Skip to content

Academic Considerations

In-Residence Credit

Coursework completed on a CU Boulder-approved Education Abroad program counts towards the minimum number of credits taken on the Boulder campus needed to earn a degree from CU Boulder. (i.e. the college of Arts and Sciences requires a minimum of 45 hours on the Boulder campus).

Completing Degree Requirements Abroad

Keeping up with your progress towards completing your CU degree during your term abroad is an important element to education abroad. Here are some of the resources you'll need to ensure that you will earn credit you need while you're abroad:

Course Load Minimums

You must be enrolled as a full-time student on a CU Boulder program. Full-time is defined as at least the equivalent of 12 CU Boulder credit hours each semester or at least 24 credit hours per academic year. Some programs have higher required credit minimums. In such cases, students must abide by the program’s required credit minimum. Summer course load minimums vary by program, but you must be a full-time student for the length of your program.

  • CU online and Continuing Education classes cannot substitute for your full-time course load abroad. Any CU courses you take while abroad will be additional credits on top of your minimum required course load abroad.
  • Non-credit classes and/or non-credit internships do not count as part of your required minimum load.
Under-enrollment could result in dismissal from your education abroad program or host institution. Under-enrollment also could result in your deportation from your host country due to terms violations of your student visa. Under-enrollment may affect your financial aid as well.

Course Load Maximums

14-16 credit hours is a reasonable semester load. You may not take more than the equivalent of 21 CU Boulder credits in one term. If you exceed the 21-hour maximum, some of your credits will be converted to “no credit.” If you believe you will exceed this limit, consult with your Education Abroad Program Manager.


There are two different grading systems depending on your program:

  • Pass/Fail: On your program, the grades you earn abroad will be converted to pass/fail credit on your CU Boulder transcript. None of your pass/fail grades will be calculated into your CU GPA.
  • Letter Grades: For programs where CU Boulder acts as the school of record, including Global Seminars, Global Intensives, and Global Internships, students earn letter grades. 

Regardless of which grading policy applies, the following policies hold true:

  • Education abroad pass/fail courses posted with grades of “Pass” can apply towards major, minor, A&S Gen Ed, Core and other degree requirements, with formal approval from the relevant department.
  • Students cannot choose to have letter grades recorded instead of pass/fail (and vice/versa).
  • Note that even if you only earn pass/fail at CU, graduate/professional schools may request your transcripts from abroad and see the letter grades you earned on your program.

Academic Accommodations

The level of academic accommodations provided on Education Abroad programs can vary widely by program. Some programs may provide accommodations that are similar to CU. Other programs will not provide the same level or type of academic arrangements as you may expect in the U.S. Sharing your accommodations in advance of your program will allow Education Abroad and your program to best support you and to make any arrangements necessary for your success. Inform your Ed Abroad Program Manager, program, and/or host university regarding your need for academic arrangements, and submit the Medical & Disability Needs Abroad form in your MyCUAbroad checklist if applicable.

If you have accommodations through the Office of Disability Services on campus, planning ahead will be key in determining what support you can get while abroad and how you can access that support.  

  1. Before You Leave: Get a letter from Disability Services that covers your requested accommodations while abroad. You can access your accommodation letter within the Disability Services' Accommodate portal. If you need any assistance requesting these forms, you can reach out to your Access Coordinator within Disability Services.
  2. When You Arrive: Connect with on-site staff and bring the letter from CU’s Disability Services. 

Repeat Credit 

You cannot obtain credit for a course abroad that has been determined to be a direct equivalent (exact match) with a CU course that you have already taken. For example, perhaps you place lower than you had hoped on your language placement exam on-site and end up taking a course abroad that has been determined to count/match with SPAN 1020. If you already took SPAN 1020 in Boulder, you will not receive credit for the course abroad. Your degree audit will be “cut back” and the course/credits will not count towards any portion of your CU degree. This may also result in less than full-time status for the semester, depending on how many other credits you took.
If you have concerns about this, contact your Ed Abroad Program Manager. Studying for your on-site placement exam may help avoid this situation, or you may be encouraged to switch to a different track with other course options (when possible). You may also be able to take an extra course to make up for the credits that you won’t receive. Be aware of this, know how courses (especially language courses) are approved by CU, and contact us with questions.