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In the USA, is it regarded as OK to register as a listener for a course to be able to access the course materials but with no intent to attend the lectures?

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First, the usual term in the US is not "listener" but "auditor"; you are said to be "auditing" the course.

People generally don't care too much what you do or don't do when you register as an auditor, so most likely this would be fine. But I think that, as a matter of courtesy, whenever you are considering signing up to audit a course, it is good to contact the instructor, let them know what level of involvement you have in mind, and check that this is okay with them. In some cases there may be certain things that they ask you to do or not do.

In this case, when you ask, the instructor might just offer to share the course materials with you directly, without you having to sign up to audit the class at all.

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    Rules on auditing do vary. At my institution, I have to assign a grade of "SA" (satisfactory audit) or "UA" (unsatisfactory audit) at the end of the semester. I generally require students to attend class (and could require them to do homework, take exams etc.) in order to get a grade of SA. Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 20:40
  • It's also worth pointing out that universities in the US typically require auditors to pay tuition just as if they were taking the course for a regular grade. Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 20:41
  • @BrianBorchers: True. In a lot of cases, especially at the graduate level, you pay the same amount of tuition for any number of courses within a certain range (and in some cases that amount is $0), so auditing a course may not actually increase your tuition bill. Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 22:21

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