Transfer Credit Validation

Statement from Physics Undergraduate Program
July 15, 2020

FYI: All Physics Transfer Credit Validation exams will be given virtually this August. All exams will be made available for a three-hour time block from the time that you begin the exam during the hours of 8AM and 8PM EDT. More specific details regarding directions for the test will be announced soon. We encourage you to submit a completed petition and email it to if you would like to take an exam.

Validation Exam Grading Policy for Fall 2020
July 31, 2020

Any student (in any year) taking a validation exam receives a “pass” or “fail.” A “pass” shows up on the transcript as an “S.” A failing grade will not appear on the transcript, but the student is thenrequired to take the MIT subject they were trying to receive transfer credit for.

The next offering of the Transfer Credit Validation Exams is scheduled as follows:

8.01 Validation Exam: Date: August 12th
Time: A three hour block between 8am and 8pm EDT
Deadline to Register: 5PM EDT, Friday, August 7, 2020
8.02 Validation Exam: Date: August 13th
Time: A three hour block between 8am and 8pm EDT
Deadline to Register: 5PM EDT, Friday, August 7, 2020
(Last updated on August 4, 2020 3:22 PM )

NOTE: The dates above a subject to change. Please check this page often for updates.

The two semesters of physics at MIT that are required of all students as part of the General Institute Requirements (GIRs) are unique in that they constitute a rigorous, in-depth study of Classical Mechanics and Classical Electromagnetism. We have found that few other colleges and universities offer subjects that are truly equivalent in depth and sophistication to 8.01 and 8.02 (or their alternate versions). Students who have not received Advanced Placement, Advanced Standing, or college transfer credit for 8.01 and/or 8.02 are expected to take these subjects at MIT.

A student who has not satisfied the GIRs in Physics at MIT may wish to take a course at another college or university (e.g., during a summer session) and apply for transfer credit; students transferring to MIT may have already taken such a course. In order to qualify for MIT credit, the course must:

  • be calculus-based and directed toward science or engineering majors;
  • use a text at a level comparable to that of texts used at MIT (see below);
  • be the equivalent of one MIT term in the number of lecture hours, number of assignments, etc.; have content matching that of 8.01 (Mechanics) or 8.02 (Electricity and Magnetism).

The principal topics usually included in such a course are listed below. Additional information can be found on the individual course web sites found here.

Obtaining transfer credit

Any student who wishes to request MIT credit for a course taken elsewhere should consult with the Transfer Credit Examiner for the Physics Department to determine whether the course meets MIT Physics’ standards. In order to evaluate a given course, the Physics Transfer Credit Examiner will need:

  • the catalog description;
  • a detailed syllabus including the title and author of the textbook and the chapters covered;
  • a transcript from the institution where the course was taken (a grade of B or better is required to receive transfer credit).

After completing the course, the student must then "validate" his or her transfer credit by passing an MIT 8.01 or 8.02 Validation Exam. Continuing students who wish to take the 8.01 or 8.02 Validation Exam must submit a petitionpdf icon to Academic Programs, 4-315. Exams are given during Orientation week prior to the Fall term and in the last week of IAP prior to the Spring term.

A student who passes the Validation Exam should then formally request transfer credit by submitting a Request for Additional Credit to the Physics Transfer Credit Examiner; his or her transcript will note a grade of “S” for transfer credit. A student who fails the Validation Exam will have no grade noted on the transcript, but may not repeat the exam and should enroll in the appropriate subject at MIT.

Validation Exams for 8.01 and 8.02

The Physics Validation Exams are three-hour, closed book exams covering Classical Mechanics (8.01) or Classical Electromagnetism (8.02) at a level of calculus-based introductory physics texts for science and engineering students such as: University Physics by Young and Freedman; Physics by Halliday, Resnick and Krane; Physics for Scientists and Engineers by Serway; Physics for Scientist and Engineers by Fishbane, Gasiorowicz, and Thornton.  The exams will be similar to the final exams given in 8.01 and 8.02, with problems based on a selection of the topics listed below. Neither calculators nor formula sheets may be used during Validation Exams.

8.01 Topics

8.02 Topics

Newton's Laws of Motion Electric Charge and Coulomb’s Law
Linear Motion: Kinematics and Dynamics Electric Field for Discrete and Continuous Charge Distributions
Circular Motion: Kinematics and Dynamics Gauss's Law
Work, Kinetic Energy, Potential Energy Electric Potential and Potential Energy
Conservation of Energy Equipotential Surfaces
Momentum and Impulse Capacitance and Capacitors
Conservation of Momentum Energy Stored in Electric Fields
Systems of Particles: Center of Mass, Velocity of Center of Mass, Newton’s Laws Current and Current Density
One and Two Dimensional Collisions Resistance and Ohm’s Law
Fixed Axis Rotation of Rigid Bodies: Kinematics and Dynamics Electromotive Force; DC Circuits
Torque and Angular Momentum Magnetic Fields
Static Equilibrium of Rigid Bodies Magnetic Forces on Moving Charges and Currents in External Magnetic fields
Universal Gravitation Amperes Law; Biot-Savart Law
The Simple Harmonic Oscillator Faraday's Law of Induction
Translation and Rotation of Rigid Bodies Self-Inductance and Inductors
Non-inertial Reference frames: linearly accelerating Energy Stored in Magnetic Fields
  RC Circuits, LR Circuits, and LC Circuits
  Displacement Current
  Maxwell's Equations
  Electromagnetic Plane Sinusoidal Waves
  Poynting Vector and Electromagnetic Energy