Summer Courses FAQ

If you think you need to take summer courses to graduate on time, check with your pre-major advisor or your College Contact.  Both are listed on the  left side of your Penn InTouch homepage. You may not need a summer course in order to graduate on time.

If you want to take a summer course because your summer internship or job plans have changed, check with Career Services who can help identify other opportunities this summer. 

Keep in mind the cost of summer courses both here and at Penn and whether you need the credit to graduate or not.  If you are interested in learning more about a subject or building your skill sets over the summer, Coursera is an option that does not grant credit but also does not cost money.

If a Penn summer course is closed, you can also try to find an alternate course at Penn or through Credit Away (see the Credit Away FAQs below).

You can find the cost of Penn summer courses on the Penn Summer page. You should check with Penn Student Financial Aid to see if you are eligible for summer aid.

You can use a Penn summer course for College requirements. The same designations and policies apply as during the academic year.

Penn credit for courses taken at other schools during the summer is called credit away. Penn credit for credit away is determined through XCAT. You should submit a request for credit away before the course begins so that you know if you have Penn credit before taking that course.

View the XCAT tutorial.

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

  1. Departments may return the request to you in XCAT for more information. In that case you 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.

Grades received from other institutions through credit away are not recorded on the Penn transcript nor are they included in the grade point average at Penn.

*Note that 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.

*The Psychology department does not grant credit away for any course.

The kind of Penn credit away you can get from another school depends on a number of factors:

  • The school must be a four-year accredited institution.
  • You can take both in-person and online courses for Penn credit.
  • You must earn at least a C in the course to receive Penn credit. *The Chemistry department requires a B-.
  • The kind of Penn credit you receive depends on Penn departmental review through XCAT. 
  • If you would like a particular course number for the credit, please add that to the comment section of your XCAT request. The Penn department will consider whether the course number you request is appropriate.
  • The Penn department will also determine the number of c.u. appropriate for a credit away request.

Grades received from other institutions through credit away are not recorded on the Penn transcript nor are they included in the grade point average at Penn.

You can use credit away courses for General Requirements if the Penn departments gives you the same number (e.g., GEOL 100) for the credit away course as the Penn course that fulfills that General Requirement. If the Penn department does not give you the exact number, you cannot use it in the General Requirement. Exception: You cannot use credit away for the Quantitative Data Analysis General Requirement. 

You can use credit away courses for major and minor requirements with the major or minor departmental approval.  Contact the respective department to find out if your credit away course fulfills their requirements.

You can use credit away courses for free electives.

A precedent is a course that has pre-approval for Penn credit. Only precedents are searchable in XCAT. 

One-time approvals are not searchable in XCAT.

But remember, many Penn departments do not approve precedents but review each request on a case-by-case basis. The list of precedents is only a small fraction of what is possible and there are many more one-time approvals possible for a credit away course that are not searchable. If you do not see a precedent, you should still submit a new course request, attach a syllabus and submit to the Penn department in XCAT for review. 

If a course is a precedent, you still need to request the precedent in XCAT so it is attached to your name and record.  

You can see precedents in XCAT by clicking on “Search for Precedents (transfer credit)" on the left-hand menu. Take note of the course number at the external school. If you want to request that precedent, click on “Request a new course equivalency” in XCAT, enter the external course number and follow the next steps. Precedents have expiration dates so be sure to take note of that. 


If a course has no precedent, the Penn department wants to review requests individually.  XCAT does not show one-time approvals because a course from two years ago may not receive the same approval this year while precedents do not require case-by-case review and are guaranteed as long as they have not expired.

You should research which courses at Penn meet the requirement you would like to fulfill with credit away.  You will then need to research courses at other schools and see if there are similar courses to the Penn course you need. Once you have found a good candidate, submit the course information including a syllabus in XCAT and submit to the appropriate Penn department for review.

If the Penn department approves the course, you can use that information to determine if it will fulfill the a College General Requirement in consultation with your pre-major advisor or College Contact and whether it will fulfill your major or minor requirements in consultation with for major and minor departments.

You can check the status of your requests in XCAT by clicking on “List your requests” on the left-hand menu.   If the request says “Precedent approved, in division queue” or “Dept. approved, in division queue,” you are guaranteed the Penn credit provided you complete the course with a grade of “C” or better and have an official transcript sent to Barbara Woodford in the College. 

The departments are asked to review a request within two weeks of submission.  You can check on the status of your request if it has not been reviewed by contacting the departmental credit evaluator.

If the school you want to take credit away is not listed, contact Tanya Jung.

After the course has been completed, you must request that an official transcript be sent to the College Office from the institution at which the course was taken. The transcript should be addressed to Barbara Woodford.

Please note: While the College is operating remotely due to COVID-19, only electronic transcripts can be accepted.

Penn financial aid can only be used for courses taken at Penn.

You cannot receive Penn credit for courses taken at another school during the academic year (fall and spring). 

Incoming students cannot receive Penn credit away before matriculation at Penn.