Criteria For Courses Taken At Other Institutions

Criteria For Courses Taken At Other Institutions - Summer 2023

Institutional Criteria:

  • 4-Year Institution: The outside course must be offered by an accredited, four-year institution.

Course Criteria:

Curricular Requirements

Curricular Requirements

  • Regular Curriculum in a B.A./B.S.E program: The course must be part of the institution’s regular curriculum and count to advance degree progress for its own enrolled, degree-seeking students in the institution’s B.A. or B.S.E. degree program.
  • Could be offered at Princeton: The transfer course must be a course that a department at Princeton could offer, and should approximate the depth and rigor of a regular Princeton course.
    • The content of an elective course should fit generally within the range of course offerings in a Princeton department or program. In the case of a course proposed to substitute for a prerequisite or required course in a Princeton department or program, the content should be substantially similar.
    • Final determination of a course equivalency rests with the faculty representative in the corresponding department or program.
  • Online courses NOT permitted: Courses that are pre-approved for transfer credit must be taken in-person. Exceptions to this rule are made in very rare circumstances. If you believe you have exigent academic need for an online course, and you cannot access a suitable Princeton course or in-person transfer course, please schedule a meeting with your residential college dean or assistant dean for studies to discuss.
  • No SEL transfer credit: Laboratory courses may only be used to satisfy the SEN distribution requirement; no general education credit for the SEL will be granted through a transfer course. Details below under “Regulations.”
  • No independent study: Independent study arrangements are not permitted.

Course Format, Duration, and Instructional Hours

  • Equivalent to semester-long course: Courses must be the equivalent of a semester-long course; courses on a trimester or quarter schedule will only be accepted if they meet the threshold for instructional hours and are comparable to semester courses in material and coverage. This can be confirmed by one of the following means:
  • 4 weeks minimum; at least 30 hours: The equivalent of a one-term course should meet for a minimum of 4 weeks, and in-person classes should include at least 30 hours of instructional time.
  • Language course must be at least 60 hours: A course proposed to substitute for a course in a language other than English should meet for at least 60 hours.

Assessment and Grading Requirements

  • Graded, with a C or better: The course must be taken on a graded basis and completed with a grade of C or better. A “C-” is not acceptable. Courses cannot be taken on an elected pass/fail basis. 
  • It is expected that there will be feedback provided to the student by the instructor on work submitted.

Additional Regulations Concerning Credit For Transfer Courses


  • Courses for transfer credit may be taken either during the summer or in terms when the student is not enrolled at Princeton. Enrolled students may not take courses for transfer credit in between the fall and spring terms.
  • Course Approval MUST be received before the start of the course.

Number of Transfer Credits Permitted

  • Over a student's Princeton career, an A.B. student is permitted to count a maximum of three courses taken at other institutions for credit towards the Princeton degree; a B.S.E. student is permitted to count a maximum of four such courses for credit towards the Princeton degree. 
  • A student may not earn more than two units of transfer credit in a given summer or term of leave, and may not enroll in such courses while simultaneously taking courses at Princeton.

A.B. Distribution Requirements

  • A maximum of two outside courses may be used to fulfill A.B. distribution requirements, and only one per distribution area, in the following areas: LA, SA, SEN. (Laboratory courses taken outside of Princeton may only be used to fulfill the SEN requirement.)

Departmental Requirements

  • In rare circumstances, a department may approve one outside course to count as a departmental.

No Double Counting

  • A student cannot receive credit both for a course taken at another institution and for its Princeton equivalent.

Transferring Credit for Language Courses

Pre-Approving and transferring language course credit:

  • Equivalent courses: Language courses may be pre-approved as equivalent to 100-level Princeton courses. The course credit will be transferred to Princeton as a course equivalent if the relevant Princeton department determines at the conclusion of the preapproved summer study that the student has progressed beyond the expected language level for the course/s (typically with a departmental exam). If the student does not demonstrate the expected language level upon completion of the course but passes the course with a C grade or better, the student will retain the credit as a language elective, transcripted as "TRN".
  • Elective courses: Departments may, upon occasion, pre-approve a language course as an elective credit with no Princeton course equivalent. Such courses will be transcripted as "TRN".
  • University language requirement: Students seeking to use a transfer course to satisfy the University’s language requirement for general education must confirm that the relevant course equivalent has been satisfied by taking a departmental exam at the conclusion of the course.

Grade Threshold for Transferring Credit

  • Credit will be granted only if the student earns a grade of “C” or higher. A “C-” is not acceptable. Courses cannot be taken on an elected pass/fail basis.

 Transcription of Transfer Credit

  • Courses approved for Princeton credit and passed with a grade of C or better will appear with transfer credit ("T") instead of a grade on the Princeton transcript after the receipt of an official transcript from the sponsoring institution.