Guidelines for Applying Education Abroad Courses for ES Majors

Because of the built-in flexibility of its curriculum the Environmental Studies Program allows students to participate in courses, programs, and opportunities that lead to independent thinking and experiential learning that can deepen one’s understanding of the causes and effects of today’s environmental problems on a global scale. Choosing to study abroad through UCSB's Education Abroad Program (EAP) or an independent program who's units are UC transferable, is one way to obtain such an experience.

Each year scores of ES and HYDRO students choose to study abroad in dozens of countries around the world. As the “environment” exists everywhere, options where to study is virtually unlimited (assuming you meet the foreign language and GPA prerequisites required for a particular program).  UC’s EAP provides students opportunities to study environmental problems and issues in over 40 countries located on six continents – a substantial number of them with host universities that have environmental studies or science departments or programs. Additional countries offer a variety of environmental courses through more “traditional” academic departments such as biology, geography, earth science, sociology, and anthropology.  And with the requirement that ES majors must satisfy their “outside concentration” by taking 16-20 upper-division units from any single non-environmental department students have a world of choices to apply abroad units towards their major.

Below is some critical information ES students wishing to study aboard should understand in-order to maximize their experience overseas and apply as many abroad units as possible towards satisfying major requirements. It's required students review this information before meeting with an ES Advisor to get their EAP Academic Planning form signed (see back for instructions).
Download here the: Guidelines for Applying Study Abroad Units for ES Majors (.pdf)

Five Rules for Applying Abroad (EAP) Units Towards ES Major Requirements:

#1  Preparation for Major:  Both ES and HYDRO majors may satisfy as many lower-division major requirements as they wish while abroad (no limit).  As long as the course description and content of the EAP course(s) are at least ¾ the same as those offered at UCSB there should be little problem with the substitution.

#2  Upper-division Requirements:  For the ES B.A. and B.S. majors, the number of abroad units that may be applied towards the upper-division is substantial.  The maximum number allowed for each area is:

Area A (required ES courses) = 4 units             
Area B (ES electives) = 12 units   
Area C (outside concentration) = up to the entire 16 (B.S.) or 20 (B.A.) units required in this section

For the Hydrologic Sciences and Policy major:

Area A (required courses) = 8 units       
Area B (required for emphasis) = 4 to 8 units       
Area C (electives for emphasis) = 8 to 12 units

To apply abroad courses to Area A (required courses) for ES and HYDRO majors the description of the EAP course must be VERY similar to the course offered/required at UCSB.  Check course descriptions carefully and make sure they are at least 75% the same; otherwise, you run the risk of it not being accepted.

The Area B (ES electives) for ES majors is very flexible and students may apply up to 12 abroad units to this area as long as they transfer to UCSB as upper-division units and one of the following conditions are met:

            a)  Content and description is similar to an existing UCSB ES elective course

            b)  Course is offered from an environmental studies or science department or program

            c)  Course title contains the word ‘environment’ or ‘sustainability’

            d)  Can demonstrate course studies how humans interact with their physical or natural environment.

ES B.S. students are welcome to apply abroad units to the B-1 elective section as long as the course integrates a significant amount of physical or natural science concepts while addressing an environmental topic. HYDRO majors may apply 4 to 8 units towards Area B if course(s) covers at least 75% of the same material as the required emphasis courses they wish to substitute.

The Area C (Outside Concentration) is the most flexible part of the ES major and students have the option to fulfill up to the entire 16-20 units required with abroad coursework using one of two options:

a)     Single department option:  Complete any 16-20 upper-division, letter graded, units from any one department or program from their university abroad (B.S. majors may only pursue science departments)

b)    Interdisciplinary emphasis:  Combine 16-20 upper-division units from more than one department or program to create a concentration of study that forms a coherent emphasis.

Students may also combine units from both UCSB and abroad to meet one of these two requirements.

HYDRO majors may apply 8-12 abroad units to their Area C electives as long as they can justify the course is either similar to one of the existing electives or covers a unique topic within in the designated discipline.

#3  All abroad units to be used to satisfy ES or HYDRO major requirements must be petitioned and approved by the ES Program to become official. This can only be done after the courses have been completed, transferred to UCSB, and posted to one’s Course History.  To give yourself the best chance abroad units will be accepted follow these “Rules for Applying Abroad (EAP) Units Towards Major Requirements.” To petition abroad courses use the ES Major Degree Petition:   

Any abroad units to be used to satisfy GE and University requirements must be petitioned and approved separately through the College of Letters and Science.

#4  EAP students may take both lower and upper-division units when abroad. Please verify with EAP and the host university what level specific abroad courses will transfer back to UCSB.  Only upper-division courses may be applied towards upper-division major requirements – no exceptions!  If taking courses through UC EAP the grade will transfer, so if you want it to count towards your major, be sure to take it for a letter grade.

#5  Often abroad course titles do not clearly describe what the course is about. Be sure to retain all descriptions and syllabi for courses taken as they can be helpful justification when turning in your petition. 

Steps To Get Your UC EAP Academic Planning Form Signed By The ES Advisor 

1)  Carefully read the “Rules for Applying Abroad (EAP) Units Towards Major Requirements” listed above and then fill out the Academic Planning Form (APF). Be sure to include which major in ES you’re pursuing and all major requirements you still have left to complete prior to leaving to study abroad.

2)  List all EAP courses you are interested in taking and wish to apply towards major requirements on your APF.  Just beware when it’s time to actually register for one’s EAP classes the courses you wanted may not be available and you will have to select substitute course(s) to enroll in.  This is a frequent occurrence and should not be cause for panic as long as one understands and follows the ES Program’s “Rules for Applying Abroad (EAP) Units Towards ES Major Requirements” and selects courses accordingly.   

Students are welcome to consult the ES Advisor when registering for their abroad courses by emailing course(s) titles and descriptions to have them assessed for satisfying a particular major requirement. 

3)  Email the ES Advisors to setup an appointment to review and sign your APF: Provide at least two days/times during their office hours (M-F: 9-12 and 1-4) that work for you and they will respond to confirm your appointment. You may also try to drop by during open office hours.

4)  Download, sign, and bring the Guidelines for Applying Study Abroad Units for ES Majors with with you to your appointment to get your APF signed.