anybody know about transferring FROM a four-year college to another one?

My husband has 60 units from two out-of-state four-year colleges in the state of Georgia. He wants to go to a California State University school. Does transferring from a community college work the same as transferring from a four-year? The answer to this answer to this question is not readily available on the website – it seems only to talk about community college transfers. We can call tomorrow but thought I’d see if anyone knows. Anyone have experience with this?

I did this a long, long time ago, but it was easy enough. All of my credits transferred, although I think that’s not always the case. You really need to ask this question of the college he’s transferring to, though.

Definitely, up to a point. Most universities have limits as to the maximum number of credits that can be transferred (which your husband would be under, at my university), and there may be further restrictions on which courses can substitute. Generally, the more generic a course is, the likelier it has transfer value. If the new University has no equivalent course (say, in a major that the university doesn’t offer) then they may refuse to give credit for it but typically the first 60 credits should be transferable. He’d have a hard time if he showed up with 100 credits ad was just looking to finish out his senior year but he should be okay with 60.

I did this, from a small, liberal-arts college to a large state university clear across the country. I’m quite sure that the rules were the same as for a community college. Most (all? it was about 15 years ago) of my 45 credits transferred. However, there was a limit on the number of credits that were eligible, a floor on the received grade, and there needed to be a “comparable” class at the new school that had a similar syllabus to the one offered. If there was a question about any particular class, it had to be approved by the department head.

One class in particular was an issue – I had placed out of English 101 and into “Advanced English Comp” (English 103), and the university questioned the compatibility. I had to get a course description from the class guide for that year and submit it for approval; I no longer recall whether I had to actually get other documentation from my first school.

Other than that, no problems. Assuming the administration at the new school is fairly competent, you husband shouldn’t have any issues either.

Well, I’ve been going to college on and off for almost 20 years, finally going to graduate in March. I’m currently at Portland State University, and entered with about 180 quarter units (the amount needed to graduate) from schools in California, Oregon and Washington. All of the units were accepted, but a good deal of them don’t “go anywhere” - they’re considered electives. Of course, I still have to fulfill the university’s requirements and complete a certain number of units in residence.

That’s a good way of stating the possible problem, though that’s not the only problem. You could have a ton of credits counting as electives (far in excess of the number that you need, which is usually pretty small) OR you could have some credits not being counted at all. Most schools have a requirement that your last XX credits be taken at the institution you’re seeking to graduate from, which is another practical limit to the number of credits you can transfer.

Once the credits are accepted, your husband is also going to want to talk to his advisor or the department chair about how those transferred credits are going to affect his specific program. For example, let’s say he took and got credit for a course that, at the new university, has a required pre- or co-requisite. He’s going to want to know whether he needs to take those other courses in order to meet graduation requirements, and if he does, how he can fit those other courses into his schedule so he can graduate on time.


Colleges accept transfer students all the time so it’s not really a problem.

I have done a ton of transfer credit approvals over the years. (It was an easy enough task that I volunteered to do as a segment of my prof. duties. Easier than some other duty choices.) Some things to take note of to maximize transfer credit:

  1. The actual course catalog description from when the course was taken. Not a prof’s handout or the current version. This is a must.
  2. How many total credits are required for a degree, so they can do the math right on how X credits a Old U becomes Y credits at New U. (This can be unbelievably messy. He might find that New U is conservative and ends up with a small hit on total hours.)

In the “really good idea” category:

  1. The syllabus for the course. Or if lacking next best is:
  2. The full title and author of the textbook.

(I am astonished as to how many people can’t do the last for a course they recently took. I can still name text authors for major-minor courses I took mumble years ago.)

Approved as generic credit is one thing, but getting equivalent course credit is much better.

One very important thing to note: Colleges want all your previous college info. If you try to hide a stint at a school where you fouled up, they will find it (they share information) and you will get bounced. Lying on academic history is a very big no-no.

As a student this one was strange. I reentered school at 38 having left at 21 not having finished. I switched majors.

I transferred in all my courses from the school I had spent three and a half years at and almost graduated from (never did the senior paper required for the program).

I transferred in the credits from the out of state school I spent a semester at.

I had plenty of credits - switching majors so they weren’t going to apply to anything but general distribution anyway. And one more school.

While I was still in high school I took a single course from a community college. I wasn’t going to bother to pay the transcript fee and transfer it. I hadn’t fouled up (got an A) it was just four credits I didn’t need. But since it appeared on the other transcripts as a transfer, the new school definately wanted the transcript so I had to go get it.

In general the process is fairly easy (having done it more than once) - you apply, they figure out what you get credit for, you finish coursework. I believe in addition to what is mentioned above, all schools I went to had an appeals process for getting something applied if you were turned down the first time. Not that it always works, but you can give it a try. I did that for one of my courses to avoid having to take a sociology course or something.

Oh, generally speaking (every time I’ve moved schools) your GPA gets a reset. Only the grades at your new school count towards your GPA for that school. Which will be nice if you are sitting on a C+ average and manage to do much better at your new school.

The grades are still back there, of course. And if you apply to grad school they are going to look at them.

The better the school you’re transferring from, the easier it is to transfer credits. Many schools would laugh at you if you tried to transfer credits from a typical two-year school. The better the school you’re transferring to, the more difficult the transfer, especially for courses in your major.
And as mentioned above, most schools will have a minimum number of credits you need from them in order to get a diploma from them.

Not necessarily. At the Ivy League college I attended, my girlfriend had gotten admitted after completing community college (with a straight A transcript). I was a little surprised, but it happens, and you shouldn’t prevent a CC degree-holder from applying.

I’m not even sure what you’re saying here - this is the point of community college, that you can go for two years at a low price. If four year universities wouldn’t accept their community college credits, no one would go to two year colleges.

I did my undergrad at a four year state university, but I couldn’t fit one of my major requirements into my schedule when I was a freshman, so I took its equivalent at the community college near my parents’ house the following summer. My regular school accepted it without a problem. (This was in California, and the UC has a strong link with the statewide community college system, though, I don’t know if it works this way everywhere.)

I’m saying that a school won’t automatically give you credit for a course just because you took it at a “college”. Schools, both 2- and 4-year, vary in quality. I’m sure you could find 2-year programs that are better than some of the 4-year programs out there. If the school you are transferring credits to deems your courses insufficiently rigorous, they won’t accept the credits. This is less of a problem for extremely basic introductory classes and distribution requirements, but more so for more advanced courses, especially in your major. Granted, if you’ve mostly only taken courses that they deem insufficiently rigorous, they probably won’t accept you in the first place.

The worse the school is that you’re transferring to, the more likely they’ll accept transfer credits (unless they’re just grubbing for your money, which is another matter).
It’s a little bit like AP classes. If you take an AP test in high school, where “passing” is a 3 or above, a college may require you get a 5 to receive credit, or they may not give credit at all. Again, the better schools tend to be more picky.

Just looking around a bit:
Yale expects that you got an A or a B
At Swarthmore, transfer credits are “handled on a case-by-case basis by” the registrar. From discussing that matter with him and a young woman who transferred there, he’s picky. I suspect some of this may be money-grubbing.

In California, this is standard procedure, where lots of people go to community colleges to save money, with every intention of transferring to a four year school.

My son-in-law went to many schools before finishing. His GPA, I’m happy to say, kept on getting better (as did the schools he went to) , and he had no trouble getting into law school. He had pretty good LSATs also.

Is this in conflict with anything I have posted?

Although, depending on the state you are in, the level of cooperation between the University system and the Community College system, etc., you may be in for surprises.

It always behooves a student with the plan of starting at a two year college and transfering to a four year college (or any student planning on a mid degree transfer) to:

  • understand what will transfer, understand what will apply to major or general distribution requirements. The University of Minnesota and the Community College system here have charts to tell you what will transfer and/or apply - and what won’t.

  • understand what the admission likelihood for a transfer is - while CC students do get accepted to Ivy League schools, its not a likely transition. What GPA, test scores, recommendations, etc., are typical of successful transfers.

  • understand if there are program requirements for any specialized programs. Getting into a Physical Therapy program at UW-Madison twenty years ago was difficult - and only current UW-Madison students were - at that time at least - eligible to apply. At some schools, Nursing or Engineering may be similarly tough to get into if your not a current student.

While transfering from one school to another often works, sometimes even seamlessly - on occasion students discover flaws in their master plan significant enough to set them back a semester or more.

Been there, done that.
if they disallow some of your requisites/credits do the following.

  1. Ask for your record to be re-reviewed.
  2. Write a letter to the Dean of Students, & politely ask him/her to recognize your credits.
  3. Ask for an equivalency waver from the Department Head that the course falls under.
  4. Try to CLEP the course.

Absolutely - which is why I said “every intention”.
Some programs (like EE in Berkeley) are very hard to get into even as a freshman, and I’d guess impossible as a transfer student from a CC. I’ve also observed CC students sink into a slough of despond and never get out, though clearly some do. I’m not too thrilled about this practice, since many of the parents who push their kids into it to save money seem to find enough for expensive cars, but the intention is quite common.
Ruken, I was just adding what I thought might be an interested data point.
I’m not sure if California doing it is something special to CA (and some other states) or a sign of the times. In NY there were community colleges, but no one went there to move to a city college or a state university. When I was a grad student at the University of Illinois none of my students came from 2 year schools. State colleges are a lot more expensive then they used to be, which might explain it.