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Independent Study Abroad

Students can pursue study abroad opportunities through universities with whom McMaster does not have a formal exchange agreement*.

*McMaster is not affiliated with any particular institutions or programs through which students may independently apply and complete coursework. Students are responsible for being aware of and following the policies, procedures, and regulations of the host school, as well as any travel advice and advisories issued by the Government of Canada.

Most students choose to pursue this opportunity during the spring/summer months. However, studying independently elsewhere during the regular year may be possible. Please be sure to speak with the academic advising office if you have found an opportunity that interests you.


Students must meet the eligibility requirements of the host school, and are responsible for seeking out their admission criteria. Students must also meet the minimum criteria at McMaster to study at another school for transfer credit. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Good academic standing
  • First-degree student (students pursuing a second degree are not eligible for transfer credit)
  • Within the transfer credit limit (i.e. students are eligible for a maximum of 60 units of transfer credit towards their degree)

Application and Payment

Students must first meet with the Academic Advisor for Study Abroad, Jenna Gloazzo, before applying to any independent programs or courses. All courses taken abroad must first be approved by the faculty in order for transfer credit to be considered. Normally, students may pursue only elective coursework through studying elsewhere, however special permission to take required courses may given upon approval from your program’s department (e.g. Department of Philosophy, Department of Communication Studies & Multimedia). Any coursework taken without prior approval by the faculty cannot be guaranteed for transfer credit.

Unlike the McMaster Exchange Program, all tuition and fees for independent study are administered by and paid to the host institution. Keep in mind that international fees and tuition can cost a great deal more than your typical tuition at McMaster. Students are solely responsible for admission, registration, and payments to the host school.

Transfer Credit

The faculty will not guarantee approval for transfer credit for courses taken outside McMaster unless you have received prior approval. If a student takes courses for which they have not received permission, transfer credit may not be awarded.

During your term abroad, the course(s) will appear on your transcript as ‘IP’ meaning In Progress. When the courses are complete, they will be marked as either ‘T’ for transfer credit or ‘NC’ for No Credit. Students must achieve a grade of at least ‘C-‘ in their course(s) to receive the transfer credit. Grades from courses taken at other institutions are not factored into your GPA at McMaster.

Travel Scholarships

There are travel scholarships made available by generous donors for students interested in studying abroad. For details, see the Travel Scholarships page.


Summer Study Abroad Programs

EXPLORE Summer French Immersion Program

The Killam Fellowship