Advanced Placement (AP)

A person who does advanced work in a secondary school may earn credit through the Advanced Placement (AP) Program, which is based on college-level study, depending on the grade earned on the exam. General information on credits awarded for advanced placement is found in the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin

Students and academic advisers can see a student's AP test results in the advisee's Student Center in LionPATH (Academics, Academic Background) by clicking on Test Results/View All and looking for the AP entries. Use the Short Description and the Test Score to find the Penn State credit awarded for AP examinations. In the example below the student earned credit for SPAN 1, 2, 3, and 100.

Example of AP test results in LionPath

Student Action

Arrange for official score reports to be sent directly from the Educational Testing Service to the Penn State Undergraduate Admissions Office (Code #2660) by writing to AP Exams, P. O. Box 6671, Princeton, NJ 08541, or calling 888-225-5427 (toll free) and speaking with an AP adviser.

Impact on a Student's Penn State Record

A student must be in degree status or have completed at least one course of 3 credits or more at Penn State before AP credit will be recorded on his/her transcript.

When AP credit is recorded on the student's transcript, a grade is not recorded and the student's grade-point average is not affected. Credits earned are included in the total credits earned (see Cumulative Credits/Total Credits) even if they do not meet requirements for graduation.

A student may elect to remove AP exam credits from his/her Penn State record. Once removed, the credits cannot be restored. Therefore, students should carefully consider the pros and cons of their request. For example, removing AP credits may be appropriate if the credits cannot be applied to a student’s degree program and the increased number of credits results in a tuition increase (see Tuition Assessment below). However, reducing total credits may mean the student's first day to register will be later. Note: A student can selectively remove AP courses, choosing to keep one or more courses and remove others. However, students cannot choose to take partial credit for an AP exam (i.e., a student with a grade of 4 or 5 for a Calculus BC exam earns credit for Math 140 and 141; he/she cannot elect to retain MATH 140 credits and remove credits for 141.) Students may request removal of AP credits by contacting the Undergraduate Admissions Office: 201 Shields Building, University Park, 814-865-5471.

Tuition Assessment

Depending on when the AP credits are approved, a mid-semester tuition increase may result based on the student's tuition assessment.

Advising Note

Although there isn't an upper limit on the number of AP credits that can be applied toward a Penn State degree, there are some issues that should be considered when deciding which AP exams to take:

Background: Earning AP credit for foundation courses in place of a classroom experience sometimes compromises a student's background knowledge. For example, a student considering a major in engineering might be better off taking MATH 140, the foundation calculus course, rather than using AP credit (see recommendations provided by the Department of Mathematics).
Major Requirements: Some courses will not satisfy requirements for a degree and might not "count." Therefore, care must be taken to evaluate how AP credits will relate to a student's educational plans. For example, for a grade of four or five on the AP physics exam credit is awarded for Physics 250 and Physics 251 (algebra-based physics courses). If a student is majoring in Mechanical Engineering, those courses would not "count" in the major, because the physics courses required are calculus based. However, if a student's major is Biology, those courses would satisfy requirements.

Information at helps a student assess how credits earned through AP will relate to courses at Penn State. If you have questions about how AP credits in a specific course relate to your educational goals, contact the advising center offering the major that is of interest to the student.

The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. Please consult a Penn State academic adviser for more detailed information.

Last Update: June 2016

Reference(s): Senate Policy 42-92