Courses and Grades FAQ

How many courses should I take while abroad?

W&M requires all students to take the equivalent of at least 12 W&M credits per semester in order to maintain full time status. Please check with your program to determine how your course credits are calculated as not all universities/programs count courses the same way. 

Can I take fewer than the required minimum credits?

No. W&M requires all study abroad participates to take the equivalent of at least 12 W&M credits every semester.  Exemption from this requirement is only possible through the approval for an underload by the Dean of Students. Students who take fewer than 12 credits may lose their financial aid and insurance coverage.  It is highly important that you consult with your academic advisor before choosing courses and seeking pre-approval and that the you choose courses that will count toward your major and minor, in order to make progress toward your degree.

I do not need credits I take abroad to count toward my graduation requirements, do I still need to take a full time load?

Yes, you still need to take and transfer back at least the equivalent of 12 W&M credits.

 What is the maximum number of credits that can be transferred each semester while abroad?

18 W&M credits. Please be aware that course credits cannot be split, meaning that you cannot transfer back only 2 credits from a 3 credit course. 

 What is the Confirmation of Courses Form?

The Confirmation of Courses form provides us with the final list of classes for which you are registered abroad and must be signed by an official of your study abroad program or host university.

You will be required to send this form to the Global Education Office once you have started your classes, showing that you are taking a full load (the equivalent of a minimum of 12 W&M credits).  Failure to return this form will result in a hold on your student account. You will NOT be able to register for classes for the following semester until this hold has been cleared.

 My study abroad program's requirement is 16 credits/30 ECTS.  Should I comply?

Absolutely, if you are participating in an exchange program, third party provider or direct enroll program, you must abide by the regulations of the host institution or study abroad organization, even if program's minimum credit requirement exceeds W&M's.  

The credit system is so different, how can I tell if I am taking enough courses?

The number of credits issued by foreign universities varies considerably from country to country. The Global Education Office will determine the number of credits upon completion of the program, receipt of the official transcript and either  pre or post-approval  for each course.  If a students is unclear about how credits will transfer, contact your regional advisor in the Global Education Office at the Reves Center.   

 W&M (and all US universities and providers) base credits on the number  of contact hours in each course.  The charts  below are subject to change, but a general rule of thumb is:

  • 24-36 contact hours  = 2 W&M credits
  • 40-45 contact hours  = 3 W&M credits
  • 50-60 contact hours  =  4 W&M credits

 Universities who issue ECTS credits (mostly in Europe), the conversion is as follows:

  • 3 ECTS = 1.5 W&M credits
  • 4 ECTS = 2 W&M credits
  • 5 ECTS = 2.5  W&M credits
  • 6 ECTS = 3 W&M credits
  • 8 ECTS = 4 W&M credits

 Many UK universities use a point system for credits, which converts as follows:

  • 10 points = 3 W&M credits
  • 15 points  =  4  W&M  credits
  • 20 points  = 5 W&M credits
  • 30 points  = 7.5  or 8  W&M credits, depending on the university
What if I don't have time to get pre-approval for my courses?

You need to make time to seek pre-approval for courses you wish to take while abroad. Any course you take abroad is NOT guaranteed to transfer back unless it has been pre-approved. Follow the instructions on our pre-approval page

In rare circumstances where you cannot choose your classes until you are in country, then you may seek approval from each faculty member via e-mail or wait until you return to campus to seek post-approval. 

Some departments (Italian languge, Japanese language, Art History and Studio Art) will not pre-approve courses, however you should still consult these approving faculty if you are thinking of taking one of these courses abroad.

 I discovered a couple of interesting courses after I arrived.  May I take these courses instead of the ones that were pre-approved?

Yes can always try to obtain approval for additional courses after arriving at the host university.  It is best to seek approval via e-mail with the appropriate faculty member in each department by sending a blank pre-approval form (found on Global Education website) and detailed course description or syllabus.  Ask the faculty member to complete the form and send to the Global Education Office.  If this is not possible, then you will need to seek post-approval upon return to campus.  Instructions are found on the website.

 I need to return home earlier than the program's end date?  May I ask permission to take my exams early?

No, students are expected to stay for the duration of the program.  In the case of certain exchange programs, the agreement between W&M and the partner institution allows for arrangements to be made between the host university's International Office and the Global Education Office for you to take your final exam at W&M. It is your responsibility to request these arrangements from the host university's International Office EARLY IN THE SEMESTER; approval must be granted by both W&M and the exchange partner university prior to your return to the US.

 Can I take my courses as pass/fail or for audit?

No, courses must be taken for a grade and in order to receive credit you must earn a C or better.  The grade must appear on the host university official transcript.

 Will I receive grades for courses taken abroad?

No, in most cases you will receive transfer credit.  This will appear on your W&M transcript as a "T" and will NOT be calculated into your GPA. The only programs in which students receive grades are:

All W&M faculty led summer programs
W&M sponsored semester programs in La Plata, Argentina and Sevilla, Spain

Can I request that grades be optional in a W&M faculty-led summer program, La Plata, Sevilla?


You may elect to take ONE semester course in La Plata or Sevilla as pass/fail. You must obtain approval from the faculty liaison BEFORE the end of the add/drop period.

 Can I request that the grades I earn in the W&M faculty-led summer program, La Plata, Sevilla NOT count toward by GPA?

No this is not an option.

 Can I get credit for an internship abroad?

Many study abroad provider programs offer credit bearing internships that include an academic assignment or project in addition to the internship. If this is the case and you earn a C or higher and receive faculty approval then credit will be granted. However if the program abroad does not offer an academic component or you plan to do a full time internship you must get approval from the Dean of Undergraduate Studies BEFORE going abroad.

 What does W&M need to process my study abroad credits?
  • Official transcript from the host university with grades and credits or contact hours
  • Pre-approval or post-approval for every course
  • If the courses you took abroad are not listed in English you will need to write the course title in both the native language and English on the pre-approval or post-approval form. 
  • It is your responsibility to request that the host university or program provider send an official transcript to the Global Education Office  at:

Transcripts -Global Education Office

Reves Center, William & Mary

200 South Boundary Street

Williamsburg, VA 23185 


 We recommend very strongly that you also request 4-5 transcripts be sent to your home address.  You may need sealed transcripts if you plan to apply to graduate or professional school in the future. 

 W&M has very definite rules about course equivalences and grade transfers
Know these rules BEFORE you leave for your study abroad!