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Credit by Exam

Credit by Exam

Students may establish proficiency/competency or credit in various disciplines under any of several modes. They are:

NOTE: In no case may the sum of credits earned through the above examinations exceed 60 units applied toward an undergraduate degree.  Graduate credit may not be established in this manner.

Proficiency/Competency and Exemption Examinations

General Information

A number of colleges and departments regularly offer exemption or proficiency/competency examinations covering introductory or basic areas of their disciplines. These examinations are designed and graded by the individual departments. No credit is awarded on the basis of successful performance on these, but they allow a student two privileges: (a) the opportunity of enrolling in advanced-level courses in the area of proficiency; or (b) the opportunity of satisfying various college or departmental "area" or proficiency requirements without taking prescribed courses.

Proficiency/competency or exemption examinations for many courses are available to any student currently enrolled in a degree program at the university. Capable students wishing to increase their elective freedom are encouraged by university policy to examine the opportunities provided through the various proficiency examinations.

At the discretion of the department, the proficiency examination may include laboratory projects or other evidence of satisfactory skills in addition to or instead of the written examination. A fee is normally charged for these examinations.

Second Language Proficiency/Competency Examinations

It is possible for students to satisfy second language requirements in whole or in part by passing a non-credit proficiency/competency examination at the two- or four-semester level*.

Passing the proficiency examination at the required level in a foreign language fulfills the language requirement. Passing a course for which the required level is prerequisite also establishes proficiency in that language. Credit may not be earned merely by passing the proficiency/competency examination.

* Second language requirements vary by degree type. For specific language requirements consult the major department, college, or the program requirements for a particular degree program.

Procedures and General Regulations

  • Proficiency/competency or exemption examinations are available only to degree-seeking students.

  • In no case does passing an exemption or proficiency/competency examination lower the total number of units required for the bachelor's degree.

  • In normal circumstances, a student may not take a proficiency/competency examination for the same course more than twice.

  • Proficiency/competency or exemption examinations are normally given early in the semester or during orientation. The student must contact the appropriate department concerned for additional information and instructions.

  • Students wishing to sit for a proficiency/competency or exemption examination in a language not normally taught must contact the Department of Linguistics for information.

  • The exemption or proficiency examinations are administered only on the University of Arizona campus. Proficiency/competency established at another institution, or a proficiency examination score from another institution, is not transferable to the University of Arizona.

  • The results of exemption or proficiency/competency examinations, if successful, are reported in writing directly to the Office of the Registrar, with a copy to the student.

  • The student's academic record will be annotated with a statement indicating the student passed the proficiency/competency examination at the appropriate level.

Special Examinations for Credit or Grade

Any student currently enrolled or previously withdrawn in good standing at the University of Arizona may earn credit toward an undergraduate degree through the use of special examinations. The responsibility for preparatory study for these examinations rests entirely with the student; faculty members are under no obligation to assist with such preparation.

Special examinations are constructed and administered by the department concerned. They are designed to reflect and explore the scholastic equivalent of the course, and are more comprehensive than the usual "final exam." The examinations may be written or oral, or both, and they may include course projects, laboratory projects, written reports, or other evidence of proficiency.

Undergraduate courses currently offered by the University and designated in the Catalog as "Special exam:  course may be taken by special exam for credit (not for grade)." may be taken for credit by examination.  Courses designated "Special exam:  course may be taken by special exam for credit and grade." may be taken for grade by examination and credit by examination. Other courses generally have been excluded from this option; at department discretion, however, any course may be made available for grade by examination or credit by examination.


  • Special Examination for Credit:  Passing grades, recorded as "CR" (credit), become a permanent part of the student's record but are not used in computing the cumulative grade-point-average (GPA). Failing grades are not recorded.

  • Special Examination for Grade:  All grades, whether passing or failing, are permanently recorded and used in computing the cumulative grade average.


The credit so earned may not duplicate units already presented for admission to the University. Nor may the credit be in a course which is equivalent to, or more elementary than, another course in which the student is enrolled or for which the student has already received credit. The head of the examining department has the responsibility of determining the application of this limitation in each student's case.  NOTE:  Students enrolled in their first foreign language course may earn credit and/or a grade for a lower-level language course if they take the examination during the first seven weeks of a regular semester.


  1. Applications for Special Examination for Credit or Special Examination for Grade may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar (Admin. 210).

  2. The application must be approved by the student's advisor.

  3. The examining instructor and the head of the examining department must determine the eligibility of the applicant and sign the application.

  4. The application is returned to the Office of the Registrar, and the $21-per-unit fee is paid at the Bursar's Office (University Services Bldg104). No department may schedule a special examination until notified by the Bursar's Office that the fee has been paid.

  5. The examination is scheduled by the faculty member responsible, normally during the same semester in which the application is made.

  6. The grade ("CR" or letter grade) is reported to the Office of the Registrar. The examination, together with the student's graded examination paper and any appropriate evaluations of oral performance or projects, is then filed with the department for at least one year.

  7. The student may change the type of special examination for those courses designated "available by special exam for credit and grade" in the catalog any time before the scheduled hour of the examination by filing a new application. No additional fee will be charged.