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Independent Study Away

Important Announcements:

U3 STUDENTS: As of the Summer 2011, if you are participating in any type of study away/exchange during your final U3 term, YOU WILL NOT be able to graduate at the end of your final term and must select the term of graduation (on Minerva) AFTER your term away.

ALL STUDENTS: Please ensure that the host university mails your official transcript to: Enrolment Services, Student Records, McGill University, 3415 McTavish Street, Room MS 13, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3A 0C8.

The Independent Study Away (on your own) option allows you the flexibility to choose the country and institution where you wish to study. Before embarking on an independent study away program it is a good idea to have a well thought-out plan. Please read the following steps, including the related links concerning policies and regulations, to ensure your experience is rewarding and successful.


The ideal time to pursue an independent study away program is during your U2 year, before your graduating year. This would give you the opportunity to complete at least one year in your program(s) of study at McGill prior to departure. You would return to McGill with an enriched educational perspective to complete your remaining degree requirements.

Although not recommended, you may study away during your final U3 year; refer below to "B. Consider the following before Studying Away".

A. Research Your Intended Destination: Extensively research the universities and countries you are considering. Review websites, university catalogues, talk to your professors and colleagues who are from or have studied in these countries/geographical areas. If host university representatives visit McGill campus, make it a point to attend their information sessions.

The following is a list of some government-sponsored Higher Education Agencies and Organizations you could use to get started on your research.

B. Consider the following before Studying Away: Studying away can have significant impact on your academic career. Some questions you should be asking are:

  • What is the language of instruction at the host university?
  • Do you want to study away for a year or one term?
  • How many credits do you have to complete at the host university?
  • When do you expect to graduate? Will you graduate in time and within the degree time limit?
  • If your course selection is unavailable at the host university will you be "out of step" with your program requirements upon returning to McGill?
  • Will you have to extend your degree at McGill if you don't receive as many transfer credits as expected, or as many direct course equivalences as expected?
  • Are you are on a student visa; and if so, when does it expiry?

C. Funding your Study Away Program: Start thinking early about applying for funds to study abroad. There is a wide range of options available to you but you must be pro-active in your research and planning. For example, learn if you could tap into funds through federal or provincial-level government loans and bursary programs, foundations or private and public organizations. Inquire about the various application criteria and deadlines.

The following is a list of some organizations you could review for possible funding options.

D. Meet with your Program Adviser(s): You are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with each of your program advisers to discuss your plans to study away. Consult the Study away list of Departmental_Advisers and their email addresses for each program and/or department.

With your adviser(s):

  • discuss your selected host university and courses; provide your adviser with course syllabus, including the method of evaluation;
  • discuss your required and complementary courses, and any alternatives, which will count toward your departmental programs at McGill. Discuss elective courses and possible exemptions from specific McGill courses as a result of your study away program;
  • determine the status of your McGill program requirements. In other words, which courses have you completed and which remain to be completed? Can they be completed at another university? Are you abiding to the "1/3 credit rule"?
  • NOTE: When choosing host university courses you must follow the criteria required to have the credits transfer toward your McGill degree; refer to TRANSFER CREDIT, B. COURSE CRITERIA

E. Review Faculty Policies: Since your participation in an study away program may be affected by certain faculty policies, use the following links to read and understand about Science or Arts courses and degree requirements:

General course requirements:

General degree requirements:


You can select any of the already approved universities from our listing of List_of_approved_host Universities
Alternatively, you can choose to study at a different university and request that the Science Office for Undergraduate Student Advising (SOUSA) consider it for approval. You must supply detailed information about the university with your application form as indicated on the Request Approval Host Institution. If the institution meets the faculty's criteria it will be approved as a suitable study away destination and added to our approved listing.

  • Only universities which confirm the following criteria to our office in writing will be approved:

a. you will be registered and attending an accredited, degree-granting university;

b. this SAME university will provide the official transcript of studies (third party "school of record" transcripts are not acceptable); and

c. the venue of studies is the principal campus of the accredited university or college, a language centre (which has been approved by the corresponding McGill University language department), or an academic program which is field-based.

Study away requests involving study abroad (Intermediary) organizations are not approved.  This includes, but is not limited to, the following organizations:

  • Abroadco Study Abroad, Academic Programs International (API), American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), Arcadia University, Centers for Interamerican Studies (CEDEI), Council on International Educational Exchanges (CIEE), Cultural Experiences Abroad (CEA), Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS), Expanish, Greenpeace Organization, Institute for Study Abroad (ISA), Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), Institute of American Universities, Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE), International Partnership for Service Learning and Leadership (IPSL), International Studies Abroad (ISA), Living Routes, Mexico Solidarity Network (MSN), Road2Argentina, School of Field Studies (SFS), School of International Training (SIT), Woodenfish Project, World Bank Institute, Sotheby's Institute of Art.

Failure to have your host university/institution approved by SOUSA may result in NOT receiving transfer credits for courses taken elsewhere. Approval by a department or program adviser outside of SOUSA should be considered as a recommendation only and not as the final decision. Final decision is made by SOUSA.


You are permitted to study away for one semester or a full academic year at another university if you meet the following academic requirements:

  • are currently registered in a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts & Science at McGill (with your program(s) of study accurately reflected on Minerva); and
  • have a CGPA of 2.70 or greater.


Apply online:

  • Log on to Minerva and navigate to: Student Menu > Student Records Menu > Exchange/Study Away Menu > NEW Request for Study Away.  Follow the steps and refer to the provided information text and/or help keys.
  • Once you have been granted "Faculty Approval" status on your application, you can obtain an official "Letter of Permission" (LOP) by clicking on "Generate letter" link on the form.

Fill out the on-line course approval form:

  • The on-line course approval form has a sample email that you should use when asking for a course equivalency from the various departments at McGill.   It would be helpful if you could indicate in the email which course you are asking the adviser to approve on the module.
  • It is recommended that you attach a detailed course syllabus to your email, which must include the textbook, readings, method of evaluation, and any other relevant information that a department can evaluate the course.  The course syllabus can either be for the term that you will be attending the host University or if the syllabus is not available, then you can attached the syllabus from the previous year.  A 50 word description is not enough information.  You may also indicate the URL directly on the course approval form, only if it is a link to a recent and detailed course syllabus.
  • If you are planning on taking a Chemistry course that has a lab component, please refer to information required to evaluate Chemistry_lab_courses.
  •  A list of advisers for course approval can be found at the following website: Course approval and transfer credits.  As much as possible, please try to send the course approval to the adviser instead of each instructor who teaches the course at McGill.
  • The course equivalency from the departmental adviser will be either a direct match to a course at McGill (ex: PSYC 100) or the course will be evaluated as (ex: PSYC 1XX) which is considered a level equivalency.   Once you have had your courses evaluated, you should meet with your departmental program adviser to determine where these course equivalencies will fit into your program.
  • If you are planning on taking a course that there is no department at McGill that offers such a course, you need to send a detailed course syllabus (example, a culture course, a language course, etc).  The Faculty of Science will evaluate the course and will give you generic transfer credits.  Please send the course syllabus to: mary [dot] gauthier [at] mcgill [dot] ca
  • Course equivalency database

    Check course database first before getting courses approved.
    –      Limited amount of courses on database.
    –      Courses will be added regularly.

    If course is on the database, send email to mary [dot] gauthier [at] mcgill [dot] ca to approve the course.
    If course is not on the database, contact the department to evaluate the course.
    You cannot assume that you will receive 3 credits for a course equivalency even if the course is 3 credits at McGill.

 Submit your application according to the following period and deadlines:

For Fall 2014 term only
or Fall 2014 & Winter 2015 terms:
March 15th  to September 1, 2014
For Winter 2015 term only: March 15th to December 15, 2014

C. Processing Time: If your request is approved, you should expect to receive an email from our office within ten working days informing you that your Letter of Permission is available on Minerva.


You are allowed a maximum of 6 online credits to be used towards the fulfillment of the elective requirements of your degree.

Before registering, however, you must seek prior approval of the Director of Advising Services. Please submit your written request to mary [dot] gauthier [at] mcgill [dot] ca. In your email indicate your reasons for taking this online course and attach the course syllabus and method of evaluation.

You will also need to get approval from the relevant department at McGill.


A. You apply directly to the host university as a visiting, special, independent, or non-degree student, according to their application process and deadlines. With your application, submit the Letter of Permission

B. Once offered admission, you enrol in course according to the registration dates made available to you.


A. Get Course Approvals: using the online course approval form.

B. Attend a Mandatory Pre-departure Information Session: Sessions are usually held once a term. For further information refer to: Pre-departure Info Session.

C. Register on the Mandatory Minerva International Travel Registry form. Once you have been coded as "Term Away" you will receive an email with instructions on how to complete the form.


A. Keep all course materials: You may need to refer to exam questions, graded work, methods of evaluation, reading lists, for any course approvals that were not already approved.

B. Regularly check your McGill email. SOUSA staff will email all correspondence, including important notices and information about registration, fees, graduation, etc., to your McGill email address only.

C. Official Transcript. Order an official final transcript from the host university to be sent directly to McGill University, Documentation Centre.

NOTE FOR U3 STUDENTS: If you are participating in any type of study away/exchange during your final U3 term, YOU WILL NOT be able to graduate at the end of the term and you must select the term of graduation (on Minerva) AFTER your term away.

Fall 2014 Winter 2015 term (June Convocation)
Winter 2015 Summer 2015 term (November Graduation)

E. If you expect to return to McGill after your study away term, be sure to register for your McGill courses by appropriate deadlines to avoid any late registration fees.

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