Course equivalency process

Courses taken abroad

You must remain a full-time student according to UW-Madison standards while studying abroad. This means you are required to take the equivalent of 12-18 UW-Madison credits per term.

Each course you take abroad must be assigned a UW-Madison “equivalent” course in order for your grades and credits to be recorded on your UW-Madison transcript. All courses taken abroad will appear on your transcript, and you cannot “opt out” of having certain courses posted to your record.

All participants earn UW-Madison pass/fail residence credits for coursework completed abroad that will fulfill requirements for their engineering major. In other words, for courses fulfilling requirements for CoE majors, credits earned during a study abroad program will be posted on the student's transcript with a UW-Madison department number, course title, and a grade of “Satisfactory” (pass) or “Unsatisfactory” (fail). For courses fulfilling requirements for all other schools or colleges, credits will be posted on the student's transcript with A-F grades.

If you are planning to complete any of your last 24 credits abroad, please schedule a meeting as soon as possible to discuss your situation with IESP.

Course equivalency and credit information

Before you leave for your host institution abroad, you are encouraged to review IESP’s established course equivalency lists and credit conversion scales for your specific program site. These lists include courses taken by previous program participants that have been approved by academic departments at the UW-Madison. If you take one of these courses abroad, IESP will give you credit for the equivalent course at the UW as stipulated by these lists. Remember that these lists do not guarantee that these courses will be offered by the host institution during your term of study, do not necessarily indicate the language of instruction of the course, and do not include all the courses that may be offered by the host institution.

Requesting a new equivalency BEFORE you have access to MyStudyAbroad

All requests for course equivalencies are processed through MyStudyAbroad, but you will not have access to this portal before you have been accepted. Because it is often necessary for students to make sure that courses abroad will transfer to key UW-Madison courses, in many cases you will need to request equivalencies before you have been accepted. In these cases, IESP will initiate the request process on your behalf. Please email IESP at, explain your situation, and indicate the following:

  1. The host instititon
  2. The foreign course name, number, department, and syllabus if it is available online
  3. The name and number of a course at UW that you believe is equivalent to the foreign course

IESP will contact the UW department. Once the course is equated, it will show up in the current course equivalencies list available through the pre-approved CER link in MyUW.

Requesting pre-approved courses AFTER you have access to MyStudyAbroad

Some foreign courses have already been reviewed by UW-Madison departments and have been approved for an equivalent course. If you would like to take one of these classes, you simply must request approval to take the class through MyStudyAbroad.

Requesting a new equivalency AFTER you have access to MyStudyAbroad

If you would like to take classes at a host institution that have not yet been equated (they are not listed on the IESP course list or the course lists of other UW study abroad programs), please follow the instructions below.

First, obtain the course syllabus (or detailed course description) for the class you want to take abroad. Many course syllabi are available online through the overseas university's course catalog. Links to course catalogs can be found on each program's page.

The syllabus/description MUST include the following: a list of prerequisites (if any), a detailed description of the course, a bibliography of texts that you will be using for the class, and the form of evaluation (i.e. projects, quizzes, exams, exercises, etc.) that will be used to determine your understanding of the subject material.

Once you have obtained the course syllabus, you will need to decide which UW-Madison course you believe is most equivalent to the oversees course. The UW-Madison course should have the same or similar content to the one you would like to take overseas. Please consult the UW course listings in order to make your decision.

Course listings by engineering department

Course listings for other departments can be searched using UW's academics page.

In order to have your oversees course equated to a UW course, you will need to ask for approval from a UW advisor or instructor in the department of the desired equivalent UW course. In order to do so, you will submit a request for a new CER through MyStudyAbroad. IESP will send your request to the appropriate instructor or advisor.

For example, if you would like to take a course on Australian History, you would first review courses in the History Department at UW-Madison, determine which UW-Madison course would be a good match for the Australian History course, go to MyStudyAbroad, fill out the details for these classes, and upload the Austrialian History syllabus into the online form.