Summer Course Pre-Approval

NOTE: Updated guidelines for summer 2022 courses will be available by mid-February 2022. 

The process of obtaining approval for summer courses at accredited four-year U.S. institutions is fairly simple, but it does require that you pay attention to details. Please read the FAQ’s below, download and read the approval form, and contact your college dean or director of studies if you have questions. If you are planning to take a summer course abroad, Canada included, all of the materials below need to be submitted to the Study Abroad Program in the Office of International Programs (Louis A. Simpson Building), not to your college office.

Please note: For the summer of 2021 only, students may use pre-approved courses offered online for transfer credit. The necessary application form may be downloaded and submitted to the appropriate individuals via email. The deadline to submit an application for transfer credit has been extended to May 5, 2021.

What's the process?

  1. Do some web research and find a class that looks promising (see below for details about eligible courses, and read the approval form very carefully before you start looking). Then print out all of the course information, the syllabus, and the summer session calendar stating the first and last days of class. Fill out STEP ONE of the approval form fully: be sure to note the purpose of the course. Use a separate form for each course you want approved, unless they are in sequence (e.g. CHM 201-202). 
  2. Take the form and supporting information to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) of the relevant department (e.g. the history dep rep for a history course). The DUS will decide if the course may be approved, and will sign your form. If the course will be a prerequisite in a different department, you must also get a signature there (e.g. if you’d like that history course to fulfill a requirement in Comp Lit). If you’d like the course to count towards a certificate program, then you must also secure the signature of the program director. BSE students will also need a signature from Dean Bogucki.
  3. After the approval form is signed, bring the form and supporting materials to your college office for final approval, or to the Office of International Programs for courses abroad. All requests must be submitted by Dean's Date. The sooner you submit the necessary materials the better. You must have approval to take the course BEFORE the first class meeting in order to be eligible for Princeton University transfer credit.
  4. Once you complete the course, request that an official transcript be sent to the appropriate Princeton officeCredit for non-Princeton courses will be processed upon receipt of an official transcript. Transcripts for courses taken in the United States should be mailed to the dean of your residential college. Transcripts for courses taken outside the U.S. should be mailed to:

Dr. Gisella Gisolo
Director, Study Abroad Program
Louis A. Simpson Building
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544


When is the deadline? 

You must submit your signed approval to your college office by Dean’s Date of the term before you intend to take the course (e.g. by spring term Dean’s Date for a course taken over the summer).

What kinds of courses may be approved for credit? 
A course you take elsewhere must “fit generally within the range of course offerings in a Princeton department or program.” This means that a course on the sociology of gender might well be approved; a course on horticulture would not. Journalism, business school, and communications courses are unlikely to be approved for Princeton credit, although you may certainly take them for your own enrichment.

Courses must be offered by a four-year accredited university. The course must meet for a minimum of four weeks, and include 30 hours of in-class time.

Will I get distribution credit for my summer course? 
A maximum of two outside courses may be used to fill AB distribution requirements. You may use only one course each in two of the three following areas: LA, ST, SA. Members of the class of 2015 and beyond will be able to seek transfer credit only for STN, not STL, whether the course has a lab component or not.

Can I use a summer course for a prerequisite or department requirement? 
If you are planning to take a class as a prerequisite or required course in your department, be very sure to make this clear when you ask for departmental approval. Most departments require that the content of outside courses be “substantially similar” in order for them to qualify as prerequisites or requirements.

What about language courses? Can I fill my language requirement with a summer course?
Credit for language courses is approved on a provisional basis. Credit is not conferred until after you return to campus and the department determines that you have placed beyond that level. One course credit for beginning language may be granted if the department determines that you have progressed beyond the 102 level in the language. Credit for other language classes (e.g. 107, 108, etc.) is also dependent on departmental assessment after you complete the summer class. Note that language classes must have a minimum of 60 hours and meet for at least 4 weeks. So if you want to take a language class, remember that everything depends on the Princeton test that you take when you return to campus.

Will my summer grade show up on my transcript? 
The course will appear on the transcript, but the grade will not. In order to get any credit, you must receive a grade of C or higher (a C- is not acceptable for credit). After we receive your summer transcript, your summer grade will be turned into a “T” for transfer credit when it appears on your Princeton transcript, and it will not go into your GPA. Note that many grad schools and scholarship applications require transcripts from every school you attend, so these summer grades won’t really disappear.

Where can I get a summer course approval form? 
You may stop by your college office or download the form here:  Preapproval Form for Transfer Credit