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Credit Programs for Part-time Students

Credit by Examination

The Policy

If you have gained, through previous study or experience, knowledge of the content of a particular self-paced course, you can request to take the course exam without submitting the course assignments. You will need the approval of both the instructor and Credit Programs for Part-time Students for credit by examination. If you earn a passing grade, you will get credit for the course. You may only attempt credit by examination for courses that are listed in the Self-paced Courses catalog and that originate from Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, NC State University, or UNC-Chapel Hill.

In general, if you are currently enrolled at an institution participating in the Self-paced Courses program, you are not eligible for credit by examination for courses offered by that institution. Contact the department or school offering the course to arrange for special exams. (If there are unusual circumstances and you wish to seek special permission to receive credit by examination through Self-paced Courses, contact the appropriate academic advising office at your institution.)

If you are seeking a degree at a postsecondary institution, be sure that the credits will be approved by the dean of the school or college awarding the degree before enrolling. It is your responsibility to have the credit approved toward your degree prior to applying for credit by examination.

Credit Granted

Credit earned by examination will be considered the same as transfer credit from another college. Please take special note of the following:

  • Only the course title and credit hours will be recorded, except for courses originating from East Carolina University (ECU). No grade will be indicated, except for ECU courses. For ECU, regular course grades will be used and recorded along with the course title and credit hours.
  • Credit earned by examination will not count toward meeting residence requirements.
  • Credit earned by examination will not be used in calculating your cumulative average; however, the grade earned for ECU courses will be used in calculating the cumulative average at ECU.
  • The credit will be recorded only if you pass, except for ECU courses, in which both passing and failing grades will be recorded.

Who is Eligible

Anyone can apply for permission to attempt credit by examination on the basis of knowledge or proficiency in a subject area as long as you have not previously earned college credit for it. Credit by examination may not be used in ECU courses if you have previously enrolled in the course, even if the course was not completed. Here are examples of some situations for when you might attempt credit by examination:

  • You have been out of school for ten years but have traveled extensively. You want to attend college and feel qualified to pass the UNC-Chapel Hill course, RUSS 101: Elementary Russian.
  • You attended a technical institute for two years and have now decided to earn a BA degree at a four-year college. You have had several social science courses, but none that were equivalent to SOCI 101 at UNC-Chapel Hill. You now need credit for an introductory sociology course and believe you can pass the SOCI 101 exam with some review.

The Procedure

Complete the Request for Approval form and a Residency Application Form (if you claim North Carolina residence for tuition purposes) and mail them to Credit Programs for Part-time Students. Allow thirty days for processing.

You will receive notification on whether you have been approved to take an exam in the desired subject. If approved, you will receive a registration form. Once you complete and return the registration form with the appropriate fees (see “Cost”), you will be sent a course guide to prepare for the exam and a special exam application. We recommend that you purchase the books that are used for the course. See the course description for a list of books and information on obtaining them.

You can take the special exam application to an accredited college, university, community college, or technical institute of your choice and request to have your exam supervised there. On the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, you can request to take the exam at the Friday Center (919-962-1134 or 800-862-5669). Your exam will be sent to the institution where the exam will be supervised. Exams taken in Chapel Hill must be scheduled at least one week prior to the exam date; those taken elsewhere must be scheduled at least two weeks prior to the exam date.

Your exam will be graded by the instructor of the course, and you will be notified of the results as soon as possible. Allow three weeks to receive your grade. If you plan to have a transcript sent to another institution, allow at least three additional weeks.


The credit-by-examination fee is $197 per course for North Carolina residents and $898 per course for nonresidents.

If you wish to be considered eligible for North Carolina tuition rates, you must complete a Residency Application Form. The fee should not be submitted until the credit by examination request has been approved. Upon notice of approval, send your payment along with your registration form, which will be mailed to you with the approval letter. If you believe that you qualify as a North Carolina resident for tuition purposes, submit the fee for North Carolina residents. If you are determined not to be a resident for tuition purposes, you will be billed for the difference in tuition. Please be advised that even if you have chosen to submit the tuition for North Carolina residents, unless you are notified to the contrary in writing, your classification is nonresident for tuition purposes. Make your check payable to the Friday Center for Continuing Education.

In accordance with the policy that no more than two courses can be taken at any one time, you may not register for more than two exams at any one time. Also, you may not be enrolled in a total of more than two regular Self-paced Courses or exams through credit by examination. After you have taken and received a grade on your exam, you can register for other course exams.

Time Limitations

You must take the exam within six months of the notification that your request for credit by examination has been approved.


If you decide to discontinue your enrollment within two months of the invoice date, you can receive a refund of $25 toward the credit by examination fee. Contact Friday Center Books & Gifts for possible repurchase of textbooks.


The instructor for your course is responsible for assigning your grade. Except in the case of ECU courses, for which regular letter grades are used, special designations indicating a passing grade are reported for credit by examination enrollments. Be certain that these designations will be accepted in the degree program you are pursuing. Failures are not recorded on your transcript, with the exception of ECU courses.