Academic Success

Plan before you go

Planning ahead for a few important things can prevent big headaches later.

Talk with your advisor and/or your academic department about choosing courses before you go.

Even if your program does not require course pre-approval, it is a good idea to bring the course pre-approval form to an advisor to make sure your courses can fulfill graduation requirements.

You will need to maintain full-time student status while abroad.

Credit values vary from country to country, so this could mean taking more than the usual 3 or 4 classes per semester; in some cases, 1 class abroad may be equivalent to 2 WSU courses. If you are not sure how your credits abroad will compare, contact our international credentials specialist in Bryan Hall 109.

Study abroad and WSU requirements

Generally speaking, courses taken abroad cannot be used to fulfill UCORE requirements. Exceptions can be made with the approval of the vice provost for undergraduate education; your advisor can help with this.

Keep a copy of the course pre-approval form. When you return, it will be your responsibility to check your academic progress in myWSU and verify that your study abroad credits are applied correctly to electives and degree requirements.


Keep your work

Take these materials with you overseas

  • Course descriptions of classes taken at WSU may help show the department abroad that you have satisfied the required prerequisites.
  • Take a copy of your Course Approval Form, a list of remaining course requirements, and contact numbers for your WSU advisor(s).
  • You may need to register for the upcoming semester at WSU while you are still abroad. Take your advisor’s contact information and a list of the courses (with course numbers) you plan to take.

Keep your work and bring it back to WSU

Bring back all written work, exams, syllabi, course descriptions, and reading lists—anything to help verify the quality and level of work you did abroad.

This is especially important for students taking foreign languages, as well as any student in a department where course approvals will be done upon return.

Make sure your study abroad provider is prepared to send your transcript to the following address:

Washington State University
Office of International Programs
Global Learning Department
PO Box 645110
Pullman, WA 99164-5110

Courses that are not pre-approved by a WSU academic department will transfer as general elective credit but will not fulfill specific degree requirements (in some cases, the department will approve the courses after you return).

Study like a local


Ask your professors and classmates about what to expect. Find out what the serious, high-achieving students are doing and follow their lead.

Educational structures vary from country to country. Do not assume that assignments, tests, or finals will work the same way they do at WSU. In some countries, a final exam may be held several weeks after classes end. Make sure to account for this in your studies and in your travel plans.

Work hard

Take your classes abroad as seriously as you would if they were at WSU—maybe even more so.

You will be navigating a different academic culture (and dealing with a multitude of distractions), so it is important to make sure you do not have the additional handicap of getting behind in your studies.

If the professors never assign homework, do not get complacent; some countries have a VERY comprehensive final, and it is up to you to study all term long for it.

Ask for help

In many countries, help is not advertised—be prepared to actively search for it.

If you are falling behind in class or need academic-related help:

  • Ask other students where you should go for help
  • Ask the professor about the possibility of tutoring, extra credit, or make-up coursework
  • If you think you are likely to fail a class, check with your education abroad provider’s in-country representative to see if there are opportunities for tutoring or similar help. It may also be possible to withdraw without penalty from a course if you need to. Make sure that withdrawing from a class will not drop you below a full-time course load (this could impact your student visa status)