Academics Overseas

Tips for Managing Academic Expectations While Abroad

You will be expected to take the course load as required by your study abroad program, usually between 15 and 18 credit hours per semester. Wofford will NOT make exceptions to rules set forth by the study abroad organization. Be informed about the minimum and maximum course load requirements for your program. Also check to see if your scholarships require that you complete a certain number of credit hours.

Forget the typical Monday, Wednesday, Friday routine. Most classes will be offered only once or twice a week, sometimes for a significantly longer class period, and sometimes at night. Learn to adapt to this kind of schedule; you might prefer it.

You should gather up as many syllabi as you can before departure. Most are available online. Onsite some professors will give you a printed syllabus, others will not. You might, for example, have a professor who will communicate verbally what he/she expects. You are responsible for obtaining or maintaining your own syllabus.

Universities abroad rarely offer their students the same privileges as those to which you are accustomed at Wofford. Frequently, you are not allowed to check out books, and you may not have access to the stacks. However, in many programs you will learn to rely on, for example, interviews and field work in addition to book sources. This can be a rewarding learning experience. In addition, you will continue to have access to the electronic resources available through our library and reference librarians are available via email ( or phone (864-597-4302) to assist you with any research questions you have.

There isn't always as much "busy work" in courses taught abroad. The professors do not assign 20 pages of reading by next week. You are expected to keep up with reading assignments on your own. You may have several courses in which you will be evaluated only on the basis of a midterm and a final exam. Sometimes only the latter. Be prepared to work regularly to keep up with the material during the semester in order to do well on the exam.

For students studying language, you will be given a language placement test to assess your proficiency in the target language shortly after arriving onsite. You will be placed in a language course that is appropriate to your level.

Most programs will have a strict policy on class attendance. However, the professor may not seem to care if you are absent. Beware, excessive absence usually results in a failing grade or something equally problematic.

Grades made in courses taken as part of approved study abroad programs will be computed in the students' GPA. However, transcripts from abroad are usually not available before midterm of the semester after your return. Be sure to tell your study abroad organization that your grades MUST be forwarded to the Office of International Programs. If you anticipate needing a transcript before this time, please make arrangements with the program to have your grades forwarded to Sara Milani, program advisor, as soon as they become available. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you think this might impact your financial aid award.

You are expected to complete all academic work before you leave the study abroad program. Even if the professor is willing to let you turn in the work after the end of the program, there may be administrative problems associated with such an arrangement. If you receive a grade of incomplete, it will automatically turn into an F if it has not been replaced by the middle of the following semester.

Be aware that a lot of American students will receive only Pass/Fail grades, their attitude towards their academic work tends to reflect this. Don't be frustrated, just avoid hanging out with them. Your situation is completely different. Wofford will accept the letter grade that you earn, and it will be computed into your GPA. Some U.S. universities do not accept some intensive language courses. Wofford will accept all the courses on your transcript. However, if you want your courses to meet specific requirements you must receive the approval of the appropriate department chair or the registrar.

Students participating in a foreign study program sponsored by Wofford must understand that even while overseas they continue to be governed by the rules and regulations of the Wofford College Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the Wofford College Honor Code and the Wofford College Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy. Also, the student must comport him or herself in accordance with the codes of behavior for the foreign study service provider and in accordance with the laws of the country in which he or she is studying.

Some of the following books are available at the Wofford College Bookstore.

  • Dowell, M. Study Abroad: How to Get the Most Out of Your Experience 
  • Kohls, R. Survival Kit for Overseas Living
  • Paige, M. Maximizing Study Abroad