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Academic Policies

New Zealand by Natalie Weaver

In-Residence Credit

Coursework completed on a CU Boulder-approved education abroad program is considered "in residence" credit. Coursework 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).


There are three different grading systems depending on your program:

  • Coursework taught by CU Boulder faculty: For programs where CU Boulder acts as the school of record, including Faculty-led Global SeminarsGlobal Internships, and Global Intensives you will receive letter grades
  • CU in D.C.: CU in D.C. courses come back as challenge credit, which will appear as P/F or Credit/No Credit depending on the type of coursework completed. See the materials in your CU in D.C. application checklist for more details.
  • All other programs: The grades you earn abroad will be converted to Study Abroad Pass/Fail credit on your CU Boulder transcript. None of your pass/fail grades will be calculated into your CU GPA. CU Education Abroad pass/fail credit is exempt from the usual Boulder campus pass/fail limitations. As long as courses are approved by the relevant department, they may be used to fulfill major or degree requirements. 

Regardless of which grading policy applies, the following policies hold true:
  • Education abroad pass/fail courses posted with a passing grade may be used to fulfill various degree requirements towards major, minor, A&S Gen Ed, and other degree requirements. Courses must have formal approval from the relevant department, and coursework completed on Education Abroad programs are subject to the same grading policies as classes taken on Boulder campus (e.g. for students studying abroad in Fall 2024 or beyond, if your department requires a C- or better to complete a major requirement, you must have earned an SP+ abroad to complete that requirement).
  • Students cannot choose to have letter grades recorded instead of pass/fail (or vice/versa).
  • Even if your coursework comes back as pass/fail to CU Boulder, graduate/professional schools may request your transcripts from abroad and see the letter grades you earned on your program.

Study Abroad Pass/Fail Credit Conversions

On programs where grades are converted to Study Abroad Pass/Fail, this will be done based on the following credit conversions.

For students studying abroad in Summer 2024 or earliergrades will be converted to Study Abroad Pass, No Credit, or Fail according to the following scale:

  • SP (Study Abroad Pass): for grades equivalent to C- or better
  • SNC (Study Abroad No Credit): for grades equivalent to D+, D or D- or when a student completes a non-credit class
  • SF (Study Abroad Fail): for grades equivalent to F

For students studying abroad in Fall 2024 or latergrades will be converted to Study Abroad Pass+, Pass, No Credit, or Fail according to the following scale:

  • SP+ (Study Abroad Pass+): for grades equivalent to C- or better
  • SP (Study Abroad Pass): for grades equivalent to D+, D or D- 
  • SF (Study Abroad Fail): for grades equivalent to F
  • SNC (Study Abroad No Credit): when a student completes a non-credit class
For programs where the grading systems don't align with U.S. academic system, students will get more information on grade conversions in their MyCUAbroad checklist upon acceptance to their program. For questions on grade conversions, please contact the relevant Education Abroad Program Manager

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.

Consequences of under-enrollment

If you fall below full-time status on your education abroad program (generally 12 credits for semester programs; varies for summer programs), you may encounter the following consequences:
  • Your financial aid could be impacted and possibly revoked
  • You risk falling behind on your academic progress and may not graduate on time
  • You could violate the terms of your visa which could impact your standing on your ed abroad program and/or future opportunities to visit your host country
  • If you are an international student completing your degree at CU on a U.S. visa, you could jeopardize your U.S. immigration status.

If you are concerned that you may fall below full-time status on your program, please connect with your program manager to determine how this could impact you.

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.

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. You may also be able to take an extra course to make up for the credits that you won’t receive, but you'll need to plan for this in advance. 

You can help minimize the risk of getting a cutback in credit by taking the following actions:

  • Cross-check your final class enrollment and ensure that none of the classes you've registered for have an approval for a direct equivalent of a class you've already completed. You can find direct equivalency approvals on the Course Approvals List
  • If you are taking language classes, study for your on-site language placement exam before your program begins

It is your responsibility to know how courses are approved at CU. If you have concerns about this, contact your Ed Abroad Program Manager

Non-Credit Classes

The vast majority of courses on CU Boulder-approved programs are traditional academic subjects and will be accepted by CU Boulder as elective credit at the very least. However, a small number of courses on Ed Abroad programs are not eligible for CU credit. If a course is determined to be non-transferrable/not-for-credit, this means that this course will not count towards any degree requirements (including major or general elective credit) or hours towards graduation. If you still take the class, you will need to enroll in enough additional for-credit courses to maintain your status as a full-time student (meaning at least 12 credits in addition to this course). This course will appear as Not for Credit (NC) on your CU Boulder record.

To ensure that all of your credits are accepted by CU, check the Course Approvals List for your program and avoid any courses already listed as NON-TRANSFER. As you explore new courses, use the following criteria as guidelines for what to watch out for that may also be determined to be non-transferrable:

  • Wine, cooking, and food appreciation courses
  • Physical education courses (e.g. yoga, recreational dancing, sports)
  • Outdoor leadership and related courses through Outward Bound, NOLS or similar programs
  • Tourism studies courses
  • Vocational-technical courses that are offered at two-year and proprietary institution
  • Credits earned for work experience (including some internships, see below)
  • Courses in religion that constitute specialized religious training or that are doctrinal in nature
  • English-language proficiency courses (courses designed for non-native English speakers)
  • Applied medical courses
  • Courses or programs identified as college orientation
  • Courses identified by CU Boulder as remedial, i.e. necessary to correct academic deficiencies, such as remedial English, mathematics, science, etc.
  • In addition, some Business classes may not be eligible for any CU Boulder credit for Business & non-Business majors alike. Business majors should work closely with their advisors to get all Business courses pre-approved.

Worried a class might not count for credit? Submit the A&S Gen Ed/MAPS Evaluation Request Form found on the Submitting Courses for Evaluation page if you are considering taking a class that looks like it might not be eligible for CU credit.

Photo, New Zealand by Natalie Weaver