Courses and Credits
The courses you want or need to take abroad may determine where you can study abroad. Here are the steps for finding courses and getting them approved:
Step 1: Visit the Host University's Website
- Search through the host university's website to ensure that your course of study exists at their university.
- Look for past and present courses offered at the host institution, keeping in mind that the terminology may be different (i.e. in the UK, courses are called Modules, and in New Zealand, they're called Papers).
Step 2: Compile a List of Courses
- Make a list of courses with descriptions that you think meet your major/minor requirements.
Step 3: Meet With Your Academic Advisor
- Schedule an appointment with your MSU academic advisor to discuss your list of courses and how they are equivalent to MSU courses. Only your academic advisor can approve course equivalencies.
Step 4: Complete Course Approval Form
- Once you and your advisor have agreed on courses and you have been accepted to a program, complete the . Complete this form prior to departure.
- Upload your completed Study Abroad Course Approval Form to your My Global Connections application or turn it into the Study Abroad Office.
- Please note:
- If you are taking MSU Core 2.0 courses while abroad, the Registrar's Office must approve the courses on the Study Abroad Course Approval Form.
- If you are a graduate student applying study abroad credits to your degree, the Graduate School must approve your Study Abroad Course Approval Form.
- It is common for course offerings to change after you have submitted your course approval form. If this is the case, please submit an updated course approval form after you have returned form your study abroad program.
- Get more courses approved than you plan on taking, as course offerings may change after you arrive at the host university.
Course Load Considerations
There are two items to consider when determining how many credits to take:
Student visa immigration requirements
- Each country has different compliance requirements for students, so be sure to check if there is a minimum credit requirement associated with your visa.
FAFSA and scholarship credit load requirements
- Check with the administrator of your scholarship to determine if there is a minimum
credit load requirement.
- Most MSU scholarships require a student to be enrolled in 12 or more credits.
The process of credit conversion is unique to each university/country. Our office converts credits from your study abroad transcripts to MSU credits based on contact hours.
Estimating credit transfers is tricky because we are not able to guarantee credit hour conversions prior to receiving your international transcript and it is evaluated. However, you can get an idea of credit conversions by reviewing the Montana State University Credit Hour Policy.
- For example, a 3 credit MSU Course is equivalent to 3 hours per week of contact hours (classroom instruction) per 15 week semester.
If your host university operates using the ECTS system, your credits will come back at a 2:1 ratio. For example, 5 ECTS credits would equal 3 US credits (2.5, rounded up). In cases where both the number of ECTS credits and the number of credit hours are listed on the transcript, our office will go by the ECTS credits in order to ensure consitency.
All grades will return to your MSU official transcript as Pass/Fail, based on the host university's grading scale.
- It can take up to one semester for our office to receive your transcript from your host institution. Transcripts must be received directly from the host institution or study abroad provider and will not be accepted from the student.
- It then will take our office about 3 months to evaluate your transcript to: pass or fail, upper or lower division credits, and the number of credits
- Your evaluated transcript will then be passed on to the Office of the Registrar for processing. The courses will be uploaded to DegreeWorks as ELEC credits
- Once the courses appear on DegreeWorks, use your course approval form and work with your academic advisor to get your study abroad credits placed accordingly.
In total, it can take up to 9 months for the credits to appear on your MSU transcript. If you are in need of a rushed process (i.e. graduating), please alert our office.