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Academic Planning


As you prepare for your study abroad experience, you may want to speak with an academic advisor about possible courses and how they might fit with your degree requirements.  The sections below outline how to get courses approved for GE, Major, or Minor credit, and where to have your study abroad transcripts sent.

While abroad, you are required to carry a full-time load of coursework. At Cal Poly, full-time enrollment for a quarter is 12 quarter credits. For students on semester-length programs, full-time enrollment is 12 semester credits or 18 quarter credits. (Note: Students on summer programs generally take fewer credits.) You are advised, however, to check with your program to see what constitutes a full course load and note that you should maintain full time enrollment abroad as well as at Cal Poly. Your off-campus study program must report all credit earned abroad.  Failure to register for the required amount of credits may affect your financial aid and may place you in violation of your student visa.

If you are considering taking an online Cal Poly course while abroad, you will likely be charged an additional tuition fee by Cal Poly. In general, it is not recommended for students to take additional online courses while on study abroad.

General Education Credit


Many study abroad programs offer courses that satisfy GE areas C and D. 

Instructions for the GE Course Substitution for Study Abroad students

Complete the GE Course Substitution Form (Adobe Powerform) if you intend to study abroad on a Cal Poly program and expect to take GE courses that have not yet been pre-approved while abroad.

You DO NOT need to complete this form if: 

  • You have researched pre-approved GE courses for your program and they are already approved. Approved GE courses are listed on each program’s brochure, under the “Academics” tab (click the green “Course Pre-Approvals” button). 
  • You are going on a Cal Poly Global Program
Instructions for completing the form

You can access the GE Substitution Form here. Before starting, be prepared with all the documents to support your GE request such as course descriptions, URLs, etc.

  1. Review the requirements on Cal Poly’s GE website
  2. Determine which GEs you need to complete. Refer to your Degree Progress Report or check with your adviser. 
  3. Review the Course Pre-Approvals for your program (under the “Academics” tab on your program 's brochure page). DO NOT include pre-approved classes on the GE Sub Form: they are already approved and do not need to be reviewed. 
  4. List as many classes that have not been pre-approved as you are interested in taking. Include the prefix and number associated with the class abroad, indicate whether it is upper- or lower- division, and provide the number of quarter units each class is worth. You may need to convert semester units into quarter units (1 semester = 1.5 quarter).
  5. Attach the course description for each class on your form. 
  6. Sign and date the form. 
  7. Click on the "Send" button. 

The International Center staff will review the form and will contact you by email if they have any questions. After the form and your revisions are finalized by your advisor, we will forward the form to the Evaluations unit in the Office of the Registrar. After the final submission and once Evaluations has made a decision, you will receive an email from in approximately 6-8 weeks. Please get your requests in early!


  • DO NOT include major courses or support courses. See the information below on completing the Major Substitution Form. 
  • If you end up taking classes that are not on the Course Pre-Approval list or not on your initial GE Substitution Form, you can submit an additional GE Substitution Form using the process explained above at any point. 
  • When entering the number of units of each class, remember to multiply the number of semester units by 1.5. (Ex. A 3-unit semester course is worth 4.5-units on the quarter system). Include only the number of quarter units for each class. 
  • GE Course Substitution Forms are valid only after receipt of official transcripts and verification of the educational institution, courses, course levels, and units. 

International Center staff will return the form to the students for revision if: 

  • Any classes on the form are already pre-approved
  • The units are listed as semester units rather than quarter units
  • The form is not completed in its entirety
  • The class requested is not comparable to the course desired. 

International Center staff will review the form and forward on to Evaluations typically 1-2 weeks after complete and accurate submissions are received. Once Evaluations has reviewed the information and made a decision, you will receive an email from Please allow 6-8 weeks for review.

GE Credit for language courses taken on study abroad:
Students following 2020-2021 and later catalogs: Elementary and Intermediate language acquisition courses (100- and 200-level) will satisfy GE C2 or Lower-division C Elective.  Note that Lower-division courses in Area C must come from three different subject prefixes (e.g., SPAN, ITAL, CHIN, GER, JPNS, etc.); you may not use multiple courses with the same subject prefix to satisfy Area C.  Also, these courses do not satisfy C3 or C4.  
Students following 2019-2020 and earlier catalogs: Elementary and Intermediate language courses (100- and 200-level) may be counted for GE C1, C2, or C5 requirements at Cal Poly but only up to 8 quarter units.  In other words, only up to two out of these three GE requirements may be satisfied with language courses. The maximum of 8 quarter units includes both units taken domestically (including any credits from AP exams) and abroad through Cal Poly Global Programs or any other study abroad program.  Also, these courses do not satisfy C3 or C4.   

Major Credit

Students are encouraged to get study abroad courses approved towards their majors before going on study abroad.  

Instructions for getting study abroad courses approved for Major credit

Before starting a Major or Support Course Substitution Form, be sure to consult with your college's advising center.
  1. Complete the Major or Support Course Substitution Form for Study Abroad (fillable pdf)**. This form is strictly for major or support course substitutions, not for minor courses (refer to the "Minor Courses" section below).  Fill out the top section of the form with your student information, and then list the study abroad courses you would like to have approved for major or support course substitutions.  
  2. Attach descriptions of the study abroad courses you have listed on the form.  Substitutions will NOT be considered unless course descriptions are provided.  
  3. Ask your academic advising office to review the form and course descriptions and indicate which substitutions are recommended. If you aren't sure who to contact in your Advising Office, you can start with your College's Academic Advising Center. Find out how to contact your Advising Center on the Cal Poly Advising Webpage.   (NOTE: CLA students go directly to Department Chair for approval signatures).
  4. Your academic advising office will review and move your Substitution Form through the following review process:
  • The Advising Office (except CLA) forwards the form to the appropriate department chair/head for initial review and approval
  • The department chair/head will forward the form to the appropriate Associate Dean for a final department approval
  • After receiving all the necessary approvals, the Associate Dean will forward the form to the Registrar's Office for processing
  • Students will receive an email from '' indicating the decisions reached on their study abroad course substitution requests
  • Please allow up to five weeks for this process
** Students with majors in the College of Science and Mathematics should meet with an academic advisor in CSM Student Services to initiate the Major or Support Course Substitution Form for Study Abroad through Adobe Sign. Visit for information on scheduling an appointment.

Minor Credit

Students should consult with their minor department advisor to have study abroad courses pre-approved for their minor. The minor department advisor will work with you to complete the Minor Form for any approved courses.   

Study Abroad Transcripts

Once you have completed your program, please ensure that your study abroad transcript is sent to the following address:

Cal Poly 
Transcript Processing 
MC 1001 
1 Grand Avenue 
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 

Do not have transcripts sent to the International Center.

Please note that it may take several months for your host university or study abroad program to issue a transcript and that they may withhold the transcript if you have a balance on your account with them.

Upon receipt of your transcripts, the Evaluations Unit will enter your transfer credit into your academic record.  You will eventually be able to view transfer credit on your Poly Profile under the "View Higher Education Credits Detail" link. It may take up to two quarters for the credits to be evaluated and appear on your Degree Progress Report.  You may find it helpful to review the Office of the Registrar's Transcript Processing Timeline.  

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