Transferring from Community College: What You Should Know

Transferring from Community College: What You Should Know


Thinking you might want to transfer? Read this FAQ on transferring from a community college to find out everything you need to know.

Will my earned credits transfer?

Credits may be transferred from a community college, although this is at the discretion of the four-year school. In many cases, as long as your new school offers a similar course and you received a grade of C or higher, credits will be transferred.

Should I finish my associate’s degree first?

Finishing your associate’s degree first may save you time and money when transferring from a two-year to a four-year college, but only if your new school recognizes the credits earned. It will depend on the school and program of study that you are transferring to.

[See the answer to whether you can get a basic associate’s degree and then transfer to a University.]

I’m returning to continue my education later in life. What has changed?

There are more options for your education today than in the past. From online college degrees, to fast-track or accelerated programs that will help you earn your degree faster. Research the school and program you are interested in online to see what they offer. Contact an advisor at the school to discuss your options. Credits earned in the past may be transferable. Work experience, professional certifications, military training, and passing grades on competency exams may also be eligible for college credit.

[Try the free online course “Documenting Your Life Experience for College Credit” and save time and money in attaining your college degree.]

What if I want to continue my military education at another school?

Look into the education benefits your target school offers, including reduced tuition fees for military students, a military-friendly change of orders withdrawal policy, transfer scholarships, and more. Contact your VA eligibility chapter to find out what is required for you to change schools. This can include a VA Change of Program or Place of Training form, available online from the VA’s website VONAPP.

[Your military training can count for up to 70 credits towards completing an associate’s degree. Find out more.]

I’m considering transferring schools. Can my community college credits transfer to online credits?

Yes, however it will depend on the school and program. Online college degree programs differ, and the academic department in which you enroll will have the final say on what credit can be accepted toward your degree. Schools such as Kaplan University will help maximize credit transfers, potentially saving you time and money in completing your degree.

I’m changing majors, and I need to change schools to find the program that is right for me.

Your situation is not unusual. Studies indicate that anywhere from 50% to 75% of students change their major at least once before graduating. If your current school doesn’t offer the major or program that now interests you, read school reviews and research the program you are interested in to find your best match. Compare schools before making your decision. Be aware that the credits you have earned to date may not be applicable to your new major. It will depend on the program requirements, and it will differ among schools. The good news is there are many options available to you, including accredited online colleges that can facilitate transfer degrees.

I need to complete my degree faster than I can at my current school. What are my options?

Transferring from community college doesn’t have to mean losing the credits you have already earned. In fact, if the school you transfer to has a relationship with your community college (such as a Community College Alliance Program) it can mean a shorter path to a bachelor’s degree. For example, you may be able to transfer your associate’s degree credits, allowing you to earn a degree in as little as 2 years. There are also accelerated options or fast-track degrees—including accredited online college programs—that can help you complete your degree faster. Speak to the academic advisors at your target schools to find out what they offer. Look for a school that will help you maximize your existing credits and reach your goal more quickly.

Can I get credits for my life and work experience?

Yes, transfer students may receive credit for professional work, military training, professional certifications, and passing grades on competency exams (as well as prior academic coursework, if applicable). This is generally reviewed on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the university.

 [Programs like Kaplan University’s Credit for Prior Learning offer potential credit for prior courses, exams, work and life credit, military training, or certifications.]

For more transfer student advice:


Are you a transfer student? What was your experience? 

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