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Santa Clara University

Courses 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 both before you apply, and after. 

How Many Courses Will I Take Abroad?

Fall, Winter, and Spring Programs: 

Students who apply to study abroad during a fall, winter, or spring term must plan for, and ultimately enroll, in a full-time courseload while abroad. Typically 4 - 6 courses is considered full-time. Students must plan for language/culture requirements during these terms. 

Summer Programs: 

Summer study and intern programs are structured differently. Students typically only take 1-2 courses while abroad on summer programs (or participate in an internship), and the courses or internship may or may not be related to their major/minor. It is more common for students to fulfill core requirements, take language courses, or participate in an internship abroad during the summer.

How Do Credits Abroad Transer to SCU?

The Unit Conversions are as follows: 

Semester Units to Quarter Units

  • 1 US Semester unit = 1.5 quarter units
  • 3 US Semester units = 4.5 quarter units
  • 15 US Semester units = 22.5 quarter units

ECTS Units to Quarter Units

  • 1 ECTS unit = .75 quarter units
  • 30 ECTS units = 22.5 quarter units

ACU CR Units to Quarter Units

  • 10 ACU CR units =  4.5 quarter units
  • 50 ACU CR units = 22.5 quarter units

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

Should I Make a Back Up Course Plan?

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

Courses abroad vary from year to year, and some courses are not offered in every term. Based on faculty availability, study abroad programs cannot guarantee course availability or enrollment for a specific term. Generally, a final course listing is typically available during phase 3 of study abroad (pre-departure & arrival). Nonetheless, please note that study abroad programs reserve the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrollment, faculty cancellations or circumstances beyond their control.


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 to their course scheduling in the event a course is not offered, is canceled, or the class hour conflicts with another course.

When Should I Submit Course Evaluation Requests?

Processing time for course evaluations can vary greatly depending on the department and time of year. We highly encourage students to submit as many course evaluations as they need to ensure their program preferences are academically aligned. The earlier a student submits course evaluations, the more confident and prepared the student will be for a global experience.

After Academic Departments review a student's course evaluation request, the Study Abroad Team incorporates every approval and denial in the course equivalency database to help streamline the evaluation process. 

Please be aware:

  • Academic departments at SCU may be obliged to alter or eliminate course equivalencies for study abroad courses described at any time due to curricular changes within the department.
  • It is a student's responsibility to meet with an Academic Advisor at SCU prior to the application deadline and official course enrollment to discuss their Proposed Academic Plans for study abroad.
  • Students are not required to take the courses they requested an evaluation for, but they should always work to ensure the courses they officially enroll in are approved. The Office of the Registrar will use the course equivalency database and the course evaluation form that students' complete while abroad to transfer grades/credits to SCU when their transcript arrives on campus.  
  • If course(s) are approved for major, minor, or core credit this does not guarantee that the student will get into those classes abroad. Students' will work directly with their program on course enrollment during phase 3 of the study abroad process (pre-departure & arrival). 
Academics & Study Abroad

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.

Application Materials:

All students participating in fall, winter, or spring study abroad programs are required to enroll in either a language or culture course while abroad, depending on the program’s location. Summer applicants are not required to enroll in a language or culture course.

  • Students participating in programs in non-English speaking countries must take a language course
  • Students in English-speaking countries must take a culture course that focuses on the country’s culture or history. 

When completing their Proposed Academic Plans, students should be sure to account for SCU Study Abroad's language or culture course requirement. Failure to do so could negatively impact their applicaton. Some programs may also have additional course requirements. For example, it is common for language-intensive study abroad programs to require previous language experience. 

Step-by-Step Instructions
Selecting Courses Abroad & Earning Credit

Step 1: 
Create Your 4-Year Course Plan

The very first step in your course planning for study abroad is to meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss your 4-Year Course Plan, based on the courses you would take here at Santa Clara University to graduate on time. It will be difficult to review courses abroad and ultimately select a program without first knowing the courses you need to take to stay on track to degree. Throughout the entire study abroad process, be sure you are staying on track to degree by checking in with your Academic Advisor

Key questions to ask your Academic Advisor before applying to study abroad:

  • Should I plan to satisfy major, minor, or core requirements while abroad based on my specific academic needs?
  • Are there any pre-requisites for courses at SCU I need to be aware of and plan around?
  • Are there rules or regulations that exist for study abroad for my particular major(s) and minor(s)?
  • Are there courses I need to take to graduate on time that are only offered at SCU during certain terms?

Step 2:
Explore SCU-Approved Programs

After you've created your 4-Year Course Plan with your Academic Advisor at Santa Clara, Explore Study Abroad Programs you may be interested in. Consider using the Course Planning Workbook to help you narrow down programs options based on your personal, professional, and academics goals.

  • To find courses the that are offered abroad on a specific program, you'll need to review the Course Catalog in the Program Database that is listed under the Courses section of each program brochure. If you have trouble navigating a Course Catalog, please reach out to the program provider or host institution using the Program Contact List.

Step 3:
Compare Courses on Study Abroad Programs to Your 4-Year Course Plan 

You can view whether a course abroad has already been evaluated for major, minor, or credit in the Course Equivalency Database.

  • If a course from the Course Catalog is not already approved in the Course Equivalency Database for the type of credit you wish to earn, you may submit a new Course Evaluation Request. This is a normal part of the course planning process.
  • Course evaluations do not need to be started or approved prior to completing your Proposed Academic Plan(s), or submitting an application by the deadline. However, submitting course evaluations prior to completing an application will help you be more confident about your course plan.
  • All approvals must be sent to to appear in the Course Equivalency Database.

A helpful resource to utilize during the course evaluation request process is SCU's most recent Undergraduate Bulletin, which includes all course requirements at Santa Clara by area of study, along with the descriptions of each course. 

Step 4: 
Complete Your Proposed Academic Plans for Your Study Abroad Application

It is your responsibility to discuss your Proposed Academic Plans with an Academic Advisor at SCU prior to submitting your study abroad application. As you navigate the study abroad process, do not make any changes to your Proposed Academic Plan without consulting an Academic Advisor.

**Academic Advisor signatures are not required on the Proposed Academic Plan**