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Transferring Credits is Tricky: Here are Ways to Help


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Rules and requirements relating to course credits vary from school to school, often leading to a minefield of confusion and pitfalls for students who seek to transfer credits. The process can be incredibly difficult to navigate even without the added complications caused by coronavirus changes in school policies.

Whether your student wants to transfer to a new college or university or is just looking to take some courses at a different institution, this information can help you make sure their credits will be accepted so their hard work doesn't go unrewarded.

Check University Requirements

Is your student thinking about taking online classes this summer? They don’t necessarily have to limit themselves to courses offered by the university they currently attend or plan to attend.

Most universities do take transfer credits with certain caveats. Every university has a different approach, so it's essential to thoroughly research your university’s guidelines for transfer credits.

This can vary depending on the degree, school within the university, or university as a whole so your student should double check everything before they enroll in a course if they want to get the credits transferred (as opposed to taking a class just for personal enrichment). It is also highly likely that there are different requirements based on the type of credits they hope to have transferred.

Make sure your student is checking for the right requirements. Is it credit for an AP class or a summer course taken at a different university? Are they applying for the credit after classes have begun or before? What year of school is your student currently in?

It may seem like a tedious process (and it is), but all of this factors in to whether or not the credits will be applicable to graduation requirements. The time put into research beforehand will save your student wasting many, many more hours on a course that won’t help them earn their degree.

You can find information on the school's registrar and transfer admissions web pages. Encourage your student to call or email these offices to confirm their understanding of the policies.

Consider Where You Want the Credits Applied

Another common confusion when it comes to transferring credits is figuring out where the course credits will be applicable. There are different ways credits can be applied, and it’s possible some courses won’t help with your student’s degree requirements.

Even if the credits are transferred, it could be that the course won’t count as a necessary prerequisite to other in-residence courses your student was planning to take the following semester, or that an especially difficult course taken at a different university won’t count for the same credits at your student’s resident university.

The website Transferology helps students navigate this complicated system. It’s free to join and is used by many universities to aid students in planning what courses to take and when. It's a great place to start if your student is looking for a replacement course for the summer or wants to check out how many credits would apply if they transferred to another university. You can also use Transferology to research transferring credits for international courses and to see if you can get credit for standardized exams (like the AP).

Other Considerations

Grades and GPA

Your student’s resident university will likely have a minimum grade requirement for accepting transfer credits from a course your student takes elsewhere. Many universities require a grade of B or higher to accept the credits, but some accept a C or higher.

However, it is highly likely your student’s resident university will not factor the transfer grades in to a student's overall GPA. So, if your student is hoping for a GPA boost from the course, they should double check that all courses will be factored in as most schools enter in outside courses simply as completed credits.


If your student is trying to find a more cost effective route to completing their credits, they should be mindful of where they take courses. Accredited institutions have the highest likelihood of granting transferable credits, as their coursework is held to very high educational standards. Though accredited universities will have a better chance of granting transfer credits, it is still not guaranteed so your student should take care to do their due diligence.

The Impact of Coronavirus

In light of the transition to remote learning, universities are being forced to review the flexibility of their credit transfer policies. It's likely many will choose (at least temporarily) to adopt a more lenient approach.

However, because most schools are in the midst of this process, it's even more imperative that your student do as much research as possible to ensure they know exactly what their university will accept.

For those in the process of transferring to a different university, the coronavirus adjustments to transfer credits are a bit clearer. Many colleges are adjusting their admissions requirements to reflect the pandemic disruptions that caused classes to move online and prompted universities to extend their Pass/Fail course options.

Most universities will be accepting transfer credits for Pass/Fail courses from the Spring 2020 semester and will be similarly lenient toward those students who were forced to switch from in-person instruction to online coursework due to COVID-19.

Though many of these universities still retain other criteria for accepting transfer credits, this flexibility indicates that schools are moving forward with their students’ best interests in mind and will continue to accommodate students’ needs as they evolve.

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