Auditing a Class: What It Is and How It Works?


Most students audit a class to determine which major the better fit academically. Auditing a class is a greater choice for some students, especially those who feel less time to enroll for all courses of their interest. It helps students decide on a major that they can explore without worrying about their grade point average.

Auditing college classes brings to mind nontraditional learners who have always thought of taking college courses during their retirement (Henderson & Cook, 2020).

This is as common as students who enroll in colleges to audit a class. Auditing a class is usually a “risk-free education” as it allows students to learn without fear of low grades. Auditing a class means enrolling in a curse for no credit.

However, when students audit a class, they required to pay for the course. While auditing a class, students can access all course materials but may not be required to complete course assignments or exams (Henderson & Cook, 2020). Students auditing a class are only encouraged to participate in the class, although it’s not a requirement.

They do not receive grade transcripts at the end of the term because the exam is not mandatory. This paper provides defines auditing as a class and provides insights into how auditing a class works. 

Meaning of auditing a class

Auditing a class is a practice that allows students to sit in on a college class without earning credits. Instead of learning to complete a degree program, students audit classes to learn different subjects.

Although auditing a course can teach students a lot about special areas of interest, students may be required to complete a specific registration process depending on college policies (Henderson & Cook, 2020).

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In most cases, students auditing a course are expected to follow the class rules depending on their participation level. Auditing a class involves enrolling in a different course of interest to explore the different academic majors. 

How auditing a class works

While students may audit a class for several reasons, eligibility to audit a class depends on an institution’s policy. Some of the reasons students may want to audit a class include the need or to decide on a major that is best for them (Chiang et al., 2021). In most cases, students need to be fully enrolled in the institution to be eligible to audit a class.

However, students should fulfill the requirements of the course for them to audit a class. Some of the requirements may include completing course assignments, although this may depend on the instructors (Chiang et al., 2021).

Some instructors may require the students to fulfill this requirement, while others may not. In other cases, the instructors may expect students to have minimal participation to avoid distracting those fully enrolled in the class. 

Most colleges and universities require students to be approved before auditing a class. The instructors usually do approval. Therefore, students must first reach out to the instructors for them to audit a class.

Doing so allows that instructor to understand the students’ motives for auditing a class rather than enrolling in the class. The policies of auditing a class depend on the institution.

For example, the University of Washington does not list the audited classes on the permanent records of the students (Chiang et. al., 2021). However, its policies require students to fully enroll in the courses for them to get full credits on their academics.

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On the other hand, the Chapman University in California includes an “AU” notation on students’ transcripts to show that the course was audited.

Other universities may require the students to attend all class sessions of audited classes. For Michigan Tech, students are granted a “V” to signify that they have fully satisfied audit experience and a “U” to signify unsatisfactory experience in audited class.

This means that students in Michigan Tech are held accountable for their engagement with the class. 

In most universities, students are required to get permission from the instructors. This is the first step to get registered for an audit class.

The professor provides the students with a signed permission form. Students are expected to fill the form and present it to the registrar. The registrar then enters their names on the class list.

Universities give priority to the registration of students pursuing degree programs and need a class to graduate. For this reason, students may need to wait until the end of the designated academic period for adding courses for the class they need to audit.

However, students are advised to ensure that they take the class for credit because the school may not allow them to audit the same class again for a grade. After attending audited classes, the instructors may ask the students to complete the class assignments.

This means that the students should always attend and pay attention to the instructors during class sessions. To test your understanding of the subject, the professor may give you written assignments (Chiang et al., 2021).

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For example, if a student is auditing a creative writing class, the professor may ask him or her to submit a poem for class critique.

However, since the students are not taking the exams for credits, the assignments will act as evidence of their class participation. Generally, the auditors do not take final examinations or tests. 


The primary duty of the instructors is to attend class and observe, not to contribute. While the instructor may allow the auditors to contribute, auditors need to understand when to speak and listen.

Auditors are expected to respect the students’ needs to take the course for credits by arriving early to class to avoid distracting them during the class session.

However, auditors do not take credits, but they should ensure that they consistently attend class sessions to get something in their audited courses.

This means that if the students audit a class and fail to attend the classes, instructors may reserve the right to remove them from the class list. Therefore, you should always talk to your instructor if there is a special condition that applies to your class attendance. 

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