Questions about Study Abroad? Please contact:

Caryn Stivelman, MBE, MSEd
Associate Director, Undergraduate Affairs

Penn Engineering Study Abroad

Steps to Study Abroad for Engineering Students:

Steps Prior to Departure Details
1. Freshman or Sophomore Year Decide to study abroad.
2. Visit Penn Global’s Penn Abroad Website.  
3. Select several programs that are of interest. Review online program brochures to choose program. Which programs are approved and which ones require petition?
4. Complete online pre-advising questionnaire. Instructions are included in the Penn Abroad 101 session.
5. Schedule appointment with home department to determine academic eligibility and course choices for satisfying major requirements.

** Study abroad eligibility requirements include a minimum 3.0 cumulative average in addition to a minimum 3.0 average every semester.
You can meet with your home department’s undergraduate chair, study abroad faculty advisor or coordinator. Since it is an exploratory conversation, be prepared to discuss specific programs / courses that can satisfy your major requirements.

*** See department contacts below***
6. Schedule an appointment with Penn Abroad Program Manager.  
7. Once you select the program you want to apply to, notify the Penn Abroad Program Manager you met – he/she will open an application for you. Once an application is opened, you can access it by visiting the Penn Abroad homepage. Click on the Access your Application button which will prompt you to log in with your PennKey and password.  As you complete the application, keep in mind specific deadlines and requirements.
8. Meet with Caryn Stivelman, Associate Director of Undergraduate Affairs, to complete online Academic Approval form on Penn Abroad application. To make an appointment, email Caryn Stivelman.

Please note: this step should occur before your application deadline but after you meet with your home department.
9. Submit all course approval requests via XCAT. The department to which the request is routed will decide whether or not to approve the course(s).

As you complete this step, be sure to meet again with your home department to discuss course offerings abroad and how they count toward your degree requirements.
Be sure to upload a syllabus for every course for which you are requesting approval. This way, the department has enough information to make an informed decision regarding course approvals.
10. Complete all items specified in application. Take note that you must complete a second application to the host university in addition to the Penn Abroad application. The second application can be found in the Penn Abroad application system under the Materials tab. Check your applicant homepage and Penn email account on a regular basis for reminders and updates from Penn Abroad. Your official acceptance to your program will be delivered via email.

Information Sessions:

Information sessions will be planned throughout the year to learn more about the programs. We will make every attempt to have students who have been abroad for a particular program attend these sessions so you can gain a better perspective and hear about their experiences.

Department Contacts:

UG Chair or Faculty Study Abroad Advisor
Associate Director/
Undergraduate Coordinator
BE Gershon Buchsbaum Kacy Dadura, Katherine Sas
CBE Wen Shieh Denice Gorte
CIS Andreas Haeberlen Desirae Cesar, Laura Fox
ESE Andre Dehon Staci Kaplan
MSE David Pope Vicky Lee
MEAM Paulo Arratia Lauren Kemp

A Few Additional Pointers:


  • If you do not upload a syllabus for each course approval request submitted, this will result in a delay in the approval process. The more information the home department has, the easier it will be to review the course approval request.
  • In XCAT, you have the ability to search for previously approved courses. Even though courses may have been approved in previous years, you cannot use precedents of other students because policies, equivalencies, and course content may change each semester. Therefore it is important to upload a syllabus for each course you are interested in taking.
  • In XCAT, when requesting approval for your courses for the fall or spring semester, be sure to select “study abroad” as the credit type. If you are studying abroad during the summer, however, you must select “credit away” as the credit type. Summer study abroad courses, if approved, will only be displayed on the Penn transcript as external transfer credit – you will not receive any formal grade for the course.
  • When you are abroad, once classes have begun, it is important to update your XCAT profile. If you change courses while abroad, you should obtain immediate approval for those newly enrolled courses in XCAT – do not wait until your return to the States to get the proper approvals. This will only lead to a longer delay in getting your grades posted.


  • All international transcripts must first be sent to Penn Abroad who will then post the transcripts on the Penn Abroad portal. If XCAT is not updated to reflect the courses you were enrolled in, this will delay the process of posting your official grades on Penn InTouch. Please take note it can take at least three months for Penn Abroad to receive the transcripts so please be patient.
  • All students studying abroad for a semester or a year are required to have all courses taken while abroad posted as Penn credit on their official Penn Engineering transcript.

Additional Things to Remember:

  • Plan, plan, plan! Make a rough plan of your remaining semesters here at Penn so you know what requirements you can fulfill abroad and how many classes you have left each semester once you return.
  • Although each program has different deadlines, please be aware that most deadlines for the fall semester are due in mid February to early March, while applications for the spring semester are due by mid-September/early October. Please consult the Penn Abroad program pages for further information on specific program deadlines.
  • You should be enrolled in a minimum of 4.0 but no more than 5.0 course units (CUs) while abroad.