Transfer Credits from Other Institutions

Penn State students may elect to schedule courses at another institution and transfer the credits to Penn State in order to meet degree requirements. Before a student schedules course work at another institution, he/she should have the credits approved for transfer and should work with an adviser to determine how the credits will apply to his/her academic program.

If a student has already taken a course at another institution, then he/she should read General and Specific Credits and follow steps 2-4 in Student Action for Transferring a Course.

Advisability of Taking Course Work Elsewhere

A student considering taking a course at another institution should consult with an academic adviser to decide if it is to his/her advantage. For example, it may not be advisable for a student to take a course at another institution if he/she needs to improve his/her cumulative grade-point average, if the student would be better served by work or an internship experience, if taking the course does not expedite degree completion or significantly reduce an overwhelming semester workload, or if the course lays a foundation for a more advanced course that will be taken at Penn State.

Tuition Increase

Because there is a lower- and upper-division tuition differential, students should calculate the impact of transfer credits on their tuition. Tuition will increase as soon as the student has 59.1 total credits. The increase will be reflected on a student's semester bill during the semester or session in which he/she attains 59.1 or more total credits (if credits are transferred during a semester/session, resulting in 59.1 or more total credits, a mid-semester tuition increase will result). The lower- and upper-division tuition differential should be considered when:

  • determining the number of credits the student takes at another institution
  • timing the transfer of the credits to the student's Penn State record
  • planning the number of credits the student takes in subsequent semester(s).

Students with questions about this assessment should contact the Office of the Bursar

Limitation

A student must earn at least 36 of his/her last 60 credits required for a baccalaureate degree and at least 18 of the last 30 credits required for an associate degree in courses offered by Penn State or in cooperative degree programs that have been approved by the University Faculty Senate.

Identifying a Course

Undergraduate Admissions facilitates the review of all transfer credits according to specified criteria. When a course is evaluated, it becomes part of a database that students and advisers can use to research opportunities at other institutions. Courses may transfer as general credit or a direct equivalent.

Penn State's Database of Evaluated Courses

The Transferring Credit Tool on the Penn State Admissions page lets students check Penn State’s database to determine (1) what institutions offer a course that is equivalent to a Penn State course of interest or (2) what equivalent courses are offered at a particular institution. Advisers can access this information using either the Transfer Course Evaluation Guide or LionPATH’s XFR Search.

LionPATH’s XFR Search is helpful when a student has identified a particular institution and asks what courses offered there will transfer to Penn State. Use the Source ID field to search for the institution by using the lookup icon. Once you’ve selected an institution, hit search to view all courses that have been evaluated for transfer (general credit and nontransferable courses are included).

If a course of interest is found in the database, the student should follow the instructions in Student Action for Transferring a Course. 

Courses Not Included in Penn State's Database

If a course is not included in the database, then it may be considered for transfer if it meets specified criteria. A student is encouraged to work directly with the corresponding academic department at their campus location for pre-approval of the transfer course they wish to enroll in. The student should provide a course syllabus and completed transfer course evaluation form to the relevant academic faculty for review. This review must be completed by a member of the faculty who has disciplinary expertise for the course (for example, a biology faculty member should review a biology course for pre-approval). 

Undergraduate Admissions will then enter that evaluation into LionPATH, if the recommendation is relayed back to us by email to DASE@psu.edu (Please note this email is intended for faculty/staff use only, not by students). This will allow the course evaluation to exist in the LionPATH database prior to the completion of the transfer course. 

The student should communicate with their academic adviser about planned transfer courses to assess how these courses fit into their degree requirements.

The summer 2017 pre-approval course evaluations will be valid for all transcripts received by May 31, 2018. After this date, these pre-approved courses will be subject to a new course review by Penn State faculty.

Criteria Used to Consider Courses for Transfer to Penn State

The following criteria are used by Undergraduate Admissions to consider courses for transfer to Penn State:

  • The institution must be accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies listed below. Member institutions are listed on the appropriate websites below:

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
New England Association of Schools and Colleges
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Western Association of Schools and Colleges

  • The course discipline must be taught at Penn State. Courses such as business education or theology/church doctrine cannot be considered for transfer because Penn State does not offer equivalent courses.
  • The course must be appropriate for the student's level: students in four-year programs must take baccalaureate-level courses, and students in two-year programs must take courses at the associate level or higher.

General and Specific Penn State Equivalencies

Transferred credits are recorded as general or specific credits on a student's transcript.

Specific Credit: Courses essentially equivalent to Penn State courses may be considered for transfer as specific Penn State courses, provided they are below the 400 level, (e.g., a 3-semester-credit Introductory Psychology course could be transferred as PSYCH 100; however, a 3-semester-credit advanced Abnormal Psychology course could be transferred as general credits in psychology but not as PSYCH 470

General Credit: Courses that differ in content, differ in number of credits, or are equivalent to 400-level courses are only considered for transfer as general credit.  General credit may be specific to fulfilling a general education requirement and/or an academic level or neither (simply general credit). http://admissions.psu.edu/info/future/transfer/transfer-credit-equivalencies/

Fulfilling Degree Requirements: A course evaluated for transfer as specific credit is viewed as equivalent to a Penn State course and can fulfill a degree requirement. General credits can be electives, or they can be reviewed by a student's college or department as a substitution for a specific degree requirement. To initiate this review, students should contact their academic adviser. An official course description for the semester/session that the course was completed is necessary, and a course syllabus will be needed.

Credits Earned

Penn State credits are awarded on a semester-hour basis. Courses evaluated for transfer from colleges and universities with different credit systems (quarter hours, units) are converted to semester hours of credit.

Grade Required for Transferring a Course

A course will be transferable with a grade of C (2.00) or higher. Courses taken for pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory grades may only be transferred if the registrar at the other institution verifies that a pass or satisfactory grade is equivalent to at least a C or higher for all students at the institution. Although a grade of C or higher is required for the credit to transfer, only the credit will be transferred. The course grade will not transfer, and the student's Penn State grade-point average will not be affected.

A student should be reminded that although a grade does not appear on his/her Penn State transcript, he/she may be asked by prospective employers or graduate schools to provide a transcript from all institutions attended.

Student Action for Transferring a Course

  1. If you find the course you want on Penn State's database, print the chart (showing that course's transfer information) as documentation that Penn State will accept that course for transfer. (No further approval is required!)

If you would like to take a course not included in Penn State's database, see instructions in Courses Not Included in Penn State's Database, and then follow the instructions in 2 below.

  1. After taking coursework at another institution, request that the school send an official transcript directly to Penn State. It can be sent by mail to Undergraduate Admissions, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Shields Building, University Park, PA 16802-1294. Alternatively, the school can send transcripts to Penn State via fax (814-863-7590), Parchment, eScrip-Safe, or the National Student Clearinghouse. If an e-mail address is required, use admissions@psu.edu 
  2. When you receive notification from Undergraduate Admissions indicating that your transfer credits have been added to your PSU record, pay the $25.00 evaluation/recording fee in person or by mail to the Office of the Bursar, 103 Shields Building.
  3. Verify that the transfer has been processed by checking your academic record using Degree Audit or LionPATH.  Students may view their transferable credit in the LionPATH Student Center.  Locate the Academics section and select Transfer Credit: Report in the drop down menu to view official course, test, and other transfer credits.  All transfer credit listed in the LionPATH Student Center is now part of their Penn State record.

Impact on a Student's Penn State Record

Courses are recorded on a student's transcript as general or specific credit. In the example that follows, a student took two math courses.  For one course, the student earned specific credit for MATH 021.  For the second course, the student earned general credit fulfilling a general education requirement and a level for a precalculus math course:

Math 021        College Algebra   3.0

Math XFRGQ1  Precalculus          3.0

The institution at which the student enrolled is noted on the transcript.

Fractional transfer credits created in the conversion of quarter-hour credits or units to semester-hour credits are typically coded as TRN XFRGEN, general miscellaneous credits, on a student's transcript.

Credits are transferred; grades are not. The credits transferred from another school do not affect a student's grade-point average. They are included in total credits on the student's Penn State transcript; however, they are not included in cumulative credits.

Nondegree Students

Credits will not be added to a student’s record until the student is admitted to degree status.

References

Senate Policy 42-80 and 83-80