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 College study abroad advisor for their area, 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.

  • 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 your College advisor for study abroad if further assistance is required.
  • Submit a course equivalency for each course taken abroad on XCAT.
  • Verify that the course has been approved by the appropriate department on XCAT.
  • Verify that Penn Abroad has received your transcript from your study abroad program. You will receive an email from Penn Abroad when they receive your transcript.
  • Withdraw any XCAT credit requests for courses you ended up not taking while abroad.
  • Once these steps are completed, notify your College advisor for study abroad and request that the courses be posted.
  • Contact the departmental contact for questions about the departmental credit evaluation.
  • Contact Dr. Gary Purpura in the College Office (215.898.6341) for questions about XCAT.