Courses abroad

Academic considerations

You must be in good academic standing at the UW in order to participate in IESP programs. You must also have a minimum GPA of 3.0 for most programs.

Advice when selecting courses

You are advised to plan ahead, taking the majority of your core major courses while at the UW. If possible, plan to take at least some of your elective courses abroad. This will give you maximal flexibility when selecting courses at the overseas institution.

Some departments prefer that you complete "core courses" in Madison and not overseas. Make sure you know the preferences for your department.

Courses to take overseas

When considering programs, look at the courses already equated to UW-Madison courses for the programs you are interested in, but remember that you are not restricted to taking courses from this list and can get other courses abroad equated to UW-Madison courses.

Also, go to the web site of the institution you are interested in attending and look at the department listings and course catalogs online to determine whether courses (already approved or not) you would be interested in taking are offered at the time you want to study abroad. Remember also that you are not restricted to only engineering courses, but can take other courses abroad as well. These courses include regional language and culture courses, which can count toward a Certificate in International Engineering. These courses also fulfill humanities and social science credits required for engineering majors.

Students participating in study abroad and exchange programs offered via IESP must take at least 50% (half) of their abroad courses in the overseas institution's engineering, science, or math departments. Please plan your study with this in mind.

Your advisor’s role

It is extremely important to meet with your advisor prior to departure. Please discuss the courses you plan to take abroad in order to facilitate an academically successful experience. Make sure you know what courses are recommended and what courses you need to take overseas to fulfill degree and graduation requirements so that you do not fall behind in your academic progress.

Discuss the following topics with your advisor:

  • Advisor Clearance Form
  • Departmental course equivalencies
  • DARS designations for courses that fulfill elective credits

Students are ultimately responsible for understanding how courses taken abroad will or will not fulfill degree requirements.

Enrolling in courses

While you are overseas and enrolling in classes at your host institution, you will be enrolled in a block of credits at UW as a placeholder for the credits from overseas. Once we receive your transcript from overseas, the UW-Madison equivalent courses and grades will be posted to your academic record. In most cases this process occurs months after you return from overseas!

Course credits

You must be enrolled as a full-time student abroad, and your courses abroad must equate to no fewer than 12 and no more than 18 UW-Madison credits. Please look at the credit conversion table for your program as a guide for the number of overseas credits you will receive and their conversion to UW-Madison credits.

Course grades

The pass/fail option for grades in coursework overseas is available to College of Engineering students who take classes toward their engineering major. This means the following:

Courses abroad in which you receive a grade equivalent to C or higher at UW-Madison will be graded as “S” for “Satisfactory” (a passing grade)

Courses abroad in which you receive a grade equivalent to D or F at UW-Madison will be graded as “U” for “Unsatisfactory” (a failing grade)

Do not request to take a course for a pass/fail grade from an overseas institution. You must receive letter or number grades from overseas that will then be converted to Pass (U) or Fail (U) grades by the UW-Madison.

Engineering students who are double majoring in a field outside of the College of Engineering will have A-F letter grades posted to their UW-Madison transcripts for any courses that are fulfilling requirements for that major. Students enrolled in other schools or colleges who participate on IESP programs are subject to the rules of that school or college and will likely receive letter (A-F) grades (not P/F) for their courses abroad.

Posting courses and grades

Course equivalencies and grades cannot be posted to your UW-Madison transcript until all are complete. Partial records will not be posted. All courses and grades must be posted to your UW-Madison transcript within one year of your overseas program participation. Moreover, all courses taken abroad must appear on your UW-Madison transcript; you cannot post courses taken abroad selectively or opt out of having certain courses posted.

Restrictions on courses abroad

Third-language courses abroad

Students cannot take foreign language courses in their host country if they are not that country’s official language (ie: Spanish in Germany). Exceptions to this rule will only be made if the student obtains approval from the appropriate department at UW-Madison prior to their departure.

Surveying courses

You are not allowed to take any surveying courses while abroad. UW-Madison does not offer the equivalent of these courses, and they will not transfer back. Please check with the advisors in Civil & Environmental Engineering if you have any questions.

Completion of your last two semesters

If you're planning on taking any of your last twenty-four credits abroad, please contact IESP as soon as possible to discuss your situation. For the most part, the last two semesters of your academic career must be taken in residency (i.e. at UW-Madison) and must be full-time. While taking some of your twenty-four credits abroad might be possible, additional planning and steps will be required, and you will need to meet with the director of IESP to review the process and to determine whether or not this will be possible. Approval is granted or denied on a case-by-case basis.