Course Load - Semester Programs

Always take a full course load equivalent to four Duke course credits.

On semester study away programs, you must take whatever is considered a normal, full-time course load on your program or at your host institution. If you do not meet the requirements to transfer back a full load, you are not considered full-time; and, therefore, you risk having your registration blocked or being put on academic probation, even being dismissed from Duke.

Requirements

  • Duke considers "full-time” to be no fewer than the equivalent of 15-16 U.S. semester credit hours.
  • You must earn the U.S. equivalent of a C– or higher in all courses taken at another institution.
  • Do not take courses Pass/Fail. Credit is not granted for any study away course taken as P/F.
  • Every single study away course you take for transfer credit must be approved and assigned a corresponding Duke course number by a specific Duke department. See: Course Approval Process.
  • No underloads or overloads are allowed.
  • No online courses are allowed.
  • If your program is taught in English, in a non-English speaking country, you must take at least one course in the local language.

How to Calculate a Full Load

A full load will not necessarily be four courses like it is at Duke; the required number of courses will vary. To calculate a full semester load at any school, find the regular yearly load and divide by two. The yearly load is whatever is required of regular, degree candidates at that school in order to graduate on time.

As a general rule, one Duke semester course credit is equivalent to four semester hours for transfer credit purposes. For the typical semester-hour-system school, this means credit would transfer as follows:

Semester Hours Number of Courses Abroad Duke Credit Equivalent
3-5 semester hours 1 course abroad 1 course credit
6-8 semester hours 2 courses abroad 2 course credits
9-11 semester hours 2-3 courses abroad 2 course credits
12-14 semester hours 3-4 courses abroad 3 course credits
15-18 semester hours 4-5 courses abroad 4 course credits

 

Earning Credit Towards the 34-Credit Graduation Requirement

You may end up needing to take more or fewer than four courses at the other institution to reach a full load of 15-16 U.S. semester credit hours. Regardless of how many courses you have to take to achieve a full load on study away, no more than four transfer credits per semester will count towards the graduation requirement of 34 semester credits.

Here are some examples of different scenarios:

  • 5-6+ Courses
  • 4 Courses
  • 3 Courses

5-6+ Courses

If a full load works out to be 5-6+ courses:

You will receive 4 credits towards the 34 semester credit graduation requirement.

The 5th and 6th courses do not confer credit in the total count of 34 semester credits, but any Areas of Knowledge, major, minor, or certificate requirement the courses fulfill will still be applied towards your graduation requirements. These courses will be denoted as “TR*” on your transcript.

Here’s a common scenario that might apply to you:

Transfer Credit Requirements at Duke Duke Equivalent
Course 1 Fulfills a major requirement 1
Course 2 Fulfills a major requirement 1
Course 3 Fulfills a minor requirement 1
Course 4 Fulfills ALP requirement 1
Course 5 Fulfills CZ requirement* 0
Course 6 Fulfills certificate requirement* 0
  TOTAL Transfer Credits 4

*Remember, you need the 5th and 6th courses to maintain a full load, so even though you aren’t earning credit towards the 34 credits for graduation, you still have to get the courses approved, take them for a grade, and earn the U.S. equivalent of a C– or higher in order to avoid underloading.

4 Courses

If a full load works out to be 4 courses:

You will receive 4 credits towards the 34 semester credit graduation requirement.

Here’s a common scenario that might apply to you:

Transfer Course Requirements at Duke Duke Equivalent
Course 1 Fulfills a major requirement 1
Course 2 Fulfills a major requirement 1
Course 3 Fulfills a minor requirement 1
Course 4 Fulfills ALP requirement 1
  TOTAL Transfer Credits 4

 

3 Courses

If a full load works out to be 3 courses:

You will still receive 4 credits towards the 34 semester credit graduation requirement.

Here’s a common scenario that might apply to you: 

Transfer Course Requirements at Duke Duke Equivalent
Course 1 Fulfills a major requirement 1.5
Course 2 Fulfills a major requirement 1.5
Course 3 Fulfills a minor requirement 1.0
  TOTAL Transfer Credits 4.0

Foreign Language Requirement in Non-English Speaking Countries

Duke students on Duke-In and Duke-Approved programs taught in English in non-English-speaking countries are required to take at least one course in the local language while on the program abroad. If you do not comply with the requirement, a maximum of three course credits will transfer back to Duke for the semester, regardless of credits earned.

The language course must be taught over a span of at least four weeks and be eligible for transfer credit approval by a Duke department.

Some examples of programs this applies to include: OTS-Costa Rica, Danish Institute for Study Abroad, NYU in Prague, etc. Ask your GEO advisor if you are unsure whether your program has a foreign language requirement.

The only exception to this policy is the ICCS program in Rome, where Greek or Latin may be substituted for Italian. 

When in doubt, ask. When not in doubt, still ask.

If you are unsure about the number of credits you may transfer, or about what constitutes the mandated full load for your program, consult a GEO advisor. Don’t set yourself up for a surprise!

 

For programs in the UK, Ireland, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa: The credit structures in these countries are unique and will require special attention. Consult a GEO advisor if you plan to study in these countries.