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Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find a few frequently asked questions about the course approval process, as well as many resources pertinent to the study abroad process. Click a question to expand the accordion and see the answer.

To be as prepared as possible with the academic integration of your study abroad classes into your overall studies at the University of Illinois.

Here are some approaches:

  • You should be able to find classes you can take under the Academics tab of the program page on MyStudyAbroad. The Academics tab will often explain what courses the program offers and may even provide a link to the host institution’s or provider’s course catalog. Students are encouraged to review the online course catalogs available on the host institution or provider website. The host institution website may include a course description and/or course syllabi, which may help students better understand the course content in advance of registering for the course. If students need specific courses to satisfy their degree requirements that are not in the Course Approval Database, they will need to be approved through the course approval process. If you are unable to locate the course syllabus, contact your study abroad advisor for the program.
  • While the Course Approval Database provides courses that Illinois students have previously taken at universities abroad, it is not an exhaustive list of all the courses available to students.

  • Read through all of the information and instructions found on the course approvals page, including the course approval instructions specific to your home college.
  • Download the Course Approval Summary Form. Your home college’s course approval instructions will give you information on when you are required to submit the form, credit usage, how to fill out each section of the form, and where to submit the form upon completion.
  • Check the Course Approval Database to see if any of the courses you need/want to take have been pre-approved. Courses that are not in the database will require approval from the departmental study abroad course approvers.

Every department has a course approver who determines how courses abroad transfer as University of Illinois credit within their department. Use this list to determine if you need to submit a form or email the course approver. When you submit a form or contact a course approver, you should provide as much information as you can about the course abroad (e.g. syllabus, course description, etc.) in order to better inform the course approver. If you are not hearing back from your course approver, contact your study abroad advisor for your program.

For example, if you are taking an Economics course abroad, you will have to contact the Economics study abroad course approver and present a course syllabus from the study abroad or exchange program/institution in order to get your course approved. If you plan to take courses in more than one department, you will need to consult with course approvers for each corresponding department. The list of course approvers can be found on the study abroad course approvers page.

The level of difficulty of getting your courses approved depends on what classes you are planning to take. Some departments may require more information regarding courses and may have a stricter approval process. If you are looking for a very specific course to fulfill a requirement back at Illinois, please gather as much information as you can on the course (syllabus/course description). You should contact your academic advisor or college office to make sure your degree requirement(s) will be satisfied with the courses you plan to take abroad.

The timeframe of completing the course approval process varies. We advise that you reach out to course approvers in a timely manner, so that you are prepared for possible delays in the process. There may be a course approver who is able to review your course approval summary form right away and return it to you. On the other hand, there may be a course approver who is very busy at the time and may take some time to get the form returned to you. The process may move more quickly if you include a syllabus and a course description. Additionally, the timeframe for completing the course approval process is affected by any additional requirements that are included in your college-specific instructions.

Once complete, the form must be submitted either as part of the study abroad pre-departure process and/or upon return to the University of Illinois depending on your college’s specific instructions. You submit the form to your home college. For more information on the college-specific instructions, please visit the course approvals page.

If you add a new course while abroad, you will have to fill out another Course Approval Summary Form following the college-specific instructions. Only the new course needs to be approved via the Course Approval Summary Form. You should also inform your academic advisor or college office in order to ensure that your new course fits into your academic plan. Students who change a course abroad can also email the respective study abroad course approver for the course they wish to get approved, including the course description and the syllabus.

In the majority of cases where students have to re-do the Course Approval Summary Form it is because they need to add a new course while abroad (see more information on this in the FAQ above). Students may want to consider adding all of the courses they might take on their program to reduce the chances of having to re-do the original form. Another instance where students might have to re-do the form is if they need to change the grade of their course(s) from credit to no credit.

Even with over 3,000 courses that have been taken by University of Illinois students abroad, the Course Approval Database is not exhaustive. It does not include all available study abroad programs, and it may not include all courses offered on a specific program. The reason could be that the course has not yet been taken by a student or that the course content frequently changes, and the department would like to review the course each time to ensure that the appropriate equivalency is determined. Colleges are ultimately responsible for adding new courses to the database, and this updating process occurs on an ongoing basis.