What does that mean? Understanding Transfer Lingo

What does that mean? Understanding Transfer Lingo

Making the decision to transfer can be daunting. It doesn’t help that the admissions world has their own lingo. Whether you are considering transferring from a 2 year institution to a 4 year institution or transferring from a four-year institution to another 4 year institution, the following terms and definitions will help with your understanding of the transfer application process. 


Academic History

As part of the application process, most transfer applications will require official transcripts to be submitted from all colleges attended in order to get a full view of your academic history. Colleges can vary on how they will review your academic work, but many colleges will weigh your most recent work more heavily in your decision. So, if you didn’t do well at your first college, it is not always a reason to worry as long as you have improved your grades over time. 

Transfer Credit: 

How credits will transfer can vary from college to college. It is important to do your research into your prospective colleges to see how your credit will transfer. Some colleges want to see at least a B to award credit, many want to see at least a C, and some will even accept a D. You will also want to look into how many credits a college will accept toward your degree program and minimally how many credits you will need to complete in order to graduate from the institution. Many colleges have additional information on their website about how many courses will transfer such as this Transfer Equivalency Tool found on Temple University’s website.  

Community College (or Junior College/Technical College): 

Community colleges are public colleges, often with open enrollment, that typically offer certificates, diplomas, or associate degrees.  Tuition rates are typically much more inexpensive than 4 year colleges and are based on your residency. Community Colleges offer transfer agreements with various public and private institutions, and their academic associate degree programs prepare students to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program. 

Cumulative GPA

The cumulative GPA is the grade point average of all courses across all terms. 

Developmental or Remedial Courses

Developmental or remedial coursework is used to prep students for college-level work. These courses are typically not transferable.

General Education Courses (or Core Curriculum)

General education courses (gen-eds) are required courses that make up the groundwork of your undergraduate degree. Gen-eds can make up to half of your undergraduate program, and the classes come from a variety of academic disciplines such as english, mathematics, natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences. Many transfer students will complete their gen-eds while attending their community college.

Prerequisites (Pre-Reqs)

Some programs have prescriptive (or suggested) course requirements that need to be completed in order to transfer into a program. Nursing and education are two examples of programs that often require prerequisites to be complete prior to transfer. Always reach out to the college you would like to transfer to in order to discuss potential prerequisites.

Regional Accreditation

Regional accreditation is awarded to schools within a particular area of the country. A school that has regional accreditation has been deemed by their regional accrediting organization to meet minimum standards in their academic programs. When looking to transfer to a four year institution, many colleges that are regionally accredited prefer credits from other institutions that are also regionally accredited. There are six different regional accrediting organizations: Middle States Commission on Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association of College and Schools, Northwest Commission on College and Universities, Southern Association of College and Schools, and the Western Association of College and Schools. If you are not sure if your courses will transfer to your prospective institution, reach out to their admissions office and ask!

Semester vs. Quarter System

The semester system offers two 15 week sessions. The quarter system offers four quarters each year often 10 or 11 weeks long. When transferring from one system to another, it is important to be mindful of how your credits will convert. To calculate: quarter units x 2/3 = semester units or semester units x 1.5 = quarter units. There are also a variety of quarter to semester calculators found online like this one from San Francisco State University. 

Transfer Student

Transferring is moving from one college to another. Many students transfer every year for a variety of reasons, so it’s important to remember that you’re not alone! To be considered a transfer student, you need to have completed college-level course work. The minimum number of credits that need to be completed in order to be considered a transfer student can vary from college to college; however, colleges often like to see at least a full-semester full of work in order to make a decision on an application. 

Transfer Agreement (Articulation Agreement)

Transfer or articulation agreements are partnerships between two institutions (typically 2 year and 4 year colleges) that guarantee that courses will be accepted. They often map out degree requirements that can be started at the 2 year institution and then completed at the 4 year institution. Transfer agreements can also guarantee admission with a certain GPA or degree achieved or guarantee the waiver of gen-ed requirements. 




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