The 6 Keys to Transferring College Credits

A 2014 study by David B. Monaghan and Paul Attewell at City University of New York provided some interesting stats on transferring college credits:

-14% of community college transfer students were able to transfer 10% or less of their credits to a four-year college.

-28% were able to transfer between 11% and 90% of their credits.

-58% were able to transfer 90% or more of their credits.

We put together the following six tips to help you fall into the last group, with the hope of being able to transfer 100% of your credits!


Hands down, the easiest way to ensure success when transferring college credit is to sign up for a transfer articulation agreement. This agreement documents a pre-established connection between two colleges that have already agreed to accept each other’s credits. If your current school and your desired school have established this connection, all you have to do is sign onto the agreement and make sure you stick to the correct classes. These agreements are common between community colleges and public universities in the same state. Even better, signing onto a transfer agreement in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, or Virginia can guarantee you admission to certain 4-year state universities in those states.

Though some preparation and flexibility is required to sign onto a transfer agreement, the upfront effort more than pays off. Ask the admissions department in either your current school or desired school for more info, or visit to use their transfer agreement search tool.


DSST allows you to test out of material you’ve mastered outside the classroom. If you’re considering transferring schools, it’s worth checking into this option as a way to stay on track during the transition. It could save you of lots of unnecessary school work and thousands of dollars. Check out DSST’s course options and practice tests here.


If you’re not able to utilize a credit transfer agreement, the best way to learn about how your credits will hold up is to call your desired school. Someone in the admissions department should be able to give you a good idea of what will count and what won’t. Some universities even have a transfer adviser, whose sole job is assisting prospective students when it comes to transferring credits. Before you call, be sure to have your completed course titles and descriptions ready.


So you called your dream school, and despite your relentless huffing and puffing, a number of your hard-earned credits simply won’t transfer. What next? May we recommend trying another school? It’s vital to consider the valuable time and money lost due to unusable college credit. Adding even one semester to your college career will not only cut into your bottom line, but will also delay your entry into the job market. It’s the ultimate double-whammy! Even though you may have your heart set on a specific school, it’s crucial to remain rational and open-minded when navigating your big move. It’s okay to approach this process as if you were a high school graduate looking at colleges for the first time. Give yourself a range of “reach” schools and “safety” schools.

A great resource for starting your search is the “Most Transfer Students” list by U.S. News & World Report.


Believe it or not, getting the rubber stamp for certain credits can be about more than just the class itself. How well you did in that class can also have an impact. If there’s a course that falls into a grey area as far as being relevant to your desired school’s curriculum, the admissions department is free to base their credit transfer decision on whether or not you appear to have mastered the subject matter.


Last but not least, remember that time is of the essence. In some scenarios, your college credits can expire. The more specialized your completed coursework is, the shorter the window for using those credits could be. Be sure to ask your current institution and your desired school if any of your credits are approaching their golden years.

Good luck as you make your move, and just remember that all the legwork and paper filing will be worth it once you’ve found the right school for you!

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