Advising for Study Abroad

The most important part of a study abroad program is, of course, the academics. EA understands the academic process for study abroad can be confusing. Students need the support of their academic department in order to move forward with any plans to study abroad. With proper planning, study abroad should not delay graduation and should contribute to degree requirements at UNC Charlotte.

Earning Credit Abroad

All students who participate on a study abroad program are issued resident credit and NOT transfer credit. Because students are issued equivalent credit, the last 30 hours of residency rule for graduation will not apply. EA does not issue Pass/Fail credit and awards grades according to the UNC Charlotte catalog.

Course Equivalencies

The UNC Charlotte equivalencies issued for a study abroad program will vary depending on the program type.

Faculty-Led Programs

Courses offered on a Faculty-Led program have been proposed by faculty from UNC Charlotte and approved by academic departments. The courses taught on each program will be listed on the online brochures under the Academics tab.

Exchange, Affiliate Provider, or Direct Enroll Programs

Students participating on an Exchange program, an Affiliate Provider program, or a Direct Enroll program will need to have their courses approved by the relevant academic department in order to determine the UNC Charlotte equivalent credit. Each program online brochure will provide a link to view the list of available courses under the Academics tab or through the program’s affiliate website. There should always be an “Academics” or “Courses” section on the study abroad program brochure.

Course Equivalency Form (Advising Agreement)

Students participating on Exchange, Affiliate Provider, Direct Enroll, and Internship programs are required to complete the course equivalency form prior to departure. This form is an agreement to award equivalent credit for courses completed abroad at their host institution. Students are eligible to begin completing their Course Equivalency Form as soon as they receive approval to study abroad. Students are instructed to communicate with the Department Chair of the corresponding academic department for their course(s) or Graduate Program Director at UNC Charlotte. They must provide a course description and/or syllabus for the courses from their host institution, which will be reviewed and assigned an equivalency. A department chair cannot assign an equivalency for a course that does not fall within their academic department. If a student lists a variety of subjects on their form, they will have to visit multiple departments.

The bottom of the form requires both the academic advisor and the department chair or the Graduate Program Director to sign. This is not intended for final approval of assigned courses. This is to prompt the student to speak with their academic advisor about how the UNC Charlotte equivalent courses will apply to their degree progress at UNC Charlotte and to ensure their advisor is aware of their plans to study abroad. It is also an opportunity for the advisor to ask any questions about the courses listed on the form. The department chair of the student’s major signs the form to inform the department of the student’s intent to study abroad and also allows the department to make any copies as necessary. This form should be used for degree planning purposes and to help the advisor with the advising process. As grades may take up to 2 – 7 months to appear on a student’s transcript, this form is helpful when advising for and reviewing a student’s degree plan and progress. If the student intends to enroll in ONLY courses that apply to their minor, the advisor and chair of their minor may sign off on the form.

Internships & Service Learning

Students can participate on internships abroad as well as service learning programs through EA. Students can participate on these programs for both credit or elect to opt out of the credit. With either option, students are required to work with EA. There are a variety of options when issuing credit for internships or service learning.

Tips for Advising Students

Prior to Study Abroad

Students are instructed to speak with their academic advisor when considering study abroad. Unfortunately, EA is not an academic department, therefore cannot advise students on degree requirements or assign course equivalencies. Students are informed that an advisor cannot assign equivalencies for a study abroad program. However, they are encouraged to speak with their academic advisor about their degree plan and requirements to determine what courses they should be looking for when researching study abroad programs.

  • Ask the student why they chose this program or institution?
  • Does the student have any pre-requisites or core courses that need to be completed to keep them on track for graduation?
  • Does the degree plan have flexibility as to when and what semester courses should be taken?
  • Do courses appear to apply to the department? Will they need to consult with other departments (for their minor or second major)?
  • Do they have any general education requirements remaining?
  • Inform the student of any departmental restrictions on courses taken abroad

Reviewing the Course equivalency Form

Advisors are required to sign the bottom of a student’s course equivalency form.

  • Compare the form to Degree Works. Are there any courses listed that they have already completed at UNC Charlotte or through transfer credit? Advise the student not to take that course abroad. Students cannot receive credit for the same UNC Charlotte course twice unless they file for a repeat.
  • Is the student repeating a course abroad? Ensure they complete the Grade Replacement form by the UNC Charlotte deadline.
  • Are their any courses listed that the student needs to enroll in while abroad (i.e., pre-requisites, core courses)? Ensure the student understands the importance of registering for that course while abroad.
  • Are there any courses that don’t appear to help the student make academic progress (i.e., wine tasting in Italy)? If so, ask them about why they are interested in the course and if that would be beneficial for their degree plan, especially if it may delay graduation.
  • Discuss how the approved courses will fit into their degree plan.

After Study Abroad

As grades may not appear on a student’s transcript for 1 – 7 months following the end of their program, it can be difficult to advise a student. Here are a few tips when working with students who may have incomplete study abroad grades.

  • Ask if their transcript has been received. The student can look up in EA portal if their transcript has been received at the university.
  • If you do not have a copy of the Course Equivalency Form, ask the student to download it from their application and confirm which courses they completed abroad. This form can be used when advising students for future semesters upon return to UNC Charlotte.
  • Ask if all the courses they completed abroad are listed on their Course Equivalency form. Students are notified by EA if they are missing a course equivalency, however, they may not take action immediately upon notification or can take action prior to EA notifying them.
  • Ask the student if they have any outstanding requirements with EA. Students may owe a balance, scholarship requirements or may be missing equivalencies, thus delaying the grade processing timeline.
  • Students can apply for graduation with Incomplete study abroad grades, however, they will not be eligible to graduate until the grades are processed. Ensure the student understands that they need to work with EA in order to continue with graduation.


Students participating on an exchange, affiliate provider, direct enrollment or freestanding faculty-led program will be enrolled in a placeholder course by EA for the semester of their program abroad. The placeholder course will ensure students remain enrolled at the University for the duration of their program in order to access financial aid, scholarships, as well as to be awarded the credit from their study abroad program. This placeholder course will appear on a student’s UNC Charlotte transcript while they are abroad (FRST 3000 for undergraduate students and FRST 6000 for graduate students). This course will remain until their study abroad grades are processed in the months following their return from abroad and the actual credit and grades from abroad can be reported.

It is important to understand that study abroad grades are not immediately reported at the end of a program. The processing timeline will vary per program. The FRST Course will automatically be assigned an Incomplete, or “I” grade. This will be replaced with the equivalent credit once EA has processed the grades. Students cannot graduate with an FRST course on their transcript.

Grades take time to be finalized and to be sent to EA for processing. For Faculty-Led Programs, the faculty member may need to grade final assignments or the student may have final assignments upon returning home from their program abroad. For exchange, affiliate, or direct enrollment, the semester abroad may not have aligned with UNC Charlotte’s calendar. The timeline for grade processing abroad will also be very different than UNC Charlotte. The host institution must also mail the final official transcripts to EA. EA cannot accept a copy of the transcript directly from the student. These factors can delay the reporting of grades.

If an FRST course remains on a transcript, it is recommended that the advisor check in with the student to determine where they are with the grade reporting process. In EA Application Portal, a student can view whether their transcript has been received, as well as download a copy of their course equivalency form.