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Academic Year Policies

Academic Year Policies

Eligibility 
Credit Transfer
Credit Enrollment
Departmental Independent Work
Grades, GPAs, and Transcript


Eligibility

All Princeton undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to study abroad during the academic year, provided the following eligibility requirements are met.

  • Class standing as a spring-term sophomore, junior, or fall-term senior
    The earliest most students study abroad is spring of sophomore year. Students interested in studying abroad in fall of sophomore year should discuss their plans with a study abroad adviser and submit a petition with a letter of support from a faculty member.
  • GPA of 3.0 or above for the fall and spring of the academic year prior to semester/year of study abroad
    Students whose GPA falls slightly below 3.0 should discuss their situation with a study abroad adviser. An exception will be considered if: 
    • the lower GPA is a result of a particular situation, such as switching majors, a medical leave;
    • the student has strong support from advisers and their residential college dean;
    • the student has a compelling academic reason for pursuing a particular program abroad.
  • Seriousness of purpose and a clear reason for choosing the program abroad
  • Departmental approval
    Students need the support of their department or prospective department.
  • Student Conduct
    The Study Abroad Program will consult with the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students to determine whether the applicant has a disciplinary record and will discuss the nature and circumstances of any infraction with the student and the impact this may have on eligibility for study abroad. Such information may also be shared with the student’s study abroad program. Students who will be on disciplinary probation during the term in which they plan to study abroad are normally not permitted to study abroad through Princeton.

Approval to study abroad is given by the Study Abroad Program on behalf of the Committee on Examination and Standing.

  • Language

    During a semester or year of study abroad, the minimum prerequisite for study in a country where courses are taken in the local language is completion of a Princeton language course at the 107/108 level, but it is highly recommended -- and in some programs required -- that students take at least one 200- or 300-level course before they go abroad. Princeton’s ideal is full immersion in the language of the country, both in terms of the language of instruction and in daily life, so the stronger the language skills, the better. In the majority of pre-approved programs abroad in non-English-speaking countries, students must take all of their courses in the target language (even when courses are available in English).

    In some cases, students may take some coursework in English while continuing to study a language abroad. Certain languages require a longer time to achieve fluency (e.g., Near Eastern and Asian languages). In these cases, not all students will be ready to follow content-based courses in the target language and therefore can take them in English while continuing language study. However, it is important to note that completion of the Princeton language course through the 107/108 level is still required in order to study on those programs.

    Princeton has approved a limited number of special programs that offer coursework in English in non-English-speaking countries and that do not require previous study of the host country’s language. These may be programs that are ideal for specific concentrations (e.g., Engineering, Classics, Art/Architecture, Biology fieldwork) or that are located in countries whose target language is not taught at Princeton. In these cases, we encourage students to study the local language while abroad, and the following policy applies:

    1. Although Princeton does not grant credit for one semester of a beginning language taken on campus, students on an approved study abroad program for the semester may earn one course credit by studying the local language at their study abroad site. They should enroll in the most intensive course available (usually worth 6 credits) and have the course pre-approved, and pass it with a D or above.  The course will be transferred as general study abroad elective credit (SAB) and not be the equivalent of a specific language course at Princeton unless the language is continued at Princeton at the next level.

    2. However, students who study a language offered by Princeton while they are abroad at the 100-level (101, 102, 105, 107/8) and want it to count as a specific Princeton language course so that further study can be pursued on campus or to fulfill a requirement can do so by taking a Princeton placement test so that the level achieved can be verified and the course equivalent noted in the academic record.

Please make sure you consult the Study Abroad Program staff for specific language policies and requirements.

N.B. This policy is only for students abroad for a semester or year. Summer language courses must be taken for a Princeton equivalent, not general elective credit. Please note that credit cannot be granted for the equivalent of one semester of a beginning language taken in the summer.

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Credit Transfer

All courses taken abroad must be pre-approved to guarantee transfer credit.

Type of credit 

Approved by 

Number Limit

Departmental requirement

Departmental representative

Usually 2 courses per semester; 3-4 per year

Distribution area

Relevant departmental representative

2 in any of the areas

Certificate requirement

Certificate program director

Varies

Elective

Study abroad staff in OIP

Usually 4 courses per semester

 

  • To be awarded credit for courses taken abroad, such courses must be passed with at least a D (in the host school’s credit system) or its equivalent. For foreign grading systems where a grade of D does not exist or is not considered a passing grade, courses will have to be passed with the equivalent of the passing grade just above D (please discuss specific requirements with the study abroad adviser for the specific program at the time of application). There are some exceptions to this general rule: (1) most Princeton departments require at least a C average in departmental courses, and therefore a D in a departmental course or courses may lead to failure in the area of concentration; (2) the accumulation of two or more Ds in a term is regarded by the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing as evidence of serious academic difficulty, for which letters of academic warning or academic probation may be issued; (3) a student may be required to withdraw if the student receives two Ds while on academic probation; (4) a student who is required to repeat a term for academic reasons will not receive credit for a course in the repeated term in which the student received a D.
  • Courses abroad cannot be taken on a Pass/Fail basis and cannot be delivered in online or mixed format.
  • Students returning from a semester or year of study abroad may provisionally enroll in Princeton courses for the subsequent semester, pending confirmation of the study abroad grades. However, if late-reported grades from a study abroad term indicate that normal degree progress requirements have not been met, the student may be required to withdraw, cancelling the provisional enrollment.
  • Credit cannot be transferred until the official transcript and the Study Abroad Evaluation in GPS are received and processed. It is the student’s responsibility to have a transcript sent to the Study Abroad Program at the end of the term abroad (transcripts cannot be delivered by students, they need to be received directly from the host school and in a secure way).
  • Note: If you had a course pre-approved for credit but did not seek distribution credit before studying abroad, you may use the Distribution Area Requirement Form (.pdf) after you return to campus to seek permission to use the pre-approved course to fulfill a distribution requirement.

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Credit Enrollment

Students must register for a full course load, equivalent to four Princeton courses per semester. Depending upon the program, full enrollment could be as many as six or eight courses/modules per semester (where the host school’s course weight is much lower than Princeton’s) or as few as two. 

In keeping with regular rules of degree progress, all students studying abroad must remain enrolled in at least the equivalent of three Princeton courses each term.

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Departmental Independent Work

Students who are required to complete Junior Independent Work abroad are advised either by a Princeton faculty member on campus or by an academic abroad who has been appointed by Princeton to supervise the paper (e.g., in the case of the Woodrow Wilson School’s Task Force Seminars). The paper is submitted to the adviser by the pre-set due date. As is the case on campus, students may request an extension of the due date if circumstances warrant. In some cases, when the academic calendar abroad differs significantly from Princeton’s calendar, the due date for Junior Independent Work will be adjusted to fit the different schedule.

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Grades, GPAs, and Transcript

The Princeton University transcript records the program or university attended, its location, and the credit awarded. The grades for Junior Independent Work (including Woodrow Wilson School Task Force seminars) and for courses completed on the EEB programs in Kenya and Panama or other faculty-led semester-long courses taught by Princeton faculty are recorded on the transcript and are included in the calculation of the departmental grade point average. However, grades for courses in other programs and foreign universities do not appear on the Princeton transcript and are not included in the departmental grade point average. A "T" appears on the transcript to indicate transfer credit. For this reason, students should request and retain a copy of the host school’s original transcripts in the event they may need to show official grades for their time abroad as part of a future application for graduate school, employment, or internship. 

Official transcripts should be sent directly from the host institution (no transcripts delivered by students are acceptable) in a secure way to the following address:

Dr. Gisella Gisolo
Office of International Programs
Louis A. Simpson Building
20 Washington Road
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544

Most universities/programs do NOT send transcripts automatically, so it is very important to check the policies with your program and request the transcripts as promptly as possible. 

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Princeton U Travel Policies

Read more about Princeton University's Undergraduate Travel Policies