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Earning Credit

Study Abroad Course Approvals

DU generally accepts all study abroad credits on DU Partner Programs or approved unaffiliated programs as general elective credits, so long as the course aligns with a discipline taught at DU. If you need to earn major, minor, or common curriculum credits while abroad you need to complete the course approval process. A study abroad course approval is an agreement from the appropriate DU academic department to accept a course taken abroad as a substitute for a DU degree requirement. You will request all study course approvals through the Registrar's online system, the Transfer International Education Reporting (TIERS) system.

If a class does NOT align with a discipline taught at DU, credit will not be awarded. Examples include Fashion Design, Architecture, Forestry, and Veterinary Science. A special exception is made for Physical Education (1 DU credit per class is allowed up to a total maximum of 3 DU credits for both transfer and study abroad credits). When in doubt, students are encouraged to submit a course approval. Completion of abroad coursework which will not transfer back to the University of Denver may affect a student's federal financial aid eligibility.

Note: In most cases, courses taken abroad must carry letter grades (not pass/fail) in order to transfer back to DU. See DU Study Abroad Policies for more info. When in doubt, contact your OIE advisor.

Study Abroad Course Approval Process:

Step 1: Check if the course is already on the pre-approved list for your program.

  • You will find that some courses have previously been approved and appear within the TIERS system*. If a course is already in TIERS, it has been pre-approved** and you can expect it to be applied to your APR once your study abroad transcript is received by the Registrar's Office**. For more information on study abroad transcripts, click here.
  • If your desired course is not on the list OR is approved for a different DU course than you need, proceed to step two.
  • If a course is listed as zero credits, it means that the course was approved before the number of credits was available. You do not need to submit a new course approval for this course, assuming all other information is correct for the approval you are seeking. Please see the Grades and Credits Translation Scale for your program to calculate how many credits you will receive if you take this course.
Review Pre-Approved Courses Review Pre-Approved Study Abroad Course List

*The list of pre-approved courses found in TIERS is not comprehensive and students should not limit their search to only programs that list the pre-approved courses they are seeking. If you don't see the program or course that you are interested in, you can submit course approval requests as outlined in step 2. While generally, you will be looking under the country where the study abroad program is based to see if courses are pre-approved, if the transcript for the program comes from a US university versus a university abroad, you will need to look under the state where the US university is based.

**In keeping the course approval system current, older course approvals are at times periodically removed from the database. Students should double check the list of approved courses for their programs after December 1st for study abroad programs taking place the following academic year. At that time course approvals found in the system will be honored for the upcoming fall term and subsequent winter/ spring terms (i.e. course approvals listed on December 1st, 2020 will be honored through fall 2021 & winter/spring 2022 but may be subject to change beyond those terms).

Step 2: Submit a study abroad course approval request.

  • You do not need a course approved if you wish it to count towards an elective.
  • Include as much information as you can about the course you wish to take abroad, including course description number, title, description (required) and a syllabus (if available).
  • Explain exactly what you wish to have the course approved for in the comments section being as specific as possible (e.g., Anthropology AI-Society or biology elective or SPAN 1001). It is better to over-explain what you seek than having your request denied for lack of information.
  • You are limited to submitting five requests at one time. If you submit more than five in one go, they will not be reviewed.
  • Choose Student - Student Records - Request Coursework Approval.
Submit Approval Request Submit a Study Abroad Course Request

Step 3: Check the status of your request. 

  • Depending on the department and time of year, it may take up to five weeks to hear back about a course approval’s status.
  • If it has been more than five weeks email the Registrar's Office ( to request an update on the status.
  • Choose Student - Student Records - View Coursework Approval Status.
Check Approval Request Check Your Approval Requests

The Global Grading & Credit Scale contains country and program-specific information about how grades and credits are transferred back to DU. If, after consulting the guide, you still have questions about how your grades and credits from abroad will be calculated, please contact your OIE advisor.

Study Abroad Grade & Credit FAQs

My APR / transcript lists 16 credits for my study abroad – that isn't the right number of credits! How do I get this fixed?

Remember that the 16-credit Study Abroad course is not a reflection of the actual number of credits that you take abroad. It is merely a placeholder course so we know that you were registered as a full-time student during that term and that we have not yet received your study abroad transcript. When we receive your transcript (which can be several months after the completion of your program), we will remove the placeholder course and replace it with the actual classes you took, their credit value, and the equivalent of the grade that you earned (allow 3 weeks for this process to be completed). For unaffiliated programs, the credit is listed for the courses, but no grades will appear on your transcript.

How do I know how my classes will come back to DU?

Credits earned will automatically come back to DU as general elective credits as long as the course aligns with a DU department (resident credit for all DU Partner Programs and transfer for AUP/UPPs). In order to have a course approved for major/minor/common curriculum credit, follow the study abroad course approval process outlined above.

How many credits do I earn abroad?

It depends on the program and classes that you enroll in. Credits per class and total credit loads will vary among programs. For undergraduates, if you plan to attend a semester-long program, it's likely you'll earn between 18-24 credits. As a semester is 15 weeks, and a quarter is only 10 weeks, you generally should expect to earn about a quarter and half worth of credit while abroad. See the Global Grading & Credit Scale to understand how your credits from your DU Partner Program translate to DU. Some departments at DU have restrictions on how many credits you can transfer in towards a major, minor, or other requirement, so please check with your department to find out!

Are study abroad courses "pass/fail" or for a letter grade? Will my GPA transfer from abroad?

Study abroad courses are NOT pass/fail. You must earn a letter grade in order for DU to accept the credits (limited exceptions are made for courses that are only offered on a pass/ fail basis by the host institution. See the DU Study Abroad Policies for more information). When you participate in a DU Partner Program, your grades from abroad will not be factored into your DU GPA, but they will be displayed on your transcript. If you have questions about credit or grade equivalencies for your study abroad program, please check with your OIE advisor.

If you participated in a DU faculty-led program, courses taught by DU faculty members will be factored into your DU GPA.

If you participated in an unaffiliated program, your classes will be listed in the transfer credit portion of your DU transcript without the grades.

Graduate schools may refigure your undergraduate GPA to include the grades that you earned abroad.

Do I have to earn a certain grade in order for a course to transfer to DU?

On DU Partner Programs, you must earn a "D" or above for a course to count toward a general elective or as fulfillment of a university requirement other than your major. The department of your major or minor may require that you earn a higher grade to satisfy one of their requirements with a course taken abroad (most commonly the equivalent of a "C" or above). Check with your department for its policy.

For all courses taken on an unaffiliated program, you must earn the equivalent of a "C" or above to receive credit at DU for the course. Again, the department of your major or minor may require a higher grade for the class to transfer towards the major/ minor requirements.

If I fail one of my courses abroad, can it be omitted from my DU transcript?

No. If you participate in a DU Partner Program, all attempted coursework will be reflected on your DU transcript, including any "F's." You will not earn credit for failed courses.

Do I have to get a DU's approval for a course taken abroad to count as a general elective at DU?

No. As long as the course aligns with a discipline taught at DU, you do not need to get explicit approval for it to count towards general elective credit. To have a course applied toward a specific degree requirement such as a major elective/ requirement or Common Curriculum, you must have the course approved through DU's electronic course approval process.

When will the courses I take abroad appear on my transcript and APR at DU?

For fall quarter programs, most grades for Southern Hemisphere study abroad programs will be posted in January and February, and most Northern Hemisphere grades will be posted in February and March. Generally, it takes 2-3 months after the completion of your study abroad program for the credit to transfer to DU. Some programs may take longer.

I ended up taking a class abroad that I did not have preapproved by DU. Is it too late to get an approval now that I've completed the program?

It is not too late to get a course approved for a DU requirement; however, remember that the course may not transfer as you were hoping. Follow the steps above to submit your approval request as soon as possible so that you can adjust your academic schedule accordingly.