Important FAQs

Information about SEP

  1. What is SEP?

Both the Registrar's Office and International Relations Office maintain websites on SEP. There is a wealth of information there including information on the University-level partner universities. Please pay special attention to the FAQ sections. You can also find information on FASS website as well as on Faculty level SEP partner universities. Alternatively you can also opt to speak to the Department SEP Coordinators or students who had been on SEP, attend SEP talks organized by FASS and IRO.

  1. Where can I find Information on partner universities?

You can find information on some Partner Universities and SEP reference materials in the Reference Section of the NUS Central Library and from the internet, (the listing is for over 3,000 universities with home pages) or from IRO website. You should also explore other sources of information e.g. resource centres, libraries of diplomatic missions or by using search engines like google on the internet.

  1. What is the Difference between University,Faculty & Department-level partner universities?

The main thing to note is that for Faculty-level and Departmental-level partner universities, the places allocated will be solely for FASS students and for major students majoring in the department. The process for application and selection is the same. Students may apply to universities in either category. However, there is one caveat: students going on SEP in a Faculty-level partner university have to read at least 60% of their modules from the faculty of the partner university with whom FASS has an agreement.

Please check with the respective departments for those who wish to go on SEP with a Department-level partner university

  1. How do I know the available places in the partner universities?

The list of universities with SEP places available to FASS students will be posted on our website prior to the start of every round of application. You may choose up to 5 SEP partner universities (either at University-wide or Faculty-level); but you must be judicious in your choice of SEP partner universities because allocation will be based on the:

  • FASS student's ranking among applicants to that University;
  • Number of places available at the SEP partner university;
  • Partner university's popularity.
  1. What if the academic term in partner university does not coincide with that of NUS? Can I still apply?

Yes, you may still apply for these universities. It will be best if you can plan for these eventualities. A lot of the European universities have semesters that overlap with those of NUS. Please take measures to mitigate the effect of missing classes as this cannot be used as special consideration for subsequent poor performance. Please enlist the help of your fellow students as well as to inform the lecturers of the respective modules that you will be returning late and obtain their permission to join their classes late. We advise you to check well in advance with the lecturers as they are not obliged to permit student to join the classes late. If your date of return is deemed too late, then please apply for a leave of absence for your next semester at NUS.

  1. Are there quotas for SEP placements?

Each faculty will be allocated a number of places for selected universities under the university-wide SEP and this is done by International Relations Office. Similar, for Faculty SEP partner universities, there will be limited places. For popular universities, you will have to compete for a place in SEP. It is best if you choose the universities wisely to increase your chances of a successful placement.

  1. When will SEP application commence?

The application for the Overseas SEP in the next academic year is conducted on a semester-basis. If you want to go on SEP in the next Semester 1, or 2 or the full year, you can apply for the 1st round. The 2nd round is for students to apply for only Semester 2 of the next academic year. The approximate timeline is as follows:

  • Round 1: September/ October of every year
  • Round 2: February/ March of every year

Please keep a look out for the announcement in your email as well as Study Abroad @ FASS blog and Study Abroad Facebook.

You can also apply to do a local SEP at NTU or SMU. The application is also conducted on a semester-basis and listed on Registrar's Office site for Singapore Universities local SEP. The due date is mid-May for Semester 1 and mid October for Semester 2.

Eligilibity for SEP

  1. Who is Eligible for SEP?

You must be all of what is stated below.

  • A registered full-time undergraduate student
  • A Singapore citizen or permanent resident, other nationals will be considered only on a case to case basis and
  • Have successfully completed at least 1 semester upon application and 2 semesters upon admission to the assigned Partner University;
  • Have a minimum CAP of at least 3.00 and should not have any grade below 'C'.
  • Have the financial resources for personal and living expenses for the duration of the SEP
  1. I am not a Singaporean, can I apply for SEP?

You may apply but for foreign nationals it is strictly on a case-by-case basis only.

  1. If I went on SEP once, can I still apply again?

Students are only allowed to embark on one overseas and one local SEP. If you have already gone on one overseas exchange; you are generally not eligible for overseas exchange again. However, you can apply for the local exchange. This is vice-versa for students who went on local exchange.

Timing for SEP

  1. When is the best time for me to go for SEP?

You may go on SEP in the fourth or fifth semesters of your studies. However, please do consider if you have essential modules that you must read in your Department. The timing of these modules being offered (it may only be as frequent as once every academic year) should be a factor in your consideration as to a good time for SEP. FASS will strictly enforce no SEP in the graduating semester and Honours year.

For those of you who enrolled in NUS on the basis of a polytechnic diploma, we do not encourage you to go on exchange in your 5th semester as it will be your graduating semester if you are doing only a BA.

For the other students who enrolled in NUS under GCE A level, we also do not encourage you to go for SEP in your 6th semester if it is your graduating semester.

The rationale for the fifth/ sixth semester restriction is due to the fact that FASS does not have a compulsory 4-year programme, you will have the option to graduate at the end of 2.5 or 3 years if you complete B.A. requirements.

Although you may have every intention to complete an Honours degree, extenuating circumstances may compel you to opt to graduate once you completes a B.A.

  1. What should I do, if i want to go for SEP in the 5th/ 6th semeter?

You will need to submit a letter with your application, stating that you will be pursuing your Honours studies. In this letter, please acknowledge by going on exchange in your graduating semester that you run the risk of graduating one semester later and will only attend commencement in the following academic year. (In the event that you have to graduate with a B.A. due to unforeseen circumstances despite the intention to pursue Honours.)

As a result you are wiling to accept the consequences of:

  • payment of tuition fees for an additional semester (if applicable);
  • delayed promotion from ARS3 to ARS4/SOC4 and;
  • being unable to read modules that are offered in only one semester of the academic year (hence exacerbating the effects of the preceding point).

Please note that starting from 07 cohort students, one of the strict requirements for Honours is a CAP of 3.5 and above and if you do not possess this CAP requirements at the point of application, then your letter of undertaking will be invalid and we cannot take your future CAP into consideration as we do not know what it will be.

Students must be able and willing to do Honours in order to go for exchange in their graduating semester (5th semester for poly graduates and 6th semester for A-level graduates). There is no exception to this rule. We do not allow students to go for exchange regardless of the reasons they give and choose to extend their candidature that may result in a delay of their actual graduating semester.

  1. Will my graduation be delayed?

Please see preceeding question. Generally SEP will not cause a delay in your graduation. However you must take the responsibility to ensure that the modules read overseas count towards your graduation requirement to avoid being delayed and to do proper academic planning before embarking on SEP. Also please refer to the MC Ratio for the various partner universities to ensure that you have read sufficient credits at the partner university in order to bring back sufficient credits for the 20 MC equivalent workload at NUS.

Also please read up on the maximum number of credits that can be transferred and the rules that apply to this.

Financial Consideration

  1. What are some of the financial assistance available for SEP?

IRO offers scholarships and awards for students who successfully obtain a SEP offer at a Partner University. You may also seek assistance from external organisations.

  1. How much will it cost to go on SEP?

You will only need to pay the usual NUS tuition fees for your semester abroad as per the SEP agreement between NUS and the partner university. But you will need to have enough financial resources for airfare and living expenses. This amount can vary from country to country and as a general rule, we suggest setting aside at least S$10,000/semester (estimated). Please refer to the partner universities' websites or the Internet for more information. Please do note that some universities may require students to pay for additional application and other miscellaneous fees.

Please do note that the proof for financial ability to fund your exchange will need to be presented soon after a student receive the internal offer for student exchange. Please ensure that you can produce the relevant documents at the given time.

Procedures of SEP

  1. How do I apply for SEP?

Students will be notified of the application timeline through an email blast as well on the Study Abroad @ FASS and you can then apply through Overseas Programme Application System (OPAS). Please submit your SEP application through OPAS before the Faculty's given deadline and to include these necessary details in OPAS:

  • - Personal statement (not more than 500 words): Why you want to participate in the SEP; your choice of universities, how you think you will be a good NUS ambassador and in concrete ways on how your exchange can benefit NUS and your fellow schoolmates
  • - Financial status: Amount of total budget for SEP, Source of budget, scholarship name/ amount and scholarship organisation (if applicable),
  • - Ranking of partner university: If all factors are comparable, exchange place will be given to the student who ranks the partner university as first choice and so forth
  • - Study plan details: A tentative study plan when you apply for SEP (This is a tentative study plan. Please DO NOT approach any SEP coordinator for module mapping at this point). The study plan will be based on the modules available at the university in which you are interested
  • - Family background: Family household income, number of people in your family, etc
  • - Letter of undertaking to be submitted in hardcopy to your major Department (if applicable)

Please ensure that your application is complete. Incomplete applications may be disregarded. Also we want to remind you to put in your application early to avoid the server downtime due to heavy usage of OPAS near the end of the application period.

  1. I have problems in OPAS, who should I ask?

As OPAS is a system maintained by IRO, please email to OPAS Inquiry for help specifically on the procedures and steps in OPAS.

  1. How do i find information to complete my tentative study plan for each university?

You are encouraged to surf the websites of the partner universities to find out modules that are currently offered to have a better idea of the modules that you may want to read in the partner universities. Alternatively, you may want to look at the International Relations Office (IRO) pages relating to partner universities.

  1. Should i disclose the form of financial award that i currently received in my SEP application?

If you received a scholarship/award, please check that the information regarding the scholarship/award is reflected correctly in your application. Any discrepancy should be reported to the SEP Administrator. Please state the scholarship/award that you are holding, eg. MOE Teaching award, SPH Scholarship, SAF Award, Mendaki Bursary

Please note that MOE Tuition Grant, NUS Study Loan & Overseas SEP Loan are not applicable here. Please state the amount granted (which should include air fare, accommodation, NUS tuition fee, and all other expenses covered by the award.

  1. How will I know the outcome of my SEP application?

You will know the outcome of your SEP application usually within 1.5 to 2 months after the end of the application deadlines. As there may be several rounds of emails informing students of their application status, please be patient and both rounds will officially end around 3 months after the end of the application deadlines and all students who have applied will have receive an outcome by then.

The outcome is in the form of an internal offer will be sent to you via email with the indicative choice of Partner University for your acceptance. Please note that this internal offer is final and if you reject it, you will not be placed on the waiting list for your other choices. Please also ensure that you housekeep your NUS mailbox so that the internal offer email will not be bounced as we will not resend the internal offer.

For unsuccessful applications, you will also receive an email informing you that you had not been placed on SEP.

For students on waiting list, you will also receive an email to that effect.

  1. What do I do upon accepting the internal offer?

In the same notification for the internal offer, you will also receive instructions to prepare the documents to be submitted to the partner universities to secure your SEP place as well as the deadline for the submission to the Dean's Office. Please prepare these documents as completely as possible. The items are listed here. Please apply for these documents immediately as it usually takes a few days for the relevant Offices to process your request.

There may also a briefing for those of you bound for certain universities to ensure that you obtain the correct documents for the process so as to not unduly delay the processing timeline by the partner universities.

  1. If I am a scholarship holder, what sort of orginial certificate of Financial Resource should I obtain?

You will need to get a letter from your sponsoring organization citing the amount of financial support that they are giving you as well as the duration of this financial support.

Please ensure that this letter is dated no more than 3 months prior to the submission date of documents to the Dean's Office.

  1. If my parents or relatives are sponsoring me for SEP, will it be possible to offer other forms of financial support such as fixed deposits etc?

You may do so provided that your banker offers such assurances in writing. However as this is a document required by the partner universities, we cannot guarantee that these documents will be acceptable for them. If these documents are rejected, then it would cause a delay in the confirmation of your space in that partner university and NUS cannot be held responsible for this.

  1. How long will it take before I hear from the Partner Universities?

It can take several months before you receive the acceptance packages from the partner universities. From the time you submit the application form and supporting documents to Dean's Office, it will take approximately 3 to 4 weeks before they are sent to the partner universities.

The partner universities will then need time to process your applications. Please understand that this is outside of the control of FASS and NUS. We ask that you be patient. If you have still not heard from the partner university 2 months or less prior to the start of the exchange semester in that partner university, please then write to Study Abroad@FASS.

Other Administrative Matters

  1. How does the admin fee apply to my SEP application?

Once you have accepted the internal offer, if you choose to withdraw, then the prevailng admin fee ($200 or $300) will be collected from you via your student bill from the Office of Financial Services.

  1. Do I have to apply for leave of absence for my SEP application?

No, RO will extract information from OPAS and automatically update your status as "On student exchange" when your SEP period starts.

  1. I have been rejected for SEP. Can I lodge an appeal?

You may lodge an appeal for re-consideration. But be aware that there are several factors that could have resulted in your rejection. Firstly the choice of the universities that you have chosen may have been extremely popular and very competitive and hence you were unsuccessful on that basis. Also if you have modules with C grade and below, this can also adversely affect your application. Also Departments may impose more stringent requirements for their major students in SEP; in which case your appeal will be re-directed to the Department for their consideration. You may have incomplete information in your application.

Also in the case of exchange application for the graduating semester, more stringent criteria are used for the approval process.

  1. I have asked for an SEP period of one academic year but was only allocated one semester. May I appeal or ask for an extension?

For popular partner universities especially in North American and the UK, in order to allow the maximum number of students to go on SEP, students allocated SEP in the universities in these regions are only given one semester.

Appeal for extension would only be possible if another student withdraw from their place in 2nd semester of any academic year or if extra spaces were made available for that academic year However this is possible but highly unlikely. The likelihood of an extension is thus extremely low.

Academic Consideration for SEP

  1. How do I get approval for the confirmed and registered modules that I am reading at the partner university?

Please only carry out this procedures after you have received confirmation of registered modules from your partner university for the exchange.

Please download the Module Reporting Form from the FASS website.

For FASS Department modules, please submit them to the relevant SEP coordinators for approval and signatory.

For CLS language module mapping, please refer to the CLS website. Please ensure that you provide the full information for CLS as they are very stringent with the information requirements.

For modules offered by other faculties or FASS-related modules but have no specific disciplines/department, please submit the form to FASS Study Abroad. Your module mapping will be processed accordingly. Please allow for at least 4 weeks for such mapping as they involve other faculties.

If you wish to map business related course, please refer to this link and checked under Selected Students for the Master Module List; it contains pre-approved business modules and you will not need further approval for the module. If there is no pre-approval, then please follow the instruction above for other faculty (non-FASS) courses.

if you have yet to fulfill your GEM A or B requirement, you may also map courses from exchange to meet those requirements. Please refer to this link for the proper procedures to map GEM modules.

Please read the form carefully and provide all required information. Please note that incomplete forms will result in delayed approval. You can obtain module information through

  • Overseas partner universities' website or catalogue
  • The Study Abroad or International Students Office at the partner universities

The SEP coordinators will evaluate the modules for their suitability and their equivalency to the modules offered by their department/faculty. They will then endorse the respective modules in your study plan and module mapping form accordingly.

Please also ensure that you read the MC Ratio and ensure that you are reading sufficient credits at the partner university to merit an equivalent 20 MC workload at NUS. This is a strict requirement with no room for negotiation.

Please submit your reporting form to the respective departments for approval at least 1 month before you depart for SEP to allow for processing time. Please keep the original study plan for your own record. There is no need to forward the approval form to the Dean's Office nor is that a need to obtain additional approval from the Dean's Office.

  1. What sort of grade must I achieve for my overseas modules in order to transfer the credits back to NUS?

Starting from AY2009/10, as long as you receive credits for your course at the PU, you may transfer the credits for that module. And if the module is read on a pass/fail basis, credits can still be transferred back to NUS as long as you pass the course. However if you fail and no credits are given by the PU, then no credit transfer can be effected.There is however no retrospective credit transfer prior to AY2009/10 and no provision will be made.

  1. Am I restricted to reading overseas modules that are similar to those modules offered in NUS?

No, in fact we encourage our students to explore modules that they would not be able to read at NUS especially in disciplines that they are interested or specialized in. You can also read UE or breadth modules while overseas.

Please refer to above question for the procedures for module reporting.

  1. May I read a module in the partner university and map it to a GEM module to fulfill my general education requirements?

Yes you may. Students on SEP are allowed to read modules in the partner university and map them as GEMs. Please refer to the GEM site for more information.

  1. May I map and read an exposure module while on exchange?

Departments will generally not allow for an overseas module to replace their exposure module. The exposure module is the introductory module setting out the basics of the subject that is taught in NUS. If you are to read the module while on exchange, you will not have the full understanding of the subject that is offered in NUS.

  1. Whom can I approach if the overseas module is of a discipline not offered by NUS?

Please refer to first question above forthe relevant procedures.

  1. What is FASS general guideline on the equivalencies of credit with external universities in terms of SEP? Other universities have different credit system, how do I know if the overseas module is the same as a 4 MC NUS module?

The basic rule is that a normal semester credit load of our partner university is equivalent to the same MC load for a normal semester load at NUS. Therefore depending on the credits loading of the overseas module, it can be equivalent to 4 MC or any other value.

The MC Exchange Ratio is listed on our FASS website. Please ensure that you read sufficient credits at the partner university in order to transfer back the equivalent of 20 MC workload at NUS.

  1. Also, the partner university allows us to read only 3 modules a semester, but NUS requires us to read 5 modules a semester. I will be 2 modules short when I return and it will be very taxing to read 7 modules in a semester. Can I read more than the 3 modules allowed while on exchange?

Given that FASS general policy, in terms of credit equivalency with our partner universities is that credit earned in a normal semester load at the host institution counts for the same as the number of MC earned in a normal semester at NUS. With this policy, we can have two scenarios:

  • Workload at PU-equivalent to NUS
  • Workload at PU meant for exchange students only and hence less than normal semester load due to tuition fee parity

Given the scenario one above, if the 3 modules at the partner university is a normal semester load for the students there, then the 3 modules will count towards 20 MC. Hence there is no need for you to read additional modules. An example below will make this clearer. The Department/ Faculty will offer dummy codes to reflect the additional MCs.

Eg. University of Copenhagen
Module A, B and C= 30 ECTS= 20 MC

NUS MC

Dummy codes

Module A- 10 ECTS- major

(7 MC)

EC3741, EC3731

Module B- 10 ECTS- major

(7 MC)

EC2741 EC2731

Module C- 10 ECTS- UE

(6 MC)

SC3742, SC3721

However if the 3 modules is a special load afforded to foreign students and not a full semester load, then you may need to read more modules to make up the difference. However, there will be instances where the number of modules you can read at the Partner University had been determined by our SEP agreement so you will not be able to read additional modules during SEP. It also means that you would get less than 20 MC transferred for a semester away.

Therefore there will always be a possibility that you will have to make up for the shortfall in modules in the semesters before you leave for SEP or in the semester after you return. Some students make up for their modules by reading extra modules in the regular semesters or by reading modules during Special Term. Some students choose to stay an extra semester to complete their graduation requirements.

  1. Can I have another example of credit equivalencies between a partner university and NUS?

Boston University's normal semester load is 16 credits, and you read 4 modules of 4 credits (of which 2 from your major and 2 for UE), therefore the allocation of MC is as follows:

NUS MC

Dummy codes

Module A- 4 credits- major

(5 MC)

EC3741, EC3711

Module B- 4 credits- major

(5 MC)

EC2741, EC2711

Module C- 4 credits- UE

(5 MC)

SC2741, SC3711

Module D- 4 credits- UE

(5 MC)

SC3741, SC3712

  1. Is it possible to read overseas modules and have them count towards my minor?

This is possible but only 8 MC transferred credits may be used to count towards the minor.

  1. I belong to the Mother Tongue Bonus Programme (MTBP); can overseas modules be used to fulfill MTBP requirements?

Yes you can read overseas modules to fulfill MTBP requirements, under the following conditions:

  • The SEP must be recognised by FASS and NUS;
  • The module(s) read on SEP must be taught in the relevant mother tongue;
  • Module(s) read on SEP must be on graded basis and not on a pass/fail basis at the partner university. If the module is not offered on a graded basis, credits will not be transferred and cannot be used to fulfill the MTBP requirements; and
  • A maximum of 16 MCs of modules read on SEP may be used to fulfill the MTBP requirements.
  1. How many S/U modules can I read while on exchange?

Please do note that S/U option is only applicable to modules that you have read at NUS. S/U does not apply to modules read overseas. If you read a module overseas that is graded on pass/fail basis, as long as you pass the module, you may transfer the credit for this module. Once transfer of credits is completed, you will see 'OVS' graded for these modules that you read and passed overseas. They are never reflected as 'S/U'.

  1. If I do not map my modules prior to my exchange, can I still get them approved after I return from my exchange?

You may still do so by refering to the answer to question 29. However please note that some Departments do not allow for retrospective mapping and therefore you will not be able to do so. You also run the risk that the courses may not be approved as approval for module mapping is not guaranteed especially for non-FASS courses.

In this situation, you will find that you will not be able to transfer the credits that you read on your exchange towards your degree requirements. This may result in having to overload in your future semesters at NUS or possibly cause a delay in your graduation plan.

Transfer of SEP Credits

  1. Is credit transfer automatic?

No, this process has to be initiated by you. Please do note that failure to do so can result in your not being able to secure higher level modules (owing to pre-requisites not recorded in your academic records) or to participate in the module pre-allocation exercise and even to graduate.

  1. It has been a while since I have returned to NUS but I have yet to received my transcript. What can I do?

Please write to the partner university to enquiry about the status of your transcript and also to find out from them if the transcript was sent to NUS directly and if so, to find out the location where they had sent it. If transcripts are sent to RO or FASS directly, we will inform you via email to come and collect the transcripts when we receive them. .

  1. How do I go about transferring credits?

Upon receipt of your transcript, please complete the Request Form: Transfer of SEP Credits and submit it to the FASS, Dean's Office along with a copy of your transcript and any other supporting documents such as module reporting form or email approval of modules. Please note that incomplete documents will result in a delay of credit transfer.

  1. What is the maximum number of credits I can transfer from my SEP?

You will have to refer to the following webpage pertaining to your cohort on the maximum number of credits that you can transfer.

  1. How do I apply for transfer of credits after I return from SEP?

Please submit your transfer of credits documents at least one month before the start of examinations in the semester you are back at NUS to the Dean's Office. Please note that it will take up to a month for credit transfers to be completed. Otherwise the credits for your overseas modules will be transferred late and your graduation or promotion could be delayed.

  1. How long does it take for credit transfer to be completed and reflected in my GAPS?

It can take about 1 month before your credits are reflected in GAPS and your academic records. However, this assumed that your documents are in order and there are no discrepancy between the credit transfer form, your transcript and the study plan and any other mapping approval documents. When there is discrepancy, it can take as long as 2 to 3 months, depending on how quickly the student can rectify the discrepancy.

  1. I have received a D on my overseas module, is it possible to transfer credits?

Please refer to Qn 30.

  1. Can module read overseas on a 'Pass/Fail' option have its credit transferred?

Please refer to Qn 30.

  1. What about CAP? How do the modules taken overseas affect my CAP?

The courses you read overseas would only have their credit transferred. The grades obtained are not transferable. This means that modules read while on exchange will not have an impact on your CAP.