GVSU Partnership/ Non-GVSU Program Academic Policies

Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the university policies and procedures relating to study abroad before departure. Any misunderstanding or disputes should be settled before going abroad, as it is much more difficult to resolve such matters after.

There is a maximum of four full-time semesters allowed for students participating in study abroad programs where credit can be transferred back to GVSU from a host university. Courses taken via GVSU faculty-led programs do not count toward this limit.


Last 30 Credits

Students approved by PIC to study abroad will be required to register at GVSU during the semester they are abroad. Since students maintain their registration status at GVSU, they meet the residency requirement for completing the last 30 credits at GVSU.



GVSU undergraduate students must have a minimum of a 2.5 GPA at the time of application for study abroad. Graduate students must have a 3.0 GPA.


Credit/ Non-Credit 

Study abroad courses will transfer back as credit (CR) or no credit (NC). Credit will be granted for those courses in which the student earns a grade equivalent to a C or better. These courses will not count towards the maximum number of CR/NC courses a student is al-lowed to take at GVSU. Courses completed abroad will not impact a student’s GPA at GVSU.


No Audit

Any courses taken abroad as “audit” will not transfer to GVSU. A grade must be earned in order for a course to appear on the GVSU transcript.


Repeat/ Replacing a GVSU Course

Study Abroad courses cannot be used to repeat or replace the grade of a course previously taken on-campus.


Full-Time Status

During Fall and Winter semesters, students MUST maintain full-time status (12-15 US credits) while studying abroad. Students not planning on registering abroad as a full-time student must get written approval from Rebecca Hambleton in PIC.


Spring/Summer Participants

Spring/Summer participants are not required to take a minimum number of credits, however, students in need of financial aid must complete a minimum of 6 GVSU credits in order to maintain eligibility for federal student aid.


IS 380 Registration

There is a new registration fee for GVSU's place holder course IS380 that will affect Partnerships and Non-GVSU participants. Students will be charged $15 per credit hour.

All students participating in a study abroad pro-gram where the credits are transferred to GVSU from another institution will be required to register at GVSU for a placeholder course called International Studies 380 (IS380). Students who register for IS 380 will maintain their enrollment at GVSU which allows access to GVSU financial aid and all of the services of the university while participating in study abroad. Students register for IS 380 for the minimum number of credits they expect to transfer back to GVSU. If a student registers for 12 credits of IS 380, GVSU expects the student to register at the host university for the equivalent of at least 12 US credits. During your orientation, you will receive instructions on how to register online for International Studies 380 (IS 380). You must register for this course to indicate your participation in a study abroad program.


Semester Abroad IS380 Registration Deadline

Fall and Academic Year August 1
Winter December 1
Spring/Summer April 15

If you have any questions regarding this process, please set up an appointment with Rebecca Hambleton in the Padnos International Center.


Grading System

Grading systems vary from country to country and even by institution. GVSU utilizes the International Grade Conversion scales published by World Education Services (WES) and Foreign Credits, Inc. when converting grades from the host university to the GVSU grading system.


Credit System

The system for awarding credit for a course varies throughout the world. At GVSU, 1 credit hour is typically earned for 15 in class contact hours during the course of a 15 week semester. A typical 3 credit course would consist of 45 contact hours during a semester. Credit is determined using different variables at most overseas institutions. Padnos International Center. It is very important that a student understand how the credit system at the host university relates to the credit system at GVSU. It is the student’s responsibility to register full-time at the host university and to verify that they will earn a minimum of 12 US credits for the courses taken abroad. Fall, Winter, or Academic Year students must be registered full-time at the host university. All exceptions must be approved in writing by the Director of Study Abroad and International Partnerships in the Padnos International Center.

Students who do not maintain full-time status while abroad may not be entitled to certain financial aid and may have to repay funds upon their return. Summer study abroad is much more flexible and does not require full-time enrollment.


Study Abroad Credit Form

The PIC strongly recommends that students obtain GVSU course equivalencies prior to departure for study abroad. In order to avoid complications on-site, students should secure course equivalencies for alternate courses in the event that course selections change upon arrival at the host institution. Approval can be secured via email once a student is overseas. All course approvals must be forwarded to the PIC. 

Students must complete the "Study Abroad Credit Form" prior to departure for their study abroad program. (If all classes that you intend to take abroad, including class alternatives, have been pre-equated on the PIC website, you do not need to complete this form.) The completion of this form indicates that a GVSU faculty member has reviewed the descriptions of the courses that a students intends to take abroad. It is common for course selections to change once a student has arrived at their host university. If that is the case, you should work with PIC to get connected to a faculty member that can review and approve your courses prior to final registration.

In an effort to ensure good communication, this form requires the signature of the student, the student's academic advisor, and the Padnos International Center staff.

It is wise to keep copies of all of your academic work and any evaluation you received while abroad- including syllabi and reading lists.

If changes are made to the Study Abroad Credit Form without GVSU authorization, departmental academic credit cannot be guaranteed. GVSU authorization must be obtained from the department of the student's major and the department in which credit is earned.

It is the responsibility of all study abroad participants to ensure that all courses taken abroad have the appropriate approvals. This responsibility does not fall on the Padnos International Center or anyone else at GVSU.



It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the host university transcript is sent to the Padnos International Center. An incomplete grade will be posted on the GVSU system until the transcript and course approvals have been received. Once the transcript and course approvals are received, the incomplete will be removed from the GVSU system and replaced with the GVSU course equivalencies for the courses completed abroad. If a transcript is not received, the incomplete grade will automatically be changed to a (NC) after 180 days. Upon completion of your program, Official Tran-scripts from the host university should be sent to:

Attn: Rebecca Hambleton

Padnos International Center

130 LOH, 1 Campus Drive

Grand Valley State University

Allendale, MI 49401 USA


Plan Ahead

Keep in mind that course registration for the following year takes place during the winter semester. If you are planning on studying abroad during this time, you need to make sure that you have all of the requirements for registering for the following semester when you have returned. For example, if you are taking a course abroad that is transferring as a prerequisite for a class you hope to take in the fall, this will not show up as the prerequisite course until we have received your transcripts. It will still show up as IS 380, which will prevent you from being able to register for your desired course. You will need to talk with your department to get prior approval to register for your desired course before you leave to go abroad in order to verify that you will be taking the prerequisite abroad.

Also, keep in mind that your IS 380 credit will remain as "Incomplete" until we receive your transcript from abroad as well, which will not take place until after you have returned. If you are hoping to register at a certain academic status (i.e. currently a sophomore, wanting to register as a junior for the fall), you may not be able to do so. Plan ahead so there are no surprises. It is harder to deal with these situations once you are abroad.


For a printable version of the Academic Policy


Page last modified March 10, 2014