Frequently Asked Questions for Transfer Students


Requirements for transfer students vary from school to school, but there are still many commonalities in the admissions process between universities. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers for students curious about or considering a transfer. You can also use the search function to find more information about transfer admissions on our website.   

Frequently Asked Questions for Transfer Students

Q: Who is considered a transfer student?

Any student who has already earned his/her high school diploma or GED and then enrolled at a college or university can be considered a transfer applicant. Usually, prospective students who are dual-enrolled in both high school and a college program should apply as first-year students. Students who have earned college credits prior to high school graduation (e.g., dual enrollment) are considered first-year applicants.

Q: What are the different types of transfers?

There are three common types of transfers:

  • Vertical Transfer - Students transfer from a two-year institution to a four-year institution.

  • Lateral Transfer - A student transfers from a four-year institution to another four-year institution OR from a two-year institution to another two-year institution.

  • Reverse transfer - A student (or academic credit) is transferred back from a 4-year university or college to a 2-year institution.

Q: I already have a bachelor's degree but want to earn another undergraduate degree. Should I apply to colleges as a transfer student?

If you have completed a bachelor’s degree and are seeking another undergraduate degree, you should apply to schools as a Post Baccalaureate student.  

Q: Do I have to complete an associate's degree to transfer?

In most, if not all cases, transfer applicants are not required to have completed an associate's degree before enrolling at a new college or university.

Q: What application should I use to apply to colleges?

Many colleges use the Common App or Coalition App for transfer admission. Others may require a separate application for transfer students that differs from the freshman, undergraduate application.

Q: Do I have to send all of my college transcripts when I transfer colleges?

Yes. In general, when applying to colleges, you must submit separate official transcripts from each college, university or professional school you’ve attended in the past.

Q: Do universities provide financial aid for transfer students?

Transfer students can apply for financial aid by using the FAFSA just like most other students. Transfer students are also eligible for various scholarships, grants, loans, and employment aid that is open to undergraduates in general, and transfer students specifically.

Q: What are my chances of getting into a college as a transfer student?

According to a report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the average admissions rate for transfer students for Fall 2017 was 62 percent, compared to 65 percent for first-time freshmen. It is generally more difficult to gain admission as a transfer than as a freshman.

Q: Will my grade point average transfer?

Your GPA will not transfer between schools. Transfer students should anticipate starting with a fresh GPA when enrolling at a new institution.

Q: What is the process for evaluating earned credits?

Credits for transfer students are not usually formally evaluated until you’re admitted to the new university. At that point, the college will evaluate your transcript to assess which credits will transfer over. Most institutions, though, will only accept credit for college-level classes completed at regionally accredited schools. Students can try Transferology (requires a free account) to view equivalent coursework between colleges.

Cover photo courtesy of Vanderbilt University