Course-Equivalency Credit

Course-equivalency credit: what is it?

Course-equivalency credit is the substitution of credit for a specific UF course in place of credit for a course taken at another institution. With this type of credit granted, the non-UF course meets all the requirements that the substituted UF course meets. One important example involves the Statewide Course-Numbering System (SCNS): a course taken at any Florida public university or community college (“FPUCC”) will transfer to UF, with course-equivalency credit for a UF course with the identical number, if a course with that number is offered at UF1Note: “Course-equivalency credit” is the term used by the math department for this type of credit; other departments and units at UF may refer to the same type of credit by a different name.The granting of course-equivalency credit is not automatic (except in cases covered by the SCNS) and is not governed by the name of the course; see How do I obtain course-equivalency credit for a math course? below.Example 1. Your major, Electrical Engineering, requires MAC 2312 (Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2) and MAP 2302 (Elementary Differential Equations, for which MAC 2312 is a prerequisite). UF receives an official transcript from Gatorbait University showing that you received a C or better in a course called “Math 202: Calculus for Science and Engineering Majors 2” there. UF will enter this information in your UF transcript, but will supply a “dummy number” such as MAC 0000 (a number that does not correspond to any UF course), which will show on the same line of your UF transcript as Math 202 shows.

    • Without equivalency credit for Gatorbait’s Math 202, you will not automatically meet the Calculus 2 requirement for your major, and you will not be considered to have met the prerequisite for MAP 2302. Your major department may, at its discretion, decide to accept Gatorbait’s Math 202 in lieu of Engineering’s Calculus 2 requirement, but it does not have the authority to grant course-equivalency credit for MAC 2312 (only the math department has that authorit), since that would affect the way your Gatorbait course is treated by every other department and unit at UF, including Mathematics. Only the math department will be able to enroll you in MAP 2302.
    • With equivalency credit, Gatorbait’s Math 202 will automatically meet both the Calculus 2 requirement for your major and the prerequisite for MAP 2302.

If you submit a course-equivalency request to the math department for, say, MAC 2313 (Calculus and Analytic Geometry 3), it will not matter whether the other institution’s name for its course was “Calculus for Science and Engineering Majors 3”, “Really Intense Calculus for Math Whizzes 2”, or “Carrots for Parrots: the Fascinating History of Pet Food”. The math department will not base its evaluation on what another college chooses to call its course.

Note: Transfer credit is not the same as course-equivalency credit. The term “transfer credit” may be used simply to mean the acceptance of credits earned at another institution as hours towards the 120 needed for a UF degree, and perhaps towards other broad requirements such as General Education. In Example 1, the fact that Gatorbait’s Math 202 shows on your UF transcript at all means that you’ve been given transfer credit for it; the same line on your transcript will list the number of hours you’ve been credited with. “Transfer credit” is also sometimes used as an umbrella term that includes many types of credit, including course-equivalency credit.

You may hear what the math department calls “course-equivalency credit” referred to by other names, including “equivalency”, “transfer-equivalency credit”, “transfer-credit equivalency”, and “course substitution”. In any important conversation relating to credits used towards your UF degree for work not done at UF, make sure you describe the type of credit you’re talking about; don’t just refer to it by name.

Credit vs. placement: what’s the difference?

Placement into a course is simply permission for you to take that course (and only if a seat is available). Placement may be achieved by meeting all prerequisites (either directly or by being granted course-equivalency credit for prerequisites you would otherwise lack) or by waiver of whatever prerequisite(s) you lack. Only the department offering the course has the authority to waive a prerequisite.Note: no method of placement guarantees you a seat in a course.For math courses having other math courses as prerequisites, it is easier to be granted a waiver of prerequisite than to be granted course-equivalency credit for the prerequisite. Even if a non-UF course you took was not truly equivalent to the course UF lists as a prerequisite, it may have covered enough of the necessary material to meet the spirit of the prerequisite, in which case a waiver is likely to be granted. Or, the Undergraduate Coordinator in the Department of Mathematics department may simply decide from the title and/or catalog-description of your non-UF course that your course is likely to have covered the prerequisite material you need to know in order to take the UF course you want, and may waive the prerequisite on that basis.

When the Department grants course-equivalency credit for a non-UF course (or signs a statement that the non-UF course was equivalent to a specific UF course), it is assuring every advisor, instructor, and administrator at UF that for all purposes to which that course might be put at UF, you have achieved at least as good an outcome as you would have from taking the subsituted UF course. Thus, other units at UF rely on the accuracy of the Department’s evaluation. The Department’s reputation as a certifying authority, as well as UF’s reputation, is put at risk.

By contrast, when the Department grants placement into a course by waiving a prerequisite, it is primarily the student who assumes the risk. If the student is not adequately prepared for the course, he or she will do poorly. Therefore the Department does not need nearly as much proof of preparation to waive the prerequisite as it would to grant course-equivalency credit for it (see How do I obtain course-equivalency credit for a math course? below). Of course, the Department’s representative with whom you meet to make the request (a math advisor or the Undergraduate Coordinator) will still give you his or her best advice based on the information you present; you will not be granted a waiver of prerequisite if the representative thinks you are unlikely to have been adequately prepared for the course you want to take.

Example 2. You transferred to UF as a junior, having already taken Calculus 1-2-3 and an introductory Differential Equations course. At UF, you have already taken MAS 3114 (Computational Linear Algebra). You now want to take MAP 4305 (Differential Equations for Engineers and Physical Scientists), which has two prerequisites: MAP 2302 (Elementary Differential Equations) and either MAS 3114 or MAS 4105 (Linear Algebra), but ISIS blocks you because you have not officially met the MAP 2302 prequisite. You major department (which, unless it’s the math department, has no authority to grant you course-equivalency credit for MAP 2302) has already granted you credit towards your major for its Calculus 1-2-3 and Differential Equations requirements, so you have no need for course-equivalency credit for MAP 2302 other than that it would give you placement into MAP 4305.

You meet with the math department’s Undergraduate Coordinator (UGC) and ask to have the MAP 2302 prerequisite waived. The UGC looks at your transcript, sees that you completed MAS 3114 with a grade of at least C, and sees that you have transfer credit from Gatorbait University for a course called “Introduction to Differential Equations”. From his or her experience evaluating courses, the UGC knows that certain core material is common to almost all introductory differential equations courses. The UGC also knows that knowledge of this core material is all that’s needed for MAP 4305, regardless of whether the other material in MAP 2302 was covered in the Gatorbait course. On these grounds, UGC waives the MAP 2302 prerequisite and allows you into MAP 4305 on a space-available basis.

Do I need course-equivalency credit?

You need (or should very much want) course-equivalency credit in either of these circumstances:

  • Your major department says that you need it. (More precisely, your department would say that if the math department doesn’t declare your non-UF course to be equivalent to a specific UF course, then you’ll have to take that course at UF, even if that would mean repeating a large amount of material.)
  • You want to apply a non-UF course towards a content-specific elective requirement.

In other circumstances, placement rather than course-equivalency credit may suffice.

One factor affecting whether you need to request course-equivalency is whether your non-UF course was taken at a Florida public university or community college (“FPUCC”). FPUCC courses use the Statewide Course-Numbering System: a course taken anywhere in the FPUCC system will transfer to UF, with course-equivalency credit for a UF course with the identical number, if a course with that number is offered at UF1. In this case you do not need to ask for course-equivalency credit; it’s given automatically. If UF does not offer an identically numbered course1, but offers one that you believe has very similar content, in order to receive course-equivalency credit you (or an advisor or similar representative) will have to ask the math department to evaluate your course; see How do I obtain course-equivalency credit for a math course? below. Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, you may or may not receive course-equivalency credit.

How do I obtain course-equivalency credit for a math course?

The exact procedure depends upon which college houses your major, but always involves a course-equivalency evaluation by the math department. For majors in most colleges, you simply go to the math department, necessary materials in hand, and request the evaluation. If you are in the College of Business, your college office will have you fill out a Course Equivalency Request form, collect the necessary materials from you, send everything to the math department, and await a response. If you are in the College of Engineering, your college office may give you a form to take to be taken to the math department.If your non-UF course is determined to be equivalent to a UF course, then, depending on your college, the math department’s representative will either (i) directly make the substitution in your student records that effects course-equivalency credit (this is the way the process works if your college is Liberal Arts and Sciences), or (ii) sign a course-equivalency form that you obtain from your college office (this is the way the process works if you are in the College of Business, the College of Engineering, or any other college that uses such a form), and someone in your college office will make the actual substitution in your student records.

What the math department will need to see.
In order to approve a course-equivalence request, the math department needs detailed information on the material covered in the non-UF course. The textbook used and a brief (e.g. one-paragraph) description from the course catalog are necessary pieces of informationbut not sufficient. Usually the extra information the math department needs can be provided by supplying

  • (preferred) a list of chapter sections covered (titles, not just numbers), photocopied from the textbook (or printed out from a webpage), together with the instructor’s syllabus stating that these sections were covered; or
  • a syllabus distributed by the instructor that contains a detailed list of topics covered (at least the same level of detail that a list of chapter-section titles would provide); or
  • a copy of all the exams the student took in the course.

If you took the course a long time ago, it may be very difficult to obtain materials for the year in which you took it (or you may still have some materials, such as the syllabus, but you no longer have the textbook from which to photocopy the table of contents). In that case, try to obtain the materials for a recent offering of the course at the same institution, and a letter from the department that offered the course stating that the content of the course has not changed substantively since the year in which you took it.

Instances in which course-equivalence requests will automatically be rejected are:

  • The only provided description of the syllabus is the one from the course catalog, and/or an instructor’s summary of the course content at the same level of detail as the course catalog.
  • In place of a detailed description of course content, the student enumerates the chapter-sections covered, but does not provide a photocopy or webpage-printout of the book’s table of contents showing the titles of these chapter sections.
  • In place of a detailed description of course content, the student provides a list of homework assignments of the form “section 9.3 problems 1-20” but does not provide a photocopy or webpage-printout of the book’s table of contents showing the titles of the chapter sections.
  • The textbook-information provided does not match what’s in the syllabus, and you do not have a letter addressing the mismatch as described above.
    Example: The syllabus you supply shows that your textbook was Barnum and Bailey,Calculus for Clowns, 3rd edition, but the table of contents you provide, obtained from amazon.com, is for the 5th edition (whose section-numbering may be different from that of the 3rd edition) or is for Brief Calculus for Clowns, 3rd edition (which is likely to be a very different book, treating topics more cursorily).

Can I get course-equivalency credit for a course taken abroad?

In principle, yes. However, in practice, courses taken outside the U.S. often have no equivalent at UF. When you submit course-materials as described under How do I obtain course-equivalency credit for a math course?, the math department will evaluate whether there is any UF course equivalent to (or wholly contained within) the course(s) that you took at the foreign institution.If there is no such UF course, the math department will not grant you course-equivalency credit. This is true even if the course was taken as part of a study-abroad program, and another department or unit at UF has promised that you would get credit for a UF course for every course that you took in the program. Study-abroad programs are wonderful opportunities, and the math department wholeheartedly encourages students to take advantage of them, but this does not bear on the question of whether two courses are equivalent. “Equivalent” does not mean “closest-fitting”. The math department is glad to cooperate with your study-abroad sponsor by evaluating your course. To avoid potential problems, you should have any math course you’re thinking of taking in a study-abroad program evaluated by the UF math department before you take it; see below .Often, the content of a foreign course will straddle two or more UF courses; for example, the foreign course may cover half of course A and half of course B. In this example, if you also took a course at the same institution that covered the remaining half of course A, the math department will generally grant you course-equivalency credit for course A. For students transferring to UF from foreign universities this can be significant: the foreign courses may not literally be equivalent to UF courses on a one-to-one basis, but the collection of foreign courses may be equivalent to a collection of UF courses, in which case the math department will grant equivalency credit for the collection of courses whose content it is satisfied have been covered.

I’m thinking about taking a course elsewhere as a transient student, but want to know in advance whether I’ll receive course-equivalency credit. What should I do?

Obtain as many of the course materials as possible that are listed under How do I obtain course-equivalency credit for a math course? and ask the math department to evaluate the course for potential equivalency. If the Department’s representative (usually the Undergraduate Coordinator) determines that equivalency is warranted, obtain a signed letter or form from him/her to that effect, so that when you return to UF the course-equivalency credit can be granted without re-evaluation.The math department recognizes that it may be difficult or impossible to obtain detailed information about a course in advance, especially for a course to be taken outside the U.S.   Nonetheless, this is the information needed if you want to be promised course-equivalency credit in advance. Given only partial information, the Department’s representative will be able to give you only his or her best advice, which may be “I don’t think this course will be equivalent to a UF course” or “I think this is likely to end up being equivalent to our course ABC 1234, but I can’t promise you.”

I’ve studied some math that my transcript doesn’t show. May I obtain credit for a UF course by taking an exam at UF to prove that I know the material?

No. Regardless of how well you know the material, University of Florida rules prohibit the granting of credit for anything other than a course taken at a college, with the exceptions ofcredit awarded for high enough scores on AICE, AP, CLEP or IB exams (which are not administered by UF). If you do not have an official college transcript showing credit for a course, or an official AICE, AP, CLEP, or IB transcript confirming an adequate score, you cannot receive any sort of credit for that course at UF. (Note: This is not actually an issue ofcourse-equivalency credit at all, since there is no course on your non-UF transcript for which you are asking to have UF credit substituted.)If you are an entering student and clearly demonstrate to the Department of Mathematics’ Undergraduate Coordinator (UGC) that you know the content of various lower-level courses, such as Calculus 3 and Differential Equations, but don’t have transfer credit for these courses because you have no college transcript showing them, the UGC will give you placement into higher-level courses. If you are also a math major and the courses involved are major requirements (such as Calculus 3 and Differential Equations), usually the UGC will allow you to substitute some higher-level courses for your lower-level requirements rather than simply waive those requirements. Thus, to graduate you probably will have to take as many UF math courses as would any math major entering with AP credit for Calculus 1 and 2, but the courses you take will be more advanced.


1 Actually the full seven-character codes need not be identical, as long as the three letters and the last three digits are identical. Thus, for example, if you successfully completed a course numbered “MAC 1311” or “MAC 3311” at another Florida public university or community college, you would automatically receive course-equivalency credit for MAC 2311 at UF. However, if the course were numbered “MAC 2321”, then even if the course had the same name as UF’s MAC 2311, Analytic Geometry and Calculus 1, you would not automatically receive course-equivalency credit for anyUF course.