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A Division of the International Studies Office

Academic Considerations

Academic Credit FAQ

One of the key topics we get asked about with regard to academics is credit. How does it all work? See below for some important information and considerations. Important note: UVA study abroad courses may not be audited. All UVA study abroad courses must be taken for credit.

What is academic credit?

Official certification by an accredited academic institution that a student has successfully completed a course of study. All UVA study abroad courses must be taken for credit (they may not be audited).

What is the difference between direct credit and transfer credit?

  • Direct credit is credit awarded by the University of Virginia. It works exactly the same way whether you earn it in Charlottesville or abroad. Direct credit factors into your GPA.
  • Transfer credit is awarded by another institution, but can still be applied toward your UVA degree and your major/minor/language requirements. Transfer credit does not factor into your GPA and a grade does not show up on your UVA transcript.

How can I tell whether my program offers direct or transfer credit?

Look at the "Credit Type" field in the Fact Sheet section of the program page (conduct a Program Search to access these pages). Note that some programs offer a combination of direct and transfer credit; review the rest of the content on the page for details. You can also narrow down your program search by credit type if, for example, you know that you need direct credit (see related question below).

How can I use the credit I will earn on my education abroad program?

There are a few differences in the uses of direct credit vs. transfer credit:

Credit Counts for






Major / Minor Requirements



Elective Requirements



Language Requirement



Area Requirements

  Schools: YES

  Schools: YES

Calculated in GPA



Do I need direct credit?

There are only a few reasons why you might benefit from direct credit when you study abroad:

  • You have reached or are very close to reaching the 60 transfer credit maximum that the University allows you to use toward your degree.
  • You are in the College and need to fulfill an area requirement which you will not be able to fill at any other time at UVA.
  • You need to earn more credits toward your major/minor than the department will allow you to fill with transfer credit.
  • You need to raise your GPA.

Otherwise, transfer credit will work every bit as well as direct credit for you.

How do I go about getting transfer credit applied to my degree/major/minor/language?

  • One of the main components of the application for transfer credit programs is the Transfer Credit Approval Form.
  • Before your application can be reviewed, you must get transfer credit approval for the courses you expect to take abroad.
  • CLAS students: For elective credit, look in the Study Abroad Transfer Credit Equivalency Database for prior approvals. If it is not in the database, include a course description or syllabus when you submit the Transfer Credit Approval form to Abigail Holeman. If your course is in this database, you do not need to include additional information when you submit the form.
  • If you discover the courses you want to take abroad are not available upon arrival, or you change your mind, obtain approvals while abroad via email from the same individuals who approved your initial courses. Provide those email approvals to the appropriate person for your school and keep copies for yourself.
  • All of the instructions for filling out and turning in the Transfer Credit Approval Form are located on the form, which is found within your application.




Major / Minor Approval

Academic Advisor or Dean

Department DUP, then Abigail Holeman

Elective Approval

Dean or Registrar

Abigail Holeman, Transfer Credit Evaluator

Language Requirement Approval

Language Department

Language Department,  then Abigail Holeman

Area Requirement Approval

Dean or Registrar


Submit forms to



Minimum Grade you must earn in each class

SEAS, COMM, Curry & Batten: C


Special Considerations

Your academic standing at UVA may have an effect on when and where you can study abroad, and what you need to do to apply. If you have a concern that isn't addressed below, reach out to an Education Abroad Advisor to learn more about potential options for you.

First Year Students

With the exception of January term and the UVA First programs, students need to wait until the summer after their first year to study abroad (if you apply to study abroad the summer after your first year, or for the fall of your second year, you will apply during your first year). Regardless of when you plan to study abroad, your first year is an ideal time to begin planning! Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your academic goals and how you can achieve them through education abroad. Begin reviewing costs of programs and your current financial resources, and identifying other sources of funding. Visit our Getting Started section for other first steps.

Fourth Year Study Abroad

Some students study abroad during their fourth year. If you are considering studying abroad as a fourth-year student, you will need to petition with your Association Dean or School of Enrollment, and plan carefully well in advance to help ensure that you will still be on track for graduation. Students considering study abroad in their eight semester should be aware that they will more than likely need to delay graduation, to August or even December, depending on the type of program, end date, and when transcripts or grades are issued. Fourth year study abroad can be a good opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills needed to head out into the workforce. Note: for a few select programs for students in the Schools of Architecture and Nursing, students are required to be fourth-years to participate.

Undeclared Students

It is not required or necessary to have a declared major or minor before studying abroad. In fact, due to the numerous new and unique educational experiences, you may even decide upon your major or minor while abroad! Undeclared students may earn elective credits. See the above Academic Credit section to learn more. 

Transfer Students

It is possible to study abroad as a transfer student! Talk to your academic advisor (and Transfer Dean, if in the College) regarding your plans. For those who have transferred in more than sixty credits, keep in mind that UVA offers an increasing number of programs that grant UVA Direct Credit. These grades are factored into your UVA GPA and count as UVA courses, which can fulfill major and minor requirements. Conduct a Program Search to find programs that offer Direct Credit. If, after consulting with your advisor and Dean, a semester abroad is not an option, you may still consider summer, January term, and semester on-Grounds courses with embedded travel during break.


The University requires students to have a 2.5 GPA in order to apply to study abroad (for students in the McIntire School, the requirement is a 3.0). Keep in mind that some programs may have a higher GPA requirement. Students wishing to study abroad with a GPA below the required University/School minimum should seek permission to apply for study abroad from their Association Dean or School of Enrollment.