Transferring Credits and Degree Programs

Whether you choose to earn your degree on campus first and earn your next one online, or vice versa, you may be wondering if an online degree combined with a traditional college diploma have value. In short, the answer is yes. A combination of online courses and traditional courses, or an online degree with transfer credit, will usually be accepted by institutions as having the same value as long as the course work is accredited. This is because earning degree credits, or an entire degree, from an accredited institution makes it easier for other schools to determine whether your previous education is up to their standards.

Credits from an accredited institution, whether traditional or online, typically can transfer between similarly accredited degree programs. The University of Iowa, for example, accepts transfer credits from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and judges all other course work by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers or the American Council on Education standards. Keep in mind that an institution may also set a limit on how many credits can transfer over to a degree program at that institution. For instance, the University of Florida sets a limit of 60 transferable credit hours. To make sure your credits will transfer from online to offline, or even from offline to online schools, contact the college you want to transfer into to discuss their rules.

In addition, not all credits will transfer, depending on the class. Students considering a transfer to a different degree program should weigh their options and first determine which credits will transfer and which won’t, as most degree programs have different course requirements. For example, a student in their third year of an undergraduate degree program, whether online or traditional, may find their time better spent completing the program rather than switching to a completely new degree program because a transfer to a new degree program may cost more or take more time than completing the original program and applying for a graduate degree afterward. However, this depends on what credits will transfer and how far into the program they are. Also keep in mind that credits will not transfer to programs where they are not relevant. For instance, an online program in nursing will typically not accept public relations-specific credits from a public relations degree program. In addition, an accredited institution will usually require transferring courses to have an equivalent at that institution. For example, if you are trying to transfer of an introductory accounting credit, then the institution you’re transferring to should also have an introductory accounting class.

Finally, a program may offer credit for prior learning through credit-by-examination programs, such as College-Level Education Programs (CLEP), or by accepting professional licensure for course credit. Keep in mind, though, that prior learning credits don’t always transfer between institutions. These are unlike life experience credits, though, which can be trickier. In general, reputable schools may offer a minimal amount of credits for life experience, such as having held a job relevant to the degree for a certain number of years, but no good school will allow the majority of a degree program to be waived with life experience credits. For this reason, always be wary of schools that claim you can get out of several classes because of life experience alone.

The ability to combine online and traditional course work ultimately depends on whether or not those credits are from accredited institutions. Check with potential institutions to determine what credits will transfer, or what degree a graduate school will take.

Source: Online Learning for Students Blog –