Residency Requirement

As an undergraduate, you are required to complete a minimum of eight semesters of full-time study. Transfer Students are required to complete a minimum of four semesters, and combined degree candidates in the New England Conservatory program (NEC) are required to complete their program within a minimum of ten semesters of full-time study.

What counts as a semester of full-time study:

  1. Attempting at least 12 Semester-hour units (SHUs) at Tufts, the New England Conservatory, or the School of the Museum of Fine Arts during the fall or spring semesters
  2. Attempting at least 12 Semester-hour units (SHUs) at a Tufts or non-Tufts study abroad program
  3. Attempting at least 12 Semester-hour units (SHUs) at an accredited four-year university through a Study Elsewhere Leave in the US or abroad

Most students fulfill their residence requirement in 8 or 10 separate fall or spring semesters. But there is another option that allows students (with the exception of transfer students) to complete their final one to two semesters of the residence requirement with pre-matriculation and/or Tufts summer courses. For one full-time semester of study, students who matriculated prior to Fall 2018 need 5 credit-bearing courses that total 15 SHUs from any of the following; students matriculating in Fall 2018 and later need 5 credit-bearing courses that total 17 SHUs from any of the following:

  • Tufts Summer Session (online or in-person courses)
  • Tufts Summer Abroad Programs in Talloires, Cadiz, or Pavia
  • Test Credits (Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-Level, SAT II)
  • Approved college courses taken prior to matriculation at Tufts or any college or university

Students who matriculated prior to Fall 2018, need 9 of these credit-bearing courses that total 27 Semester-hour units (SHUs) for 2 semesters of study. For students who matriculated in Fall 2018 and later, 9 of these credit-bearing courses that total 32 Semester-hour units (SHUs) may also be used to count for 2 semesters of study.

Fall 2020 Residency Requirement Waiver Policy

Given the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, the AS&E faculty have decided to waive the 8-semester residency requirement for any matriculated undergraduate student who enrolls full-time in Fall 2020. Students who enroll full-time in Fall 2020 at Tufts will instead be required to complete six full-time semesters, after which they can enroll part-time or graduate early if all degree requirements are met. Two of the six full-time semesters can be at other approved institutions or on approved external study abroad programs. This policy does not apply to transfer students, who must complete at least four full-time semesters or students in the Resumed Education for Adult Learners (REAL) Program, who are exempt from the residency requirement.

Full-time enrollment in Fall 2020 means that a student attempted at least 12 Semester-hour units (SHUs) at Tufts University (either in-person or remotely). Full-time enrollment at any institution outside of Tufts will not be included in this one-time waiver. Students that were granted a Reduced Course-Load Accommodation by the StAAR Center are considered “full-time” for the residency requirement. Students who must take a medical leave of absence in Fall 2020 will be granted a semester of residency if the official leave date is after the tuition reimbursement period. We strongly encourage all students to purchase the optional tuition insurance, which will provide reimbursement for tuition if a student is granted a medical leave of absence and is unable to complete their coursework.

Students may not combine the Fall 2020 exceptional residency requirement waiver with pre-matriculation or Tufts summer credits to graduate in fewer than six full-time semesters.

Residency Requirement FAQs

What counts as a pre-matriculation credit?
  • Credit-bearing course equivalencies that appear on your transcript for academic credit earned before you matriculated into college. “Credit-bearing” means that you earned more than 0 SHUs.
  • Transfer credit from another college for courses you took prior to matriculation at any four-year accredited college or university. The credit must appear on your Tufts transcript.
  • Credit-bearing course equivalencies assigned by Tufts for approved pre-matriculation advanced placement scores, including IB and certain standardized tests. “Credit-bearing” means that you earned more than 0 SHUs. The credit must appear on your Tufts transcript.

The following will not be considered a “pre-matriculation credit” for your degree or for early completion of the academic residence requirement:

  • Placement test results assigned 0 credits. (Language placement tests and some AP tests are used for placement purposes only, not for college credit.)
  • Duplicating a prior pre-matriculation credit by taking the equivalent course. If a pre-matriculation credit appears on your transcript for a specific course equivalent (say, 3 SHUs for Math 32 based on your AP score), and if you later take that same course while enrolled at Tufts, the Tufts course, credit, and grade will replace the pre-matriculation credit. This means the pre-matriculation credit will be removed from your transcript, and it will not “count” for completion of the academic residence requirement.
  • Duplicate advanced placement scores. (For example, if you earned a score of 4 or 5 on the AP tests for both English Literature and English Composition, that would result in credit for only one course equivalence, not for two.)
  • Unused standardized test scores (e.g., because there is no Tufts equivalency or you have more than the maximum allowed for pre-matriculation credit). Unused results AP, IB, and the like will not appear on your Tufts transcript.
  • Pre-college programs for high school students. These are rarely allowed as pre-matriculation transfer credit.
What counts as a Tufts summer course?
  • Tufts courses taken for credit toward the degree during the Tufts Summer Session, whether taken on campus in Medford or online. Grades of W, F, and I do not count.
  • Academic credits earned toward the degree during Tufts in Talloires or the Summer Abroad programs in Cadiz, Spain or Pavia, Italy. Grades of W, F, and I do not count.

The following will not be considered as Tufts Summer Session credit:

  • Participating in a non-credit bearing activity on campus over the summer, such as Summer Scholars, non-credit-bearing internships, or other summer-time opportunities not reflected on your transcript as Summer Session academic credit toward your degree.
  • Transfer credit for courses taken over the summer at other colleges or universities, whether domestic or abroad.
If I drop, withdraw from, or fail a course and complete fewer than 12 SHUs, does that semester count toward the residence requirement?

Yes. The residence requirement is based on attempted SHUs. Please note that the residence requirement portion of your Undergraduate Degree Audit will not count any semester where you completed fewer than 12 SHUs. However, Student Services and your Advising Dean are aware that those semesters count and will count your semesters based on your transcript, not your audit.

I was a student whose Spring 2020 study abroad program was canceled. Will that semester count toward the residence requirement?

Yes. Given the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, any student whose Tufts or external study abroad program was canceled will be able to count that semester toward the residence requirement.

If I have the required number of pre-matriculation and/or Tufts summer courses and SHUs, can I use them to substitute a semester earlier than my final semester of residence?

No. Pre-matriculation and/or Tufts summer courses can only be used to substitute the final one or two semesters of residence. Students who do that can either graduate one to two semesters early or be part-time during their final year.

What steps do I need to take to graduate early or enroll part-time if I have completed the residence requirement?

Students who have completed the residence requirement will need to complete the Early Completion of Academic Residence Requirement form found here during their final full-time semester. If students have questions about whether they have satisfied the residence requirement, they should consult their Advising Dean.