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Course Equivalency, Graduate Guidelines

At Gallatin, students may earn course equivalency credit for professional experiences they may have had before entering the School. The process of receiving credit begins with the compilation of an extensive portfolio documenting the student’s learning experiences and ends with a rigorous evaluation process by NYU faculty. Students must demonstrate through the portfolio that they have mastered the material they would have learned in comparable NYU courses.

To begin the process of applying for course equivalency credits, students may want to consult the director of external programs about the rules and regulations governing the course equivalency process. The following procedures and guidelines should be kept in mind as students prepare and submit a course equivalency portfolio.


The following restrictions should be noted.

  1. The experiences on which the student is basing his or her application for course equivalency credit must have taken place prior to admission to Gallatin.
  2. Course equivalency credits will be applied toward the transfer credit limit. Students may be granted up to a combined total of 12 transfer and course equivalency credits.
  3. Course equivalency credits will be applied to both the maximum individualized projects units and the minimum classroom requirement. One half of the units count toward the individualized project 12-unit maximum, and one half of the units are credited toward the 14-unit minimum classroom requirement.
  4. Graduate students may not apply for course equivalency credit for undergraduate-level courses.

Course Selection

After reviewing the regulations and procedures, students should meet with their advisers and talk about their experiences and how they may correspond to specific NYU courses. The student should review the appropriate NYU school bulletins and determine which courses best correspond to these experiences. There are several limitations on which courses are permissible:

  1. Students may not apply for course equivalency credit for Gallatin School courses.
  2. Students may not apply for course equivalency credit for courses similar to those they have transferred from another institution.
  3. Students may not apply for course equivalency credit for independent studies, tutorials, internships, and private lessons. For instance, courses such as fieldwork experience or a media internship, though listed in a department’s course listings, may not be used for course equivalency credit. Acceptable course offerings must have specific hours, credits, and course descriptions and must be listed in the current University bulletins.
  4. Students may not apply for credit for courses that are offered in the School of Law, School of Medicine, or College of Dentistry.
  5. Graduate students may not apply for course equivalency credit for undergraduate-level courses.

Allocation of Credit

Course equivalency credit will appear on the transcript as transfer credit and the NYU equivalent course will be noted as well. There are no grades assigned to course equivalency credits, and these credits will therefore not factor into the grade point average. Course equivalency credits will count toward the total units required for the degree. 

The Portfolio

The course equivalency portfolio documents the student’s mastery of material comparable to that covered in NYU courses. The student is applying for credit for specific courses, and the portfolio is divided into a separate section for each course. Each section of the portfolio therefore consists of an essay about the learning experiences and supporting documentation including, for example, written material, slides, graphics, paintings, or ceramics. Together, the essay and the documentation should explain and illustrate how the student learned through life and work experiences what is taught in a particular course.

The portfolio should be presented in a ring binder or pressure binder. Presentations should be organized in sections compatible with the format identified below. Size and length are determined by whatever is required to make a complete and satisfying presentation to a professor of the course that is identified for credit.


Portfolio Outline

The portfolio should contain the following for each course for which the student is applying for credit:

  1. Cover Sheet. For each separate course, the cover sheet should list the following: (a) the course number as it appears in a current NYU bulletin; (b) the course title exactly as it appears in that current NYU bulletin; and (c) the number of credits of that course, which must be equal to that listed in the bulletin for the course.
  2. Essay. For each course, the student should write an essay of 5-20 pages, with the following parts: (a) Introduction: the goal, purpose, and importance of the experience; (b) Background: a description of the learning experience itself, including when it took place, how long it lasted, what people and institutions it involved, and what activities and events occurred; (c) Main Ideas: a statement of what was learned through the experience, including details about how the work was assessed and evaluated at the time and how it can be now be assessed; (d) Evidence, Illustrations, Facts, Examples: a description of the activities, events, facts, statistics, documents, artifacts, or other demonstrations and evidence of what has been learned; (e) Conclusion: a summary statement of how the learning took place.
  3. Supporting Documents. These documents may include examples of the work the student did as part of the job, such as reports, correspondence, and videos. The portfolio should also contain certifications that the student participated in the learning experience: certificates, letters of recommendation from the supervisor on letterhead, correspondence written by the student and to the student, legal documents, and other appropriate items.


Portfolio Submission

The course equivalency portfolio should be submitted after the completion of one full-time semester or the equivalent (12 credits) but before one-half of the credits required for graduation are completed. Students should not wait until the last year to submit the portfolio. The portfolio may be submitted only once and may not be submitted in the month prior to the student’s anticipated date of graduation.

Completed portfolios should be submitted to:

Gallatin School of Individualized Study
Attn: Faith Stangler, Director of External Programs
1 Washington Place, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10003


Portfolio Review

The course equivalency portfolio goes through an extensive review process, which takes a minimum of 12 weeks. Some evaluations, it should be noted, may take longer depending on the number of credits applied for, the number of departments involved in the evaluation, and the availability of faculty members.

The steps in the review process are as follows:

  1. Adviser Approval. The student’s adviser should assist him or her in presenting the most effective course equivalency portfolio. The adviser is the first person who must approve the portfolio. The adviser must write a letter, which accompanies the portfolio, indicating support for it.
  2. School Review. The portfolio, with the adviser’s letter, must be submitted to the Gallatin School. The director of external programs reviews the portfolio to ensure that the format and protocol have been satisfied. Students may not submit their materials directly to the professors evaluating their portfolios; nor may they solicit the professors for credit in any way. The routing of all portfolios will be handled only by the director of external programs.
  3. Faculty Review. After being approved by the adviser and the school, the portfolio is forwarded to a professor or other professional at New York University who teaches the course(s) identified. For each course, a separate professor or professional may be asked to assess the portfolio. For example, if the portfolio covers one course in the dance department, one in history, and one in psychology, the Gallatin Office will forward the appropriate material to three different faculty members.

A faculty member will be asked by the Gallatin School to assess whether or not the portfolio is comparable to the course listed under the number and the title offered at New York University. The faculty member may allocate full or partial credit for a course.