Guidelines for Selecting Courses Abroad

  • Choose your program carefully. Typically, only liberal arts courses offered by an accredited liberal arts institution are credited toward the Barnard degree. Courses will not receive Barnard credit if they have content that is considered too pre-professional, too applied or technical, too narrow, or too non-conventional to fit comfortably into the scope of the Barnard curriculum. (For example, courses in nutrition or in public relations do not receive Barnard credit.)
  • Note the structure of different study abroad programs:
    • Some programs offer a "fixed menu" wherein all students take the same courses, usually with their American peers.
    • Some programs offer a huge selection of courses, taught to the American students, sometimes in the local language and sometimes in English.
    • In "direct enrollment" programs, Barnard students take all courses at a local university.
    • Some programs allow you to engage in a mixture of these structures (e.g., some courses with other study abroad students and other courses at a local university).
  • It may be easier to obtain syllabi and to plan a course schedule with programs that have a "fixed menu", and it may also be easier to understand course options at programs offered by American colleges or universities. However, don't rule out possibilities of other types of structures and institutions if they are a better fit for your interests; just be active in seeking out the advising you need to make informed decisions.
    • Many "direct enrollment" programs do not have active course registration until the first week of the semester, and some do not post information about courses (names, times, content, syllabi, etc.) ahead of time. Do as much research as possible so that you can be informed, but also realize that you will be working within a very different system and that you will need to be adaptable.
  • You must take the equivalent of at least 12 Barnard points in any semester abroad.
    • Barnard sets 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 minimum and maximum credit requirements of the study abroad program you are attending.
    • Credit equivalencies will vary from country to country and from program to program. For example, do not assume that a 10-credit course in Buenos Aires will be transfer as a 10-credit course at Barnard. Transfer credit for study abroad coursework will be determined by the relevant academic department and the Registrar's Office.
  • Courses taken abroad may count toward your major, minor, your general education requirements, or general elective credit; however, they must be approved to fulfill these categoreis on myBarnard. The next section, "Instructions for Submitting Course Approval Requests," contains more details on how to receive approvals for each category.
  • You must meet with your major adviser to discuss the courses you would like to take abroad to determine how likely they are to count toward your major 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 beginning of the semester.
    • Remember that you must take at least six (6) courses in your major at Barnard/Columbia--i.e., not at other institutions, including those abroad. Individual departments may require additional or particular courses at Barnard/Columbia, which may limit the number of major courses you can take abroad.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • You cannot receive credit for overlapping coursework, even if a course is required by your study abroad program. For example, if a student has already received credit for Intermediate Turkish II but must take an intermediate-level Turkish class as a required part of a program, credit for the second intermediate Turkish class will not be awarded toward the Barnard degree (although the course will be noted on the transcript without credit).
  • It is very helpful to speak with students who have attended the institution you plan to attend. Find out which courses they took and enjoyed. Find out how many Barnard credits they received for their courses (but note that their experience does not serve as a guarantee, as credit approval may vary). A list of Study Abroad Alumnae can be accessed on the Study Abroad home page.