1. Where can I go and for how long?

  • SMU exchange programs are offered in 26 countries at over 100 partner institutions.
  • Single term, full year and summer programs are available.
  • Going on exchange in the third year works best for most students, but the program is open to students in other years of study as well.
  • Please note that terms start and finish on different dates at many of our partner institutions.

2. Can I transfer credits?

Before you apply for an exchange program, your academic advisor can check:

  1. what courses you have left to complete in your academic program requirements and
  2. 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, and your SMU Exchange advisor ( 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:

  1. Complete “Letter of Permission” request form.
  2. Attach detailed course descriptions or course outlines of the courses you want to take at the host institution.
  3. Take form to your Faculty Advising Office for authorization.
  4. Return signed and completed form to the Service Centre, McNally Main 108 to be added to the system.
  5. 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.

3. 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 Saint Mary’s student.

*A lower GPA may be accepted, if some or all of the following factors are successfully demonstrated:

  • Leadership
  • Participation in extra-curricular activities
  • Genuine interest in global issues
  • Academic merit
  • Clear personal and career goals

Please note: Some partner institutions may have additional academic requirements. Students are usually not allowed to go on exchanges in their home country, except in special circumstances.

4. Do I need to know a foreign language?

Not necessarily. Many courses are taught in English at partner institutions but 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.

Needless to say, try to learn the host country's language as much as you can before departure.

5. How much does it cost?

The host institution's website usually provides information about typical living expenses but 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)

6. Roles and responsibilities

Your SMU exchange advisor will:

  • Help you identify a suitable study destination and term.
  • Liaise with the host institution.
  • Provide the pre-departure briefing sessions.
  • Help troubleshoot during your time overseas.
  • Facilitate debriefing when you get back.
  • Coordinate events for you to get involved in, so you can help other students study abroad.
  • Coordinate activities and sessions with other students who have had a Study Abroad experience.

Before acceptance, you will:

  • Find out from your academic advisor whether there is room to take courses on a transfer credit basis in your degree program.
  • Research options, identify top three programs and host universities, and apply for the exchange program.

After acceptance, you will:

  • Request transfer credit approval from your academic advisor via the Letter of Permission Form.
  • Attend the pre-departure briefing and sign required forms.
  • Apply for a passport and a study visa, if required.
  • Make international travel bookings and arrange for supplementary health insurance.
  • Secure housing, with help from the host institution housing office.
  • Pay tuition and other fees

7. What's the application process like?


  • SMU Full-Year Exchange in Japan: January 10
  • SMU Term/Full-Year Exchange elsewhere: February 10
  • SMU Summer Abroad: various deadlines from January to February
  • Application for International Mobility Awards: March 15 and November 1

Late applications are considered on an individual basis while spaces are available.


Your SMU exchange application package should include:

  • SMU exchange application form (choose up to 3 destinations)
  • Letter of intent (one page)
  • Printout of grades from the Banner account
  • Résumé
  • Two reference letters (at least one from a professor)

An interview will follow about two weeks after the application deadline. The result will be announced a few weeks after the interview.

If your application was successful, the SMU exchange advisor will confirm your study destination. Then you are given a “go-ahead” to proceed with the host institution application for the final admission process.

On average, about 90% of all applicants are successful with the initial selection process, and the host institution accepts the majority of those.

More Questions?

Contact your SMU Exchange advisor at!