1. Understand How Courses Transfer
Transferring courses is easier in Texas than many other states because Texas has a Common Course Numbering System. This means similar courses that are taught at public colleges and universities in the first two years of college are identified by common numbers (although the numbers may not be used on your campus). Each college and university catalog identifies freshman- and sophomore-level courses that have common course numbers. If you're planning to transfer, these are often the best courses to choose. Sometimes your college may have a special transfer agreement with another school for other courses to transfer. Be sure to see an advisor, who can help you sort out the information and make the right choices.
2. Get Advising!
Most students want to transfer from one school to another without hassles and without losing credit they have already earned. Luckily, you can do this by following a few important steps. Your college or university has advisors trained to help you make the right decisions about what courses to take when you are preparing to transfer. Be sure to contact an advisor at the school you're planning to transfer to as well. Getting help from both your current school and the new school is the best way to make your transition as smooth as possible.
3. Make a Transfer Plan
Start by identifying a major that corresponds with your chosen career field. Plan carefully, because changing majors can result in course hours lost in transfer. There are many courses that transfer from one college or university to another, but your ability to apply those courses to your degree program will depend on if they fit into your transfer school's degree plan. Transferring schools will work best if you get information about the degree plan you want to follow at the school you want to attend, and then match the required course work as closely as possible prior to transferring. The earlier you identify a plan, the better chance you have of transferring without losing a single credit hour toward your degree plan. An advisor who understands the transfer process can help you put your plan together.
4. Shop Around
Sometimes students make decisions about where to attend college without looking at all the options. Of course, the first priority is finding a college that offers the degree program you want and has the other qualities you're looking for in a school. As a transfer student, you may also want to look for a university or college that has a strong transfer relationship with the college you attend now. Similar programs at different universities may be structured very differently. Shopping around can help you find a program and a school that best fits your needs.
5. Take the Core Curriculum
If you plan to receive a bachelor's degree from a public university, Texas law requires that you complete a core curriculum of between 42 and 48 credit hours. Each college or university identifies which of its courses fit into the core curriculum. If you complete the core curriculum with grades of "C" or better and transfer, the entire core curriculum transfers and substitutes for the core curriculum you would have taken at your new school. You may have to take additional course work if your transfer school has a larger core curriculum than the school you came from. If you complete only part of the core curriculum before you transfer, each course you completed should apply to the new school's core curriculum.
Please remember: In some bachelor's degree programs, students take requirements for the major as part of the core curriculum. If you know what you plan to major in, it's best to follow Tip 2 and make a transfer plan so you won't have to take extra course work to satisfy your degree plan.
6. Check into Field of Study Curricula
In addition to the core curriculum, Texas law authorizes the state to create field of study curricula. A field of study curriculum consists of freshman and sophomore courses that apply to a specific major. A student who successfully completes all or part of a field of study curriculum prior to transferring will receive degree credit for the field of study curriculum coursework (as long as the student stays in a degree program in that discipline). Some of the disciplines for which there are field of study curricula are nursing, computer science, engineering technology, music, early childhood-grade four teacher certification, middle grades teacher certification, criminal justice, engineering, business and communication. More field of study curricula will be added in the future.
7. Special Articulation Agreements
If you are transferring from a community or technical college to a university, it's a good bet that your school has articulation agreements for transfer of credit. An articulation agreement is a contract that spells out exactly which courses will transfer to which degree programs and how the credit will be applied. Many schools have articulation agreements that will allow you to apply a complete associate's degree program to a bachelor's degree at your transfer school. Check with your college's advising staff for specifics.
8. Know Which Courses and Programs are Designed to Transfer
If you attend a community or technical college, it's important to remember that there are several types of college credit. Academic transfer courses are the common courses (see Tip 1) that transfer to most public universities. Workforce education courses are designed to give you skills for immediate employment, and many of these courses may not transfer to universities. Workforce continuing education courses are also technical in nature but do not result in college credit at all. These are the most difficult courses to transfer. If you're pursuing a degree at a two-year college, the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science (A.A. and A.S.) degrees are designed to transfer. Applied associate degree programs (the A.A.S. or A.A.A.) contain some transfer courses and also technical courses that may transfer to certain kinds of applied bachelor's degrees (B.A.A.S. or B.A.T.). Again, an advisor can help you identify courses and programs that will work best if transferring is your goal.
9. Transfer Dispute Resolution
If you transfer to a public college or university in Texas and believe you were entitled to more transfer credit than you received, you have the right to ask for transfer dispute resolution. Procedures for transfer dispute resolution should be published in every public college and university catalogue. Most transfer credit disputes can be worked out by talking to your new or previously-attended college. Start with the institution to which you are transferring; then, if your question is not settled, discuss it with the college where you earned the credit. If the dispute is not resolved after the two colleges or universities have worked together, the issue can be referred to the Commissioner of Higher Education for a final decision.
10. "Reverse Transfer"
If you transfer from a two-year college to a university after you have accumulated 30 or more credit hours but before you complete an associate's degree, many two-year colleges will be happy to transfer courses completed at the university back into your program and award an associate's degree. This is a win-win arrangement; you can continue working on the bachelor's degree, but meanwhile will have a college degree until you can finish the four-year program. Talk to someone in the transfer office of your two-year college to work out this kind of arrangement.