The College

Transfer Credit Guidelines

Brown's policies on transfer credit eligibility for prospective and current undergraduate students.

Transfer credit is synonymous with coursework taken outside of Brown that is transfer-eligible and that advances a student's course credit count towards the 30 credit requirement for graduation. By default, transfer credits are posted as unassigned in a subject area (e.g. ECON Unassigned Credit 1.0). Under select conditions, students can request Brown course equivalencies for these unassigned credits to satisfy course prerequisites or concentration requirements. 

Placement notations are similar to transfer credit with key distinctions. Placement notations represent a Brown course equivalency, but do not award course credit. Placement notations are principally considered for select foundational courses. Students who are not eligible for transfer credit may consider requesting a placement notation to meet prerequisites, or when a concentration requires a notation, but they must first consult with before enrolling in courses outside of Brown. The host university will not be listed on your Brown transcript; you will simply see “External College Coursework”

Transfer Credit Eligibility

Student Eligibility

Brown students must meet one of the below criteria to be eligible for transfer credit. Students who do not fall into these categories and who are interested in taking outside courses after enrolling at Brown, should read the Other Students section.

Only a College degree completion dean ( can confirm a student’s eligibility for transfer credit. If a student’s concentration advisor confirms that a non-Brown course can be applied toward the concentration, or if a faculty subject liaison confirms Brown course equivalency for a non-Brown course, the student must still also verify with a degree completion dean that they themselves are eligible for transfer credit. 

Students who take coursework outside of Brown during a separation for an academic code violation or disciplinary infraction must be enrolled at Brown for at least one semester following the completion of the suspension before they can transfer credits taken during that separation and/or graduate. All transfer credit and placement notation approvals and pre-approvals provided through ASK are provisional and may be revoked.

Brown honors a review of all coursework taken at a transfer student’s primary previous institution for transfer credit. The review is expanded for RUE and veteran students to all college level coursework taken after high school and before enrolling at Brown. A maximum of 15 Brown course credits can be transferred to Brown. Summer courses will not be automatically articulated for transfer credit without identifying a concrete need for them through an advising conversation with an academic dean via

Students approved for full-time Study Away or enrolled in a Brown-approved study abroad program are eligible for transfer credit. Consult with Study Abroad Advising early and in advance of enrolling in non-Brown summer coursework for approval.

A credit recovery need is defined as having insufficient course credits to meet their official estimated date of completion (EDOC). Students with a credit recovery need are generally eligible for transfer credit. Students must meet with a degree completion dean before enrolling in outside coursework and/or to discuss how and if past coursework can be evaluated for transfer credit. A maximum of 4 summer course credits can be transferred to Brown. Transferring credits may advance a student’s semester of standing. With the exception of summer credits, transferring 3 to 6 course credits will automatically advance students by one semester of standing in the form of 4 enrollment units. Students are limited to earning one semester of standing from non-Brown coursework.

Students who do not fit within the above designations are generally not eligible for transfer credit. Concentration advisors have the discretion to clear students of specific concentration requirements using outside coursework without the need to transfer credit or other notations. Students seeking to satisfy foundational course prerequisites outside of Brown may consider requesting a placement notation. Students applying for advanced standing may be eligible for transfer credit. If your situation is not addressed here, please reach out to the Associate Dean for Curricular Integration to discuss your academic goals and needs.

Course Eligibility Criteria

Independent of a student’s eligibility, courses must meet the following minimum criteria.

  • The school of record providing the required official transcript must be an institutionally accredited 2-year or 4-year degree-granting college/university in the United States, or international equivalent. 
  • Earn a grade of C or better. Pass/Fail (P/F) grading must clearly confirm that the passing grade is equal to C or better.
  • Demonstrate that it is at least four weeks in length, even if asynchronous.
  • Courses should be in standard undergraduate academic disciplines offered at Brown. While not exhaustive, the following are examples of coursework that is not transfer eligible:
    • Vocational or technical training courses (e.g. Excel, EMT training, CPR, physical education, practical military training, among others).
    • Independent study, self-study, and other self-directed courses. By extension, research courses.
    • Internship courses.
    • Short-term, inter-semester courses (e.g. winter session).
    • College Algebra, which covers high school-level curriculum. 
  • Duplicate or similar courses to what a student has already taken are not transfer eligible. Conversely, students must not take Brown courses similar to what they have transferred.
  • Concurrent enrollment courses and courses with dates overlapping with a term in which a student is actively enrolled at Brown are not transfer eligible.
  • Credit Limits: A maximum of 15 Brown course credits total can be transferred to Brown; and no more than 8 in one academic year. A maximum of 4 summer course credits total can be transferred; and less if students have already taken Brown Summer/Winter Session courses. A maximum of 2 course credits can be earned in one summer term.

Applicable portions of this course eligibility criteria are also used for placement notations. 

Unless there is a credit recovery need, as defined above, college-level courses taken during high school cannot be considered for transfer credit; they may be evaluated for placement notations. When there is a need, they may only transfer if physically taken at the host college and if they did not count toward a student's high school requirements. High school courses without a college transcript are not eligible for transfer credit or placement notations.

Concentration Considerations

The transfer credit or placement notation review processes do not confirm whether courses can be used to satisfy concentration requirements. Students must consult with their concentration advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) before enrolling in outside coursework to determine how these can be applied toward the concentration. Most concentrations limit the amount of outside coursework that can be applied towards the concentration. 

Course Credit Conversion and Equivalencies

One (1.0) Brown course credit is equal to 4 semester credit hours (or 6 quarter units, or 8 ECTS). Brown transcribes transfer course credits in 0.5, 0.75, and 1.0 increments. Individual courses should carry a minimum of 2 semester credit hours, 3 quarter units, or 4 ECTS to transfer. 

A course must carry a minimum 3 semester credit hours, 4 quarter units, or 6 ECTS to be considered for a Brown course equivalency. Placement notations may not be bound by these restrictions unless determined by the reviewing faculty department.

Additional Transfer Credit-Related Resources