Study Abroad

NOTE: The following information refers to credit for math courses taken at institutions outside of the U.S. while the student is enrolled at Duke. If you are interested in receiving credit for a math course to be taken at U.S. institutions other than Duke, please see Transfer Credits.

We encourage all students to experience study abroad learning opportunities. One great benefit of doing coursework abroad is to experience a foreign culture and to take courses that build on the unique local experience, such as immersion in the local language, culture, literature, history, and ecology of the area. Like any subject, studying mathematics abroad takes careful advance planning. Unfortunately different foreign educational systems may package mathematical material into courses differently from how it is commonly done in the U.S. Thus it is sometimes difficult to find a course abroad that can satisfy a specific required Duke math course requirement.

Duke students make arrangements for studying abroad through the Global Education Office. Since choosing a study abroad program involves many factors, we do not recommend specific programs. (Though if you wish to spend the majority of your time doing mathematics, we have heard good reports of the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program.) Since courses can change and students' needs differ, we do not pre-approve courses but instead we will evaluate transfer credit approval on a student by student basis.

To request transfer credit approval for a specific math course you wish to take abroad, follow the procedure below.

Notes on Study Abroad Transfer Credit

  • Start planning early, ideally two semesters prior to the semester abroad.  Researching an approval request takes us time and we get many such requests.
  • Transfer credit will not be approved for courses for which you do not satisfy the prerequisites.
  • We will approve a course to transfer as a Duke math course if it covers at least the same material as the corresponding Duke course at the same level. (You can avoid wasted time by comparing syllabi and course descriptions yourself and choose a different course when you see obvious differences.)
  • If a math course does not match precisely a current Duke offering but is deemed worthwhile, we may approve it for generic credit (MATH 100, 200, 300, or 400).
  • For math majors, MATH 401/501 and MATH 431/531 should be taken at Duke except under exceptional circumstances with prior approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Taking either one of these before study abroad may widen the possible course options you have.
  • As when choosing any course, students may consult with their major advisors regarding appropriate math courses and the strengths of some foreign programs in particular subfields.
  • At least half of the required courses for a math major or minor should be taken at Duke.
  • Some courses have a different code used for transfer. In particular, Calculus I taken elsewhere is coded as MATH 121, whereas Calculus II taken elsewhere is coded as MATH 122.
  • If you receive transfer credit for MATH 121, and intend to take Calculus II in the fall semester at Duke, you must enroll in MATH 122L.
  • Math courses taken abroad must be approved by us and the Global Education Office before you go. In case a course is canceled or does not fit the original course description, the student is responsible for contacting the Global Education Office or the Director of Undergraduate Studies for advice and approval of alternate courses.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that your desired course will actually be offered at the school during the time you are there and that foreign students are allowed to take it. The Global Education Office can help you with this.

Applying for Departmental Approval

Send an e-mail to, with Subject "Study abroad approval request" which includes the following information about each course you wish us to evaluate:

  1. The name of the university offering the course, the course name and number, the course start date, the course end date, and information about the total number of course meetings. Indicate the Duke course you wish to obtain transfer credit for.  
  2. A course syllabus including topics covered, text used, and which text sections are covered. If the syllabus is on the web, providing the web address would be acceptable.
  3. A list of course prerequisites and information about what is covered in the prerequisite courses. Providing a syllabus for each prerequisite course is recommended.
  4. Sample problem sets and exams for the course, if/when available, is beneficial.
  5. A complete list of the math courses which you have taken at Duke, together with a list of any AP and/or transfer credits.
  6. A brief explanation as to how the proposed course fits in with your educational and career goals. Be sure to include whether you are in Trinity or Pratt, what your major is, and how the proposed course relates to your major requiremnts and future course-work at Duke.

Any questions about taking math courses while studying abroad should be directed to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by e-mail at