Click here for a list of Online colleges & universities that accept lots of transfer credits
Many online and offline schools say they’ll help you complete a degree by giving you transfer credits. But exactly which courses from your past they will accept transfer credits from and how many credits you’ll get for old classes at another school is a pretty murky area. You need to do some homework, in many cases, in order to get the best possible deal. Learning the details can be well worth the effort, since transferring credits from an old school can not only save you money and time, it also save you the aggravation of having to re-take a class you’ve already done.
In the words of a professor quoted on one blog, “Some schools have limits while others will shower you with transferred credit after transferred credit.” It’s common for schools that officially offer “completion degrees” to accept 60 credits (the equivalent of an average associate’s degree) from previous study toward a 120 credit bachelor degree. But some schools will take up to 90 credits in transfer and some may take even more. Here are some basics about how the process works:
General course transfer: Bachelor degrees are designed to create a well-rounded student, and require you to take basic courses in both science and humanities, regardless whether your major is in a science or a humanities specialty – in most cases you’ll need them no matter what kind of bachelor degree you are getting from your school. These “general education” classes are usually among the first subjects you take while pursuing a bachelor degree. Standard courses you will be very likely to transfer credit for (and which you’ll probably need to have for your completion degree) include titles like these:
- English – Composition 1 or 2
- Arts & Humanities: A wide range including Music, Art History, Theater, Ethics, Literature or even Philosophy.
- Math – College Algebra or Calculus, at a 1 or 2 level.
- Social Science – Biology, Chemistry, Astronomy, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology or an Economics course like Micro or Macroeconomics.
Keep in mind that your credit transfer will be limited by the course requirements in your new major. In other words, if your nursing or criminal justice bachelor degree requires two English courses, you won’t be able to transfer credits in from 10 writing or other English courses you took at another school. Your best shot at getting the largest number of transfer credits is to have taken a mix of courses in all these specialties.
Core course transfer: Core courses that are specific to your major can be more difficult to transfer, but it’s definitely possible. The key is being able to match the course you took at another school exactly to a course at your new school. If you’re taking a criminal justice bachelor degree, for example, your new school may directly apply credits for an introduction to criminal justice course you took elsewhere to eliminate their own course of the same name from your curriculum.
A course on “criminology,” for example, may earn you credits toward a class that has a slightly different title like “criminal psychology.” This is generally referred to as an “equivalent transfer.” For a business major, you may be able to transfer credits for an “accounting” class to cover a requirement for an “accounting principles” or “bookkeeping” class. But that will only happen if you are able to demonstrate that the course at your old school covered essentially the same subject matter as the class you want to skip at your new school. It’s good to have a copy of the curriculum for your old course in hand when you talk to your advisor or admission counselor about the potential credit transfer.
Elective courses, which are usually the most advanced classes and may be special projects or research papers rather than classes, are the most difficult to transfer credits on.
Articulation deals: Your new school may have “articulation agreements” with other schools – sometimes quite a few other schools – that specify which credits can be transferred from one to another. Most of the schools that do this are state universities that have articulation agreements for students coming to them from community colleges. But there are definitely private schools that have arrangements of this type. If you happen to be coming into a completion program from a school that’s in one of these agreements, it can make it much easier to transfer a large block of credits to your new school. Quite often, articulation agreements will allow you to transfer an associate’s degree you have “lock stock and barrel” to cover half the credits for a bachelor degree program.
Grades: Remember that most schools require a minimum grade on a class to allow you to transfer credits from it. But that minimum varies a lot from one school to another. It’s common for schools to insist that you got at least a “B” on an old course to use the credits from it, but read the small type closely in your new school’s catalogue. Some schools will accept credits for courses even if you got a “C minus” on them.
Finally, don’t forget that the number of credits you can transfer is very much affected by how strongly you state your case with your new school. More here on how to transfer credits successfully from one school to another.