Transferable Coursework Policies

Williams College is happy to review and consider previously completed coursework at accredited institutions according to the policies and criteria described below. We recognize that coursework from other higher education institutions, including community colleges, offers students a significant amount of preparation and supports students’ academic readiness prior to transfer. We are committed to making the transfer process as transparent and accessible as possible for all students. Please read on to learn more about our policies regarding transferable coursework, and if you have any questions after reviewing this page, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

How We Talk About Credits at Williams

At Williams, all courses are considered one unit. Students usually take four courses per semester, and they select any four courses from our course catalog since all classes, including our tutorial courses, are considered equivalent. There are some half-credit courses in dance and music that may be taken in addition to the 4 full credit courses. Each full course at Williams equates to a 4-credit course at another institution on a semester calendar. Credits earned at schools not on a semester calendar will be converted to semester credits (e.g. a quarter credit will be awarded 0.66 semester credits). 


Don't hesitate to reach out to Dean Mendes, coordinator of transfer and veteran admission.

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Credits and Admission Eligibility

If you'll have completed at least one year of full-time college coursework by the time you'd enroll at Williams, please apply as a transfer student. There is no maximum cutoff for the number of college credits earned, but students who have already earned a bachelor's degree are not eligible to apply. You can find more details on admission eligibility on our transfer page.

Williams has a two-year residency requirement, so students are required to spend a minimum of two years at Williams prior to graduation. As a result, students are only allowed to transfer a maximum of two years’ worth of credit from previous institutions. Students who transfer in with fall semester junior standing typically bring in 60-64 transferable credits. If you have more than 64 transferable credits, the extra courses not awarded credit may still be used by departments to determine placement, but you will have to relinquish credits beyond the maximum number of credits the college can award when you matriculate in order to meet the two-year residency requirement.

Students with more than 64 completed college credits are no less eligible for admission to the college.

Selecting Courses Prior to Transfer

We encourage prospective students to select courses that best suit the requirements of their current institution, program and/or state transfer pathways. We find that these courses are typically liberal arts and sciences courses similar to what we offer at Williams.

Since Williams has a fairly open curriculum and does not require particular courses for admission, we do not offer specific course recommendations for prospective students. Applicants are best prepared for the admission process and enrollment at Williams when they have completed several liberal arts and sciences courses with at least some courses requiring intensive reading and writing. We encourage students interested in studying a STEM field to complete math at the calculus level or above prior to matriculating at Williams.

For specific course selection, as noted above, we encourage prospective students to follow the guidance of their current institution, program and/or state transfer pathway.


Transferable Credit Policies

  • Credit is only awarded for courses taught in the liberal arts and sciences in which a grade of C- or above is obtained from an accredited college or university in the U.S. or abroad. To get a sense of what the liberal arts and sciences includes at Williams, please review our areas of study. Courses in these areas are typically considered transferable if they also meet the criteria noted below.
  • Online courses taken spring 2020 or beyond will be reviewed for transferability according to the guidelines laid out here. Asynchronous courses will not be considered transferable.
  • Please note that for classes impacted by Covid-19, Williams will review grades of “P" or the equivalent as part of the admission process and for transferability.
  • Williams accepts math courses at the level of calculus and above.
  • Generally, credit is not awarded for the following types of courses: business, engineering, computer application, journalism, speech, communications, criminal justice, or other pre-professional training classes. Credit is also not awarded for CLEP or placement exams.
  • Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or college coursework taken before high school graduation may be used by academic departments for placement purposes. In some circumstances, major credit may be awarded, but degree credit is not.
  • Military coursework may be approved for major or degree credit depending on how the course was delivered and whether it has a liberal arts focus.
  • Please note that non-transferable coursework is still valuable in evaluating your academic readiness during the admission process. For example, students that need to take mostly online asynchronous courses (perhaps because of a rigid work schedule) may have limited transferable coursework, but those asynchronous classes still allow us to better evaluate their file as we consider them for admission to Williams.


What happens after students are admitted?

Admitted students receive a transferable credit review upon admission to the college. Decisions are released by April 15 but more typically in late March or early April, and students have until June 1 to decide whether or not to enroll. Prior to making that decision, admitted students have the opportunity to meet with the Registrar’s Office to ask questions and ensure they fully understand their credit review and how it aligns with Williams graduation requirements.

Relinquishing Credits

As a transfer student, if admitted, you’ll have the option to relinquish some or all of your approved transferable credits in order to take additional courses at Williams. You’ll still be able to use relinquished credits to place into higher level courses and to meet Williams graduation requirements, including the distribution requirement (and we will meet 100% of your demonstrated financial need for every year you attend Williams). Students have until the end of their first year at Williams to decide whether or not to relinquish credits.


Don't hesitate to reach out to Dean Mendes, coordinator of transfer and veteran admission.