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Students can request academic credit for external courses taken outside of Penn, such as:
Transfer credit- courses taken at another institution before matriculating at Penn
Credit away- courses taken at another institution over the summer after matriculating at Penn
Study abroad credit- courses taken through an approved Penn Abroad program
Generally speaking, credit may be awarded for academically-based courses that were taken and passed at a regionally accredited institution, and are similar in content and instructional time to the courses on Penn’s campus. External credit is subject to review and approval by a representative of the appropriate Penn department.
To request approval for external 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 external institution. Credits transferred from other institutions will become a part of a student's official Penn record, but grades will not be placed on the transcript nor used in determining cumulative grade point average.
Through the XCAT system, students submit requests for Penn approval, departments make determinations regarding approval and credit and home school advisors and the Registrar's Office post credits to the Penn transcript. Questions about approval should be directed to the appropriate department contact.
Note that receiving department approval in XCAT for an external course request is not sufficient for receiving credit at Penn for the course. Students must meet all of the requirements for receiving credit at Penn, which may vary by school. Students should contact their academic advisor for any additional credit requirements beyond departmental approval.
Transfer credit is awarded to students who have been admitted to Penn 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 approval for 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 typically 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.
Approval must be obtained from the appropriate academic department at Penn before an external course can be completed for credit away. To seek approval, students log in to XCAT (External Credit Approval Tool) 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.
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.
Qualifying for credit away
With careful planning, credit away can be used to satisfy degree requirements.
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.
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 external institution is not listed in XCAT, the student is asked to contact the University Registrar at email@example.com.
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 their school. 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 in XCAT, or if it has not been reviewed, by contacting the departmental credit evaluator. Note: 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 at any time.
Students seeking to study abroad must first start an application with Penn Abroad and meet with their department coordinator for assistance with planning. Students then submit a course approval request through XCAT (External Credit Approval Tool). The department to which the request is routed will decide whether or not to approve the course(s).
In XCAT you have the ability to search for previously approved courses. Even though courses may have been approved in previous years, you cannot use precedents of other students because policies, equivalencies, and course content may change each semester. Therefore it is important to upload a syllabus for each course you are interested in taking.
If you do not upload a syllabus for each course approval request submitted, this may result in a delay in the approval process. The more information the home department has, the easier it will be to review the course approval request.
To qualify for study abroad, students must meet the following general requirements:
Good academic standing and a minimum cumulative and semester g.p.a. of 3.0 are required to apply for study abroad; some programs stipulate a higher g.p.a.
If students do not meet the academic requirements to study abroad, including good academic standing, or they violate academic integrity prior to study abroad, permission to participate will be revoked even if admission has been granted and travel arrangements have been made.
Students are not allowed to study abroad if a grade notation of I, NR or GR or if more than two F’s appear on their Penn transcript or if their major is undeclared, unless permission is specifically granted by the appropriate assistant dean.
Some abroad programs also require a minimum level of language skill. Refer to the Penn Abroad website for more information on language requirements.
Students who enter Penn as first-years must complete three semesters of full-time study in Philadelphia and be enrolled at Penn in the fourth full-time semester before applying to study abroad and the semester before they study abroad. Transfer students must complete one semester at Penn before applying. They must have completed two semesters at Penn before studying abroad, and be enrolled at Penn the semester before their departure.
Junior transfer students are not eligible to study abroad.
Petitioning for an exemption from these policies is an option if there are compelling academic and intellectual reasons. Students should contact the College study abroad advisor to discuss petitioning.
Students studying abroad pay regular Penn tuition and continue to receive financial aid as if they were in residence on Penn’s campus. Students should discuss their financial plans with their advisor in Student Financial Services.
Students will receive credit for their coursework as long as the relevant academic departments at Penn approve this credit. Their grades become a regular part of their transcript and are calculated into their Penn g.p.a.
Credit will not be awarded for programs that are not formally affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania.
Credit earned studying abroad may be counted toward some General Education requirements, but only when departments award credit using the number of a Penn course approved for that requirement. Students should be aware that most abroad credits are not approved for General Education requirements. The Writing and Quantitative Data Analysis Requirements cannot be fulfilled with abroad credit.
All academic policies apply to students while away including add, drop, withdraw and grade type change. Students who are interested in applying to study abroad should refer to Abroad: Step-by-Step on the College website for more information on the application process.
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, 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.
Please visit the following pages to review external credit policies specific to your school. Note that requirements may vary by department. Students wishing to apply for credit away must obtain approval from the appropriate department or division administrator at Penn before enrolling in the course.
|College of Arts & Science||
For departmental and program contacts, refer to the Contacts for Credit Evaluation page.
For general questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
|College of Liberal & Professional Studies||
Brenna Carswell Zinck (email@example.com)
|Engineering & Applied Sciences||Cynthia Buoni (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
|Nursing||Undergraduate Advising: email@example.com|
|Wharton||Undergraduate Advising: firstname.lastname@example.org|