Interested in changing universities? It is possible to transfer from a UK/International university to a US university, as well as between US institutions, without losing all of your previous academic credit or starting over. This is made possible by the flexibility of the credit system at US universities.
In fact, over one million students every year, including international students, transfer to a new US university each year.
The majority of US universities and colleges prefer students to have completed a minimum of one year of study before they enroll as a transfer student at their institution.
In addition, most universities have a two-year residency requirement prior to graduation. This means that a student must spend at least two years studying at their new institution in order to graduate and be awarded a degree from that university. Subsequently, most transfer students are in their sophomore or junior (second or third) year when they arrive at the new university.
Beyond meeting the basic university entrance criteria, transfer applicants are expected to have performed well at their current university or to have compelling reasons why they have not. Additionally, transfer applicants will be expected to have clear reasons for why they want to transfer universities and have a clear plan of study to complete their degree successfully at the new institution. It is important to note that transferring is not an easy way to gain entry into the more selective universities; in fact, many of the more competitive colleges have even more demanding admissions standards for transfer students than for first years.
In general, the recommended timeline for the application process mirrors that of prospective first year students, with students beginning to plan their transfer ideally 12 months before the date they wish to enroll in the new institution.
One notable difference in the transfer application timeline is that application deadlines will be later than the typical deadlines for first-year (freshman) applications. Transfer applicants applying for autumn entry will submit their application materials in early spring (typically February or March). It is also possible to begin study as a transfer student in the spring, so those students applying for spring entry will apply by early autumn (typically October). Alternatively, some institutions may have no deadline, but rather "priority dates" for which you should aim.
As with the timeline for admission, the transfer application process differs only slightly from that for first year applicants. Transfer applicants will submit the typical application requirements, such as the application fee, transcript and letters of reference.
Also, most transfer students will not be required to sit an admissions test – such as the SAT exam. However, we recommend you check with the institutions to which you are planning to apply to confirm.
The academic department to which you transfer will decide how much credit you will be granted for your previous course work. They will want to know:
Is your university or college recognized by the ministry of education in your country?
How similar is the content and level of difficulty of courses you have taken to those offered at their institution? US schools usually assess similarity by looking at information from course descriptions, syllabi or catalogs.
British students may also receive credit for A-levels or IB programmes and are encouraged to discuss this with their academic departments as well.
John T. Rootes
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