BU Residency Requirement and Transfer of Undergraduate Units

Effective January 1, 2024

For both first-year entering and transfer students, external or transfer units may be earned individually or in combination through the following means, each of which are detailed further below:

  • Transfer of undergraduate units
  • High school/dual enrollment
  • Advanced placement (AP) exams
  • International college-level exams

First-year undergraduate students entering BU’s full-time on-campus schools/colleges can apply a maximum of 60 external or transfer units toward their degree requirements at Boston University. For undergraduate students transferring into one of BU’s full-time on-campus schools/colleges, a maximum of 68 external or transfer units can be applied toward degree requirements. Undergraduate students enrolled at Metropolitan College can apply a maximum of 80 external or transfer units toward degree requirements.

Transfer of Undergraduate Units

From within Boston University

Full-time on-campus undergraduate students cannot earn units toward their degree from courses offered in Metropolitan College (MET) unless they are enrolled in a MET degree program. Individual exceptions to the above policy can be petitioned through the Undergraduate Academic Exceptions Committee. Exceptions may be warranted only in rare circumstances.

From US Institutions

Boston University grants transfer units based on the content, level, and comparability of the courses taken, the applicability of the courses to fulfilling degree requirements of the student’s intended course of study, the performance quality of the student in the courses, and the accreditation of the institution at which the work was completed. Units for professional courses will be transferred at the discretion of the school or college of admission.

Units for specific Boston University courses will be granted where Boston University faculty have determined that the content and level of the course taken elsewhere is substantially equivalent to a specific Boston University course. Otherwise, general or elective units may be granted; these units may be used to fulfill degree requirements upon approval by the appropriate school/college.

Currently enrolled BU students wishing to undertake coursework at another US institution are strongly advised to meet with their school/college to determine the transferability and degree applicability of courses taken at other institutions prior to enrolling.

For units transferred from a college or university in the United States, Boston University will consider only courses completed at an institution that has been fully accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies (e.g., by the New England Commission of Higher Education).

Units is allowed for those courses in which a grade of C or better was earned and that are deemed equivalent to courses offered at Boston University in nature, level, and content.

Coursework that duplicates coursework for which units has already been received will be granted only general elective units.

Units is not granted for courses students elected to take on a “pass/fail” or “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” basis; however, units will be considered if the student was not given the option to take the course for a grade or if the course was taken during the spring 2020 term. Units are not granted for courses deemed as vocational, remedial, physical education, or ROTC.

Units received five or more years before a student’s matriculation will not be accepted without additional review of current applicability.

Courses offered through other universities do not carry Hub requirements. Students may choose to take courses at another institution to meet other degree requirements (students should check the Bulletin and consult with their advisors about their program’s policies), but these courses may not be used to meet Hub requirements. Likewise, students who enter Boston University as transfer students do not earn Hub requirements for transfer courses, even if those transfer courses are granted BU course equivalency. The BU Hub Transfer Student Curriculum was designed to acknowledge general education coursework completed at a student’s previous institution while ensuring that transfer students develop the breadth of knowledge and essential skills required of all BU undergraduates.

Only units are accepted in transfer. Grades do not transfer and do not affect the student’s cumulative GPA at Boston University or appear on the Boston University transcript.

The basic unit of units at BU is the term hour. Transferable coursework completed under a term unit-hour system is transferred with an equal number of unit hours as awarded by the school from which the units are being transferred. Coursework completed under a quarter-hour system is converted by awarding two-thirds of the total number of quarter hours. Courses with units from non-US systems, such as the ECTS credit system used in many European countries, will be converted to the equivalent in BU units.

From Non–Boston University Programs Abroad

All matriculated Boston University students considering taking non-BU courses abroad for transfer units are required to consult with the BU Study Abroad program manager for external programs prior to applying for their international study program in order to determine if the program they have selected is acceptable under University policy. Transfer units in such cases must be approved in advance. No transfer units will be given for non-BU courses taken abroad that do not receive official BU approval in advance.

Boston University will consider students’ requests for transfer units for courses that are taken under the direct administrative and academic control of a recognized degree-granting university or educational equivalent. “Direct administrative and academic control” means continuous oversight of both faculty hiring and curriculum. In most cases, it also means that enrollment in courses approvable for transfer units is open to students enrolled in a degree program of the host degree-granting university. Courses that are not under the direct administrative and academic control of a recognized degree-granting institution will not be approved for transfer units. Transfer of units from programs or institutions that are unable or unauthorized to issue valid university units or its equivalent will not be approved.

No more than two international summer courses intended to cover a full term’s work in a single six-week summer term will be considered for transfer units. No more than one course intended to cover a full term’s work in a single four-week summer term will be considered for transfer units. Normally, courses shorter than four weeks are not eligible for transfer units.

From Institutions Outside the US

Units for courses completed outside the United States before matriculation at Boston University will be evaluated by Boston University International Admissions staff. Units for international curricula may vary; students should contact International Admissions at intadmis@bu.edu with questions or concerns.

Petition for Reconsideration

Students who do not initially receive units for a particular course taken at another institution may petition through their school/college. Forms can be found on the University Registrar website. Appeals must be made in the student’s first year of enrollment at Boston University.

High School/Dual Enrollment

Coursework completed under a high school/dual enrollment program is subject to the following rules:

  • Any college courses used to fulfill high school graduation requirements are not eligible for units at Boston University.
  • The college or university where the coursework was done must be a fully accredited institution.
  • The course must correspond to a course offered by Boston University, or be deemed equivalent in rigor.
  • A grade of C or better must have been earned.
  • The course must be part of the normal curriculum published in the college’s Bulletin.
  • The course must be open to enrollment by, and graded in direct competition with, regularly matriculated undergraduates at that institution.

In order to seek units for college-level work completed prior to matriculation (pre-college units) into an undergraduate program, students must:

  • Request that the external college or university send an official college or university transcript and course syllabus to the University Registrar for transfer units evaluation.
  • Have their high school counselor submit a signed Dual Enrollment Verification Form to the University Registrar, verifying that the coursework did not count toward high school graduation requirements.

Advanced Placement (AP)

Advanced Placement (AP) units are college units students earn, before they matriculate at Boston University, that may be applied toward degree requirements. Note: Individual schools/colleges of Boston University may have additional restrictions on the application of AP units.

To be eligible to receive AP units, entering first-year students must take the AP exam prior to matriculation at Boston University. To ensure accurate degree planning and effective advising, students are strongly encouraged to submit all scores before the first day of their first term at Boston University. For transfer students, AP units awarded by a prior institution will be reevaluated as part of the transfer units evaluation process.

All students must submit official examination scores via the College Board. BU’s College Entrance Examination Board code is 3087. Boston University reserves the right to change policies regarding AP units without advance notice.

AP units are currently awarded as outlined on the Advanced Units Guide chart.

International College-Level Exams

Students may be eligible for advanced units based upon International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level examination (information can be found on the IB course equivalence chart) or from completion of other international external exams, including:

  • GCE Advanced-Level examinations
  • French Baccalaureate examinations
  • German Abitur examinations
  • Italian Maturitá examinations
  • Swiss Maturité examinations

For specific information about units awarded for GCE, French Baccalaureate, German Abitur, Italian Maturitá, and Swiss Maturité examinations, see the Forms & Helpful Links section of the Admissions website.

Advanced units may be awarded toward:

  • BU Hub (general education) requirements
  • requirements for majors and minors
  • elective units