Two students walk in Washington Square Park

The average NYU applicant is quite different from the average student that I went to high school with. My high school’s culture didn’t encourage me to earn college credit before actually going to college. If we graduated on time, with good grades, and went to a good college – that was great. But the landscape has changed. Now, our applicants are doing a multitude of amazing things and they want to make sure that it’s worth it. They partner with local colleges to pursue research, intern with Fortune 500 companies, and earn not just their high school diploma – but an Associate’s degree alongside it. As a result, they want to know whether NYU will accept those college credits that they worked hard for.
The short answer is that yes, we do award college credit to incoming first year students. But there are some guidelines you have to follow and some criteria that those credits need to fulfill. Let’s break it down.
A student taking notes in class
How transferring credits might benefit you
Many students want to earn credit so that they can earn their degree faster. Earning it faster means graduating early, which means a smaller cost of attendance. Today, with the rapidly rising cost of going to college in the U.S., this is one of the most important reasons to consider transferring your credits. The number of credits that you bring in will determine how many you need to take while you’re with us. In some cases, you might be able to shave off an entire semester – or even an entire year.
Those entry level credits can also meet lower level requirements that you’ll need to take as part of your degree. That can free up room in your schedule to jump into more advanced and nuanced coursework. Typically, you need to complete “Theories in the Study of Religion” before you can take “Monsters and Their Humans.” But if you transfer in credit that satisfies Theories, you can skip the basics and move right into advanced topics.
How does it work?
First, if you’re studying in the U.S., the credits that you earned need to come from a regionally accredited institution. These can include the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, or the Higher Learning Commission. Most non-profit institutions in the United States, including community colleges, will have this accreditation. You’ll need to ask your institution (or check their website) to make sure. If you’re coming from outside the United States, a local or national organization will need to recognize the school. A Ministry of Education is the most common example.
Second, the credits won’t transfer if you used the course to complete a high school graduation requirement. For instance, if your school requires that you take pre-calculus to graduate, and you earned college credit for it – that credit won’t transfer. But, if you took Psychology as an elective and earned credit for that – you’re good!
We will also grant credit for a short list of exams that you may already need to take in high school. If you’re taking an AP exam, we’ll grant credit if you earn a 4 or 5 on the AP exam. For the IB, you need to have taken an HL exam and earned a 6 or 7. For A-Levels, you need to earn a B or higher on your exam. We’ll also take credit from a short series of international exams.
In most cases, you must have sat for the test before graduating high school. This particularly true for AP tests and the IB. If you’re unsure of whether that guideline will apply to you and your tests, reach out to us! We’re happy to clarify for you.
Only in New York City
If you’re considering applying to NYU Abu Dhabi or NYU Shanghai, there’s a final note to consider. We don’t accept advanced credits on either of those campuses, and there’s a specific reason why.
Our campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai are unique, global experiences that are unlike most any other university in the world. We house diverse international populations on both campuses and aspire to lift those students above cultural boundaries to realize the potential of a cooperating world. We encourage those students to take full advantage of the cross-cultural interactions that will define their experiences there. As a result, they move through our curriculum in a very intentional way. We don’t accept advanced credits there because it would eliminate key elements of their programs. They wouldn’t be able to take full advantage of all the benefits that our carefully designed curricula have to offer.
However, these students can use advanced credits to skip lower level coursework and place into higher level courses. Their major’s department head can grant this permission after they arrive on campus. It won’t reduce the number of classes you’ll need to take to earn your degree. But it can enable you to take more advanced courses earlier.
Students on Welcome Day, which kicks off the NYU campus tradition of Welcome Week.

At the end of the day, if you think you might qualify for advanced courses with us – send the transcript to us when you’re applying. We’ll take a look for you! You’ve accomplished so many great things in high school and you deserve to be recognized for them. We’ll do everything we can to try and do so!

David Kerman is an Assistant Director of Admissions for NYU Abu Dhabi. When he’s not jetsetting to find the next NYU class of dreamers and innovators, he’s seeking out every new restaurant or theatrical production that New York City has to offer. He is an MA candidate at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, focusing on the intersection of Marketing and International Development, lives in Brooklyn, and is madly in love with his Australian Shepherd, Koda.