Summer Course Information

Information for B.S.E. Students

Note: 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 deans or directors of studies. Full guidelines applicable to all students can be found here.

Important: Online courses may be reviewed for transfer credit again in summer 2022, except for laboratory and studio courses. The following criteria reflect the policies in place for summer 2022.

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 terms 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 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.
    • In-person courses:
      • Should include at least 30 hours of instructional time.
      • Courses approved to satisfy a laboratory or studio requirement must be taken in person; 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.
    • Online courses:
      • Should normally include recorded lectures or remote/Zoom course meetings that equate to at least 30 hours.   In cases where the instructional hours for an online course are difficult to verify, the transfer course should be confirmed as counting for at least three credit hours.
      • Must include interactive components such as live course meetings or small-group breakout discussions, interactive discussion posts, and/or embedded office hours with the teaching faculty.
      • Must have a minimum of three significant and varied assignments graded directly by the instructor over the duration of the course (e.g. exams, papers, problem sets, graded participation, etc.)

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.
  • Download the form Approval for a Course Taken at Another Institution form from your residential college website. You may also download a copy(Approval for a Course Taken at Another Institution) from the Office of the Dean of the College website.

Please follow the steps below in order.

  1. Complete the information at the top of the form. Please check your math when computing the total numbers of hours! Submitting a form showing fewer than 30 hours of class guarantees that it will not be approved. There are also a lot of regulations on the reverse side (summarized above). Please read them.
  2. Bring the form and supporting documentation to the director of studies in your residential college for initial review;  if cleared, then
  3. Bring the form and the supporting description to the director of undergraduate studies of the department AT PRINCETON where the course is taught. For example, differential equations is taught at Princeton as MAE 305, so you must take the materials and form to MAE, even if the course is taught by the math department at the school where you plan to take it. If you are taking the course to match a specific Princeton course (e.g., MAT 202, MAE 305, CHM 303, etc.), then the equivalency must be noted in the space on the form labeled “Analogous Course at Princeton.” Have the director of undergraduate studies return the signed form to you. If they decline to approve your course, you’ll need to find a different one
  4. If you plan to use this course as a departmental or program prerequisite or requirement, you must also obtain approval of your own director of undergraduate studies or program director (if different from the department approving the course.) For example, if you are taking differential equations as the equivalent of MAE 305 to fulfill a departmental requirement in CBE, CEE, or ORFE, then you need to get the signature of the director of undergraduate studies in your department or program in the space indicated. If you are just taking it as a general SEAS requirement or as an elective, then you can skip this step.
  5. AFTER obtaining the approvals so far, bring the form and supporting information the SEAS Undergraduate Office in C-209 E-Quad to obtain the approval of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, who will also check that the course meets all Princeton criteria. Please make sure that you have approval from the relevant department at Princeton before bringing it to the SEAS associate dean, who does not sign blank forms.    After the dean reviews the form and supporting information, you can pick it up and proceed to the next step.
  6. After picking up the form from the Undergraduate Affairs Office, return it to your residential college office.  Note that if the course is going to be taken outside the United States, it needs the endorsement of the Office of the International Programs (oip@princeton.edu).
  7. Take the course, receive a grade of C or better (note: a C- is not acceptable).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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 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.”

Elective courses: 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/St. Petersburg, etc.) that are offered through Princeton laThis doesn’t apply to our own language programs (e.g., Princeton-in-Beijing/Munich/St. Petersburg, 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.

Deadlines

Normally, summer courses must be approved by Dean’s Date of the spring term in May. 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, BSEprogram@princeton.edu.

Updated by Peter Bogucki 2/24/22.