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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Sometimes, the college or university that a student thinks they want to attend for the entirety of their college career ends up not being the right fit, for any number of reasons. In other situations, some students plan to attend a community college to earn an associate degree with the intention of transferring to a different school after graduation. Still other students start college and then take some time off before deciding to continue working toward a degree from another school years later.

Students in any of these situations understandably want to get credit for the college courses they’ve already completed, but often find themselves asking a key question: “How does transferring college credits work?”

Read on for more information and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about transferring college credits.


Regardless of when you decide to transfer from one college to another, it is advisable to investigate your target college’s policies and processes for accepting credits earned elsewhere. Even more important, do this research as far in advance as possible because every college or university plays by its own rules.

Ideally, the college you are transferring into will accept all the credits you earned elsewhere. That can save you time and money. In some cases, though, you may need to accept that some of your credits will not be reflected on your new school’s transcript.


Q: Are all college credits transferable?

A: The answer to this question depends on several factors. If your previous school has an articulation agreement with the school you want to transfer into, it is more likely that you will be able to transfer some or even all of the credits you earned previously. Another consideration is whether the school where you earned credits was nationally or regionally accredited at the time. Transferability may also depend on how well you did and the grades you earned in in the courses for which you want to transfer credits.

Q: Are online college credits transferable? 

A: In general, the answer to this question is “yes,” as long as the online degree program in which you earned credits was accredited and you earned grades that your target college finds acceptable. As with transferring credits earned in a traditional on-campus program, there are differences between national and regional accreditation, so it is always a good idea to verify the credit transfer acceptance policies of your target college or university.

Q: How long are college credits transferable?

A: Whether credits are transferable indefinitely or expire at some point depends on the target school’s policies. Generally, most schools have some sort of time limit for accepting transfer credits, but they may be willing to consider credits you earned many years ago in some cases.

Q: What is the process for transferring college credits earned elsewhere?

A: The first step is to apply for admission at your target college or university and receive confirmation that you have been accepted into your program of choice. At that point, you should work with an admissions advisor at the school to determine which of your credits will transfer and how that will impact your course load and graduation plan. You will typically need to ask your previous school to provide sealed, official transcripts to your new school for evaluation. After completing their review, your new college should notify you of the number and types of credits they are willing to accept from your previous school(s).


Contact your target school’s admissions office if you are wondering how to find out if college credits are transferable to your new school. An admissions officer should be able to walk you through the steps the college uses to analyze transfer credits.

Ultimately, every school’s transfer credit acceptance policy differs, and there are additional variables that can impact credit transferability. For these reasons, it is a good idea to research credit transfer policies as early as possible so you can make more informed decisions about furthering your education.