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 Course 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 Course 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.

View Videos

Watch the following videos to understand the steps you need to take to receive Penn credit for courses taken abroad and how to use XCAT, the External Course Approval Tool.

  • Login to XCAT with your PennKey.
  • Choose "Request a new course equivalency" from the left-hand menu.
  • Select "Study abroad credit".
  • Begin typing in your external institution, city and/or country. Choose the correct one from the auto-fill list of options.
  • Look for your course in the "select course" drop-down menu.
  • If your course appears in the drop-down menu, select the course, click "continue" and add any additional information required.
  • If your 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.
  • If your course does not appear in the drop-down menu, choose "input new course," enter the required information and click "submit."
  • Follow these steps for each study abroad course course.
  • You can submit requests as soon as you are accepted into your study abroad program. Note that some departments will not review requests until the course is completed and appropriate materials are submitted.
  • Check the status of your requests by logging into XCAT and selecting "List your requests" from the left-hand menu.
  • If your request is denied, please refer to any comments added by the department and contact the appropriate assistant dean if further assistance is required.
  • Login to XCAT with your PennKey.
  • Clean up your XCAT queue.  Your queue should include all of the courses you took abroad and each course should have Penn departmental approval. Withdraw from the queue any courses you did not take, so that the only courses that remain in XCAT are the ones you were enrolled in while abroad.
  • You will receive notification from Penn Abroad once your abroad transcript has been received and processed.
  • Once all the steps above have been met, you can expect to see your abroad courses and grades on your Penn transcript within two weeks.  If this does not occur, contact the appropriate College advisor for your abroad program.
  • Contact the department for questions about the departmental credit evaluation.
  • Contact Dr. Niel McDowell in the College Office (215.898.6341) for questions about XCAT.