Academic Considerations

Program Access

Not all academic programs at NSE member colleges and universities are available to NSE students. Also, some programs which are available may be highly competitive, limited at upper-division levels, or restricted in other ways. Some NSE campuses may limit the number of students accepted in these fields; some require a higher grade point average than required for general NSE participation; while others may require additional information (e.g., performing arts audition or studio art portfolio) for participation in the program. For information on closed, limited, and restricted courses and programs, look at the Campus Profile for the campus of interest.

Program Accreditation

If you are enrolled in a program on your home campus that has program-specific accreditation, check with your home campus advisor to determine if your exchange work in your major must also be completed at a program that is similarly accredited. If so, it is your responsibility to identify an exchange site that meets the requirement. Your home campus department should have access to a list of colleges and universities with accredited programs in your major, or see Program Accreditation under the Resources header.

Course Availability

Even though a program or major is listed as offered by a member university, it does not mean that all courses are offered every term or every year. Course enrollment is based on offerings and availability and cannot be guaranteed. You must meet all course pre-requisites and/or co-requisites as required by your host campus. A flexible academic program is a must. If you are dependent upon a specific course or courses in order to maintain academic progress, you are advised to remain at your home campus.

Grades and Credits

Your home campus determines the manner in which host campus grades are recorded and courses distributed on your home campus transcript. Consult with your home campus NSE coordinator for details of the policy for your campus. Prior to exchange you must develop a written advising agreement with the assistance of your academic advisor and your home NSE coordinator in order to identify how courses satisfactorily completed at your host university will be applied to your home campus degree program. Failure to secure a signed approval for how courses taken on exchange will fit into your degree requirements may delay your graduation or otherwise may not fit into your program as expected.


A search tool to help you identify majors open to NSE students by member campuses is available at this site. Programs of study listed represent a generic classification of the multitude of undergraduate majors available at NSE members. As you search for a particular major, you will also want to examine those that may have some relationship to yours since your major may be called by a different name at another institution. It is also possible that schools may offer courses you need in your major even though they do not have the major. Consult the appropriate college catalog for complete program details. Links to the catalogs of NSE member colleges and universities are available from the Campus Profiles. Also, each Campus Profile contains a campus-specific list of available majors as well as limitations, if any, on their access.

Semester: Quarter Exchanges

Semester means that the academic year is divided into two equal terms or sessions. Quarter means that the calendar year is divided into four equal sessions with fall, winter, and spring making up an academic year which is the equivalent of two semesters. Quarter credit hours generally earn one-third fewer credit hours than semester credit hours. Conversely, semester hours generally earn one-third more credit hours than quarter credit hours. Member campuses vary in the way that credit conversions are made between these two calendars.

If you are considering exchanging to a campus that has a calendar different from your own, an exchange for the full academic year is strongly recommended. Students who exchange for less than a full academic year from a campus on the semester calendar to one on the quarter calendar, or vice-versa, may not be able to maintain normal progress toward their degree objectives, may encounter difficulty with timely disbursement of financial aid, and may have difficulty in adjusting to the change of calendar. It is important to discuss this matter with your NSE coordinator, academic advisor, and financial aid officer during the application process.

If you attend a semester calendar campus and plan to exchange for a single term at a quarter calendar campus, you should consider an exchange for the winter and spring quarters to maximize the credits you will transfer back from your host exchange campus. If you attend a campus that uses the quarter calendar and plan to exchange for a single term at a semester calendar campus, you should consider an exchange for the fall semester to maximize the credits you will transfer back from your host exchange campus.