Exploration Credits

Do you want to take a course in an area outside of your comfort zone without risking your GPA? Exploration credits provide students with the opportunity to apply for a credit/no credit notation in eligible open elective courses. Undergraduate students (excluding students in Open Studies or on academic probation) in a 4-year degree program or a 5-year combined degree program are eligible for a maximum of 12 units of exploration credits.


When applying for exploration credits, it is your responsibility to ensure that the following conditions are met:

  • The program is eligible for exploration credits
  • The course is eligible for exploration credits (see excluded courses here)
  • The course is an open elective for their program 
  • The current exploration credits application will not put you above the 12-unit maximum

Failure to confirm the above conditions may result in your exploration credits application being denied at the time of grade conversion, or course requirements being deemed incomplete when being reviewed for convocation.

Eligible students

Most undergraduate students in 4-year or 5-year combined degree programs may apply for exploration credits.

The following points should be considered:

  • You may take a maximum of 12 units in exploration credits over the course of your academic career at the University of Alberta. This number does not reset or change if you transfer to a different degree program.
  • For the purpose of eligibility for exploration credits, an open elective is defined as a course that a student must take to complete program requirements where the course designator or a specific subject area is not specified (e.g., free electives, open electives, courses from a specific faculty, courses at a 100-level, etc.). 
  • Exploration credits cannot be applied to program requirements where a course designator is specifically listed. 
  • Exploration credits cannot be taken for graduate courses.

Ineligible students

The following categories of students are not eligible for exploration credits:

  • Graduate students
  • Students on academic probation
  • Open Studies students (including Fresh Start, Exceptional Student Athletes and students registered in the Transition Year Program)

There may also be additional restrictions on which programs or courses are eligible for exploration credits. For questions about program requirements and course eligibility, you should contact your Faculty Advisor.


After-degree students

Contact your faculty about whether program requirements in your After Degree are eligible for exploration credits.

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This is an example timeline for the Winter 2024 term. Timelines will vary by term and class. Students should refer to the 2023/2024 University Calendar for more information.

Spring applications open

Applications open for all students: April 8

See the Exploration Credits Application Guide for more information on applying.

Approvals begin

Exact dates will vary by faculty.

Some spring applications close

Students should refer to class withdrawal dates for more information.

Classes taught in the first 3 weeks: May 17

Spring approvals continue

Exact dates will vary by faculty.

Summer applications open
Summer applications open for all students: June 3
Some spring applications close

Classes taught over 6 weeks: June 5

Classes taught in the last 3 weeks: June 6

Approvals continue
Exact dates will vary by faculty.
Spring credits appear on transcript

The credits from your exploration course will appear on your transcript after final grades for your class are approved.

Some summer applications close

Students should refer to class withdrawal dates for more information.

Classes taught in the first 3 weeks: July 22

Some summer applications close

Classes taught over 6 weeks: August 7

Classes taught in the last 3 weeks: August 8

Late August/early September
Summer credit appears on transcript
The credits from your exploration course will appear on your transcript after final grades for your class are approved. 

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The exploration credit initiative provides undergraduate students with opportunities to explore interdisciplinarity outside of their main programs of study without the risk of compromising their GPA. Instead of a grade, you will receive a credit (CR) or no credit (NC) notation on your transcript.

CR/NC Notations

A notation of CR indicates that a student has successfully completed the class and has received academic credit toward their program. A notation of NC indicates that a student has not successfully completed the class, and has therefore not received academic credit toward their program. 

Unlike letter grades that have grade points and can positively or negatively impact GPA calculations (e.g. A = 4.0, B = 3.0, etc.), notations of CR and NC do not have grade points, so they do not have any positive or negative impacts when included in any GPA calculations.

Instructors will not be informed who is taking the course as an exploration credit, regardless of when a student submits their application. However, after the course is complete, it is possible for an instructor to learn who received exploration credits as departments will have access to posted grades.

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Implications to Consider

Consider the impacts of switching letter grades to CR/NC

Switching letter grades to CR/NC notations may have potentially negative impacts on:

  • Transferring to other programs or institutions that do not accept CR/NC notation
  • Admission to professional programs or graduate school
  • Scholarship, financial aid, or funding eligibility

As the above are unique to each student and cannot be foreseen by the University of Alberta, it is the your responsibility to consider all factors when making the decision to switch from letter grade to CR/NC notation.

Meeting course eligibility and requirements

You must be able to register for a class in order to apply for it as an exploration credit. This means that you must meet any prerequisites, corequisites, language requirements or restrictions placed on the class. Should a restriction indicate that consent of the department or instructor is needed, students interested in taking the course as an exploration credit must also receive the department/instructor’s consent to register for the course.

Class participation

If you take a course as an exploration credit, you are expected to meet all course objectives, as is the case for those taking the course for a letter grade. This includes all term work (e.g., classes, labs, assignments, quizzes, term papers, reports, or term examinations) and final exams.

Academic probation and academic warning

If you are on academic warning, you are eligible for exploration credits, but we encourage you to focus on clearing academic warning. If you are on Academic Probation, you are not eligible to apply for or take courses as exploration credits.

If you have questions related to your academic standing, please contact your Faculty advisors.

Transcripts and exploration credits

Once grades have been converted, only the CR/NC notation will appear on a student’s transcript. An elective course that has been changed to CR/NC notation on the student’s transcript cannot be changed back to a letter grade in the future.

The University of Alberta will be unable to produce any documents with a letter grade on it once it has been converted to the CR/NC notation.

Repeating courses for exploration credits

Students who have passed a course (whether graded or with a notation of CR) may not retake it again. Students who have failed a course once (whether graded or with a notation of NC) may either take the course again for a letter grade or apply for CR/NC notation for their second attempt. Exceptions to the above and additional information can be found in the University Calendar under University Regulations on Reregistration in Courses.

Withdrawing from classes

Before the registration (add/delete) deadline, you can delete or swap classes in Bear Tracks. After the registration (add/delete) deadline, you cannot drop or swap classes; you can only withdraw from classes until the withdrawal deadline. Augustana students can view their important registration dates and deadlines here. Withdrawals can be requested in Bear Tracks by using the “Drop Classes” tab on the left navigation menu. Our Withdrawals website contains step-by-step instructions on the process, as well as information on the financial implications of withdrawing from a class.

When a withdrawal is approved and processed, a grade of “W” will be assigned to that class.

Should you apply for exploration credit, and your application is approved, and then subsequently withdraw before the final withdrawal deadline for the class, the withdrawal request will override the exploration credit request.

Tuition and Fees

If you take the course with exploration credits, there will be no change to the tuition assessed to you, whether you are a domestic or international student. You will receive the same level of instruction and support, have the same responsibilities, and earn the same number of credits toward your program as students earning letter grades, so long as you successfully complete the course. 

Please ensure that the course(s) you wish to take as exploration credits fits into your degree program by contacting your Faculty Advisor.

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