How to Take a Summer Course
Information for B.S.E. Students
Note: this information has been composed with specific relevance to students in the B.S.E. degree program. A.B. students should consult their residential college deans or directors of studies.
After matriculation at Princeton, B.S.E. students may count up to four pre-approved courses taken at other schools toward their course requirements (fewer if you elect to take a year of advanced standing or foreign study). Such courses can be used to remove a course deficiency or can be "banked" to offset future deficiencies. They can also be used for general BSE requirements (except computing), prerequisites in certain departments, or for fulfillment of humanities and social science distribution areas. In some cases, they may be permitted to substitute for a departmental requirement.
A summer course taken elsewhere must
be offered in a real physical classroom by a live human instructor by an accredited four-year institution (NO community college, independent study, or distance-learning courses),
meet for a minimum of four weeks and 30 hours, preferably more (note: three week courses are NOT acceptable, no matter how many hours they have -- drinking from a fire hose leaves a lot of water on the ground.)
be a course that a department at Princeton could offer (no courses in communications, poultry science, management, education, recreation and leisure studies, etc.), and
be completed with a grade of C or better.
A laboratory course (e.g. general physics) MUST have at least 30 hours of lab as well. In the case of a course proposed to substitute for a required prerequisite or a course in a Princeton department, the content should be substantially similar. You may take no more than two courses in any one summer. You may not, under any circumstances, use outside courses to substitute for a term of study at Princeton.
After the course is over, you must have an official transcript sent to Princeton in order to receive credit. An official transcript must be sent to your residential college office before you can count a course toward your Princeton degree. It is your responsibility to request the transcript and to confirm that it has been sent. Since we are centuries away from telepathic communication, the receipt of a transcript is currently the only way for Princeton to know that you have completed the course with an acceptable grade. Please note that registrar's offices at other schools are often very slow about mailing transcripts, so take care of this matter as soon as the course is completed.
Here are the steps of the preapproval process, which must be followed in order:
(1) Compile detailed information on the course you intend to take, either from the other university's website or catalog or by contacting the department there and asking to be sent a syllabus. The information MUST be more than a few sentences and must provide an indication of the topical coverage of the course, the number and duration of meetings, the textbooks used, and the methods of assessment. A full syllabus is best, even if it is for the version of the course taught last summer or during the academic year. The more information you can provide, the easier the preapproval process will be.
NOTE: Please print out the information and take it in person with the approval form to the relevant department. Please do not send e-mail to faculty and deans asking them to look at websites or attachments of syllabi. Doing so only makes the pre-approval process extremely cumbersome in the long run.
(2) Obtain a summer course approval form from your residential college office or the SEAS Undergraduate Affairs Office. You may also download a copy here. Please note that the form has numbered steps on it, 1-5. Please follow them in order. Step 1 is to complete the information at the top of the form.
(3) Take the form and the supporting description to the departmental representative of the department AT PRINCETON where the course is taught. For example, differential equations is taught at Princeton as MAE 305, so you must take the materials and form to MAE, even if the course is taught by the math department at the school where you plan to take it.
(3a) Note that if you plan to use this course as as departmental or program prerequisite or requirement, you must also obtain approval of your own departmental rep or program director. If you are just taking it as a general SEAS requirement or as an elective, you can skip this step.
(4) Take the form to the SEAS Undergraduate Affairs Office and obtain the approval of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, who will also make sure that the course meets the minimum number of class/lab hours and weeks and that the course meets all Princeton criteria. Please make sure that you have approval from the relevant department at Princeton before seeing the SEAS associate dean.
(5) Return the form to your residential college office (freshmen, sophomores, and juniors). Note that if the course is going to be taken abroad, it also needs the endorsement of Dean Kanach in the Office of the International Programs at 36 University Place.
(6) Take the course, receive a grade of C or better (note: a C- is not acceptable).
(7) Have the transcript sent to your residential college office immediately upon completion of the course.
The University writing requirement and the B.S.E. computer science requirement (CS 126) cannot be satisfied by courses taken elsewhere. They must be taken at Princeton.
Only one 100-level foreign language course can be counted for degree credit, provided you take the placement test in that language upon returning to Princeton and score high enough to place out of the language requirement in that language. So, effectively you can only get credit for a single language course at the 107/108 level.
Courses taken at non-U.S. institutions must also be approved by Dean Nancy Kanach in the Office of International Programs. In general, outside of language programs, very few overseas institutions offer acceptable summer courses, so please consult with Dean Bogucki before starting on the preapproval process.
If you are on financial aid and are unable to meet your expected summer earnings contribution because of summer study, you should see a financial aid counselor, 220 West College, to have your savings shortfall replaced. Student loans are available to meet tuition costs of approved courses.
Normally, summer courses must be approved by Dean's Date of the spring term in May. If your circumstances at the end of the spring term suddenly require you to take a summer course (e.g. you find yourself with fewer than the required number of courses to advance to the following year or you fail a required course), then it is possible to obtain late preapproval BEFORE THE SUMMER COURSE BEGINS by faxing the relevant documentation to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at 609-258-3996.