Skip to main content
Michigan State University - Office of the Registrar
Michigan State University Office of the Registrar

Integrative Studies, Transfer Credit, and Degree Navigator Frequently Asked Questions

Divider Line

Integrative Studies, Transfer Credit, and Degree Navigator Frequently Asked Questions


Integrative Studies, Degree Navigator, and Transfer Credit


What is "Integrative Studies?"

Integrative Studies at Michigan State University is a set of undergraduate requirements that is similar but not identical to general education requirements at other institutions. Michigan State's general education requirements include Mathematics, Writing, and Integrative Studies. Mathematics, Writing, and Integrative Studies are three distinct parts of the University's general education requirements, and Math and Writing are not considered part of Integrative Studies.
From Academic Programs:
Integrative Studies is Michigan State University's unique approach to liberal general education, offering a core curriculum that complements specialized work by students in their majors.

Integrative Studies courses integrate multiple ways of knowing and modes of inquiry and introduce students to important ways of thinking in the three core knowledge areas: the Arts and Humanities, the Biological and Physical Sciences, and the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. They assist students early during their study to develop as more critical thinkers. They also encourage appreciation of our humanity and creativity, human cultural diversity, the power of knowledge, and our responsibilities for ourselves and for our world.


What requirements constitute Integrative Studies?

Integrative Studies is comprised of 24 total credits, broken down as follows:
  • 8 credits in Arts and Humanities - 1st and 2nd IAH
  • 8 credits in Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences - ISS200, ISS300
  • 3 credits in Biological Sciences - ISB
  • 3 credits in Physical Sciences - ISP
  • 2 credits of Lab in either Biological or Physical Sciences - ISB/ISP Lab
The University Mathematics and University Tier I Writing are University requirements but are not considered part of the Integrative Studies requirements.

Are transfer students required to fulfill the Integrative Studies requirements?

Yes. Transfer students, like first-time MSU students, are required to meet the Integrative Studies requirements. Transfer students may have courses completed at other institutions prior to matriculation at MSU applied toward the Integrative Studies requirements.


What transfer courses can be applied toward Integrative Studies?

University policy makes a distinction between the ways in which new transfer students may meet Integrative Studies requirements versus first-time MSU students. The January 27, 2006 Memo from Dr. Youatt and Dr. Stanford reiterates this. Transfer students attending MSU for the first time have a broader pool of courses that can be applied towards the Integrative Studies requirements. Those courses are detailed in the "MSU Courses Accepted in Transfer - Only New Transfer Students" section of the University Requirement Equivalencies page.

Students attending MSU are not able to meet Integrative Studies requirements with transfer credits earned after matriculation, except in "exact match" transfer situations. See the "MSU Courses Accepted in Transfer - All Students" section of the University Requirement Equivalencies page.


What is an "exact match" transfer situation?

An "exact match" is a course taken at another institution that transfers to MSU with a subject code of IAH, ISS, ISB, or ISP and corresponding course number. There are a very small number of courses offered at other institutions that transfer as "exact matches." TransferMSU can be used to search for exact match courses. Both first-time transfer students and matriculated MSU students are able to apply these courses toward their Integrative Studies requirements. Those courses are detailed in the "MSU Courses Accepted in Transfer - All Students" section of the University Requirement Equivalencies page.



What if a student takes an "exact match" course after matriculating at MSU?

If a student takes a course at another institution post-matriculation, and the course transfers to MSU as an "exact match" to an Integrative Studies course ("All Students" section of the University Requirement Equivalencies page), that course is eligible to fulfill that Integrative Studies requirement.


How can I tell if the course was taken before or after matriculation?

In Degree Navigator, transfer courses taken after matriculation at MSU will be indicated with a special code of "TRANPOST" in the course details.


Where can I find more information on Degree Navigator?

Please visit the Degree Navigator Frequently Asked Questions..


I have a first-time transfer student who took a 4 credit course at another institution. It's transferring into MSU as a 3 credit course with 1 credit of GCU in the same subject, and the course is listed as eligible for the 2nd IAH requirement. Why is the 2nd IAH requirement showing that 1 credit is still required?

1st IAH and 2nd IAH are both 4 credit requirements. If a 4 credit course is transferred into MSU as a 3 credit course and 1 general credit in the same subject, and the GCU credits are not listed as eligible for the Integrative Studies requirement, that requirement will show as still needing 1 credit to be complete. This situation gave rise to the exception, valid through Summer 2009, of considering a student finished with Integrative Studies if they have 23 credits instead of 24.


Why isn't the GCU credit eligible for the Integrative Studies requirement?

The Center for Integrative Studies in Arts and Humanities, the Center for Integrative Studies in Social Science, and the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science each has the authority to decide what courses and subjects are eligible to fulfill their particular requirements. In some cases, the Centers have decided that certain subjects' general credit is eligible. In other cases, the general credit is not accepted by default. In these cases, a substitution must be processed in Degree Navigator after consulting with, and receiving approval from, the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education office and the particular Integrative Studies Center to ascertain the eligibility of the GCU.


Where is the list of courses that are eligible for Integrative Studies for a first-time transfer student?

The list of eligible courses and general credit is maintained within the Electronic Student Academic Folder (ESAF). The University Requirement Equivalencies is on the ESAF main menu. Courses are grouped by requirement and category ("All Students," "Alternative Track," and "Only New Transfer Students") and are updated as necessary by the Office of the Registrar.


What if the student earns credit for Math at another institution after matriculating at MSU?

Only Integrative Studies requirements are affected by the pre-matriculation / post-matriculation indicator. Students are free to transfer credit for Math, Writing, and college or major requirements post-matriculation, pending approval from the College or Department. Students cannot transfer credit from 2-year institutions after reaching junior standing at 56 credits.


How many credits can a student transfer into MSU?

For first-time transfer students, the maximum number of credits transferable to MSU from a 2-year institution is 60 semester credits. However, all coursework is evaluated and included on the student's academic record, but only 60 credits are applied toward the student's total credit requirement (usually 120 credits for undergraduates). A transfer student must complete 30 semester credits at Michigan State in order to graduate with an undergraduate degree. A transfer student must complete 50 semester credits at Michigan State in order to be eligible for graduation honors.


Once matriculated MSU students reach junior standing (56 credits), they are no longer allowed to transfer credit from a 2-year institution. However, they can still take courses at 2-year institutions to fulfill requirements or prerequisites; the course may transfer, but the credits will not be applied to the student's total credits. This was reiterated in the January 27, 2006 memo from Dr. Youatt and Dr. Stanford:

Students may not transfer credits from a two-year institution to MSU after the student has reached junior standing, at 56 credits. Students may, however, meet a University requirement or course prerequisite without the transfer of credit.

See: Transfer Student Admission in Academic Programs.


If a student reaches 56 credits and then takes an LCC Math course, can that course fulfill the University Math requirement?

Yes. Based on the January 27, 2006 memo from Dr. Youatt and Dr. Stanford, students may transfer courses to fulfill requirements or meet course prerequisites without transferring the credits. The course would transfer and be entered on the student's record, but the student's total credits would not be increased. For example:
  • If the student had 75 credits, then took a 5 credit Math course at LCC and transferred it back to MSU, that course could fulfill the Math requirement, but the student's total credits would remain at 75 credits.



If a student reaches 56 credits and then takes an LCC course to fulfill an Integrative Studies requirement, can that course be transferred back and be used to fulfill the requirement?

Unless the course transfers to MSU as an "exact match" with an Integrative Studies course as detailed in the University Requirement Equivalencies page, the answer is no. If the course is an exact match, the course can be transferred to MSU without the credit, fulfilling the requirement but not advancing the total credits of the student. If the course is not an exact match, the course may transfer to MSU, but it cannot be applied toward the Integrative Studies requirements.


Does an exact match course transferred after 56 credits count toward the 24 credits of Integrative Studies requirement?

Yes. Even though the credits of the individual course have not been added to the student's overall total credits, the credits of the course are counted toward the 24 required credits in Integrative Studies.


How do I know which courses have been transferred "with credit (impacting the overall total credit requirement)" or "without credit (not impacting the overall total credit requirement)?"

There is no way to distinguish, in Degree Navigator, courses transferred with credit versus those transferred without credit. Because of this, even courses transferred without credit (without increasing the student's overall total credits) can be used toward "Credit" requirements in Degree Navigator. For example:
  • A first-time transfer student brings 90 credits of courses to MSU from a 2-year institution. All of the courses are evaluated, but only 60 of the credits are counted toward the total credit requirement, per the Transfer Student Admission in Academic Programs. There is no way to distinguish which courses of the 90 credits evaluated actually "bear credit," so all of them are assumed to count toward requirement fulfillment. This way, courses can be applied to "30 credits in the Major" type requirements, as well as "One course from the following list" type requirements in Degree Navigator.

The student's total credit count is fed directly from SIS and is not figured by Degree Navigator.


What if a student takes a 4 credit course elsewhere, but the course equivalent at MSU is only 3 credits?

Effective November 2006, Degree Navigator is now handling these situations correctly. When a course equivalent carries a lower credit value than the course taken, the student receives the "leftover" credits as general credit within the same subject. For more information on the transfer credit handling enhancement implemented in November, 2006, please review the Degree Navigator Transfer Credit Adjustment Instructions.


What if a student takes a 3 credit course elsewhere, but the course equivalent at MSU is 4 credits?

Effective November 2006, Degree Navigator is now handling these situations correctly. When a course equivalent carries a higher credit value than the course taken, the actual credits earned in the course are displayed in Degree Navigator, and not the catalog value of the equivalent MSU course. For more information on the transfer credit handling enhancement implemented in November, 2006, please review the Degree Navigator Transfer Credit Adjustment Instructions.


What if the student is one credit short of the required 24 credits in Integrative Studies?

Students who transfer a course that is eligible for an Integrative Studies requirement but where the credit value is one credit short of the requirement are eligible for a waiver of the 24 Credits in Integrative Studies requirement. This is a blanket exception for all students. The exception is for 1 credit only, reducing the requirement from 24 to 23 credits, for any requirement except Lab. If a student earns 23 credits in Integrative Studies, but is short one lab credit, the student must take another Lab experience to make up the difference and is not eligible for the blanket exception.
Students who fall below 23 credits will be required to take additional Integrative Studies coursework in order to meet the requirement.


Can general credit (GCU) from another subject, like WRA, be used to complete the 24 credits in Integrative Studies?

No. If a student falls below 23 credits in Integrative Studies, the student must take additional Integrative Studies coursework to fulfill the 24 Credits in Integrative Studies requirement. Math and Tier I Writing are University requirements, but are not part of Integrative Studies, and those courses cannot be applied to meet Integrative Studies requirements. Transfer students attending MSU for the first time have a broader pool of courses that can be applied toward Integrative Studies. Those courses are detailed in the "MSU Courses Accepted in Transfer - Only New Transfer Students" section of the University Requirement Equivalencies page.


A student transferred two 3-credit courses that were applied to 4-credit Integrative Studies requirements. What does the student need to do to fulfill these requirements?

Because the student transferred two instances of courses that are 1 credit shy of the individual Integrative Studies requirement, that student has fallen below the 23-24 credits in Integrative Studies threshold. The student must take additional Integrative Studies coursework to fulfill the 24 Credits in Integrative Studies requirement.


A student transferred two 3-credit courses--one ISS equivalent and one IAH equivalent--and 6 credits of IAH GCU. All three were applied to Integrative Studies requirements. Has the student met the overall 24 Credits in Integrative Studies requirement?

Each IAH and ISS requirement are 4 credits each. The student will meet one IAH requirement with a 3-credit course, creating a 1 credit deficit toward the 24 credit requirement. The student will meet the other IAH requirement using 4 credits of the IAH GCU, leaving two available GCU credits. The student will also meet one ISS requirement with a 3-credit course, creating an overall 2 credit deficit toward the 24 credit requirement.
Assuming the student meets all other Integrative Studies requirements with the specified number of credits per requirement, this student will be considered finished with Integrated Studies. The 2 credits of IAH GCU will be applied toward the 24 credit requirement, making up for the two instances of being 1 credit shy.






© 2014 Office of the Registrar, Michigan State University Board of Trustees. East Lansing, MI 48824
MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer.