In the decades since online learning emerged, colleges and universities have been able to refine their online curriculum to make it more engaging and accessible to students, giving them an education that is on par with what they would learn in an in-person education setting.
With the rise of online education, many of the questions that surround more traditional, on-campus learning now apply to students earning their degree from behind a computer screen. Some of the most common of these questions revolve around whether a student can transfer online college credits to a different online university program or to apply previously earned credits to a campus-based program. We’ll cover all you need to know about transferring your online college credits and continuing your education.
Can You Earn College Credits Online?
In recent years, earning a degree online has not only become commonplace, but many students prefer the flexibility that an online education offers. In a hectic world where students juggle jobs, family life, and making time for activities they enjoy, earning a bachelor’s or master’s online can help students cut back on commute time, as well as find a school that offers a degree program that will help them advance in their field without being limited to a specific geographic area. It’s not a question of can you get college credits online, but rather how you can transfer those credits to advance your education even further or change schools.
Better yet, the stigma around earning a college degree online has largely been removed. According to US News and World Report, most prospective employers do not make a distinction between candidates who’ve earned their degree online versus those who graduated from a brick-and-mortar school. Many colleges with traditional campuses have graduated to include online counterparts to their degree programs, giving more students around the country (and the world) an opportunity to enroll in their preferred institution without having to move across the country.
Can You Transfer Online College Credits to a University?
Yes, you can transfer online credits to a more traditional, campus-based program. In addition, not only can you transfer online college credits to another online institution, but you can also transfer credits from an on-campus college or university to an online degree program.
Accredited Online Institutions and Transferrable Credits
While it’s quite common to transfer credits between different schools, you’ll still want to be mindful that your credits come from an accredited institution. Typically, it’s easiest to transfer credits between two regionally accredited schools. Some schools are nationally accredited, which means they adhere to a different set of standards than schools that are regionally accredited. Since many nationally accredited schools aren’t always rooted in academics and often deal with trade or vocational curriculum, they’re not often transferable to regionally accredited institutions.
Regionally accredited schools, on the other hand, have more of an academic focus. Their curriculum is stringently and regularly evaluated by a regional governing body. While there are multiple regional accrediting bodies throughout the U.S., they all uphold similar standards of quality for institutes of higher learning.
While every school may have different names for courses within a given field or degree program, regional accreditation ensures that there are specific, recognized methodologies and core courses in a given program and that they meet rigorous academic standards.
By ensuring that universities meet these standards, it makes transferring between schools a lot easier. This way, students won’t lack an understanding of critical elements of a program, regardless of whether they are working toward a bachelor’s degree in history online at an east coast college campus and want to transfer to an online institution following a move to a different state.
Making sure that you are transferring from one regionally accredited institution to another — regardless of whether that college or university is online — ensures a much smoother transition.
Factors That Impact Your Ability to Transfer Online College Credits
Beyond carrying over credits from a regionally accredited school, there are a few other things to keep in mind if you’re planning to transfer your online college credits.
In order to transfer credits, you’ll need to have earned at least a 2.0 (out of 4.0) in a given course. Most schools also expect students to transfer no less than 30 credits, which equates to a full course load for two semesters. Students who do not have at least 30 credits might be viewed as a new student by a prospective college or university. It’s up to that school’s discretion as to whether they’ll accept those credits or if a student is viewed as an incoming freshman with no transferable credits.
Fortunately, most college credits do not expire. So, even if you have a lapse in time between when you last attended school and plan to transfer your credits to an online or campus-based school, you can likely transfer those credits. Whether you’re transferring old credits from several years ago or last semester, they will carry over as long as they were earned from a regionally accredited institution and you received a grade of 2.0 or higher.
Articulation Agreements and Transferring College Credits
Another important facet of transferring credits between schools is learning if the school you’re currently attending and the school you want to attend have an articulation agreement. An articulation agreement is a relationship between two schools in which they agree to accept corresponding credits towards a degree. This is especially helpful for students who may have completed a two-year associate’s degree program and plan to transfer to a different college or university to earn their bachelor’s. For instance, National University has articulation agreements in place with over 110 community colleges, making it easier for students to get credit for courses already taken before pursuing a more advanced degree.
Articulation agreements may differ from school to school. However, when a formal articulation agreement is in place, it may make it easier for students to transfer from one particular college or university to another, regardless of whether one is online or has a physical campus.
If you’re planning to transfer schools, check with your school’s admissions office to find out if a school you plan to attend may have an articulation agreement in place. This may make transferring even easier.
Transferring Online Credits at National University
Whether you previously attended school in a traditional campus setting and now prefer the flexibility of an online degree program from a bustling campus, or have credits you’ve earned online and plan to transfer to a bustling college campus, National University has you covered.
National University is a regionally accredited institution, which can make transferring your credits that much easier. We offer both an on-campus experience and an online learning environment with a wide range of transfer-friendly degree programs.
If you’re thinking about transferring, check out our Transfer Credit Calculator to see how many of your credits may apply. Get in touch with one of our admissions counselors to learn more about transferring your credits and getting back on the path to a new degree.