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Transfer Credit from One US School to Another

Follow these tips to increase the chances of a hassle-free transfer.

When you transfer from one college or university to another, it isn’t as simple as just packing a suitcase.

It’s often an intricate process of paperwork, deadlines, and the slippery fate of college credits. After all, courses completed at one institution might go unrecognized by another, and credits earned toward a degree at one school might be meaningless elsewhere.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure a smoother transition and increase your chances of being able to transfer credit to your new school.

How to Transfer Credit: The Basics

Most colleges and universities share basic standards regarding credit transfer.

First and most important, the school you’re transferring from should be accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This is the primary accreditation agency in the US, and its seal of approval is nationally recognized. Various regional accreditation agencies also exist, and it’s not uncommon for schools to request validation from one of these instead.

Second, many schools limit the number and kind of credits that will transfer. Core courses — often called General Education Core Curriculum courses — are similar at US colleges, but be prepared for careful scrutiny when you try to transfer these credits. Every school will want to confirm that you’ve met its basic requirements before focusing on your college major.

Third, there are differences between departments and degree programs, and it’s to your advantage to know what they are. Departments establish specific requirements before awarding a college degree, and the more you understand these the better you can evaluate yourself and your academic progress.

Finally, if you earned less than a C in any course, it is unlikely that the academic credit will transfer. An equivalent course at your new university will have to be taken as a replacement.

Increase Your Chances To Transfer Credit

We can’t guarantee that your credit will transfer, but there are steps you can take to make the process easier. These steps will not only help instructors at your new university, but also will help you organize and clarify your academic experience.

  • Follow procedures carefully. This means meeting all deadlines, attaching necessary transcripts, and filling out paperwork neatly to avoid errors or delays.
  • Contact the registrar’s office. It is crucial that you take responsibility for your transfer. Make sure the university received all of your materials on time.
  • Prepare a supplemental transfer package. Although this step is optional, it offers a convenient summary of your academic history. Include items like copies of previous course syllabi, your college catalog with previous courses clearly marked, a letter of recommendation from a former professor or adviser, and a letter from an official accreditation agency confirming your previous school’s certification.
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Doing all you can to transfer credit is to your advantage. When you earn credit for classes you have already taken, you will save both time and money.