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Will My Previously Earned Credits and Coursework Transfer

Ana-Marcela Lopez

When you go back to school to finish your degree, it’s only natural to want your previously earned credits to transfer to your new university. Whether you started at a community college or took some years off, you’re definitely not starting from scratch! The chances of your credits transferring are pretty good, but it truly does vary from school to school. 

Don’t be discouraged! There are people in reach and policies in place to help you finish your degree. You just have to keep a few things to keep in mind as you begin the process. No matter what, the first step you should take is to meet with an admissions counselor to understand what you need to show for your previous experience. They may recommend that you contact your former institution to get a transcript. From there, the counselor can outline a clear process to get the most out of the credits you have already earned. Generally, most credits will transfer, but it ultimately depends on several factors: time, type, grade, and system. 

Time: We understand that the path to a degree can be complicated and, at times, lengthy. It’s very common to return to college after a few years of work or other commitments, so most institutions accept transfer credits that are up to ten years old. This grace period varies across institutions as well as the type of credit in question. For example, a nine-year-old credit for a computer science course might not be considered up to date and able to transfer. 

Type: There are three types of credits: elective, field of study, and general education. General education courses are the easiest to transfer, as they are typically required for any bachelor’s degree regardless of the university. Courses like math, science, and English should easily transfer. Elective courses and courses specific to a major/field of study can vary between institutions, so check to see which credits are transfer eligible. 

Is Competency-Based Education Right for You?

Grade: This is fairly obvious, but most institutions will require that you made at least a C in the course you are trying to transfer. The requirement could vary between type of credit as well; you might need a higher grade for field of study or general education credits than elective courses. Some institutions also have varying policies on courses that were taken as pass/fail. The admissions counselor can walk you through which credits meet the grade requirements. 

System: Transferring credits between semester and quarter systems can be one of the more complicated obstacles to overcome. The semester and quarter systems run on two different timelines and are therefore likely to be structured quite differently. 

Universities use a conversion ratio to make sure that you receive the appropriate amount of credits on the system you are transferring into. Typically, the number of transferred quarter credits equals the number of semester credits multiplied by 1.5. If you have 5 credits on the semester system, for example, you would have 7 quarter credits. This conversation goes for quarter-to-semester transfers as well. The number of transferred semester credits equals the number of quarter credits multiplied by 2/3, so 5 quarter credits would equal 3.3 semester credits. 

It may seem that you are at a disadvantage with the latter transfer since you would be “losing” credits, but keep in mind that the two systems require different amounts of total credits for graduation. You’re not losing any credits, just converting them!

No matter where or when you started, there are ways to finish your degree as seamlessly as possible. Use this guide as a starting point to understand what to expect as you transfer your credits to this life-changing degree. While not all credits may transfer, anything as all is worth it and significant enough to reach your goal. And we’re here to help! Abound: Finish College narrows down your options and gets you in touch with schools that we can confirm are Accessible, Affordable, Accelerated, and Advanced. Take a look at the schools we trust and find the program that works for you.


More Helpful Resources:

What are the Costs of Not Finishing College

How to Finish College Without Being Forever in Debt

I Have Years of Experience, but No Degree. Is That Enough to Get Hired? – Answers from HR Professionals

6 Reasons to Pursue a Bachelor’s After Earning Your Associate’s Degree

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