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 may 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.
Credit for Pre-College Courses
Credit is not awarded for college-level coursework undertaken at other institutions while a student is enrolled in high school, in the summer after high school, or during the period of deferral for students granted deferred admission. 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 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 Credit 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.
Transfer Credit from a Two-Year Institution
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.
Transfer Credit to the Major
- Only the department or program advisors determine which credits transferred from another institution can count toward the major.
- At least half the course units in the major must be taken at Penn. Some departments require more.
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
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:
- Departments may return the request in XCAT for more information. In that case, students should include the requested information and resubmit to the department.
- Departments can approve the request for a Penn equivalency. This approval applies to the student making the request only.
- Departments can approve the credit for the student requesting the course and set a precedent for students taking the course in the future.
- 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.
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., EESC 1000) 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, the student must request that the institution send an official electronic transcript to the College email address: email@example.com.
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. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.