What is a Non-Degree Seeking Student?

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A non-degree seeking student is a student who takes courses at a college without receiving credit for those courses. These students audit classes in order to learn more about a topic or prepare for future classes. Professors will grade non-degree students in the same way they do degree students, however they only provide a pass or fail determination rather than a grade. Non-degree students generally have fewer class options open to them than degree students have available.

What is a Non-Degree Student?

Non-degree students are those who take courses on a college campus or online with the understanding that they will not receive credits on that campus for the work they do. Students may, however, take classes for credit at another school. For example, a student may need to take a course that one school only offers every few years for graduation. If the student cannot take his or her class on campus, the student may have the option of taking that class on an associated campus for full credit.

Can They Get Course Credit?

If you opt to take classes on a non-degree basis, you generally will not receive any credit for those courses. The only exception is for students who take courses for credit on another campus. Some schools will also allow students to pay for the cost of non-degree classes they took later and receive credit. MIT, Harvard and colleges across the country now offer online extension classes too. Students can take classes online for free in topics ranging from history and political science to economics and engineering without paying for those courses, but they will not get any credit either.

What Classes Do They Take?

When students attend college in the hopes of finishing a degree, they must take a specific number of classes. Most bachelor programs require the completion of 120 credit hours or more of work or the equivalent number of semester hours of work. They often take between 30 and 60 credit hours of general education coursework on life sciences, behavioral sciences, English, mathematics and life sciences. The remaining courses come from classes in their majors. Non-degree students can take any classes they like. These students might take some introductory level classes in psychology and history before taking more advanced and higher level courses.

Why Types of Financial Aid are Available?

As a non-degree seeking student, you will find that financial aid is generally not available. The federal government offers loans and grants to those who show need and complete the Free Application for Student Financial Aid, but those grants and loans are only available to those enrolled in an accredited college or university and taking classes towards a degree. Non-degree students may qualify for private loans though, which often have a higher interest rate than government loans. According to Forbes writer Troy Onink, students may also look at taking out loans against any homes or vehicles they own or borrowing money from family and friends.

Though most students attend college because they want to earn a degree, others go to college simply because they want to experience college life and learn more about their favorite topics. As a non-degree seeking student, you can take nearly any class you want, but you won't have access to the same financial help as degree students.

Related Resource: What's the Difference Between Matriculated and Non-Matriculated Status?