Credit and Evaluation

Calculation of Transferred Semesters Based on the Number of Transferred Credit Hours

Several academic procedures, including the determination of academic eligibility, depend on the tally of semesters that students have completed. When credit hours are transferred, a calculation must be made as to the number of semesters the student is regarded as having used up. This calculation is based on the number of credit hours accepted by UNC–Chapel Hill for transfer, not on the number of semesters in which the student was enrolled at other colleges. Excluded from this calculation are transfer hours awarded for courses taken concurrent with high school.

Students are regarded as having used up one semester for every full multiple of 15.0 semester credit hours accepted for transfer. When credits are transferred from a college that operates on the quarter-term system, one quarter-term credit hour equals two-thirds of a semester credit hour.

See “Transfer Candidates” in the “Undergraduate Admissions” section of the Catalog for additional information.

The same formula is applied to credit hours that a student earns while enrolled in a part-time program of study at UNC–Chapel Hill, with 90 hours regarded as six semesters and 105 hours regarded as seven semesters. Note: Hours earned in any UNC–Chapel Hill summer term are not included in this formula.

The formula also applies to transfer credit hours awarded for any courses taken at other institutions during a fall or spring semester (but not during summer terms) after a student matriculates at UNC–Chapel Hill.

Credit by College Board Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or SAT Subject Examinations

Students who meet UNC–Chapel Hill standards on certain approved College Board Advanced Placement examinations, examinations of the International Baccalaureate Program, or certain SAT Subject Tests (e.g., foreign language) may receive academic credit for comparable University coursework. Each year the Office of Undergraduate Admissions publishes the minimum scores necessary for the awarding of course credit; however, final authority for awarding this placement credit lies with the chair of the department or curriculum in which credit is to be received. Minimum scores for placement may change from year to year. Regulations for credit in the year in which the student began study at UNC–Chapel Hill as a full-time student determine the standards that apply, not the year in which the student took the examination. Such credit will not be contingent upon the completion of further work in the subject unless specified by an academic department.

By-Examination (BE) credit awarded based on a student’s scores on the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, SAT Subject Tests, or departmental examinations may be used to fulfill General Education requirements. For students admitted as new first-year or transfer students beginning in fall 2009 or later, the following limitations apply to the use of By-Examination (BE) credit in a major or minor:

  • No more than two courses (six to eight credit hours) of BE credit may be used as part of the major core.
  • No more than one BE credit course (three to four credit hours) may be used as part of a minor.
  • Grades of BE from an Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or SAT II Subject Test may not count toward the requirement that students earn at least 18 hours of C or better grades in the major core, or toward the minimum hours of C required in the minor.

Students who wish to enroll in a course for which they have By-Examination credit should discuss their decision with an academic advisor. In the event that a student takes a course for which Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or SAT Subject Test credit is awarded, the By-Examination credit will be forfeited when the course is completed, as well as any higher-level BE credit in that sequence. For example, a student whose test scores would award BE credit for MATH 231 and MATH 232 and who chooses to take MATH 231 at UNC–Chapel Hill will forfeit BE credit for both MATH 231 and MATH 232.

Credit by Departmental Examination

Enrolled students who, through individual study or experience, have gained knowledge of the content of undergraduate courses offered by the University may, with the approval of the relevant department and school or college, receive credit (without grade) for such courses by special examination. The student must receive the approval of the department and college/school at least 30 days before the examination is taken, and the examination must be taken before the beginning of the last semester or full summer session before the student’s graduation.

Policy on Credit for Internships—The College of Arts and Sciences

No internship automatically earns academic credit. Students who want academic credit for an internship should contact the director of undergraduate studies in a relevant academic department or curriculum before beginning the internship and must complete an internship course in that academic unit. Not all departments and curricula offer internship courses.

Internships may not be used to meet the experiential education (EE) requirement unless the student earns academic credit for the internship through a department or curriculum. A student must enroll in a course that has been approved as meeting the EE requirement in order for an internship to fulfill that requirement.

Students who must earn academic credit as a condition of doing the internship—and who cannot get credit through an academic department or curriculum—should contact a counselor at University Career Services for possible credit in SPCL 493 before beginning the internship. The student must write a statement describing his or her learning objectives and a paper reflecting on the experience. SPCL 493 is a one-credit, Pass/Fail course that does not count toward any graduation requirements.

Distance-Learning Courses

The policy governing the use of distance-learning courses applies to all new and continuing full-time and part-time degree-seeking students, and they refer to Carolina Courses Online (CCO), Summer School, and other for-credit UNC–Chapel Hill courses offered completely via similar modalities. The regulations do not apply to coursework taken prior to matriculation as degree-seeking students.

The following policies apply to distance-learning courses:

  1. The maximum number of credit hours, all of which must be designated UNC–Chapel Hill, that can be counted toward an undergraduate degree in the College of Arts and Sciences is 24. There can be no exceptions to this upper limit.
  2. First-semester, first-year students may not enroll in for-credit online courses unless unusual circumstances prevail, nor may first-year students take an online course in the summer prior to matriculation.
  3. Full-time undergraduate students may enroll in a maximum of one for-credit online course per regular semester (after the first semester, if they are a first-year student) and a maximum of two for-credit online courses per summer session (courses offered over the full summer would count in both Summer Session I and Summer Session II).
  4. Degree-seeking students who are not enrolled may take a maximum of two for-credit online courses in a regular semester or summer.
  5. No more than two for-credit online courses may count toward a major (core requirement) or minor in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  6. Self-Paced courses cannot count toward a degree in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  7. It is the responsibility of the Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, in consultation with the Associate Dean and Director of the Academic Advising Program, to determine whether students in unusual circumstances warrant an exception to these policies.

Distance-learning courses offered at UNC–Chapel Hill are identified with the following section numbers in Connect Carolina:

  • 956 – 974 (Departmental Distance Learning)
  • 975 – 989 (Friday Center Distance Learning)
  • 990 – 994 (Friday Center Distance Learning Carolina Courses Online)
  • 01W – 09W (On-Campus Web Delivery Courses)

This policy is maintained by the College of Arts and Sciences. Last revised September 20, 2016.

Carolina Courses Online

Carolina Courses Online is a distance-education program that offers courses over the Internet. Class attendance is not required, but courses follow the semester schedule. The courses are administered through the Friday Center for Continuing Education. To enroll, contact the Friday Center at (919) 962-1134 or visit its Web page. Certain restrictions may apply. Students should consult the dean’s office of their school for details.

Foreign Language Placement Credit

Experiential Speakers of a Foreign Language

Enrolled students who have learned a language currently offered at UNC–Chapel Hill by experience (i.e., having grown up speaking another language in the home or having lived several years in another country) and who are conversant and literate in that language and in English, may take a placement test in that language for placement (PL) only and not for credit hours. If the student places beyond level 3, the student can use that language to fulfill the General Education foreign language requirement, but again, no credit hours will be awarded. The placement test must be taken before the beginning of the last semester or full summer session before graduation.

Native Speakers of a Foreign Language

For academic purposes, a native speaker is a student raised in a country outside the United States and formally educated through all or most of high school in a language other than English. Native speakers cannot use By-Examination (BE) credit in their native language to reduce the requirements for a major in that language and will not receive credit for levels 1 through 4 of their native language(s). However, upon recommendation of the appropriate language department, they may receive credit for courses taken at UNC–Chapel Hill beyond level 4 if those courses are heavily based on literature, film, culture, or other content. Native speakers of languages other than English may use ENGL 105, or its transfer equivalent, to satisfy their General Education foreign language requirement. Native speakers who wish to pursue placement (PL) in their language should complete the online form

Hours of Credit

Work is valued and credited toward degrees by semester hours, one such hour usually being awarded for one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours out of class student work each week. One hour of credit is usually awarded for each three hours of laboratory or field work or work in studio art.

For more information on the University’s course numbering system, see UPM #4.

For the definition of a credit hour, see UPM #29.   

Independent Studies for Credit

The University offers independent study experiences for undergraduate students. Such courses, including directed readings, internships/practica, mentored undergraduate research, and senior honors thesis courses for an individual student, are offered for academic credit through departments and curricula. Twelve hours of graded independent study credit may be counted toward graduation (excluding six hours of senior honors thesis credit). No more than six hours may be taken in any one semester, with the exception of students completing a full-time teaching internship program in the School of Education and other approved practicum/internship programs in the professional schools. Students may participate in formalized programs, or they may make individual learning contracts for work under the supervision of a member of the permanent faculty at the department/curriculum level. For information about independent study courses in their majors, students should consult the director of undergraduate studies or independent study coordinator in their major department or curriculum. Students, in consultation with the faculty member, must complete a learning contract and have it approved by the director of undergraduate studies (or designee). Registration for an independent study course must be completed after the learning contract has been approved and no later than the last day of "late registration" (the end of the second week of classes in fall or spring semester or the equivalent date in each summer session). A template for such a learning contract is available online. Students are strongly encouraged to begin this process early, well before the beginning of the semester.

For more information, see UPM #30.

Semester Schedule

The work of the University is arranged and offered on the semester system, the regular session being divided into two approximately equal parts called the fall and spring semesters. Summer School offers two sessions of five weeks each, a three-week Maymester, and other short courses with various beginning and ending dates.