Independent Study Away

Information on: Planning your study away |Where can I study | Requirements | Application process | Distance education courses | Apply and enroll at host university |Before you leave |While at the host university | Cancel your study away application

Important Announcements:

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 your final term and must select the term of graduation (on Minerva) AFTER your term away.

Term Away Select Graduation term of
Fall Winter term (June Graduation/Convocation)
Winter Summer term (November Graduation/Convocation)

Note to American students regarding federal student aid: students who are taking distance education (online courses), research abroad, Official McGill Exchange or a Study Abroad program, please review the rules and regulations on the Scholarships and Student Aid website or go to the Scholarships and Student Aid office, Brown Building.

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:

  • 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 on 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.

Note to American students regarding federal student aid: While on official exchange from McGill you are considered to be a full-time McGill student for U.S. Direct Loan purposes.  Please be aware that regulations by the U.S. Department of Education states that you can receive U.S. Direct Loans only if attending a school that participates in the U.S. Direct Loan program, and the school is located outside of the U.S.  For more information, please visit the Scholarships and Student Aid website.

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 for each program and/or department.

With your adviser(s):

  • Discuss your selected host university and the courses you may want to take.
  • 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 a 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 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 of a 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 may 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 is a recommendation only and is NOT 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 degree at McGill University (with your program(s) of study accurately reflected on your Minerva transcript); 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 at the bottom of your Minerva Study Away application.

Course Equivalency System

All courses taken abroad must be approved using the Course Equivalency System.

Search the database to determine if the course you want to take has already been approved.  You may want to use the “External” course number and then “Country” or “Institution” to determine if the course has already been approved.  Make sure you also tick off “Include Expired Decisions”.  The course may have already been approved, but might be expired, which means you will have to request a “Reassessment”.

If the course is not on the course database, then you must login (using your McGill email address and password) and “Submit a Request”. For further information on using the system, please go to Frequently asked questions

In addition to the required list of syllabus information, detailed on the Course Syllabus Checklist, you must also ensure that the syllabus contains the following information:
Institution's name
Course Number
Course description (content)
Date of course/syllabus (year/term).

Once you have made an independent study away application, you will then have access to the Minerva "Transfer Credit Assessment Form”.  Only courses that appear on the Course Equivalency System can be added to the Transfer Credit Assessment Form.  For further information, please refer to the Help Field on Minerva.

If you intend to use this course towards a program requirement you will need to email the departmental program adviser to get their approval on the Transfer Credit Assessment form once the course has been add to the form.  Please consult the list of 

You cannot assume that you will receive 3 credits for a course equivalency even if the course is 3 credits at McGill. 

Online courses must be pre-approved by the Faculty of Science (even if the course has been approved on the course equivalency system).  Send a detailed course syllabus to mary.gauthier [at] (Mary Gauthier).  The Faculty of Science has the right to request a course syllabus (even if the course is approved on the course equivalency system). 

The Faculty of Science has the final approval for all courses taken by a B.Sc. or B.A. & Sc. student outside of McGill.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact mary.gauthier [at] (Mary Gauthier).

 Submit your application according to the following period and deadlines:

For Fall term only
or Fall & Winter terms:
February 1st to August 15
For Winter term only: February 1st to December 1

C. Notification Procedure: If your request is approved, you will receive an email notification 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 for an online course, however, you must seek prior approval of the Director of Advising Services. Please submit your written request to mary.gauthier [at] (Mary Gauthier). In your email indicate your reasons for taking this online course and attach a detailed course syllabus which includes the method of evaluation as well as the information detailed in the Course Equivalency System section above.

If the Faculty of Science approves you to take the online course, it must then be evaluated using the course equivalency system.  Once this has been done, the final approval from the Faculty will be given.


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 from McGill University.

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


A. Get Course Approvals: using the Course Equivalency System.

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 transfer credit issues.

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: Enrolment Services, Student Records, McGill University, 3415 McTavish Street, Room MS 13, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3A 0C8.

D. 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.


If you need to cancel your independent study away application, please fill out this form: Cancel your study away application.