Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Adviser Homepage > Adviser Information File > Credits 


Adviser Information File
Undergraduate Policies and Procedures

Credit by Examination

CONTENTS       Arts and Sciences policies
Transfer credit by examination
CLEP credit
Department policies on credit by examination

Arts and Sciences policies

    Credit by examination is a mechanism by which students can receive UW credit for independent study or work completed with private teachers. Regularly admitted and currently enrolled students may take special examinations, sometimes known as "challenging a course," in subject matter offered by the University to gain credit without being enrolled in specific courses. All undergraduate courses in the College are open to credit by examination unless the department specifically excludes the course. Credit by examination requests must be approved by the faculty examiner and the department chair.

Credit by examination can also be used to earn credit for work completed at unaccredited institutions, if a formal examination is deemed necessary by the chair of the concerned department(s). In other cases, the department may be willing to "validate" such coursework without an examination. Students wishing to validate credit should contact the Admissions Office for forms and procedures.

NOTE: Some other UW schools and colleges also allow credit by examination. Students should check with the school or college offering the course in question.



    Initial inquiries about credit by examination and challenging a course should be directed either to the department chair or to the undergraduate adviser of the specific department. If the student appears eligible to challenge a course (see Restrictions, below), the student will be put in contact with the appropriate instructor, who will determine if the student is academically qualified to take the examination. Permission to challenge a specific course rests with the instructor.

After the student talks with the instructor designated as the one responsible for the course in which the examination is to be taken, the Graduation and Academic Records Office (264 Schmitz Hall) certifies the student's eligibility to take the examination and then issues the application for credit by examination. The instructor and departmental chair must sign the form. The signed form must be brought to the Graduation and Academic Records Office no later than Friday of the second week of the quarter. A payment of $25 per course requested must then be made to the Student Fiscal Services Office. Examinations are administered by the Office of Educational Assessment, no later than the fifth week of the quarter, unless other arrangements are made with the individual instructor for administering the examination.

No student is permitted to take more than two examinations in three-, four-, or five-credit courses, nor more than three examinations in one- or two-credit courses, in one day. Should the student plan to take more examinations in a given quarter, an additional day may be permitted and arrangements may be made with the Office of Educational Assessment or with the individual instructor.



    Specific departments may impose particular restrictions, as noted in the departmental policy chart which follows. The general University restrictions are as follows:

  1. A student may not take a credit examination for a course in which s/he has received prior credit, or is registered for in the current quarter. A student may take a credit examination for a course in which s/he has received a grade of 0.0, or has posted a W, X, or I.
  2. All credits secured by examination count as extension credit and, if taken at the UW, are included in the 90-extension-credit maximum allowed toward the bachelor's degree. (For transfer extension credit restrictions, see below.)
  3. No student shall receive credit by examination for a course for which the student would not be eligible to receive credit if the course were taken in residence. For example, a student is not eligible to receive credit by examination for SPAN 201 if credit has already been awarded for SPAN 202.
  4. An examination cannot be repeated.
  5. A student can't receive credit by examination for lower division courses in the student's native language. (Some language departments have more restrictive policies. Refer to departmental policies on the accompanying chart.)
  6. Credit by examination is not acceptable toward an advanced degree in the Graduate School.


    All courses taken credit-by-examination are assigned a numerical grade, unless the course is offered Credit/No-Credit only. The minimum grade to be awarded credit is 2.0; no credit is earned if the student's grade on the examination is below 2.0. As with other extension credit, grades earned are not included in the student's grade-point average.

Eligible students may choose the Satisfactory/Not-Satisfactory (S/NS) option, but should be warned that only electives may be taken S/NS. If the S/NS option is chosen, a numerical grade is assigned and "S/NS option" written at the bottom of the credit-by-examination grade card.


Transfer credit by examination

    Credit earned by examination at other colleges is transferable to the UW, if the following two conditions are met.

  1. The credit is awarded for an actual course in that college's curriculum.
  2. The course must be regularly transferable-that is, not credit for life experience or credit the UW considers vocational/technical. If the college granted the student an exemption from a course, and not credit for the course itself, no credit transfers.

Transfer credit by examination is posted as extension credit, with a notation that it was transferred and not UW credit by exam. No more than 45 transfer extension credits (including College Board AP credits not awarded by the UW) count toward a UW degree.


CLEP credit

    The College of Arts and Sciences does not accept credits based upon the College-Level Examination Program general examinations. At present, no department accepts credits for the specific CLEP subject-matter examination in that field.

Department policies on credit by examination

    In many UW departments no undergraduate courses may be challenged. Departments which allow certain courses to be challenged, or allow courses to be challenged under some circumstances, are listed below.

Department/ProgramAre all undergraduate courses open to challenge?Which undergraduate courses are not subject to challenge?Comments
American Ethnic StudiesNoAllSee undergraduate adviser for possible exceptions.
AnthropologyYes See undergraduate adviser.
ArtOnly for advanced placement (no credit granted) Students must be art majors. See undergraduate adviser.
Art HistoryYes See undergraduate adviser.
Atmospheric SciencesYes See undergraduate adviser.
BiologyNoBIOL 180, 200, 220300-level and above, see the instructor or the Faculty Coordinator of Biology Instruction.
ChemistryNoLab coursesNormally student should register for the course and make arrangements with instructor to take exams without attending class, rather than formally challenging the course.
CommunicationNo400-level coursesSee undergraduate adviser.
Comparative LiteratureNoC LIT 396, 397, 460, 490, 491, 495, 496, 497See undergraduate adviser.
DramaYes See chair or undergraduate adviser.
EconomicsYes See undergraduate adviser.
EnglishNoComposition coursesSee Director of Undergraduate Programs.
GeographyNoGEOG 490-499Other courses open to challenge with approval of instructor. See undergraduate adviser.
GermanicsNoThe only courses students can test out of and receive credit for are 201 and 202. Native speakers cannot receive credit by exam.Students may test out of other language-learning courses (without credit), but to complete a German major or minor, they must enroll for and earn credit for all of the required literature and culture courses.
HistoryNoSeminar coursesSee undergraduate adviser.
International StudiesNoEURO 490, 491
SIS 495, 498
SISEA 451, 455
SISLA 480, 485, 493
SISRE 343,457
See undergraduate adviser for all programs.
MusicNoMUSEN and MUSAP prefix coursesSee undergraduate adviser.
Near Eastern Languages and CivilizationNoNative speakers may not challenge elementary and intermediate language courses.See undergraduate adviser.
PhilosophyYes See chair or undergraduate adviser.
PhysicsNoNo lab courses, courses for teachers, individual study, or seminarsSee undergraduate adviser.
Political ScienceNoPOL S 101See undergraduate adviser.
PsychologyYes See undergraduate adviser.
Romance Languages and LiteratureNo 100-level courses and courses numbered 303 and above. Native speakers may not challenge 200-level courses or conversation courses at any level.
Scandinavian StudiesNoOnly 100- and 200-level language instruction courses may be challenged (DANISH, FINN, NORW, SWED), up to a maximum of 30 credits. Native speakers may not challenge at the 100 or 200 levels.See undergraduate adviser.
Slavic Languages and LiteraturesNoStudents may challenge a maximum of 5 credits of language instruction courses, in courses numbered 300 and above only.See undergraduate adviser.
Speech and Hearing SciencesNoSPHSC 391, 405, 406, 471, 481, 491, 499See undergraduate adviser.
Women StudiesYes See director or departmental adviser.