How to Transfer to Online College

By Reese Lopez

Published on May 21, 2021

How to Transfer to Online College

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The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reports that 38% of all college students transfer at least once during their education. Students may transfer credits to an online college to pursue a new major, save money on tuition, or gain greater schedule flexibility.

The online college transfer process functions similarly to the regular college application process, requiring students to complete a transfer application and submit their academic transcripts. This guide highlights the major steps necessary to transfer credits, along with tips, strategies, and best practices for transferring.

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The Benefits of Transferring Colleges


Students transfer to online colleges for various reasons. Enrolling at a new school may allow students to pursue a major unavailable at their current institution or access a greater selection of academic resources. Students may also find new research opportunities and other academic benefits at a new school.

Logistically, online learning can make college much easier to manage, particularly if students are juggling full- or part-time employment alongside school. Online courses typically offer more schedule flexibility, with many courses delivered asynchronously. Asynchronous courses do not require set meeting times, allowing students to complete coursework on their own schedule within set deadlines.

Transfer Credits FAQs

Q. What costs are associated with transferring?

Typically, transfer students only pay application and enrollment fees. However, they may incur costs by taking additional courses if some of their credits do not transfer.

Q. What effect will transfer credits have on my GPA at my new college?

Your GPA may affect admissions decisions, but it does not transfer to a new institution. Students can begin with a new GPA at their new school.

Q. Can I transfer credits to and from trade or vocational schools?

Credits from regionally accredited trade and vocational schools typically transfer to two-year and four-year colleges. However, credits from nationally accredited schools may not transfer to regionally accredited schools.

Q. Are all credits transferable?

Most credits earned through traditional courses transfer between schools, but some specialized or unique courses may not transfer as easily. Students can always confirm credit transferability with school counselors.

How to Transfer to an Online College Program


The process to transfer credits generally functions the same at most institutions, but specific factors, such as credit equivalencies and application steps, may differ among schools. Students should research prospective schools' transfer processes to determine specific requirements. This list highlights several major factors to consider when planning to transfer credits between colleges.

1. Understand Your Credits

Before trying to transfer credits, students should research how many credits they have and which are likely to transfer to another school. Many colleges, particularly community colleges, maintain transfer partnerships with other institutions, enabling students to transfer seamlessly between schools. Transfer counselors can help learners identify potential partner schools, making the transfer process easier. If students have taken any specialized courses that fall outside of general education requirements, recognize that some of these credits may not transfer.

2. Research Your Options

When considering a transfer, it pays to consider a school's academic strengths and transfer credit policies. Ideally, a new school will allow learners to continue their studies with as much continuity as possible, both in terms of academic subject matter and logistics. Students should always research each school's prerequisites and credit equivalencies to determine what courses they may need to complete when transferring.

3. Reach Out to the School

Most schools detail their credit transfer policies online, but transfer counselors can answer more specific questions and offer assistance with the transfer process. Counselors can help ensure that learners complete all paperwork on time and transfer the maximum number of credits possible. In general, students should contact a potential transfer school several months before the start of the semester they intend to transfer into.

4. Complete the Credits Transfer Application

Most schools offer a standard transfer application, which requires degree-seekers to fill out personal information and submit transcripts from any prior colleges or universities. If students transfer credits during their first year, schools may also want to see their high school transcripts. Some schools also require letters of recommendation. In general, students hoping to transfer for the fall semester should submit their transfer application by March or April.

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