General Information

Students in the College have the opportunity to enrich their academic experience with a number of global opportunities. This can include participating in a semester or year-long study abroad program, enrolling in a Penn Global Seminar, or interning with a company or organization in another country. We encourage students to think about the ways in which these global experiences can have a powerful and lasting impact on their time at Penn and beyond. For example, many students take coursework that integrates into their major, provides them with an opportunity to continue their study of a language, or allows them to learn more about other cultures both in and outside of the classroom.

Depending on their academic interests and goals, some students may need to take language courses or other relevant coursework to prepare for a study abroad experience. Major advisors and the College advisor assigned to their region of interest will review these course requirements and help each student determine how courses taken abroad will fit into their academic career.

For information about other global opportunities on campus, please visit Penn Global.

Study Abroad

Learning about languages and cultures through an immersive experience abroad can be a valuable component in your Liberal Arts education.

Penn Abroad administers semester and year-long abroad programs and provides information to undergraduates regarding study abroad, including details on the various program offerings, the application process, financial information, and contact information for Penn Abroad Global Program Managers.

Students will meet with their major advisor first and then consult with the College advisor who is assigned to their region of interest. Both advisors can answer academic questions about how courses taken abroad will fit into the major and the College curriculum as a whole. See Study Abroad: Step by Step below for more details about the academic advising process.



Students who wish to study abroad on a Penn summer program should refer to the opportunities on the College of Liberal and Professional Studies webpage. Students may choose to study abroad in the summer through a four-year, degree-granting, accredited institution other than Penn. If a student wishes to transfer the credits to their Penn transcript, they must seek course approval from the relevant Penn departments before classes begin. These courses are considered credit away, so each course must be approved through the External Credit Approval Tool (XCAT) and the course grades are not calculated into the Penn g.p.a. Students who have questions about this process should contact Jason Breyan in the College Office.


Students interested in a shorter period abroad may wish to investigate Penn Global Seminars. These courses combine an intensive semester-long seminar with a short-term travel component led by the course’s instructor.

Following these steps will help in selecting a program, planning courses and enjoying your experience abroad.

  • Review program options and navigate to specific program brochures on the Penn Abroad website to learn more about, course and language prerequisites, and other important information about your region of interest.
  • Consult with advisors and faculty in departments relevant to your major, minor, and/or language interests.
  • Confer with Penn Abroad Ambassadors, past participants, and exchange students from your region of interest.
  • Check for informational sessions on Penn Abroad’s event page.
  • Some programs require letters of reference. Think about who might write your letters of reference, and ask professors early.
  • Submit a request to your Penn Abroad Global to open your application to your specific program of interest.
  • More information on how to register for the regional advising sessions will be distributed upon opening your application
  • Read all application instructions thoroughly.
  • Research course options offered through your intended study abroad program.
  • Some programs require letters of reference. Be sure to give your references at least two- to three-weeks' notice.
  • Complete the Major Advisor Approval request within your Penn Abroad application. A form will then be sent directly to your major advisor, which they must complete in support of your semester abroad. Contact your major advisor to schedule an appointment with them to discuss your abroad plans. If you have more than one major, please designate the major most directly related to your study abroad plan in the Major Advisor request within your Penn Abroad application.
  • Discuss specific courses you might take abroad that could be approved for major credit and any additional requirements for final credit approval (such as submitting completed coursework after the completion of the course)
  • Make this appointment well in advance of the program application deadline.
  • After you have received major approval for your study abroad application, email the College Study Abroad Advisor for the program to which you are applying.
  • This advisor will work with you to determine if the program is a good fit with your overall academic plan at Penn.
  • The College Study Abroad Advisor will also discuss the XCAT process, grade posting, and any other academic questions that arise.
  • Both Major Advisor and Home School Advisor approval are necessary before you can be approved for study abroad.

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.

Find out more about the study abroad course approval steps.