Policies Governing College Credit Away

After matriculation, students may receive Penn credit for courses taken during the summer at other schools. This is called credit away. Note: Students may also be interested in Penn summer courses.

General credit away policies

  • Penn credit will only be awarded for courses taken at another school during the summer. Penn credit will not be awarded for courses taken at another school during the academic year (fall and spring). 
  • Students must complete the final two semesters of full-time study in the College.
  • Students pursing a degree in the College may take no more than 5 c.u. at another college or university.
  • The maximum amount of credit away that can be transferred for one summer is 4 c.u.
  • Penn financial aid can only be used for courses taken at Penn.
  • Incoming students cannot receive Penn credit away before matriculation at Penn. 

Requesting Penn credit for credit away

View the XCAT tutorial >

Prior approval must be obtained from the appropriate academic department at Penn. To seek approval, students log in to XCAT and submit a course syllabus and other supporting materials from the external institution. 

In many departments, a minimum grade of C is required for a course to be eligible for credit away. Some departments, however, require a minimum grade of B- for a course to be eligible for credit away. Chemistry is an example of such a department. 

A Penn department can act on an XCAT request for credit away in one of four ways:

  1. Departments may return the request in XCAT for more information. In that case, students should include the requested information and resubmit to the department.
  2. Departments can approve the request for a Penn equivalency. This approval applies to the student making the request only. 
  3. Departments can approve the credit for the student requesting the course and set a precedent for students taking the course in the future. 
  4. Departments may deny a request if there is no equivalency in the Penn department.

Qualifying for credit away

To be awarded Penn credit, a course taken at another school must meet the following criteria:

  • The school must be a four-year accredited institution.
  • The course may be taken in-person or online.
  • The student must earn at least a grade of C. (Note: The Chemistry department requires a B-.)
  • The kind of Penn credit awarded will depend on Penn departmental review through XCAT. 
  • Students may use the comment section of their XCAT request to ask that a particular course number be listed  for the credit. The Penn department will consider whether the requested course number is appropriate.
  • The Penn department will also determine the number of c.u. appropriate for a credit away request.

No credit will be granted for:

  • courses taken at two-year institutions (e.g. a junior or community college);
  • courses taken in time-frames significantly different from the regular University schedules (academic year and summer sessions);
  • courses other than field courses taken on sites without appropriate facilities of a college or university (e.g., libraries and laboratories) unless supervised by School of Arts and Sciences faculty.

Note: If the away school is not listed in XCAT, the student is asked to contact Tanya Jung.

Credit away and College requirements

With careful planning, credit away can be used to satisfy College requirements.

  • The General Requirements if the reviewing Penn departments awards the same course number (e.g., GEOL 100) for the credit away course as they do for a Penn course that fulfills that General Requirement. If the Penn department does not grant the exact number, the course cannot be use to fulfill the General Requirement. 
  • Major and minor requirements with the major or minor departmental approval.  Students are advised to contact the appropriate department for confirmation that the credit away course fulfills their requirements.
  • Credit away courses can be used as free electives.

Students are advised to:

  • Research which courses at Penn meet the requirement they would like to fulfill with credit away
  • Research courses at other schools to determine if there are similar courses at the other institution
  • Submit the course information including a syllabus in XCAT to the appropriate Penn department for review.
  • Discuss their plans with their pre-major advisor or College contact and their major advisor and relevant department if intending to use credit away to fulfill a major or minor requirement.

Posting credit away to the Penn transcript

After the course has been completed, student must request that the institution send an official electronic transcript be sent to the College email address: college@sas.upenn.edu.

Credit away cannot be posted until the course has been approved in XCAT and this transcript is received. Grades received from other institutions are not recorded on the Penn transcript nor are they included in the grade point average at Penn.

The departments are asked to review a request within two weeks of submission.  Students can check on the status of their request if it has not been reviewed by contacting the departmental credit evaluator. The review of requests is done by staff and faculty in Penn departments and requires a good deal of work on their part.  Please do not request credit away unless you are fairly certain you will take the course if the Penn equivalency is granted.

Students can check the status of their requests in XCAT by clicking on “List your requests” on the left-hand menu. The notations of “Precedent approved, in division queue” or “Dept. approved, in division queue,” indicates that Penn credit will be guaranteed if the student received a grade of “C” or better (B- for Chemistry) and the institution awarding the grade has sent an official transcript to the College email address: college@sas.upenn.edu.