Awarding Credit for Same Courses in Different Degree Programs

To: MEMORANDUM TO CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
OF POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTIONS
IN NEW YORK STATE

Subject: Awarding Credit for Same Courses in Different Degree Programs

This memorandum will define the circumstances under which the State Education Department considers it appropriate to give credit for the same course work toward the requirements of different degrees. When a second baccalaureate or associate degree is conferred, it is assumed that a concentration in a second field has likewise been completed in a time span greater than required for one degree. The General Education courses that applied toward the first degree may count toward the Liberal Arts requirement of the second degree.

Further, the conferral of two baccalaureate or associate degrees should be reserved as a means of recognizing that a candidate has competencies in two essentially different areas. For example, if a person obtains a Bachelor or Arts in History, it would be entirely appropriate to confer on him a Bachelor of Business Administration or a Bachelor of Fine Arts, for these degrees represent professional preparations discrete from the learning identified by the Bachelor of Arts. However, it would not be appropriate to confer two Bachelors of Arts for double majors, say in English and Psychology, since multiple academic majors may be properly identified on the diploma. Nor would it be logical to award a Bachelor of Arts for a completed major in English and a Bachelor of Science for a concentration in Chemistry. If the liberal arts content is sufficient, one degree for both fields would be appropriate, for at this time the distinction between a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in many instances is at best thin, if not completely lost.

In the case of graduate and professional degrees the double counting of courses rarely arises. In some rare instances, however, there may be overlap in requirements. For example, in law and certain areas of Business Administration there are identical courses required for the degrees. If course work in these instances is highly duplicative, it may legitimately be counted as fulfilling the requirements of different degrees.

In the case of combined Bachelors/Master's programs, so long as the outstanding students admitted to these programs successfully complete graduate level courses that assume the more rudimentary knowledge taught on the undergraduate level, or so long as they master graduate courses that cover the content of undergraduate courses, there is no reason why they should not receive both undergraduate and graduate credit for the same work.

Last Updated: November 8, 2010