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Academic Standards

The academic credibility of courses is one of USAC’s top priorities. As such, there are academic standards that are met.

Specialty Programs

On Specialty Programs, each USAC course meets or exceeds accrediting agencies’ standards of 15, 50-minute contact hours per credit, or the equivalent. Contact hours do not include long distance or inter-site travel time, tours outside the focus of a specific course, meals, recreational activities, receptions or local travel. Contact hours can include course specific tours, guest lectures, student projects or other activities furthering the specific objectives of the course. For example, a three credit class would require 45 contact hours per semester. USAC Specialty program semesters run approximately 14 to 15 weeks depending upon breaks, and typically are concurrent with U.S. semesters. Full-time enrollment is 12 credits or more per semester, however, most USAC students take 15 to18 credits per semester.

All courses and faculty on Specialty programs are approved by the department chair and dean of at least three USAC Affiliate Universities including, University of Nevada, Reno, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Idaho. As circumstances warrant, specific programs and courses are often reviewed by departments of additional Affiliate Universities.

Courses offered at the 100- or 200-level are intended as lower division undergraduate courses, while courses at the 300- or 400-level are intended as upper division undergraduate courses. A 600-level indicates that a course may be taken at the Graduate level. Any student who would like to take Graduate courses must receive approval from the central office at least 60 days ahead of departure as well as approval of the Resident Director.

Partnership Programs

On Partnership Programs, course loads and credit values vary. You are required to maintain full-time enrollment as determined by the local host university standards. All host universities offered through USAC are accredited through their regional educational accrediting agencies. Most U.S. universities will accept transfer credit but check with your registrar’s office to confirm.

Course Descriptions

For Specialty programs, course descriptions are available on the website in each program section. Specialty program course syllabi and Partnership course descriptions are available upon request by contacting the USAC Enrollment Department at

Graduate Courses

On Specialty programs, courses listed as 400/600 level can be taken for graduate credit. Additionally, the Partnership programs in Accra, Hiroshima, Seoul, Palmerston North, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Bristol, St Andrews and Växjö also offer graduate courses. For more information about earning graduate credit contact the USAC Enrollment Department at

Language Courses

USAC offers language courses for most proficiency levels from beginning to advanced. Specialty Programs offer both intensive and less intensive course structures in some locations. Intensive language courses are organized to allow you to complete up to two years of foreign language courses in just one semester. The language courses are set up in "Tracks". A track is a set of courses that are taught in sequential format. Each course is taught intensively for a section of the semester. For example: If you are enrolled in Spanish Track I, you will take Elementary Spanish I for the first 4 1/2 weeks, followed by Elementary Spanish II for the next 4 1/2 weeks, then Intermediate I for the next 3 weeks, and finally Intermediate II for the last 3 weeks.

Course Load

Specialty Programs

Summer/January Course Load

  • Minimum credits = 3
  • Maximum credits (you may be able to add an additional credit if you register for a 1-credit field study)
    • 3-week session = 4
    • 4-week session = 5
    • 5-week session = 6
    • 6-week session = 7

Semester/Yearlong Course Load

You are required to maintain full-time enrollment status, which is a minimum of 12 credits. You may enroll in a maximum of 18 credits.

Partnership Programs

Course loads vary and are determined by host university policies. For more information, refer to the course information in each program section. On some programs, courses may be measured in units/points rather than credits. For more information on credit and grade conversions for Partnership Programs, contact the USAC Enrollment Department at You must remain full time, USAC will advise on what units/points/credits will constitute a full time status.