One of the great strengths of American higher education is the ease
with which students can transfer from one college or university to another. It is
not unusual for a student from California, for example, to transfer to Michigan, or for
someone attending a small private college to transfer to a large, comprehensive public
Students who attend a community college to
complete lower division general education requirements can transfer to a university where
they can take upper division courses and thereby complete a bachelor's degree.
Importance of Accreditation
Transfer from or to institutions that are not regionally accredited is not recommended.
If a student attends an institution that lacks regional accreditation, there is a risk
that the courses completed will not transfer to an accredited institution.
Making Transfers Easy
Many colleges and universities have special arrangements known as "articulation
agreements" with other institutions.
Generally speaking, such agreements allow "seamless"
transfer with little or no loss of credit and time. For example, engineering
students may study for three years at the undergraduate level at one college, then
transfer to another college for two more years and receive both a bachelor's and a
master's degree in at the end of the five year program of study. Sometimes such
arrangements are known as a "3+2" program because they are designed to be
completed in a total of five years.
Community colleges often have articulation agreements with four-year
colleges and universities. The ten Maricopa Community Colleges in the Phoenix,
Arizona metropolitan area have worked very closely with the three public universities in
Arizona to make sure that its courses will transfer to the University of Arizona, Arizona
State University, and Northern Arizona University.
All the 106 California community colleges have articulation
agreements with the California State University system and the University of California
system. This means that if a student successfully completes the general education
requirements for CSU or UC at Sanata Monica College, for example, he or she can transfer
and complete the last two years for the bachelor's degree.
Tips for Transfers
There is usually a maximum number of credits you can transfer towards
a degree at a college or university. You should find out what that limit is well
Some colleges and universities offer special freshman or college
English classes for students whose native language is not English. These special ESL class
may be accepted for transfer or they may not. Find out before you transfer.
Credits transfer; grades do not. These is usually a requirement
to have a certain minimum grade point average (GPA) in order to transfer; however, the GPA
earned at one institution does not affect the GPA at another.
Colleges and universities usually have general education
requirements. A course that is required at one institution may not be required at
another. Such courses might transfer, but the credit earned is not necessarily going
to apply to degree requirements.
Finally and most important, always consult with an academic advisor
and your foreign student advisor before undertaking a transfer. In addition to the
transfer of credits, you also have to transfer your immigration status as a student to the
Don't allow some of the drawbacks of transferring to deter you.
If you plan ahead, a transfer can be an excellent way to accomplish your educational goals
and enrich your experience with American higher education. Just a s shifting gears
in a car is a way to get more speed and power from the engine, transferring from one
college or university to another can propel you to greater accomplishments.