Advanced Placement Credits

Students can receive Advanced Placement (AP) credits as Bioengineering majors. These credits may count as prerequisites, be used towards a dual degree, lighten your course load, or enable you to graduate early. The general rule of thumb for AP Credits at Penn is that only the department teaching the area can determine the AP credit policy for that subject. Below are guidelines for obtaining AP credits in areas most common to Bioengineering students.


If you received a 5 on the Math BC exam, you will get credit for MATH 104 and should register for MATH 114.

The mathematics department offers placement tests and credit for all calculus levels. Check the courses and official rules posted on the mathematics department site.

The math department suggests that students with no calculus experience start with MATH 103 instead of Math 104. If you think this may apply to you, please contact the Academic Programs Office immediately via email or phone at 215-898-7246. We recommend that you register for Math 104, but also do some preparatory work over the summer before you matriculate. If you do not start the calculus sequence in the first semester of your freshmen year, you will have trouble meeting prerequisites for later engineering courses.


You do not have to take biology as a BE student until your second year, but if you have AP credits in various subjects including math, chemistry, or physics, you may be able to take biology your first year.

AP Credits in Biology:
If you come to Penn with AP credit in biology (which counts as BIOL 091), you should take either BIOL 121 (including lab) or take the departmental placement exam for BIOL 121. If you pass, then all you need to take is the lab, BIOL 123.

If you do not have AP credits in biology, you should take BIOL 121 (1.5 course units, including lab). Students should note that BIOL 101does not fulfill BE biology requirements. You must take BIOL 121 or pass the BIOL 121 placement exam.

Please note that BIOL 091 does not fulfill BE biology requirements, either, but can count towards technical electives or as a free elective in the BE curriculum. Additional information about biology courses and advanced placement may be found at

Biology Placement Exam:
If you take the placement exam offered by the biology department and obtain AP credit for the lecture part of BIOL 121, you should take only the laboratory, BIOL 123 (0.5 course units), to satisfy the BE first biology course requirement and proceed to the next level biology requirement in the BE curriculum, which is BIOL 202.

If you pass the department's placement exam and receive credit for the lecture part of BIOL 121, you can petition(a petition is required) to take another more advanced natural science course in place of the BIOL 123 lab. These include more advanced biology, chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, or physics courses. Physics 050 and 051 cannot be used to replace the biology lab.

Notes to Premeds:
Consult the Premed Office on courses to take and whether to use BIOL 091 towards premed requirements. Being premed can influence your choice of biology courses.

Notes to International Baccalaureate students:
Special rules apply for students taking the International Baccalaureate Exam, which enables more advanced placement credit. If you are in this or a similar category, check with the Office of Academic Programs via email or phone at 215-898-7246 about obtaining credit.


There are two means by which you can be granted Advanced Placement credit in Chemistry:

1- strong performance on a standardized exam taken before arrival at Penn (AP test, International Baccalaureate exam, etc.) and/or

2- satisfactory performance on the Penn Chemistry Placement Exams. Separate exams are given for Chem101 and Chem102 placement.

Standardized exams taken before arrival at Penn and credit awarded

-AP exam score of 5: credit will be awarded for 1 c.u. of Chem091, generic "introductory chemistry".

-AP exam score of 4 or less: no credit will be awarded.

-International Baccalaureate (IB) score of 6 or 7 - will be considered equivalent to an AP exam score of 5 (i.e. Chem091, see above.) No credit will be awarded for a score of 5 or lower on the IB exam.

-A-Levels grade of A - will be considered equivalent to an AP exam score of 5 (i.e. Chem091, see above.) No credit will be awarded for a grade of B or lower on the A-Level exam.

-Other exams or special programs: (German Abitur, French Baccalaureate, etc.) Credit will be determined on the basis of the Chemistry Department Placement exam.

Please see the Chemistry website for more information:

Note to Premed students:
Please do not deviate from the standard premed curriculum without consulting Penn's premed office.


The physics courses have two designations: PHYS 150 (1.5 CU) and 151 (1.5 CU), which include a laboratory, and PHYS 140 (1 CU) and 141 (1 CU), which consist of the same lecture part as 150 and 151, but have no laboratory. BE requires only PHYS 140 and 141.

AP credits:
Please note that if you are taking the national AP tests, Penn Engineering only recognizes Physics-C AP credits. If you have taken other exams, please check the physics department website and the notes below.

For a 5 on Physics-C, Mechanics and Electromagnetism, the AP credits are for Physics 093 and 094 respectively (1 course unit each). This is equivalent to the lecture part of PHYS 150 and 151 and also fulfills the BE requirement for PHYS 140 and 141.

Occasionally, students may receive AP credit for an unusually strong high school physics lab. The credit for the lab is for Physics 050 and 051 (0.5 course units each). To document this you would have to bring along your lab notebooks, assignments, lab reports, etc. Consult the physics web page for more information.

Note to Premed students:
Before changing any courses in the standard premed curriculum, please consult Penn's premed office. Also, please review Penn's Premed site.

Please see the following pdf for more information on AP Physics credit:

AP Credits in Other Subjects

Bioengineering students get AP credits in English, History, Environmental Science, and many other subjects.  Please see Penn's AP policy for more information. These credits can fulfill science, social sciences and humanities (SSH) and other requirements, or count in the free-electives category.

Please remember: only the departments teaching specific subjects can approve AP credits or give placement tests. If you have any questions about AP credits please contact the Academic Programs Office via email or phone at 215-898-7246 for guidance.