UNC Charlotte Academic Procedure: European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) Equivalency

I. Executive Summary

An important function of the Office of Education Abroad is connecting UNC Charlotte with partner institutions and approved education abroad programs around the world to provide students with opportunities to expand their education internationally. Because education systems across the globe vary greatly, it is often necessary to convert credit hours from a partner institution or approved education abroad program from the host institution’s format to a US format for use at UNC Charlotte. There are nationally recognized and accepted guidelines for how US institutions of higher learning award credit from institutions abroad. One such example is the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Institutions of higher learning across Europe use this system to qualify their own often disparate credit units into a common and readily recognizable format for awarding credit taken at other institutions. US institutions commonly award 1 credit hour for each 2 ECTS credits awarded by a European institution.

UNC Charlotte students must be enrolled full-time both at UNC Charlotte and at the host institution while studying abroad. Full-time attendance at European institutions is measured by the number of ECTS credits taken in a semester in the same way full-time attendance is measured by credit hours taken per semester at UNC Charlotte. UNC Charlotte acknowledges full-time enrollment at an exchange partner institution is equivalent to full-time enrollment at UNC Charlotte. Therefore, this procedure outlines how ECTS credit hours are to be assessed and equated to UNC Charlotte credit hours.

II. Procedure Statement


  1. UNC Charlotte maintains global partnerships.
  2. The University must ensure that full time academic work at partner institutions is recognized as full-time academic work at UNC Charlotte.
  3. Syllabi vary greatly from country to country, and even among institutions within a country.
  4. Syllabi vary in different systems and, therefore, should not be the sole basis upon which a course equivalency is determined.
  5. ECTS credits are an internationally recognized measure of coursework and, therefore, serve as the basis upon which UNC Charlotte equivalent credit will be assigned.

Criteria for assigning UNC Charlotte credit hours to courses taken abroad and reported in ECTS credit hours:

  1. ECTS credit hours should be divided by 2 to determine the standard US equivalent credit amount.
  2. If the number determined in step 1 is higher than a regular block of 3 or 6 credits, the UNC Charlotte credit award amount should be rounded down to the next logical credit block, which would typically be 3 or 6 hours.

Example: 15 ECTS credits = no fewer than 6 UNC Charlotte credit units: 15/2 = 7.5 which would round down to 6 UNC Charlotte credit units. An additional credit could be issued to give the student 7 UNC Charlotte hours for the 15 ECTS hours awarded.

III. Definitions

  • ECTS – The European Credit Transfer System was developed by the European Commission to establish a framework through which student workload at institutions across Europe can be commonly quantified.

IV. Procedure Contact(s)

V. History

  • November 1, 2014: Established

VI. Related Policies, Procedures, and Resources

VII. Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is this procedure referenced?
    The procedure is published on the Academic Policies & Procedures webpage of the Provost website.