Community college is just the beginning of the college journey for many students. Often, they’ve always planned to transfer to a four-year university. This is true at Austin Community College too, and with some planning and advice from transfer and academic advisors, the ACC credit transfer process can be a straightforward one.
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Transferring From Community College to a University
Community colleges serve as a resource for students who want a college education, career training and advancement, or a combination of both. Students take advantage of small class sizes, affordable tuition, and supportive faculty.
As part of that promise, transferring from a community college to a university is one pathway that students can take.
What to Know About Transferring
Knowledge is power when it comes to transferring to a four-year college or university. Students can take steps to ensure that their hard work in class will pay off when they transfer. All it takes is some research – and talking with advisors.
Here’s what you should know.
Planning to transfer to a four-year school? Take advantage of your community college's academic resources, like tutoring, to boost your GPA and make your application stand out.
From ACC to Texas State: a successful transfer student begins the next phase of her education journey.
Students who start at ACC and plan to transfer can take courses such as this Intro to Psychology class, that will transfer to a four-year school.
The journey continues. An ACC graduate makes her next steps known as she crosses the stage at commencement.
What Are Articulation Agreements?
Articulation agreements are partnerships between community colleges and universities. They help make ACC credit transfer process fairly clear. Students will always know exactly what credits transfer to the target school.
It’s important to know, however, that not every credit transfers to every university that a community college has an agreement with. Additionally, students can always transfer to a school that doesn’t have an articulation agreement with their community college. Talk with transfer specialists at both schools to know exactly where you stand.
Associate Degree or No Associate Degree?
Many community college students get their associate degree before transferring. That way, they’ve satisfied the requirements of the first two years of their bachelor degree.
However, not all associate degrees transfer in the same way. And for some majors such as science, engineering, and math, it may not be best for a student to complete their associate degree (or even their core) before transferring.
Talk with your advisors at both schools to make sure there are no surprises.
Statistics show that ACC students do well at four-year universities such as The University of Texas at Austin (UT), Texas State University, and St. Edwards’ University. Student GPAs and persistence rates, both key statistics in getting a bachelor degree, are comparable and even higher than non-transfer students.
Destination School Applications, Admissions, Housing, and More
Even with articulation agreements, universities will have their own requirements, such as for core classes and electives, grades, and graduation requirements. Students should stay on top of application deadlines, tuition payments, registration dates, and more. If a student is transferring to a school in another city or state, they will have to consider on-campus or off-campus housing, which will have their own deadlines or deposits.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Perhaps the most important thing to get ahead of is financial aid. Students will have to re-apply for loans and grants, as your current financial aid package will not transfer with you.
Scholarships are also a great way to curb the cost of higher education. Universities and external organizations will have their own scholarships you can apply for. Be aware of deadlines and apply early.
Make sure you talk to your financial aid advisor at your current and new schools so you understand your financial aid situation.
Benefits of Starting at a Community College
Maybe you’re starting college right out of high school. Maybe you’ve been in the workforce for a while and want to get a degree to get ahead. Whatever your reason, a community college can feel like the right place at the right time.
Community colleges are less expensive than public universities or private colleges. Average tuition for a four-year college ranges between $21,000 for a public institution to more than $32,700 for a private college. For a community college, tuition is about $3,800 per year.
Students who start at a community college and whose credits transfer can save thousands of dollars in the cost of their education.
Community colleges traditionally have smaller class sizes than four-year colleges. As a result, students have more individualized attention from their professors. Faculty often teach at both four-year and community colleges, so students are getting the same quality education.
Community colleges serve a diverse population of students. Many students may be the first in their family to go to college. They may be lower income and may be food insecure or have unreliable transportation.
As a result, students often have to work while taking classes, which can increase the risk of stopping out. For that reason, community colleges have a wide array of resources, from food pantries to mental health services to child care, that increase students’ chances of success.
Why Transfer to a Four-Year School
Traditionally community colleges have always offered two-year degrees and certificates. In some states, community colleges offer a limited number of bachelor degrees that lead to in-demand careers such as nursing and IT.
For students in those fields, it makes sense to continue their studies at a community college. For other students, transfer is their best option.
At ACC, 37% of full-time students who started in Fall 2020 transferred to a college or university within three years of starting their studies.*
- Associate degrees vs. bachelor degrees. While students can get a job with an associate degree, many employers prefer bachelor degrees. In some fields, workers can’t advance unless they have a bachelor degree.
- Advanced degrees. Students who want to go into a field that requires a master’s degree or a doctorate will need to get a bachelor degree first. For these students, transferring is their only option.
- More opportunities. Community colleges may not have a desired degree or program. In that case, it makes sense to get core classes out of the way, and then transfer to a preferred degree program at another school.
ACC Credit Transfer Guide
When it comes to helping students successfully transfer to another university, ACC has got you covered. We have advisors who can help you identify the best courses to take that will transfer to your desired four-year program. They can help navigate issues such as transfer applications, financial aid, which schools accept which credits, and more.
Transfer specialists know the ins and outs of the ACC credit transfer system, and they are happy to help students through the process.
ACC’s transfer website includes lists of schools with articulation agreements, course equivalencies, planning resources, transfer events, and workshops.
To be honest, it’s not always easy. There can be roadblocks on the path to transferring to a university. For example:
- Credit hours may not be accepted by four-year institutions. Some universities don’t accept certain community college courses. “Make sure you adjust your course load in community college to your degree plan to meet transfer requirements ahead of time so you don’t end up taking more classes than you need to reach your goal.” (Valerie C.)
- Credit vs. continuing education. Continuing education, certificate programs, or career classes often don’t count toward a bachelor degree.
- Developmental classes. Developmental classes such as in English or math, don’t transfer, although they are important for college success.
- Non-academic resources. Transferring to a four-year school can mean leaving behind child care, emergency financial assistance, food pantries and other aid.
Even when credits transfer, there can be other barriers. Deadlines, transfer application requirements, grades, and other factors have an impact on a successful transfer.
That’s why it’s important to have a plan and to work closely with an academic advisor and transfer specialist at both your community college and university. They can help you navigate these requirements.
Here’s how to make sure that your ACC credit transfer goes as seamlessly as possible to a four-year program.
Make a Transfer Plan
The best time to start thinking about the ACC credit transfer journey is when you register for classes. Follow these steps from your first semester at ACC to graduation.
- Meet with a transfer specialist. This first meeting will be one of many throughout your education at ACC.
- Use the transfer prep guide.This is a great way to keep track of what you need to do.
- Research four-year colleges and universities. Identify which of your credits transfer to which school.
- Meet regularly with your area of study advisor, transfer specialist, and professors. They’ll help you stay on track.
- Focus on classes, schoolwork, and grades. Take advantage of ACC’s tutoring and other academic services.
- Participate in extracurriculars. Universities want to see the whole you, not just grades. According to one successful transfer student who is headed to UT, “Extracurriculars matter as much as grades. Find a passion!” (Jack M.)
- Attend transfer events, workshops, and university tours. These events are full of information that will help you succeed in your goals.
- Apply to four-year institutions. Transfer specialists are here to help with your application materials, including your essay.
Understand Course Equivalencies
Where ACC credit transfer can get tricky is in making sure that ACC classes match a university’s classes. These course equivalencies vary from school to school. A transfer pathway for Texas State may not work for The University of Texas.
ACC’s course equivalency guide will help students make sure that the classes they take in community college transfer to their four-year program.
Work with your advisor to make sure you’re taking the right classes to maximize credit transfer.
Take Advantage of Transfer Resources
The ACC credit transfer site is your starting point for your transfer journey. While it may seem overwhelming, it’s set up to help you achieve your college goals. Start at the top, make an appointment with a transfer specialist, attend transfer events, and take it step by step.
After all, that’s what a community college is for – to get you on your way.
ACC Transfer Programs
ACC has several co-enrollment and transfer programs with university partners in Texas and beyond. These go beyond shared curriculum and articulation agreements because they are specifically designed to unite ACC and the university’s degree programs.
Texas A&M Chevron Engineering Academy
ACC students co-enroll at Texas A&M College of Engineering in the Chevron academy. In this program, Texas A&M faculty teach the engineering courses at the ACC campus. ACC students also benefit from small class sizes and connections with faculty and classmates. After one or two years, students transfer to A&M for their bachelor degree in engineering.
ACC is part of Western Governors University OWL program. Students who choose the OWL program complete their associate degree at ACC. Their credits transfer directly to their bachelor degree program at WGU. The university provides additional support with advising and other resources. Students who meet requirements are guaranteed admission in a variety of bachelor degree programs, including business, finance, supply chain, cybersecurity, IT, and more.
Students who have achieved their associate degree in ACC’s teaching program can get their bachelor degree and teaching certificate in one year with TechTeach (or two years, if students choose the traditional path). TechTeach is a collaboration with Texas Tech University. It lets prospective teachers gain certification and teaching experience in the local Austin Independent School District.
Texas Woman’s University Dental Hygiene Program
Dental hygienists are in high demand. Students starting their college education and career training at ACC can choose Texas Woman’s University to complete their bachelor of science degree. Texas Woman’s will accept up to 90 credit hours in the dental hygiene dual-enrollment program. ACC students arrive at TWU with their health sciences and core prerequisites, and then complete the last 30 hours of their dental hygiene bachelor degree.
UT PACE and Texas State Pathway
Both UT and Texas State run co-enrollment programs for eligible students. These programs have specific requirements.
The Path to Admission through Co-Enrollment (PACE) program lets students take the bulk of their classes through ACC but are dual enrolled at UT. Students take one class per semester at UT. At the end of that first year, students enroll full time at UT. Students who are interested in communications, liberal arts, or social work may be a good fit for the PACE program.
In the Pathway Program, students who are accepted to Texas State also take classes on ACC’s Hays Campus. Pathway students enroll in 3-4 credit hours at Texas State while also taking 9-12 credit hours at ACC. After their first year, students who meet the requirements are admitted full time to Texas State. There are no limitations on what students may study.
Your Bachelor Degree Starts at ACC
No matter what your transfer goals are, the ACC credit transfer process is designed to be straightforward and as efficient as possible. Whether you plan to transfer to UT, Texas State, or out of state, the ACC transfer portal is a great place to start. Find out how ACC classes can be a great foundation for your bachelor degree.
*Source: *Data from ACC Office of Institutional Research & Analytics, National Student Clearinghouse Data, ODS Data as of January 31st, 2023; 12th Class Day Data.Back to Top