40), COMM List A (theory), List B (media production), method courses (COMM 110, 111), and thesis/capstone (COMM 196, 197) cannot be taken abroad.
Environmental Studies and Sciences All Environmental Studies and Science (ESS) majors should study abroad their junior year or during the summer. The ESS Department expects all majors to be present on campus during their senior year to take the required Capsone Bridge (ENVS 100) course fall quarter and Capstone (ENVS 101) in the winter quarter. 

Proposals for new course equivalencies (courses that are not grandfathered into SCU’s existing Study Abroad equivalencies) will, if granted, be for upper division Environmental Studies or Science Elective credit (e.g. not for a specific course).  
Finance Internships taken abroad cannot be used to fulfill the FNCE 198 requirement.
Marketing The Marketing Department will accept only one course taken abroad to count toward a Marketing student's major. Internships abroad cannot be used to fulfill MKTG 198.
Management MGMT 80 students may request credit for the equivalent of MGMT 80 for courses taken abroad, however, students should note that most study abroad courses equivalent to MGMT 80 do not satisfy the Cultures & Ideas 3 requirement.  Internships and internship classes taken abroad cannot be counted as MGMT 198E.
Neuroscience The Neuroscience Department will accept no more than two courses taken abroad for the major or minor. Exceptions will be considered only on a case-by-case basis. 
Operations Management & Information Systems  OMIS 105, OMIS 106, and OMIS 107 cannot be taken abroad.
Political Science A study abroad course in POLI is most likely to satisfy one of the following requirements for the major: upper-division International Relations, upper-division Comparative Politics, upper-division elective in IR or Comparative. It is less common but still possible to take a Political Philosophy course abroad. Methods courses seldom transfer back to SCU. The Political Science Department recommends that you do not try to take POLI 99 (Political Science Research) or POLI 101 (Applied Quantitative Methods) while abroad.
Psychology  The Psychology Department will accept ONE lower-division course (Psyc 1- or Psyc 2-equivalent only) and no more than TWO upper-division courses taken abroad for the major.
Sociology The Sociology Department will accept no more than two courses taken abroad for the major and one for the minor.
Other If you have questions regarding the requirements for your major or minor, please contact a Drahmann advisor or department for assistance.


CORE Rules & Regulations for Study Abroad
Learning Objectives Students, prior to requesting a course approval to satisfy a Core Requirement you should consult the Undergraduate Core Curriculum Guide and confirm that the study abroad course meets the learning objections of the Core requirement being requested.
Religious Studies Only the 2nd of the three RTC Core requirements can be satisfied with a course completed through study abroad. Students admitted as freshmen must complete the three RTC courses in sequence, and RTC 3 only counts for the Core after the student has completed 88 units. Transfer students who matriculate with 44 or more units complete any two RTC requirements in any order.
Diversity The SCU Core Diversity requirement deals with US Domestic multiculturalism. Courses abroad that deal with global diversity, rather that US domestic multiculturalism, do not meet the SCU Core Diversity requirement
Pathways Only one study abroad course can count toward a Pathway
Core-Double Dipping Integrations (ELSJ, Advanced Writing, and Pathways) can be double-dipped with Explorations Core requirements; except for engineering students who can double and triple-dip within the Core and only engineering students can have a course count as both RTC2 & C&I3.
Second Language Students taking a first year language course in its country of origin on a SCU approved study abroad program can receive credit towards their Core second language requirement. If a language is studied abroad, but not in the country of origin, a student, when returning to SCU, can take a language qualifying examination. Students will receive credit according to the level of the course taken.
ELSJ To earn ELSJ credit students must engage directly with the end clients of the community organization as part of the service-learning experience and have direct contact with the community.
Natural Science Study Abroad courses approved for the Nature Science requirement fulfill the "with lab" component. Students will not need to take a lab upon return to campus.
IMPORTANT NOTE** If students take language courses abroad equivalent to courses they have already taken at SCU, they will not receive credit.
Be Sure to Make a Back-Up Course Plan

Students who require a very specific course to graduate on time during the term they hope to study abroad should determine their own level of risk tolerance when moving forward with a program during the fall, winter, or spring terms. The flexibility needed for course planning abroad during these terms may not suit their needs. As a result, a summer study or intern program may be a better fit. 

Programs cannot guarantee course availability or enrollment for a specific term. Courses abroad vary from year to year, and some courses are not offered in every term. In addition, programs reserve the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrollment, faculty cancellations, or circumstances beyond their control. Generally, a final course listing is provided by most programs during Phase 3 of the study abroad process when students are preparing for departure. If a student finds that a course they initially hoped to enroll in abroad is full or no longer offered, they should revisit their 4 Year Course Plan and may submit new course evaluation requests to Santa Clara for other courses offered on the program that could keep them on track to degree.

Our Recommendations:

We advise students to select a fall, winter, or spring program with at least eight courses listed that could keep them on track to degree, which will provide some flexibility in the event a course is not offered, is canceled, or the class hour conflicts with another course. 

Students should also meet with their Faculty Advisor prior to the application deadline to discuss the coursework featured on their 4 Year Course Plan and Proposed Academic Plan for each study abroad program preference they wish to be considered for during the application review process. These plans are not a guarantee of enrollment in specific courses abroad, but it will help ensure they are selecting program preferences that will keep them on track to degree, and create a contingency plan in the event they cannot enroll in an anticipated course abroad.

Meeting with their Faculty Advisor is every student's responsibility prior to submitting an application.