Academic Planning for Exchange Students

Taking classes at UT has some considerations specific to reciprocal exchange students. This page details some things to keep in mind.

Student Status

Except for participants in the MBA, Law and LBJ School exchange programs, all exchange students at UT are considered undergraduate students, regardless of their status at their home university. Exchange students register as non-degree seeking students for one or two semesters. Academic work completed at UT is credited towards the degrees at students’ home universities.


Most academic advisors at the home university help exchange students plan their appropriate academic program in advance. Exchange students and their home university advisors should keep in mind that an important benefit of studying abroad is to experience a new educational system and to have the opportunity to take courses different from those taught at home. The US higher education system emphasizes breadth of knowledge at the undergraduate level and it is common for students to take classes outside their major field of study. Learn more about UT Colleges & Schools.

The links below will help you find academic advisors in each UT department. You will need to meet with an academic advisor after arriving at UT before you can register for classes.

Course Availability

UT Academic departments make every effort to accommodate exchange students in their classes, but due to popularity of specific classes and equipment constraints in some majors, students may not always get all the courses they want.

  • Be flexible. If you need advance approval for UT coursework, ask your home university advisor to approve some alternate courses in case your first choices are not available.
  • Take a variety of courses. UT students rarely take four courses in the same department each semester. Look for appropriate courses in other departments in the college or school in which you will enroll.
  • Be aware of prerequisites listed for courses you want to take at UT. Academic departments expect students to have completed these required (or similar) courses before allowing exchange students to register for an advanced or graduate level course.
  • Have a list with a wide array of classes from which you can choose. Departments cannot commit in advance to saving you a space nor promise that the course will even be offered.
  • If you plan to study at UT your last semester before graduation, be sure your graduation does not depend on a specific UT course in case it is not available during your exchange program.

Registering for Classes

Review the UT Course Schedules and Catalogs. Course Schedules list courses offered each semester. The fall schedule is available in early April and the spring schedule is available in mid-October. If the course schedule for the semester you will be attending UT is not posted yet, you can review the course schedule for a previous corresponding semester. This won’t be 100% accurate, but it will give you a general idea for planning purposes. Review Understanding How to Use the Course Schedule for more information.

Catalogs have brief course descriptions and prerequisites listed for each course. Not all of these classes are taught every semester. If your academic advisor at your home institution wants detailed course descriptions, search syllabi from previous semesters. Be aware that professors distribute new and updated syllabi during the first week of classes. Your actual syllabi might be slightly different from the ones listed for previous semesters. After you arrive in Austin and before you register for classes, you will need to remove all registration bars.

UT’s Course Numbering System

Courses are identified by field of study, number of credit hours and whether the class is upper or lower division or graduate level. Here is an example:

HIS 309K Western Civilization in Medieval Times

This is a history class HIS that is worth 3 credit hours. Most lecture courses meet three hours a week in the fall and spring semesters and have a credit value of three hours. For each hour a class meets, an average of two additional hours of preparation is expected of the student. Unlike lecture based classes, the time requirement in the laboratory, field, or studio varies with the nature of the subject and the aims of a course, so there is no fixed ratio of credit hours to class hours.

The numbers “09” tell you the class is lower division, since lower division classes number from 1-19. Lower division courses are introductory, generally taken by freshman and sophomore year undergraduate students. Upper division courses, numbered from 20 to 79—are more advanced and are generally taken by junior and senior year undergraduate students. Graduate level courses—numbered from 80 to 99—require special permission from the department for exchange students to enroll in them.

Grades and Credits

Read Understanding UT’s grading system for a closer look at how the University grades. Generally, U.S. academic credits are transferred on a 1 to 2 scale to European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. So a 3 credit course would be counted as a 6 ECTS credit course. Most UT courses are 3 credits. The final decision on how to transfer credits is up to your university. UT will send an unofficial grade report but students must request an official transcript directly from the Office of the Registrar.

Exchange Student Fees

  • $125 International Student Fee
  • $10 UT ID Card Fee
  • Health insurance approximately $1200 per semester (subject to change)
  • Fees can only be paid after course registration. It is not possible to pay the fees before registration.

Restricted Programs

Some programs at UT are either highly selective due to high student demand, require specific application requirements, or are completely unavailable to exchange students. Programs not open to the general exchange can be found on the Applying to UT Exchange Programs page. Courses designated “restricted” require students to obtain permission to take those classes from the department advisor or course instructor during registration week.