Frequently Asked Questions

This packet has been designed to let you know that SEAS students CAN go abroad! It takes some work, it takes some planning, but overall it will certainly be worth it.
 
Eligibility and Planning
 
Are there eligibility requirements? If so, what are they?
Yes. You must have a 3.0 GPA and be making good progress toward finishing the Core foundation courses of the first two years.
 
When is the best time to go abroad as a SEAS student?
Sophomore year, spring semester. After sophomore year, classes become very specific and must often be taken in a set sequence. Before sophomore year, most required classes are general, relatively easy to find equivalents for, and are not contingent on specific prerequisites.
 
When should I start planning my semester abroad?
As soon as possible! Students who start planning during their first year are most likely to be successful, but students who started planning in the fall of their sophomore year have successfully gone abroad as well. By planning early you can make sure that you correctly sequence your Columbia classes and create space for more study abroad opportunities.
 
Have Columbia Engineering students successfully gone abroad in the past?
Yes! Below are some examples of where SEAS students have studied in the past few years:
Imperial College London, University College London, London School of Economics, Queen Mary University, King’s College (London, UK);
University of Bristol (Bristol, UK);
University of Oxford (full academic year only; Oxford, UK);
University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, Scotland);
University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia);
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Hong Kong);
Columbia at Tsinghua University (Beijing, China);
Korea University (Seoul, Korea);
Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan);
AIT-Budapest (Budapest, Hungary);
Wayne State (Munich, Germany);
Sweet Briar College (Seville, Spain);
CIEE Madrid, Syracuse University in Madrid (Madrid, Spain);
Consortium for Advanced Studies in Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain);
Ecole Centrale, Ecole Polytechnique, Columbia at Reid Hall (Paris, France);
KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm, Sweden);
Danish Institute for Study Abroad (Copenhagen, Denmark);
University of Cape Town (Cape Town, South Africa)

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. If students find any program abroad offering courses appropriate to their academic plan, they may successfully petition to attend and obtain course equivalency.

Students should consider multiple factors when selecting their study abroad program, for example the host culture, language proficiency, travel accessibility and professional opportunities. We advise students to meet with an adviser in the Office of Global Programs for advice on researching and selecting the right study abroad fit.
 
Can I contact students who have studied abroad at a program I am interested in learning more about?
Our office has developed a buddy program where we are able to connect you with students who previously attended a program abroad which you are interested in, or who is in the same major as you and who can offer specific academic advice regarding the experience. By coming into our office for a study abroad advising session, we will certainly follow up with you by beginning a conversation between you and your study abroad buddy!
 
Majors, Classes and Credits
 
Can I get academic credit for major-specific classes while abroad?
Yes, if you get the required approval that the class you will be taking abroad is equivalent to the Columbia class you wish to replace. This approval must be secured before going abroad, and it is part of the Office of Global Programs’ clearance process. You must contact Columbia professors whose classes you wish to get credit for and have them sign the Course Equivalence form, found on your online OGP study abroad profile.
 
Again, specific engineering classes are much harder to get approved than general science and math requirements, so plan accordingly!
 
It is also possible to get non-technical and technical elective credit while abroad. Speak with your CSA adviser about the non-technical credits and with Dean Brovman in our office about the technical elective credits. Technical electives will need to be approved by Columbia professors using the Course Approval form, and non-technical electives are approved by your CSA adviser.
 
What kind of classes should I consider taking abroad?
It is often easier to find general and basic requirements as these are relatively universal and will more likely be approved for equivalence (for example, Calculus, Statistics, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, technical and non-technical electives). Any major-specific class must be approved as equivalent by the Columbia professor teaching that class before going abroad. It is less likely that highly specific engineering courses will be approved, so plan to fulfill basic requirements while abroad.
 
Can I take a Global Core class abroad?
Yes it is possible to take a Global Core Class abroad; however, you must petition to the Committee on the Global Core for course approval. The committee has specific criteria which Global Core courses must meet, you will need to speak with your Advising Dean (CSA Adviser) and submit a petition form to them with the supporting documents related to the course abroad. Petitions must be received by October 1 during the fall and March 1 during the spring. You may submit a petition for the course prior to the start date and within a year following your return from study abroad.
 
What classes might I find equivalents for at a foreign university?
Please note that this list is not exhaustive, nor is it definite. It is to be used as a guide and you must consult with the department for all final approvals and course equivalencies. The following are courses that have [more commonly] been found and approved for equivalency at various study abroad sites. Please note that these may satisfy different requirements depending on the department:
 
APMA E2101: Introduction to Applied Mathematics
APMA E3101: Linear Algebra

BIOL C2005: Introduction to Biology
BIO C3501: Biochemistry I
CHEM C1403: General Chemistry I
CHEM C3443: Organic Chemistry I
CHEM G4071: Inorganic Chemistry
CHEN C3543: Organic Chemistry Lab
CHEN E3210y (or CHEE E3010): Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics
(Note that if you are premed, you are cannot to take any of your premed requirements abroad.)
COMS W1003/4/5: Introduction to Computer Science and Programming
(Check the specifics with your department, including which language is required.)
COMS W1007: Object-oriented programming
COMS W3134: Data Structures in Java
COMS W3203: Discrete Math

COMS W3210: Scientific Computation
COMS W3261: Computer Science Theory
COMS W4111: Introduction to Databases
COMS W4170: User Interface Design
COMS W4261: Introduction to Cryptography
CSEE W4119: Computer Networks
ECON W1105: Principles of Economics
ELEN E3801: Signals and Systems
ENME E3105: Mechanics
ENME E3113: Mechanics of Solids
ENME E3161: Fluid Mechanics
IEOR E2261: Introduction to Accounting and Finance
MATH E1210: Ordinary Differential Equations
MATH V1202: Calculus IV
MATH V2010: Linear algebra
MECE E3100: Fluid mechanics
MECE E3301: Thermodynamics
MSAE E3111: Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, and Statistical Mechanics
(Check with your department for the specific course and the important concepts that must be covered in an equivalent course.)
SIEO W4150/3600: Introduction to Probability and Statistics
STAT W1211: Introduction to Statistics (with calculus)

STAT W3105: Introduction to Probability
STAT W4105: Probability
 
General Technical Electives
 
Our office has collected course syllabi for courses approved for students in the past from a range of study abroad sites. We are happy to share this information with you to assist your course selection and approval process. Please note, however, that previous approval for a course does not guarantee course equivalence for the same class each year. Every student is required to complete the course equivalency approval process to ensure clearance.
 
Course names will vary at different programs and institutions. Use course descriptions and syllabi when looking for equivalencies.
 
What classes can I NOT take abroad?
HUMA C1001 & 1002, COCI C1101 & C1102, HUMA W1121 or W1123, University Writing C1010, The Art of Engineering ENGI E1102, Physical Education C1001/2, major-specific seminars, and other Columbia-specific classes. It is also more difficult to get engineering classes approved and/or to find equivalents for them abroad, so plan ahead, go abroad sophomore year, and look to take more general science or non-technical classes abroad.
 
I haven’t decided on my major but I really want to study abroad. What do I do?
Take Columbia-specific classes as soon as possible, and leave more general classes for sophomore year.
 
What if I’m pre-med?
It’s possible, but a little trickier! You can’t take any of your premed courses abroad, so these will need to be fit in around the study abroad experience.
 
Speak to an adviser at the Office of Pre-Professional Advising and the Office of Global Programs for more information.
 
There are also a number of summer study-abroad programs available as an alternative to full semesters abroad. Speak with an adviser in the Office of Global Programs for more information.
 
Who do I get approval from for the courses I take abroad?
Non-technical courses: You need to get approval from your CSA adviser.
 
Technical courses: All tech courses must be approved by the Columbia professor who teaches the course you want credit for. Reach out to the Columbia professor who teaches the equivalent course you wish to take abroad, provide them with the foreign course's description or syllabus, and have the professor sign off on the Course Equivalence form if approved. This is required for every technical class taken abroad. The form can be found on the Office of Global Programs (OGP) website, once you have started your study abroad profile. Note: If you are pursuing a minor, contact your CSA adviser. Note that only one course, including AP credit, may be taken outside of Columbia and count towards the minor. If you are pursuing an Economics minor, you may not take any courses abroad to meet minor requirements.
 
What happens to grades received while abroad?
You need to receive the equivalent of a C or above to get credit for classes taken abroad. If you go on one of the Columbia programs (Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Kyoto, Paris), the letter grade you receive will be included in your GPA and on your transcript.
 
Grades received at any other institution or program will be reflected on the Columbia transcript as transfer credits and will not be included in your GPA. However, these grades do not disappear, as graduate schools, medical schools, and summer research program applications require transcripts from all universities you attended as an undergraduate.
 
Study Abroad Locations
 
Where can I go abroad?
Anywhere you find the courses you need and that is approved by the Office of Global Programs (OGP). There is a list of already approved universities and programs on the OGP website, but if you find another institution that isn’t already approved, you can certainly work with the OGP and submit a petition to study abroad. The OGP can ensure that you will be attending a program that satisfies our program expectations and will provide you with the appropriate student services while you are at the location.
 
Larger universities are more likely to have required courses that SEAS students need specifically. Columbia programs (Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Kyoto, and Paris) are certainly open to SEAS students; however, most students will attend foreign institutions during their study abroad. Please refer back to Eligibility & Planning to see where previous students have successfully studied abroad.
 
Below is a list of suggested universities to consider. This is not, however, an exhaustive list, and if you find what you need somewhere else and you get all the requisite approvals, you can go! Talk to the OGP regional advisers to discuss what programs would be appropriate for you based on your goals for your semester abroad.
 
King’s College, London, England
Imperial College London, England
University College London (UCL), England
Queen Mary, University of London, England
University of Bristol, England
University of York, England
The University of Dublin, Ireland
University of Glasgow, Scotland
University of Edinburgh, Scotland
University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Bogazici University, Turkey
Ecole Polytechnique, France
Ecole Centrale Paris, France
Paris Saclay, France
Syracuse University in Madrid, Spain
Syracuse University in Florence, Italy
University of Cape Town, South Africa
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
University of Melbourne, Australia
University of Sydney, Australia
University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia
CIEE Abroad Programs, Worldwide
IES Programs, Worldwide
 
Note: Engineers who want to study at a university in a non-English speaking country will likely be required to take classes in that country’s language (unless the specific program is taught in English). If you do not have foreign-language proficiency, we encourage you to consider studying abroad in some of the excellent programs in English-speaking countries. There are also programs in foreign countries that are taught in English, and SEAS students do not need to fulfill any language requirement for these (unless the specific program itself requires it). Speak to the Office of Global Programs for more information.
 
Financial Aid
 
What happens to financial aid while abroad?
You pay Columbia’s tuition; Columbia will bill you only for your tuition. Columbia will then pay for all the academic fees of the program. Your financial aid will continue while you are abroad and your personal and parental contributions should not change drastically as a result of going abroad.
 
You are responsible for all other fees, such as room and board. Please see ogp.columbia.edu/?go=finances. You should also speak to your financial aid adviser: www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/finaid/
 
overSEAS
Is it harder for SEAS students to go abroad compared to Columbia College students?
Though it may at times seem harder for SEAS students to go abroad, some aspects of the process are actually easier. SEAS students do not have a two-year language requirement if the program will be taught in English (even if the program is in a non-English speaking country). However, some individual programs may have a language requirement.
 
SEAS students do not have to take a regional course prior to going abroad, though it is recommended.
 
SEAS students can more easily take non-tech requirements during the summer on programs in many languages, including English. CC students can only take foreign-language for credit during the summer.
 
However, SEAS students must get approval for all classes they plan to take while abroad before leaving (especially those counting toward their major!).
 
Getting Started
 
Who do I need to talk to?
The Office of Undergraduate Student Affairs and Global Programs:
The study abroad adviser in this office will work with you individual to develop a suitable course plan for your study abroad semester, according to your major requirements. The office will also assist you with OGP’s application process and support you in gaining approval for technical classes as a SEAS student. Please refer to the contact information below to be in touch with our office.
 
The Office of Global Programs (OGP):
Visit the Office of Global Programs in 606 Kent Hall. The advisers will help you to plan your study abroad, research existing programs, discuss appropriate opportunities for study abroad, and grant final study abroad clearance.
 
CSA adviser: Your CSA adviser will review your degree progress, help you select the appropriate non-technical elective courses, and sign off on the SEAS study abroad clearance form before being cleared.
 
Undergraduate Student Affairs and Global Programs
Leora Brovman, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs and Global Programs
lb2258@columbia.edu
530 Mudd
Undergraduate Student Affairs
The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
500 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027
 
Office of Global Programs
The advisers in the office of global programs are divided regionally. If you have general questions, Scott Carpenter or Sara Ede are your best first contacts for general inquiries.
 
Adviser for non-Columbia programs in: UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, English and French speaking programs in Europe, English speaking programs in Asia
Scott Carpenter, sc2764@columbia.edu
 
Adviser for non-Columbia programs in: Africa, Asia (field studies), Europe (all languages except French), Latin America, summer programs.
 
Center for Student Advising
CSA Advisers: Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner Hall
500 W. 120th St., Mudd 510, New York, NY 10027    212-854-2993