Questioning whether online associate degrees transfer to traditional universities? New online students often wonder are online classes transferable later. In short, the answer is yes. Online associate programs can be a perfect springboard for bachelor’s degrees. Students can finish the first two years of undergraduate education 100 percent online. Web-based associate degrees eliminate the need to commute to campus or take time off work. Online associate majors attend lectures and complete assignments on internet platforms. Any desktop, laptop, or tablet computer can become a classroom for associate degree studies. Without leaving home, gassing up the car, and driving to school, online students can achieve an associate degree.
The major benefit of online associate degrees is their tremendous value. Online associate majors cash in epic tuition savings. In 2018, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) posted an average two-year college cost of $10,704. Students at four-year institutions covered a mean price of $27,357 annually. Online students don’t even need to pay for room and board or extra expenses like parking passes. Some online associate degrees charge as little as $100 per credit. Associate programs are dramatically less expensive than four-year universities. Two-year schools let students complete the freshman and sophomore year for fewer dollars. In effect, the entire higher education journey to a bachelor’s degree gets much cheaper.
Plus, affordable online course credits don’t go away once earned. Accredited credits count toward future bachelor’s degree curricula. Associate transfers accelerate their four-year university program. Bachelor’s degrees take only 24 months after an associate program. Online associate students can transfer to senior colleges with in-person classes later. Studying online isn’t a lifelong learning sentence for students seeking the traditional campus experience. With that said, students should be concerned if their associate credits will transfer at graduation. Segueing into a four-year institution takes some careful planning. Some transfers encounter credit problems and spend exorbitant amounts of money retaking introductory courses. Learners can protect themselves by following these simple rules during their online associate degree programs.
1. Pick a Regionally Accredited College
Are online classes transferable from anywhere? No! Associate students won’t benefit from cost savings and credit transferability unless they shop cautiously. Traditional, four-year universities only accept credits from other accredited institutions. Unaccredited online associate degrees won’t pass muster. Associate programs without accreditation have useless credits not welcome by transfer colleges or most employers. Accreditation signifies that online classes are in tip-top shape. Accredited online associate degrees meet higher education standards for thorough learning. Universities won’t transfer credits from low-quality, sub-par associate options. Thus, check each potential online college’s accreditation status. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website makes it effortless to find up-to-date accreditation data.
Which accreditation makes online classes the most transferable? Regional accreditation is the right response. The Department of Education recognizes six major regional accrediting agencies. These accreditation bodies certify the schools located within their districts. From the Northeast to the Southwest, each region of the United States has a college accreditor. Regional accreditation is considered the higher education authority for quality curricula. Regionally accredited colleges have the best academic rigor, standard compliance, student practices, and educational value. Double-check that an online associate program’s provider is regionally accredited. Don’t simply take a potentially fraudulent online college’s word for it. Traditional, four-year universities won’t accept transfer credits from colleges that turn up unaccredited.
Why else are regionally accredited associate degrees superior? Accreditation level determines more than simply credit transferability. Only regionally accredited associate degrees are eligible for federal aid. Financial government funding, including the Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Stafford Loan, won’t accept unaccredited degrees. Filed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms will get rejected. Applications for state-funded grants and loans will have the same fate. Many private and nonprofit organizations require accredited school enrollment for scholarships too. Online associate degrees might be affordable out of pocket. Yet, financial aid makes community college education even cheaper. Online students don’t want to lose precious credits they’ve paid tuition for anyway.
2. Work One-on-One With an Admission Counselor
Before signing the dotted line for enrollment, talk with the school’s admission staff. Online associate majors must take an eyes-open approach to ensure transfers will work later. Gain knowledge about the community college’s transfer options. Bluntly ask are online classes transferable there. Admissions counselors are dedicated to helping new pupils pick the right schooling route. Have advisors walk through step-by-step navigation guides for transfers. Online colleges nurture these admissions conversions on the phone, via email, and by virtual chat. Freshmen can reach out through any communication mode they’re comfortable with. Gaining knowledge first thing can prevent common bumps in the road for associate transfers.
If desired, inquire whether the online college offers life experience credits. Admission staff help entrants maximize the previous learning they’ve already gathered. Online associate degrees grant up to 30 credits for work or military experience. Determine which courses these credits will cover and whether they’ll transfer. Perhaps request information about course credits earned by examination. The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is one widely used option. Online associate students can waive general courses with a computer-based test in 36 subjects. All 1,700+ CLEP testing sites nationwide deliver the hours-long exams for $85. That’s considerably cheaper than one online course. Certain online associate students can finish in 12 months with a credit boost. Dreams of transferring to a traditional, four-year bachelor’s program get closer.
3. Choose an Associate of Arts or Science Degree
There are three main forms of online associate degrees available. Are online classes transferable for them all? Not necessarily. The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) is a hard degree to transfer. Two-year A.A.S. programs are intended for students joining the workforce. They’re career-focused, skills-based degrees for a specific trade. Popular A.A.S. majors include auto mechanics, culinary arts, construction, diagnostic imaging, and veterinary technology. Most A.A.S. programs are too hands-on to even be delivered fully online. Future transfers should steer clear of the Associate of Applied Science anyway. Online A.A.S. programs cut out the liberal arts and sciences entirely. Students won’t have the general education requirements to become junior-year transfers.
Less than 50 percent of an A.A.S. degree’s credits will transfer to traditional, four-year universities. Which online associate degree should students select then? Both the Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) are stellar choices. The former packs a liberal arts core with courses in English, history, philosophy, foreign languages, and the like. The latter develops a scientific core with more classes in calculus, algebra, statistics, biology, chemistry, and physics. They’re very similar to the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) at senior colleges. Having foresight on which bachelor’s degree fits is helpful. Align the online A.A. or A.S. curriculum to the first two years of the baccalaureate curriculum. Leave specialized, major-related courses for taking at a university’s 300 or 400 level.
4. Get Good Grades on Online Transfer Courses
Answering the question of “are online classes transferable?” isn’t straightforward. Online associate credits from regionally accredited colleges are potentially transferable. Traditional, four-year universities have the authority to reject for-credit online courses. That’s especially true for poorly graded online classes. Low grades on online A.A. or A.S. degree courses won’t prove one’s content competency. Barely squeaking by with a passing grade isn’t sufficient. Senior colleges generally only accept transfer credits if students earned a “C” or better. Any courses graded “C-” or lower is at risk of being lost. Being aware of the minimum grade threshold at transfer institutions is key. Online students will have to pay for retakes on “D” or failing credits.
How can online associate majors maximize their chance of good-enough grades? Remain fully present and engaged. Studying at at-home distractions. Establish a quiet study space and a regular class schedule to learn. Read each letter of course syllabus requirements. Use a planning app to track when online assignments are due. Interact with fellow pupils on online discussion boards. Email professors for guidance when content gets confusing. Many online associate programs come with free tutoring support. Take copious notes during video-recorded lectures. Have friends and the Grammarly app proofread every essay. Staying focused, determined, and willing to seek help should elevate one’s online grades for transferability.
5. Seek Out Transfer Articulation Agreements
Online associate degrees from accredited, recognizable community colleges are best. What is that? Established, brick-and-mortar colleges with online offerings have a good transfer reputation. Traditional, four-year universities may question if an obscure online school is a “diploma mill” even with accreditation. Admission staff mustn’t look down on previous associate credits. Junior colleges utilize their higher education traction for partnerships. Senior colleges love collaborating with technical schools with a track record of producing talented graduates. During the online associate degree search, look for these articulation agreements. These contract-like affiliations ensure that lower-division courses will transfer whether online or not. Articulation agreements guarantee that two years of credits get counted.
With an articulation agreement, the two separate colleges work in tandem to create transfer policies. Partnered schools don’t necessarily need to exist in the same city or even state. Nonetheless, they’re committed to sending associate graduates into the partner’s baccalaureate programs. Transfer articulation agreements develop a handy 2+2 pathway to a bachelor’s degree. Online students finish their associate curriculum and get a diploma at a virtual or in-person graduation. Graduates then enter the traditional, four-year university as first-term juniors. Repeating the freshman and sophomore years isn’t necessary. Online associate graduates hit the ground running for a similar or brand-new bachelor’s major. The transition from associate to bachelor’s student is seamless with above-average admission odds.
Increasingly, traditional universities are working alongside online colleges to develop “completion” programs too. Many are accelerated into quicker time frames of 12 to 18 months. How can a bachelor’s degree take only a year? A solid foundation at the associate level. Transfer pathways with a 3+1 format are popular today. Four-year universities can recognize up to 90 accredited transfer credits. The catch is the credits must be from another senior college. Earning more than 65-70 credits at a community college is frowned upon. Associate students can transfer from online universities and complete only their senior year on campus. Credits for life experience can even be stacked atop the associate degree. For example, RN-BSN programs admit registered nurses with an accredited associate nursing degree. Four-year nursing schools review training and experience credits for a faster BSN finish.
6. Finish the Online Associate Degree Quickly
Whether campus-based or online, A.A. and A.S. degrees are advertised as two-year degrees. Why is this 24-month timeline given? It’s the optimal rate of completion for 60 college-level credits. Online associate majors aren’t guaranteed to culminate studies when two years are up though. Making the two-year mark requires keeping a consistent course load of 15 credits each full-time semester. Non-traditional online students often can’t keep this fast pace due to family or work obligations. According to the Urban Institute, only 42 percent of associate students finish in *three* years. Longer study lengths cost precious time, effort, and tuition dollars. Further, online associate students can lose their opportunity to transfer some credits. Online courses frequently have an expiration date because curriculum standards are always evolving.
Traditional, four-year universities set time limits for how long course credits stay transferable. Some generous colleges allow transfer credits up to 10 or 20 years old. Stricter schools with high admission competition may only recognize credits from the past five years. Online associate students who take this long to graduate might have to forfeit their early credits. What is the best transfer solution? Online associate students should only start courses when they’re also ready to commit to a bachelor’s. Long study interruptions make it tough to transfer. Work hard to stick as closely to the standard 2+2 transfer path as possible. Accelerated online associate courses with shorter five- to 10-week formats are great. Squeezing summer and winter online courses between semesters also helps.
7. Carefully Craft a Transferrable Associate Curriculum
Future transfers need to do their homework when registering for online classes. Most transferable online classes have one thing in common: they’re generic. Transferred courses must cover a general, lower-division topic. Most transferable online courses are at the 100 or 200 level. Non-remedial courses at levels starting in zero won’t transfer. General education classes in the liberal arts and sciences are the most transferable. Think of courses like 101 English Composition Writing and 101 College Algebra. From psychology to physics, take the beginner courses. Don’t be afraid to mix and match transferable online courses to try out different subjects. Underclassman classes transfer for a bachelor’s core or elective credits. If available, consider earning an Associate of General Studies (AGS) online for transferring.
Course selection plays a pivotal role in an associate graduate’s ability to transfer all credits. When transferring, four-year universities look at the course’s outline to judge its merit. Transferred online courses must line up to ones offered at the traditional university. Zoology courses can’t count for accounting and vice versa. Most senior colleges publish course equivalency guides to aid transfers. Peruse the bachelor’s curriculum at the target transfer college. Double-check that taken online courses mimic some at that in-person school. Similar, comparable content and assignment requirements are essential. Attending an online college is an excellent way to spread one’s wings academically. Taking random, ultra-specific courses won’t help the transfer process though. Pay attention to course equivalencies for a pre-approved transfer path.
8. Appeal for Lost Credits at the Traditional University
Transferring between two- and four-year programs isn’t easy. The National Student Clearinghouse reported that transfers lose 43 percent of their credits on average. Lost credits could add on another semester or year at full, four-year tuition prices. But online associate students aren’t defenseless against credit loss. Traditional universities offer an appeal process for reclaiming earned credits. Act quickly to follow the university’s unique appeal request protocol. Appeals typically require uploading more than a standard transcript. Senior colleges seek detailed course descriptions and syllabi. Samples of completed tests, papers, and other assignments are handy. Reach out to the denied course’s professor for an official outline and recommendation letter. Associate transfers must be their own best advocate to get deserved credits.
Feeling scared of associate transfer paths now? Please don’t! Transferring courses and associate degrees sounds super complex at the outset. In truth, the process has gotten easier recently. Rising rates of online education have reduced the virtual learning stigma. Traditional, four-year universities are willing to accept equivalent online courses. Senior colleges work with students to recognize their online associate degree with transferred credits. The Office of Admissions staff can provide step-by-step assistance through a stress-free transfer. Getting associate credits for a cheaper online community college rate is worth it. Online associate degree students save thousands of dollars to get a bachelor’s with less debt. Yes, there are online classes transferable to traditional, four-year universities at regionally accredited schools.
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