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General Education Study Abroad Policy & Procedure | Policies | CSUSM

General Education Study Abroad Policy & Procedure

Definition: A policy for the acceptance of courses taken at foreign universities under an approved study-abroad program for upper-division general-education (UDGE) credit at CSUSM.
Authority: President of the University
Scope: All undergraduate students of CSUSM.
Responsible Division: Academic Affairs
Approval Date: 11/15/2005
Originally Implemented: 08/23/2000
Signature Page/PDF: View Signatures for General Education Study Abroad Policy & Procedure Policy


I. Introduction

Executive Order 595 states that 9 upper-division semester units in General Education must be completed "at the CSU campus granting the baccalaureate degree." This might argue against counting study-abroad courses, except that courses taken in certain study-abroad programs are counted as credit taken in residence at the campus granting the degree. In these study-abroad programs, study abroad presents no barrier to fulfillment of in-residence credit requirements for the degree. It is the aim of this General Education policy that these study-abroad programs also will present no barrier to the fulfillment of GE requirements.

Because the principles of General Education include broadening the student's learning by the experience of other nations and cultures, the goals of General Education are well served by study-abroad programs. It is therefore important that the fulfillment of General Education requirements not become a disincentive for students to pursue study abroad.

Programs which automatically count as in-residence credit currently include:

  1. CSU International Programs (CSUIP). In this program, the CSUIP central office equates courses taken abroad with courses offered on the student's home campus, and credit is granted for the equivalent courses.
  2. Programs which have been approved for residence credit by the Academic Senate of CSU San Marcos, such as those of the Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE). In these programs individual San Marcos academic programs, departments or colleges determine course equivalencies, usually prior to study abroad, and San Marcos credit is given for equivalent courses.
  3. CSU San Marcos campus-based programs. These programs have their courses approved through the Academic Senate, and therefore these courses will not be granted GE credit unless they are approved for GE credit by the General Education Committee of the Academic Senate through the normal course-approval process.

    At some CSU campuses, it is policy to automatically grant GE credit only when the equivalent course at the home campus is granted GE credit. However, GE credit on campus is granted based on the pedagogical approach used in the course, rather than the specific subject matter of the course. The CSUIP office, or the individual academic unit office, however, is more likely to assign equivalent courses based on subject matter than on pedagogical approach. It is therefore proposed that equivalency with a CSU San Marcos course with GE credit not be required for GE credit, as this is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of conformance to the new CSUSM UDGE criteria.

    For the above reasons, the sole criteria for courses to be counted as upper-division GE credit are the three enumerated in the policy below.

    In the case of courses taken in other CSU campus-based programs, other U.S. university study-abroad programs, and other study-abroad programs course credit is earned as transfer credit, not in-residence credit. These courses therefore do not meet the standard set forth by Executive Order 595, which states that upper-division General Education units must be earned at the campus granting the degree.

II. Policy

Courses taken at foreign universities under an approved study-abroad program will be accepted for upper-division general-education (UDGE) credit provided that they meet all of the three following criteria:

  • The courses appear on the student's transcript as upper-division credit earned at CSU San Marcos.
  • The courses are not within the student's major field of study, except when the student is matriculated in an interdisciplinary major such as Liberal Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, or Human Development. According to existing University policy, courses which are counted towards the major requirements cannot be counted for GE credit.
  • The courses can be identified as covering the subject matter normally associated with Area B (Natural Science, Quantitative Reasoning), Area C (Humanities) or Area D (Social Sciences).

The area to which credit is to be applied will be based upon the disciplinary assignments listed below. Because departments and disciplines often are variously named at different institutions of higher learning, the following list is meant as a guide, and not as an exhaustive list. If a course cannot be assigned according to the following list, but the student wishes to have the course counted towards fulfillment of the UDGE requirements, petition can be made to the GEC for approval.

Area B Area C Area D

Astronomy Art Anthropology
Biology Art History Economics
Botany Critical Theory Government
Chemistry Drama & Film International Relations
Computer Science History* Linguistics
Geology Literature Political Science
Mathematics Music & Music History Psychology
Physics Philosophy Public Policy
Zoology Sociology

*Individual courses in History may be counted towards the Area D requirement upon petition to the General Education Committee.

Courses used to satisfy the University Foreign Language Requirement are not eligible for UDGE credit.

III. Procedure

When students return from Study Abroad programs which automatically count as in-residence credit, course equivalencies are assigned either by the central CSUIP office or by local colleges and departments, and grades are sent to the Office of Registration and Records for entry into a student's record. Under this policy, if a student took a class in his or her Study Abroad program that qualifies for UDGE under the new policy, the graduation advisor in Registration and Records will record the appropriate UDGE requirement as fulfilled. If the graduation advisor does not recognize the disciplinary designation as matching the Area B, C, or D designations outlined above, the student may petition the GEC for UDGE credit.