Academic Information and Credit Transfers

Individual departments determine which courses taken elsewhere can transfer for credit toward a major. The Office of the Registrar decides which courses apply toward graduation requirements.

At Colgate, one course generally carries one course credit, which is equivalent to four semester hours. Colgate requires students to complete at least half the required courses (16 of 32 courses) for graduation at Colgate or on a Colgate study group.

Credit Conversion

Colgate converts semester credits and quarter credits to Colgate course credits using the table below. Please note that this table does not apply to foreign institutions in all cases. Therefore, it is critical to have courses pre-approved by the registrar's office.

Semester Hours Quarter Hours Colgate Course Credits
4 5-6 1.00
3 4 0.75
2 3 0.50
1 1-2 0.25


Credit evaluation

Transfer credit is normally considered for liberal arts courses bearing the equivalent of three semester — or five quarter — hours’ worth of credit when the student earns grades of C or better. Grades of C- or lower are not granted credit, nor are courses taken as pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

To be considered for transfer credit, college courses must have been taken on an accredited college or university campus, in competition with degree candidates of that institution and taught by a regular member of the faculty. College-level courses taken in the high school and/or taught only to high school students are not eligible for transfer credit. No credit will be awarded for online courses. 

Determining class year/academic standing

The following defines the number of credits required to achieve the indicated class year at the time of admission:

  • Junior standing: Transferring the equivalent of 14-16 Colgate credits
  • Sophomore standing: Transferring the equivalent of 6-13 Colgate credits

Curriculum and Course Requirements

To earn your degree at Colgate, you will need to complete the curriculum outlined below, in addition to your academic major.


Colgate’s core curriculum provides common ground for wide-ranging student-faculty interactions.

Students are required to complete core requirements as indicated:

Total courses accepted upon enrollment at Colgate Core courses required at Colgate
1–4 4
5–8 3
9–12 2
13–16 1

As a condition of graduation, students must take at least two courses, from different departments, in each of three areas of inquiry:

  • Human Thought and Expression
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents

While transfer credits may satisfy this requirement, summer course credit will not apply.

Select courses from across the curriculum satisfy this requirement. All students must take one such course, as transfer credit does not apply.

Students must be competent in a foreign language before graduation. Language competency may be shown by one of the following:

  • Completing three years (levels) of a foreign or classical language in a secondary school before enrolling at Colgate.
  • Demonstrating basic language skills on a standard test (for example, a satisfactory score on a College Board SAT-II language subject test).
  • Studying a foreign or classical language at Colgate or another college/university through at least one semester at the intermediate level.
All students must complete two units of physical education, taken by the end of the sophomore year (one unit equals six weeks). Junior transfer students must complete one unit.