The purpose of this section is to explain how ISA handles the foreign university transcripts of North American students who participate in our study abroad programs. ISA students study at accredited foreign universities and receive an official transcript upon completion of the program. The transcripts are sent to ISA from the foreign university. Because the American and overseas university schedules differ, it may take as long as 2-3 months for ISA to receive the official transcripts from the foreign university after the completion of an ISA program. Most U.S. universities are accustomed to this delay. Once the transcripts are sent to ISA, the Academic Records Department automatically sends one official transcript to the student’s respective home (U.S.) university and one unofficial photocopy to the student, unless there is an outstanding balance on the student’s account.
ISA sends official transcripts to students’ home universities via UPS, and the photocopy of the transcript that is sent to the student’s permanent address is sent via regular mail. This photocopy will be accompanied by a letter containing the UPS tracking number so that students may track their transcripts on the UPS website. Students may also check the status of their program’s transcripts at one of the links to the left.
Each transcript that is sent to students’ home universities is accompanied by an ISA cover letter that contains valuable information and is meant to facilitate the job of the transcript evaluator. The accompanying letter includes a translation of course titles, the number of hours of instruction for each course, the language level for each course (if applicable), the language of instruction for each course, and a note as to whether the courses were “regular” university courses (with local students of the host country) or “special” courses specifically designed for international students. Finally, the cover letter offers a grading scale recommendation. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student’s home university to determine the grade equivalencies and decide how classes taken abroad will apply to each student’s degree program. Once the transcripts are received by the home university, it often takes up to 8 weeks to evaluate transfer credit and update students’ academic records. In order for credits to be transferred, students must obtain course approval from their home universities. ISA recommends that students get this approval prior to departure.
At the end of an ISA program, it greatly benefits students to meet with their on-site professors to find out their grades BEFORE departing their study abroad site. This may not always be a possibility, but several of the programs will allow students to check their grades before departure, and this will help avoid academic disputes several months after their program has ended. ISA also recommends that students save all coursework and syllabi from the courses they complete at the host university. This may be beneficial to students if they contest a grade after returning to the U.S. This may also facilitate the transfer of credits from the host university to students’ home universities after the completion of the program.