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I am in the process of applying to several computer science PhD programs in North America, and I was wondering if any of the courses that I have already finished in my Master's (in a US university) could be applicable for credit transfer?

If I apply to the PhD program in my current university I will have less courses to finish for my PhD program, because I have already finished several of the required courses. Will I be exempted from taking some courses if I get accepted in a different university of similar or lower ranking?

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The policies will differ depending on both university and department guidelines, but I would find it surprising that a university wouldn't take the credits (unless you hadn't finished the masters, then they may look at your classes individually).

Some of the policies that I've seen are as follows (and no doubt there are others or variations of these):

  • specially defined program structure for PhD students with a master
  • credit for a fixed number of hours (36 I would imagine to be the norm) toward the PhD program, regardless the number of hours in the masters.
  • credit for all post-baccalaureate work, but with a small number of courses required by the department.

The last one is what I experienced and the program simply required X number of graduate hours and didn't care the source, so long as all other requirements — 4 specific classes, exams, dissertation — were met.

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Some of them may transfer, it depends on the department. For example, my department transfers a blanket N credits for PhD students who come with a masters degree. That is, instead of evaluating each individual class on the masters transcript, they just apply N credits of transfer credit towards the PhD credit requirement. (I don't remember the value of N offhand.)

You will have to check the individual policy of each department you apply to.

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