Equivalent Credit

When students receive College credit for courses or other types of academic work done elsewhere, it is referred to as equivalent credit. Some of these credits will be the result of coursework taken before matriculation at Penn, but it is also possible to do a limited number of courses “away” after matriculation.

The information below applies to the Class of 2021 and later. College students in the Class of 2020 and earlier should refer to the Policies and Procedures for their class.

Credit is not awarded for college-level coursework undertaken at other institutions while a student is enrolled in high school or in the summer after high school. Such coursework is considered a part of a student’s preparation for a Penn education. It is used in consultation with the student’s academic advisor to inform decisions about placement into appropriate courses at Penn.

Students who enroll in regular undergraduate courses at Penn prior to their matriculation into an undergraduate degree program at the University, during the academic year or in the summer sessions, may elect to have that coursework merged with their undergraduate transcript, in which case it will count toward their undergraduate degree requirements, and the grades will be include in their grade point average.  

Transfer credit is credit awarded to students who have been admitted to the College through the transfer admissions process. Credit may be given for courses completed at the student’s previous college or university, subject to review and approval by a representative of the appropriate Penn department. To request transfer credit for a course through a Penn department, log in to XCAT (External Course Approval Tool) and submit all course syllabi and other supporting materials from the previous institution.

A minimum grade of C is required for a course to be eligible for transfer credit. The grade earned in a course approved for transfer credit will not appear on the Penn transcript.

Credit earned at two-year institutions either while the student is in high school (including the summer after) or after the student has matriculated at Penn (Credit Away) will not be posted to the Penn transcript. For students who transfer to Penn from a two-year institution, however, departments may at their discretion grant credit for course work done at the two-year institution.

  • Only the department or program advisors determine which credits transferred from another institution can count toward the major.
  • At least half the courses in the major must be taken at Penn. Some departments require more.

After matriculation at Penn, a student pursing a degree in the College may take no more than five course units at another college or university. This is called "credit away." Only four course units of credit away may be transferred for work done during one summer. Prior approval must be obtained from the appropriate academic department at Penn. To seek approval, 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. 

After the course has been completed, the student must request that an official transcript be sent to the College Office  from the institution at which the course was taken. The College cannot post credit away until 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. 

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.

Students must complete the final two semesters of full-time study in the College.