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 (CPEP), College Entrance Examination Board Advanced Placement Examinations (AP), 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.

Course Challenge

Each department determines which courses may be challenged by examination. Matriculated undergraduate students may earn credit hours by challenging the specially designated courses. The following rules apply:

  1. Total challenge credit may not exceed 30 credit hours.
  2. A course in which a student is currently enrolled may not be challenged.
  3. A course may not be challenged more than once.
  4. Credit earned will be recorded as credit (cr) only rather than by grade.
  5. No credit will be awarded when the challenged area duplicated an area for which credit already has been awarded.
  6. A student must be matriculated to register for a course challenge.


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. If a course is not offered in a given semester, students may request to take a course by contract. Application forms are available in the academic department and the Registrar’s Office, Moot Hall, and must be filed with that office by the established deadline each semester. Both the instructor and the department chair must sign applications.

Students are provided with a course outline, bibliography, statement of responsibilities, and dates by which responsibilities are to be met. Students may then pursue the course independently under the guidance of a faculty member. The number of conferences, type of evaluation, and culminating activity will be decided by the faculty member and the student before registering for the course. These requirements must be filed with the department chair.

Freshmen are also 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.

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 noted below, 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 courses. Credit earned will be recorded as credit (cr) only, rather than by grade.

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


There are two cross-registration programs available for matriculated (declared major) Buffalo State students.

The SUNY Cross-Registration Agreement is for active matriculated undergraduate and graduate level students who wish to cross-register at another SUNY campus.  Cross-Registration is available in fall and spring semesters and on a limited basis in summer and J-term. Transcripts are forwarded automatically to Buffalo State at the end of the semester. Courses are recorded as credits earned (credit hours count toward program completion and final  grade does count in cumulative GPA). Students participating in cross-registration at another SUNY college are charged tuition by Buffalo State. Students participating in cross-registration at a community college may have additional requirements, charges and fees if applicable. Cross-registration eligibility is determined by student application to a web portal link at

Undergraduate students must maintain a 12 – credit – hour courseload at Buffalo State.   They may enroll for no more than one course elsewhere in any semester.  Students who fall below the 12 – credit – hour courseload 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. 

The Western New York Consortium of Registrar’s Cross-Registration Agreement is only available for undergraduate level, matriculated students, who are enrolled full-time at Buffalo State and wish to cross-register at one of the private colleges that participates in the WNY Consortium Agreement. Students may enroll in one course per semester (fall and spring only, no exceptions). Transcripts are forwarded automatically to Buffalo State at the end of the semester. Courses are recorded as if they had been taken at Buffalo State (credit hours and grade counts in cumulative GPA). If a student drops below full-time status at their home institution, they may be liable for tuition at the host institution. Forms are available online at Advisor or department chair signature is required along with student signature. All forms must have appropriate signatures before they are returned to the Registrar’s Office for a verification of student status and enrollment signature. Students must then take the completed cross-registration approval to the appropriate campus where they will register according to the procedures at that campus.

Detailed information about cross-registration can be found at

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, Moot Hall, is completed and returned to that office. Students are urged to have transcripts of all coursework completed elsewhere forwarded to the Registrar’s Office as soon as possible. Coursework undertaken elsewhere (other than by National Student Exchange), will be recorded as transfer credit on the college transcript.

Independent Study (499)

Independent study provides students with the opportunity to pursue a topic 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 independent study:

  1. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have successfully completed basic courses or their equivalent in the area of study chosen are eligible to participate. They need a minimum GPA of 2.0 and a minimum GPA of 2.0 the previous semester, plus a minimum GPA of 2.0 in work completed in the selected area. 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, Moot Hall, and must be filed with that office by the established deadline each semester.

Project (495)

Upper-division students may undertake a project related to a required course for up to 3 credit hours per project. No more than 6 credit hours of academic project work are allowed. Application forms are available in the academic department and the Registrar’s Office, Moot Hall, and must be filed with that office by the established deadline each semester.

Internship (488)

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 GPA of 2.0 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)

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.

Military Service Educational Experience

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, Moot Hall. 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.

Credit by Evaluation

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 30
Noncollegiate 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 (APP), and College Proficiency Examination (CPE). Passing grades are required for credit.

Courses from noncollegiate 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 Noncollegiate Organizations. Noncollegiate 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.

Courses from 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 ITT Technical Institute. Such credit is applied primarily to the major and is determined by the appropriate department.