Finding your dream graduate program is a complex and time-consuming process. But what if the program you ended up choosing just isn’t quite right for you? Consider transferring graduate schools.
Whether you arrived in your new graduate school program to find it a poor fit, or just never quite managed to finish for other reasons, the dilemma is the same: Can you transfer in graduate school from one graduate school to another?
Yes you can! It is possible to transfer graduate schools, as long as you’re prepared to do the necessary legwork. Just be aware that it might be a little bit more challenging than it was as an undergrad. That’s because many graduate programs have limited space for new students each year and fill up quickly. Plus, some programs aren’t offered at every school, making the field narrower.
Graduate Schools That Accept Transfer Credits
Graduate schools that accept transfer credits may be available at every level, offering programs in many different subject areas. The process of transferring universities is a little different from the initial application process, but by making the most of your resources, remaining diligent, and choosing carefully, you might find a school that’s a better fit, while still making the most of what credits you did complete.
Transferring Graduate Schools: How to Pick a New Graduate Program
How exactly you go about choosing your transfer universities depends heavily on your reasons for doing so. After all, you’ve already been through the selection process once. This time, you probably know a little more about what you want from a new school, and what issues you’re looking to change.
Transferring graduate schools (not to mention what school you choose) is a personal decision based on your unique situation. Somebody transferring because they can’t keep up with the coursework in their current program will likely have different needs than someone who:
- Isn’t feeling challenged
- Needs a different learning format
- Is looking for a more welcoming campus culture
Whatever your motivations are for transferring graduate schools, it may be helpful to focus on schools with generous transfer credit policies. This is sometimes called “advanced standing.”
What Is Advanced Standing?
“Advanced standing” refers to the amount of credit a new school will give a student to honor studies completed at another institution. Sometimes, schools also award this type of credit for professional and life experience. The more generous the policy at your new school, the less coursework you might need to repeat.
List of 7 Grad Schools for Transfer Students
Below are sponsored schools whose graduate programs, as of this writing, have relatively generous policies in place for processing graduate transfer credits. Each of these policies may vary by specific program, and are subject to change.
#1: Kaplan University
Number of Credits You Can Transfer: 50% of your courses for master’s degrees
Kaplan University has a long history of providing people with the education and resources they need. They got their start in Davenport, IA in 1937 under the name American Institute of Commerce or AIC. They joined the Kaplan family in 2001 and became known as Kaplan University in 2004.
Their Transfer Policy
Kaplan’s transfer credit policy enables students to potentially gain learning credit from a variety of sources. These can include work and life experience, military training, professional certifications, credits earned at prior institutions, as well as testing out of certain courses. However, potential credits are evaluated on an individual basis, and compatibility may vary by source and desired program.
Kaplan University offers a robust graduate program in addition to its undergraduate options. These programs are supported by campus locations and learning centers across the country. So whether you prefer to learn fully online, in the classroom, or keep your options open, Kaplan has your back.
Kaplan offers a variety of masters programs in fields like education, health, social sciences, legal studies, business, technology, nursing, and criminal justice.
Kaplan Online students may study under faculty with experience in their fields, both in and out of the classroom. Many are even professionals currently working in their industries, meaning they could offer real-world guidance. Kaplan also strives to offer a flexible, user-friendly online experience, with the personal, career, and academic support you might need.
#2: Thomas Edison State University
Number of Credits You Can Transfer: Up to 12
Formerly known as Thomas Edison State College, TESU is a public university based in Trenton, NJ. Established in 1972, today they offer flexible undergrad and graduate programs designed to accommodate the needs of all different types of students. In fact, they were one of the first universities in the United States designed primarily to serve working adults.
Transfer Credits TESU Accepts
If you’re transferring into a graduate program, at Thomas Edison State University, you may be in luck. TESU has a few different ways for students to gain credit for learning completed elsewhere. In addition to more traditional transfer credits, students might be able to get credit for things like:
- Military and professional training
- Professional licenses and certifications
- A portfolio assessment
Transfer credits may be able to apply to both core courses and elective program requirements, pending applicability. Typically, you could transfer up to 12 credits provided they qualify and apply. The courses in your transcript eligible for transfer may vary based on the school of origin, your program of choice, and how long ago you earned them. Reach out to your admissions advisor or the dean of your selected school for more information.
A few examples of the graduate programs offered by TESU include:
- Master of Science in Homeland Security
- MS in Applied Science and Technology in Nuclear Energy Technology Management
- MA in Liberal Studies
- MA in Educational Leadership
Thomas Edison State University offers students a few different formats for online learning. Specific availability may vary by course and program, but typical options offered include the following.
- Online Learning: Similar to what you might find at other schools, online courses are administered every week through a browser based learning module, and guided by mentors.
- Guided Study Courses: A more self-directed alternative to the more familiar online course format, guided courses are completed independently using a variety of resources. These include CD, DVD, video streaming, and more. Students are also supported by mentors, though they may have a little less mentor-student interaction than in the online course format. .
- e-Packs: This unique option is designed for students who may not want much or any interaction with a mentor. Rather, students receive study materials surrounding a series of 12 online quizzes, and earn credit by passing a proctored exam at the culmination of the course.
#3: Walden University
Number of Credits You Can Transfer: Varies by program
(For example, up to 15 for MS in Accounting, up to 30 for MPH)
A private university based in Minneapolis, Walden University offers flexible online masters and doctoral programs in a wide range of unique fields. They strive not just to accommodate students’ schedules, but also their goals by helping them gain experience in and out of the virtual classroom.
Prior Learning & Transfer Credits at Walden
Online courses are by no means the only way Walden works to accommodate the needs of adult students. Students could also take advantage of prior learning—either in the classroom or out of it—and potentially even gain credit for it.
You could transfer credits into graduate programs provided they you earned them within 10 years, earned at least a B, and that the courses align with your selected new program. In some cases, students may also be eligible for credit for professional experience, including professional certifications or credentials.
The number of credits able to be transferred vary by subject and degree. For example, while a student entering MS in Accounting Program might transfer up to 9 credits, and student interested in earning an MS in Human Resources Management might transfer up to 15, and a DBA student may be eligible to transfer 21 credits, provided their selected track allows it.
Transferring graduate schools
To get a clearer picture of how transfer credits may vary, compare the following education programs:
Max Potential Transfer Credits
6 semester credits
Master of Science (M.S.)
12 applicable semester credits
Education Specialist (Ed.S.)
Leadership for Social Change in Education
16 quarter credits (not applicable to all courses)
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Ph.D. In Education
Assessment, Evaluation, and Accountability
36 quarter credits (12 may apply to research science)
Information in the table above is subject to change. For more information on transferring into Walden University graduate programs, including program-specific requirements, use any of the links above to contact the school directly.
Programs Offered by Walden
Walden’s online programs reach more than 57,000 students from 150 different countries. They offer degrees and certificates in ten different subject areas. Some examples include:
- PhD in Psychology: Clinical Psychology Program
- DBA in Global Supply Chain Management
- MS in K-12 Special Education
#4: Grand Canyon University
Number of Credits You Can Transfer: Up to 12 for master’s, 9 for doctorate
Grand Canyon University, also referred to as GCU, is a Christian research university based in Arizona. In addition to their undergraduate programs, GCU offers masters and doctoral programs in education, liberal arts, business, science, engineering, theology, and healthcare. They were founded in 1949, and today offer both online and campus-based degree and certificate programs. Many of their athletics teams also compete in NCAA Division I.
GCU Graduate Programs
Some examples of GCU graduate programs include:
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Doctor of Education in K-12 Leadership
- MBA with an Emphasis in Project Management
- MBA with an Emphasis in Marketing
Interested in transferring to GCU or completing your unfinished graduate degree? GCU typically accepts transfer credits into their masters, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. However, the criteria may vary by program.
Grand Canyon University Transfer Requirements
To transfer credits to a GCU program, students need to have earned at least a B in that course, and the coursework needs to be equivalent to what is offered in the destination program. Students may transfer up to 12 credits or a third of their total program requirements at the master’s level, and up to 9 credits for doctoral programs.
Additionally, doctoral coursework must have been completed within the past seven years.
For more information on transfer credits, credit for professional experience, and other topics, contact Grand Canyon University through any of the links above.
#5: Southern New Hampshire University
Number of Credits You Can Transfer: Up to 9 for graduate degree
Southern New Hampshire University, or SNHU, is a private nonprofit university in New England. They were founded in 1932 with a focus on business. Today, in addition to their robust campus offerings, SNHU offers an array of opportunities for fully or partially online study at the graduate level.
SNHU Transfer Policy
What courses you’re able to transfer into a masters program at SNHU may vary on a case by case basis. Your admissions counselor should be able to guide you through the application process and help you make the most of your prior learning.
Depending on your life and career experience, you may also be able to gain credit for prior learning in non-academic settings. This could include things like professional certifications, and portfolio assessments of prior work and training. For more information or to find out if this applies to you, reach out to your graduate admissions advisor.
SNHU Students and Programs
Today, SNHU serves more than 73,000 students, nearly twenty thousand of whom are enrolled in graduate programs. What’s more, 90% of graduate students study exclusively online.
Just a few of their many programs include:
- MS in Information Technology with a Concentration in Data Analytics
- MS in Information Technology with a Concentration in Database Design
- MS in IT: Healthcare Informatics
- MS in IT with a Concentration in Software App Development
The amount of transfer credits potentially available at SNHU vary by program, so make sure you follow up for additional information when making your decision.
How SNHU Stacks Up
SNHU has also been ranked several times in U.S. News & World Report 2018’s Best Colleges lists, in categories including Regional Universities North, Best Colleges for Veterans, Best Value Schools, and even a #1 spot for Most Innovative Schools.
#6: Excelsior College
Number of Credits You Can Transfer: 15 – 18
Excelsior College was founded in 1971 to help adult learners—especially those from under-represented groups—access higher education and achieve their goals. They emphasize accessibility by offering courses where their students are (including online!) and providing the academic support those students need to thrive. They also pride themselves on their inclusivity, striving for a diverse community of faculty, students and staff.
Their Transfer Policy
Many students at Excelsior bring with them knowledge and experience—from previous grad programs, their careers, job training and licensure, and more. Why not leverage that knowledge to get ahead?
Graduate students transferring into Excelsior College may be able to apply much of their prior coursework toward their new program, if it qualifies and is applicable to the degree you’re earning.
Generally, students might be eligible to transfer a maximum of 15-18 credits, provided those course align, and that the student earned at least a B-. However, the specific requirements (including the amount of credits you can bring, and how old they can be) vary by program, so reach out to your admissions advisor for more specific details.
Other Ways of Transferring Credit
Excelsior College knows that previous coursework isn’t the only place their students have learned. That’s why they consider learning from all different sources.
Other sources of prior learning you might be able to apply:
- FEMA Training
- Criminal Justice Training
- Health Care Credentials & Certifications
- IT Certifications
- Military Training
Graduate Programs Offered by Excelsior
Excelsior offers a range of master’s degrees and graduate certificates in six major areas of interest—meaning there’s potentially one that aligns with your academic and career goals. Those include:
- Liberal Arts
- Health Sciences
- Public Service
Each program may have unique transfer requirements and restrictions, so make sure to follow up for details.
#7: Liberty University
Number of Credits You Can Transfer: Up to 50%
Liberty University has a robust offering of online programs at the undergraduate, masters, and doctorate levels. They’ve been active in distance education since 1985. Their programs are grounded in Christian faith tradition, and offer flexibility, support, and career-focused content to help their students thrive. Overall, they offer 125 masters degrees and 41 doctorates, with additional certificate programs potentially available.
Transferring to Liberty University
Liberty offers several avenues for transfer students to take advantage of prior learning and experience. However, which ones are open to you may hinge on which program you’re applying to and the type of experience you bring with you.
Students might be able to transfer up to 50% of their total master’s degree program credits, provided that the coursework in question aligns with the requirements, and that satisfactory grades were earned.
A few additional options you may explore include:
- Demonstrating your prior knowledge through standardized subject area assessments
- Professional experience, through Experience Plus Portfolio evaluation
- Credit for military training
- Prior completion of approved certificate programs
For more information on transferring credit into a Liberty University graduate program—including which options may be available to you—reach out to your admissions counselor.
Online Masters and Doctoral Programs at Liberty University
Liberty offers a suite of online masters degree and doctoral programs. Each one is designed to offer the flexibility and support professionals need to continue their education alongside an ongoing career. Additional campus-based programs may also be offered at their home in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Some graduate programs offered at Liberty include:
- Master of Public Administration in Public & Nonprofit Management
- Master of Arts in Teaching: Middle Grades
- Master of Business Administration in Accounting (MBA)
- Doctor of Business Administration: Strategic Management (DBA)
Recognition for Liberty University
Liberty was included on several lists by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2018. Some of the categories they ranked in include:
- Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs
- Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA)
- Best Online MBA Programs
- Best Online Graduate Education Programs
- Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs
4 Tips to Transfer Graduate Schools Smoothly
Think you’re ready to transfer into a new graduate program? If you’re staying in the same area of study, think carefully about this process to try and make the most of your prior learning and experience. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for this process.
#1: Identify what you’re looking for—and what you’re not
You’ve already been through this process once, so the odds are strong that you have a clearer picture now about what you need from your preferred graduate program. Make sure you sit down to weigh the positives and negatives of your current program, to help you focus your search.
#2: Don’t snooze on your current studies
You might be looking for a new graduate school, but that doesn’t mean you should let your current studies go, if you’re actively enrolled. Many schools only consider transfer credits above a certain letter grade or GPA. Plus, you might be able to make the most of the opportunity. If you have another semester or so to go and there are specific courses that are likely to transfer into your preferred programs, you might be able to focus on getting those out of the way.
#3: Follow up about transfer credit policies before you apply
It may seem obvious, but make sure you follow up with your selected schools or programs about their transfer credit policies. Don’t take for granted that they’ll accept your prior work! This way, you could make a more informed decision about where you want to attend, rather than being taken by surprise after you enroll.
#4: Double check your financial aid
Finally, make sure your financial aid is in order. Not all awards may transfer with you, whether they’re institutional or not. Make sure you know how much you can carry with you, so you can adequately prepare to pay the tuition in your new program after you’re accepted.
Start Transferring Graduate Schools
If you’re ready to start the process of transferring graduate schools, GradSchools.com is here to help! Fill out the form on this page to get matched with schools, or use the menu to browse our sponsored program listings by subject area, degree level, and program format.