Alternative Coursework


University Policies: Alternative Coursework 

In addition to the traditional course offerings, the University of Louisville may award academic credit through alternative means.  Such opportunities do not require the customary classroom attendance and participation and include extramural examinations, conference work, independent studies, internships, cooperative education, field experiences, and clinical rotations.  Each of these experiences requires the approval of the enrollment unit and not all are available in every unit, so students should consult with the advising office for availability and requirements. 

The most common alternatives for earning credit outside of traditional coursework are independent study and internships:

Independent Studies

Many units offer independent study courses, which provide the opportunity for the student, under the supervision of a sponsoring faculty member, to pursue individualized study related to research or practice that is not included in regular courses in the curriculum. Students must present a written plan to their department that includes the purpose, rationale, activities planned, and expected learning outcomes, and the plan must be approved by the instructor, department chair, and unit dean and submitted to the registrar. A title for this individualized study course will be assigned by the supervising faculty member and will appear on the student’s academic record.   

Before applying for an independent study, students should have at least 30 semester hours and a 3.0 GPA.

Internships, Cooperative Education, Field Experiences, Clinical Rotations

These courses give students the opportunity to earn academic credit for workplace experiences that support the educational goals of the student’s academic discipline. Students should consult with their academic advisor to determine the requirements within their units.  Approved opportunities range from full- to part-time, temporary to permanent, paid to non-paid.  

In some programs, internships, cooperative education, field experiences, and clinical rotations are required to satisfy degree requirements. 

Unit-Specific Policies

In addition to the university-wide policies regarding Alternative Coursework, students may be subject to the unit-specific requirements listed below. 

College of Arts and Sciences

Conference Work
Conference work refers to completion of course requirements through satisfactory performance on all regularly scheduled writing assignments and examinations, including the final examination. Students enrolled for conference work are excused from regular class attendance. However, the following requirements apply:

  • The instructor excuses the students from all participation except for the writing assignments and examinations;
  • The waiver must be given at the beginning of the semester;
  • The students must be enrolled for credit in the courses; and
  • The students must pay the regular fees for credit courses.

Students who satisfactorily complete the requirements for conference work receive the same semester hours as though they attended the class regularly, and their grade will be determined by performance on the writing assignments and examinations.

Credit by Examination
Extra-curricular examinations allow students to fulfill course requirements by meeting criteria established and evaluated by a special examining committee. These examinations are customarily taken by students whose work outside of college classes has given them knowledge equivalent to that of students who have completed the classes.

The requirements for such an examination are:

  • Students must first obtain the approval of the chair of the department in which they propose to earn credit through  examination, specifying why credit by examination would be justified in their programs.

  • Students must obtain an application for credit by examination from the College Advising Center and return the completed form to the Center.

  • Students must pay one half the regular fees for the course.

  • A faculty committee must agree to serve as examiners. The committee will consist of a regular instructor for the course, who chairs the committee, and two additional examiners, one of whom must be from outside the Division.

  • Students must take both a written and an oral examination.

  • Students must submit to the chair of the committee any evidence of achievement, in addition to the written and the oral examinations, which the chair requires.

  • Students must be enrolled concurrently in the College for a minimum of 6 semester hours of regular course work.

Credits earned by conference work or by examination are counted in the student’s regular load, which must not exceed 18 semester hours per semester. (See Course Load).

Cooperative Internships
The College will award academic credit for eligible work experiences that qualify under the College’s Internship Policy. To qualify for enrollment in a cooperative internship course for credit, each student is required to present:

  • Either 45 credit hours, including 9 in the unit in which credit is sought, or 60 credit hours, including 6 in the unit in which credit is sought;
  • A minimum grade point average of 2.5 for all coursework taken; and
  • A completed Application for Enrollment in Cooperative Internship Form.

Transfer students must have completed one full semester of work (i.e., 12 hours) at the University of Louisville.

A maximum of twelve credits of Internship (including hours earned in GEN 301) may apply toward the 121 hours required for the degree.

For information about internships, contact the chair of the department of the major.

Independent Study
Students may, with permission of the Departmental or Divisional Chair and the Dean, register for Independent Study in a particular department. The student must have an overall grade point average of 3.0, a grade point average of 3.5 in the department, and at least 18 semester hours’ credit in that department unless otherwise waived by the department. Independent Study consists of a minor research project conducted under the direction of a faculty member. Students obtain forms for Independent Study from their department. The completed forms with required signatures must be turned in at registration. Credits earned through Independent Study are counted in the regular load, which must not exceed 18 credit hours per semester.

College of Business

Awarding of Credit for Non-Traditional Work
The College of Business does not award credit for work experience, noncredit courses or internships, independent studies, or co-ops taken at another academic institution. 

Correspondence Courses
The College of Business does not offer courses by correspondence, nor does it grant credit for business courses taken by correspondence. 

Cooperative Education
The COB faculty and employers structure individually appropriate practical experiences that build professional competence, apply academic principles, and help evaluate career options.  

COB majors may earn either three (3) or six (6) hours of academic credit through the Co-op program, as specified in each major’s Degree Program section of this catalog. One hour of academic credit is given for each 75 hours of approved work. Students can be considered full-time during a semester in which they are registered for three (3) Co-op credit hours. Students register for credit during the semester in which the majority of the work takes place. Start dates for COB Co-op are flexible.  Co-op evaluations are graded on a Pass/Fail basis. Deadlines for each semester are posted in the COB Ulmer Career Management Center. 

Under certain circumstances a student may be eligible to take an approved internship or Co-op for no academic credit. Such an internship or Co-op will appear on the transcript without any academic credit. Contact the Ulmer Career Center for details. 

All majors are encouraged to plan in advance for Co-op, which is typically taken during the junior and/or senior years. Computer Information Systems majors register for Co-op as a graduation requirement and usually work full-time for six (6) months prior to graduation.  

International students must validate work authorization eligibility through the International Center prior to working with the COB Ulmer Career Management Center.   

Approved COB Co-op may be paid or non-paid. Students may work full-time, alternating semesters of Co-op with semesters of campus academics.  Or, students may work part-time, in order to parallel workplace and classroom experiences. Employment arrangements are between students and employers while the COB provides structure, guidance, and evaluation for educational components. Program requirements include the following:

  • Be enrolled in good standing in the College of Business
  • Maintain a 2.0 cumulative university GPA.
  • Have completed prerequisite courses established by each major area of study.
  • Work in positions that are approved for credit in the educational discipline of the student's major.  These positions must be current level-appropriate experiences that can be characterized as new learning and/or new responsibilities. Credit is not given for past employment experience or continuing employment that does not offer new employment challenges.

Apply for COB Co-op on the Ulmer Career Center website:

Business minors (other than Management) do not have the option for Co-op credit. 

College of Education & Human Development

Course by Conference
Under certain circumstances, a student may complete a course on an individual basis with an instructor. This is called a course by conference. Course by conference forms are available in the Education Advising and Student Services office.  Signatures of the instructor, department chairperson, and dean are required on the form.

Independent Study
Credit may be earned by independent study with the permission of the dean, department chairperson, and instructor. Independent study forms are available in the Education Advising and Student Services office. 

Statement on Student Teaching/Field Experience
In all phases of the Developmental Teacher Preparation Model, candidates participating in field and clinical experiences must abide by all policies, rules, and regulations of the University and the assigned school. Failure to abide by standards of conduct and performance established by the faculty may result in removal from the program. Electronic documentation of 200 hours of diverse and approved field experiences is required prior to student teaching.

Student teaching requires a minimum 15-week clinical experience in school setting(s) related to the teaching certificate a teacher candidate is seeking. Teacher candidates work with a cooperating teacher and University supervisor participating in the work of teaching. Evaluation is based on Kentucky Teacher Performance Standards and Professional Code of Ethics.

Speed School of Engineering

Independent Study Courses
Engineering students should have at least 30-semester hours and a University GPA of 3.0 as well as a 2.5 GPA in their Speed School courses before applying for an independent study. Students must obtain approval from the instructor, department chair, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. 

Cooperative Education
The principal purpose of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering is to give the student a thorough, well-balanced training in engineering and applied science as preparation for entry into the profession of engineering. The Engineering Office of Co-op and Career Development assists each student in obtaining a suitable cooperative work assignment in their chosen industry or research field, at locations throughout the US and occasionally abroad. During each co-op assignment, students work full-time and receive a salary from their employer 

Engineering Cooperative Education
In order to qualify for the Bachelor of Science degree, students must successfully complete three engineering co-ops. 

Eligibility for Co-op
Co-op eligibility is dependent upon the student’s admission to an academic department, being in good academic standing within Speed School, and upon completion of pre- and co-requisites for the Co-op Seminar (288) and co-op rotations (289, 389, 489). Students must be enrolled in the Co-op Seminar (288) in a semester preceding their first cooperative work assignment. In addition, transfer students must have completed at least one semester of full-time coursework in Speed School including the Co-op Seminar (288) before their first co-op.

A student may lose their eligibility for co-op for any of the following reasons:

  • Academic Warning or Probation,
  • Disciplinary Probation,
  • Employer Termination,
  • Unauthorized Change of Co-op Employer,
  • Actions that reflect negatively on the J.B. Speed School of Engineering,
  • Unprofessional conduct (not attending scheduled interviews, not responding to Co-op office enquiries, etc.), or
  • Unsatisfactory Co-op Employer Performance Review.

If a student loses their Co-op eligibility, they must submit a petition to re-enter Co-op.

Student Responsibilities
Students will alternate Co-ops with semesters of full-time class work.

Students are required to register for the Co-op prior to the beginning of each work term.

Students are expected to work the dates of Co-op designated by the Engineering Office of Co-op and Career Development Office.

Unless specifically approved by the Co-op coordinator, all Co-op work terms will be conducted with the same employer and in alternating semesters.

Students are employees of the company or organization while they are on Co-op and are subject to employer rules and regulations. Students are expected to maintain the highest performance and behavioral standards while on Co-op.

If a student is terminated from cooperative employment or otherwise disciplined for any reason, it must be immediately reported by the student to the Co-op coordinator. A student who is terminated for any reason other than the employer’s business conditions will receive an F grade in Co-op and, in addition, may be subject to academic sanctions as well as disciplinary action in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct.

The university is not liable for any accident or injury involving a Co-op student. However, it is the responsibility of the student to see that any serious accident or injury is reported, at the earliest opportunity, to the Co-op coordinator. Students are required to sign and abide by the policies and procedures set forth in the Cooperative Education Student Agreement provided in the Co-op seminar.

In general, students are classified as temporary full-time employees and are paid on an hourly basis while on Co-op.  Pay rates vary according to employer and location.

Length of Employment
In order to be eligible to receive the Bachelor of Science degree, all candidates must have completed three cooperative semesters.

Course Enrollment During Co-op
In general, academic coursework is not allowed during the Co-op work period.  In some instances, with approval, a student may enroll for academic coursework not exceeding four semester hours during any Co-op period. Approval will be given only for academic coursework that is taken outside normal working hours (8:00 – 5:00) and which does not interfere with the co-op work assignment.  Permission to take a course must be obtained prior to the beginning of the co-op period. Request forms are available from the Engineering Office of Student Success.

Evaluation and Academic Credit
Co-op students are graded on a pass/fail basis and earn one semester hour of credit for each completed co-op, for a total of three semester hours. At the conclusion of a co-op semester, each student is evaluated by the appropriate employer representative. The report will be reviewed and approved by the co-op coordinator and faculty in the student’s major department.

Advanced Standing Credit
Advanced Standing credit for co-op may be awarded upon approval of the department chair, the Director of Co-op and Career Development and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Students who performed full-time work of a technical nature before entering Speed School and students who have had military experience are eligible. A letter is required from the employer verifying the dates and the nature of the employment. In the case of military experience, veterans may submit a copy of their separation form in lieu of the employer’s letter. Students who participate in ROTC or military summer camp may receive credit for one co-op (1 hour).

Forms for advanced standing credit are available from the Engineering Office of Co-op and Career Development. Part-time work or work performed subsequent to entering Speed School will not qualify for advanced standing credit. If the work, however, was comparable to a co-op assignment and was performed during a semester in which the student was enrolled for no more than four semester hours, then the student may be eligible, upon approval, for back registration.  The student must pay tuition for the one credit hour of coursework, as well as the co-op course fee, and will be expected to fulfill normal course requirements for co-op, including submission of a co-op report and employer evaluation.

Employment Opportunities
Securing a co-op position is affected by general economic conditions and particular employer specifications.  Therefore, the University cannot guarantee employment. However, every effort will be made to assist students in finding cooperative assignments appropriate to their specialization and personal preference. Students who obtain their own co-op employment must have the approval of the cooperative education coordinator and are subject to the policies and procedures stated herein and the Cooperative Education Student Agreement.

Waiver Policy
When a student experiences extreme difficulty in obtaining a suitable co-op position, that student may seek an administrative waiver from the department chair and the Director of Career Development. Waiver recipients are required to complete a minimum of three semester hours of additional courses for each cooperative period waived. The three semester hours must be in addition to courses required for the baccalaureate degree and must be approved by the department chair.

International Students Exemption
A student who holds a student visa is exempt from the mandatory cooperative education requirement. Student visa holders are required to complete a minimum of three semester hours of additional courses for each co-op. The three semester hours must be in addition to courses required for the baccalaureate degree and must be approved by the department chair.

Graduate Career Employment
Graduating students and alumni should register with the Engineering Co-op and Career Development Office for job search assistance. On-campus interviews, individual counseling, and group information sessions are conducted throughout the year.

External Examinations

Advanced Placement Examinations of the College Board

In accordance with Kentucky Senate Bill 74, the University of Louisville awards credit for scores of 3 or higher on all Advanced Placement Examinations of the College Board. A higher score may be required to receive credit for specific courses within certain disciplines. Elective credit will be awarded for Advanced Placement Examinations not listed or for scores of 3 when a higher score is required for specific course credit. Scores should be submitted to the Office of Admissions as soon as they are available.

Advanced placement scores and course equivalencies are available from the Office of Admissions.

For more information go to:

College-Level Examination Program of the College Board

UofL awards credit on the basis of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) administered by the College Board. CLEP examinations may be taken at any national test center, including the University of Louisville Testing Service. Prior arrangements with the testing center must be made, and there is a fee for the general examination and for each subject examination. A CLEP Bulletin of Information for candidates may be obtained from most testing centers, or visiting their website:

Scores obtained should be sent to the Office of Admissions.

Areas of study, the amount of credit allowed, and minimum scores are determined by the Office of Admissions and the academic programs. Credit earned through CLEP does not count as credit earned in residence at the University of Louisville. For more information go to

International Baccalaureate

The university awards academic credit to entering freshmen who have completed the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. Credit will be awarded for most IB Higher or Standard Level exams completed with a 5 or higher.

Scores and course equivalencies are available from the Office of Admissions.

For more information go to

Foreign Language Advanced Standing

Students who wish to continue the study of a foreign language begun in high school must take placement examinations in order to be placed at the appropriate level. To receive university credit for language study completed at the high school level, the placement examination is required before attempting university language study.

The placement exam is administered online and can be completed at

The placement tests may not be used to earn credit if the student already has received college- or university-level credit in that language elsewhere or has enrolled in a course in that language at this university.

When a student places into a course numbered higher than 121, credit toward graduation will be awarded for those elementary or intermediate courses by-passed only if the student completes successfully the language class into which s/he is placed.

A student placing in the 300 level will receive 12 hours of P/Pass credit for courses numbered 121, 122, 123, or 221 (depending on the language) upon successful completion of a 300-level class in the language1.  Any credit earned by placement testing will be posted on the student’s record only after completion of a regular semester of full-time study (or 12 semester hours) at the University of Louisville. Students should not enroll for credit in a course they have successfully bypassed through examination.

A student who has earned college credit for work done in high school may choose whether to use that credit -or- the credit earned through the placement examination program described above. These regulations also apply to Metroversity students.

For foreign students whose previous academic work has been in a language other than English, the foreign language requirement for graduation will be waived automatically. No credit will be granted for 100- or 200-level language courses to any student for whom that course is his/her native language. Students may obtain credit for courses in linguistics, culture or literature numbered 300 or above in their native language by extramural examination or by taking the courses.

For information about placement examinations in American Sign Language, contact:

American Sign Language and Interpreting Studies
300 Robbins Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
(502) 852-4607


 Eighteen hours of credit by placement are available in Spanish for students who test into SPAN courses 321, 322, or 355.