Course Transfer Policy

The policies that follow are about (1) substituting courses but without being granted credit and (2-5) being granted credit for courses taken elsewhere before entering the graduate program at Dartmouth.

1. Substituting courses without credit

If a particular course is required for a student's degree, but the student feels he or she already knows this material (e.g., from a previous course somewhere else—even if it was for another degree—or from life experience), he or she may, with the approval of the professor teaching the required course, petition the Graduate Committee to substitute a different course.  (Note that such substitution does not reduce the number of required courses.)

2. Transferring course credit, from external courses

Often, students may have taken courses of rigor and subject matter comparable to or exceeding those of our graduate courses in universities other than Dartmouth and wish to get transfer credits for the same. Transfer credits for CS courses are approved by the director of each specific graduate program (MSCS, MSDA, PhD). You can find contact details for your Program Director here. However, for them to do so, the student needs to perform the following steps:

  • First identify which CS courses in the Dartmouth curriculum best fits with the courses they wish to transfer to Dartmouth. Use the ORC and previous offerings of Dartmouth courses to do so.
  • Once they have identified a course number, then they will identify a faculty member who has/is/will be taught/teaching it. This information can be readily found for most courses at the "Upcoming Courses" link in the CS website. In case the student has trouble identifying faculty, they should contact their Graduate Program Director.
  • After they have identified the course number and the faculty member, they must write an email to this faculty member cc-ing their Graduate Program Director, asking if the course outside Dartmouth is suitable for transfer credit. They must provide all the information they have about that course: the course syllabus, website, instructors name, etc. This process can have a back-and-forth between the faculty member and the student, so they are requested to allow enough time for this.

    The faculty member will approve if there is significant overlap (roughly 80%) between the two courses. If they don't think so, they will not give approval, and the student cannot take transfer credit for that course number.

  • After the student has heard back from all the professors about all the courses, they should email their Graduate Program Director with the transfer credit approval form (available in the Resources and Documents section here). It would help if they could also copy-paste the final replies of the faculty members to help jog the memory of their Graduate Program Director.

The Graduate Committee will consider each request on a case-by-case basis, in the context of the student's performance in the previous course, the student's graduate program and the policies established by the Graduate Office. Per Grad Office rules, at most 3 credits may be transferred into the MS program and at most 6 into the PhD. Per department policy, external transfer credits may not be used to fulfill any of the 3 breadth courses required in the PhD program.

3. Course credit, from Dartmouth courses outside the department

Students currently enrolled in our graduate programs may take courses outside the department for graduate credit, provided that they first receive approval from their program advisor.  Normally, the department will allow at most two such courses for PhD students, and at most one for MS students.  (Students are still free to take courses outside the department—but, like additional undergraduate courses, these will not count for graduate credit.)

4. Course credit, from Dartmouth COSC MS to COSC PhD

A PhD student who has completed his or her MS in our department may draw upon the non-research courses he or she took as an MS student to satisfy his or her PhD course requirements.

5. Course credit, from Dartmouth Undergrad

PhD students who were Dartmouth undergrads may count up to 6 courses they have taken as undergrads for PhD course requirements, provided the student earned a B+ or better.

MS students who were Dartmouth undergrads may count up to 5 course that have taken as undergrads for MS course requirements, provided the student earned a B+ or better in three, and earned an A in the other two.

In both cases, the courses must be regular courses from Dartmouth (that is: they cannot be from a different institution and cannot be research credits).