Academic Information

Campus buildings in Ifrane, Morocco

What courses can you take on exchange? 

Most students take courses that will work towards their SFU degree requirements: major, minor, elective, and/or WQB requirements. 

During the application process, you will be required to meet with your academic program advisor. They will tell you which type of requirements you may work towards on exchange, and whether there are specific requirements that you must fulfill at SFU (eg. courses with Canadian content).

Browse through our partners' course offerings (often called something different like "modules" or "units") and see what is available. Note any areas that are restricted for exchange students.

What are the academic benefits to taking courses at another university?

  • Study your discipline from an international perspective. For example, study British history in Britain, or International Business in Hong Kong.

  • Take courses or subjects that are not offered at SFU (eg. introductory law or public relations). So long as the course is 'academic' and not a duplicate of one you've taken before, it will transfer back to SFU for credit. You just need to ensure that it will work towards your remaining degree requirements.

  • Test out a school for future graduate study. Going on exchange can be a great way to learn more about the university's program, connect with academics, and determine if that school and location will be a good fit for what you want to do.

  • Learn how to study in a new academic system. Navigating a new academic system with different terminology, teaching and assessment styles is a learning experience in itself, and is part of developing your communication and adaptability skills on exchange.

Where can I find past evaluated exchange courses?

You can find courses that are previously approved by SFU departments in the Study Abroad System under the Academics section for each partner institution.  Exchange Credit History may be limited or unavailable for new partners where we have not yet sent assessments for the partner instituiton. For Business courses you can fine past evaulated courses on the SFU Beedie School of Business Course Planning Database

How does the credit transfer back?

All courses that you take on exchange will transfer back to your SFU record as "Exchange Credit", as long as:

  1. You pass the course according to your host institution’s definition of ‘pass’
  2. It is deemed by SFU to be an academic, credit-bearing course and is listed on your official transcript from your host institution
  3. It is not a duplicate of a course you have already completed
  4. You apply for exchange credit prior to your graduation

The academic credit system at the host institution may be different from SFU and the conversion formula (exchange credit ratio) is posted on ISS’s exchange profile page for each host institution. Check this to find out how the credits at your host institution will likely transfer back to SFU.

Depending on the content of the course, it will either transfer back as:

  1. an exact match to an SFU course (eg POL 349); and/or
  2. a subject match, but not an exact course match (eg POL 3XX); or
  3. general credit only (eg. GE 1XX) in cases where the course is deemed to be an academic course, and SFU does not offer a related subject or where credit is not approved by the applicable SFU Department.

The way that your courses come back will be determined through the formal Exchange Credit process, which you can begin after you have been nominated for exchange.

Your grades from exchange do not transfer back to SFU. However, they appear on your host university transcript which would be considered for any future academic program applications such as grad school. When you return from exchange, your SFU GPA is the same as before you left.

How many credits can you take and bring back?

You must be a full time student while on exchange (except for part-time Summer programs). However, the number of credits you take will depend on your host university. They will tell you the minimum and maximum course load but it is typically similar to SFU.

You may bring back up to 30 exchange credits to SFU for an undergraduate degree.

Transfer students: If you transferred between 46 - 60 credits to SFU, you will usually be able to bring back between 15 - 29 exchange credits depending on your circumstance. Speak with your academic program advisor to determine how many exchange credits you may complete. 

Can I take WQB credits on exchange?

It may be possible to receive WQB elective credits during your exchange. If you are seeking WQB credits, we recommend submitting a pre-assessment request as per below. Credit values and exchange credit evaluations can impact WQB eligibility; therefore, pre-assessment is not a guarantee. For example, you may need a 3-unit B course but the exchange course you plan to complete is only worth 2 units which will not fulfill the requirement.

  • Upper division W must be completed at SFU. While it is possible to take lower division W while on exchange, it is not recommended unless you are planning to take a traditional English composition course.
  • For WQB queries please email the Student Recruitment and Admission Office at admissionsteam@sfu.ca with your full course outline regarding your assessment inquiry.    
    • Please cc: excredit@sfu.ca on any of your requests to the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office.

Can I go on exchange at the end of my degree?

It is possible to go on exchange in your last term at SFU, however there are some considerations when applying during your last term, and is not recommended if you are not flexible with your courses or do not wish to delay your graduation. 

  • There are risks involved when you are planning on taking courses required for graduation during the last term of your exchange (e.g. for your major, minor, WQB) so we would encourate you to discuss this with your academic advisor in advance. There are circumstances at the host institution that may be unpredictable with the possibility of not being able to take courses on exchange, due to a variety of reasons such as class scheduling, unexpected course cancellations, time clash, exam conflicts, etc.
  • After your selection/nomination to a host institution, and as soon as you are enrolled in the courses and have a full course outline it is recommended that you submit an exchange credit evaluation request to have your course evaluated, before the completion of your exchange. (If your documents are incomplete your exchange credits cannot be processed.) 
  • The evaluations are reviewed by the academic department, thus cohesive course outlines are necessary. If this is not provided, please contact your course instructor. 
  • Generally, after your exchange term has ended, it takes 1-2 months for your host institution to provide SFU with a transcript that can be used for your exchange credit purposes. This delays the ability for ISS to post your exchange credits even with complete results, after the end of your exchange (e.g. for a summer exchange term the transcript may arrive in October, thus making it too late to graduate in the Fall term).
  • If you are an international student there may also be other considerations and we would recomemnd that you speak with an International Student Advisor to see if there are any other considerations.