Welcome to the College of Arts and Sciences

Transferring to a new university can be an exciting but daunting process. The College website and advising system will help you to make this transition as smoothly as possible.

As soon as you commit to coming to Penn, you should take a look at Getting Started: Step-by-Step (below) and start working on the items in the list.

Incoming transfer students will receive a welcome message by mid-June from the College, which will include the name and contact information of their pre-major advisor. This message will be sent using the Hub, the College's online secure messaging application. You will receive an email indicating that you have a new message in the Hub; click on the link and log in with your PennKey to read it. 

As soon as you have your advisor's information, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment, to discuss your academic goals, the credit transfer process,  and registration for the fall semester.

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The College Curriculum

The curriculum will be your academic guide throughout your undergraduate career. 

  • Set up your PennKey.
  • Create an SAS email account.
  • By mid-June, you will receive a welcome message from the College with the name of your pre-major advisor as well as information on how to make an appointment with that person. We recommend you set up a time to speak with your advisor as soon as possible.
  • Read information about Transferring Credit. Enter credit requests on XCAT. After two weeks, you may follow up with the credit evaluators in any departments that have not yet reviewed your requests.
  • Incoming transfer students with junior class standing only: If you have entered a request for writing credit, contact the Critical Writing Program to schedule the required diagnostic essay.
  • View Math for Transfer Students. If you plan to take a calculus course at Penn and did not take calculus at your previous institution, discuss with your pre-major advisor the possibility of taking the Math Diagnostic Placement Exam.
  • Investigate the tools and resources available to help you explore courses.
  • Review and understand the registration process.
  • Log in to Penn InTouch and begin using the Course Search and Mock Schedule functions to plan your fall coursework.
  • When you feel you are ready, use Penn InTouch to register for fall courses. You should do so before July 17.
  • You will receive the name of a peer mentor from the Transfer Student Organization. Be sure to communicate with your peer mentor over the summer and ask any questions you have about the transition to Penn.
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Transferring Credit
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Finding Community
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First-Semester Courses
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Making the Transition to Penn
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Finding Your Major
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Academic Resources

Students who transfer to Penn as juniors are eligible to request transfer credit for a writing seminar. The Critical Writing Program’s website will help students determine how to fulfill the Writing Requirement and whether credit from a previous institution is likely to be applicable.

If not yet completed, students should plan to fulfill the Language Requirement as soon as possible. Language department websites provide information about placement exams offered in September for students who plan to continue with a previously studied language and/or receive credit for language courses taken at their previous institution.

Transfer students who come to Penn with sophomore standing will have one full semester before they are asked to declare their major. It is expected that most will be able to declare the major at the standard time (March of sophomore year). In the first semester, exploration should be the top priority. Students should browse the websites of prospective major departments for more detailed information of requirements and prerequisites.

At least half of the courses satisfying the major requirement must be taken at Penn.

  • 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.

In order to be eligible for Penn equivalent credit, courses taken at a transfer student's previous institution must have earned a grade of C or better. If the course was taken on a pass/fail (or credit/no credit) basis, Penn credit may still be awarded.

Transfer students should review the pass/fail or credit/no credit policies of their previous institution: if a P or CR represents a grade of not less than a C, it will be possible to award credit pending approval in XCAT. If, however, a P or CR at the previous institution can represent a grade lower than a C, the transfer student should contact the instructor of any course taken this way and ask that person to confirm that the student earned a grade of C or better. This confirmation should be forwarded to the student's College advisor as confirmation that the credit is eligible for transfer.

Calculus courses fall 2021

Prior College Math Courses

Transfer students who took a math course at their previous college or university should speak with their academic advisor about the proper placement in a math course at Penn. Placement may depend, in part, on the approval for transfer credit received from the Math department via XCAT.

Starting Math at Penn

Students who did not take a math course at their previous college or university and plan to do so at Penn should see the following guidelines for determining placement.

  • Students whose high school math curriculum did not provide them with the necessary foundation in algebra and trigonometry should consult with their College advisor before continuing with a calculus course.
  • The Math department provides an online Math Diagnostic Placement Exam for any student who wishes to determine the proper level of calculus course to take. Transfer students wishing to take this placement exam should let their College advisor know as soon as possible, so that they may be given access to the exam.
  • Students who have had little or no calculus in high school, or who took AB Calculus but scored poorly on the exam, should take MATH 103 to prepare themselves for MATH 104. Students who took AB Calculus in high school and did well on the exam should register for the Calculus I course, MATH 104.
  • Students with A.P. credit for MATH 104 may choose to continue in the calculus sequence by enrolling in MATH 114. Not all students will need to take a second semester of calculus; when in doubt, consult a pre-major or department advisor.
  • Students who are interested in math or science might also want to consider a more challenging honors version of Calculus, MATH 116 and MATH 260 (the analogues of MATH 114 and MATH 240). These courses will cover the material more in depth and involve discussion of theory as well as computations.

Transfer students who have questions concerning their class standing should contact the Office of Admissions. Questions concerning the curriculum should be addressed to an academic advisor in the College Office.

Students who transfer to Penn with junior standing are not eligible to apply for a dual degree program or for semester study abroad programs.