Colleges and Universities use the terms transfer credit and credit transfer to describe the process of granting credit to a student for completing courses at another school. More and more students have benefited from this mechanism. However, the procedure is complicated and time-consuming, with numerous requirements not limited to courses or host institutions.
1. Academic Credit System
2. College Credit Components
3. Credit Transfer Mechanisms at Institutions in North America
4. Credit Transfer Requirements
5. Transfer Credit Approval
6. LightCourse College Course Platform
7. LightCourse Transfer Credit Service Procedure
Academic Credit System
The academic credit system is used to measure students' level of study at institutions of higher education in North America. A credit hour is a measurement of a college or university's workload. It equates to one hour of class per week for one semester. The majority of classes at American institutions are 3 credit hours, and there are also classes that are 5 credit hours. Laboratories, art, and fitness classes, on the other hand, may consist of one credit hour.
In order to get a degree, students must acquire a particular amount of credits and complete a given number of courses in their chosen major. The number of credits gained varies by course and is usually determined by the number of hours spent in class. Semester schools generally require 120 credits for graduation, while Quarter schools require 180 credits. The maximum and minimum number of credits students can and must take during their education usually are regulated, for instance:
. 60-64 credits must be completed for a two-year associate degree.
.120-128 credits are required for a four-year degree. To graduate on time, students are required to at least 120 credit hours, which equates to 8 semesters (4 years) * 5 classes * 3 units (credit hours) per class.
.30 credits of master's and doctoral level courses must be completed within 1-2 years for students pursuing masters and doctoral degrees.
College Credit Components
The college curriculum comprises three main sections: general education, major, and elective courses.
. General Education(Gen Ed) requirements are the curriculums that make up the foundation of an undergraduate degree. The credits of general education requirements in most North American universities cover about half of a bachelor's degree, about 42-60 semester-based college credits. General education classes including introductory courses such as art, math, history, physics, and English are usually taken by college students during their first two years.
. Major requirements refer to courses that focus on the student's chosen field of study. Students must declare a major to earn a bachelor's degree. If the university doesn't require students to declare a major before starting their undergraduate studies, students can make that decision at the end of their sophomore year. All undergraduate students are required to complete about 120 credits (approximately 40 courses) in order to graduate. About 12 of those 40 classes fall into the major requirement category.
. Electives are courses that student take by choice. Students must take electives in addition to their required general education and major courses in order to complete the remainder of their credit requirements. While taking electives, students can learn about other disciplines, try new activities, and maybe get a better sense of what they want to focus on.
All credit specifications for different majors are included in the course catalog of the universities. Since such criteria are subject to change, a student is responsible for satisfying the requirements listed in the catalog in the year or semester they begin the program.
Credit Transfer Mechanisms at Institutions in North America
North American institutions have a flexible credit transfer mechanism. Students can enroll in classes at one university and transfer their credits to another to complete the required courses and credits. Students may transfer credits for a variety of reasons, including:
. Acquiring credits from a community college and transferring them to a four-year institution.
. Moving to a new city or state, which requires transferring credits to another institution.
. Transferring to a university with a higher ranking.
. Relocating due to military orders.
. Taking courses at community colleges.
. Enrolling in summer, winter, or regular semester off-campus credit courses.
. Switching majors.
Credit Transfer Requirements
Transferring college credits can be a time-consuming and complex procedure. When approving a course, a home institution will consider numerous variables, including academic policies, course content, credential requirements, and the qualifications of the instructors.
The general transfer credit standard at most institutions in North America requires a grade of C or above in order to accept transfer credits. On the other hand, some institutions will accept a C- or even a D. Typically, grades earned in off-campus courses do not count toward a student's overall grade point average (GPA). As a result, many students maintain their high GPAs by enrolling in credit courses off-campus.
The following are some possible conditions for transferring credits between schools:
. Official programs at colleges and universities. After admission, most U.S. higher education institutions only accept transfer credits from other four-year institutions. Some higher-ranked private universities no longer accept transfer credits from community colleges once students are enrolled.
. Course content meets the criteria of the American academic credit system. Not all classes can be taken for transfer credit off-campus. Students should adhere to the university's credit system and graduation criteria for courses taken off-campus. Course syllabi, credits and hours should comply with the university's standards.
. Course content correspondence. Universities in the U.S. require that 70%-80% of the course content match the course content of the university in order to transfer credit. Students can download the course syllabus and submit it to their advisor or visit the relevant department for review to ensure that the course content fits the university's requirements.
. The course category complies with the requirements. Usually, general education, elective, and lower-level major courses' credit transfer is accepted by institutions. However, students need to check with their schools' credit transfer policies to ensure that the credits can be transferred successfully since each school has different policies.
. Provide official transcripts. U.S. colleges and universities frequently require official transcripts from the institution offering the course for approving transfer credit applications.
. Qualifications of the instructor. Higher education institutions typically need instructors to complete academic and certification standards, with a Ph D. degree being a common prerequisite at most American universities. The course's quality is directly proportional to the quality of the instructors.
. Regional accreditation. Most regionally accredited institutions have course equivalency agreements with other regionally accredited institutions. Regional accreditation authorities oversee state-owned or non-profit schools and universities. In the United States, there are six regional accrediting agencies, including the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. These agencies are responsible for the oversight of institutions within their respective clusters of states.
Transfer credit policies differ per institution. Therefore, thoroughly research the transfer credit policies of your home institution before making a decision to ensure that you will be able to transfer credit effectively. Typically, if you are expecting to take external courses, you are expected to:
. Read and understand the transfer credit policy of your school.
. Consult your academic advisor to ensure that the course will count toward your degree.
. Check your school's course equivalency list to verify if the course has been reviewed when you are planning to enroll in other regionally accredited institutions.
. If the course has not been evaluated (courses from international colleges and universities or institutions without regional accreditation), make an appointment with your academic adviser for course approval.
. If necessary, provide additional personal and course information for evaluation. Personal information collected and reviewed often includes school year, GPA, amount of credits gained, and if the student has taken prerequisite courses, among others.
. After completing the course, ensure that all final transcripts and grade reports have been sent to the transfer credit office of your home institution.
Transfer Credit Approval
Course approval is a critical component of credit transfer. Course approval procedures are divided into two categories: pre-course approval and post-course approval.
Course Pre-Approval refers to a home institution examining if the prospective transfer credits you will earn are likely to be approved before you enroll in an external course. The course will be examined to see if it fits your home institution's transfer credit criteria. If the course gets pre-approval, you can take the course with more assurance that you will be able to successfully transfer the credits after completing it.
Course Post-Approval refers to a home institution assessing after receiving an official transcript from the institution where the course was taken whether or not to accept the transfer credits for an already-completed course. With Post-Approval, you do not know in advance whether a potential external course matches your intended course at your home institution or whether your home institution will accept transfer credits. Thus, with Post-Approval, there is a higher risk of failing to transfer credits.
In most cases, there are three ways to submit an application:
Online application. Universities frequently include links to their transfer credit sites on their official websites. After logging in, you can fill out course-related information, submit course syllabi according to your department's criteria, and then submit your application. The courses will be examined by the appropriate department and personnel to determine whether they meet the university's transfer credit requirements, how the courses correspond, and how many credits can be transferred. Students can verify the audit results when the audit is completed by logging into the online application system.
Mail application. According to the requirements of different schools, you can send your transfer credit application and course-related information to your academic advisor, department dean, or registrar's office in the appropriate format. Following receipt of your application, the school will assess the course and notify you through email if your application has been approved.
Form Application. In general, students will have to meet with their academic advisors to review the course syllabi and complete the necessary pre-transfer work, such as filling out the transfer credit application. The official transcripts from the school where the course was taken will be sent back to the university after the course is completed, and the school will complete the subsequent credit transfer.
LightCourse College Course Platform
LightCourse provides worldwide access to credit-bearing courses, both online and on-campus. With an extensive and globe-spanning network of world-class partner universities, LightCourse offers 7000+ accredited college courses covering more than 300 different majors and disciplines, allowing students to undertake high-quality international college courses at any time and from anywhere.
Owning up-to-date data on transfer credit policies at over 4000 colleges and universities, the LightCourse team includes expert transfer credit professionals who are enthusiastic and able to guide students in determining and following all relevant university policies and deadlines, obtaining transcripts, and ensuring that students can transfer credits in a convenient and straightforward way.
LightCourse Transfer Credit Service Procedure
LightCourse will assign you a professional adviser who will provide you with one-on-one support throughout the credit transfer procedure in accordance with your university's transfer credit rules, ensuring that you are able to complete the transfer as efficiently and successfully as possible.
Fill out the pre-registration information.
Check if the selected course corresponds to the one at the student's home institution via 1V1 guidance from our advisor.
Select a program/course.
Receive a course syllabus.
Receive confirmation from the student's home institution about whether credits will transfer via 1V1 guidance from our advisor.
Start taking classes.
Receive grades. Final grades are generally available one week after the last day of class, although specific programs may post grades at the conclusion of the semester. The exact grade release timing will be determined by the instructor or institution.
Transcript delivery. After passing the exam, the institution offering the course will deliver the required transcripts directly to the transfer credit office at your school. The transfer of credits will be conducted according to the course approval status after the institution receives the transcript.
Ongoing support as students move forward with their studies and careers. We're here to help ensure your credits and successes follow you as you transfer between universities, apply for graduate school, and pursue job applications.
LightCourse has assisted many students from various schools and institutions in transferring a large number of academic credits throughout the years, intending to ensure academic success for all students.
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