How to Transfer to Online College

Many college students consider a school transfer and some decide to transfer to online college. According to a six-year-long study by the National Center for Education Statistics, about one-third of first-time beginning undergraduate students transferred or co-enrolled at least once.

Learners choose to transfer schools for multiple reasons, including cost, educational quality, and degree availability. Keep reading for FAQs, steps on how to transfer credits, and a list of the best transfer schools.

Transfer Credits FAQs


  • Will All My Credits Transfer?

    Each university uses multiple factors to determine credit transferability. For this reason, students interested in transferring college credits should contact both their current school and future school’s transfer departments to learn specifics.

    When communicating with university representatives at the transferring school, students should ask about the accreditation status and transfer agreements. These agreements, also referred to as articulation agreements, occur between two schools, and they guarantee certain credits will transfer and count towards a degree.

    Note that transfer credits must come from an accredited school. Credits tend to transfer well between schools with the same accreditation type in the same region of the United States. Some states, like Michigan, offer resources for transferring college credits between schools in the state.

    However, not all credits transfer. Typically, general education credits and associate degree credits transfer more easily than a collection of loose degree-specific credits.


  • Will My Transfer Credits Apply to My Degree?

    Some credits may transfer as elective credits, but not count toward applicable degree credits if the course descriptions do not align with a current required course at the transfer receiving school. This likely occurs if the transferring student also transfers majors. For example, creative writing credits most likely will not apply to a computer science program.

    Additionally, colleges often require learners to complete a certain percentage of the credits directly at the school. This threshold usually falls around 25%.


  • What Costs Are Associated With Transferring?

    When planning on transferring college credits, learners should create a budget. Most transfer receiving schools charge a one-time application fee that averages about $50. However, a transfer can cost much more if it requires additional semesters.

    Many schools raise tuition rates annually. This means students incur higher costs the longer it takes them to complete a degree. Additionally, learners may need to retake a portion of already completed credits that do not transfer.

    Students who transfer to online colleges with lower tuition rates or better scholarship packages can save thousands of dollars, making up for the costs associated with transferring.


  • What Effect Will Transfer Credits Have on My GPA at My New College?

    While transfer credits appear on official academic transcripts, they do not impact a student’s GPA at their transfer receiving school. This allows learners to start fresh and establish a new GPA. However, transfer receiving schools do use transfer credit GPA to determine admission status and scholarship eligibility.


  • Can I Transfer Credits To and From Trade or Vocational Schools?

    Many schools accept credits from trade or vocational schools. However, this acceptance depends on factors like the regional location of both schools, accreditation status, and whether the credits belong to a packaged associate degree. Credits from trade or vocational schools transfer best to schools accredited by the same regional accrediting agency, especially in the form of an associate degree.


Steps to Transferring to an Online College Program


  • Step 1: Weigh Your Options

    Before transferring to an online college, students should weigh the pros and cons. A transfer could provide new academic opportunities, a degree better tailored to specific career goals, and cost savings if transferring credits from a private college to a public university. However, students could end up spending more money to complete a transfer due to rising tuition rates and failed credit transfers. Additionally, transfer students often take longer to complete a degree.

    Many schools list requirements for transferring college credits on their website, and most universities also employ academic advisors who specialize in the transfer process. Students should speak with academic advisors from both their current school and desired school to understand how to transfer credits between them.


  • Step 2: Research the New School

    Before committing to a school, prospective learners should conduct thorough research. While many schools offer information on scholarships, financial aid, accreditation, and transfer details on their website, students should always contact a school representative directly to learn more and confirm facts.

    When communicating with a faculty member at a prospective school, students should ask about special arrangements for transfer students, such as a transfer advisor program. Transfer advisors can also answer questions about how many credits will transfer to the new school, whether the credits expire, minimum GPA requirements, and possible exams that waive foundational courses.

    Students with non-college course credits, such as work experience, military service, Advanced Placement high school courses, or CLEP exam scores should ask if the transfer receiving school counts these credits toward a degree.


  • Step 3: Have Your Old (or Current) School Send Your Official Transcript to the New School

    Colleges and universities require official transcripts. Once transfer students narrow down their search to one potential school, they can ask their current school to send their transcripts to their desired school. Schools watermark and seal physical copies of official transcripts in a signature-stamped envelope to prevent tampering. Schools can also electronically send official transcripts to another school, which typically takes 24-48 hours.

    Transfer receiving schools do not accept transcripts mailed or sent from students. Typically, a college’s registrar office handles this process. Transcripts contain information on attempted and completed courses and the resulting grade. Official transcripts also include the student’s average GPA and identifying information.


  • Step 4: Complete the Transfer Application for the New School

    Completing a transfer to an online college compares closely to a typical application process. For example, transfer students must submit an application and fee. Most schools use online applications that also require personal statements, essays, and recommendation letters.

    The transfer process can take several weeks to complete, so students should ideally start the transfer at least three months before they wish to start. Certain degrees also require learners to complete an interview or engage in a portfolio review.

    Once learners gain admission to a school and program, they work with transfer advisors to determine which credits transfer successfully.


Online College Transfer Spotlight

With an abundance of online schools, narrowing down a list can be challenging. To help in the process, keep reading to discover some of the best transfer schools for online students.


  • Arizona State University

    Although Arizona State University operates out of Phoenix, Arizona, the school accepts online transfer students from around the world. This state school offers a helpful online tool called MyPath2ASU™. This application allows students to quickly determine which transfer credits align with major courses.


  • Franklin University

    This school aims to make the transfer process as seamless as possible. Prospective students can use MyTrasfer Credit, an online tool that matches transfer courses with similar courses at Franklin University.


  • University of Florida

    Based in Gainesville, Florida, the University of Florida offers special resources for transfer students, including an application designed specifically for them. The university also publishes a list of eligibility requirements.


  • Penn State World Campus

    Penn State World Campus welcomes transfer students from around the world. Learn more about the school’s flexible transfer policies. For example, undergraduate students need only complete 36 credits directly at the school to earn a degree.


  • Oregon State University

    Oregon State University works directly with transfer students to ensure a smooth transition. Prospective students can use the university’s transfer course search tool to discover which credits will most likely transfer successfully.


Latest Posts

See All Posts
Best Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Programs 2021

Best Physician Assistant Master’s Degree Programs 2021

February 22, 2021   |   Staff Writers

Physician assistants (PAs) practice medicine as part of a healthcare team in various clinical settings. Medical practices increasingly rely on PAs to perform some physician duties, including ordering and interpreting...

Best Bachelor’s in Real Estate Programs 2021

Best Bachelor’s in Real Estate Programs 2021

February 22, 2021   |   Staff Writers

The real estate industry involves the evaluation, purchase, sale, and management of properties. Many graduates of bachelor's in real estate programs pursue careers as real estate agents. These professionals help...

Advertisement AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Search for Online Colleges by Subject

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.