Study Abroad Course Approval

Individual academic departments at Penn are solely responsible for determining which courses taken abroad are equivalent to Penn courses and whether the courses fulfill the major or other requirements. In some cases, the department may impose additional requirements for course equivalency to be granted, or the department may wish to evaluate courses upon the student’s return from study abroad. Students should be aware that it is difficult to fulfill General Education Requirements with courses abroad. Whether pursuing courses for free electives or for the major, students should consult with the assistant dean in the College Office responsible for the program, submit electronic syllabi through the External Credit Approval Tool (XCAT), and bring back all papers, exams, bibliographies and syllabi from abroad.

Students submit requests for approval and departments make determinations through XCAT.

log into XCAT

The online External Credit Approval Tool (XCAT) allows you to request College course equivalencies for courses taken abroad. This online tool is available to any Penn undergrad. However, Wharton courses taken at non-Wharton approved programs will not be considered.

Students will enter their request for Penn course equivalency in XCAT. If their course was taken previously by other students and pre-approved by departments, it will be listed as a precedent. Precedents are guaranteed and, other than entering the year taken, no additional supporting materials or departmental approval is necessary.

Students can submit requests as soon as they are accepted into their study abroad program. Note that some departments will not review requests until the course is completed and appropriate materials are submitted.

Please note that any business courses taken at locations where there are also Wharton-approved programs must be submitted to “Wharton Undergrad Division” under “Requested Penn Subject.” No departmental credit is given because all approved study-abroad credits are designated with a general WH code

You can check the status of your requests by logging into XCAT. If your request is denied, please refer to any comments added by the department evaluator. 

Before abroad courses can be posted to a students’ Penn transcript, students need to submit requests for each course they took abroad, and they should all have Penn departmental approval. They should withdraw from the XCAT queue any courses they did not take, so that the only courses that remain in XCAT are the ones in which they were enrolled in while abroad. They will receive notification from Penn Abroad once their abroad transcript has been received and processed. Once all the steps above have been met, they can expect to see their abroad courses and grades on their Penn transcript within two weeks.  If this does not occur, they should contact the appropriate College advisor for their abroad program.

Contact the department for questions about the departmental credit evaluation.