Advising Students

Faculty members and academic advisors are an important part of the education abroad advising process, as they will advise students in academic planning and course approval.  This page is an effort to provide some guidance for advisors working with students interested in education abroad.

Timing of Program

Students may come to advisors with questions on how and when to fit education abroad into their degree programs.  As seen below, education abroad coursework generally can fit into the full gamut of program areas.  However, the extent to which that is true will depend on the policies of the specific college or department.

Students will need help in determining how to manipulate their schedule and planned course progression so as to make room for education abroad.  Questions to consider will include:  “Are there certain courses that must be taken at UA?”, “When and how often are they offered?” and “What are the prerequisites?”. Can the student afford to spend a semester or academic year abroad, or should they consider a program during the summer?

Applying Coursework to Degree Program

Education abroad coursework theoretically can fit into any aspect of a student’s degree program: major requirements, minor requirements, general education requirements, Honors requirements, certificate requirements and electives.  Of course, college and department policies, not to mention course content, will determine the extent to which this is true for a specific student, as well as precisely how education abroad coursework will transfer back to UA.

Transient Permission Form & Course Equivalencies

Coursework earned through outside education abroad programs and UA-sponsored exchanges are treated as transient credit, similar to a student taking classes at another local institution.  Therefore, all students participating in such programs must submit a completed Transient Permission Form prior to their departure.

Please note that the normal credit transfer clearinghouses used for domestic institutions currently do not apply to international institutions.  Students are instructed to take as much course information as possible to the appropriate advisor for review and determination of the appropriate UA equivalent course.  When possible, students will supply a full course syllabus, but a course description sometimes may be all that is available until the student arrives.  Attempts certainly can be made to request syllabi if they are needed and not immediately available.

Advisors may assign equivalencies within their own college or department (as determined by that unit’s policy); however, equivalencies outside an advisor’s unit should be assigned by the unit that would own that course on the UA campus.  For instance, a Spanish 201 equivalency for a language class taken abroad should be approved by the Department of Modern Languages.  Likewise, a Biology 111 equivalency should be approved by the Department of Biology.  However, if such a course were to be assigned a general equivalency, such as free elective, it naturally would be in the purview of any advisor to do so.  General Education equivalencies must be approved by Dr. Karla Mugler, the Associate Vice-President for Integrated Student Success, and Honors equivalencies must be approved by the Honors College.

Naturally, not all coursework taken abroad will have or need a specific UA course equivalent.  However, the Office of the University Registrar cannot post any coursework that is not approved and assigned a UA equivalency.  In such cases, advisors may assign general equivalencies such as free elective or Philosophy Elective 100.

Due to differences in international educational systems and the procedures for course registration, it is not always possible to guarantee that certain classes will be available to students once they arrive.  Students should guard against problems arising from this by obtaining approval not only for their primary course choices, but also for an equal number of alternate course choices.  Should a student be unable to register for one or more of their primary choices, having alternate choices preapproved provides them some direction and confidence in what to do, as well as ensures the credit transfer process is smooth upon return.

In some cases, students may be forced to take a class not included in either the primary or alternate choices.  Advisors may then be asked to provide approval while the student is abroad or retroactively upon the student’s return.

The Office of International Programs must receive a copy of the completed and signed Transient Permission Form(s).

Resident Credit Requirements and Education Abroad

Education Abroad credits are an automatic exception to the restriction of 18 total credit hours for transient work.

Students within the final 16 (Associate) or 32 (Bachelor) credits of their degree program may request a waiver of the applicable resident credit requirement from the Dean of their degree-granting College.  In the past, such waivers based on education abroad participation frequently have been granted.

International Internships

International internships are a growing sector of education abroad, and many third party providers offer such opportunities to students.  As eligibility requirements for earning internship credit vary across campus, students will be directed to the appropriate internship coordinator or advisor for guidance.  However, the Office of International Programs happily will remain a resource and/or intermediary for both the student and advisor.  To a great extent providers are willing to accommodate university requirements to enable the student to earn credit.

Most frequently, international internships will not have credit attached to them, with providers leaving it to a student’s home institution to award credit.  Most likely, students thus will need to register for the appropriate departmental internship course and pay the accompanying UA tuition.

Nonetheless, some providers do and others may offer internship credit through the international partner institution or a domestic School of Record.  In these cases, students will be charged tuition for those credits and will receive a transcript.  If permitted by department or college policy, advisors may choose to handle such classes as any other transient credit and use the Transient Permission Form.