Exchange Program FAQs

This page addresses some common questions about Exchange Programs.

If you're planning to apply for an exchange, or another type of individual
travel-study program such as an internship or research placement, please read this page carefully!

  1. Minimum GPA

    We want to ensure you have a successful academic experience abroad. Most exchanges require between a 2.5 to 3.3 overall GPA, but if your GPA is a little shy of the requirements for your chosen partners, you aren't sure what your GPA is, or you've had health concerns or other personal concerns arise during your studies that have affected your GPA, please contact the exchange advisor for the program you're interested in to discuss.

    For Winter semester programs in the upcoming year, we will be taking into consideration your overall GPA including the previous Winter semester and any Spring/Summer marks (e.g. if you're applying for Winter 2025, we'll be considering your Winter, Spring, and possibly Summer 2024 marks in your overall GPA assessment).

    For all applications submitted by the January priority deadline for upcoming Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter applications, we will be taking into consideration your overall GPA inclusive of your previous Fall marks (e.g. if you're applying for Fall 2025, we'll be assessing you following the January deadline including your Fall 2024 marks). 

  2. Reference Letters

    Most programs only require 1 academic reference. (In some cases, you may be required to submit an additional academic reference or a non-academic reference; any exceptions will be noted on the individual program webpages). We encourage you to submit your online application as soon as you're ready, but your reference must also be submitted before your application will be considered complete & ready for review. If you are struggling to get a hold of your professors, please contact us at study.abroad@ucalgary.ca explaining the situation and we will work on a solution with you.

    Click here to download a PDF with the reference guidelines. References may be submitted in hard or soft copy - please refer to the guidelines document for further instruction.

  1. What if I want to apply for multiple programs as back-up options?

    The online application system allows you to save applications for as many programs as you wish, but you may only submit applications for up to 3 programs. Once you have started to submit applications, you will no longer be able to save additional applications.

    If you submit applications for multiple programs with conflicting dates, the system will prompt you to rank your applications.

    If you have applications that do not conflict but you would still like to rank them (e.g. your first choice is to go to Quito, Ecuador for Fall semester and second choice is to go to Oldenburg, Germany for Winter semester), please email study.abroad@ucalgary.ca to let us know what your ranking is.

  2. What if I want to attend 1 program in Fall and a different program in Winter?

    This is what we call a "split exchange": you are going abroad for an entire academic year, but split between two exchange programs. In many cases this may be possible, however please ensure that you contact a Study Abroad advisor to discuss before submitting your application. Even if the program dates do not appear to have a time conflict, visa requirements must be considered as well in order to make sure it will work. (Some visas may not allow you to travel directly from one region to another, or may not allow you to stay within a given region while attending two separate institutions, or there may be other tricky details; our Study Abroad advisors can help identify any possible issues before you apply.)

  1. What is the priority deadline?

    Exchange programs require balanced numbers, i.e. the number of UCalgary students that we send to another university must balance the number of students from that university we receive to UCalgary. This is why we set a priority deadline. Once the deadline has passed, our advisors see what numbers we can allocate to each partner university, compare this with the number of applications, and then we may hold interviews to determine the best fit for each student. 

  2. How do I know which programs are competitive?

    The exchange balances (the number of spaces on each exchange program) changes every year, but so does the number of students applying to each exchange destination. This means that although our advisors have a general idea of which programs may be more or less competitive, even we can be taken by surprise when counting application numbers after the priority deadline! This is why we recommend submitting 3 applications - 95% of the time, students are able to get into one of their top 3 choices, so having these back-ups planned gives you confidence in knowing you will go abroad. We also recommend starting your application early - the more research you do on courses, budget, etc., the stronger your application will be, and the better you will be able to write your Statement of Purpose.

  3. What if I missed the priority deadline?

    After all priority applications have been reviewed, typically in late January/early February, applications will be re-opened online for any programs that have space remaining. Applications received at this point will be processed on a first-come first-considered basis. Please be sure to read the program webpage carefully, as there are deadlines for how late additional exchange students can be confirmed for each of our partner universities. If there are any programs you're interested in applying for, it is best to submit your application right away rather than waiting until the deadline, as applications will be closed if spaces are filled before the deadline.

All complete applications will be reviewed following the priority deadline in January. Everyone who has submitted their complete applications by that date (complete applications include references and all other required documents) will hear back regarding their placements no later than the end of February. Please make sure to check your UCalgary email regularly over January/February. This process is explained in greater detail on our Accepted Students page.

As part of the application process, it is strongly recommended that you meet with an academic advisor in your faculty to discuss the courses you would like to take while on exchange. You can use the partner university website as well as course calendars available in our office to determine what courses may be available to you. After being accepted to a program, you should consult again with an academic advisor in your faculty regarding transfer credit. You must obtain course approvals or a Letter of Permission (depending on your faculty) from your academic advisor prior to your departure.

If you are attending a Winter semester exchange program, or another exchange program which overlaps with the dates of UCalgary's Winter semester, it will not be possible for you to convocate in June due to the mailing & processing times for international transcripts. However, you may be able to get a note from Enrolment Services or your academic advisor certifying that you have fulfilled your degree requirements and this should not impact your ability to look for work or apply to graduate programs in the following Fall. You should be able to cross the stage in November following your Winter exchange.