Students are probably most concerned about this issue. However, this question really includes two parts: whether credits earned abroad will transfer, and how they will transfer. Virtually all credits earned in study abroad programs taken through an accredited university will transfer to Madison for degree credit if they are liberal arts courses. If you are not certain about the courses, you should be sure to check with your academic advisor and with the Office of Admissions (for non-IAP approved programs). However, many students do not give any thought to how what they do abroad can enrich their academic lives. They get too focused on the question of credits, without thinking about whether it makes sense to take the courses they’re considering taking in the first place. Likewise, students often make the assumption that they can meet certain requirements with courses taken abroad, and this might not be realistic. To make the most of your study abroad experience, it’s important to think strategically about how a study abroad program fits into your overall academic plan.
The various General Education, breadth, and major requirements will be more difficult or less difficult to earn abroad, depending on the specificity of the requirement. So for example, it helps to know that it is very difficult for a course from a study abroad program to count as an ethnic studies course. On the other hand, the literature requirement can be met relatively easily with courses taken abroad. Courses that are core requirements for a major, e.g., International Studies 301 or Psychology 225, are unlikely to be earned abroad because the contents of such courses are so narrowly tailored to the requirements of the program on this campus. Thus, it is a very good idea to discuss these issues with your academic advisor, since they are likely to be familiar with which requirements can and cannot be earned abroad.
In political science, this also means that it makes a lot of sense to try to select programs and courses that complement your interests and career goals for the major. Are you interested in enhancing your language skills? Then select a program that focuses on offering coursework that requires you to take courses in that country’s language. If you are interested in a specific country or region’s history, political system, or relations with other countries, then take courses that examine those subjects. Also, consider coursework that will expose you to topics or perspectives for which the country or region is especially known. For example, it makes sense to study renaissance art while in Italy, or take a course on the European Union while abroad in Europe.