2020 Summer Course Approvals

Summer 2020: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University will accept online courses for transfer credit in summer 2020.  Such courses must be pre-approved by the relevant department and by the college; please be sure to complete the pre-approval process before you finalize your summer course plans.

How to Obtain Your Summer Course Approval

The process of getting summer courses approved is fairly simple, but it does require that you pay attention to details. Please read the FAQ’s below, download and read the approval form, and contact Dean Stirk or Dr. Lazen if you still have questions. 

What's the process?

  1. Do some web research and find a class that looks promising (see below for details about this, and read the approval form very carefully before you start looking). Then organize all of the course information, the syllabus, and the summer session calendar stating the first and last days of class. Save this information as pdfs or screenshots; do not ask professors or Dr. Lazen to try to navigate from live links!  Fill out PART ONE of the approval form fully: be sure to note the purpose of the course.
  2. Email the form and supporting information to the departmental director of undergraduate studies (DUS) of the relevant department (e.g. the history DUS for a history course). He or she will decide if the course may be approved, and will sign your form. If the course will be a prerequisite in a different department, you must also get approval there (e.g. if you’d like that history to fulfill a requirement in Comp Lit). If you’d like to the course to count towards a certificate program, then you must also secure the approval of the program director. BSE students, you also need approval from Dean Bogucki.
  3. After the approval form is signed, forward the form and supporting materials to Dr. Lazen ([email protected]) or to the Office of International Programs for courses outside the United States ([email protected]).


Where can I get a summer course approval form?
You may download the form here: 2020 Summer Course Preapproval Form.

When is the deadline?
The deadline has been extended this year to May 23, 2020.

What kinds of courses may be approved for credit in 2020?
As always, a course you take elsewhere must “fit generally within the range of course offerings in a Princeton department or program.” This means that a course on the sociology of gender might well be approved; a course on communications or forestry would not.

Does it have to be at an Ivy-League or peer university?
Courses must be offered by a four-year accredited college or university; that may include state universities, etc.  The course must be part of the school's regular curriculum, and must count toward graduation for full-time students in that institution's AB or BSE program.  This means that continuing-education or community courses, for example, are not acceptable for Princeton credit. 

How long does the course have to be?
The equivalent of a one-term course must meet for a minimum of 4 weeks and 30 hours or more of real-time (synchronous) class activities or direct, live instruction. Please note that many departments (e.g. Math, Economics, Physics) impose additional requirements and restrictions: check with departmental or program websites to determine the specifics of what they require.

The course must have a minimum of three significant and ideally varied assignments over the duration of the course (exams, papers, problem sets, graded participation, etc.). Work outside the synchronous (live) instruction should approximate the rigor of a regular Princeton course.

Will I get distribution credit for my summer course?
A maximum of two outside courses may be used to fill AB distribution requirements. You may use only one course each in two of the three following areas: LA, SA, SEN/STN. Transfer credit is available only for SEN/STN, not SEL/STL.

What about lab classes?

If you need to take a laboratory course, for instance, to meet a BSE or science department requirement, the course may require substantial hours of lab time. Online courses taken to substitute for laboratory courses normally taught at Princeton must have an appropriate component involving the observation of experiments and analysis of results in addition to the presentation of scientific principles.  Remember, even if you have a lab course pre-approved for credit, it will not fill your SEL/STL requirement at Princeton!

Can I use a summer course for a prerequisite or department requirement?
If you are planning to take a class as a prerequisite or required course in your department, be very sure to make this clear when you ask for departmental approval. Most departments require that the content of outside courses be “substantially similar” in order for them to qualify as prerequisites or requirements.

What about language courses? Can I fill my language requirement with a summer course?
Credit for language courses is approved on a provisional basis. One course credit may be granted for beginning language courses at the 102 level or beyond if the department determines after the class that you have progressed beyond the expected level for that course. Credit will be given for the final course in an introductory sequence only if the student passes the department placement test. Note that language classes must have a minimum of 60 hours and meet for at least 4 weeks. So if you want to take a language class, remember that everything depends on the Princeton test that you take when you return to campus.

Can I take a course Pass-Fail?
In order to get any credit, you must get a grade of C or higher (a C- is not acceptable for credit), unless the institution is offering courses only on a pass-fail basis.  That is, you may not elect pass-fail grading for a summer course if you want Princeton transfer credit.

Will my summer grade show up on my transcript?
No. After we receive your summer transcript, your summer grade will be turned into a “T” for transfer credit when it appears on your Princeton transcript, and it will not go into your GPA. *Note that many grad schools and scholarship applications require transcripts from every school you attend, so these summer grades won’t really disappear.

I'm pre-med.  Are online courses okay for me this summer?
Definitely check with Health Professions Advising before you make decisions about courses in summer 2020.  This might be a good time to get some other kind of experience, instead of taking core pre-med coursework online.