42-00 Acquisition of Credit


Course credits may be acquired by instruction as defined by Section 42-20, by examination as defined by Section 42-50, or by transfer from other colleges and universities as defined by Sections 42-80 and 42-90. Accumulation of credits does not automatically fulfill the requirements for a particular baccalaureate or associate degree. Courses and credits applicable to particular degree programs are listed in the appropriate bulletins.

Revised: 6/3/75


42-20 Credit by Instruction

back to top


42-23 Credit Requirements by Types of Instruction

Course credit by instruction may be achieved by a variety of educational experiences that allow the student to work toward mastery of the course objectives. There are, however, some common minimum requirements that must be established and these should be consistent for all credit earned by instruction regardless of delivery method. With the acknowledged goal of educational excellence, more than the minimum established here may be required for mastery of course objectives.

  1. The course must be in the charge of a qualified member of the University’s instructional staff, and formal evaluation of the student’s achievement must be included in the course.
  2. For the typical student, a total of forty (40) hours of work planned and arranged by the University faculty is required to gain 1 credit.

The distribution of time between class activities and outside preparation may vary from course to course and examples of this division of time for sample types of instruction are detailed below. This is intended to include all forms of educational experiences in courses, which may include in- person, electronic, or pre-recorded content delivered through resident, on-line, or hybrid instruction.

Lecture, Discussion, Seminar, or Recitation. A combination of formal and informal instruction may occur and when combined with outside preparation must sum to the minimum of 40 hours of work per credit hour. The typical distribution of time is approximately one-third instruction and two-thirds outside preparation.

Laboratory Courses. The distribution of time may vary from twenty-five (25) to forty (40) hours of laboratory instruction per credit with sufficient additional outside preparation.

Undergraduate theses, projects, service learning, individualized instruction, and other forms of educational experience through courses. At least forty (40) hours of work are required per credit with varying amounts of individual instruction and may include courses delivered off-campus at locations either domestic or abroad.

Student Teaching and Internships. At least forty (40) hours of work are required per credit. Prior written approval of the appropriate University faculty is required for subsequent granting of credit.

Revised: 2/4/75 (as Rule L-2)
Revised: 9/10/13

back to top


42-27 Class Attendance

The faculty, staff, and other resources of the University are furnished for the education of students who attend the University. A class schedule is provided for students and faculty so that a reasonably orderly arrangement for instruction is facilitated. The fact that classes are scheduled is evidence that the faculty believes class instruction is important. Therefore, class attendance is important for the benefit of students.

Accordingly, it is the policy of the University that class attendance by students be encouraged and that all instructors organize and conduct their courses with this policy in mind. A student should attend every class for which the student is scheduled and should be held responsible for all work covered in the courses taken. In each case, the instructor should decide when the class absence constitutes a danger to the student’s scholastic attainment and should make this fact known to the student at once. A student whose irregular attendance causes him or her, in the judgment of the instructor, to become deficient scholastically, may run the risk of receiving a failing grade or receiving a lower grade than the student might have secured had the student been in regular attendance.

Instructors should provide, within reason, opportunity to make up work for students who miss class for regularly scheduled, University-approved curricular and extracurricular activities (such as Martin Luther King Day of Service, field trips, debate trips, choir trips, and athletic contests). However, if such scheduled trips are considered by the instructor to be hurting the student’s scholastic performance, the instructor should present such evidence for necessary action to the head of the department in which the course is offered and to the dean of the college in which the student is enrolled or to the Division of Undergraduate Studies if the student is enrolled in that division.

Instructors also should provide, within reason, opportunity to make up work for student’s who miss classes for other legitimate but unavoidable reasons. Legitimate, unavoidable reasons are those such as illness, injury, family emergency, or religious observance. If an evaluative event will be missed due to an unavoidable absence, the student should contact the instructor as soon as the unavoidable absence is known to discuss ways to make up the work. An instructor might not consider an unavoidable absence legitimate if the student does not contact the instructor before the evaluative event. Students will be held responsible for using only legitimate, unavoidable reasons for requesting a make-up in the event of a missed class or evaluative event. Requests for missing class or an evaluative event due to reasons that are based on false claims may be considered violations of the policy on Academic Integrity (Policy 49-20).

Link to Holy Days Calendar
E-11 Procedure

Revised: 11/3/60
Revised: 5/7/74 (as K Rules)
Revised: 6/6/78
Revised: 12/5/00
Revised: 3/26/02

back to top


42-50 Credit by Examination (CRX)

Revisions to Policy 42-50 were approved by the Senate on March 13, 2012. Implementation pending ACUE action. To view revisions, see the  legislative report (PDF).

In some circumstances credits may be earned through successful completion of comprehensive examinations made available by the Penn State academic units that offer particular courses. When such an examination serves as a substitute for completing all the usual requirements of a Penn State course, the credits received are described as “Credit by Examination” and are accepted as fulfilling degree requirements. A grade of “C” or higher must be earned in the examination for such credit to be awarded and to appear on the student’s transcript. Credit by Examination shall not be granted for any course previously completed for which a quality letter grade has been assigned, or for credit awarded under Senate Policies 42-80 or 42-90, or for credit earned through the College Entrance Examination Board’s Advanced Placement Program.

Students may initiate a request for Credit by Examination for a course, although the academic department or program offering the course determines whether it will make Credit by Examination available.

Credit by Examination does not result in a quality grade (A, A-, etc.) and is not included in the calculation of the student’s grade point average. Any credits earned in this manner will appear on the student’s transcript with the notation CRX and without a reported grade, similar to the way that credits appear if acquired through means such as transfer from other institutions (Senate Policy 42-80), Advanced Placement credit (Senate Policy 42-92), or Credit by Portfolio credits (Senate Policy 42-97). As with Policy 42-97, a fee may be assessed to cover the costs of the procedure (see also E-2: Credit by Examination AAPPM).

E-2 Procedure for Credit by Examination

Revised: 12/11/73 (as Rule L-4)
Revised: 2/5/74 (as Rule L-4)
Revised: 4/6/76
Revised: 5/1/84
Revised: 3/17/92
Revised: 2/29/00
Revised: 9/11/07
Revised: 9/9/08

back to top


42-80 Credit by Transfer From Other Institutions

back to top


42-81 Credit by Validation

Credit for courses completed at other institutions and graded the equivalent of an “A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, or C” at this institution may be obtained through credit by validation when the Undergraduate Admissions Office is unable to determine the transferability of a course through other means. In such courses, the student may request this option be used and must provide the necessary documentation. The Undergraduate Admission Office determines from the official transcript the credits to be validated and lists these credits on the Credit by Validation form. This form and the supporting documentation are forwarded to the representative of the department in which an equivalent course is taught at this University. The department representative then conducts a review, the form and extent of which the department representative determines, and reports the results of the review to the Undergraduate Admissions Office via the Credit by Validation form. The Undergraduate Admissions Office then records the appropriate entries on the candidate’s record. Course numbers in the 400 series usually are not listed in the candidate’s record. General credits may be granted by this method. However, the department representative validating the course may specify that a course number in the 400 series be listed in a candidate’s record when the course covers topics that are substantially equivalent to a specific 400-level course. Credits are transferred, but grade points are not. Grades earned at other colleges and universities are not used in calculating a candidate’s grade-point average while attending this university.

Revised: 6/3/75 (as Rule L-6)
Revised: 10/24/95

back to top


42-82 Accredited U.S. Institutions

Credits may be accepted from colleges and universities that are accredited by any of the six regional accrediting commissions in the United States.

  1. Evaluation Criteria. Course work completed at an accredited college or university may be evaluated for transfer credit if passed with a grade equivalent to A, B, or C at this University and useful to the candidate’s program of study at this University. Course work completed on a pass-fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis normally cannot be evaluated for transfer credit.
  2. Specific Credits. When a candidate has satisfactorily completed, at another accredited institution, course work that is substantially equivalent to a specific course at this University, credit is granted in the University course, except for 400-series courses. For course work that is equivalent to 400-series courses, general credits, as described in item 3, below, may be granted. Credit granted for course work that is equivalent to 800-level courses may be applied only toward completion of requirements for a college or major in accordance with the policies established by that college, but not to General Education as defined in Appendix A.1.
  3. General Credits. When a candidate has satisfactorily completed, at another accredited institution, course work that is not substantially equivalent to a specific course at this University, general credits may be granted in the general field of study covered by that course. General credits may be assigned in cases where it is not possible to assign a University course number because of a difference in the number of credits involved. If appropriate, general credits may be used to fulfill degree requirements in any area. These general credits may be applied to the candidate’s program of study in accordance with the policies established by the college of enrollment. Credit granted for course work that is equivalent to 800-level courses may be applied only toward completion of requirements for a college or major in accordance with the policies established by that college, but not to General Education as defined in Appendix A.1.
  4. Credit Conversion. Courses at this University carry semester hours of credit. Courses evaluated for transfer from colleges and universities with different credit systems, such as quarter hours of credit, units, and course units, are converted to semester hours of credit.
  5. Grades. Credits are transferred, but grade points are not. Grades earned at other colleges and universities are not used in calculating a candidate’s grade-point average while attending this University.

E-5 Credit by Transfer From Other Institutions Procedure

Revised: 6/3/75 (as Rule L-6)
Revised: 6/1/76
Revised Editorially:10/6/81
Revised: 4/6/82

back to top


42-84 Accredited Institutions Outside the United States

Credits may be accepted from colleges and universities outside the United States that are considered to be accredited when either of the following standards is met: (a) the college or university is accredited by one of six regional accrediting associations in the United States; (b) the college or university is a recognized part of the system of higher education of another country and offers programs of study equivalent to baccalaureate degree programs. The World Education Series, published by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, is used as a guide in making decisions on the accreditation of foreign institutions.

E-5 Credit by Transfer From Other Institutions Procedure

Revised: 6/3/75 (as Rule L-6)
Revised: 10/24/95

back to top


42-86 Institutions That Are Not Regionally Accredited

Students seeking credit for work taken at a college or university that is not accredited by one of the six regional accrediting commissions in the United States but has been licensed by a state board of education to award an associate degree or higher may use the credit by validation method stated in Section 42-81.

Students seeking credit for work taken at a college or university that is not accredited by one of the six regional accrediting commissions in the United States and has not been licensed by a state board of education to award an associate degree or higher may use the credit by examination method (Policy 42-50), if available, through the academic unit. Other means of obtaining credit are listed in policies 42-92, 42-94, 42-98, and 42-99.

Revised: 6/3/75 (as Rule L-6)
Revised: 6/1/76
Revised: 4/26/88
Revised: 3/17/92
Revised:12/5/95

back to top


42-88 Implementation of Policies 42-82, 42-84, 42-86, 42-92, 42-94, and 42-99

The director of admissions is responsible for making decisions and judgments necessary to implement these policies.

E-12 Procedure

back to top


42-90 Other Means of Credit Acquisition

back to top


42-92 Advanced Placement Program of the College Board

A person who does advanced work in a secondary school may take Advanced Placement Examinations, which are based on college-level studies. The University cooperates with the College Board in this program.

Credit may be awarded for Advanced Placement Examinations depending upon the grades earned on the examination. For some examinations, the amount of credit awarded varies with an earned grade of three, four, or five. The schedule of credit awarded for Advanced Placement Examinations may be revised annually upon review by the faculty.

Limitations on credits earned through the Advanced Placement Examinations are as follows:

  1. It is the discretion of the student’s degree program to determine whether the credits earned can be used to meet degree requirements.
  2. A student who has earned credit for a particular course through AP examinations may elect to take the same course at Penn State (unless restricted by placement policies of the unit offering the course), but the duplicate credit cannot be used to meet any additional degree requirements. However, the grade earned in the Penn State course will count towards the student’s grade point average.

E-6 Advanced Placement Placement Program of the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) Procedure

Revised: 3/17/92
Revised: 4/24/12

back to top


42-94 College-Level Examination Program of the College Board

The University cooperates with the College Board in this program, referred to as CLEP. Effective June 1, 1974, credit may be awarded for the CLEP Examinations depending upon the score earned on the examination and other factors as indicated in the following paragraphs.

A student who has earned a score equivalent to the fiftieth percentile or higher for performance on the CLEP Examination, taken before or after admission to degree candidacy, may receive credit as indicated in the schedule of credits.

Limitations on credits earned through the CLEP Examinations are as follows:

  1. It is the discretion of the student’s degree program to determine whether the credits earned can be used to meet degree requirements.
  2. A student who has earned credit for a particular course through CLEP examinations may elect to take the same course at Penn State (unless restricted by placement policies of the unit offering the course), but the duplicate credit cannot be used to meet any additional degree requirements. However, the grade earned in the Penn State course will count towards the student’s grade point average.
  3. The total number of credits that may be awarded is limited to 60 credits.

E-7 College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) of the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) Procedure

Revised: 3/17/92
Revised: 4/24/12

back to top


42-96 International Secondary Schooling and International Baccalaureate Program

A student who has enrolled in foreign secondary schools or in the International Baccalaureate Program and who has taken course work that is equivalent to college-level studies may receive credit for such work if they meet the following criteria:

  1. Foreign Secondary Schooling. A person who does advanced work in a secondary school in another country may receive consideration for transfer credit when the examinations taken are based on college-level studies. Credit may be awarded for advanced work in foreign secondary schools.The World Education Series, published by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, shall be used as a guide in making decisions on the awarding of credit for course work completed at an advanced level in foreign secondary schools. The number of credits awarded will reflect the introductory sequence in that subject at Penn State.
  2. International Baccalaureate. A person who does work based on college-level studies in an international baccalaureate program in a secondary school may take the higher level examinations. Credit may be awarded for higher level examinations of the international baccalaureate depending upon the grades earned on the examination. Subjects examined at the higher level with an earned grade of 5 or higher will be considered for transfer credit. The number of credits awarded will reflect the introductory sequence in that subject at Penn State.

Limitations on credits earned through advanced-level foreign secondary schooling and the International Baccalaureate examinations are as follows:

  1. It is the discretion of the student’s degree program to determine whether the credits earned can be used to meet degree requirements.
  2. A student who has earned credit for a particular course through IB examinations or advanced-level foreign secondary schooling may elect to take the same course at Penn State (unless restricted by placement policies of the unit offering the course), but the duplicate credit cannot be used to meet any additional degree requirements. However, the grade earned in the Penn State course will count towards the student’s grade point average.

Revised: 4/25/95
Revised: 4/24/12

back to top


42-97 Credit by Portfolio Assessment

For any academic unit that is willing to consider awarding credit on the basis of portfolio assessment for specific courses offered by that unit, an undergraduate student interested in receiving credit for college-level learning obtained in non-collegiate settings may develop a portfolio that reflects knowledge mastered, request assessment of the portfolio, and be awarded credit. The student’s petition for the award of credit via portfolio must meet the following criteria:

  1. Credit is granted for college-level learning obtained during work or other experience, not for the experience itself; learning must be documented and must represent college-level achievement.
  2. Credit without grades is awarded only to enrolled students.
  3. Credit is awarded at the undergraduate level.
  4. Credit cannot duplicate other course work that the student has already completed, nor can the student then enroll for credit in a course for which credit already has been granted via portfolio assisted assessment.
  5. Credit may be awarded following an evaluation of the portfolio by an individual faculty member or a team of faculty members and/or other selected personnel with expertise in the subject matter to be evaluated.
  6. Credit earned via portfolio is designated on the transcript in the same manner as transfer credit.

A fee is assessed to recover the costs of providing the service.

E-10 Credit by Portfolio Assessment Procedure

Initial Legislation: 2/27/96
Revised: 3/25/97

back to top


42-98 Educational Experiences in the Armed Services

  1. Formal Military Service School Courses. A veteran or member of the active armed services or the selected reserves who is a student may be granted credit for educational experiences in the armed services under the following conditions:
    • General credit may be awarded to a student upon certification by the Department of Defense of the formal military service school courses.
    • Responsibility for the decision as to academic area of application and quantity of credit to be awarded rests with the director of admissions.
    • Guidelines for this decision are drawn from the most recent edition of A Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services, published by the American Council on Education.
    • Use of these general credits in the student’s program rests with the department concerned

E-8 Educational Experiences in the Armed Services Procedure

  1. Military Occupational Specialty. A veteran or member of the active armed services or the selected reserves who is a student may be granted credit for occupational specialties held in the armed services under the following conditions:
    • General credit may be awarded to a student upon certification by the Department of Defense of a Military Occupational Specialty.
    • Responsibility for the decision as to academic area of application and quantity of credit to be awarded rests with the director of admissions.
    • Guidelines for this decision are drawn from the most recent edition of A Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services, published by the American Council on Education.
    • Use of these general credits in the student’s program rests with the department concerned.

E-8 Educational Experiences in the Armed Services Procedure

  1. Health and Physical Education. A veteran or a member of the active armed services or the selected reserves who is a student may be awarded credit for health education and physical education for completion of basic training. Credit for basic training completed by December 1979 may be awarded as 1 general credit of health education and 3 general credits of physical education. Credit for basic training completed subsequent to December 1979, with the exception of Air Force basic training will be evaluated using the catalog of the Community College of the Air Force. General credits awarded for basic training may be used to fulfill the General Education requirements.

E-8 Educational Experiences in the Armed Services Procedure

  1. Defense Activity Nontraditional Education Support (DANTES), DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST), and United States Armed Forces Institute (USAFI). DANTES succeeded USAFI when USAFI was deactivated in May 1974. The USAFI records of veterans or members of the active armed services or the selected reserves who are students will continue to be reviewed, as will the DSST records, provided the candidate achieved at least the minimum score.

E-8 Educational Experiences in the Armed Services Procedure

Revised: 10/6/81
Revised: 10/6/87
Revised: 3/17/92
Revised: 4/25/95
Revised: 9/14/04

back to top


42-99 Educational Credit for Training Programs in Non-collegiate Organizations

A student may be granted credit for educational experiences in non-collegiate organizations under the following conditions:

  1. Credit may be awarded to a student upon certification of successful course completion of the American Council on Education’s Registry of Credit Recommendations.
  2. Responsibility for the decision as to academic area of application and quantity of credit to be awarded rests with the director of admissions.
  3. Guidelines for this decision are drawn from the most recent edition of the National Guide of Educational Credit for Training Purposes published by the American Council on Education.
  4. Use of general credits in the student’s program of study rests with the department concerned.

E-9 Educational Credit for Training Programs in Non-collegiate Organizations Procedure

Revised: 3/17/92

back to top