What “Auditing a Course” Actually Means

Auditing a course means that you sit in the lectures, but none of your work will be graded, and you won’t get any credit.

And guess what? A wide range of people audit classes.

For example:

  • Students want to learn without the pressures of class participation, tests, or grades.
  • Seniors or retirees who aspire to learn new things.
  • Professionals and alumni want to re-experience a part of their past.
  • Researchers audit a course for observation or research purposes.

Auditors seek academic exploration and self-enrichment!

If you want to become an auditor, this article covers everything you need to know.

Auditing a course: what to expect

Here’s what you can expect as an auditor:

  • Grades & records: While some schools record your auditing a course with an “AU” instead of a grade, others don’t record it at all.
  • Materials: auditors usually have access to all course materials.
  • Permission: In most cases, you only need to ask permission from the professor in charge of the course.
  • Requirements: Most schools require auditors to fill out a form and to follow some rules. Contact the school administration for more information!
  • Fees: Some schools charge a fee, while others allow you to audit for free. 

Auditing a course: pros

Here are the reasons why you should audit a course:

  • Familiarization: It’s a great idea to become an auditor if you want to know what happens in a course before enrolling as a regular student.
  • Review: Auditors often want to test their knowledge. This may be to prepare for a test, fill in gaps, or confirm what they know – and what they don’t – about a subject.
  • Immersion: If you want to feel how you would do in a course before you register. You may also learn how students in a particular course prepare for a class, study after class, or respond to learning challenges. Immersion also includes noting how you will need to dress, behave, or schedule your resources for a course.

Auditing a course: cons

There are just as many reasons why auditing a course may not be an option for you.

For instance:

  • No space: Waitlisted courses and courses with limited seating may not allow audit students.
  • No grade or credits: If your purpose is to earn grades or credits for auditing a course, then you should enroll and complete the course as usual. However, as an audit student, you are officially signed up for the course and get a transcript marked “AU” for your attendance.
  • No time for course completion: While you are not required to participate in a class or submit course requirements, you need to take time out of your schedule to attend the classes. If you have other commitments, this may not be a viable option for you.

The bottom line

  • When you want to know more about a class, you can sit in with permission, also known as “auditing a course.” 
  • While each school or department – or even professor – has different rules and requirements for auditing a course. 
  • For instance, you don’t receive grades or credits, and you’re not expected to participate or complete requirements for the course.
  • For more specific information, contact the school, department head, or professor.

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