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Academics

Course Approval

You are responsible for ensuring that a course taken abroad can be applied towards a Major/Minor/General Education requirement, and to do so, you must seek approval from advisors on campus. Courses that you wish to have applied towards your Major/Minor must be approved by your faculty advisor. General Education requirements must be approved by an Academic Counselor in Student Academic Services.  Each department has its own procedure for course approval, so this process can be time-consuming. It is best to begin the course approval process as soon as you determine the study abroad program of interest. 

Transcripts

Make sure you know your program’s policy regarding mailing your transcript to the SPU registrar. If it is not automatic, leave a written request for a transcript to be sent to the SPU registrar, and pay any applicable fees. Failure to do this could cause complications in your degree progress.
  • You will have a code entered into the Banner Information System for the quarter(s) during which you are away from campus.
  • Your advance-registration appointment for the quarter in which you will return will be sent to you via email.
  • Because of this, it is vital that you check your SPU email account while you are away.
  • All communication from Student Academic Services which is crucial in the pursuit of your degree will be sent to you via email.
  • You can communicate with your counselor and with your faculty advisor over email, and you can register for your classes online via the Banner Information System.

Remember, you can always check the updated course information on the SPU website. It is your responsibility to register for your classes, but if internet access is unavailable in your study abroad area, consult with Student Academic Services for an alternative to web registration.

Academic Expectations Abroad

The American system of semesters and quarters does not exist in many other countries. Academic courses at foreign universities are oftentimes year-long, with final comprehensive exams at the end of the year. Academic calendars often do not coincide with American academic terms. Some terms are shorter than American semesters, resulting in fewer credits transferring back to the home campus.

Most foreign university students have chosen a major area of concentration before they leave high school, and so they take courses directly related to their major from the day they start college. Therefore, you should be prepared to take courses that are open to all students, even freshmen! Additionally:

  • Professors often do not assign homework, nor will they cover all the materials listed in the course. You are expected to research these topics on your own.
  • Syllabi may not be distributed in every class, or even at all.
  • Independent study is emphasized over weekly quizzes and exams.
  • Professors may not be as accessible to answer questions as SPU faculty are.
  • Remember, professors are the same the world over; some are good, some are boring, some are gruff, some are inspiring. It is up to you to make the most of your academic experience, so take the time and initiative to learn as much about your host culture and country as possible.
  • Library hours are often not as extensive as those at SPU. Students may have to request books in advance and wait for the library staff to fill these requests, so plan ahead when you have a research paper to write.
  • Email access may not be available or free! Check accessibility and cost (including cyber cafes) before you leave.
  • Finally, don’t be fooled by the apparent lack of studying by some students in foreign universities! They often do not like to publicize their study habits, and many American students have stumbled academically by believing they didn’t need to study consistently throughout the term.