International Exam Policies and Procedures

Note: A student who wishes to consult with the dean who handles international exam credits should bring his or her original diploma or certificate of examination results to the Dean of the College Office in University Hall so a copy can be made. An approved copy of exam scores must be on file before the dean will consult with the student about potential credit for the exams.

At Brown, international diploma or certificate exam scores can serve three main purposes: to place into higher level courses, to obtain course credit (which is not identical to concentration credit), or to qualify for advanced standing in order to graduate in fewer than eight semesters. Read below for University and department policies related to these three areas.


Students may use international exam scores to place into higher-level courses at Brown. For example, a score of 6 on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher-Level Economics exam places a student out of Econ 0110 and allows the student to enroll in Econ 1110. Students with qualifying scores may register for more advanced courses with the instructor’s override even if their documentation has yet to be received by Brown. Students wishing to place into a higher level course using an exam score that is not listed on the equivalence chart below should consult with the appropriate academic department; the Dean of the College Office does not determine placement.


Beginning in their sophomore year, students may use international diploma/certificate exam scores to obtain course credit if they need these credits for degree completion (see equivalence chart below). Some departments require students to submit course descriptions, syllabi, and/or samples of work (such as papers or exams) completed in international diploma/certificate courses before determining whether or not to grant equivalent course credit. The transcripted course credits will count toward Brown’s 30-course (minimum) graduation requirement.

Students who wish to use international exam scores to obtain credit for more than two Brown equivalent courses will be required to accept advanced standing. This means they will be required to finish their Brown degree in fewer than eight semesters.

Students with exam scores who do not wish to accelerate graduation may have up to two Brown courses transcripted for exam scores if these credits are needed for concentration requirements, the 30-course degree requirement, or for professional school applications.


Students may seek course credit for qualifying exam scores to accelerate graduation by one or two semesters. Students with exam scores that are equivalent to 3 to 6 Brown courses may apply for one semester of advanced standing. Students with exam scores that are the equivalent of 7-10 Brown courses may apply for two semesters of advanced standing.


In order to allow adequate time for students to familiarize themselves with Brown and to examine the impact of advanced standing on their academic plans, students may not apply for advanced standing before their third semester in residence at Brown. (Transfer students may request advanced standing in their second semester at Brown.) Requests for two semesters of advanced standing must be received no later than the end of fifth semester standing. Requests for one semester of advanced standing must be received no later than the end of sixth semester standing. These deadlines apply to all requests for advanced standing based on credits for pre-Brown tests and pre-Brown college courses.

Once a student applies for and is granted advanced standing, he or she may not rescind the request. Too often students who apply for advanced standing later decide that they would like to stay at Brown for 8 full semesters. Such students are disappointed when they learn that they are unable to so. Students are therefore strongly encouraged to delay applying for advanced standing until they have declared their concentration and are certain about this decision.


Transcription of a course credit for an international exam score does not mean that concentration credit has been earned. For example, exam-based credits transcripted for Math 0090 and Math 0100 do NOT automatically earn concentration credit when such courses are required or elective courses in a concentration. Academic departments determine whether or not non-Brown credits fulfill concentration requirements. Students should consult with the appropriate concentration advisor to determine whether or not a credit transcripted as equivalent to a Brown course satisfies a concentration requirement.

Please note, too, that it is possible to obtain concentration credit WITHOUT having course credit transcripted. Consult with your concentration advisor about the pertinent policies in your concentration.

If a concentration advisor approves an international exam score for a concentration course requirement that is not included in the course equivalency chart below, students must fill out the Undergraduate Transfer Credit Approval Form and have the form signed by the concentration advisor. Return the completed form to Room 201, University Hall.


Brown University recognizes international exam scores from the following diploma and certificate programs: International Baccalaureate, A-levels, French Baccalaureate, Swiss Federal Maturity Certificate, Italian Esame di Stato, and the German Abitur. Other programs are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The tables below list credits awarded for exam scores and those departments with direct course equivalencies. Students with exam scores in areas not listed should consult with the individual department about course placement and credit.

International Program Credit Awarded
International Baccalaureate (Higher Level) One or two Brown courses for a grade of 5 or 6 or higher, depending on the department
International Baccalaureate (Subsidiary Level) One Brown course for a grade of 5 or 6 or higher (only if accompanied by HL exams)
British A-Levels (but not A5 or O-levels) For most, two Brown courses for a grade of C or better; one course for a grade of D
French Baccalaureate, German Abitur, Italian Esame di Stato, Swiss Federal Maturity Certificate Two Brown courses per principle subject
Other "13th year" programs Determined on a country-by-country basis
Exam Minimum IB HL Score Brown Course Equivalent
Biology 5 Biology 0200 and one unassigned credit in biology
Chemistry 6 Chemistry 0330 (No transfer credit for Chem 0100)
Chemistry  5 Placement only into CHEM 0330 (No transfer credit for Chem 0100)
Economics 6 Placement out of Economics 0110 (A-levels reviewed case-by-case)
(see note below) 
Mathematics 5 Math 0090 and 0100 (A-Levels: H2 qualifies for Math 0090 and Math 0100; H3 adds one unassigned Math credit to Math 0090 and Math 0100.)
Further Mathematics 5 Adds one unassigned Math credit to Math 0090 and Math 0100
Physics 5 Physics 0030 (retroactive credit requires completion of Physics 40, 60, 160, 470, 500, or a 1000-level physics course) A-levels reviewed case-by-case for up to 2 credits
Psychology 5 CLPS 0010 (however, another CLPS course must be substituted for concentration credit)
History 5 One unassigned credit in history (including History of the Americas)
Languages 5 Courses numbered 0100 and 0200 in the appropriate department


Effective with the class of 2016, students with a qualifying IB score or A-level result may place out of Economics 0110, but will not receive equivalent transfer credit, or be able to use the exam results toward the concentration's requirement of Economics 0110.  An unassigned credit in Economics may be awarded.

Environmental Studies and Environmental Science concentration advisors will consider counting passing grades on International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations toward the ES concentration requirements on a case-by case basis. Advisors will review IB scores on Environmental Science examinations for students concentrating in other disciplines.