Graduate students

Transfer Credit - Graduate Students

Policy Number: 100336

Current Policy

Category: Academic » Enrollment



If students have been admitted to a graduate program at NAU and have earned resident graduate credit at another institution, they can petition the Graduate College to apply such credit toward a graduate degree. Transferring credits to a graduate degree program is not routinely done. A petition to transfer credit is, by definition, a request for an exception to the rule that all graduate courses must be taken at NAU. Faculty within a graduate program/department make the decision as to whether transfer courses will be applied to a program plan, and assumes the responsibility to ensure transfer courses demonstrate the core learning competencies, expectations, and criteria for the requested transfer.

Transfer credit is not guaranteed in advance. Three levels of approvals (advisor, department, and Graduate College) are required on the petition, making it possible that the request may be denied at any of the three levels.

Petitions for approval and processing of transfer credit should be submitted early in a program to avoid the risk of delayed graduation if the petition is not approved. 

Doctoral Degrees

For Doctoral students, the transfer credit should be noted on the plan of study and communicated to the graduation coordinator in the Graduate College. The number of transfer credits allowed and criteria for approving these credits for doctoral degrees are specific to each program. Please refer to the program/department handbook for specifics. Transfer credit should be completed well before the the student applies for admission to candidacy. 

Master’s Degrees and Graduate Certificates: Regulations Governing Transfer Credit

To be considered for transfer credit, the student’s courses must:

  • demonstrate that the course meets and/or contains equivalent core learning competencies for the requested transfer, shown through a course syllabus and/or other official course material
  • have been earned at an accredited or recognized institution;
  • have been earned with a grade of "A" or "B." (The Graduate College will accept a "Pass" grade if the course is graded only on a pass-fail basis.);
  • be applicable to a graduate degree at the institution where the credit was earned;
  • meet the Arizona Board of Regents’ requirement for credit. A minimum of 45 hours of work is required for each unit of credit. (Note: An hour of work is equivalent to 50 minutes of class time, often called a “contact hour,” or 60 minutes of independent study work. NAU requires at least 45 contact hours for each 3-unit course, and assumes at least 90 hours of student homework for that course.);
  • have been earned within the six-year period required for completing the Master's degree or Graduate Certificate at Northern Arizona University.


  • The number of units that may be transferred from other institutions cannot exceed twenty-five percent of the total minimum units of credit required for the Master’s Degree or graduate certificate. Proviso: A student in the M.Ed. in Secondary Education plan may transfer 12 units in the content area.

Master’s and Graduate Certificate students and individual departments must complete the Petition for Transfer Credit form. 

Applying Previously Earned NAU Credit Toward a Master’s Degree

If a student has earned graduate credit at NAU that was not applied toward a previously completed NAU degree, they may petition to apply this credit toward their current graduate degree. These petitions must receive faculty, academic unit administrator, and Graduate College approval. Faculty within a graduate program/department assume the responsibility to ensure these courses demonstrate the current core learning competencies, expectations, and criteria for the student’s degree or certificate program. The age of the course work under consideration, or the year taken, may be a factor in the decision as to whether or not the coursework is applicable to a graduate student’s program. These requests must be made in writing to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. 

The courses to be applied to the Master’s Degree must have been successfully completed within the time period required for completing the current degree or certificate. However, an exception to the time limit requirement may be granted by the Graduate College, with proper approval from the academic unit or program, through a request in writing to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College.

Students can petition for exception

Graduate students may petition for an exception to any academic, non-grade-related, graduate regulation for which no specific appeal or petition process exists. Petitions should be submitted, in writing, to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. When applicable, the student’s advisor and department chair may endorse the petition letter. In some specific instances, utilizing the Graduate Academic Appeal Policy is more appropriate.

Students should contact the Associate Dean of the Graduate College for clarification on which process to initiate.

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