Course Equivalencies: How-To Guide

Course Equivalencies


When you study abroad on an exchange at one of the College’s partner universities, all of your credits and grades from that institution will convey to your IU transcript.

Courses that have been articulated from a specific institution to IU by a previous student participant may already have an established “equivalency”.  However, this is relatively rare for ASPIRE Exchange Programs, because students can take a tremendous diversity of courses at the host institution and because some of the exchanges are quite new and only a few students have had credits articulated to IU.

Undistributed and Distributed Credits

By default, any course that is articulated to IU from an accredited university will grant “undistributed credits” (example: PSY-OS 100). Undistributed credits count toward the total number of credits that you need to graduate. However they do not fulfill any requirements for Gen Ed, CASE, or Majors and Minors, limiting their usefulness.

A course can be evaluated by the relevant department at IU. The Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) for that program will determine whether the course is very similar to one offered at IU. If it is very similar, they will approve the course to give equivalent credits (example: PSY-P 315).  That course will now fulfill Gen Ed, CASE, and Major/Minor requirements just as if the course were taken on the IU campus.

If a course is not very similar to one at IU, but it is rigorous enough to give upper-level credit, the DUS may approve the course to give 200, 300, or 400-level undistributed credit (example: PSY-OS 300).  They may also be able to approve an undistributed course to count toward a Major or Minor requirement, depending on the department's policy. These scenarios sometimes allow undistributed courses to fulfill additional degree requirements.

How to Establish a Course Equivalency

Step 1: Student obtains a detailed syllabus for the course, including information about readings and assignments.  This process can happen before, during, or after an exchange program! 

Step 2: Student sends the syllabus to the advisor for the department the course would be taught in at IU.  In order for the department to make a determination, you will typically need to provide information about the readings, assignments, and tests.  If the syllabus doesn’t provide those details, consult with the advisor you’re sending it to about what may be needed.

There is a list of all the advisors in the College of Arts and Sciences:

If you’re not sure which department to send a course equivalency request to, ask Pete or your primary advisor. Note that more than one department might be able to articulate a course. For example, an SKKU course on Korean political history could potentially be credited in EALC, POLS, or HIST at IU. Where you pursue the articulation will depend on the needs of your academic program.

Step 3: Advisor sends syllabus to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for their program and asks for the evaluation.

Step 4: Director of Undergraduate Studies makes a determination.  They can request additional materials, information, or a discussion with the student if needed.

Step 5: The Advisor or DUS informs the student of the determination and submits a Course Approval Memo to the Office of Overseas Study (formally establishing the equivalency). Once an official transcript is received from the partner university, Pete will use this equivalency to request the credit articulation, which goes to the Registrar via the Office of Overseas Study.


Pete Giordano

Senior Academic Advisor for International Programs

College of Arts and Sciences