Study Abroad

The Department of History encourages students to study abroad, and while there, to take courses relevant to the host country—courses which may not be available to you at Penn. Read through the information below carefully and, if necessary, consult your major advisor or the Department’s Study Abroad and Transfer Credit Advisor during the application process and as you prepare to register for classes.

Note: Penn Abroad and Penn Summer Abroad programs are different.  Penn Abroad programs are administered by the Office of International Programs.  Penn Summer Abroad programs are administered by the College of Liberal and Professional Studies. Courses taken through Penn Summer Abroad do not require the credit approval process outlined below.

Study Abroad Credit Approval Process

The Department of History typically approves all courses taken in a history department at a Penn-approved program (those in the Penn Abroad programs database). In addition, these courses can count towards the History Major at Penn. Pre-approval for these courses is not necessary, but you will need to submit your syllabus in order to receive the credit.

Once you have the course syllabus, complete your credit request by following the Department's Instructions for XCAT (External Course Approval Tool).


  • While the Department understands that foreign syllabi do vary in form, we cannot grant final approval on the basis of a short course description or title. If, as is often the case, you have very little information to go on, or your class plans change once you arrive on site at your host institution, you may contact the Advisor for preliminary advice, but you will not receive final approval until you complete the process through XCAT.
  • If you take a course at your host university that is primarily historical in content, but is taught in another department, OR if are petitioning to attend a foreign institution that is not a Penn-approved program, you may request approval from the Penn Department of History, but each course will considered on a case-by-case basis without the assumption of approval.
  • Courses whose primary subject is Ancient History, such as Ancient Rome or Greece, need to be submitted to the Penn Classical Studies Department for approval, even if they are in a history department at the abroad institution. This does not prevent these courses from being counted towards the Major; an ANCH course taken abroad is treated the same as a HIST course taken abroad.
  • Sector Requirements: the Department of History will NOT approve courses from elsewhere to satisfy the College’s Sector Requirements. These requirements must be met with courses taken at Penn. (Class of 2009 and earlier: a course from elsewhere may satisfy distributional only.) If you are a student in Wharton, SEAS or another college: the policies and advisors in your program will establish how these credits count towards graduation requirements.
  • If you take courses in a Penn Summer Abroad program, administered through LPS, and your course has a regular Penn course number (i.e. HIST 174), you do not need to request credit through XCAT. It should appear on your transcript just as a Penn course would.
  • For additional information, including matters concerning grades, see: College Study Abroad Policies.


Advice for History Majors

While pre-approval of study abroad courses is not required, we highly recommend that you consider in advance how courses taken abroad will fit best in your major program. In planning your abroad schedule, we recommend that you take the courses that most interest you, provided you keep the following general rules in mind:

  • Abroad courses can count towards the appropriate Geographic and Chronological Distributions, but they may not count for the required two upper-level seminars.
  • You may also count up to two abroad courses towards a regional concentration (e.g. America, Europe), and up to four for a thematic concentration (e.g. Intellectual, Diplomatic), provided the courses are topically relevant and subject to the approval of your advisor. Otherwise, abroad courses will count in the category of “other courses for the major” towards the 12 course units needed.
  • Remember: the total number of courses you may take outside the Penn History Department, including credit away, study abroad, and major-related courses in other departments, cannot exceed a maximum of four.

Once the approved study abroad credit appears on Penn InTouch, you will then need to bring your syllabi and other course materials and consult with your major advisor to determine the appropriate level and which requirement a given course may fulfill in your major program, according to the general rules above. Whether a course is introductory, advanced, or relevant to your concentration is for you and your major advisor to discuss and decide.

Study Abroad Course Numbers

All approved study abroad credits are all assigned a number in the HIST 180 series. This is a generic grouping of numbers for abroad courses that indicate only the general subject of a course, not its level. The Department of History does not award "equivalent" credit for any course number at Penn. Students may receive multiple credits for courses that receive the same number.

  • HIST 1810: American History Before 1800
  • HIST 1815: American History After 1800
  • HIST 1820: European History Before 1800
  • HIST 1825: European History After 1800
  • HIST 1830: African or Middle Eastern History Before 1800
  • HIST 1835: African or Middle Eastern History After 1800
  • HIST 1840: Latin American or Caribbean History Before 1800
  • HIST 1845: Latin American or Caribbean History After 1800
  • HIST 1850: East or South Asian History Before 1800
  • HIST 1855: East or South Asian History After 1800
  • HIST 1860: Transregional History Before 1800
  • HIST 1865: Transregional History After 1800


Numbers Before Fall 2022:

  • HIST 181: Europe (including Britain and Australia) pre-1800
  • HIST 182: Europe (including Britain and Australia) post-1800
  • HIST 183: United States and Canada pre-1800
  • HIST 184: United States and Canada post-1800
  • HIST 185: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East pre-1800
  • HIST 186: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East post-1800

Still have questions?

Contact the History Study Abroad and Transfer Credit Advisor.