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Credit Transfer, Grades and Transcripts

SAF programs are designed to be an integral part of students' home university degree program and through SAF membership participating universities agree to allocate transfer credit. Circumstances vary between universities and between colleges, faculties and schools. SAF works closely with students and their home universities to ensure that whenever possible the credit earned abroad receives appropriate transfer credit from the home university.

SAF facilitates the smooth transfer of credit in the following way:

  • The prospective study abroad student consults with SAF staff to determine which host universities offer appropriate courses to meet the student’s academic interests, needs and graduation requirements.
  • The SAF website provides direct links to each host university’s on-line course catalogue providing course titles and more specific course descriptions that allow the student, their academic advisor, and faculty to review in deatail each course the student proposes to undertake while abroad.
  • SAF staff fully explain the registration policies and procedures for each SAF host university or college.  In some cases, SAF students are able to register for courses well before their study abroad experience begins.  At other institutions, registration can only be competed upon arrival at the host university campus.
  • To ensure a smooth transfer of credit, SAF encourages students to become familiar with their home university’s transfer credit policies and procedures. SAF Application for Admission provides the opportunity for a home university official to outline specific policies and procedures at the time the student makes application to the SAF.  The SAF advisors based in Country Offices are usually familiar with member universities' credit transfer policies and procedures and are more than willing to speak with a student’s home university to help clarify their transfer credit practices.
  • In all cases, SAF works closely with students, their home university, and the host university throughout the registration process to ensure that all parties are fully apprised on course availability and/or enrollment constraints.
  • At the completion of the SAF program, original, official host university transcripts are forwarded by SAF to the appropriate official at the student’s home university.
  • SAF students are advised to keep copies of all course materials they receive or submit while abroad (e.g., syllabi, notes, exams, quizzes, papers, etc.) as this information may be required to finalize the transfer credit process.

Students are advised of the following with regard to credit transfer:

  • Students must first visit the international education or Registrars office at their home university and request the rules and regulations regarding credit transfer.  Credit transfer policies and procedures are unique to each university. 
  • Students who begin their studies abroad in a language program need to verify whether their home university will provide any transfer credit for their language studies.  A few SAF host universities award credit for their language courses, but this will not necessarily mean the home university will recognize such credit as applying toward the student’s degree completion requirements.
  • Some home universities will require students to pay a fee for transferring the credit earned abroad to their degree completion requirements at home.  Before participating on a SAF program, students should ensure they and their parents understand the financial considerations for transfer credit.  SAF will not be responsible for any fees charged by the home university to transfer credit back to student’s home university.


All SAF program participants are required to maintain a full-time course load throughout their studies abroad.  This is a requirement of SAF and of host government immigration rules.  What constitutes a full-time course load varies by country and often by university.  The information below is representative of full-time course loads at the majority of SAF host universities.  Detailed information regarding each student's specific host university requirements will be supplied during initial advising and pre-registration process.

  Required Required
Country Credits/Semester Credits/Academic Year
USA  12-16 24-32
Canada 12-16 18-24
England 60 120
Scotland 60 120
Ireland 15-16 30-32
Germany 60 120
Switzerland 60 120
Australia 8 16
New Zealand 30 6

Students enrolled in pre-semester or pre-sessional ESL programs must similarly maintain a full-time course load which is typically determined by the number of classroom hours per week.  For example, SAF students studying English in the US should expect the full-time course load in their ESL program to be a minimum of 18 hours per week.


While credits reflect the "quantity" of students work, grades represent the "quality".  The grading scales used by SAF host universities vary by country and often by university.  Increasingly in the UK and Ireland, the ECTS Grading Scale is the norm while in the US most grades are issued on a scale of A to F.  SAF students will be provided with their host university's grading scale during their pre-departure orientation.  SAF students are not permitted to take courses pass/fail or credit/no credit.

The method that SAF host universities use to assess the quality of students work is as varied as the grading scales. US universities typically rely upon a high degree of continual assessment with a students final grades being determined by cumulative achievement on a variety assignments given throughout the semester (i.e., essays, quizzes, tests, research papers, etc.).  In Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, students final grades are often more heavily dependent upon performance on a final examination.


At the conclusion of the study abroad program, SAF will send an official host university transcript to each student's home university.  Final transcripts are typically released to SAF within a month of the program completion date, unless the student has outstanding debts.  Students that disagree with a particular grade or credit award on their transcript are encouraged to contact SAF immediately and request a transcript query. 

Students that require subsequent official copies of their study abroad transcript must contact their host university's registrar office directly.  Usually there is a nominal fee for additional transcripts.

Last Updated: 1/9/19