During the summer study abroad staff are able to advise by appointment. Schedule here!

Academic Culture and Success Abroad

If you have concerns about your transition to learning while abroad, read the Office of Study Abroad's advice and discover what resources are available to you below. 

Course Selection Abroad

Course listings are housed on the program provider or host university website--a link to your program's website can be found on the Tulane program brochure under the "helpful links" tab. Keep in mind that course titles, department names, and where course listings are stored may differ from what you experience at Tulane. For example, courses in Australia are commonly referred to as "units of study." Direct enroll programs in the U.K. and Europe may store course listings on the website of an individual department, often referred to as a "faculty," rather than in one comprehensive list. Certain programs may consider psychology a social science while others might label it as a hard science and require pre-requisite background accordingly.  If you are having a hard time finding course listings or understanding course selection, you can always contact your program provider or host university directly. You may also check with your study abroad advisor at Tulane for assistance. Course listings are a great resource to see what may be available on your host program, but please keep in mind that final course selection is generally made during the beginning of your study abroad program, on-site. 

You should speak with your Academic Advisor at Tulane as well as departmental advisors within your major or minor department regarding course selection abroad. During the Tulane study abroad application process, you will be required to ask for three recommendations (Major Advisor, Academic Advisor, Faculty Member). This requirement is meant to provide a time for you to discuss a proposed schedule with your advisors as they will ultimately determine which courses will transfer within the major, minor, or for NTC core credit. Students should make a plan to stay in contact with their departmental advisors remotely in case of last-minute schedule changes during course selection on-site. 

Differences in Academic Culture and Grading

While every program and host university operates differently, there are a few common differences in academic culture that students may encounter abroad. Students studying on direct enroll programs or who choose to directly enroll in local university courses on a hybrid program may experience the following:

Absence of Continuing Assessment

Students may find that fewer small assignments, quizzes, and tests are assigned throughout a given semester. Direct enroll programs very commonly award grades for an entire semester based off of one final assignment, paper, or exam. This means that your grade will likely not be bolstered by participation, attendance, or smaller assignments submitted throughout the term. It also means that you will need to be independently accountable for keeping pace on assigned reading throughout the semester as there may not be due dates throughout the semester that encourage you to do so. 

Emphasis on Lecture over Discussion

It is common for professors on direct-enroll programs to rely more on lectures than student-led discussions. You may find that your professor is seen as the expert on a given subject, and that students are expected to listen and take notes rather than engage in debate or topical conversations with other students. Depending on the program, you may also find that courses meet less frequently than the average course at Tulane might. 

Expectation of Independent Work Outside the Classroom

At the beginning of the semester, your professor might hand you a reading list of twenty to forty book titles and nothing else. Don't panic--while this is a stark contrast to the detailed, assignment and date-orientated syllabi you might expect from a professor at Tulane, it is very normal for direct enroll programs and courses, particularly those in the U.K. and Europe. While you may not be expected to read every book on the list, you are expected to familiarize yourself with the subject matter and material throughout the semester. Students should be prepared to develop a study schedule for themselves on such programs--while the fewer class meetings and lack of assignments throughout the semester may deceive you into thinking you have nothing but free time, you do not want to find yourself two weeks from your final exam (again, an exam which may determine your entire grade in the course) having attended only a third of your lectures and with two months of reading still untouched on your shelf. 

Credit Hours and Grading

Your university abroad will likely not conform to the U.S. system of grading and credit hours. Students studying in France may be graded on a scale of 1 to 20 although earning a 20 is rare and an 18 is generally considered "A+" work. Students studying in Scotland might enroll in three classes and still be considered as taking the equivalent of fifteen U.S. credits.

For a list of grading and credit conversions, please click here. Please keep in mind that these conversions are meant to provide a general range only and have the potential to change from year to year. 

Students studying on cohort programs or taking courses designed for study abroad students at a study center on a hybrid program are unlikely to experience as many pronounced differences in academic culture as direct enroll students. Many of your courses may reflect U.S. structure and grading style as such programs are curated specifically for American university students abroad. However, this does not mean that your academic experience will be identical to your experience at Tulane. You may still encounter academic differences in assessment and expectations from individual, local professors.  

Academic Success

Students on Tulane approved programs continue to pay the Academic Support Fee and retain access to Student Success coaching services while abroad. Students in need of academic support abroad can also reach out to their program provider or host university to determine what resources (tutoring, peer review, language coaching) are available to them on-site. 

Goldman Center Accommodations

Students with Goldman Center accommodations should send a copy of their official accommodations letter to the NTC Office of Study Abroad and their program provider or host university immediately upon acceptance or during the initial application process. Usually, accommodations are able to be implemented on site as long as they are reported to the program or host university prior to departure. Even if you do not plan to use your accommodations abroad, it is a good idea to send in your letter to your program provider early in the application process just in case. If you wait until after you are already on-site to ask for approved accommodations to be implemented, it may no longer be possible depending on the program or host country. If you have concerns related to accommodations abroad, you can always make an appointment with an OSA advisor. 

Housing-Related Accommodations:

If your program requires students to live in specific housing, requests for independent housing will not be granted unless you are living with a direct relative.

If you are registered with the Goldman Center for Student Accessibility and approved for medically based housing accommodations while at Tulane, the Goldman Center can provide a letter detailing your specific housing needs for submission to your program. Many programs can meet your medically based housing needs while adhering to their requirements and the recommended accommodations.

If you are not registered with the Goldman Center and do not have approval for a medically based housing accommodation, you must submit your request and complete their interactive process to receive a recommendation for accommodation while studying abroad. Again, if your program has a specific housing requirement, the process will be geared towards (1) identifying the most appropriate form of housing offered by the program that can best support your medical needs and (2) recommending placement in that form of housing. On-site staff have ultimate approval on whether housing accommodations can be met on site, but many programs are both willing and able to meet your documented medical needs.

Should the program’s on-site staff determine that they are unable to meet the recommended accommodation request, then they may offer independent housing as an option following a consultation with OSA and Goldman.

More information on the Goldman Center's Website