A unique aspect of SUA’s academic program is that all students must spend one-half of their junior year abroad engaged in a study abroad program. This requirement is to be fulfilled in a country where the principal language corresponds to a student’s language of study at SUA. These programs are designed to extend the reach of a student’s academic study of a foreign language through total immersion in the day-to-day life of another culture.
Study abroad gives students an opportunity to acquire further the habits and dispositions of a global citizen, returning to campus with a network of new friends and associates with whom they may nurture deep bonds and lifelong relationships. The study abroad program also adds to the student’s intellectual grasp of the world in all its diversity.
Soka University of America assumes no responsibility for any adverse consequences regarding a student’s U.S. immigration status that may result from fulfillment of our Study Abroad requirement.
Eligibility for Study Abroad
Students must meet the following requirements for study abroad.
- No students are allowed to go on study abroad while on academic probation.
- Incomplete Grades: Default grades will be manually calculated into the student’s semester GPA when considering study abroad eligibility. A student whose default grades result in a term or cumulative GPA of less than 2.0 will be considered ineligible to participate in study abroad the following semester.
- Students must be in their junior year to participate in study abroad.
- Students are required to have completed the 202-level or above in the target language before leaving for their semester abroad.
- Students are free to study more than one language at SUA as long as they complete the 202-level or above in the target language of their study abroad destination before they begin another language.
- Language courses required for eligibility in the study abroad program may not be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis.
- Study abroad target language courses at the 100/200 level must be taken on a graded basis.
- Students placed and starting at the 300-level must take their first courses on a graded basis.
- Students are required to take the Language Proficiency Tests (STAMP Test) administered by the LCP, both before and after Study Abroad.
- Students must be officially enrolled in the semester prior to a semester of study abroad.
- Students are required to attend orientations organized by the Office of Study Abroad and International Internships (SAII Office) and submit all required documents to the SAII Office before studying abroad.
Student Prohibited from Study Abroad Due to Bilateral National Relations
Some students may have restrictions traveling to particular countries because of their nationality and bilateral national relations. Once the program application period begins at SUA, if a student is not permitted to study abroad in their chosen language, they will have two options: 1) Study abroad in another language of study at SUA and a corresponding study abroad program that accepts beginning language learners (if their proficiency is a novice) or 2) take 12 additional units in their language of study at SUA. Students should be aware that the availability of study abroad in any country could change depending on current world events and relations.
Exceptions for Regular Study Abroad Scheduling
All students should go on study abroad during their third year. Exceptions to this policy are restricted to: (1) student failure to meet requirements for study abroad, including academic probation and/or insufficient language preparation; and (2) the unavailability of programs in the target language destination country/countries due to health, safety, legal, political restrictions. In the latter case, the student would be required to complete the minimum 12-unit upper division study abroad target language courses to fulfill the study abroad requirement at SUA.
Academic Load Abroad
12-16 Study Abroad Credits
Students are required to earn a minimum of 12 credits and a maximum of 16 credits in their target language per semester for study abroad. Course load will be selected by the student in coordination with the Director of the SAII Office. The academic worthiness of a particular program will be determined by a faculty committee working with the SAII Office.
Students on study abroad programs must choose courses based on the results of both the Placement Test taken on-site and the Pre-Study Abroad STAMP Test taken at SUA. Students are required to enroll in language courses and/or content courses designed exclusively for international students. Internships/service-learning courses can be enrolled if such courses are pre-approved by SUA.
Eligibility to Take Local University Courses with Locals
To be eligible to take regular courses while on study abroad at local universities with native-speaking students that meet SUA's study abroad requirements, SUA students must achieve scores of 5 (Intermediate Mid) or higher in all four skill categories on the mandatory Pre-Study STAMP Test. Students scoring 4 (Intermediate Low) in no more than one of the four skill categories on this test may petition the Study Abroad Committee for special consideration. Final decisions on such petitions will be made by a member of the Study Abroad Committee in the target language in question and the Director of the Language and Culture Program (LCP).
How to Choose Courses
Choosing courses in which to enroll while on study abroad involves a combination of factors:
- Scores on the Pre-Study Abroad STAMP Test at SUA
- On-site placement test scores and expert opinions (those of Resident Directors and faculty members)
- Nature and requirements of the particular study abroad program
Generally, students fulfill SUA's minimum requirement of 12 credits in the target language by taking language courses and/or content courses designed exclusively for international students. (See the section of these Guidelines on "regular university courses for local students" for further details.)
No Credit Transfer
In addition to the minimum required target language credits, students studying abroad are welcome to enroll in any course offered by the Site University or Provider Program. Students should keep in mind, however, that they will not receive credit for every course in which they enroll. No credit will be given for elective or required courses that are considered non-language/culture courses in nature or skill-based courses, such as mathematics, ceramics, music, photography, tai-chi, dance, physical education, or courses that are taught in English or any other non-target language. No credit will be given for internships/service-learning courses unless such courses have been pre-approved by SUA. Students may be required to submit a course syllabus to the SAII Office for final approval.
Approval Process for Courses Abroad
Prior to departure, it is mandatory for students to consult with a member of the Study Abroad Committee, who teaches their target language, about their course choices. Such consultation will guarantee the selection of courses that reflect the student's interests, SUA's academic requirements, and the educational goals of the host university unique to each site.
In preparation for his/her course consultation, students are required to complete the "Approval Form for Courses Abroad." He/she must list the course selection to be taken during their semester abroad. Include possible alternative courses in the event that some of the initial choices are not accepted. Understand the specific policies described in the SUA's Academic Guidelines, particularly the section on "Transfer Credits from Abroad."
Complete the "Approval form for Courses Abroad" by meeting the following:
- List all courses students wish to take during their semester abroad, including courses not for credit transfer
- Fill in all course names in English (translate if necessary)
- Declare which course(s) to be partially transferred back to SUA to stay within the maximum of 16 credits);
- Indicate whether each course is a Pre-Semester Course, a Course for International Students, or a Regular University Course with local students
- Indicate which course(s) students intend to take on either Graded or a Pass/Non-Pass basis. (The Pass/No Pass option can apply to a total of 4 courses during the entire course of studies at SUA, including study abroad. Students must understand that Core 1 is designed as a Pass/Non-Pass, whereas Core 2 is designed as a graded class.)
- Indicate Pre–Study Abroad STAMP Tests Scores:
- List all courses in "Not for Transfer for SUA credit," if any (Grades will NOT be counted toward GPAs, although course names and grades will be documented on SUA's transcripts)
Students must email the "Approval Form of Courses Abroad" to the Director of the SAII Office and have the courses approved. Students should keep a copy of this form and the approval email from the Director of Study Abroad for him/herself for future reference.
This process will ensure that students enroll in courses that will yield at least 12 transferable credits necessary to fulfill their academic requirements for study abroad. However, ultimately, each student is responsible for the courses she or he chooses and must be careful not to mistakenly register for a course for which SUA cannot grant credit.
Final Approval Process
Students should be aware that in certain cases, the courses selected before departure might be preliminary, as course listings provided by Provider Programs before departure may differ from the actual courses offered on-site. When students make changes on-site to their proposed schedule (including pass/non-pass) that differ from the pre-approved plan, they are required to notify the Director of the SAII Office via email within the first 14 days of semester classes (the first 3 days of pre-semester classes, if applicable) by sending him/her the most updated PDF form of course selection. Failure to do so could result in not being able to transfer credits in the end. The final course selection must be approved by the Director of the SAII Office and/or study abroad Committee.
If students fail to notify course changes, including pass/non-pass, within the first 14 days for a semester (and the first 3 days for a pre-semester, if applicable), their pre-approved courses will stay as the final course selection.
16 Credits Limit and Declaration
The distribution of credits for each class varies from program to program. For some programs, students may need to declare which course(s) are to be transferred back to SUA to earn the minimum of 12 and the maximum of 16 credits. For instance, if the student takes four courses worth five credits each, they must declare within the first 14 days of semester classes which of the three courses are to be fully transferred (15 credits) and which course is NOT to be transferred (5 credits). If students fail to declare within the first 14 days of semester classes (the first 3 days of pre-semester classes), the Director of the SAII Office will have the right to determine which course(s) to be transferred on the student's behalf.
Add/Drop Class Policy
Once on-site at the host institution, students may find that they are forced to add or drop courses because of scores on language placement tests or changes in class offerings.
Under these circumstances, students must consult via email within the first 14 days of semester classes (the first 3 days of pre-semester classes) with the Director of the SAII Office to get approval for their final course selection. Depending on the program, students may have less than 14 days to decide on their final course selection. It is important students adhere to the class registration schedule for their individual programs.
If the student fails to communicate with the Director of the SAII Office about changes in course selection within the required time frame, we will consider that there is no change from the pre-approved course(s).
Students may not drop a course if it results in being registered for less than a regular full course load unless there are extenuating circumstances (i.e., medical, legal, diplomatic, or political reasons). In such cases, the student must first notify the Director of the SAII Office, who will consult with the Dean of Faculty about the situation.
Transferred Grades from Abroad
The grading system stipulated in the SUA Undergraduate Catalog will apply to the study abroad program.
12-16 Transfer Credits
Study abroad courses, a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 16 credits in the target language, whether passed or failed, are graded and count towards the student's GPA.
Students are allowed to have their courses transferred to SUA if all courses have been pre-approved by the Director of the Language and Culture Program and the Director of the SAII Office before study abroad or within the first 14 days of semester classes (the first 3 days of pre-semester classes). No transfer credit may be granted for a course without pre-approval, even if the student passes it.
No credit will be given for a course taken abroad in which the language of instruction is English or any language other than the target language. Students will receive a grade of F or Non-Pass and may fail to meet the minimum of 12 credits if a course was not taught in their target language.
Individual courses taken abroad cannot be transferred for the fulfillment of SUA graduation requirements. As long as you complete the required number of credits abroad (12 to 16) with the appropriate courses, you are given SUA credit for study abroad, but not for specific coursework in particular concentrations.
Policies of Individual Programs
Each study abroad program has its policies concerning the minimum and the maximum number of credits. To satisfy their study abroad requirement, students must adhere to both the SUA academic guidelines for Academic Load and the guidelines for the individual study abroad program (e.g., some programs require students to enroll in up to 15 credits).
Each study abroad program has its own grading system, following the grading systems of their respective host universities and intuitions abroad. SUA respects the grading systems used at each site. Students' credit transfers will be based on official transcripts issued for us by the host programs. (However, SUA has neither D+ nor D- in its grading system. Students who earn such grades will receive a grade of D.).
Some foreign host institutions may have policies regarding hours of instruction required for academic credits, which are slightly different from the US standard. However, SUA does not convert them into US-based units. SUA adheres to earned credits that show on the final transcript issued by the program/host institution.
Some programs only indicate contact hours of study with no specific credit hours provided. Before completing the course registration with SUA, students must consult their on-site program directors to verify contact hours. Students can calculate credits earned for each course based on the US credit distribution of 15 hours per credit.
Courses Registered as "NOT for Soka Credit"
All courses registered during a student's study abroad, whether approved to be transferred or not, will be documented on the SUA official transcript. Only courses/units approved by Study Abroad Committee will be successfully applied to degree requirements and GPA calculations. All courses or units that have been registered on-site as "not for credit" on a student's Approval Form for Courses Abroad and/or have not been approved by the Study Abroad Committee will have a "No Credit" indication on the SUA official transcript.
Some programs offer a pre-semester course(s) that requires all participants to attend. Students should note that pre-semester courses will also count toward 12 credits and be graded unless students declare no credit transfer or Pass/Non-Pass within the first 3 days of pre-semester classes.
If students fail to notify the Director of the SAII Office about course changes, including decisions on graded or pass/non-pass within the first 3 days, their pre-approved courses will stay as the final course selection.
Graded or Pass/Non-Pass
During study abroad, all courses will be graded unless students declare Pass/Non-Pass within the first 14 days of semester classes. If students fail to notify the Director of SAII Office about course changes, including decisions on graded or pass/non-pass within the first 14 days, their pre-approved courses will stay as the final course selection.
Students may elect to take courses on a Pass/No Pass grading basis. The Pass/No Pass option may apply to a total of 4 courses during the entire course of studies at SUA, including study abroad. (Please note: Core 1 is designed as a Pass/Non-Pass course, whereas Core 2 is designed as a graded class.)
Students must make the Pass/Non-Pass declaration before going to study abroad. They must declare which course(s) they wish to take, Pass/Non-Pass, as they complete the Approval Form for Courses Abroad. If a student changes course(s) during study abroad, he/ she must re-submit the Pass/Non-Pass declaration via email with the first 14 days of semester classes (within the first 3 days of pre-semester classes). Students are not allowed to make this declaration retroactively.
If the student fails to communicate with the SAII Office any change of Pass/Non-Pass course(s) status within the above timeframe, SUA will consider that there is no change from the declared Graded or Pass/Non-Pass course(s) submitted before study abroad. The student must first contact the Director of the SAII Office.
Students who take the pre-semester course(s) should note that this policy also applies to pre-semester registration; the declaration of Pass/Non-pass must be made before going on study abroad.
Course credit abroad varies from program to program. Students must be aware of the following course credit conversion for Pass/Non-Pass Units:
Equivalent Pass/Non-Pass Unit
1.00 - 4.49
4.50 - 8.49
8.50 - 12.49
Students may fail to complete the minimum of 12 credits by receiving a grade of D for a declared Pass/Non-Pass course. The student must be aware of the possibility of ending up on academic probation if he or she takes all four courses as Pass/Non-Pass before study abroad and ends up with 3 As and 1 D (3 Ps and 1 NP), for example.
SUA understands the value of engaging in unique internship and service-learning opportunities during study abroad. Internship and service-learning opportunities allow students to deepen their understanding of their language of study by applying it in a real-world context. For credit transfer, students must have pre-approval from the SUA Study Abroad Committee to ensure that the internship/service-learning opportunities meet the following SUA requirements:
- Internships/service learning must be graded.
- SUA students are required to use their “target” language during the entire activity (no English).
- Certain academic components, such as reading/writing assignments, presentations, or class discussions, must be part of the activity.
For internships/service-learning during study abroad, students are permitted to earn a maximum of 3 credits; however, the number of contact hours required for three credits may vary depending on the program or the host university. If a student is not interested in receiving academic credit, they should list the course in the Not-for-Credit section of the SUA Approval Form for Courses Abroad. As with all other regular courses, credits for internship/service-learning will be only evaluated and earned upon successful completion of the program and after review of the program’s or the host university’s transcript.
Failure to Complete Full Class Load
Students run the risk of not being in good standing academically if they fail to complete at least 12 credits, either by not enrolling in the appropriate number of courses or by receiving a grade of F or NP, or D for a declared Pass/Non-Pass course.
This failure could result in the loss of scholarships or other financial support. In addition, taking fewer than the required minimum number of credits may lead to the student not graduating at the end of his/her fourth year of study at SUA. International students risk losing eligibility or legal status to stay in the US upon return from their study abroad semester.
Students who fail to complete at least 12 credits must take a language class(es) in the same language upon return to SUA to make up for the number of credits not completed. The language class(es) taken before study abroad will not be counted towards the required 12 credits.
SUA & Original Transcripts
During Study Abroad, any information students find in SUA’s People-Soft/Learn, including courses taken abroad, is NOT an accurate academic status for their Study Abroad. Nothing is finalized until SUA receives official original transcripts from their Study Abroad programs.
All course names and course grades that students registered on-site, whether they have been registered as "for credit" or "not for credit" or have been approved to be transferred or not, will appear on SUA official transcripts. In addition, all courses taken and grades received abroad will also appear on original transcripts provided by the programs or host institutions abroad.
Post Study Abroad Preparations
People-Soft/Learn During Study Abroad
Any information you find in People-Soft/Learn during study abroad, including courses taken abroad, is NOT an accurate academic status for your study abroad. Nothing is finalized until SUA receives your official transcripts from study abroad programs.
SUA Courses Registration for the Following Spring
Registration for SUA classes in the following semester will be conducted via the Internet for students abroad. It is, therefore, imperative that students have access to People-soft and their soka.edu email address once they arrive on site at their host institution.
All emails from the Registrar’s office, including registration information, will be sent to the student’s soka.edu accounts and not to any outside email addresses. Students will still be required to attend an Academic Advising appointment a week prior to the registration week, and a hold will remain on their record until they do so. Students should also be sure that they take care of their financial obligations to the university before registration, or they will not be allowed to register.
“Rush transcript” from Study Abroad.
If students plan to take regular university courses with locals at any of SUA’s Spanish/French locations, they should be reminded that their transcripts may take some time to come to SUA. Thus, we strongly suggest students request their program providers for “rush transcript” services before their departure so that programs will be aware and do their best to process transcripts sooner (although this is not guaranteed). Delays in receiving study abroad transcripts may affect student’s eligibility to receive scholarships offered by SUA, and/or participate in athletic competitions/games during the following semester.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is reviewed at the end of each term after the regular grade posting has ended. Students returning from study abroad may experience a delay in the posting of grades earned while abroad. Courses may show as incomplete during this time and will be treated as attempted credits for which no credit has been earned.
Incomplete courses incurred from study abroad will not have an impact on the GPA calculation for SAP. Once study abroad grades and credits are received, they will be reviewed in the same manner in which regular courses are reviewed for SAP. If the study abroad grades are not posted by the time of disbursement, students may be placed on a SAP warning.
However, for students who are already on a SAP warning prior to their study abroad program, their financial aid will not be disbursed until grades and credits have been posted. If a SAP suspension occurs as a result of study abroad grades or delay, the student will have 20 business days to appeal after having been notified of the suspension.
Withdrawal and Return
Withdrawal from a Course
A student may withdraw from a study abroad course without affecting his/her GPA but must remain enrolled with a minimum of 12 credits. Between the 2nd and the 8th week of a semester, the student may drop a course with a record of enrollment (withdrawal) with the permission of his or her program on-site director as well as the Director of the SAII Office. The "I" is incomplete, and the designation is not allowed for any study abroad course.
Withdrawal from Study Abroad
Since study abroad is mandatory for graduation from SUA, unless there are extenuating circumstances (i.e., medical, legal, diplomatic, political reasons), all students are required to complete their full study abroad program. Should you withdraw while a program is in progress, your progress toward graduation will be interrupted, and your student status will have to be clarified before you can be allowed to continue with your studies at SUA
On or after the program starting date, if a student chooses to withdraw from her or his program or to interrupt her or his participation in certain stages of the program, regardless of the type of program, for any reason whatsoever, the student must submit written notification of withdrawal, which must be reviewed by both SUA and the Program Provider, and then submit an SUA withdrawal form to the Office of the Registrar. In such a case, the student would not be permitted to register at SUA during the same semester in which he or she started the study abroad program. The earliest that a student would be allowed to register at SUA is the following semester.
If a student decides to withdraw from his/her study abroad program before the actual start date of the program, the student would be permitted to register at SUA for the same semester as that of the planned study abroad, on condition that he or she register before the end of add/drop period.
Conduct Policy: Dismissal from the Study Abroad Program
While abroad, SUA students are expected to uphold the standards of conduct of the host institution and/or the host program. The SAII Office would like to bring to students' attention that while due process is a right in this country, this may not be the case abroad. The Resident Director, the program sponsor, or the host institution has the right to impose disciplinary measures or dismiss a student from the program for improper, offensive behavior or failure to comply with host community laws and regulations.
On or after the program starting date, if a student is dismissed from his or her program at any point, the student must first submit written notification of dismissal, which must be reviewed by both SUA and the Program Provider, and then submit an SUA withdrawal form to the Office of the Registrar. Such a student would not be permitted to register at SUA for the same semester as the original study abroad. The earliest that such a student would be allowed to register at SUA is the following semester.
In the event of academic or conduct suspension or dismissal, a student must petition for re-admission to SUA in accordance with university policies found in the Undergraduate Catalogue.
Policy on Coming Back Temporarily to SUA
It is strongly advised that students studying abroad do not travel back to SUA for any reason before their program ends. Study abroad is part of SUA's required curriculum, and students are obligated to complete all coursework, which includes class attendance. This principle applies to students studying abroad in both the fall and spring semesters.
If a situation arises in which a student deems it necessary to leave the Study Abroad program site temporarily, he or she must first notify the On-site Residential Director and Director of the SAII Office, who will consult with the Dean of Faculty about the particular case.
Absences due to accidents or severe illness, as well as those related to family problems, will be handled on a case-by-case basis and should not be confused with voluntary absences for non-emergency reasons.
Students must return to campus after study abroad to attend re-entry orientation, complete an online program evaluation, and take the Post-Study Abroad STAMP Test. Those who fail to meet those requirements in time may not be able to register for courses in the following semester.
Some programs offer the STAMP test on-site at the end of the semester. If students take the test during study abroad, they do not need to retake it upon returning. To waive the STAMP test at SUA, students must submit a soft copy of the test scores to the SAII Office
Housing For Study Abroad Students
Students participating in the Fall Study Abroad program may reside in the residence halls during the summer following the previous academic year by purchasing summer housing from the University. Fall Study Abroad students residing in the halls during the summer are required to check out during the designated checkout period that is prior to the beginning of the fall session.
Students participating in the Spring Study Abroad program may reside in the residence halls over the winter period during the academic year. Spring Study Abroad students residing in the halls are required to check out during the designated checkout period that is prior to the beginning of the spring session.
Fees for Study Abroad
The cost of Study Abroad has been built into the tuition structure at SUA. SUA’s total fees for the semester (tuition, room/board & medical insurance) will cover the study abroad program fees, including tuition, room/board, SUA medical insurance, airfare, application, and visas. Students are responsible for other costs, such as non-SUA medical insurance, postage, and other personal and miscellaneous expenses. Please note that students who live off-campus are required to pay SUA room and board charges during their study abroad semester.