How to Get Classes Approved

Studying abroad allows you to take classes abroad, at another university, that will transfer back as credit to ISU. To guarantee the transfer credit, every study abroad student must complete a form that shows the equivalency between ISU and the host university’s courses. The hardest part about our initial application process is completing the Academic Planning Form, or APF. This form is also the most important part of the preparation process before you study abroad because it ensures you will receive credit for the courses you take abroad.


The APF allows you to choose the courses you will take abroad and pre-approve them BEFORE you depart. As long as you pass the class with at least a C, you will receive a ‘check’ off on your MySam and be awarded the passing credits which will NOT affect your GPA. There is often much confusion surrounding the APF, so here is a checklist to make it easy:

  1. Schedule a meeting with a Study Abroad Advisor here in order to receive the application and APF.
  2. Go over all your options and choose a study abroad program.
  3. Find the master course list on your host university or affiliate’s website.
    • There are direct links to our partner universities’ course catalogs as well as our affiliate companies on our website under the ‘Destinations’ tab.
  4. Look at your MySam and four-year plan to decide which courses would be best to take abroad and which courses fit better in your schedule to take at ISU. Your academic advisor can help you with this step, but do your research before getting him or her involved!
  5. Look at previously approved courses for your host university.
    • Check out the course equivalencies on our website here.
    • If you decide to take one of the previously approved courses, you will NOT need a signature of approval from a department head as they have already approved the course for all students.
    • For our partner university programs, we have an extensive list of course equivalencies, but for our affiliate companies, we may not have as many. It all depends on how popular your chosen program is with past ISU students.
    • If you choose to take all previously approved courses, then you can skip steps 6 through 11.
  6. Read the descriptions and syllabi (if provided) of the courses you are wanting to take abroad.
  7. Compare the courses you are wanting to take abroad with ISU’s courses using the ISU course catalog found here.
  8. Write all the courses and possible equivalents on the “practice” side of the APF.
    • Ex. After reading both descriptions, EC101A Microeconomics sounds equivalent to ECON 201 Principles of Microeconomics but still will have to be approved.
  9. Find out who the corresponding department chairperson is and schedule a meeting with them.
    • If you are planning on taking a psychology class, you will need approval from the psychology chairperson. If you are also planning on taking an art class, you will need another signature of approval- this time from the art department.
    • Ask your Study Abroad Advisor for help if you are unsure of the correct department that needs to approve a certain course. Note: Academic advisors are rarely departments heads as well.
    • All foundational studies courses must be approved through Dean Linda Maule and can be approved over email. Be sure to send her all the course information (ie. not the course title alone).
    • Remember that it is best to email the department head asking for a meeting regarding study abroad courses instead of stopping by their office without notice.
  10. Make a Word document with the course descriptions for each of your possible equivalencies listed on the “practice” side of your APF. Also print out any syllabi that you obtain.
    • The department head will be able to approve the courses based on the matching descriptions or syllabi, but NOT the title of the courses alone.
  11. Meet with each corresponding department head to approve your courses.
    • Remember that the more courses you have approved, the better! You never know- a class could get canceled, interfere with another course you are planning take, be full, etc. Add additional courses to your APF if possible to have more options available when it becomes necessary. The APF is not for registration purposes, therefore the more options the better.
  12. Have your major (and minor) advisor sign the bottom and sign your name at the top of the form.
    • Your advisor(s) must sign this form after the department heads sign it so they can note which courses you will take and when you will be abroad.
  13. Review your APF.
    • Make sure that each department head signed in the correct spot, the course equivalences are listed, the course titles are complete, and the dates are listed. Avoid having a second meeting with your department head by fully completing the APF the first time!
    • If you don’t have a record of your APF, then how are you supposed to know which classes you should register for?
  15. Turn in your completed APF and the rest of your application to the Study Abroad Office located in Gillum Hall, Room 240.
    • If you have additional questions for your Study Abroad Advisor when turning in your application, feel free to set up another appointment to be sure they are available when you are planning to stop by.

Find out more about academic credit transfer on our website by clicking here.

Need another APF? Print one off here.

Have any other questions about completing your APF? Email your Study Abroad Advisor at


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