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What Are Transfer Credits? All You Should Know

By Cece Gilmore

Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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Reviewed by Bill Jack

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: February 29th, 2024
What Are Transfer Credits? All You Should Know

If you have passed a college-level course at an accredited institute of higher education, you most likely earned transferable credits. If you are planning on transferring  to a different university, those credits can help you get ahead or pick up where you left off! Let’s learn more about transfer credits and how they fit into your educational journey. 

What exactly are transfer credits? 

Transfer credits are college-level credits that were earned at one institution that can be used, or “transferred” into another institution. This means that students will not have to retake classes that they already took and passed. Transfer credits make it possible for students to switch schools and complete their degrees without needing to retake certain courses. 

What types of credits are transferable? 

Typically, there are a few factors that determine whether credits are transferable to a different institution:

Final grade

The final grade of the course you have taken determines whether or not it can be transferred to another institution. Typically, a grade of “C” or higher is necessary for transfer to another institution. 


If a course was taken at an accredited college or university, it ensures that it meets certain academic standards. If a particular course is applicable to the major, credits from accredited schools are usually accepted by different institutions. 

Course content

It is critical that the course taken at a different institution matches the content of a course at the intended institution. This ensures that you are not missing out on any information from the course you are replacing with your transfer credit. In addition, the course content should be relevant to the degree you are attempting to earn. For example, a library course may not qualify for credit towards a computer science degree. 

Don’t miss: What is an adult degree completion program?

When and where the course was taken

Technically, college credits should not expire; however, the likelihood that they will transfer into a program may diminish over time. Therefore, it is best to try to transfer all of your credits at one time instead of waiting until the last minute. 

There are many places and opportunities to earn credits that can be transferred. Some include: 

  • AP credit
  • IB credit
  • College-to-college transfer
  • Military transfer
  • Work training
  • Credit-by-exam

Also see: Guide to transferring colleges

How to determine whether your credits will transfer

Select a transfer-friendly institution

To determine whether your credits will transfer, you should first research and select an institution with a transfer-friendly program. Meaning, some colleges and universities have a more generous acceptance of previously earned credits. Therefore, research which colleges accept the most credits for a smooth transfer process and ensure that you won’t fall behind. 

Release: What is Transferology and how does it work?


Just as you should research transfer-friendly institutions, you should also research to see if the universities you are interested in have online tools to understand how many of your credits can be transferred. This will provide you with a good sense of what classes you may need to take if you transfer there. 

Apply to schools

Once you have compiled a solid list of schools, you should then apply! Transfer credit typically will not be officially evaluated until you have applied to those institutions. 

Submit your transcripts

Once you have applied, compile your official transcripts from the previous school(s) or courses you have taken to send to the potential institutions. Typically, you will have to contact your previous institution’s office to have your official transcripts sent over to your new school. It is also important to recognize that typically there is a fee associated when requesting “official” transcripts. 

Review your credit evaluation

After waiting for a few weeks, you should receive a credit evaluation, which details how many credits are transferable. If there are any issues or you have questions about why some credits transferred and others did not, you should contact your admissions officer. 

Related: How to transfer colleges: A step-by-step guide

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Transfer credits are college-level credits earned at one institution that can be transferred into another institution
  • A grade of “C” or higher is usually necessary for transfer to another institution
  • Most courses that a student passed are transferable, but that depends on the relevancy of the course over time
  • Transfer credits can come in the form of AP and IB credits, college-to-college transfer, CLEP credits, and more
  • After applying to transfer friendly schools, send in your transcripts from your current/prior school
Key Takeaways

Don’t miss: How to write a college transfer essay

Frequently asked questions about transfer credits

How many credits can I transfer?

Typically, there is a limit on the number of credits you can transfer into a new institution. However, the minimum and maximum credits accepted varies by school. Typically, students can transfer up to 45 credits for an associate’s degree and 90 credits for a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, it is important to do some research to determine how many transfer credits an institution is willing to accept.

Can I transfer credits into an Ivy League school

Yes, it is possible to transfer into an Ivy League school. While it is challenging to gain admittance as an Ivy League transfer, it does happen!

Can you transfer credits to an online program?

Yes! Many online colleges accept transfer credits similarly to in-person institutions. However, individual schools have certain requirements for credit transfer, so always double check that your credits will be accepted. 

Do transfer credits affect my GPA?

No, transfer credits should not impact your GPA at a new school.

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