What Is an Articulation Agreement?
If you’ve given any thought to becoming a transfer student, you have probably come across the term “articulation agreement.” What are articulation agreements, and how can they help you?
Colleges, particularly those that offer two-year degree programs, often set up articulation agreements with another school that students are prone to transfer to. This agreement is an official guarantee that the credits earned in the first school will transfer to the second. It is a partnership the two schools enter into to ensure that students receive the credit they deserve, that these credits will transfer over into a relevant degree program.
How Do Articulation Agreements Work?
The way an articulation agreement works is going to be different from school to school and from state to state. For example, some states, like California and Florida, have a pattern of articulation agreements between their state colleges that offer two-year and four-year degrees. A student who starts at a community college in these states is almost guaranteed a hassle-free transfer to an in-state four-year school.
That’s not always the case, however. Sometimes, the agreements are very school-specific. The college taking the credits has the option to look carefully at what those credits are, only choosing to create an articulation agreement with schools that have a robust degree program. Sometimes the school’s articulation agreement only applies to specific courses and credits. If a student takes other courses or credits that are not part of the agreement, they may not transfer.
Types of Articulation Agreements
Just because a school advertises an articulation agreement with another school, that does not mean that your credits will automatically transfer. Different types of articulation agreements can complicate matters, and you should take the time to understand these types and your options. Here are some common types of articulation agreements:
- Guaranteed Transfer – A guaranteed transfer agreement states that credits are guaranteed to transfer from one school to the next. In these agreements, most, if not all, of the credits will transfer.
- Dual Enrollment Programs – This is a type of transfer agreement wherein a two-year degree program is considered enrollment in a four-year degree program with a partnering school. Students can earn their associate and bachelor’s degree simultaneously because enrollment in the two-year program is viewed as concurrent enrollment in the other school’s four-year program.
- Program-Specific Agreements – Sometimes a school will set up an articulation agreement with another institution for just one program or major. This means students pursuing that particular type of training have the guarantee, but students in other degree programs may not.
- Standardized Transfer Agreements – These are standardized transfer agreements between schools for the core classes that most students have to take. This means that the math, English, and history type programs that are required, regardless of major, will transfer. Major-specific credits may not be part of this agreement and may be viewed on an individual basis.
- Credit Transfers Between States –College credit transfers between states can be a little more complex because states have different requirements for graduation. Some schools have articulation agreements that transfer from one state to another.
Clearly, articulation agreements are helpful, but they can be confusing. Transfer students need to understand not only whether or not a school has a transfer agreement in place, but also what type they have, before starting their degrees.
What Is the Benefit of Transferring Credits?
Why are articulation agreements in place? Why would a student want to be a transfer student, rather than just starting out at the school where they wish to graduate?
For one, students can save money. Transfer agreements allow students to take some of their coursework at a smaller community college or local college setting. This often means the student doesn’t have to move away from home, saving on those living expenses. Students often find that tuition at two-year or community colleges is less, which helps them save even more.
Yet many students need more than just an associate degree to start their careers. By transferring college credits to a different school, they can take advantage of the more affordable two-year degree program, and even earn an initial degree that lets them start working in the field, without sacrificing the ability to go to a four-year program.
In addition, articulation agreements create a clear path towards acceptance when transferring between colleges. Students have confidence that the work they put in at their first school will not be wasted, but rather will transfer to their new program and help them toward their eventual graduation.
How Do I Start Transferring My Credits?
If you are interested in becoming a transfer student, the first step is to talk with the school you wish to transfer into to learn more about the process. The school will look at many factors, including:
- Existing articulation agreements
- Academic programs and course requirements for the two schools
- Your GPA
- Your history of success as a student
- The requirements of the particular program you are trying to transfer into
- The classes you have taken
The school will use this information to decide how many of your credits will transfer over. If there is a strong articulation agreement, you may find that almost all of your credits transfer. If there is not, you may find that some of your credits do not fit in the academic program you wish to enter. This may mean you have to re-take some courses when you start at the four-year school.
Transfer students must fill out transfer applications. These are similar to the incoming freshman applications, but they require additional information about the coursework the student has already completed. Students may need to meet with an admissions counselor to learn about the school’s policies for transferring credits and to take a look at their current transcript to see which credits are likely to transfer successfully.
How to Find a School’s Articulation Agreement
With many schools offering transfer agreements, students may be wondering how to find them. The first step for learning if the school has an outstanding articulation agreement is to contact the admissions office of the school you wish to attend. They should be able to tell you about any outstanding agreements. Another option is to use an online search tool, like the one offered at CollegeTransfer.net, to compare schools. Keep in mind that articulation agreements can change, so always verify with the school before assuming that the agreement is valid.
Post University offers a large list of articulation agreements for schools in Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington to help students transfer successfully. The school also works hard to help transfer students at other institutions maximize the number of transfer credits they have.
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