Academics & Credits

By choosing to study away, you have the opportunity to explore different cultures and worldviews, but you will also take classes that are often taught with a pedagogy you are unfamiliar with, or academic systems that are not the same as DKU.

These new academic experiences have enormous potential for your development, whether you are going even deeper in your current path of study or if you are exploring new courses and topics outside of your major.

Courses taken on study away program should be carefully planned with your academic advisor around your goals. Different courses support different needs and outcomes, but courses that are approved to transfer to DKU need to be reviewed for approval to:

  • Transfer to DKU as elective credits
  • Fulfill degree requirements (such as AH/SS/NS/QR distribution requirements)
  • Fulfill specific courses that are required for your major (full equivalencies or thematic equivalencies)
  • Note: Divisional Foundation courses must be taken on DKU campus. Credit Transfer Requests for this type of course will not be reviewed.

Every program and institution has different curricular options for course enrollment, often in addition to experiential learning opportunities that may be useful for progress in your signature work.  We strongly encourage you to discuss your study away course options with a study abroad advisor when identifying a program. Before you begin, do not forget to check that the program does not conflict with DKU academic terms (including military training and Chinese History and Culture courses).


Semester Away Programs (Junior Students)

  • Duke University
  • Exchange Program (Wuhan University)
  • DKU Global Opportunity (DKU GO) Programs
  • DKU Global Opportunity-Flexible (DKU GO-FLEX) Programs

Summer Programs

  • Duke Summer Session (Term I, Term II)
  • Summer Programs by Nomination (students will apply and be nominated through DKU): such as Wuhan Luojia International Summer Program, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong Lingnan University
  • Other summer programs (announced annually, or identified on your own!)

Types of Credit Transfer

Course Load on Study Away

Junior Semester Study Away Term: Students must enroll in a full course-load that is equivalent to 16-20 DKU credits during study away.

Summer Term: Students can transfer approved max. 8 credits back to DKU. 

Students are required to enroll in a full course load in their program (based on the definition of a ‘full course load’ by the policies of the program). Some programs may consider a ‘standard’ or full course load to be less than a DKU standard course load of at least 16 credits.  In such an instance, students may petition to underload while studying away, but should be aware of the implications on their degree progress and DKU requirements for academic progress.

How do I prepare academically?

  • Ensure you have a firm grasp on the remaining requirements for your declared DKU major. Remember that all students must declare their major in the sophomore year’s spring term. 
  • Constructing a 4-Year Degree Plan: Before determine the term for studying abroad, it is advisable to draft two general plans, each accommodating either a Fall or Spring study abroad term.
    • Begin by documenting the courses you have already completed, and then map out the remaining courses you need to complete at DKU.
    • Once your study abroad term is decided-whether it be Fall or Spring-update your four-year plan accordingly, incorporating the latest course offerings and information. Modify your course registration for the current term based on available courses that fit your requirements.
    • Given that it is not guaranteed that you will always find classes approved as equivalents to specific DKU courses while studying abroad, try to arrange your DKU classes in such a way that you have flexibility to take electives during your study abroad term.
  • Keep in mind the prerequisites for certain courses and their sequence in your plan.
  • You should anticipate the need to submit credit transfer requests and/or course equivalency reviews. For any course taken in a program not yet checked by DKU, a new credit transfer request will have to be submitted.
  • Lastly, expect to engage in discussions and receive advice from an advisor and the OGE. Their support is likely to be instrumental throughout this process.

Tips For Creating 4-Year Degree Plans

4-Year Course Planning Sheets can be downloaded from the DKU Academic Advising Student Resources page.

Before filling in your plan:

1) A four-year course plan is easiest to complete once you know what major you will declare, or once you have declared a major.

2) If you are not clear on a major (and are planning early, prior to major declaration), you may want to prepare multiple versions of a four-year plan that capture different scenarios of majors you are interested in.

When filling in the form:

1) Study your major/track requirements and options.

For major requirements and degree requirements that you have not yet taken, study your major/track pages in the DKU bulletin according to your class year. Make sure to note prerequisites and course sequences relevant to classes you will be required to take. Review historical timing of when these classes have been offered at DKU in previous terms.

  • For example, Common Core 2 is only offered in Fall term; Common Core 3 is offered in both Fall and Spring terms (to allow for flexibility in studying away in either semester of your junior year).
  • Although final DKU course schedules are not available until course registration opens each term, some classes have a predictable ‘pattern’ of being offered in only one session or semester, or offered in every semester.

2) Fill in all classes you have currently completed at DKU. 

3) Fill in courses you have not yet taken, but will need to take.

Next, using the bulletin or your DKU ‘What-IF’ report from DKU Hub as a guide, fill in other courses and degree requirements you will still need to complete. Check the sequence and historical course offering spreadsheet from the UG Advising Website to try to predict when certain courses you need will be offered in the future.


  • Ideally and for maximum flexibility, first determine whether you could take all elective credits on your  junior study away term. This will tell you whether or not you have a specific need to study away in a program where you will find courses that are approved as equivalencies that fulfill specific DKU degree requirements.

4) Fill-in options for a course plan while studying away.

  • Leave planned courses for your study away term to complete last; if you have flexibility to take all electives, then you can  consider virtually any study away program.
  • If you have specific course needs that you must fulfill while studying away, you will need to narrow your program search to programs that offer related classes with potential for equivalency approval, or that already have courses approved for equivalencies.

a) If the course schedule/offerings are published for your intended term of study away, consider your needs and interests to plan possible course schedules while studying away.  Additional factors to consider:

  • Major Requirements: unless or until a course is approved for an equivalency, make sure there is no content overlap with DKU course(s). You should not take courses abroad that might constitute an ‘anti-requisite’ (a course that is not similar enough to merit approval for equivalency, but that still contains enough course content overlap that it might constitute a course repeat).
  • Electives are NOT wasted time! Every student will need elective courses to fulfill your 136 credit graduation requirement (even after fulfilling your major and common core courses). Look for electives that complement your major or field of study, or that have interest for you and that are not offered at DKU. Electives can often form new interdisciplinary connections, or spark new interests that you would otherwise not experience.
  • Look for classes that leverage the experience of studying in that particular region/culture, and that you cannot replicate elsewhere.
  • Study your host language! Most students will not need language requirements for graduation, but having even a beginner-level understanding of your host country’s language will dramatically enhance your experience studying away.

b) If course offerings are not yet published for your intended study away program/term:

  • Check previous course offerings (if possible) and check regularly on the program website for updates or the date this information will be released.

5. After filling in a draft of your 4-year plan:

Re-check following points:

  • Is this the final course enrollment for the study away term?

If not, sketch a ‘best scenario’ plan, and revise this plan once a schedule is released or your schedule is confirmed and you have a ‘final’ plan.

  • For courses enrolled in the study away term, are there already approved equivalencies on record with DKU?

If not, please follow the procedure to submit a credit check and equivalency review request. Depending on the program, you will either follow the  Duke-DKU Credit Transfer Procedure or Host-DKU Credit Transfer Procedure.

  • With the courses I plan to enroll in (or submit for equivalency review), do  any courses potentially overlap in content with other DKU courses needed for your major as anti-requisites?

If so, make sure you have planned enough time to complete your equivalency review result, or change the course plan for your program.  Taking an anti-requisite may prevent you from enrolling in a future class required for your major or degree and impact your graduation.

Other Academic Notes for Study Away

  1. Curriculums are unique to each institution and program. Courses offered every program and institution are different, and there are no guarantees students can find major courses that are equivalencies to specific DKU courses while on study away (including at Duke University).
    • The earlier you plan, the more flexibility you can build into your schedule for a study away term.
    • Try to leave room for electives while on study away. If you plan to be able to take up to all courses as electives, then if you are able to find even one or more courses approved for an equivalency on a study away term, you’ll have an even easier time completing degree requirements later.
  2. Even on study away programs, there are no guarantees of course availability (courses still close due to under enrollment or scheduling conflicts). Make multiple course plans!
    • Each Host Institution has different course enrollment policy for non-degree visiting students. After researching course offering, make multiple course plans to be prepared.
  3.  If you have not planned extensively for study away, or find yourself severely limited in remaining courses you need to complete your major requirements:
    • Be sure you have a viable plan to graduate on-time after studying away. Check your assumptions with an academic advisor or an OGE advising appointment – there may be a way!
    • In lieu of a semester study away, consider exploring summer study away options. 
    • Study away is not a mandatory graduation requirement. 
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