Frequently Asked Questions

Please find below some of the common questions we receive related to the International Exchange Program at the Alberta School of Business. The questions have been divided into four categories: General, Eligibility, Application & Selection and Academics & Credits.

If you should need any additional information on any aspect of a potential or pending exchange program, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of the Exchange Coordinators.

General FAQs

Where can I go?
The Alberta School of Business has direct student exchange partnerships with 40+ institutions in 25 countries around the world for semester programs as well as select destinations for Spring/Summer study abroad options. Please see the Exchange Destinations page for a list of all formal partner institutions. University-wide exchange opportunities are also available to Alberta School of Business students through the University of Alberta Education Abroad Program.
What will it cost?
The overall cost of participating on an exchange will vary depending on a number of factors, including destination (cost of living in Sweden, for example, is much higher than in Thailand) and what kind of lifestyle you maintain while there (how much you eat out, travel, drink, shop, etc.). However, participating on an exchange is probably not as expensive as you think and the cost of a semester abroad can actually be comparable to (or even less than!) what you might pay for a semester in Edmonton at the UofA. For more information on associated costs and a comparison of sample budgets at home vs. abroad, please see the Costs page of the website.
What's the difference between an exchange program through the Alberta School of Business and the UofA Go Abroad Office?
The School of Business is the one of the only faculties at the UofA that has its own international partners and runs its own exchange programs. UofA Business students have the option of applying for an exchange through the Alberta School of Business or through central Go Abroad, which is university-wide and covers international programs for all faculties at the UofA. There are some minor differences between the two, including deadlines, application procedures, etc, but from the student perspective, it is mostly a matter of where you want to go. The Alberta School of Business has direct partnerships with institutions in different places than the Go Abroad Office does. Obviously, the School of Business is focused on business exchanges for business students and therefore all the partners/destinations through the School of Business are either strictly business & management institutions (such as the WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management) or larger universities with strong business faculties (such as the University of Edinburgh Business School). We have approximately 45 destinations around the globe available for BCom and/or MBA students. The Go Abroad university-wide office has far more destinations available and they may have programs that offer strong business programs as well, but that is likely not the primary reason the partnerships are formed on the university level. Which office you apply through will depend largely on which destination you decide is best for you.
Is there specific funding available for exchange?
Yes. There are several scholarships and awards available specifically to help fund exchanges, either in general or to a specific destination. Please see the Funding page on the School of Business Exchange website and/or the Individual Awards page of the central Go Abroad website for more information.
Will I be eligible for awards & student loans for an exchange? After returning from an exchange?

Yes, because students outgoing on a formal exchange program are registered and enrolled at the University of Alberta for the duration of their term(s) abroad, they remain eligible for all regular UofA scholarships, awards and bursaries as well as Canada and Alberta student loans to support their exchange term(s). Application to these should be done in prior to departure on exchange and would work in the same way as it normally does for an applicant staying at the UofA.

Please note, however, that your participation on exchange could make you ineligible to apply for certain UofA awards upon return from your exchange. This is particularly true if the award requires full-time status (30 credits/year) or certain GPA metrics for eligibility. Courses taken on exchange cannot be used to calculate a GPA for awards purposes because it would operate unevenly. Every institution and every system is different and there is no fair way to translate them into the UofA. There is no straightforward way to come up with a system of grade equivalencies that would put students going on exchange on an even competitive field with students who have stayed home. Therefore, the exchange term grades are excluded from award considerations and only UofA-taught courses are factored into a student's GPA.

Can I do both Co-op AND Exchange?
Yes. The exchange program is open to any continuing BCom student who has completed at least their first year in the Alberta School of Business, including those participating on Co-op. We have certainly had many Co-op students go on exchanges in the past either prior to, in between or following their placement terms. The main complication from my perspective is working out the timing and coordination to ensure that you meet all requirements and obligations of both programs. This usually involves making sure the dates don't overlap so as to keep you from fully committing to or fulfilling either. It is recommended you discuss this with both the Co-op Office and your academic advisor in the Undergraduate Programs Office to confirm your degree compatibility and ensure you have room for both programs.
How do I get started?
A good place to start is going to meet with your academic advisor to let them know you are interested in doing a possible exchange as part of your academic program. You'll want to confirm your degree compatibility & credit options early so you can move forward with confidence.
Explore available destinations and start gathering information using this website and other resources. Read some past participant reports to see what other students' experiences were like on exchange.
You're also welcome to come speak to an exchange coordinator at any time to clarify options and ask questions.


What are the basic eligibility requirements for participating on an exchange?

BCom and MBA students, including international students, can all potentially participate on an exchange program through the Alberta School of Business.

  • BCom applicants are required to complete at least their first year of studies in the Alberta School of Business before they are eligible to participate on exchange. Applications may be submitted during the first year, but students will not be allowed to depart on exchange until at least their third semester in the BCom Program.
  • Candidates should have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Focus will be put on performance after entering the School of Business and marks in your most recently completed terms when evaluating candidates. (Note: Some institutions and destinations are highly competitive and might require a higher GPA than the minimum indicated.) Final approval of academic standing will be at the discretion of the BCom or MBA Office.
  • Applicants must be registered as a continuing UofA student with at least *3 credits remaining before finishing a degree.
  • BCom students in the Co-op program are eligible to also participate on an exchange, but must work out timing and coordination with both offices to ensure all requirements and obligations can be met for both programs.
Is it possible to go on exchange during the final semester before I graduate?

Participating on a final term exchange is very possible and has been done numerous times before, but it comes with two main complicating factors. One is that June convocation is not possible. The reason for this is that even if you finish up your degree requirements on exchange in time (and most institutions have semesters that last well past ours anyway), we will still need an official transcript from the host university before approved credits can be finalized and actually counted towards your degree at the UofA. And those transcripts are never available before the deadline for Spring Convocation. For some students this is a deal-breaker and for others it is less important. Ultimately, you degree will still say the same thing and be issued for the same year, but your convocation would not happen until November.

The other thing you should be aware of is that because it will be your final semester, you will likely have more limited course flexibility. If you plan to complete your degree requirements while on exchange, you'll just need to make sure you know exactly what you need from your program here and ensure that you can transfer the credit necessary from the courses offered on exchange. You'll want to make sure you don't have to come back for one or two courses after your exchange in order to complete your requirements. Of course, this can be easily managed with proper planning before you go.

If you are strongly considering a Winter term exchange which would be your final semester, I would recommend that you consult your academic advisor in the BCom Office to discuss and make sure it looks feasible from their perspective first. As long as you plan it appropriately and know what you're getting into, there's no reason a student cannot do an exchange in the final semester of their degree. However, if you have the option and convocating in June is important to you, I would recommend you aim for a Fall term exchange instead.

Do I need to speak another language?

No, all exchange programs available through the Alberta School of Business offer courses taught in English, although the selection of English courses is greater at some institutions than it is at others. Regardless, most participating students are able to take a full load of classes on exchange and successfully operate within the environment of the home country even if English is their only language. Participants who do possess adequate second language skills may choose to take courses in that language from the native curriculum assuming they are proficient enough to follow the academic content and pending an assessment exam/proof of proficiency to the host institution.

Participants going to any destination where English is not the native language are always encouraged to learn some of the language before going and to build upon that during the exchange. Having at least some knowledge of the local language can certainly open up doors and add layers of depth to the overall experience, but it is not a requirement for participation.

Is it possible to go on more than one exchange during a degree program?
It is, in theory, possible to participate on more than one exchange program during a single degree and it has been done a few times before. Each case is different, however, and applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and will be based on a number of factors, including how well it will fit into the applicant's particular degree program. The likelihood of someone who has already been on an exchange being chosen for another will depend, among other things, on how the participant did on the first exchange. We want to see the outcomes of one exchange before we will consider sending that same student on another program, so exchanges in consecutive semesters are not possible. However, assuming successful and satisfactory completion of one program and other factors including credit availability, academic standing, proper motivation, etc. there is no reason why a previous candidate could not be considered for a second exchange later in their degree program.
Can I do an exchange to the same place more than once?
No, we will not send the same student to the same destination more than once. Participants have the option of doing a summer, single semester or full year. But if a second exchange is permitted, it must be to a different destination. It does not serve the purpose for which the exchange program was intended to send a student to the same destination on more than one occasion.
Can I do an exchange to a university NOT listed as a partner destination of the School of Business/University of Alberta?

Exchanges are possible only at institutions with which the School or University has established a formal partnership agreement. These agreements allow for the bilateral movement of students between the institutions and facilitate an expedited and simplified admission procedure. It also allows students to pay home tuition and fees for semester programs. A list of institutions with which the Alberta School of Business currently has formal exchange agreements can be found on our Partner Institutions page. Business students are also able to participate on an exchange through one of the university-wide partnerships available through the UofA Go Abroad Office.

If there is no formal agreement in place at the University of Alberta, a short-term study at an international institution might be possible as an independent study abroad. This differs from a formal exchange in that applicants apply as a visiting student directly to the institution they wish to attend, but as the name suggests, it is an independent endeavor. With no exchange agreement to facilitate the process, it is up to the individual student to seek admission through the regular application process according to that institution and, if accepted on a short-term program, pay tuition and fees to that institution. It is also necessary for students pursuing an independent study abroad (often called "free movers") to ensure that their UofA degree program would recognize any credits they might take at another institution and can count them towards a degree.

I am a student in the Faculty of Arts/Science/etc. Can I participate on a School of Business exchange program?
We can consider an application from non-business UofA students for an exchange program with space remaining. However, as a School policy we must give priority to students from the BCom and MBA programs first for direct business partnerships. This means that any non-business applications could be considered only if there are spots unused by business students. Interested students from other faculties are welcome to pursue an exchange to a School of Business partner destination, but the availability of additional spots open to non-business students cannot be confirmed until the application period for that term has been completed. Please consult the School of Business Student Exchange Coordinator for more information.
Is it possible to go on exchange while doing a BCom After Degree?
It is possible to participate on an exchange as an after-degree student but realistically it is unlikely that a student will be able to receive credit towards degree requirements. The program has a residency requirement wherein course work must be completed at the UofA, particularly senior business courses specific to the major chosen. Students in the School of Business are permitted to go on exchange for the experience aspect and can choose courses not related to their program (and hence not receive credit) so as not to affect residency.
Business students are only eligible to participate on an exchange after their first year in Business. This can also complicate the process if a student wishes to complete an after-degree in a limited time period.
I am an international student at the UofA from another country. Can I apply for an exchange to my native country?
As a general policy we will not send a student on exchange to his/her own home country without detailed and compelling reasons for doing so. One of the purposes of an exchange program is to immerse students in new cultures, languages and practices to help further broaden their perspective and understanding of global issues. Having a student participate on an exchange to the country they are originally from and already familiar with largely defeats those purposes. Some of our exchange partners do not allow nomination of domestic students for exchange anyway.

Application & Selection

How do I apply?
Step by step instructions for applying to a School of Business exchange program can be found on the Application page of our website. Please contact & consult the Exchange Coordinator for more information.
How competitive are the spots for an exchange program?
There are a limited number of spots available for each exchange destination. Some destinations are more popular than others and therefore securing a spot to one of these programs can be more competitive. Applicants are evaluated on a number of criteria (see acceptance question below) and preference is sometimes given to final year students. Those identified as exceptional candidates may be awarded early selection, so early application is always encouraged because spots for a particular destination could potentially fill up before the posted deadlines for application. A successful application will therefore depend on the quality of the application and, for the destinations in high demand, potentially the timing of its submission as well.
What does one's acceptance into the exchange program depend on?

We look at a variety of factors and make selections based on the overall application package. Academic achievement is one of the criteria we look at, but it is not the only factor. Applicants to the exchange program should have at least a 3.0 GPA overall and especially for their semesters immediately prior to the exchange term. Having a high GPA always helps an application, but does not outweigh the other factors considered. Some of the important aspects we look for in applications include:

• a candidate's preparation and motivation;

• clear, well-thought-out reasons for wanting to participate and ideas for how it will benefit them and fit with their future goals;

• ability to adapt not only to the cultural and social aspects of an international exchange program but also to the different academic systems at the host institution;

• ability to not only benefit from, but contribute to the program and host institution through demonstration of past and planned extracurricular, volunteer and social activities;

• preparation and planning of the financial aspects of participating on an exchange; and

• an overall impression based on the interview and written materials of what kind of representative the candidate will be for the Alberta School of Business and the UofA as a whole to the partner school and in the foreign country.

When should I start my application?
Generally speaking, the earlier you start planning for an exchange, the better. We start accepting new applications on November 1 in the academic year prior to your exchange, so that is the earliest you can start actually applying. There is a lot you can do before the formal application period, however, including research and gathering information on destinations, confirming degree compatibility/credit options, budgeting, looking into past student feedback, etc. You'll find resources for many of these things on the School of Business outgoing exchange website and are welcome to speak to the exchange coordinator at any time.
How long does it take to find out if my application for exchange has been approved?

Applications are received on an on-going basis and reviewed in the order they are received. Those identified as exceptional candidates may be awarded early selection, usually within two to three weeks of their application submission. The remaining available spots in the exchange program will be allocated according to the outcome of the reviews at the end of the application period. Early application is strongly encouraged, but does not guarantee selection.

Please Note: selection from the Alberta School of Business does not guarantee admission to the partner institution. See below question for more information.

If nominated for exchange by the Alberta School of Business, is it still possible to be rejected by the host institution?

Assuming approval by ASB and nomination to the partner, it is technically still possible that a student can be rejected by the host university. Because each of our partners is an independent institution, they reserve the right to have the final say at who studies at their university and who doesn't. We cannot admit a student to another institution. Your final acceptance and confirmation of participation therefore, can only come from the host.

That being said, most institutions under exchange agreements rely on their partners to do most of the screening process to determine appropriate candidates for exchange. And perhaps more importantly, if we think a student will not ultimately be admitted by the partner, we do not want to nominate them in the first place. It doesn't look good for the relationship we maintain with that institution. However, although it is not automatic or guaranteed, receiving approval & nomination from the Alberta School of Business is a very good indicator that a candidate is likely to be accepted by the host institution. Part of our selection process is to ensure we only nominate suitable candidates in the first place.

What if I need to withdraw my application?
If you need to withdraw your application, please contact the Exchange Coordinator as soon as possible.
What should I do to prepare for my application interview?

In preparation for your exchange application, I recommend trying to learn about as many aspects related to participation on the exchange as possible. It certainly does not need to be exhaustive at this point and you'll continue to find out more about everything as the process goes on, but some things you'll definitely want to be familiar with going into the interview include a basic understanding of:

• course offerings at the host institution

• associated costs

• housing options

• semester dates

• academic structure

• the institution itself - facilities, extracurriculars, etc.

• the city/location

• transportation

• general exchange process moving forward

We also use the interview to answer whatever remaining questions an applicant might have and help give you more information on everything related to your participation. However, the more research you do at the start, the better your application will initially look, it should mean better preparation for the program, and ultimately, you want it to translate into a smoother transition and better experience on exchange. In addition to the above, the one thing we look for in the initial interview of exchange candidates is well-thought-out reasons for wanting to participate and being able to explain your goals and motivations for pursuing your destination of choice. And of course, you'll need a decent understanding of many of the things listed above in order to do that.

Academics & Credits

Can I get credit for my UofA degree from an exchange? How much?
In most cases, yes. But transfer credit is granted on a case-by-case basis. In theory, any course you take on exchange can count towards your degree here at the UofA IF you can fit it into your program AND you get approval from your program office. However, there is no automatic credit transfer. Students must submit a request to their academic advisor and those requests must be reviewed and approved before credit can be guaranteed. This is usually done after the main application process. As a first step, it is strongly recommended that you meet with your academic advisor to review your degree program and see what type of credit options and/or limitations you might have. Generally speaking, the more flexibility you have in what you can take, the easier it is to transfer credit. Planning your courses for the academic terms between now and your proposed exchange can help to ensure you save as much flexibility as possible and help maximize credit options for exchange.
How many courses do I have to take while on exchange?

Students on an exchange program are required to maintain full-time student status, so you will need to take the minimum full-time course load according to the host institution standards. Every institution is different, but most of our partners have a similar full-time status definition to us. That is usually the approximate equivalent of 9-15 UofA credits, which can mean anywhere from 2 to 10 partner institution courses, depending on the destination.

However, regardless of how many credits you are required to take at the host institution, that is separate from how many you transfer back to your degree here. You actually don't have to transfer back any credits, although most students understandably prefer to. You will only transfer back the credits you want AND get approved by your Program Office. So even if you are required by the partner institution to take, say 4 courses/12 credits on exchange, you can choose to seek credit for only the ones you need for your degree at the UofA. The other courses you take on exchange for which you do not wish to seek transfer credit can be anything you wish/of personal interest because they will not be taken into consideration here.

Please note: participants will pay the same UofA tuition and fees for an exchange program regardless of the number of courses taken at the host institution or how many credits they transfer back to their degree at the UofA. Please see our Costs page for more information on tuition and costs for outgoing exchange.

How will exchange affect my GPA?

Grades from exchanges do not change a participant's UofA GPA. With approval from the Program Office, credits from coursework done on exchange can be counted towards a degree program, but the grades do not transfer. Exchanges operate on a basic pass/fail system. Students do need to pass the foreign-taught courses with a minimum UofA equivalent (at least a C- for BCom; at least a C+ equivalent for MBA) in order to count the credit, but the grades from an exchange program are not factored into GPA, whether credit is transferred or not. A student's UofA GPA will therefore remain the same as it was prior to exchange participation. With such different grading systems around the world, there is no way to translate grades to a common metric and compare students who have studied at different institutions. For that reason, only UofA-taught courses are factored into your UofA GPA.

Even though it is strictly pass/fail for your current UofA degree, if you ever decide to apply for grad school, law school or sometimes even some scholarships, the admission/selection committees will almost always consider your UofA transcript incomplete and will require your exchange institution transcript (with all the grades from exchange) as well, just as they'd want to see all transcripts from every other institution you've attended. That means that you could have a great UofA transcript with a high GPA, but the marks you achieve at the foreign institution could influence the success of an application for admission to another school/program. So for your current degree, grades do not transfer. But for anything else outside your current degree that you might pursue down the road, you'll want to make sure your grades from exchange look good too.