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Course Planning - GE


Before you begin your academic planning for study abroad, make sure to fully read through our Academic Policies webpage. These important policies must be adhered to during your study abroad program. You should also speak with your academic advisor early on about possible courses you could take abroad and how they might fit with your degree requirements. 

Students are encouraged to get study abroad courses pre-approved early on in the study abroad application process. This page will go over how to get courses taken on a Cal Poly study abroad program reviewed for general education (GE) credit. For information on how to petition for major, support, and/or minor credit, please visit our Major/Minor Planning webpage



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

Follow these simple steps to get GE courses reviewed on a study abroad program!
  • You do not need to take any action! If you complete the course abroad, it will fulfill the GE requirement listed on the pre-approved page.
  • Pre-approved courses are listed on each program’s brochure, under the “Academics” tab (click the green “Course Pre-Approvals” button).
If No,
  • Submit a GE Substitution Form for the GE requirement you want the course to count towards.
  • Instructions on how to complete the form are listed below.

Note for Cal Poly Global Programs: Students participating on a Cal Poly Global Program do not need to have their GE courses pre-approved since they are enrolling in Cal Poly courses. 

Before beginning your GE Substitution Form, be prepared with all the documents to support your GE request such as course descriptions or syllabi, URLs, etc.

  1. Review the GE requirements on Cal Poly’s GE website.
  2. Learn what the GE Area Guidelines are for each GE area:
    Area A Area C Area E
    Area B Area D Area F
  3. Determine which GEs you need to complete. Refer to your Degree Progress Report or check with your academic advisor. 
  4. 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 Substitution Form: they are already approved and do not need to be reviewed. 
  5. List as many classes that have not been pre-approved as you are interested in. 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) or ECTS credit into quarter units (1 ECTS = .75 quarter).  Do not round the credits up or down.
  6. Attach the course description or syllabus for each class to your form. 
  7. Sign and date the form. 
  8. Click the "Send" button. 
  9. See GE Substitution Form PDF example for more guidance.
NEED ADDITIONAL SUPPORT? View a copy of our GE Petition Workshop slides (PDF) that go over these instructions in detail: GE Substitution Process.pdf and/or join us at a GE Course Substitution Workshop during the school year!


Need to petition a class for GE credit and want some step-by-step guidance on the process? Keep a lookout for an upcoming GE Course Substitution Workshop during the school year! We have wrapped up our workshops for spring and will be back with regular workshops in the fall! Have a question or issue now about your GE petition or the petition process? Email

The International Center staff will review the form to verify the accuracy of the information you entered and will contact you by email if they have any questions. After the International Center signs the form, it is forwarded to the Evaluations Unit in the Office of the Registrar, which reviews the courses for possible approval. Once Evaluations has made a decision, you will receive an email from Please note that the process can take 6-8 weeks, so submit your requests early!
  • DO NOT include major courses or support courses. See the Course Planning - Major & Minor webpage for information on completing the Major Substitution Form. 
  • If you end up taking classes that are not on the Course Pre-Approvals list or not on your initial GE Course Substitution Form, you can submit an additional GE Course 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) or number of ECTS credits by .75 (Ex. A 6 ECTS 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

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 catalog and later: 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 C1 or Upper Division C.  
Students following 2019-2020 catalog and earlier: 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.   

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