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Transfer Credit and Credit by Exam

Type: Definitions
Effective Date: 6/7/2019

Transfer Credit

Credit By Exam

  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • Cambridge International Exam (CIE)
  • Challenge Exams
  • College Level Exam Program (CLEP)
  • DSST (formerly DANTES Subject Standardized Tests)
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma & Certificate Credit (IB)

Undergraduate Transfer Credit 

To meet the requirements of a particular degree plan, students may use transfer credit from other institutions.  Transcripts are reviewed to determine the number of units accepted and how they will apply toward satisfying NAU Liberal Studies, Diversity, major, minor and/or certificate requirements.  Course equivalencies are established based on the alignment of learning outcomes. Course equivalencies are based on when the course was taken. 

Northern Arizona University accepts transfer credits, not grades.

Undergraduate credit, from regionally accredited four-year institutions, will be accepted on a credit-unit-for-credit-unit basis (adjusted for semester/quarter terms) for college-level courses with grades of "P" (credit awarded), "C," 2.0, or better.

The university will accept up to 64 transfer credits from a combination of regionally accredited two-year institutions and the American Council on Education (ACE) Alternative Credit Project™. These credits must be college-level with grades of "P" (credit awarded), "C," 2.0, or better.  NAU has ABOR approval to accept more than 64 units from two-year colleges for specific degree programs.  Prior to making a request to transfer more than 64 units, a specific degree program should be reviewed carefully to see if it may apply. 

Students who transfer from Arizona higher education public institutions will follow the degree requirements in effect at the time the coursework began provided that attendance was continuous (as explained under Catalog to Use for Degree Requirements, Policy #100304).

The Course Equivalency Guide (CEG), which is part of the System, indicates how the universities accept transfer course work (numbered 100 or above) from Arizona higher education public institutions.

Students pursuing a baccalaureate degree at Northern Arizona University who have completed the Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC) from an Arizona public or tribal community college, the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) or California State University General Education (CSUGE) from a California public community college are considered to have satisfied the Liberal Studies Distribution Blocks and Foundation requirements and the US Ethnic and Global Diversity requirements. Completion of the AGEC, IGETC, or the CSUGE do not satisfy the Junior Writing and Senior Capstone requirements. Students will still need to complete these requirements as part of their undergraduate degree.

Petitions for acceptance of credit from nationally accredited four-year or two-year institutions and from non-accredited institutions are to be sent to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions & Orientation

ACE Alternative Course Credit

Northern Arizona University will accept up to 64 transfer credits from a combination of regionally accredited two-year colleges and the American Council on Education (ACE) Alternative Credit Project™. These credits must carry grades of "P" (credit awarded), "C," 2.0, or better. For more information, visit the Alternative Credit Project.

Credit For U.S. Military Service And Training

Northern Arizona University uses the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations and university articulation guidelines to assess credit for U.S. military service and training for undergraduate students.

NAU will accept up to 35 units of ACE-recommended military credit as transfer work toward a baccalaureate degree. Credit will be awarded as lower-division general elective credit or department elective credit.

A student can be awarded an additional 4 units of credit for 18 consecutive months of active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces if terminated under honorable conditions, as documented on the DD214.

A student who has earned a commission in the U.S. Armed Forces, may petition the Office of Admissions and Orientation for an additional 12 units.

Please see Military and Veteran Admission for more information.

Credit By Exam 

Students can use the credit-by-exam option to gain credit for college courses in which proficiency has already been acquired. Students can only use credit-by-exam for courses that the college or department has approved for this option. Some colleges and departments do not permit credit-by-exam, and those that do may limit the availability of courses to be challenged by exam.

Where exams for credit are allowed, they are governed by the general requirements that follow and by the policies of the college or department.

The following requirements apply to all exams for credit.

  • Students may earn up to 60 units by exam either at NAU or transferred to NAU from another accredited institution. Credit-by-exam earned at another institution may be re-evaluated using NAU standards.
  • Credit-by-exam equivalencies are based on when the exam was taken. 
  • The same exam may not be repeated within a year of the first attempt.
  • Under no circumstances will students be permitted to take an exam for the same course more than twice.
  • Credit earned by an exam must not duplicate credit already earned for the same course.
  • Credit will not be given for a course that is equivalent to, more elementary than, or substantially overlaps another course where credit has already been received. 
    • Courses in Progress: Students who are currently enrolled in a language course, other than English, and want credit for a more introductory course(s), must take the exam for that course before the midterm of the course currently enrolled.
    • Credit earned by exam becomes part of a student’s academic record.

NAU will not accept Retrocredit, Challenge, or CLEP exam credit within the 100-200 levels in the primary language of instruction of the student's secondary school (high school) where they graduated.


Credit by Exam Scores


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