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Guidelines for Selecting Courses Abroad

  • First, you should choose your program carefully. Only liberal arts courses offered by an accredited liberal arts institution are normally credited toward the degree.  Courses that are professional, applied, technical, too narrow in scope, or "non-conventional" cannot receive credit.  (Courses in nutrition, ceramics, and public relations, for example, do not receive Barnard credit.)
  • Some programs offer a "fixed menu" and all students take the same courses, usually with their American peers. Some programs offer a huge selection of courses, taught to the American students in the local language and sometimes in English. In Direct Enrollment programs you will take all of your courses at a local university. Many programs allow you to enroll in a mixture of these opportunities.
  • It is usually easier to obtain syllabi and establish your course schedule on fixed menu programs and at American institutions but do not let this fact determine your course selection.
  • Many direct enrollment-type programs do not allow you to sign up for your courses until the first week of the semester and some do not even have course listings and syllabi available until that time.  Do as much as you can to be as informed as possible but also realize that you will be studying under a different system and you need to learn to be adaptable.
  • If you absolutely must find a course that meets a particular Barnard requirement, it is essential that you have the course approved prior to taking it.
  • You must take the equivalent of at least 12 Barnard points in a semester.  There is no limit on the maximum number of points you can take abroad as long as all courses are approved.  However, it is not advisable to take more than 18 points in one semester. You must also meet the requirements of the program you are attending (some programs require that you take 15 credits abroad – which may only correspond to 12 points at Barnard)
  • Credit equivalencies are different in different countries and on different types of programs. Do not assume that a 10 credit course in Buenos Aires will count as 10 Barnard points. 
  • Courses that overlap courses already taken cannot receive credit, even if the course is required by your study abroad program. For example, if the elementary or intermediate levels of a language have already been credited, they cannot be taken again for degree credit.
  • Courses taken abroad may count toward your major, minor, Nine Ways of Knowing or general degree credit; however, they must be approved as such on myBarnard.  The next section contains more details on how to get classes approved for each category.
  • It is beneficial to speak with students who have attended the institution you plan to attend. Find out which courses they took and enjoyed. Find out what credit they received for their courses here at Barnard. A list of Study Abroad Alumnae can be accessed on the study abroad home page.
  • In addition, you need to meet with your major adviser to discuss your courses and the types of courses likely to receive major credit at Barnard.  These meetings may take place prior to completion of the evaluation of your courses for credit. Be aware that some programs won’t have course listings available prior to the semester.
  • Remember that you must take at least 6 courses in your major at Barnard/Columbia (not abroad and not in summer school).  Individual departments may require additional or particular courses at Barnard (therefore limiting even more the number of major courses you may take abroad).
  • In the case of courses taken to satisfy the language requirement, a departmental exam to validate degree credit and fulfillment of the requirement may be required upon your return to Barnard.