5 Questions to Ask When Transferring to an Online College

July 30, 2020

Considering switching to an online university to keep yourself safely distanced? Schedule making it tough to attend class in person at a specified time? Or maybe you’re just not feeling good about your current situation and are intrigued, instead, by the quality experience found today with online degrees.

If any of the above rings true, you’re likely gearing up for a transfer. The good news is that transferring schools, in general, has become fairly streamlined. And online universities are proving a respected and steady way to go. Even before COVID-19, online learners have been reportedly very happy with their programs. In fact, one study found that 75 percent of online learners would re-enroll in their program, as opposed to just 56 percent of campus students (four-year public and private).

So with online degree programs presenting such a favorable option, here are a few key questions to ask of a potential online college that will help you transfer with ease.

    1.      What type of accreditation does the university hold?

       The first thing you need to consider is accreditation. There are all kinds of official-sounding accreditors out there, divided into regional and national accrediting agencies. Keep in mind that regional accrediting agencies are generally considered superior by receiving institutions and employers, garnering greater credibility and merit. That said, in your research, you’ll want to look for the “stamp of approval” from one of the following regional accreditors:

·        The Higher Learning Commission

·        New England Association of Schools and Colleges

·        Middle States Commission on Higher Education

·        Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

·        Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

·        Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Tip: If considering an advanced degree (e.g., a master’s or doctoral degree) down the road, it is wise to ask that university now what type of credits they will accept. It’s always up to the receiving institution whether they accept transfer credits, how many, and what type of accreditation is required. Same goes for employers – if you need an advanced credential for a career change within your company or agency, find out what accreditation is accepted before you begin the program.

    2.      Is the university’s transfer process clear?

       The transfer process will differ from school to school, but convenience and accessibility should be among its advantages. Does the school provide adequate and clear online instructions on transferring credits? Is the process itself straightforward, user-friendly and geared toward maximizing credits you can transfer? Is there personal, human support you can access as you navigate the process? Will they evaluate your transfer credits quickly and give you an answer within a day or two? 


These are important questions and not just because you obviously want to simplify the transfer process. How well your chosen school handles these matters will also be a telling indicator of how accommodating and user-friendly your educational experience is likely to be.


   3.     Is there a cap on the number of incoming credits the college will take?

Find out how many transfer credits the online college will allow. Some colleges have more rigid transfer credit policies while others will work with you to award as many credits as possible. In fact, some schools will take as many as 90 eligible credits for an undergraduate degree, which makes a big difference in how quickly you finish your degree.


Also, find out if the college will evaluate other types of learning, in addition to your courses at other colleges. Corporate and military training and relevant work and life experience are sometimes considered for college credit, but you need to be assertive and ask about it.  Be sure to have any records of past training on hand, to show for the evaluation.


   4.       If you are transferring from a community college, is there an articulation agreement in place?

Often, campus and online colleges will have agreements in place to help simplify the transfer process. This is especially true of community colleges. If you’re going from an associate degree program at a community college to an online bachelor’s degree program, find out if your college has established articulation agreements with other schools. While you shouldn’t rule out online universities not on that list, those agreements can be a great first step to simplifying the process and maximizing your transfer credits.


   5.        Does attending the online university keep you from paying out-of-state tuition?

If you’re transferring from an on-campus college in a different state than your own, chances are you’re looking for an online university that offers all students the same affordability regardless of where they reside. While some online universities base their tuition on the state in which they are physically based, a select few offer the same rate across the country. It’s smart to choose a “one-rate” university that is upfront, too, about any other fees you should expect, like technology fees typical of online universities.

At Peru State College Online, more than 80 percent of our students begin as transfer students. We’ve been transforming students’ lives 100 percent online for more than 20 years – and we’re here for you, too. Learn more about our transfer-friendly process at online.peru.edu.