Do Community College Credits Transfer to Other Community Colleges [2021 Guide]

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Do community college credits transfer to other community colleges?

Community College Credits Transfer

In many cases, credits from a regionally accredited community college do transfer. There are some circumstances or policies, though, that can complicate getting college credit relayed to another school.

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It’s important to note that this article only discusses credit transfers from one community college to another community college, not to a four-year college or university.

Do Community College Credits Transfer to Other Community Colleges

College Credits Transfer

Yes, community college credits transfer to other community colleges that are regionally accredited. If you’re transferring between colleges in the same region and both schools are duly accredited, you should find few obstacles to transferring credits.

That said, policies for credit transfers can vary by state, region, and school, and they may be codified in existing transfer agreements between schools or school networks.

In general, community college courses tend to reflect broadly defined agreements about core course requirements relevant for all undergraduates. That means that even if you transfer from one state to another, it’s quite possible you’ll be able to transfer most of your course credits.

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Difficulties are more likely to arise for courses that are aligned to a highly specialized associates degree pathway or vocational certificate program.

Taking any course with highly localized content may also complicate credit transfer requests. For example, it will probably be easier to transfer credits for a humanities core course called Introduction to Philosophy than for a humanities core course called Local Indigenous Folklore.

Transferring from One Community College to Another

Transferring Community College

When it comes to transferring credits between community colleges that are in the same state, their general education requirements may be roughly equivalent. Credit transfers are likely facilitated by well-established credit transfer policies mutually adhered to by both schools.

The main difference with accredited community colleges in the same state is that they won’t all choose to offer the exact same courses, even though they’ll likely offer a host similar courses. Community colleges that are in separate states, though, are far less likely to have any established agreement governing credit transfers.

That said, there can still be some fundamental parity between the general education course requirements and most popular academic pathways at both schools. This could increase your odds of being able to transfer most of your credits.

Transfer policies can vary by state, region, and individual school. So, it’s helpful to get guidance from an advisor at your new school, especially if you plan to transfer to an accredited community college in a distant region or another state.

General Education Requirements

Community college systems in different states can have varying core general education requirements, but they are still broadly comparable.

Washington Arizona California
Communications 5 credits 6 credits 6 credits
Arts & Humanities 10 credits 6 to 9 credits 9 credits
Mathematics 5 credits 3 credits 3 credits
Natural Sciences 10 credits 8 credits 7 to 9 credits
Social and Behavioral Sciences 10 credits 6 to 9 credits 9 credits
Total Credits 45 credits (with electives) 35 credits 34 credits

Since there tend to be broad agreements about core courses for undergraduates, there aren’t too many obstacles when transferring general education credits from one community college to another, even across state lines.

Transferable Credits

Credits are more easily transferred when they come from a school that’s properly accredited. Credits are also most likely to transfer with less obstacles or delays when the courses fit into a similar framework of AA degree requirements and course offerings at the new school.

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By the same token, unless broad mutual agreements for automatic credit transfers are in place between two schools, credits for specialized courses, technical or vocational program courses, or singular elective courses may be less likely to transfer.

Transfer Agreements

General Education Requirements

When accredited community colleges are in the same state, they are likely to have transfer agreements in place. If it’s a broad and inclusive agreement, students can generally transfer all their course credits with really no loss of credits.

With these kinds of broad agreements, you typically don’t have to worry about your community college transfer credits, even when certain courses don’t match or if the transfer school has some different requirements or emphasizes different majors.

Technical and vocational certificate programs and related courses may be an exception to these transfer agreements.

In-State vs. Out-of-State Transfers

In-State vs. Out-of-State Transfers

Transferring general education course credits between regionally accredited community colleges in the same state or regions is not likely to be a problem.

When transferring to a community college in another state, it’s harder to predict the outcome of your general education transfer credits. It can often depend on the college credit transfer policies at the new school. That said, there are circumstances where credit transfers may be trickier or might be prohibited by the new school.

The following are examples of courses that can be difficult to transfer:

  • Specialized courses or curriculum pathways
  • Technical or vocational courses
  • Courses taken at a community college without proper accreditation
  • Courses with an unsatisfactory grade

In most cases, transferring credits from one community college to another should be possible for most traditional general education courses. If you happen to transfer between schools on semester and quarter systems, that’s not an uncommon scenario. It’s likely that the transfer school will have established calculation tools for such cases.

How Long Are Credits Good for at a Community College?

Good credits fo community college

Overall, community college credits and your college transcripts have a very long shelf life! It’s important to note, though, that courses for professional or vocational certifications can have a shorter expiration date.

This can also be true for even general education courses in science and engineering because core content and knowledge may evolve significantly in a shorter time frame. Your credits will generally stay good for about 10 years or so, depending on the course subject.

So, if you have a lot of college credits but no degree yet, you may benefit from speaking to your advisor at a community college soon.

Do Community College Credits Transfer Out of State?

In most cases, community college credits from a regionally accredited school can transfer to a regionally accredited community college in another state. Since transfer policies vary, it’s difficult to know for sure exactly which community college credits transfer out of state to the new school without gathering information from the specific state or destination school.

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Some courses, though, may not be as easy to transfer. For example, certain elective or highly specialized courses may not transfer if they don’t mirror equivalent coursework at the new school. Credits for courses that align with core general education requirements are usually easier to transfer.

Does Your GPA Transfer from Community College to Community College?

Your GPA doesn’t transfer to your new school. You will have a GPA at each school you attend based on the grades you received at that particular school.

So, your GPA at your new school will not be measured by your GPA at your prior school.

Getting Your Degree Online

Getting Your Degree Online

It’s often possible to transfer college credits from one regionally accredited community college to another accredited community college, even if you’re moving to a new state.

The same goes for online programs and schools. Online learning can offer you the flexibility to earn your general education credits or associates degree according to your own schedule. With an online program, you don’t even have to move in order to attend an out-of-state school!

If you had any hesitation about a possible move to a new school before finishing your associates degree, hopefully you can now move forward with confidence. You can even explore the many online AA degree programs that accredited community colleges have to offer.

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Keith Nickolaus
WRITTEN BY
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and Master's in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a Bachelor's in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in innovation, policy, and education leadership.