External Credit

Credit from Away

Effective Summer 2020, the Psychology Department will permit credit away for up to 2 credit away courses for psychology majors. "Credit away" is course credit that students can earn from other institutions while enrolled at Penn, i.e. between fall of your freshman year and spring of your senior year. The College of Arts and Sciences does not award credit away for courses taken at two-year institutions. We will now allow up to two summer credit away courses to count toward the major. This means you can take two summer courses at another institution while currently enrolled in Penn. This does not change the process for earning these credits. Here are the important details:

  • You must submit your credit request through XCAT with a syllabus to gain approval for a course.
  • It is best to submit your XCAT request prior to enrolling in the course, as not all courses are granted credit. For example, any "away" course may be denied credit if it does not engage with the material in the depth we expect, if its coverage is limited in important areas, or if it appears to lack rigor in the student evaluation process (the grading).
  • Courses will only be approved as distribution credits if we judge that they cover all of the required material (e.g., an introductory developmental psych course would need a social and biological component, not just one or the other).
  • Other approved courses will count as electives in the major or the College. This option does not apply to the research requirement. All research credit must be completed in our Department.
  • We will allow up to two summer credit away courses to count toward the major. Only one credit of credit away can count towards the psychology minor or the consumer psychology minor.

A note to transfer students: Six (6) of the total credits in the Psychology major must be Penn Psychology (PSYC) classes taken in the Penn Psychology Department. 

AP Credit

Waivers or credits for courses based on AP exams may allow students to enroll in advanced courses in the department but do NOT take the place of courses that are required for the major. Students who have taken the Psychology AP test and received a grade of 5 can receive a waiver for PSYC001 (but they will NOT receive credit for PSYC001), and they are allowed to enroll directly into any lecture course without taking PSYC001. The AP waiver does NOT count toward the 13 courses required for the major or toward the 6 courses required for the Psych minor. Students who use the AP waiver for PSYC001 must therefore take one additional Psychology Department course.  This policy applies to all undergraduate students. Likewise, AP waivers or credits issued by other departments (e.g., AP credit for STAT111) do NOT satisfy requirements for the Psych major or minor.  Students with AP credits or waivers must make arrangements with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to find appropriate advanced courses. 

Study Abroad

Study Abroad is an attractive option that all Psychology majors are invited to consider. The Director of Undergraduate Studies will be glad to discuss its advantages and drawbacks in the context of your overall program in psychology and your future plans. You'll find complete information about Study Abroad at the Penn Abroad website. Practical steps, including information about the necessary forms, are described in Philosophy, Policies, and Procedures of the Penn Abroad Guide.

For each Psychology course you want approved, check to see if it is pre-approved on the Study Abroad Database. If it is, this item on your "Proposed Course of Study" form will be approved automatically. If it is not, submit it on XCAT, as described below. It is best to obtain this information and the approval of the course before going abroad; however, oftentimes the syllabus is not available until the beginning of the course. 

For majors who are abroad, all transactions with the Department, including application for seminars and Advanced Registration, will be carried out via e-mail unless you make explicit alternative arrangements with the Undergraduate Coordinator. Unless special permission is given, no more than two psychology courses can be counted towards the major from a term abroad; no more than one psychology course can be counted towards the minor from a term abroad.

Requesting Transfer/Study Abroad Credit using XCAT

Students who are seeking approval for PSYC credit for a course that has not already been approved should read the information below before completing the course approval request on XCAT.

1. The Psychology department can only approve courses that are similar to those offered primarily in our department (in contrast to courses we cross-list in our department). For example, if you want approval for a statistics course, you should contact the Statistics department in Wharton. If you want approval for a course similar to Intro to Brain and Behavior, you should contact the BIBB program in the College.

2. No request will be approved unless a syllabus is attached (.doc or .pdf only please) to your XCAT request; do not email this information to the department. A course description is not sufficient. The syllabus should contain a week by week listing of topics and readings, the name of the textbook, the mode of evaluation of your work in the course, and the number of hours that the course meets. If your syllabus does not have all of this information, you might consider attaching copies of exams or other assignments that document that topics covered to your XCAT request.

3. If you are seeking approval for a course that is very similar (in content and difficulty) to a course we offer, then, if approved, the course will be given the same course number as the Penn course. This course credit will satisfy any requirements that the Penn course satisfies, and you will not be able to take the same course at Penn for credit.

4. If you are seeking approval for a course we do not offer at Penn, but one that is similar in scope and difficulty to our 100- or 200-level lecture courses, then, if approved, the course will be given one of the following numbers: 291 for courses that are most similar to those in our "Biological" division; 293 for those that are most similar to those in our "Cognitive" division; 294 for those that are most similar to those in our "Individuals and Groups" division.  This course credit cannot be used towards any College sector requirements, but for Psych majors, this credit can be used for one of the distribution requirements at the 200-level lecture courses (or as an elective).

5. If you are seeking approval for a course we do not offer at Penn, and one that is of narrower breadth than our 100- and 200-level courses (i.e., a specialized topic or a seminar), then, if approved, the course will be given either the number PSYC298 (for study abroad) or PSYC000 (for transfer students). This course credit will only satisfy elective requirements (in the College or the Psych Major).

6. Not all courses are approved. At Penn, all psychology courses delve into the principal areas of scientific psychology. This means that all Penn psychology courses, including those representing "applied psychology," take into account the particular methods of inquiry from which our knowledge is derived and the conceptual frameworks that organize the factual basis of the discipline. If you are seeking approval for a course that does not clearly have, at its core, a scientific foundation, it may not be approved.

7. If you are requesting approval for an Introductory Psychology course, it must cover both natural science and social science aspects of the discipline. Some institutions split this material into two courses. If you took both semesters of a two-semester sequence, please make a note (in the comment field of XCAT) that you have requested credit for PSYC 001 on the basis of two courses, in case the requests are separated in the XCAT queue.  If you only took one semester of a two-semester sequence, you will not receive credit for PSYC 001 but may be eligible for a free elective credit instead (see point 5 above).