What is Transferability of Credit?
In short, transferability of credit is the willingness of one learning institution to accept a student's completed coursework from another institution. Unless the institution from which the student earned the credits maintains a written agreement with the new institution wherein they agree to accept the credits (commonly known as an articulation agreement), no college or university can guarantee that another institution will accept transfer credits. The receiving institution always makes the decision, and the rules, surrounding its acceptance of transfer credits.
What are things that Universities review to determine acceptability of transfer credits?
Common factors used in determining acceptability of transfer credits are: course name, course description, course learning outcomes, course credits earned, faculty credentials, a student's earned grade in the course, how long it has been since the student earned the grade and the accreditation of the institution from which the credits were earned.
What is Accreditation and why does it matter?
The purpose of accreditation is to validate that an institution or program is doing what it says it is doing and that the institution is operating within the scope and standards of the accrediting body. In many respects, accreditation is a quality assurance program wherein professionals from outside of the institution review the university based upon the standards of the accrediting body.
There are two types of academic accreditation, as recognized by the United States Department of Education: Institutional and Programmatic. Institutional accreditation reviews and approves entire colleges or universities. There are two types of institutional accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation, as the name implies, is geographically specific. California falls within the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) regional accrediting body. Historically, regional bodies accredited traditional public and private universities. National accreditation bodies accredit institutions, regardless of their geographic location. National accrediting bodies also tend to focus on institutions that are more career-focused.
Programmatic accreditation refers to specialized accreditation based on specific programs of study. Commonly known bodies include the American Bar Association (ABA), the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). These bodies have no oversight or authority over institutions- they simply have oversight for specific programs of study.
Not all institutions are accredited. Accreditation is voluntary. However, only institutions accredited by accrediting bodies recognized by the United States Department of Education (such as West Coast University) are allowed to participate in Title IV financial aid programs.
While an accredited institution may have multiple programmatic accreditations, they typically have only one institutional accreditation: regional or national. West Coast University is a university accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission to award Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral degrees. Additionally, WCU's Dental Hygiene and Nursing programs have been granted full programmatic accreditation. The Physical Therapy and Pharmacy programs have been granted programmatic candidate status towards accreditation.
How does Accreditation affect transferability of credits?
Regionally accredited institutions are largely comprised of traditional academic institutions, one regionally accredited university is more likely to accept credits from another regionally accredited institution. While this is not always the case, transfer from regional to regional increases the likelihood of the credits being accepted at the new institution. And, students desiring to transfer credits or degrees from a nationally accredited institution to another nationally accredited institution, also experience a higher probability of success.
However, unless a nationally accredited institution has a written agreement with a regionally accredited university (known as an articulation agreement), it is unlikely that the regionally accredited institution will accept the student's transfer credits or degree. While it is not common for regionally accredited institutions to accept the credits of students who have attended nationally accredited institutions, exceptions are made.