​Student transfer within postsecondary education continues to be defined in a myriad of ways. In an effort to encompass transfer as it applies across a variety of contexts, “transfer” within NACAC’s resources can be defined as:

Student movement within higher education providers and the institutional processes supporting students who may move with credit applicable to a degree or certificate.

Common Types of Transfer Include:

  • Vertical Transfer (also referred to as traditional, forward, upward, 2/4): Transfer from a two-year institution to a four-year institution.
  • Lateral Transfer: Transfer from a four-year institution to another four-year institution OR from a two-year institution to another two-year institution.
  • Reverse transfer​ can be used to refer to the process whereby academic credits for applicable coursework at a college or university are transferred back to the community college for purposes of awarding an associates degree​ (also referred​ to as reverse transfer of credits, reverse credit transfer, reverse articulation agreement).
  • Reverse transfer can also be used to refer to transfer from a four-year institution to a two-year institution.


Other Terms Associated With Postsecondary Transfer:

Articulation Agreements: Formal arrangements between two or more colleges and universities that specify how courses, a general education plan, and/or major requirements transfer from one institution of higher education to another. Types include:

  • Statewide articulation agreements: Apply to all public two- and four-year institutions in a state.
  • General education core curriculum (Core-to-Core; Lower-Division Core): Assurances within a state and/or among colleges that general education courses will broadly transfer across institutions.
  • Program articulation agreements for credits earned toward a specific degree
  • Individual articulation agreements between two colleges.
  • Guaranteed admission agreements.

Common Course Numbering System: Ensures that equivalent courses at different institutions have the same title, number, and prefix, and that all such equivalent courses will be accepted in transfer as if they had been taken at the receiving campus.

Transfer Advisors (Faculty, Agents): Individuals who advise students one-on-one on transfer; assist students with preparing college application forms; identify financial resources for transfer; alert students to enhanced academic programming; introduce students to other faculty or staff who can serve as role models or mentors; tours, etc.

Transfer Champions: Individuals who represent the interests and interject the experiences of community college transfer students in their service on university committees and in their interactions with faculty colleagues.​​​​​