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Understanding the Advanced Placement Credit Policy

The University of North Carolina System’s Advanced Placement (AP) credit acceptance policy is designed to promote student success in higher education.

The AP credit acceptance policy was adopted by the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina System in 2018 and has been implemented by all 16 universities as of the 2019 – 2020 academic year. Under this policy, students who earned a score of “three” or higher on their AP exams will receive credit from all 16 universities within the System. Some courses have been granted waivers to this policy, but these exceptions are rare and must be approved by an institution’s board of trustees.

By establishing a uniform threshold for credit on AP exams, this policy will give more students access to college-level coursework even before they’ve graduated from high school. Because the state of North Carolina funds these exams, students essentially earn free credits towards a bachelor’s degree for every AP exam score of “three” or higher. With this policy in place, students will be able to acquire credits faster, graduate on time, and enter into the workforce sooner.



  1. How do I receive credit for an AP exam score?
    In order to receive credit for your AP exam score, you must request that the College Board send your official score report to your university. If your score qualifies for credit, your university will notify you.
  2. Does the AP credit acceptance policy apply to all 16 institutions within the system?
    The Advanced Placement credit acceptance policy has been implemented at all 16 universities within the System. No matter which institution you attend in the UNC System, you will receive course credit for a score of “three” or higher on your AP exams.
  3. If I am already a student at a UNC System university, can I still receive course credit for an AP exam score I earned a few years ago, when I was still in high school?
    If you are already an undergraduate student (including but not limited to transfer students, readmitted students, and upperclassman), you are able to reevaluate your previous AP exam scores and submit them for credit. You should consult with your academic advisor to guide you through this process.
  4. Are you allowed to decline the credit earned from the AP Exam score?
    Yes. You may decline to accept the earned credit from an AP exam score, if you wish to do so. We recommend that you consult with your academic advisors to help determine the advantages and disadvantages of receiving credit.
  5. I am an adult learner returning to college after years on the workforce and my AP exam score is very old. Will my university offer me credit?
    Universities should not deny any student appropriate credit for an AP exam score earned within the past ten years. If the AP exam score is older than ten years, your university may request that you submit a more recent score. This policy will weed out results that do not reflect significant revisions in course content or testing design.
  6. Do I have to fulfill any additional requirements in order to receive credit on the basis of my AP exam scores?
    According to the AP credit acceptance policy adopted by the Board of Governors, no UNC System university is allowed to require students to fulfill additional requirements in order to receive credit for an AP exam score of “three” or higher.
  7. If my university previously held an AP credit standard that applied to scores lower than a “three,” will I still receive credit?
    Yes. If your university previously offered students credit for scores lower than “three,” you will still receive credit for those scores. Universities are not required to modify existing AP standards that apply to AP exam scores lower than three.
  8. Are universities required to offer credit for every single AP exam offered by College Board?|
    No. Universities are not required to offer credit for every single AP exam offered by College Board. They are only required to offer credit for the courses that match an AP exam.
  9. Can I apply these credits toward courses in my major, or can they only be used for general education requirements?
    If a course is aligned with a College Board AP exam, you will earn credit for a “three” or higher, regardless of whether that course satisfies an elective, general education, minor, or major requirement in your degree plan.  
  10. Are universities allowed to offer more credit hours for AP exam scores higher than three?
    Yes. A university may award more credit hours toward some courses to those students who earn higher scores on an AP exam. You should check with your university directly for more details.  
  11. What is the purpose of the AP credit acceptance policy?
    The policy establishes System-wide consistency and clarity regarding how credit is awarded on the basis of AP exam scores.


If you have any additional questions, please be sure to read over the policy in our Code and UNC System Policy Manual.




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