All you want to know about recognition of exams

If you go abroad then you can’t graduate any more... A friend of mine studied for 6 months in Barcelona and then they didn’t accept any of her exams.... It’s impossible to get your exams recognised...

Have you ever heard this being said? Probably not, because these stories are now totally disproved by what students actually experience. Every year, students go on hundreds of programmes abroad offered by Cattolica International at Università Cattolica.

Let’s put some order in what recognition of exams taken abroad means and what the procedure is to get them recognised at home.

When we talk about recognising academic activities abroad we are referring to ensuring that exams or internships undertaken abroad while you are still at Università Cattolica are transformed into credits and uploaded to your study plan in place of exams or academic activities that would otherwise have been carried out in Cattolica. It’s not a question of shortcuts or clever tricks; it is a question of enriching your study path through academic activities carried out around the world, at universities or companies operating in partnership with Cattolica.

Not only exams taken abroad may be recognised, but curricular internships carried out abroad instead of in Italy may also be recognised. 

You can apply for recognition of curricular exams, i.e. exams that are compulsory for reaching the 180 or 120 credits that you need to graduate. You can also apply for recognition of credits for extra exams, i.e. exams that can be taken outside the list of compulsory exams, and for recognition of educational activities from those faculties that include these. 

Recognition of activities abroad is also included for virtual programmes, be they study courses or internships. Virtual delivery, developed out of necessity during the pandemic, has now become an opportunity: you can take part in an international programme and acquire intercultural skills and credits abroad while staying at home.

In addition to all these options, regardless of individual agreement about recognition, students taking part in an international programme will have 1 extra credit uploaded to their study plan for international activities. Your study plan will immediately identify you as having taken part in an international programme, which may be useful, for example during your graduation exam, since many faculties see this as reason to award an additional score point. It is also useful after graduation, for example when submitting your Diploma Supplement (English translation of your university record) for admission to a Master’s Degree programme or during a job interview.

All students who intend to participate in a programme abroad can apply for recognition of exams. There are not normally any pre-set patterns of recognised activities, so it is crucial that you question what your goals are. A final year student who has already completed all their exams in Cattolica might decide it is important to go abroad to go deeper into issues related to their thesis project and consider recognition of an examination for extra credits, while a student of Linguistic Sciences might consider it essential to look for an international destination that allows them to continue with the study of both languages in their programme. Each academic path is different and it is for this reason that we suggest students discuss options with the International Office and speak with their tutors about exam recognition. 

You should also bear in mind that recognition of credits is not a mandatory requirement for participation in a study programme or internship abroad. Students are free to decide whether or not to activate the approval procedure. One of the main objectives of semester abroad programmes or summer programmes is to obtain credits, but there are also programmes such as ‘thesis abroad’ where recognition is not offered, but students are still eligible for study grants and may be able to obtain an extra credit.

NB  You should submit applications to the professor appointed by the faculty as being responsible for approval of credit recognition. You should not submit applications to professors delivering the individual courses in Cattolica. 

1. Study the international universities’ educational offer: 

First study the sites of the international universities to be clear on the courses that are offered and whether they are compatible with your study plan. The fact that a destination is among the partners of your faculty is already a good start because it implies that there is compatibility of the courses offered, but remember that each programme abroad is a separate pathway. 


  • The 3+2-year pattern of study is not universal: it is better to use the following as your point of reference: Undergraduate or Bachelor - Graduate or Master of Arts or Science
  • International and Italian credits may not be an exact match. A US examination of 4 credits may be recognised as an examination of 8 credits in Cattolica
  • Check course schedules and the number of lesson hours: credits may not be equivalent, so it is important instead that the number of frontal lesson hours is similar to the number of lesson hours you would take in Cattolica 
  • It is not mandatory that all exams coincide perfectly     


2. Think about equivalence with your Cattolica study plan  

"Professor, I would like to study in Australia. What course can I take to get recognition in Statistics?" This question is too general to answer. How would you be able to answer an American student who said, "I want to come and study in Italy and do an Archaeology exam that can be recognised by my university. What course can I take?" 

Think hard about how the international exam might correspond to an exam in your Cattolica study plan.  

Examples: Corporate Finance = Corporate Finance; The Economics of Accounting Decisions = Corporate quantitative methodologies and determinations.

  • Think about as many possibilities as possible
  • Semesters do not have to coincide perfectly. You can take an exam abroad in the first semester that you would normally have taken in Cattolica in the second semester, and vice versa.  
  • You can also recoup exams or take exams you would normally have taken in the future.
  • You can combine semester exams for an annual exam or take supplementary exams when you return (this option is not possible for all faculties) 

3. Submit exam approval application to the Cattolica professor responsible for credit approval in line with faculty procedure (Programme Plan or approval forms) 

Once feasible equivalence has been identified, follow faculty instructions for submission to professors.

Read details here.


  • Each faculty/campus has its own rules, so do not just rely on the word of friends and acquaintances. Always refer to Cattolica International
  • Ask for approval for as many exams as possible 
  • Keep approval documentation: it is definitive! 
  • Refer to past approved exams record - see link (bottom of the page)

4. Check any conditions/prerequisites/requirements put in place by the university abroad 

The fact that you have obtained approval for Cattolica exams does not guarantee admission abroad: you also need to check any specific conditions imposed by the international university.


  • There may be a fixed minimum or maximum number of exams you can take
  • Prerequisites may apply in order to ensure consistency among students from different academic backgrounds

Before you leave

You must get approval of exam recognition before leaving for a programme. For some programmes, such as the semester programmes, you can apply only after being selected; for other programmes, such as the Summer Programmes, you can apply even before formally applying for the programme.


  • If the course programmes at an international destination are not available for the year in question, you can refer to programmes for the current year or contact the university directly to ask for details. 
  • If you need to change plans at your international destination because e,g, a course has not been activated, or simply because you don’t like it, don’t panic. You can submit additional requests via email or via your Programme Plan.


Upon return

At the conclusion of a programme abroad, it is your responsibility to have grades officially registered. Grades are not automatically registered i.e. they are not automatically converted to a 30-point grading scale and loaded into study plans.  


  • The procedure takes place entirely online. You don’t need to register for exam calls in Cattolica. 
  • Grading systems vary greatly from country to country so before you decide whether to record exam results, check the conversion tables for transforming international grades onto a 30-point grading scale. If you decide not to record the result of an exam taken abroad, you will have to take that particular exam in Cattolica.
  • Grades obtained abroad do not expire. You can initiate the process to officially register them whenever you wish but bear in mind that it may take up to two months for them to appear on your student record. 
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