Advising and Recommendations
Students cannot be accepted to participate in a Penn State education abroad program without an academic reference. Students must request a recommendation through the online application system. Recommenders will then receive an automatic email from the applicant requesting a recommendation from that particular student for the program to which he/she has applied. The email will indicate the students name, program, and term of application. Below this box, you will see a URL, a student identification number and the last name of the student.
- Click on the Web page
- Copy the student identification number (a 16 digit code consisting of numbers and letters) and paste it into the appropriate box on the Web page
- Type the students last name into the box
- Click "Validate"
- You will come to the student's recommendation, please complete each question
- Click "Send"
Recommendation Instructions with sample email and screen shots.
Education Abroad provides information to students on Penn State-sponsored education abroad programs, and advises students on their experience abroad from pre-departure until they return to campus. However, Education Abroad Advisers cannot advise students on the specifics pertaining to their degree requirements. The following information will clarify the difference between advising provided by an EA adviser and the kinds of issues typically under the purview of a DUS or departmental adviser.
Education Abroad Advisers:
- explain the various education abroad programs available at Penn State, with reference to the individual student's academic degree plan and/or personal interests;
- provide links to host institution course catalogs, if available, and/or other web or written materials pertaining to classes available on Penn State programs; and
- explain the application and orientation processes to students, and answer other questions (visa and passport procedures, housing options, program costs, etc.), as needed.
Academic (Departmental or DUS) Advisers:
- discuss and plan which courses taken overseas will fit into the student's academic degree audit;
- explain any rules or requirements that are particular to a department or college that might affect either the eligibility of a student for a particular program or their choice of courses;
- clarify how study abroad will affect the student's progress towards the degree; and
- outline the process of course substitution (since the process of petitioning for course substitution occurs within the academic department - explained in greater detail below).
Notes for Departmental Academic Advisers:
Foreign institutions typically do not publish course schedule books in advance of each semester. Nevertheless, it is possible for a student and his or her departmental or DUS adviser to map out an academic plan for their semester overseas by reviewing possible course selections (from a web link or hard copy materials) provided by an adviser in Education Abroad. The academic adviser can approve possible course selections, and students should select more than they would typically take in a given semester to ensure that they will have approved course choices when registering overseas. Too, they should take the departmental adviser's contact information with them so they may be quickly reached with any questions at the time of registration. Some programs have a limited "menu" of courses from which to choose, or even a fixed academic program, and in these cases the departmental adviser will need to approve the program as designed.
Course Equivalencies, Grades, Substitution, and Course Load
This is the process of assigning a Penn State course title and number (i.e. BIO 299) to courses taken abroad. These decisions are made by the relevant academic department at Penn State, though the process is facilitated by the Records Team in the Education Abroad office. The process works as follows:
- Students submit a Course Equivalency form along with a syllabus for each course taken abroad. To ensure a smooth course transfer process, this step must be completed while students are abroad!
- The Records Team will forward each syllabus to the relevant academic department for review.
- Each academic department will determine the proper course number to assign.
- Once the academic department determines the equivalency, the Education Abroad office will post the grades to the student’s Penn State transcript.
- A listing of previously accredited courses for each program is available on the Education Abroad website, on each program’s brochure page. If a course that a student is taking abroad appears on this historical listing, students DO NOT need to submit another course equivalency form, unless the student wants the course accredited in a different academic department.
- IMPORTANT: The Education Abroad office cannot determine how a specific course may fit into your degree plan. Students must work with their academic adviser(s) before and after their program to determine how each course will fulfill their degree audit.
- IMPORTANT: Students will receive Penn State credit for all courses taken abroad, EXCEPT physical education courses (i.e. “gym credits”). Students cannot satisfy GHA requirements abroad.
For more information, please visit the Education Abroad Course Equivalency page.
The Records Manager will send final credits and grades to the Office of the Registrar once Education Abroad has received the transcript from the foreign institution. Courses which have not yet been accredited will be posted to the students Penn State transcript as NG. Please note, that it may take 3-4 months for Education Abroad to receive foreign transcripts. Also, students on Penn State-sponsored education abroad programs may not take any courses on a Pass/Fail basis, as this is a Faculty Senate rule.
Course substitution is the process of making an exception in a student's degree audit so that a course taken abroad can fulfill degree requirements. Substitutions are the sole prerogative of the student's academic department. Thus, Education Abroad cannot tell students how courses will count in their major or minor. When students return to Penn State, they may submit a petition within their department to substitute a course/s taken overseas to fulfill a degree requirement.
Course Load and Dropping a Class
Students must take a full course load while abroad. Students who wish to drop courses while they are on an education abroad program must obtain approval from their departmental adviser and from the Education Academic Coordinator, Dr. Kristi Wormhoudt. This is especially important in cases where it is too late to add a substitute course, since students may risk dropping below what is considered to be a full-time course load at the host institution. Penn State Late Drop credits do not apply to courses taken overseas, and students must read about this and all other academic regulations for study abroad, as provided to them in their orientation materials. Program guides are also available on this Web site under, "preparing to go abroad."