Summer Course Information

Information for B.S.E. Students


This information has been composed with specific relevance to students in the B.S.E. degree program. A.B. students should consult their residential college dean or assistant dean. Full guidelines applicable to all students can be found here.

Important: Courses that are pre-approved for transfer credit must be taken in person.    

After matriculation at Princeton, B.S.E. students may count up to four pre-approved courses taken at other schools toward their course requirements. Such courses can be used to remove a course deficiency or can be “banked” to offset future deficiencies. They can also be used for general B.S.E. requirements (except computing), prerequisites in certain departments, or for fulfillment of humanities and social science distribution areas.

Outside courses may only be taken during the summer or during a fall or spring term when the student is not enrolled at Princeton. Courses offered between Princeton’s fall and spring terms may not be taken for transfer credit.

General Criteria

The Faculty Committee on the Course of Study has approved the following criteria for transfer courses (see Criteria for Courses Taken at Other Institutions for comprehensive information):

  • The outside course must be offered by an accredited, four-year institution. 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./B.S. or B.S.E. degree program. Independent study arrangements are not permitted.
  • The course must generally fit within the range of course offerings in a Princeton department or program in terms of content and should approximate the depth and rigor of a Princeton course.
    • The content of an elective course should fit generally within the range of course offerings of a Princeton department or program.
    • A course taken to fulfill a requirement or prerequisite should have substantially similar content to the corresponding Princeton course.
  • Only two courses may be taken for Princeton credit in any given summer.
  • Accumulated outside courses may not under any circumstances be used to substitute for a semester at Princeton.
  • The course must be taken for an A-F letter grade and completed with a grade of C or better (C- is not acceptable, nor are courses elected to be taken pass-fail.)
  • 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 cover material comparable to semester courses, as described in the syllabus. This can be confirmed by the following criteria:
  • The equivalent of a one-semester course should meet for a minimum of 4 weeks, preferably longer.
  • It should include at least 30 hours of instructional time.
  • Laboratory courses must also include 30 hours of lab time. Please note that at many schools it is necessary to enroll in the lab separately. Since Princeton lab courses have integrated lectures and labs, credit will not be given for only the lecture component of an outside lab course.

Princeton does not award course credit for internships or research experiences, even if another institution offers to issue a transcript for such programs. “Milestone credit” for summer internships is offered for students concentrating in participating departments, which include all engineering departments. See Internship Milestone Credit for more information.

After the course is over, you must have an official transcript (not a grade report) sent to Princeton in order to receive credit. An official transcript must be sent to your residential college office before you can count a course toward your Princeton degree. It is your responsibility to request the transcript and to confirm that it has been received. The receipt of a transcript is currently the only way for Princeton to know that you have completed the course with an acceptable grade. Please note that registrar’s offices at other schools are often very slow about mailing transcripts, so take care of this matter as soon as the course is completed.

This is important to know: outside courses are never approved retroactively. There is a reason it is called pre-approval. Do not expect to get credit for an outside course, summer or otherwise, if you have not received pre-approval before taking the course.

Preapproval Process

Getting Started:

  • Compile detailed information on the course you intend to take, either from the other university’s website or catalog or by contacting the department there and asking to be sent a syllabus. The information MUST be more than a few sentences and must provide an indication of the topical coverage of the course, the number and duration of meetings, the textbooks used, and the methods of assessment. A full syllabus is best, even if it is for the version of the course taught last summer or during the academic year. The more information you can provide, the easier the preapproval process will be.
  • Make sure that the summer course does not begin before your last exam in the spring. Princeton’s exams cannot be rescheduled to accommodate summer courses that conflict with your final exams. Many schools will not permit you to enter a summer course late. It’s best to avoid conflicts altogether.
  • Go to TigerHub click on “Summer Course Pre-Approval” (under the Academic Tasks tile). Use a separate form for each course you want approved, unless they are in sequence (e.g. CHM 201–202).
  • Follow the steps on the form in order. Make sure all fields have been completed since they will determine the routing of this form.    For example, differential equations is taught at Princeton as MAE 305, not in math.

After Obtaining Preapproval:

  1. Take the course, receive a grade of C or better (note: a C- is not acceptable).
  2. Have the transcript sent to your residential college office immediately upon completion of the course. Transcripts for courses taken abroad outside the United States must be sent to the Office of International Programs for credit approval.   
  3. Courses approved for Princeton credit, passed with a grade of C or better, and reported to Princeton with an official transcript will appear on your Princeton transcript as a “T” instead of a letter grade.

Special Rules for Math Courses

The Math Department has developed special procedures for the approval of Math courses which they have defined here. Basically, these procedures are a more explicit version of what is outlined above, so save yourself a hassle and just follow the procedures closely. Remember, differential equations is approved by MAE as MAE 305, not by Math.   

Other Special Policies

The University writing requirement and the B.S.E. computing requirement (nominally COS 126) cannot be satisfied by courses taken elsewhere. They must be taken at Princeton.

Language courses have special rules:

  1. A course or set of courses proposed to substitute for a course in a foreign language must meet at least 60 hours for at least 4 weeks.
  2. 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 language 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.”
  3. Departments may, on occasion, pre-approve a language course as an elective credit with no Princeton course equivalent. Such courses will be transcripted as “TRN.”

This doesn’t apply to our own language programs (e.g., Princeton-in-Beijing/Munich, etc.) that are offered through Princeton language departments and teach courses that are credited as Princeton courses, and you don’t need separate approval for them in any event.

Courses taken at non-U.S. institutions must also be approved by the Office of International Programs. In general, outside of language programs, very few overseas institutions offer acceptable summer courses, especially in STEM areas, so please consult with Dean Bogucki before starting on the preapproval process. After you take the course, the transcript must be sent to the Office of International Programs for credit approval.

Financial Aid

See Summer Programs for current policies and procedures.


All summer 2024 requests must be submitted by April 19. The sooner you submit the form the better. If your circumstances at the end of the spring term suddenly require you to take a summer course (e.g., you find yourself with fewer than the required number of courses to advance to the following year or you fail a required course), then it is possible to obtain late preapproval BEFORE THE SUMMER COURSE BEGINS by sending the relevant information as a PDF (not JPG or other graphics format) attachment to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs of the School of Engineering and Applied Science,

Updated by Peter Bogucki 12/18/23.