Penn State Graduate School Penn State Penn State Graduate School

Transfer Credit

General Admissions Standards Policy GCAC-309

Purpose: to define the circumstances under which credits taken while a student was not enrolled in a graduate degree program at Penn State may be applied towards graduate degree requirements at Penn State<.

Academic Goal: to ensure that a Penn State degree reflects the education the student received while enrolled at Penn State while acknowledging that prior educational experiences have contributed to the student’s knowledge and expertise.

Scope: all graduate students who wish to satisfy some of their Penn State graduate degree requirements with credits earned prior to matriculating into The Graduate School.

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 Background

It is crucial that graduate degrees issued by Penn State be comprised by a majority of courses delivered at this institution. However, limited provisions are made for students wishing to transfer credit not earned as a graduate degree-seeking student at Penn State.

Policy Statement

  1. General Provisions
    1. Credits to be transferred to Penn State must have been earned within 5 years preceding entry into the degree program unless otherwise specified below.
      1. Requests to transfer credits taken more than 5 years prior to admission into a graduate degree program must be accompanied by a letter justifying the validity of the course work.
    2. A graduate program may require a student to do more work at the University than specified by the limitations set by the Graduate Council.
  2. Transfer of Credit from an External Institution
    1. Subject to the limitations below, a maximum of 10 credits of high-quality graduate work done at a regionally accredited U.S. institution or an officially recognized degree-granting international institution may be applied toward the requirements for a graduate degree.
    2. Credits that have been applied toward the degree requirements for a previous degree, whether at Penn State or elsewhere, may not be applied to degree requirements for a graduate degree at Penn State, with the following exceptions:
      1. This does not apply to students who are approved to double-count credits as part of an approved concurrent, integrated undergraduate-graduate, or joint degree, or to students approved by the Graduate School to receive a master's degree along the way to a doctorate.
      2. A maximum of 30 credits from a completed master's degree earned from an institution that does not grant the doctorate in the student's major program may be accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a D.Ed. degree at Penn State with no intervening time limitation. The master’s degree must have been earned at a regionally accredited U.S. institution or a recognized degree-granting international institution in the country in which it operates. Thirty (30) such credits are awarded for only one master's degree.
      3. A maximum of two full academic years of work (60 credits) beyond the baccalaureate earned at a regionally accredited U.S. institution, or a recognized degree-granting international institution in the country in which it operates, that grants the doctorate in the candidate's major program may be accepted by the Graduate School to apply toward D.Ed. degree requirements.
      4. A maximum of 30 credits from a completed master's degree earned at a regionally accredited U.S. institution or a recognized degree-granting international institution in the country in which it operates may be accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a D.M.A. degree at Penn State with no intervening time limitation. Thirty (30) such credits are awarded for only one master's degree.
      5. Because there is no Graduate Council minimum total-credit requirement for a Ph.D. degree at Penn State, 30 credits are not accepted towards Ph.D. requirements for a completed master's degree.
      6. However, credits earned to complete a previous master's degree, whether at Penn State or elsewhere, may not be applied to a second master's or doctoral degree at Penn State.
    3. Approval to apply any transfer credits toward the degree requirements for a graduate program must be granted by the student's academic adviser, the graduate program head or graduate officer, and the Graduate School.
    4. Transfer credits must meet the following criteria:
      1. Must be equivalent to a 400-, 500-, or 800-level course at Penn State;
      2. Must have been earned at a regionally accredited U.S. institution or an officially recognized degree-granting international institution;
      3. Must be of "A" or "B" grade value ("B-" grades are not transferable);
      4. Pass-fail grades are not transferable unless the “Pass” can be substantiated by the former institution as having at least "B" quality);
      5. Must appear on an official transcript of a regionally accredited U.S. institution or recognized degree-granting international institution;
      6. Must be earned within five years prior to the date of registration in a graduate degree program at Penn State.
    5. If transferring credits from a university/college that is on quarter hours, the credits must be converted from quarter hours to semester hours. To convert quarter hours credit to equivalent semester hours credit, multiply the number of quarter hours by two-thirds.
  3. Transfer of Credit from a Penn State Undergraduate Transcript
    1. In certain cases students may apply credits they earned in 400-, 500-, and 800-level courses while undergraduates at Penn State toward a graduate degree at Penn State.
    2. After a student has been admitted to the Graduate School, and with the approval of the graduate program head, a maximum of 15 credits relevant to the graduate program of study that were not used to satisfy undergraduate requirements may be applied toward a graduate degree.
    3. Time limitations on the completion of the respective graduate degree program apply to these as well as to other credits.
  4. Transfer of Nondegree and Certificate Graduate Credits
    1. A maximum of 15 credits earned as a nondegree student or as a certificate student prior to being accepted into a graduate degree program may be applied to a graduate degree program.
    2. Approval to apply nondegree and certificate credits toward a graduate degree program must be granted by the student's academic adviser, the program head or graduate officer, and the Graduate School.
    3. Only 400-, 500-, and 800-level courses may be transferred.
    4. Any courses taken by a student in nondegree or certificate status that are not transferred into the graduate degree program (as requested by the student and approved by the graduate program) will be coded as “credits not applied toward the degree” (NDC) and, therefore, will not count in the total credits earned towards the degree and the degree grade-point average.
    5. Only A, B, and C grades will be transferred. D and F grades will be marked “NDC.”
  5. Transfer of Penn State Law and Dickinson Law Credits
    1. Graduate students wishing to take 900-level (law) credits may apply a maximum of 10 credits towards a graduate degree program. Approval to apply Penn State Law or Dickinson Law credits toward a graduate degree program must be granted by the student’s academic adviser, the graduate program head or graduate officer, and the Graduate School.
    2. Courses approved to be transferred will be marked “*L” (Penn State Law/Dickinson Law Credit) on the graduate transcript and will count towards the total credit count, but will not be calculated into the cumulative grade-point average.
  6. Transfer of Penn State College of Medicine Credits
    1. Graduate students wishing to take 700-level (medical) credits may apply a maximum of 10 credits towards a graduate degree program. Approval to apply Penn State College of Medicine credits toward a graduate degree program must be granted by the student's academic adviser, the graduate program head or graduate officer, and the Graduate School.
    2. Courses approved to be transferred will be marked "*M" (College of Medicine Credit) on the graduate transcript and will count towards the total credit count, but will not be calculated into the cumulative grade-point average.

Cross References / Other Policies

Course Abbreviations Used for Transfer Credit

Revision History

Revisions to policy (specifically 4e.) made by Graduate Council, Dec 2010
Adapted from Graduate Bulletin, June 2018

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