Office of International Programs

Transferring Study Abroad Credit

Students often have many questions about how their credits taken abroad will transfer back to USM. We have tried to answer some of the more general questions here but be sure to talk with the International Programs staff about your specific programs and/or concerns.

Will I receive letter grades or pass fail for my coursework taken abroad?

All letter grades from study abroad courses will be posted on your USM transcript.

Will these grades impact my GPA?

No, transfer credits from study abroad programs will not be factored into your GPA. However, we will caution you that poor grades received abroad may potentially impact your graduation standing. This means that you may or may not graduate with honors (magna cum laude, etc.).

Who determines how classes transfer back to USM?

As part of the study abroad application process you will work with your academic advisor to determine what courses you will take when you are abroad and what the USM equivalencies of those courses will be. That way you know before you go what you are going to get credit for.

What if my advisor says he/she is not comfortable establishing equivalencies?

If you are taking courses outside of your major you may often need to work with the Chair of that department, if you are trying to receive CORE credit for courses taken abroad it requires approval from the CORE office. The staff in the Office of International Programs can help you with these puzzles.

What if I take different courses than the ones I had pre-approved?

This happens quite a bit. Students arrive and learn about new and exciting course or they find that the course they signed up for is not what they had expected. It is alright to change your schedule abroad but you must understand that there is some risk involved as you will not know what the USM equivalents for these courses will be.

There are a couple of methods to address this ambiguity:

  • Some students will e-mail their academic adivsor a copy of the syllabus for this new course so that the advisor can review it by e-mail and estabilsh the appropriate equivlaency.
  • Some students will wait until they return to the US to address the equivalency issue. If you chose this method it is extremely important for you to bring back any syllabi and/or work that will help your advisor establish the appropriate equivalency.

What if I don't understand the credit system abroad?

Many countries work on different credit systems. Often the staff in the International Programs office can help you decipher the credit weighting of the courses you will take abroad and how they will transfer back to USM.

What are ECTS credits?

Many schools abroad utilize the European Credit Transfer System to assign credit weighting to their college and university courses. Since so many of our study abroad student encouter this system we thought it would be helpful to post the equivalency information online.

According to the ECTS system a full load is noted below:

A Full Academic Year = 60 ECTS
One Semester = 30 ECTS

A full load of 30 ECTS credits for one semester abroad transfers back to USM as 18 credits. The individual course weighting is outlined below:

ECTS Credits

USM Credit Equivalent



As always if your questions were not answered here, please talk directly to a staff member in the Office of International Programs.