Alternative Methods of Earning College Credit

Advanced Placement Examinations

Credit may be granted for acceptable scores in approved Advanced Placement examinations, provided the subjects meet the curricular requirements of the specialized units of the college. Approved examinations include New York State College Proficiency Examinations (CPE), College Entrance Examination Board Advanced Placement Examinations (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and College Entrance Examination Board College Level Examinations (CLEP).

Students receiving the lowest passing grade may be admitted to an advanced course but will receive no credit for the beginning course that was exempted. All other passing grades carry college credit. Before taking such an examination for credit, students already enrolled at the college must receive advance approval from the appropriate department chair. When the examination subject is the same as or overlaps a college course already credited, no new credit will be granted.

International Baccalaureate (IB) credits may be granted for standard level IB courses or high level IB courses for which a score of 4 or better was earned on exams. Credit awarded may range from 3‒4 credits and varies per course and level. Students may be awarded no more than 30 credits total through published examinations.

Credit by Evaluation (Undergraduate)

Up to 45 credit hours may be accepted from the following sources:

Source Maximum Credit Hours
Published examinations (no more than 18 credit hours may be in general examinations.) 30
Course challenge 15
Military Service Courses 15
Non-collegiate institutions 15
Proprietary institutions 15
 

Published Examinations: Included in this category are nationally given subject and general examinations sponsored by the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), Advanced Placement Program (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and College Proficiency Examination (CPE). Passing grades are required for credit.

Course Challenge: Requirements are listed in Course Challenge section of this policy.

Courses from Non-Collegiate Organizations: For credits to be granted, the institution must be approved by the State Education Department and listed in its Guide to Educational Programs in Non-collegiate Organizations. Non-collegiate organizations are those whose primary function is not education, such as the American Institute of Banking. Such credit applies primarily to the major and is determined by the appropriate department.

Proprietary Institutions: The institution must be approved by the State Education Department and listed in its official publication of approved institutions. Proprietary institutions are privately owned and for profit, such as Bryant & Stratton Business Institute. Such credit is applied primarily to the major and is determined by the appropriate department.

Course by Contract

Taking a course by contract is one form of independent study open to students who have reached sophomore level and are in good academic standing. Graduate students who have been accepted to a degree program and are in good standing may request to take a course by contract by contacting the department offering the course. For a graduate course by contract, the instructor must be a member of the college’s graduate faculty. The course must be among those already approved by the college. Courses may be taken by contract only if they are not offered in the regular schedule during the semester involved.

Under this option, a faculty member (graduate faculty member for a graduate course) provides the student with a course outline, bibliography, and a statement of responsibilities and dates by which these are to be met. The number of student-instructor conferences, the type of evaluation, and the culminating activity are determined by the faculty member and the student prior to registration for the course. These requirements must be filed with the department chair.

Before initiating a course by contract, the student must register for the course using the Individual Course by Contract Application form, obtained from the department office, the Registrar’s Office, the Graduate School, or https://graduateschool.buffalostate.edu/forms. This form must be signed by the instructor, the department chair, and the school dean by the Individual Study Application deadline. Consult the academic calendar at https://suny.buffalostate.edu/academic-calendar.

Freshmen also are eligible to take courses by contract under special circumstances. They may do so if:

  1. They are in their second semester of a one-year course and have a grade of A or B in the first semester part of the course.
  2. They have successfully challenged the preceding course in the sequence.
  3. They have entered the college with excellent high school records or have done honors work in pertinent fields in high school.

Course Challenge

A course challenge may be used to request college credit for a Buffalo State course when the course objectives and student learning outcomes have been previously met. Each department determines whether credit for a successful course challenge may be applied to the major or minor.

The following rules apply:

  1. A student must be matriculated to challenge a course.
  2. The department determines the challenge method, which may include but is not limited to examination, portfolio, performance, or presentation.
  3. No credit will be awarded when the challenged course duplicates a course for which credit has already been earned (except in the specific case of a repeatable course), a course for which a grade has already been earned, or a course in which a student is currently enrolled.
  4. Credit earned will be recorded as credit only (CR) rather than as a grade.
  5. A student may not receive more than 30 undergraduate credits or 6 graduate credits through course challenge.
  6. The grade grievance policy can be invoked by a student who wishes to appeal an unsuccessful course challenge.

Credit for Experiential Learning

Credit for college-level experiential learning is available. Matriculated students who consider their previous learning experience as college –level creditable may enroll in INS 300, Educational Assessment and Portfolio Development. This course is open to matriculated students who must attend an information session in August to become familiar with the portfolio development process. In INS 300, students will conduct a self –appraisal and inventory of all potentially creditable prior learning. The portfolio will be treated as an application to appropriate departments for the award of college credit.

Within the guidelines, credit for experiential learning follows essentially the same principle as transfer credit—students may receive credit for knowledge gained elsewhere. Students may receive a maximum of 30 credit hours. Credit will be awarded on the basis of its correspondence to existing Buffalo State College courses. Credit earned will be recorded as credit only (CR), rather than by grade.

For information regarding credit for experiential learning, students should contact the Individualized Studies coordinator, South Wing 310, (716) 878-5303.

Cross Registration

Undergraduate students who have reached the sophomore level, and graduate students, may take courses at any public or private college in Western New York with which Buffalo State College has a cross registration relationship for degree credit.

Undergraduate students must maintain a 12-credit-hour course load at Buffalo State. They may enroll for no more than one course elsewhere in any semester. Students who fall below the 12-credit-hour course load at the college will forfeit any credit hours earned at another institution that semester under the cross registration procedure.

For graduate students, courses are taken on a space-available basis during the fall and spring semesters only. Students must be registered for at least one course at Buffalo State in order to cross register at another institution. International students must be registered for 9 credit hours at Buffalo State to participate.

Students wishing to take a course on another campus that will apply toward a major must receive permission from the department chair. Graduate students must obtain permission from their adviser. Cross registration approval forms are available in the Registrar’s Office and must be signed by the student’s adviser and returned to the Registrar’s Office for signature. Students must then take the signed cross registration approval to the appropriate campus where they must register according to the procedures of that campus.

Transcripts are forwarded automatically to Buffalo State College at the end of the semester. Courses taken through cross registration are recorded as if they had been taken at Buffalo State. Credit hours and grades are included in the student’s cumulative GPA. 

There is no cross registration during the summer or intermester.

Off-Campus Study

Courses may be taken at other institutions for transfer credit as long as prior approval from the department chair is obtained and the Study Off Campus Form from the Registrar’s Office is completed and returned to that office. Students are urged to have transcripts for all coursework completed elsewhere forwarded to the Registrar’s Office as soon as possible. Coursework undertaken elsewhere other than by cross registration will be recorded as transfer credit on the college transcript.

Independent Study (499, Undergraduate)

Independent study provides students the opportunity to pursue topics that may be covered only briefly or not at all in regular course offerings. Students may choose a faculty sponsor who is an expert in the selected topic and together determine all aspects of the study, including the method of evaluation. The chair of the sponsoring department must approve the description of the study.

Students electing to do independent study should have a degree of knowledge in the area they have chosen, in addition to a strong motivation to work alone much of the time. Independent study is never a substitute for a course already being offered that term.

Specific requirements for undergraduate independent study are:

  1. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have successfully completed basis courses or their equivalent in the area of study chosen are eligible to participate. A  minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA and a minimum 2.0 GPA the previous semester, plus a minimum 2.0 GPA in work completed in the selected area are required. Freshmen who have successful advanced preparation in the selected area may also be allowed this option.
  2. The study must be relevant to the student’s total program, and the student must derive special benefit from supervision by the college staff. The study must meet standards established for such programs by the department or program.
  3. No independent study may be undertaken for fewer than 3 credit hours. A maximum of 30 credit hours in all areas may be taken independently by a student. No more than two independent studies may be taken in one semester.

Further information is available from the department chair and program coordinator. Application forms are available in the academic department and the Registrar’s Office and must be filed with that office by the deadline date published in the class schedule each semester.

Independent Study (590, Graduate)

Independent study provides the opportunity for graduate students to pursue topics that may be covered only briefly or not at all in regular course offerings. Independent study is never a substitute for a regular course.

Independent study may be offered by any member of the college’s graduate faculty. All independent study is listed by the appropriate content area prefix and the number 590 (e.g., EDF 590). A maximum of 6 credit hours of independent study may be included in a master’s degree program.

Students must register for graduate-level independent study by completing the Individual Graduate Study Application, available from academic departments, the Graduate School, or https://graduateschool.buffalostate.edu/forms. The application must include a written paragraph describing the proposed course, including the purpose, objectives, method of instruction (e.g., readings, individual consultations with instructor, etc.), and method of evaluation (e.g., research paper, examination, etc.). The application must be signed by the instructor, the department chair, and the school dean by the Individual Study Application deadline. Consult the Academic Calendar for appropriate deadlines at https://suny.buffalostate.edu/academic-calendar.

Lower-division Project (295, Undergraduate)

Special provision must be made to ensure adequate planning and approval to facilitate lower-level undergraduate credit-bearing project courses.

Undergraduate students may undertake projects related to required courses for up to 3 credit hours per project. No more than 6 credit hours of academic project work is allowed. Application forms are available in the academic department and the Registrar’s Office and must be filed with that office by the deadline date published in the class schedule each semester.

Upper-division Project (495, Undergraduate)

Upper division students may undertake projects related to required courses for up to 3 credit hours per project. No more than 6 credit hours of academic project work is allowed. Application forms are available in the academic department and the Registrar’s Office, and must be filed with that office by the deadline date published in the class schedule each semester.

Workshops (594, Graduate; 596, Conferences; 598, Micro-courses)

Workshops, conferences, and micro-courses are graduate courses offered at variable times and places in particular themes outside the usual schedule of classes. These courses also carry variable credit. A maximum of 6 credit hours of workshops, conferences, and micro-courses may be included in a master’s degree program. Workshops emphasize process and implementation of theory and involve participants in accomplishing individualized objectives on specific themes. A conference emphasizes a unique, one-time experience on a given theme. A micro-course offers intensive instruction with a specific, limited objective.

Internship (488, Undergraduate)

Internship programs provide students with guided and supervised field experiences (experiential learning) as part of their degree programs. Students who wish to participate in the program must have a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA and a background of courses or experience within the area of interest. Approval for experiential learning situations must be obtained from either the student’s adviser or the chair of the department within which the student is a major, the supervising faculty member, and the chair of the department within which credit will be granted. An individual student will be permitted to apply a maximum of 15 credit hours toward the baccalaureate degree.

Topics Courses (189 and 389, Undergraduate)

The topics format provides the opportunity for in-depth study and examination of rapidly and significantly changing disciplinary issues, topics, or practices, and may be used to accommodate requests of external agencies or the specialized resources of visiting faculty members. Students may accumulate a maximum of 9 credit hours in one discipline.

Topics Courses (587and 687, Graduate)

Lower-Division Option for Graduate-Level Topics Courses

(Prefix will indicate department) Topics (587, Graduate)

Special provision must be made to ensure adequate planning and approval to facilitate lower-division graduate-level credit-bearing topics courses.

Students may accumulate a maximum of 6 credit hours of graduate topics courses in a master’s degree program. Application forms are available in the academic department and the Registrar’s Office, and must be filed with that office by the deadline date published in the class schedule each semester.

Title Variable:                   Yes.
Repeatable:                      Limit two times.
Credits:                             Variable, 1‒3.
Course Description:        Special Topics Course (graduate level).
Prerequisite:                     Instructor permission.

  1. The College Senate Curriculum Committee does not review special topics courses.
  2. Topics course proposals must include all the information contained in a new course proposal. See College Senate Curriculum Handbook Course Proposal Submission Policy.
  3. Three copies of topics course proposals are sent to Academic Affairs for approval. Each topics course approved by Academic Affairs maybe offered no more than twice in a two-year period. Thereafter, it must be submitted as a new course proposal.
  4. Dean forwards the Topic Course Approval form to Academic Affairs.

Upper-Division Option for Graduate-Level Topics Courses

(Prefix will indicate department) Topics (687, Graduate)

Special provision must be made to assure adequate planning and approval to facilitate upper-division graduate-level, credit-bearing topics courses.

Students may accumulate a maximum of 6 credit hours of graduate topics courses in a master’s degree program. Application forms are available in the academic department and the Registrar’s Office and must be filed with that office by the deadline date published in the class schedule each semester.

Title Variable:                   Yes.
Repeatable:                      Limit two times.
Credits:                             Variable, 1‒3.
Course Description:        Special Topics Course (graduate level).
Prerequisite:                     Instructor permission.

  1. The College Senate Curriculum Committee does not review special topics courses.
  2. Topics course proposals must include all the information contained in a new course proposal. See College Senate Curriculum Handbook Course Proposal Submission Policy.
  3. Three copies of topics course proposals are sent to Academic Affairs for approval. Each topics course approved by Academic Affairs maybe offered no more than twice in a two-year period. Thereafter, it must be submitted as a new course proposal.
  4. Dean forwards the Topic Course Approval form to Academic Affairs.

Military Service Educational Experience (Undergraduate)

Up to 15 college credit hours may be awarded for education received through military service, specialty schools, technical training schools, and basic training programs. Request for such credit should be made to the Admissions Office. Documents showing completion of such courses should accompany all requests.

Evaluation of this experience is based on its relation to college degree requirements and recommendations suggested by the American Council on Education Credit Manual.

Refer to DOPS Policy I:04:01