2022 Summer Course Approvals

Students are able to take courses at other institutions over the summer or during a leave. Any course taken for transfer credit must have pre-approval from your college and department. You can find more information on the specific guidelines here

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 Dr. Wagner 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. Wagner 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. For domestic courses, share the form with Dr. Wagner by emailing firstrc@princeton.edu with "SU22_LastName" in the subject line. For international courses, share the form Gisella Gisolo, the director of study abroad. The director will review course's basic administrative features to make sure it fits within our general criteria and guidelines.
  3. Share the form and supporting information with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) of the relevant department (e.g. the history dep rep for a history course). The DUS 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 a signature there (e.g. if you’d like that history course to fulfill a requirement in Comp Lit). If you’d like the course to count towards a certificate program, then you must also secure the signature of the program director. BSE students will also need a signature from Dean Bogucki.
  4. After the approval form is signed, forward the form and supporting materials to the First College Office (firstrc@princeton.edu), or to the Office of International Programs for courses outside the United States (ggisolo@princeton.edu).


When is the deadline?
The deadline for submitting summer course approvals is May 3, 2022.

What kinds of courses may be approved for credit in 2022?
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 horticulture would not. Journalism, business school, and communications courses are unlikely to be approved for Princeton credit, although you may certainly take them for your own enrichment.

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 approval form lists information about the required minimum number of weeks and hours.  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.

Normally, the course should 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. Transfer credit is available only for SEN, not SEL.

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?

  • Equivalent courses: Language courses may be pre-approved as equivalent to 100-level Princeton courses. The course credit will be transferred to Princeton as a course equivalent if the relevant Princeton department determines at the conclusion of the preapproved summer study that the student has progressed beyond the expected language level for the course/s (typically with a departmental exam). If the student does not demonstrate the expected language level upon completion of the course but passes the course with a C grade or better, the student will retain the credit as a language elective, transcripted as “TRN.” 
  • Elective courses: Departments may, upon occasion, pre-approve a language course as an elective credit with no Princeton course equivalent. Such courses will be transcripted as “TRN.”
  • University language requirement: Students seeking to use a transfer course to satisfy the University’s language requirement for general education must confirm that the relevant course equivalent has been satisfied by taking a departmental exam at the conclusion of the course.

Will my summer grade show up on my transcript?
The course will appear on the transcript, but the grade will not. In order to get any credit, you must receive a grade of C or higher (a C- is not acceptable for credit). 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 2022.  This might be a good time to get some other kind of experience, instead of taking core pre-med coursework online.

Where can I get a summer course approval form?
You may download the form here: Online Course Approval Form