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Effective Date: September 2023


This document lays out policies, defines various forms of international and domestic study abroad programs, and establishes guidelines for the academic criteria and performance associated with participation in a study abroad program. These same special procedures and policies apply to programs of study within the United States when those programs are arranged by and administered through the Study Abroad Office. Throughout this document, the words “study abroad” and “education abroad” are used to describe programs that are taught either stateside or abroad.

Scope of Applicability

This policy applies to all students enrolled at the University.

General Provisions

UNC–Chapel Hill’s study abroad programs are high-quality, credit-bearing academic experiences available at hundreds of locations worldwide to students in all academic programs, majors, and minors. Numerous units across campus organize and administer study abroad opportunities for students at the undergraduate and graduate level. Programs are available through the College of Arts & Sciences Study Abroad Office, HonorsCarolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Gillings School of Public Health, School of Education, School of Government, School of Information and Library Science, and School of Nursing.


Study abroad programs come in a variety of types:

  • Exchange: A program involving reciprocal enrollment of students between UNC and partner institutions.
  • Direct Enroll/Fee-Paying: Allow students to directly enroll in an institution, whether a traditional university or study abroad institute.
  • Provider: External organizations that administer study abroad programs around the world.
  • Faculty-led (summer, embedded, and immersion): Comprised of UNC courses taken primarily with other UNC students and taught by UNC professors in an off-campus location for a portion or entirety of the course. Most focus on a specific academic discipline or theme.
  • Internship: Form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting.
  • Research: Pairs a study abroad student or students with on-site faculty and/or other local experts to pursue a specific topic or research question. The research may be undertaken as part of an organized study abroad program (i.e. a research-based course or independent project) or independently arranged.
  • Embedded: A short study abroad program that forms an integral part of, or an optional add-on to, a course given on the home campus.
  • National University of Singapore Joint Degree: A collaborative effort between UNC-Chapel Hill and National University of Singapore. The program and the curriculum are designed to allow students from both institutions to spend anywhere between two or four semesters at the other university. Upon completion of the program, students will receive a diploma jointly issued by UNC-Chapel Hill and National University of Singapore.
  • Student Initiated Programs: Programs offered by another university or provider that are not a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill the Study Abroad Office portfolio. Students petition the Study Abroad Office for permission to participate this type of program.

Programs can take place during various terms of the UNC academic calendar:

  • Fall semester
  • Spring semester
  • Academic year (fall semester + spring semester)
  • Calendar year (spring semester + fall semester; may include summer)
  • Summer terms and sessions (including during the Maymester)
  • Spring Break
  • Fall Break


Interested students explore options and can connect with study abroad advisors for guidance on program options; advisors specialize in programs regionally as well as academically. Advising options include individual advising, group information sessions, and other forms of outreach. The UNC Study Abroad Office also provides guidance on study abroad credit transfer, and provides pre- and post- experience programming to assist students with the transitions of these opportunities.


Eligibility: Students can study abroad from their first year at Carolina until graduation. There are also specific programs for students before matriculation. Study abroad programs are open to all majors. Each program has specific GPA and class standing requirements.

  • Application to study abroad through the sponsoring unit: Students submit a study abroad application to study abroad. Advisors review and provide guidance on selection, acceptance, nomination processes, and next steps.
  • Non-UNC students: Students from other institutions may apply for programs offered by the Study Abroad Office. The Study Abroad Office works with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to admit applicants as “Visiting Students.” Admission to the University for the purpose of attending a study abroad program does not, in itself, admit the student for subsequent terms of study on campus.
  • Disciplinary issues: Students who are on probation, have active sanctions or sanctions that are pending/incomplete that are adjudicated by any campus department due to an academic and/or disciplinary violation, have a pending court case involving a misdemeanor, felony, or other crime, or have a pending Honor Court case, may not be eligible to participate in a UNC Study Abroad program.
    • Students may complete an application to study abroad but may not be permitted to participate in any program while any state or federal court cases or Honor court cases are pending or with any active university sanctions. Students who have a pending case, state/federal or Honor Court, or active university sanctions at time of application or before departure must submit documentation prior to departure to show completion or clearance of sanctions or charges.
      All students with pending cases or sanctions will be considered on a case by case basis, with consideration given to factors including but not limited to: citation type, number of citations, type of study abroad program, severity of disciplinary issue, previous infractions, etc. The UNC administering office/school reserves the right to determine program eligibility based on open university cases and/or charges, as well as active, incomplete sanctions.


Each administering office/school on campus coordinates the scheduling of courses and registration of students for the programs they administer.

For semester or summer term study abroad programs, students are required to maintain a full-time academic course load for the term they are on a study abroad program. Full-time is not less than the equivalent of 12 semester credit hours, each fall and/or spring semester; not less than 4 credit hours each summer term.


    Students participating on programs that offer transfer credit are registered in a study abroad placeholder course to maintain enrollment during their term abroad. For summer, the placeholder will reflect the exact amount of hours the student will earn to ensure their status is appropriately recorded. For semester programming, the placeholder will reflect full time enrollment of 12 hours.

    Students participating on UNC faculty-led programs, or a combination of faculty-led courses and transfer credit courses, will be registered in the appropriate UNC graded credit courses and study abroad placeholder.

    Upon completion of a study abroad program, and once the host institution or program transcript is received, placeholder courses will be updated to reflect UNC course equivalents, departmental elective courses, or general education courses with the appropriate grade using the study abroad grading basis.


    Each administering office/school on campus will coordinate registration of students in the placeholder course(s) and any UNC faculty-led graded credit courses to ensure semester students maintain full-time enrollment. Summer students will be registered in a placeholder reflecting the exact amount of credit hours attempted along with any UNC faculty-led graded credit coursework.


    Students are responsible for understanding the conversion of the credits and grades for the courses taken on study abroad programs that are not led by campus faculty. After completion of the program abroad official records of the students’ courses and grades must be submitted to the coordinating office. The coordinating office evaluates the record and determines the credit and grade equivalents to apply the applicable credit to the UNC-Chapel Hill transcript. Credit from study abroad coursework counts towards cumulative earned hours. Grade equivalents are not posted to the official record or calculated in the university cumulative grade point average.

    Numerous units across campus also coordinate abroad programs with classes led by UNC-Chapel Hill faculty. Classes led by campus faculty are reflected on the student transcript, record as class enrollment, and factor into a student’s UNC GPA. Class titles, subject codes, course numbers, credits and grades follow the existing on-campus policies and guidelines.

    Transfer credit does not count toward the minimum of 45 academic credit hours that must be earned from UNC-Chapel Hill courses. This includes credit earned through courses taken prior to matriculation (domestic or international) or through a study abroad program (after matriculation).


    Students opting to withdraw from a study abroad program must contact the study abroad advisor in the coordinating office for an official withdrawal. Students interested in dropping or withdrawing from individual courses must be mindful of UNC and host program policies regarding minimum number of credits required for full-time enrollment. Class withdrawals, drops, and failures notated on the institution abroad record will be reflected on the UNC-Chapel Hill record of the study abroad program.


    Students are required to complete all coursework at the abroad institution and earn a grade within the program dates. Authorization from the Study Abroad Office must be obtained prior to program end date for incomplete academic work.


    After the program is completed abroad, an official grade report or transcript from the institution must be received by the Study Abroad Office before equivalent credit is applied to the student’s UNC-Chapel Hill record. It is the responsibility of the student returning to campus to ensure the transcript from the institution abroad is received by the Study Abroad Office. If the transcript is not received by the end of the last day of classes of the next fall or spring semester following the study abroad term, the associated placeholder and credits will be assigned the grade of SI (see #7 below). As a result, the student may experience negative consequences. Examples are the inability to calculate academic standing, inability to calculate satisfactory academic progress, or inability to apply for graduation. It is critical for the Study Abroad Office to receive the student’s record from the abroad institution immediately following the completion of the abroad program. Students with outstanding study abroad credits will not be able to graduate until final permanent grades are posted for their study abroad courses (even if those courses/credits are not needed for graduation).


    For non-faculty led programs, the UNC-Chapel Hill official transcript will indicate the term abroad, the location (country) of the study abroad program, equivalent subject codes, equivalent course numbers, course titles for the abroad enrollment, equivalent credits earned, and specialized grading notations. The specialized grading notations are:

    • SA – Study Abroad Pass
    • SF – Study Abroad Fail
    • SI – Study Abroad Incomplete
    • SN – Study Abroad No Grade Reported/No Credit Awarded
    • SW – Study Abroad Withdrawal

    When an abroad course is determined equivalent to a specific course in the UNC-Chapel Hill catalog, then the comparable subject code and course number is reflected on the record. To the extent possible, equivalent subject codes are used for listing classes completed abroad. If a comparable subject code does not exist, a generic subject code is used. If a comparable course number does not exist, a placeholder is used for the number. The details of courses meeting degree, major, and/or minor requirements is recorded internally on the student record.


Students must have a regular financial aid package on file with UNC Chapel Hill before they can receive additional financial aid for their study abroad programs.

Students are encouraged to reach out to OSSA prior to their commitment deadlines in order to receive a financial aid estimate for their program. Financial aid advising appointments are also available to students throughout the year.

Financial aid is not available for non-UNC students, who are responsible for arranging all financial aid through their home institution.

Numerous scholarships are available to students throughout the year for fall semester, spring semester, summer, and academic year-long programs. In order to be considered for these scholarships, students must submit any required applications to the UNC administering office/school for consideration.


Costs for study abroad programs may be billed to a student’s UNC account through the Office of the University Cashier. Specific costs associated with a program are detailed online. Each program contains specifically tailored budget sheets. A program budget may vary based on such things as term, program option, NC residency status, and UNC student status.


    Items listed on student’s account as Tuition and Fees are costs related to the academic delivery of a program. Students participating on programs designated as “exchange” will pay the equivalent of their UNC tuition and fees based on their residency status. Students participating on all other program types pay program tuition as determined by the host institution or program.


    Other amounts listed on a student’s account can include items designated as “program costs”, which include items such as housing, meals, excursions, and any other non-instructional charges as determined by the host institution or program.


    Campus units sponsoring study abroad programs make every attempt to keep program costs to a minimum. However, when students commit to participating in a program, offices begin to make financial commitments on behalf of the student. If a student must withdraw, it is their responsibility to immediately notify their study abroad advisor in writing, and to understand the financial implications of the withdrawal. Any amount of refund available to the student will depend upon program type, date of the withdrawal, and the amount of recoverable costs from the host institution or program abroad.


Students can earn credit towards their majors, minors, language and general education requirements, as well as hours towards graduation from participating on study abroad programs. Students may earn UNC graded credit or transfer credit, or a combination of both, depending on the program type. Students participating on programs providing transfer credit are subject to the following requirements:

  • Students must take courses abroad for a grade, not pass/fail, at the host institution.
  • Students must receive the equivalent* of a UNC “C” or better in each transfer credit course to earn any credit (including elective hours) toward their UNC degree. If students receive a grade below C, or if they take a course pass/fail, they will not receive ANY credit toward the UNC degree.
  • Courses with a grade below C or listed as a fail will be reflected on the UNC transcript and will impact the student’s grade point average (GPA).
  • Regardless of credit type, students must enroll in the equivalent of 12-18 UNC credit hours per semester. Summer students must enroll in a minimum of the equivalent of 4 UNC credit hours.
  • Students may transfer a maximum of 18 credit hours per semester abroad.


Information regarding student preparation, rights and responsibilities, and health and safety abroad can be found on the administering office/school’s website. UNC travel policies can be found on the UNC Global website.

Contact Information

Office of the University Registrar: Lauren DiGrazia, Assistant Provost & University Registrar

Study Abroad Office: Jason Kinnear, Associate Dean of Study Abroad & International Exchanges