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CTE Research Review

Research Image_6.2013As postsecondary institutions work to ease students through higher education with an increasing number of interventions such as statewide articulation agreements and common course numbering systems, students moving from one postsecondary institution to another still find that their earned credits often will not move with them.

Against the backdrop of increasingly complex transfer patterns, the National Center for Education Statistics has taken a closer look at a crucial piece of the transfer process – postsecondary credit transferability. This report focuses on transfers between postsecondary institutions not the high school-to-college credit transfer through dual enrollment and other agreements.

This new study examines how often, and under what conditions, students transfer from one postsecondary institution to another and how many of their earned credits will transfer with them. The study also considers to what degree institutional and student characteristics affect credit transfers. It should be noted that the study captures only first-time, full-time students.

Analyzing data from the 2009 Postsecondary Education Transcript Study, NCES found that 35 percent one-third of first-time beginning undergraduates transferred at least once in six years, and more than 10 percent of students transferred more than once.

The study found two factors consistently contributed to successful credit transfers – academic performance prior to transfer and the direction by which a student was transferring. Overall, when a student transfers in a way that the higher education system is designed to accommodate, a student’s credit was much more likely to transfer. More than half of transfer students started in community colleges, and were more likely to have successful credit transfers than “reverse or horizontal transfers,” when students move from a university to a community college or between institutions of the same type.

Be sure to check out the full 60-page report to take a closer look at the student transfer experience.

Andrea Zimmermann, State Policy Associate

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