Going abroad on a university exchange is a great way to enhance your education. Whether you want to jump in with both feet by spending a full academic year at an international university, or just dip in a toe by going for one semester, you could find yourself immersed in a new culture, language, and way of life.
Where can I study?
Continue your education abroad by studying at one of more than 100 partner universities in 26 countries around the world. Download the list to browse your exchange opportunities available, or contact us to discuss your international experience goals.
Not ready for a full year abroad? Many of our partners also offer summer abroad programs that last four to eight weeks.
How does it work?
Many of the institutional agreements we’ve signed with our partner universities include “tuition swaps” where you pay your regular tuition fees directly to Saint Mary's University for your study abroad, making the exchange process much smoother for you.
Terms start and finish on different dates at many of our partner institutions, but generally this is the timeline for the application process:
Late fall — Narrow down your choices of partner schools and decide how long you want to study abroad (e.g., a semester, a year, or for a shorter-term summer abroad).
Early winter — Apply for the exchange program(s) of your choice.
Going on exchange in the third year works best for most undergraduate students, but the program is open to students in other years of study and graduate students as well.
Am I eligible?
The SMU exchange programs are open to students who:
Are from any academic discipline and possess a GPA of 2.5* or higher.
Have declared a major or are in the process of declaring a major prior to the start of the exchange program.
Are eligible to receive transfer credit towards their SMU degree program (check with your academic advisor).
Will have completed 30 credit hours of Saint Mary’s courses before leaving for an exchange program.
Are registered as a full or part-time student at Saint Mary’s University.
*A lower GPA may be accepted if some or all of the following factors are successfully demonstrated:
Participation in extra-curricular activities
Genuine interest in global issues
Clear personal and career goals
Some partner institutions may have additional academic requirements.
International students can participate in most exchange programs, though usually not in programs based in their home country.
Do I need to know another language?
Not necessarily. Many courses are taught in English at our partner institutions.
Exchange students often take the host country’s language and culture courses while on exchange. Prior knowledge or fluency in the host country’s language may be required to take some courses or programs offered in that language.
Can I transfer credits?
Before you apply for an exchange program, your academic advisor can check:
what courses you have left to complete in your academic program requirements and
if any of those remaining courses can be taken abroad.
Your academic advisor cannot advise you on which school to choose. It is up to you to research the partner institutions and their courses. We can help you explore different options.
After you get accepted to SMU Exchange and nominated to a partner institution, your academic advisor will help you obtain approval for your transfer credits by completing a Letter of Permission (see below). More specifically, you will:
Complete Letter of Permission request form.
Attach detailed course descriptions or course outlines of the courses you want to take at the host institution.
Take form to your Faculty Advising Office for authorization.
Return signed and completed form to the Service Centre, McNally Main 108 to be added to the system.
Submit a copy of the processed LoP form to the Global Learning and Intercultural Support Office, AT 106.
When you successfully complete your exchange program, the host institution sends your official transcript to SMU, and grades for courses taken outside Canada are recorded as TR and excluded from the GPA. A minimum passing grade of C (65%) is normally required for the courses to be accepted for transfer credit hours. Some departments may require higher than a passing grade for transfer credit towards major programs.
In terms of course load, there is no fixed number of courses you need to take while on exchange, unless the host university requires students to follow a prescribed curriculum. Your course load often depends on how many transfer credits will be accepted by your Saint Mary’s program. Credit values are different at many of the host universities so each course you plan to take for transfer credit must be fully assessed for Saint Mary’s equivalencies before your exchange program begins.
How much does it cost?
The host institution's website usually provides information about typical living expenses. Generally you should set aside a budget for:
$100 administration fee
Regular Saint Mary’s tuition (payable to Saint Mary’s University), usually based on the number of transfer credits. This includes tuition, international differential (if applicable), and campus renewal fees.
International and in-country travel
Supplementary health insurance (mandatory)
Accommodation, food, and basic necessities
Any host institution fees, such as student fees
Communication, incidental costs, and miscellaneous expenses
Passport and visa application
Immunization(s) (if applicable)
Who can I talk to?
Our Exchange Advisor will help you navigate your options. She can:
Provide program advice
Facilitate the application process
Liaise with partner institutions
Conduct pre-departure orientation
To make an appointment, call call 902-496-8725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Academic Advisor can check which courses you have left to complete in your academic program requirements, and whether any of those remaining courses can be taken abroad. They will also help you obtain approval for your transfer credits by completing a letter of permission after you get accepted to SMU Exchange and nominated to a partner institution (see above).