General Education

You can fulfill general education credits through studying abroad regardless of your class standing. This page explains the process for receiving general education credit based on your program.

Note: U.S. Diversity and Writing Foundations requirements generally cannot be fulfilled abroad. Some exceptions apply. 

Student in Desert


Global Perspectives

The Global Perspectives requirement is fulfilled by taking any 3-credit course abroad. You will need to secure a general course equivalency in order for GVSU to transfer your course and assign Global Perspectives credit. Please note that the course you take does not need to match the courses listed as Global Perspectives credit at GVSU. When you complete your program and the credit is entered into Banner for the courses you took abroad, Records will assign the Global Perspectives credit to one of the courses that you completed.


Students can fulfill any of the following Foundations General Education courses abroad:

  • Arts
  • Historical Analysis
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematical Sciences
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • Physical Sciences
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

Please Note: Students may not earn credit for both a Foundations requirement and an Issues requirement for the same course.

Process for Requesting Approval:

  1. Review list of courses available at host institution to identify courses you could take in the Foundations categories you would like to fulfill
  2. Review the pre-approved course list for your program to determine if the course you want to take has been pre-approved by GVSU and/or if it is already approved as a Foundations course
  3. Request departmental approval from the appropriate GVSU department if the course has not been pre-approved. Please note: The GVSU academic department cannot grant general education approval. The course needs a departmental approval so that the General Education department can grant approval. 
  4. Complete the Foundations Approval Form to request approval from the General Education Office 

Foundations Form

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Students in City


You do not have to be junior status to take your Issues courses abroad! In this section you can learn more about how to satisfy your Issues requirement through your study abroad program:

Issues Eligibility

Issues FAQ's

Issues Approval Submission Process

Issues Friendly Faculty-Led Programs


Issues Eligibility

It may be possible to satisfy two Issues courses abroad depending on your program:

  • Faculty-Led 
    • If the program offers two 3-credit courses from different disciplines, you can satisfy two Issues requirements
    • If the program offers two 3-credit courses from the same discipline, you can satisfy one Issues requirement abroad and you will need to take the other Issues course at GVSU from a different discipline.
    • If the program offers one 3-credit course, you can satisfy one Issues requirement abroad and you will need to take the other Issues course at GVSU from a different discipline.
  • Partnership/External 
    • You can take two 3-credit courses abroad from any discipline and satisfy two Issues requirements
    • You can take one 3-credit course abroad from any discipline to satisfy one Issues requirement. You will need to take the other Issues course at GVSU from a different discipline.

Important Notes:

  1. Courses taken abroad cannot count for both Issues and Foundations credit
  2. Independent study, independent research, and independent readings (XXX399 and XXX499) courses cannot be used to satisfy Issues credits.
  3. If an Issues course taken on-campus is cross-listed in two disciplines, your second Issues course must be taken from a third discipline.
Students in Classroom

Issues FAQs

Yes. You must secure the departmental approval for each course you complete abroad before you can complete the General Education Issues Reflection Essay. All courses completed abroad are assigned a GVSU course equivalency by the relevant academic department. The course equivalency is a required field on the Issues Reflection Form. If the course you complete overseas has already been reviewed by the academic department, and the course equivalency is listed on one of the course equivalency charts available on the PIC website, you do not have to get that course approved by the department

No. Students will not receive approval for the Issues requirement prior to studying abroad. The Study Abroad Issues Reflection Proposal Form requires a written Study Abroad Reflection Essay to be attached when you are requesting approval to earn credit for the Issues requirement.

The requirements for the Study Abroad Issues requirement are:

  • The course(s) you complete abroad must be approved as a minimum of a 3-credit course at GVSU. It can be more than 3 credits, but it must be a minimum of 3 GVSU credits.
  • The course cannot also fulfill a General Education Foundations requirement.
  • If you are participating in a faculty-led program, or are taking less than 6 credits abroad, your two Issues courses must be from two different academic disciplines.
  • Independent study, independent research, and/or independent readings are not eligible for Issues credit.
  • Your Issues Reflection Essay and Issues Proposal Form must be submitted to the General Education office within 60 days after you return from your program.

Yes. If the course you complete abroad meets major or minor requirements, it can also be used to meet the General Education Issues requirement.

Yes. With the appropriate approvals, you can earn credit for all three requirements with one course.

Yes. As long as the study abroad course is at least 6 US credits, you can request this course towards 2 General Education Issues requirements. Faculty-Led Program courses excluded.

Yes. You can request approval for these courses to meet the General Education Issues requirement, provided you complete the required Issues Reflection Essay and Study Abroad Issues Proposal Form.

Partially. The COST programs fulfills 1 Issue course (reflection essay still required) and then you must take an additional Issue course before or after the program itself from a different discipline. COST programs do fulfill the General Education Global Perspectives requirement.

Partially. The faculty-led teacher assisting programs fulfills 1 Issue course (reflection essay still required) and then you must take an additional Issue course before or after the program itself from a different discipline. Faculty-led teacher assisting programs do fulfill the General Education Global Perspectives requirement.

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Issues Approval Submission Process

Select one of the six Issues topics listed below. Reflect on the entirety of your experience abroad which includes your course work and your experiences outside of the classroom (i.e., sight-seeing, mass transportation, lodging, encounters with other people in the country, buying food, etc.). You may select topics underneath the broader issue, just be sure to list both the Issue and the specific topic you are addressing. Only 1 reflection paper is needed to fulfill entire General Education Issues requirement (1 paper for both courses, 1-2 pages single-spaced).

  1. Information, Innovation, and Technology - Including issues related to media, privacy, access, transparency, intellectual property, ethics, economics, creativity, education, politics, etc.
  2. Health - Including issues related to equity, disparities, health systems, finance, access, ethics, quality of care, safety, happiness, human development, genetics, etc.
  3. Human rights - including issues related to political systems, power, war, peace, violence, terrorism, wealth, poverty, privacy, religion, gender, women, children, disabilities, labor aging, incarceration, torture, etc.
  4. Identity - Including issues related to gender, sexuality, religion, culture, race, class, family, community, difference, education, technology, etc.
  5. Globalization - Including issues related to capitalism, economic justice, health, migration and immigration, communication, borders, education, etc. 
  6. Sustainability - Including issues related to the environment, population, natural resources, economic development, social justice, energy, etc.

Reflection Questions:

1. Describe the similarities in perspective on the problem, causes, and potential solutions to the Issue between the U.S. and the country you visited

2. Describe the differences in perspectives on the problem, causes, and potential solutions to the Issue between the U.S. and the country you visited.

Note: You must submit both your Issues Form and the Reflection Paper to the General Education office within 60 days of your return from studying abroad. Contact the General Education office if it is past the 60 days and you plan on still submitting the form [email protected]

Issues Form


Supplemental Writing Skills (SWS)

Students must work with the SWS director upon return from their study abroad program to request SWS credit. You will need to save all course materials including the course syllabus and all of your writing assignments. Follow these steps to request SWS credit:

  1. Review SWS requirements at GVSU at:

  2. Find courses at the host institution that meet the SWS criteria.

  3. E-mail documents to the Director of SWS: Dr. Jerry Stinnett, [email protected]

  4. SWS Director will review supporting documents. Student will be notified of final approval.

    ***NOTE: SWS approval will not be determined until after completion of the course. Approval will not be made prior to departure.

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Page last modified July 18, 2022