Students seeking to transfer earned credits should be aware that policies at some traditional colleges and universities have not kept pace with the mobility of today’s students. Some universities accept academic credits or degrees only from institutions that are regionally accredited, even though the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) have endorsed the principle that transfer of credit should not be denied solely on the basis of source of institutional accreditation. This Guide addresses the subject of credit transfer; however, the information may also apply to getting a degree accepted by another institution for the purpose of admission to a higher degree level.
The Department of Education and CHEA recognize some national accreditors, including ACICS, as well as the regional accrediting agencies. That recognition is the primary authority by which accrediting agencies review, scrutinize and endorse the integrity and quality of educational institutions.
Accepting credits earned at another institution is the prerogative of the receiving institution. No college, school or accrediting agency can require another institution to accept in transfer credit earned somewhere else. Even when the sending institution is accredited by the same agency as the receiving school, there is no guarantee credits will transfer.
The decision on whether or not to accept your academic credit could be made by the chairperson of the department, a faculty transcript review committee, an individual faculty member, an admissions officer or other college official. Factors that affect the willingness to accept academic credit in transfer may be in the institution’s catalog, and include:
- College or state policies. Most colleges and some states have policies concerning the number and type of credits they will accept in transfer from another institution.
Residency requirements. Most colleges require a student to complete a specific number of credits at their institution in order to be awarded a degree by them.
Appropriateness of course content. The course should align with the college’s degree program. Some courses may not be relevant to the degree that is sought, regardless of the rigor or content of the course. Also, the content of the course should compare favorably with the materials and topics covered in the college’s degree curriculum. Students seeking to transfer academic credit should be prepared to discuss how their completed coursework covers the topics required in the college curriculum. Evidence would include copies of work completed, or a copy of a syllabus or study guide for the course. Official transcripts sent from the college of origin to the receiving college also may be required
Appropriate academic level. Acceptance of credit also depends on the transferring student’s academic standing and the level of course material studied. Remedial and developmental courses probably are not generally transferable. Satisfactory grades for the courses completed are also required in most cases.
Accreditation and educational quality. In the U.S., the two entities that grant authority through recognition to national and regional accrediting agencies are the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Many traditional colleges and universities in the U.S. are accredited by a regional accrediting agency. Many college or schools offering applied education programs are accredited by national accrediting agencies, including ACICS. All accrediting agencies recognized by the USDE are deemed to be reliable authorities on institutional quality and integrity. The USDE makes no distinction between national or regional accreditors regarding their reliability in ensuring institutional quality.
Filing an Appeal
If the institution will not accept your credits because it only accepts credits from regionally accredited institutions, you may request a review of the decision. Request a copy of the institution’s appeal process.
If the receiving institution is a member of the CHEA, advise the institution that CHEA publishes a “Joint Statement on Transfer and Award of Academic Credit” which recommends that quality, comparability, appropriateness and applicability be applied when considering transfer of credit. CHEA states that “transfer decisions are not made solely on the source of accreditation of a sending program or institution.” CHEA’s policy has been endorsed by the regional accrediting agencies.
Other Helpful Resources
- A Statement to the Community: Transfer and the Public Interest, published by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, November 2000. Available in a PDF file from www.chea.org/commentary/index.html or writing to Publications, CHEA, One DuPont Circle, NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20036-1135 (phone: 202-955-6126).
- Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education, published for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, this directory lists CHEA’s members and their accrediting agencies. (Visit www.oryxpress.com/scripts/book.)
- DETC Occasional Paper Number 15: Strategies for Helping Students Transfer Credits. Available from DETC, 1601 18th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009 and in a PDF file from www.detc.org and select “Publications”
- Pocket Guide to College Credits and Degrees: Valuable Information for Adult Learners Seeking College Degrees by Jacqueline E. Johnson, Jo Ann Robinson and Sally R. Welch; ISBN 0-8268-1465-1; $9.95 U.S./$12.95 Canada (includes shipping and handling); ACE Fulfillment Service, Dept. 191, Washington, D.C, 20055-0191; phone: 301-604-9073. (Visit www.acenet.edu/calec/publications. cfm.)
- U.S. Department of Education’s List of Recognized Accrediting Agencies, a listing of those accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. (Visit www.ifap.ed.gov/csb_html/agency.htm)
- Transfer Credit Practices of Designated Educational Institutions (2001-2002), published by AACRAO. Available for $45. (Visit www.aacrao.org/publications/catalog/transfer.htm)
- American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), One DuPont Circle, NW, Suite 520, Washington, DC 20036 (Visit www.aacrao.com).
- American Council on Education (ACE), College Credit Recommendation Service, One Dupont Circle, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Visit www.acenet.edu).