Advising for History Majors Participating in Study Abroad Programs

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History courses are among the most popular courses taken by UNC students while studying abroad. The History Department at UNC, which is a strong advocate of the Study Abroad program, wants students, especially history majors and minors, to receive appropriate history credit for these courses. The following information is provided to help you understand and meet the Department’s requirements for transfer credit.

For more details, see the Academic Advising page and/or contact Dr. Matthew Andrews, History Transfer Credit Officer (email:

Pre-Study Abroad Advising: Before going abroad, you should schedule an appointment with the History Department’s transfer credit officer to discuss the requirements for receiving history credit as well as potential courses. The History Department does not pre-approve courses, but the transfer credit officer can give you a fairly good idea of how a course might transfer as well as other advice on how to meet the Department’s requirements. You might want to bring along some information (course descriptions, syllabi, etc.) about the courses you are considering taking. You should also know which courses you still need to take in order to fulfill the requirements for the major or minor. This conversation can be continued through email while you are abroad and have more information about the history courses you are taking.

Keep All Course Materials: Be sure to bring all course materials back with you. Without a syllabus, it is very hard to determine what kind of credit you should receive. Other supporting materials such as reading lists, notes, assignments, course readers, exams, papers, projects, and instructor feedback can also aid in determining credit. If a piece of material had something to do with the course, bring it back.

Upper/Advanced Level Credit: In order for a course to receive “upper” or “advanced-level” credit (like a course numbered 200 or above at UNC), the course  must require at least ten pages of outside-of-class writing (3000 words) and a reading load of 4–6 books (or an equivalent number of articles, perhaps 15–20). If you have taken an upper-level history course at UNC, you will be familiar with these requirements. If a course you are taking or would like to take does not require this much reading and writing but you would still like it to be considered for upper-level credit, you might ask the instructor for additional assignments. For example, you might ask to write an additional research paper or several short reports on additional books that you read. This extra work would need to be verified by a grade or signed letter from the professor. If a course does not meet these reading and writing requirements, it will usually be considered for “lower/introductory-level” credit (like a course numbered below 200 at UNC).

Dealing with Syllabi that List Recommended But Not Required Reading: Rather than requiring several books and papers, many history professors at foreign universities, especially in Europe, might provide a long list of “recommended reading” but no “required” books. If this is the case, you should be able to show that you did in fact read at least 4-6 books or the equivalent. Ways to do this include keeping a reading journal (perhaps 3–4 handwritten pages of notes per book or article) or, even better, writing short reports (500–750 words) that discuss the author’s arguments, evidence and analysis as well as your own critical opinion of the work. These could be presented to the transfer credit officer as evidence of having completed outside reading. 

Receiving Credit: After returning from your study abroad, you should contact the transfer credit officer by email. Please include your name, PID #, major/minor, the name of the study abroad program and university you attended, and the titles of the courses for which you are seeking credit. Emailed syllabi in the form of PDFs and MS Word documents are preferred, but hardcopies can be brought to the transfer credit officer’s office or placed, with a note, in the credit officer’s Departmental mailbox in the main History Office on the fifth floor of Hamilton Hall. In many cases, credit can be determined by examining the syllabus alone and no meeting is required. If further information or material is required, an appointment can be scheduled. The transfer credit officer may refer your course to the History Department’s specialist in the field. If so, the specialist will make the final decision on transfer credit. In most cases, decisions are rendered within one week or so of receiving the initial request and syllabus. The transfer credit officer will email the recommendation to you, your study abroad adviser, and the History Department’s Undergraduate Coordinator. You should keep a copy of this email for your records.

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