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Program Description:

Program Snapshot

University College Cork
BCK Logo
Built around a beautiful stone faced quad, University College Cork is home to nearly 20,000 full-time students. The modern campus of UCC pleasantly combines early and modern architecture along a riverside garden setting close to the city center. The university has over 120 degree and professional programs given through some 60 departments. UCC has won numerous awards, including Irish University of the Year in 2016, and ranks among the top 2% of universities in the world.
For additional information, visit the University College Cork website
The City of Cork

Cork, the second largest city of Ireland, is located on the south coast, 160 miles southwest of the capital, Dublin. With more than 300,000 people in its metropolitan area, it is home to a lot of history, industry, and nature. There is a good mixture of educational, sporting and cultural interests in the city. Among Cork's many cultural offerings are an art school with public painting and sculpture galleries, an opera house, two theatres and a city museum. The city has a rich social life and is the center for international film, choral and jazz festivals.

Did you know…?

Cork is home to the Blarney Stone, which – legend has it – will bestow anyone who kisses it with the “gift of gab”.

The first Ford motor factory in the world outside the USA was in Cork. Henry Ford’s father came from west Cork.



The program at University College Cork is for College credit only.

Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0

Language Prerequisite: No previous study required.


Language of Instruction



A full course load at University College Cork consists of four to five classes per semester.  Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.

The Irish system is different from what is found at most universities in the United States. In general, greater reliance is placed in Irish universities on the formal lecture rather than the seminar-based approach; however, certain elective modules with very small numbers may in effect function as seminars and in some departments lectures are supplemented by practical, tutorial and language laboratory sessions. The difference in systems tends to increase the amount of private study required to pass a module, compared to what might be required on an American campus. It also may be more difficult for a student without a background in a particular subject to succeed in higher level courses of unfamiliar content.

While the academic year is divided into two teaching periods, some modules are taught over the full academic year. This means that a student wishing to spend a semester only at UCC does have a range of options from which to choose, but that modules in some departments cannot be taken by students who will not be spending the full academic year at UCC. Students should note that modules in Applied Psychology are in high demand and therefore admission to these particular modules cannot be guaranteed. The earlier students apply the better chance they will have of receiving modules of interest. Students are not permitted to take first year English modules or Applied Mathematics and Statistics courses during the fall semester.

UCC Academic Calendar
UCC Course Catalog for Incoming Exchange Students
Early Start Semester Options

Irish universities begin the fall semester later than their American counterparts so the Early Start Semester is designed to facilitate the scheduling needs of visiting American students. The Early Start Semester is the ideal means of gaining an introduction to Ireland and Irish Studies through a carefully guided approach to country's history, culture and civilization. The Early Start Semester will give visiting students insight into the nature of Ireland, past and present, and the manner in which the modern and the ancient may be examined side by side in an integrated program. Multiple Early Start Semester programs are offered in Irish Archaeology, Irish Folklore and Ethnology, History and Modern Ireland, Literatures in Ireland, Music in Ireland, and Management and Marketing in the European Union. Visiting students may choose one of the above and follow an intensive pre-session course through late August and September. The pre-session courses include exciting field trips which serve to bring alive the material taught in class. In late September visiting students will join their Irish counterparts and choose a selection of modules which will complement the pre-session. The pre-session is worth ten UCC credits.

For more information, please visit the Visiting Students’ Page, click on “What Can I Study?”, then follow the appropriate Early Start Semester option.
Grading Scale

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.  The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.

Grades are reported to Penn on the UCC scale and then converted to Penn grades according to the following grade equivalencies:
UCC Grade Penn Grade
≥70 A
65-69 A-
60-64 B+
55-59 B
50-54 B-
45-49 C+
40-44 C
35-39 C-
30-34 D+
<30 F

Special Features

BCK Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by University College Cork prior to the start of each semester. Incoming visiting students have the opportunity to attend an informal reception, where you can meet other students and academic and administrative staff responsible for your welfare while here. The dates will be confirmed on your Letter of Acceptance. More information about orientation can be found here, then click on “Orientation and Semester Dates”. 

Language Courses

Students are encouraged to attend an Irish language course to learn some of the local language.

Internship Opportunities

Study abroad students can access and utilize the UCC Career Services office, which hosts recruitment fairs for many large companies.

BCK Special FeaturesGroup Excursions

Excursions are organized by clubs and societies; further information can be found on the UCC Students’ Union page.

Student Associations

Penn students studying at University College Cork have access to a wide range of student clubs and societies. More information can be found on the UCC Students’ Union page.


BCK CampusParticipants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.

UCC owns and manages several apartment-style residences specifically for students. Most are located within walking distance to the campus and include security and reception services. All are self-catered with fully equipped kitchens. Note that Campus Accommodation is limited, and students will need to apply on-line once they have received their acceptance notification.  

The University is situated in a pleasant residential area where there is a wide variety of other off-campus housing options to suit individuals or groups. Rents vary according to size, location, distance from the University, and facilities.  Please see for property search.

There is a high demand for accommodation in the student apartments, therefore it is recommended that students apply online as early as possible here.

Information regarding accommodation can be found here.

Cost and Finance

Penn Abroad Financial Policies

Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheets below for more information.  For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.

Financial Aid and Study Abroad

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.

Budget Sheets

Academic Year

Scholarship Opportunities

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. 

Next Steps

For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.

To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.

For a student perspective on life and academics in Cork, contact a Penn Abroad Past-Participant or Exchange Student.