Special Credit

How special credit is awarded

Special credit is course credit awarded by a unit to a student who has satisfied an academic requirement based on an individual examination of the student's knowledge, work or experience that was not part of a regular course.  If a student meets a department’s requirements for receiving special credit, the department initiates an eSpecial Credit request. The request will be routed to all required approvers.

If there are fees associated with special credit, the student will be required to approve the request. They will receive email at their university email address notifying them how to proceed.

After the request has been approved and the credit posted to the student’s record, both the request initiator and the student will receive an email confirmation. The credits will appear on the student’s transcript, and any fees will be posted to the student’s bursar account.

If a request isn’t fully approved within 120 days, it will be cancelled automatically.

Special credit on the transcript

Special credit appears on the student’s transcript for the semester it was awarded. It’s headed “Indiana University Special Credit” regardless of whether the student is in an IU or Purdue degree program and regardless of whether an IU or Purdue department is awarding the credit.

Awarding special credit for proficiency

Students can receive special credit for testing out of a class or for life or job experience, personal skills or talents, or other demonstrations of proficiency. Academic departments have the option to grant course credit on a case-by-case basis.

Departments establish their own academic standards and evaluation methods. To establish their skill level, students may be required to:

  • Sit for an exam
  • Complete an assignment
  • Audition
  • Provide a portfolio
  • Take more advanced courses before receiving lower-level credit

A department will generally grade work for a special credit S for satisfactory or else choose not to award special credit. In exceptional circumstances, the department may opt to award the student an A for outstanding work.  However, the A will not be used in computing GPA.

Sometimes a department may waive a student’s requirement to take a particular course. However, overall degree requirements remain, and students must complete another course to earn enough total hours to graduate.

Learn more about prior learning assessment

Fees for special credit


If special credit is awarded as a result of examination:

  • For new students, no fees are assessed if the request is processed within the first three semesters (including summer) following their initial enrollment. The semesters will be counted sequentially, regardless of the student's enrollment status in the semesters. 
  • For first semester transfer students, a fee of $20 per credit hour will be assessed.
  • All other students will be assessed a fee corresponding to the current credit hour rate based on their academic program and in-state or out-of-state status.

The date the request is processed is used to determine the student’s status. Current special credit fees are charged in cases where the exam was taken in a preceding year.


For more information about how your department handles special credit, contact your school recorder.

Find your school

Learn more about requesting special credit