How to choose the best online college to transfer to

October 07, 2021 · 8 min read · By ASU Online
If you’re considering transferring to a new online college program, you want your credits to count. Learn more about choosing the best school for your needs.

A journey in higher education doesn’t always start and end with the same college or university. Transferring to a new school can be your path to earning the degree that’s the right fit for your personal and professional goals.

Let’s define the term “transfer student.” Specific qualifications vary, but generally schools set a threshold at which a student is considered a transfer. At Arizona State University, any learner who has previously attended a different college or university and completed at least 12 credits qualifies as a transfer student.

Students may choose to transfer for a variety of reasons, including:

  • A certain school might offer a unique program or learning opportunities more in line with your goals.
  • The educational environment at your current school may not feel like the best fit for you.
  • Students who’ve earned an associate degree at a community college may want to transfer to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree.

If you’re considering or already committed to transferring to a new school to finish your degree online, there are support services you can use to help ensure a smooth transition, but they’re not the same everywhere.

The transfer process can vary significantly between schools, so it’s in your best interest to carefully review requirements and workflows. It’s important to understand how transfer credits work so you can select the best online degree for your needs and make a plan around attending a new school. Your prior learning should be recognized and rewarded, so consider the tools and services a new school may provide that can help make the transfer process easier.


Keep your online degree on track: The value of transfer credits

As a transfer student, you have a valuable resource on your side: the college credit you’ve already earned.

Each course you previously completed has the potential to be recognized by the institution you transfer to. Why is that important?

  • You can follow a clearer path toward a college degree, focusing on classes that introduce new concepts and knowledge.
  • You won’t need to retake a course and study familiar material when you've already demonstrated competency related to it.
  • You can reduce the total number of credit hours you need to earn, cutting down on both the time needed to earn a degree and the related costs, such as tuition and textbooks.

Flexibility is another key benefit to earning an online degree. You can learn from wherever you’re currently located instead of having to live close to or at a college or university. Flexibility also means pacing your courses around your schedule so you can better balance your obligations as a student with your job and the rest of your life. When you start a program offered by ASU Online, you can count on getting the same curriculum and receiving instruction from the same faculty as on-campus programs.

To get the most out of your online academic experience, you’ll have to assess how your new university differs from the previous one. Transferring to a new school often requires some adjusting, but paying attention to deadlines and requirements can help you stay on track to graduate on the timeline you have in mind.

An ASU Online transfer student poses for a picture in downtown Phoenix.

Do online schools accept transfer credit from other colleges?

Yes! A regionally accredited online school will accept relevant college credits from other regionally accredited colleges and universities. That includes courses completed in an online program.

However, the process is not automatic. There isn’t a guarantee that all credits will transfer to your new school. That’s why it’s important to consider the admission process used by a particular college or university and to learn how it accepts transfer credits.

It’s difficult to rank the best online colleges for transfer credits because of the many variations in process and the specifics of evaluating transcripts. However, you can be confident that ASU Online takes a student-focused approach to transfer credits, sharing the details you need to make an informed decision about your path forward.

Learn more at ASU Online’s transfer requirements page.


What effect will transfer credits have on your GPA at your new college?

Transfer credit doesn't usually influence your GPA. The specifics can vary based on the policies of the school you're transferring to, however.

While you’ll receive credit for a completed course that aligns with a college or university’s standards, the grade likely won’t be included. Many schools mark such courses as a “Pass” instead of carrying over the specific letter grade. There are some exceptions, but you shouldn’t expect to have your GPA at your new institution influenced by grades earned at your previous one.


What to look for in the online college you transfer to

Some schools set themselves apart by offering relevant and effective support for transfer students. Keep these considerations in mind as you plan the next step of your journey in higher education:

  • Enrollment coach

Every transfer student’s situation is different. Between colleges previously attended, credits earned, educational and career goals and other factors, there’s plenty of variation from one learner to the next.

Enrollment coaches can help you learn more about an online college or university, both in general and specifically for your position as a transfer student. They can offer guidance about key needs such as application deadlines, transferring credits and programs that are relevant to your interests. Similarly, these professionals can share information about tuition costs, timelines and other important topics. The team at ASU Online are prepared to support you with these issues and more.

  • Pathway programs

Universities that recognize the diverse educational backgrounds of their students offer programs that take those differences into account and support a successful move to a new school. Just as enrollment coaches can play an important role in addressing uncertainty related to transferring, so can pathway programs.

If you decide to apply to ASU Online as a community college student or graduate holding an associate degree, you can take advantage of MyPath2ASU™. This program includes guided transfer maps for a wide variety of pathways and the ASU Transfer Guide that includes a database of nearly 1 million course equivalencies from thousands of U.S. accredited institutions. You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with transfer student ambassadors who offer peer-to-peer support.

These maps include personalized, term-by-term navigation that helps you understand how courses apply to your degree. If you’re planning ahead on transferring from another school to ASU Online, a common path for community college students, you can learn which courses will satisfy our requirements. That can ultimately save you time and money.

By successfully completing your MyPath2ASU™ and all admission requirements for your indicated major, you’ll be prepared to receive admission into ASU Online and your major of choice.

  • A broad range of degrees

Above anything else, you want to earn a degree that aligns with your objectives as a student and goals as a professional.

ASU Online offers more than 120 online undergraduate degrees, meaning you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re interested in the humanities, STEM, business or a number of other topics, you may find a degree that fits into your plans for the future.

Is transferring to ASU Online hard?

ASU Online emphasizes access as a core principle, because inclusion and the success of all students are a part of the university’s foundation. We also recognize the important role of graduates in supporting their communities.

While we maintain competitive admission standards and offer rigorous programs, we’ve also developed systems that allow many types of potential students to demonstrate their capabilities and become eligible for admission, including transfer students.

ASU Online is accredited and offers an Earned Admission learners program. Students who don’t meet certain admission requirements can take ASU Universal Learner Courses to improve their standing, including boosting their GPAs.

You’ll need to complete your required courses with a 2.75 GPA and pay to transfer them to your official transcript. Simply submit your application along with any other required materials. Then, you could be eligible for admission.

You can only include courses in this program on your transcript one time, so you should calculate your GPA based on the results before deciding to do so. However, you only need to pay the transcription fee if you’re satisfied with the result of the course, and you can retake online classes if you want to attempt to earn a higher grade.


Can you transfer into college after an application deadline?

While there can be exceptions based on unique circumstances, application deadlines are an important part of the admission process. Defined periods for admission ensure staff can give the right level of attention to each application. These deadlines also help accepted students by providing enough time after admission to address the administrative and academic needs related to starting a new program.

However, one of the great benefits to learning at ASU Online is the multiple start dates offered throughout the year. For example, if you missed the deadline to start school in August, you don’t have to wait until spring to enroll in classes. You can still attend school in the fall by taking ASU Online courses during the Fall B session, which starts in October. We also offer two start dates in the spring session. If you can’t start in January, the Spring B session starts in March.

Learn more about ASU Online’s multiple start dates and how it empowers you to learn on a schedule that works for you.


Taking the next step: Finding your new school

ASU Online is proud to support all types of learners, from those holding an associate degree to individuals who decide their current school isn’t the best fit for their academic needs and career aspirations.

Nearly three-quarters of all ASU Online undergraduate students have transferred from another college or university. That’s not surprising, considering the wide range of degrees and online classes we offer. Online learners enjoy the modality that comes with this type of program while earning a degree that is identical to those offered on campus. Our admission teams are experienced in working through the process of evaluating transfer credits and supporting learners who come from other schools.

Ready to start the transfer admission process, or have more specific questions about it? Learn more by visiting ASU Online’s transfer admission page.

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Thinking about making the switch to an online degree program? We highlight five of the top benefits, including schedule flexibility, school-life-work balance, and more. 


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