Study Abroad Office

Credits and Grades


With proper planning and departmental approval, classes taken abroad can fulfill distribution, major, and minor requirements. You can study abroad and graduate on time!

Studying abroad is, first and foremost, an academic activity (that's not to say you won't also be having the time of your life while you're learning!). Studying abroad is not just traveling abroad, and you're not on an extended vacation; rather, you are taking classes, studying, and earning academic credit towards your UMSL degree.

Credit Earned and Expectations While Abroad:

It is necessary for semester or academic year students to enroll in and complete at least 12 credit hours per semester while abroad. Some programs require students to take 15 credits to be considered full-time abroad. Check with your program coordinator to make sure you are clear as to how many foreign credit hours equal 12 UMSL credit hours. You should also verify the dates of your final exams before beginning a class to ensure you will be able to complete the course before returning to the U.S. If you drop your classes while abroad, fail your class, or are unable to complete 12 credit hours this will negatively affect your GPA. The current grade of Y (no basis for evaluation) will be appropriate if no grade or credit is awarded on your foreign transcript. Please note: the Y grade is changing to FN (fail/non-attendance) beginning FS2011. The FN grade will count as an F in your GPA. Although we want you to enjoy yourself and travel while abroad, it is important to remember that you are participating on an academic program and should maintain the same or higher responsibility to your courses while on your program.

Course Equivalencies:

Exchange and Faculty-Led Programs:
The credit earned on UMSL exchange programs and faculty-led programs will be awarded as UMSL credit and fulfills residency requirements. Using your completed Course Equivalency form, the Study Abroad Office will convert the grades from your foreign transcript to corresponding UMSL credits and letter grades. These credits and grades will factor into your cumulative GPA.

In some cases you will not receive letter grades for the courses you complete abroad. Instead, you may receive "S" (satisfactory) or "U" (unsatisfactory You must have approval in advance from your major department about the applicability of S/U grades. Most courses required for a specific degree may not be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

Non-UMSL and Affiliate Programs:
Credit earned on non-UMSL programs or affiliate programs will be awarded as Transfer credit and will not affect your GPA. Students that have already transferred credits to UMSL from another school should check with their academic advisor to ensure they do not exceed the maximum number of transfer credits allowable for their degree program. Students nearing graduation also need to be mindful of residency requirements; again, check with your academic advisor for details on your degree program.

*Very important-If you are having difficulties in your classes abroad, contact your study abroad coordinator both here at UMSL as well as your host institution as soon as possible. They will do their best provide you with advice for your situation or assist you with study tips that may be useful in your new environment." It's best to address the issue as soon as possible and not wait until the end of the semester or when your transcript is issued!

Course Approval

Exchange and Affiliate/Approved Programs
To ensure you will earn credit for the classes taken abroad, each class must be approved and assigned an UMSL equivalent course number. Before departure, you must have the academic departments evaluate the courses you plan to take abroad and assign equivalent UMSL equivalencies. To see which courses have already been approved, visit the Course Equivalency Database on the Study Abroad website,

A course approval form and further instructions will be given to you during the study abroad application process.

Faculty-Led Programs
The course number is already assigned for faculty-led programs. The course number and title will be published on the UMSL Study Abroad website and on printed materials.