College transfer articulation agreements are formal partnerships between two or more higher education institutions. The ultimate goal of these agreements is to make transferring from one college or university to another a seamless, easy process.
Okay, real talk — it hardly ever works out to be “easy” or “seamless” but a hefty portion of that can be attributed to that fact that most college students don’t know what the heck-and-a-half a transfer articulation agreement even is or how to use it to their benefit.
I’m here to rectify that.
Before We Begin…
The best tool in your inventory is to act quickly and smartly once you’ve made the decision to transfer. If you’re at a community college, it may be a conversation you’ve already had with your advisor, but if you’re attending a 4-year, it may not have come up.
How Do I Know I Should Consider Transferring?
The moment your mind is made up, visit your academic counselor. Ask questions. Take notes. Call transfer admissions advisors (yes, these exist) at institutions you’re interested in and talk about the logistics.
The absolute best thing you can do for yourself is this: don’t wait. Transferring takes meticulous planning and the more you plot out your transfer path, the better you can weigh your options and create a smooth transition.
Alright! That said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of transferring.
How Do Articulation Agreements Help Me?
Like I said above, they’re formal agreements designed to make transferring easy, but pinning down how isn’t always the easiest because it depends on several factors, including:
- What institution you’re attending
- What state you’re located in
- Your current GPA
- What type of transfer student you are
States often have their own articulation agreements, whereas regions can also have different ones. Colleges and universities sometimes just shrug and shake hands and make totally unrelated partnerships just for the heck of it.
Basically what I’m saying is that you’ll need insider knowledge to know how an articulation agreement is going to help you in your particular circumstance.
Types of Transfer Students
Whether you’re transferring from a community college to a 4-year university or a 4-year to a 4-year, there are hurdles you’ll have to overcome. The one thing most industry professionals can agree on is this: it can be easiest to transfer with an Associate’s Degree.
If you’re at a community college and complete your Associate’s Degree before transferring, you can take advantage of 2+2 programs, sometimes called Guaranteed Admission, which transfer your entire degree over in one block exactly as it stands. If you earned 60 credits, those 60 credits transfer.
Now, it does depend on the type of Associate’s degree you earned, whether it’s an Associate’s of Art or Science, and some institutions have select majors that are applicable for this sweet transfer deal, but it’s 100% something all transfer students should look into, provided that an Associate’s degree is an option.
Keep in mind that these transfer programs typically require a certain GPA and sometimes they change depending on what program you’re looking to transfer into. Ask questions and keep your GPA up!
Full list of Statewide Guaranteed Transfer of An Associate Degree
The other type of transfer model is credit by credit. Since the classes can’t be moved over in a single block, they have to be individually matched to their equivalent between the two programs. This is where things can get dicey and where concerns about losing credits for classes taken can be at an all time high.
You can worry less when making a 1-to-1 transfer, such as if you’re transferring institutions while retaining the same major — for instance, from one English department to another. If your transfer includes a major change, things can get more complicated.
In these credit-by-credit transfers, Program-to-Program charts are going to be the most helpful. This nifty chart will break down exactly how your current program aligns with the program at your new institution.
Don’t hesitate to sit down with a transfer counselor and understand how all of your credits will transfer. Putting effort into doing this upfront will help you choose your next school while keeping what you’ve already completed and not racking up extra debt on classes you have to retake.
Articulation Agreement By State and Region
If you’re transferring from public school to public school, you may find that your transfer is easier than transferring from a private to public or public to private. States offer a number of transfer paths between public institutions, including transferable core of lower division courses, guaranteed transfer of Associate’s degrees (as discussed above), and statewide common course numbering.
Statewide course numbering among public colleges can be undeniably useful for students who are transferring. There won’t be any guessing about what courses match up with another because the numbers will line up. Whether the college calls the course “English,” “Composition,” or “Language Arts,” if it features the designation of ENG101 (for example), their subject matter is equivalent for transfer.