Will an Associate’s Degree Transfer to Any College? Even an Ivy? (2023)

Will an Associate’s Degree Transfer to Any College? Even an Ivy? (1)

Did you earn an Associate's degree or attend a community college and now want to transfer to a four-year school? Will an associate's degree transfer to any college? What about ultra-competitive colleges like the Ivy League? Transferring to a new school can come with a lot of complications, not least because many schools aren't especially clear about their transfer policies on their websites.

In this article, we explain the process of transferring from a community college to a four-year college, which classes you're most likely to get transfer credit for, the transfer policies of Ivy League and other top-tier schools, and how you can learn the transfer policy of any four-year college in the US.

Will an Associate's Degree Transfer to Any College?

If you earn an associate's degree at a community college, the degree itself won't transfer to a different school because it has already been completed and earned. Colleges only allow you to transfer to a degree program you have not yet completed (and typically aren't more than halfway through completing).

So, say you earned an associate's degree at your local community college and have just been accepted to Brown University. You're hoping to shorten your time there since you already completed two years of college classes. Your associate's degree itself won't transfer because the degree is completed and Brown doesn't offer associate's degrees, but at least some of the classes you took at community college should.

Additionally, looking at the chart further down in this article, you can see that Brown "generally accepts liberal arts credits from classes taken at other schools." That means you should get transfer credit for all or most the liberal arts classes you took, but you likely won't get credit for more technical classes.

For most students transferring to a four-year college from community college, many of their credits transfer, but often not all of them do. (We explain why in the next section.) This means that students who transfer from community college often take an extra year to graduate (for a total of five years of college) in order to meet all the requirements of their new school. It's possible to still graduate in four years at many schools, but know that it wouldn't be unusual for you to need to take an extra semester or year of college.

Expect to be asked to produce syllabi of the classes you want credit for, as your new school needs to have a good understanding of what you learned in a particular class so they know what credit to give for it and what class of theirs it might replace. Your new school also likely won't put the letter grades you earned for classes you took at other schools on your transcript. Transfer credits will usually be marked with a "T" instead of an actual grade, and the grades you got in those classes won't be included on your new transcript or be calculated as part of your GPA.

What Can You Transfer From a Community College to a University?

Unfortunately, you may not be able to transfer all of your community college credits to a four-year college. Colleges can be notoriously picky about which courses from other schools they accept credits from. Often it's just as difficult to get transfer credit for classes you took at other four-year colleges as it is to get credit from community college classes. Fortunately, however, for most colleges (including those in the Ivy League) at least some of your credits should transfer.

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Because schools often view each class individually when making decisions as to whether or not to award transfer credit, it can be difficult to predict exactly how many and which of your community college classes will transfer. However, below are five factors many schools take into consideration when looking at potential transfer credit. Read through them to give you a general idea of which classes you can expect to get transfer credit for.

#1: Number of Credits

Most schools have a limit on the number of credits you can transfer from another school. Typically, they won't allow more than half of your credits to come from another school, as they want you to have taken the majority of classes at their school. So, if you want to attend a new school that requires 100 credits to graduate, they likely won't accept more than 50 credits from any other school.

This math can get a bit confusing because each school awards credits differently. For example, for a class that meets three hours a week for one semester, some schools give one credit, others give three credits, etc. Your new school will recalculate the credits you earned so that they match their system. Just know that most schools won't accept more than two year's worth of full-time classes as transfer credits.

#2: Major Requirements vs General Requirements

Many schools won't allow you to receive transfer credit for many or any classes you took that relate to your major. If you get a degree from your new school in, say, biology, the school wants to ensure that all the biology-related classes you took were at their school so that future employers etc. can trust the quality of the classes you took for your degree.

So if you want to major in chemistry, and you took a lot of science and math classes at a community college, you, unfortunately, may not get transfer credit for them. However, you may get transfer credit for classes in other subject areas, like English and social science. In another scenario, if you want to major in chemistry and already have taken chemistry 101, you may be able to place out of chemistry 101 at your new school but not receive credit for it. This is one area where there's a lot of variation between schools, so it's important to research this and ask questions about anything that's unclear.

#3: When You Took the Class(es)

Some colleges will only award credit for classes you took after you graduated high school. So if you were taking community college classes while still attending high school, you wouldn't be able to get credit for them. As we mentioned above, you may be able to place out of classes you took at community college but not receive credit for them.

#4: Grade You Earned

In order to get transfer credit, most schools require you to have earned at least a "C" in each class you want credit for. Some schools have even higher requirements, such as a "C+" or a "B" in the class. This is to make sure they're only awarding you credit for material you understood well.

#5: How Closely the Class Matches Classes They Offer

Sometimes colleges will only award transfer credit if the class you took at a community college is similar to a class they already offer. This makes it easier for them to know what the equivalent of the class at their school is, and it ensures transfer students aren't getting credit for classes students already at the school don't have the option of taking. This rule can be frustrating for transfer students because even if you take a rigorous class in, say, Japanese literature and get a good grade in it, you may not get any transfer credit simply because your new school doesn't offer a class on Japanese literature. However, in some cases, you may be able to get general liberal arts credit or something similar.

Will an Associate’s Degree Transfer to Any College? Even an Ivy? (2)

Can You Transfer Community College Credits to an Ivy League School?

What about the transfer policies of top-tier schools like the Ivy League? Will they still accept community college credits? Many Ivy League and other top-tier schools do have more restrictive transfer policies than typical state colleges. However, the good news is that, even for these schools, you'll likely get transfer credit for at least some of the community college classes you took. However, policies vary widely from school to school, so it's important to do some research before you begin your transfer applications.

Below is a chart that gives a brief overview of the community college credit transfer policies of each of the eight Ivy League schools, as well as other top-tier schools. If you look through the chart, you can see the policies vary widely. Some schools, such as Dartmouth, don't take any community college credit, some, like Yale, don't give any general guidelines but say they'll determine which classes transfer for each applicant individually, and other schools, such as Columbia, generally accept at least some community college classes, up to a certain number of credits.

(Video) From Community College to Yale | Gabriel Conte Cortez Martins | TEDxYale

Click on each school's name to be taken to their webpage on transfer policies.

School NameCommunity College Transfer Policy
Brown UniversityTransfer credits are only evaluated after a student enrolls. Generally accept liberal arts credits from classes taken at other schools. The school must be regionally accredited.
CaltechDetermine transfer credits on an individual basis. Be prepared to send a transcript, fill out an "allowance of credit" form, and supply syllabi for each course you hope to get credit for.
Columbia UniversityCan transfer up to 68 of the 124 points required for graduation. Classes must have been taken after graduating high school.
Cornell UniversityCan be awarded up to 60 transfer credits to be counted towards the 100 Arts and Sciences credits required for graduation. To receive credits, courses must be "substantially equivalent" to a comparable Cornell course and students must have earned a "C" or higher in the class.
Dartmouth CollegeCredits from online and community college courses are not typically transferable.
Duke University3-hour or 4-hour courses that you have taken on a semester basis, or 5-hour courses on a quarter basis, usually transfer to Duke if there is a department here that offers similar courses. You can transfer up to 17 of the required 34 credits.
Harvard UniversityStudents are eligible to transfer only from a liberal arts curriculum that is similar to Harvard’s. They must have been enrolled full-time for at least a year, but no more than two years.
Johns Hopkins UniversityDecided on a case-by-case basis. "Admitted students will get a preliminary credit assessment on their decision release site, which will include an estimated time for completion. A more in depth credit assessment will be conducted by an academic adviser after enrollment."
MIT"In general, credit may be offered, if the subjects are substantially equivalent to those taught at MIT & the grade earned meets MIT standards. However, each department sets its own policies and reviews each request individually." Generally, students will have to provide a course description and syllabus for every class, an additional credit form, and an official transcript as part of the evaluation process.
Northwestern UniversityAnalyzed on a case-by-case basis. Grades from transfer courses won't be transferred over. Grade will only be given as "T."
Princeton University"To be eligible to transfer for credit, a course must be completed at an accredited postsecondary institution. The fulfillment of Princeton’s general education requirements is prioritized in awarding transfer credit. Generally, departmental requirements for majors and certificate programs may not be fulfilled through transfer credit."
Stanford UniversityA course generally receives transfer credit if it is completed at an accredited institution, is substantially similar to courses offered at Stanford, you got a grade of C- or better, and it does not duplicate previous coursework. Students must attend Stanford for at least two years to receive a degree from Stanford.
University of ChicagoGenerally only grants transfer credits for liberal arts classes. Core curriculum and at least half of major requirements must be completed at University of Chicago.
University of Pennsylvania"Generally speaking, transfer credit is awarded for academically-based courses that were taken at a regionally accredited institution, were passed with a grade of C or better, and are similar in content and instructional time to the courses on Penn’s campus."
Yale University"A holistic review of an applicant’s postsecondary experience is required to determine if credits will transfer to Yale. Yale will not accept college credit for courses taken during high school."

How to Find Out Community College Transfer Information for any 4-Year College

Before we explain how to find out transfer policies of any school it's important to note that, unfortunately, you may not get much information related to your specific situation until you're accepted by the school. It can be quite a process to determine if and what credit will be awarded for classes from other schools, and colleges typically don't want to devote this time unless it's a student they've already admitted. So until you receive acceptance letters, don't expect to have an exact idea of how much transfer credit you'll get at a particular school.

Your first step in determining community college transfer information at a particular school is to Google "[school's name] community college transfer policy." One of the first links that shows up should take you to the school's web page on transfer information. For their transfer policy, some schools don't differentiate between community college classes and classes from other four-year schools, so there may not be information specifically on transferring community college classes.

The webpage should give general information about their transfer policy, although some schools won't state more than "we make decisions on an individual basis."

If you want more information, you can contact the school's admissions office or, if they have one, their transfer office. As we mentioned above, don't expect them to be able to tell you exactly which of your classes will transfer at this point, but if you speak to someone on the phone, they'll likely be able to give you more information than you can find online.

You can also look at forums where people post information about a particular school as sometimes transfer students will break down what transfer credits they were able to get. However, take these with a grain of salt as everyone's experience will be different.

Will an Associate’s Degree Transfer to Any College? Even an Ivy? (3)

Summary: Transfer to Ivy League From Community College

Will an associate's degree transfer to any college? The degree itself won't transfer but, in most cases, you'll be able to transfer many or most of the credits you earned at community college.

Can you transfer from a community college to a university? Yes, the vast majority of colleges, including Ivy League schools, accept transfers from community colleges, although if the school is on the more competitive end for admissions, you'll still need to show strong academics, test scores, letters of recommendation, etc.

If you decide to transfer to Ivy League from community college, know that school policies can vary widely. Some accept a lot of transfer credits from other schools, while others don't accept any. Research different school policies before you apply so you have a general idea of what you'll be able to transfer from community college.

(Video) Transferring to An Ivy League - NYU to Harvard, Advice + Tips

What's Next?

How do you apply to community college? Our in-depth guide walks you through each of the 9 steps for applying to community college.

Do you need to take the SAT to apply to community colleges? Learn what you need to apply in our guide on application requirements for community colleges.

Are you applying to college, but your GPA is lower than you'd like? Don't be discouraged! Read this guide to learn how to put together a strong college application despite lower than average grades.

Will an Associate’s Degree Transfer to Any College? Even an Ivy? (4)

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Will an Associate’s Degree Transfer to Any College? Even an Ivy? (6)

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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Will an Associate’s Degree Transfer to Any College? Even an Ivy? ›

Yes, the vast majority of colleges, including Ivy League schools, accept transfers from community colleges, although if the school is on the more competitive end for admissions, you'll still need to show strong academics, test scores, letters of recommendation, etc.

Is it possible to transfer from a community college to an Ivy League? ›

Whether you are attending a community college or a state university, you can apply to transfer into an Ivy League school. Transfers are usually accepted after sophomore year. However, keep in mind that depending on the school, it is more difficult to gain admission as a transfer than a first-year student.

Can you go to Harvard with an associates degree? ›

No student with a bachelor's degree or other first university degree from any other university, whether American or foreign, is eligible for admission to Harvard College.

What is the easiest Ivy League school to transfer to? ›

The Easiest University to Transfer Into: Cornell University

Having a lower retention rate, Cornell University accepts the most transfer students out of all the Ivy League schools. Cornell is the easiest to get into because they have more spots available.

Does having an associate's degree help transfer to UC? ›

Note: UC does not require an Associate's Degree for transfer.

Do Ivy Leagues accept associate's degree? ›

Yes, the vast majority of colleges, including Ivy League schools, accept transfers from community colleges, although if the school is on the more competitive end for admissions, you'll still need to show strong academics, test scores, letters of recommendation, etc.

Which Ivy accepts most transfers? ›

Cornell University is the easiest Ivy League to transfer to and accepts the most students of any other Ivy school.

Does Yale accept associate degrees? ›

Yes. Yale College admits students from both community colleges and four-year institutions.

Is an associates degree respected? ›

Although many U.S. employers are more likely to choose job applicants with a bachelor's degree, workers with an associate degree are still viable in the workforce, experts say.

Is an associates degree respectable? ›

According to the BLS, people with associate degrees have better prospects for employment and earnings than those who have taken some college courses but haven't received a degree. If you didn't do quite as well in high school as you now realize you could have, an associate degree program is a great starting point.

What is the happiest Ivy League? ›

Brown is ranked by the Princeton Review as the 10th happiest campus in the country and the happiest school in the Ivy League, and has a general reputation for being the “Happy Ivy.” But why does Brown have this reputation?

What is the least competitive ivy? ›

  • Cornell is considered the "easiest" Ivy League to get into because it has the highest Ivy League acceptance rate. ...
  • Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the US and consistently ranks #1 hardest Ivy League to get into. ...
  • Students from around the world dream of studying at Columbia University.
Apr 20, 2023

Will one C ruin my chances of Ivy League? ›

Just one bad grade in an advanced level course is not going to ruin your chances at an Ivy League. However, consistently underperforming in advanced classes in your area-of-interest classes will penalize you in the applications process.

Is it better to finish an associate's degree before transferring? ›

While some were still enrolled, many had left postsecondary education entirely without a degree. Because more and more jobs are requiring a postsecondary credential, earning an associate degree prior to transfer may be the best strategy to hedge against the prospect of departing higher education without any degree.

What is the easiest associate's degree to get? ›

The easiest associate's degree to get is typically considered to be a General Studies Degree. These combine elements from a variety of different disciplines, such as history, arts, sciences and business, which allows you to develop a more well-rounded education than a single-discipline degree would.

What is a good GPA to transfer to a UC? ›

Complete 60 semester (90 quarter) units of transferable college credit with a GPA of at least 2.4 (2.8 for nonresidents).

What GPA do Ivy Leagues like? ›

If you're aiming for a top university such as one in the Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, or others of the same caliber, a 4.0 GPA — or close to it — is expected.

Do you need straight A's to get into an ivy? ›

Yes, you can get into an Ivy League college without straight As. Not all Ivy League students had straight As during high school. It's more important to show that you took advanced courses and a strong course load in high school than to get straight As.

Can I get into an ivy with a few BS? ›

Overall, selective colleges value a rigorous course load over perfect grades. An Ivy League school might accept a student who had all As and one or two Bs in the highest-level classes, but it probably wouldn't accept a student who had flawless grades in all mid- or low-level classes.

Which Ivy is the most generous? ›

Among the very best universities in the world, Yale University is the one that statistically offers the most generous financial aid. The following statistics from Yale Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid demonstrate the financial aid that first-year students in the Class of 2023 received on average.

Which Ivy gets the least applicants? ›

Dartmouth University is the Ivy League school that receives the least amount of applications. On average, they receive nearly 23,000 applications each year, and this year they received 28,841 applications.

Is transferring to Ivy easy? ›

For that reason, if you are wondering how hard it is to transfer into an Ivy, the simple answer is that it is incredibly difficult! But that does not mean that it is impossible. Every year, students apply – and get in – to Ivy League schools as transfer students.

Should you list an associate degree? ›

Yes. You should list your associate's degree in your resume, especially if it'll enhance your candidacy or job chance.

Does Brown University accept associate degrees? ›

Students who have completed college coursework as part of their high school experience, including dual enrollment or early college experience coursework, are considered first-year applicants. This includes students who will have completed an associate's degree during high school.

Is associate degree equivalent to degree? ›

An associate degree is an undergraduate degree awarded after a course of post-secondary study lasting two to three years. It is a level of qualification above a high school diploma, GED, or matriculation, and below a bachelor's degree.

What are the disadvantages of an associates degree? ›

  • You may be competing with people with bachelor's degrees for the same jobs. ...
  • Your earnings may be lower than that for people with a bachelor's degree.
  • Getting into managerial or supervisory positions may be difficult without a higher degree.

Is graduating with an associates a big deal? ›

With an associate degree, you'll have a better chance at finding plenty of job opportunities to choose from, no matter what the current unemployment rate is. Whether you plan on starting a new career or advancing in your current career, this kind of degree can open a lot of professional doors for you.

Can you still be successful with an associate's degree? ›

For those seeking an education and career with more long-term growth in mind, an associate degree can still lead to a high salary. There are plenty of associate-level careers that lead to higher overall earning potential as you gain experience and climb the ladder.

Is Associates harder than bachelors? ›

Usually, the coursework load for bachelor students is more intensive than those of associate students. Ultimately, a bachelor's degree requires the completion of approximately 120 semester credits (40 classes), whereas an associate degree requires the completion of roughly 20 classes or 60 semester credits.

What percentage of people have an associate's degree or higher? ›

The percentage of the population age 25 and older with associate degrees rose from 9.5% to 10.5% between 2011 and 2021. Between 2011 and 2021, the percentage of people age 25 and older who had completed a bachelor's degree or higher increased by 7.5 percentage points from 30.4% to 37.9%.

Is it worth getting associates or bachelors? ›

In other words, students with a bachelor's degree earn nearly 39 percent more per year than those with an associate degree. This difference in long-term earning potential is often enough to make up for the cost associated with earning a bachelor's degree—in short, education pays.

What is the lowest GPA an Ivy League will accept? ›

None of the Ivy League schools have a minimum GPA requirement for applications, which means anyone can apply regardless of their GPA.

What is the hardest non Ivy League school to get into? ›

Stanford University

Stanford University has a 5% acceptance rate. The Stanford, California, college was also named by Niche as the No. 2 school for the best academics in 2023. Additionally, the school ranks high on the list of best value colleges in the country.

What is the least snobby ivy? ›

The correct answer is almost certainly Cornell. It's a much bigger school in terms of number of students, and includes a number of schools -- not just the core arts & science school.

Do Ivy Leagues accept one B? ›

Realize that you don't need straight "A" grades to get into the Ivy League, but every "B" on your transcript is lessening your chance of admission. Most successful Ivy League applicants have unweighted GPAs that are up in the 3.7 range or higher (3.9 or 4.0 is more common).

What is the easiest year of high school? ›

Going into high school, many students hear that freshman year is the “easiest” year. Some think that colleges don't consider it as much as they do one's sophomore, junior, and senior years. While this is typically true, it doesn't mean that students should entirely dismiss the importance of their freshman year.

What year of high school do colleges look at the most? ›

Your first year and sophomore year affect your cumulative GPA, which is important to most colleges. However, a solid academic record in your junior year is likely to carry more importance with an admissions committee.

How hard is it to transfer from community college to an Ivy? ›

Gaining admittance to an Ivy League school in general is difficult, so it only stands that transferring in as a community college student is a challenge. To put it in perspective, roughly 1,000 applicants applied to Princeton University as transfer students, and fourteen students were accepted.

Is it possible to transfer to Harvard from a community college? ›

Yes, Harvard does accept transfer students. They accept very few, however, and are exceptionally selective about who they do accept.

How hard is it to go from community college to Ivy League? ›

Transferring from a community college to an Ivy League school is possible. However, because transfer acceptance rates are generally lower than first-year acceptance rates, it's a must for a transferee to have a high college GPA and a solid application to get accepted into the Ivy League of choice.

Can I transfer to Harvard after community college? ›

You must complete at least two full years of study at Harvard. Once a student has completed more than two years total of college at another institution, regardless of courses taken, that student is no longer eligible for transfer admission.

Can u get into Ivy Leagues after transferring from 2 years worth of community college? ›

Yes! Community college transfer students are accepted by Ivy League schools on merit. Applicants can be accepted into Ivy League schools as transferees whether or not they have already completed their associate degrees, as long as their college applications fulfill or even exceed the admissions requirements.

Can I get into an Ivy League if I did bad in high school? ›

It's certainly true that grades aren't everything -- more on that in a moment -- but especially at Ivy Leagues and other prestigious schools, applicants who don't meet a certain minimum of high school academic success simply won't make the cut.

Can you transfer to MIT from a community college? ›

If you've completed two or more terms with high academic standing at an accredited college, university, technical institute or community college you may apply to MIT for transfer.

What do Ivy Leagues look for in transfer students? ›

To get into an Ivy League school, you need to have outstanding grades, a stellar college admissions essay, and glowing recommendations. However, the Ivies are more interested in how you do at your current school than what you did previously in high school (including SAT scores).

Can I transfer to Yale from a community college? ›

May I transfer to Yale from a community college? Yes. Yale College admits students from both community colleges and four-year institutions.

Do Ivy Leagues accept older students? ›

If you are seeking a bachelor's degree, most if not all of the Ivies will accept non-traditional 'mature' students into their undergraduate colleges, and some have specific undergraduate schools tailored to non-traditional students' needs. The School of General Studies within Columbia University comes to mind.

Is graduating from Ivy League school worth it? ›

Early-career (which PayScale defines as three years of work experience) median pay in 2022 was $86,025 for Ivy League graduates, compared to $58,643 for those who graduated from other universities. That gap grows wider when looking at mid-career (20 years experience) median pay.

Does Princeton accept community college transfers? ›

Princeton's Transfer Program looks for a small group of exceptionally well-prepared students from a range of backgrounds, and we particularly encourage applications from students from lower-income backgrounds, community college students and U.S. military veterans.

What GPA is required for Harvard? ›

The GPA requirements for Harvard University are between 3.9 to 4.1. You will need an incredibly high GPA and will likely be graduating at the top of their class in order to get into Harvard University.

What is the average GPA for Harvard transfer students? ›

To have a shot at transferring into Harvard University, you should have a current GPA of at least 4.18 - ideally you're GPA will be around 4.35. In addition, you will need to submit standardized test scores. The below tables show the SAT and ACT breakdown of Harvard University students.

Can you transfer to Cornell from a community college? ›

Students transfer to Cornell for many reasons: after completion of a two-year degree program, a change in academic interest, or simply a change of heart about the original institution chosen. Whatever the reason, Cornell University welcomes transfer students to a degree unmatched in the Ivy League.


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