Undergraduate Study Abroad Transfer Credit


In order to transfer courses back to GW, students will need the courses taken elsewhere to be approved as “GW equivalents”. Each GW department determines whether or not they consider the transfer course material comparable to their discipline at GW. If approved, the department would designate a GW equivalent (DEPT ####) to indicate how the course will appear on the transcript when transferred. Departments can only approve courses for their individual departments.

Obtaining Domestic Transfer Credit Course Approvals

Depending on specific department requests, whether it’s easier for students to visit offices while on campus, or if they are currently away from GW, students can proceed getting courses approved either of these two ways:

  1. Form Approval: Preferred While on Campus
    Use the Undergraduate Transfer Credit Approval Form
    Students turn these into the Advising Center and then we forward them to Registrar.
  1. Digital Approval: Helpful if Students Need to Obtain Approvals While Off Campus
    Faculty can approve courses via e-mail. E-mail approvals should clearly indicate the course subject, number, and name for the course taken elsewhere and what it is approved as at GW. Students will then forward their e-mails to a GWSB advisor.

Obtaining Study Abroad Course Approvals

For students who are studying abroad Spring 2017 and after (including summer study abroad and home-country students):

GWSB students studying abroad Spring 2017 and after should complete their course approvals through the Course Approval Transfer System (CATS). Students will receive access to CATS once their eligibility to study abroad in GW Passport is approved by the Office for Study Abroad. Faculty should review instructions on how to access CATS (PDF) and approve or reject course approvals. Please note that pre-approved courses are only available during fall and spring study abroad and not summer study abroad or home-country students. 

For students who studied abroad prior to 2016:

GWSB students who study abroad in the summer term should continue submitting course approvals to Office for Study Abroad via e-mail or form. OSA provides a tutorial and instructions. Students will use the Study Abroad/Transfer Credit Approval Contacts to locate a specific department contact who is authorized to approve courses. For BADM courses, students may need to refer to the BADM contacts list first.

  1. Form Approval: Students will turn in their Course Approval Request form to Office for Study Abroad in Colonial Crossroads
  2. Digital Approval: forward any e-mail approvals to [email protected]

Designating the Course for Approval

There are two types of designations:

  1. Exact Equivalent – A specific course listed in the GW Bulletin (e.g. BADM 2301 or IBUS 3201). An exact equivalent directly substitutes for taking that course at GW.
  2. Variable Topics – A course that may not have an exact GW equivalent subject and number.
  3. XXXX 1099 or XXXX 3099: Special Topics – Courses labeled DEPT 1099 (ex. SMPP 1099) are lower-level “Special Topics” courses. (GWSB departments rarely use these for abroad.) Courses labeled DEPT 3099 (ex. MGT 3099) are upper level Special Topics courses. Variable topics courses must be petitioned to satisfy specific requirements. A petition is not necessary if they were taken for elective credit. GWSB Advisors monitor this for students, as does DegreeMAP. These courses will only apply to general electives, unless approved by petition.
  4. XXXX 4900: Special Topics – Courses labeled XXXX 4900 are upper-level courses, typically applied within concentrations. All GWSB Departments have this course in the bulletin as a designation: DNSC, FINA, ISTM, IBUS, MGT, MKTG, and SMPP. Additionally, each department has different rules on whether or not 4900 applies to a concentration field course requirement automatically, by petition only, or not at all. GWSB Advisors monitor this for students, as does DegreeMAP. These courses can apply to either concentration requirements or general electives, depending on the curriculum/concentration sheets already set forth by each department.

Fitting the Course into a Student’s Curriculum

Faculty will determine the equivalency of the course and the Advising Center will help the student determine where the course will fit in their degree (ie – an abroad course that is approved as IBUS 3099: Special Topics will not apply to the IBUS concentration, unless the department authorizes that; whereas, a course approved as IBUS 4900: Special Topics would automatically apply to the field courses in the concentration).


GW faculty cannot dictate the pre-requisites for courses taken at another institution.

For example, if a student plans to take MKTG 3142 at another institution that does not require a pre-req equivalent to the one here at GW (BADM 3401), the student should still be eligible to take the course with no questions asked. However, approving a course at another institution in which the student has not met the pre-req at GW, will NOT constitute a waiver at GW. For example, if the Finance department approves a study abroad course as FINA 3001 at another university (that does not require a pre-req), the student will still have to take BADM 3501 (GW’s pre-req) upon return in order to complete their remaining degree requirements in sequence.

No “Special-Cases”

Faculty should approve an abroad course for a specific designation and not change the designation depending on the student.

A specific course at a specific institution can only be approved one way for all students; it cannot be approved as one course for one student and as a different course for another. Course approvals must be consistent and should not vary based on student’s major, but rather the subject material itself.

Determining the Number of Credits for the Course

Students will receive the number of credits that appear on the other institution’s transcript (i.e., a course of 4 credits abroad will apply as 4 credits at GW), and credit hours taken at institutions following different scales will be converted to semester credit hours through the Office for Study Abroad.

Faculty cannot dictate the number of credit hours for a course.

Designated Course Approval Contacts

The Undergraduate Advising Center updates department faculty contacts each semester. You can find the most current handout on our website under “Forms” → “Contacts for Transfer Credit Review, Concentration/Major Exceptions, Minor Declaration” → “Faculty Contacts for Study Abroad & Transfer Credit Approval”. If your contact changes, please notify the Advising Center.

Evaluation of courses is entirely up to the academic departments; the Advising Center does not approve courses.