Direct Enrollment Credit Guide

The College’s Study Abroad Office offers students two dozen opportunities to enroll directly in foreign universities with which the College has established an academic partnership. These strategic partnerships reflect academic breadth, depth, and diverse intellectual perspectives. Most credits earned through direct enrollment programs will count toward students’ graduation requirements, though this is not a guarantee and credits can count in different ways.

Direct enrollment credit should be evaluated by both Study Abroad and an academic adviser in the College. If approved, direct enrollment credit is listed on the students’ University of Chicago transcript along with the number of approved credits. Grades earned in direct enrollment programs do appear on your University of Chicago transcript but the grades do not count toward your University of Chicago GPA. Because grades do not factor into your GPA, you will not be eligible for the Dean’s List for the quarter(s) you participate in a direct enrollment program.

Approved direct enrollment credits count toward the total number of course credits that College students are required to complete for a bachelor’s degree. As you are planning for study abroad, keep in mind that more than half of your major or minor requirements must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers, which direct enrollment credits do not. Certain academic departments place further limitations on the number of direct enrollment credits they will allow you to count toward your major or minor, so check in with your academic department(s) about their requirements early on.

In most cases, courses that are approved as direct enrollment credits initially count as general elective credits. In addition to following this guide, be sure to check in regularly throughout the process with Study Abroad and your academic adviser to discuss what courses could meet these approval requirements. Students can then petition to have approved credits count specifically toward major, minor, or Core requirements. For major or minor credits, students should petition the Undergraduate Chair of their academic department directly. For Core credits, students should petition the Office of the Dean of Students in the College.

In this section you will find:

  • Recommended steps for managing course credits before, during, and after direct enrollment
  • Guidelines for which credits may or may not be accepted by the College from direct enrollment study abroad programs
  • Information about the petition process(es) required in order to articulate direct enrollment credits toward your academic plan
  • Information for Economics Majors
    1. Admission and Pre-Departure 

      Once you are admitted to a direct enrollment Study Abroad program and commit to participating, you are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment with your academic adviser to discuss the credits you hope to earn during your time abroad (i.e. major/minor/Core/elective). Your adviser will not be responsible for approving your credits, but can guide you through considerations related to your academic plan. 

      You may wish to begin the petition process to seek approval for planned courses to count as major, minor, or Core credit at this time [process described below]. 

      Please note: In some locations, you may not be able to register for your courses abroad until you arrive in-country for your program. This makes it difficult to plan ahead with certainty. Your Study Abroad Program Manager can help locate resources on course offerings for most study abroad partner institutions, but this is not a guarantee that you will be able to enroll in your preferred courses. Have several alternative options in place. 

    2. While Abroad 

      Once you are on-site and register for your courses abroad, communicate your registrations with both your Study Abroad Program Manager and your academic adviser as early as possible. If you have questions about course offerings and possible equivalencies, your academic adviser and the Office of the Dean of Students can provide helpful guidance. This can help you clarify how the courses in which you enroll may fit into your academic plan. 

      If you have not started the process already, you may wish to begin petitioning for specific coursework to count as major, minor, or Core credit at this time. 

    3. After Your Return to Chicago 

      Schedule a check-in meeting with your academic adviser to review the coursework you completed abroad. Once the Study Abroad Office receives your transcript from the partner institution abroad, it will send eligible course credits and grades to the Registrar to post on your transcript. As a reminder, course titles and grades will appear on your transcript but the grades earned abroad are not calculated as part of your cumulative GPA, meaning you are not eligible for the Dean’s List during the term(s) you spend abroad in direct enrollment. Once the courses are added to your transcript, you may further articulate general elective credits to fulfill certain requirements of your academic plan. 

      If not done already, you should complete the petition process for eligible direct enrollment credits to count as major, minor, or Core credits as desired.

    Courses MUST:

    • Be taken at an accredited institution with which the College Study Abroad Office has a partnership agreement, during the academic term(s) in which that agreement is valid. Eligible programs are listed on the Study Abroad website.
    • Reasonably fit into an existing undergraduate discipline and its course offerings within the College at the University of Chicago.
    • Confer at least three semester hours or four quarter hours of credit. The Study Abroad Office will convert foreign credit structures to the Chicago model for courses that are eligible for credit.
    • Be completed with a grade of D or above. If a student earns grades below this threshold in a direct enrollment program, the grade will still appear on the student’s transcript but credit will not be granted for the course. Note that individual departments may establish higher grade thresholds for courses to count toward a major or minor.
    • Not duplicate credits a student will earn or has already earned for college-level coursework. For instance, a student could not take PLSC 28701 Introduction to Political Theory on-campus and also count direct enrollment credit for an Introduction to Political Theory course taken elsewhere.

    Courses in the following categories are NOT eligible as direct enrollment credits:

    • Calculus and pre-calculus.
    • Any kind of online/distance coursework or independent study, including internship credit.
    • Professional or technical courses, or courses that are not offered as undergraduate liberal arts coursework within a discipline at the University of Chicago. This includes areas such as: law, civil/mechanical engineering, speech, education, leadership, first-year writing, and undergraduate courses in business. Courses in undergraduate business and media production may qualify if there is an equivalent course in the College, as verified by the relevant department.

    Courses petitioned to count for Core credit in the Civilization Studies or Arts requirement must:

    • Fulfill the spirit of the requirement and have curricular similarities to eligible courses offered on campus.
    • For the Civilization Studies requirement, area studies courses in history with an emphasis on primary sources will be favored over courses that focus on political science, anthropology, sociology, etc. For more information, see the “Guidelines for Fulfilling the Civilization Studies Requirement” section below.

    Language coursework:

    • Foreign language courses and advanced literature or topics courses taught in a foreign language can qualify as eligible elective credit. Approval to count these courses toward your major, minor, or Core must be granted by the relevant academic department or Office of the Dean of Students in the College.

    Direct enrollment study abroad participants should carefully read the regulations for direct enrollment credit above and discuss their plans in advance with their College academic adviser, Study Abroad Program Manager, and academic department(s).

    To have eligible direct enrollment credits considered for major, minor, or Core credit, students must follow these steps:

    1. Submit a petition* for the specific credit articulation(s) you wish to earn. This should include relevant course descriptions and/or syllabi. This information should be submitted as early as possible once course registrations are confirmed and addressed as follows, with your academic adviser and Study Abroad Program Manager copied in:
      • Core: Email completed petitions to College Advising (
        • Biological Sciences: Address to Senior Advisers BSCD
        • Civilization Studies: Address to Senior Adviser SSCD
        • Dramatic, Musical, Visual Arts: Address to Senior Adviser HCD
        • Humanities: Address to Senior Adviser HCD
        • Mathematics: Address to PSCD Master
        • Physical Sciences: Address to PSCD Master
        • Social Sciences: Address to Senior Adviser SSCD
      • Major or Minor:
        Address the petition to the undergraduate counselor or program chair for the department/program (listed in the College catalog), and email the petition to that office. All petitions for a major or minor in Biological Sciences should be addressed to Megan McNulty or Chris Andrews, Senior Advisers in the BSCD. If approval is granted, students should share a copy of the approved petition with College Advising ( and with your Study Abroad Program Manager.

    *The College’s General Petition Form can be found here.

    A note for Transfer Students: Transfer students are eligible to participate in direct enrollment study abroad programs through the College, but courses taken in these programs cannot be used to satisfy the residency requirement. (Faculty-led study abroad programs during the regular academic year may be used to meet both residency and course requirements.)

    Many students hope to earn some Civilization credit while doing a direct enrollment study abroad program. This can be challenging: the “civilization” sequences are unique to UChicago, and students sometimes struggle to identify suitable courses. Furthermore, to fulfill the requirement, students must take at least one course from a UChicago civilization sequence. The College Catalog defines the goals of “Civ” as follows:

    Civilization studies provide an in-depth examination of the development and accomplishments of one of the world’s great civilizations through direct encounters with significant and exemplary documents and monuments. These sequences complement the literary and philosophical study of texts central to the humanities sequences, as well as the study of synchronous social theories that shape basic questions in the social science sequences. Their approach stresses the grounding of events and ideas in historical context and the interplay of events, institutions, ideas, and cultural expressions in social change. The courses emphasize texts rather than surveys as a way of getting at the ideas, cultural patterns, and social pressures that frame the understanding of events and institutions within a civilization. And they seek to explore a civilization as an integrated entity, capable of developing and evolving meanings that inform the lives of its citizens.

    Based upon this statement, students should choose a course or courses that 1) focus on the social and cultural history of a region or society 2) cover a relatively lengthy span of time (i.e., centuries rather than decades) and ideally would address both the premodern and modern periods 3) include among the assigned readings a significant number of primary sources, rather than simply chapters in a textbook or works by contemporary scholars.

    We recognize that course offerings may be limited in some programs, so you are encouraged to contact the Senior Advisor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division to discuss courses you have identified as potentially appropriate for Civ credit. This conversation, however, does not constitute formal approval. You will still need to submit a general petition for Civ credit upon your return to campus.

    Students pursuing the standard economics track and data science specialization may petition to count up to two courses outside of the University of Chicago Department of Economics (whether through a different UChicago department or through a College-sponsored Study Abroad program) toward the economics electives requirement. Business classes will not be approved to satisfy the ECON elective requirement. The remaining electives must be completed with the UChicago Department of Economics. Petitions must be submitted prior to course enrollment to be considered.

    Students pursuing the business economics specialization may petition to count up to two courses outside of the University of Chicago Department of Economics (whether through a different UChicago department or through a College-sponsored Study Abroad program) toward the major requirements. One study abroad course may be petitioned to count toward the Perspectives requirement, and one study abroad course may be petitioned to count toward the ECON elective requirement. Business classes will not be approved to satisfy the ECON elective requirement. The remaining ECON elective must be completed with the UChicago Department of Economics. Booth School does not approve course substitutions from other departments or from other institutions. As such, study abroad courses may not be applied toward the BUSN course requirements of the business economics specialization. Petitions must be submitted prior to course enrollment to be considered.