Learn how to smoothly transfer healthcare education programs with these helpful resources.
Shannon Lee has been a freelance writer, editor, and novelist for over 25 years. Her work has appeared on Fox Business, Forbes, MSN, Bob Vila, Modernize, Nashville Scene, MoneyGeek, MVP Parent, and many other outlets; her writing on home improvement led to an editorial position with The Spruce in 2021. She's written extensively on higher education, relationships, and the intersection of technology, health, and medicine. When she's not freelancing, Shannon also writes fiction novels.
Transferring schools is serious business. You’re going from a school or program you know well to one that’s new and unfamiliar. Will all your credits transfer? Can you afford it? Does the program you’re eyeing have the accreditation you need to get hired? We’ve designed this guide to help students looking to transfer find the answers to these questions and take the steps needed to transfer their healthcare program from one college to another. Keep reading to learn what steps you can take to make your program transfer as seamless as possible.
Why Healthcare Students Transfer Schools
Students transfer for a number of reasons. They change majors, land scholarships at different colleges, or they finally gain acceptance into their dream program. According to the National Student Clearing House Research Center, about 38% of students decide to transfer schools at some point during their education. There are a variety of academic, financial, and personal reasons these students choose to transfer, let’s take a look as some of the most common ones.
To Advance Their Education
It’s quite common for a student to begin their education at a community college with plans to transfer to a four-year university after the first two years. The reason this is so common is because community colleges are much less expensive than a four-year school, especially for in-state students. Many universities offer articulation agreements, which allow a student to transfer all of their coursework from their two-year school to the four-year school as they pursue their bachelor’s degree. Some community colleges might be closer to home, with much less commuting time, or even fully online. Finally, some students may opt for a community college program if they aren’t initially accepted into the four-year program they want. This can give them time to improve their grades and test scores so they have a better chance of getting in to their 4-year program of choice when they reapply.
To Move Closer to Home
Sometimes the “right” school is the one that’s far away from home. It’s not uncommon for students to move away to attend a healthcare program, but sometimes that isn’t always the right choice. Students might feel the desire to be closer to their family, they might have trouble adjusting to their new school, or the out-of-state costs may turn out to be too much of a financial burden. These are just a few of the reasons why students might choose to transfer to a program that is closer to home.
To Attend an Online Program
Some students begin their healthcare education in a tradition brick-and-mortar program, but due to personal or financial reasons, they may find that an online program better suits their needs. As online classes and online degrees continue to expand, more and more students are opting to transfer from their current healthcare program to a program offered online. Online programs can provide students with the flexibility they need to handle work, family, and community obligations. Students interested in transferring to a distance learning healthcare program should take into account factors such as tuition, acceptance rates, and the number of online programs available before beginning the application process.
To Cash in on Funding
Sometimes students opt to transfer their healthcare education program for financial reasons. This can be especially important for those who have children or other obligations at home that can strain the pocketbook. Whether you want to cash in on a scholarship for a specific program, accept a state-specific scholarship award, receive lower tuition costs for an in-state school, or enroll in a program on the lower end of the financial spectrum, program funding is one of the most important factors to consider for students looking to transfer.
Types of Transfer Students
As we covered above, there are a number of reasons healthcare students might choose to transfers colleges. Whatever spurs that choice, students today have more options when seeking an education in healthcare than ever before. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common circumstances under which students may decide to transfer.
2-Year to 4-Year
Transferring from a 2-year to a 4-year school is one the most common types of transfers. Students who take this path complete the prerequisite requirements from a two-year school and then transfer those credits to a four-year school to continue on the path to a bachelor’s degree. Depending upon any agreements the two-year school might have with the college or university of transfer, moving to the four-year school can be quite seamless in some cases.
4-Year to 4-Year
Sometimes a student decides the school they initially chose to attend is just not the right fit for them. Transferring from one school to another is usually done in between semesters. If a student was already on track for a particular degree at the first school and intends to continue that track at the second school, the transfer is often much easier.
Members of the military understand that they can be called to another part of the country, or even the world, on very short notice. Families who travel with their military spouses also face the challenges of “starting over” in a new area. Many colleges and universities have dedicated programs in place to make it easy for military members and their families to transfer their educational program to other institutions closer to their new home base. In addition, the military itself offers liaisons and other resources to help students continue their education even while moving to a new base, training for a new position, or while on deployment.
Some international students might start their education in their home country, but then move to a college in the United States to find a new opportunity with programs not available at their first school. On the other hand, students in the United States might choose to move to an overseas university in the hopes of broadening their horizons and studying in an atmosphere they simply can’t find in the U.S. Either way, those students might face additional hurdles in transferring between schools, considering that accreditation status might be different, the credits might be earned differently, and admissions requirements might be different than what a student is accustomed to.
Healthcare Student Transfer Checklist
Regardless of the reason you’re transferring colleges, the end result should be positive. Unfortunately, the transfer process can be taxing and sometimes complicated. Without taking the right precautions and doing the proper research, students can wind up transferring to a school that doesn’t accept their credits, or even worse, doesn’t prepare them for licensure due to a lack of accreditation. Below we’ve complied a list of important considerations for students to check off before enrolling in a new healthcare program at a new school.
Accreditation matters greatly when choosing any healthcare education program. Accreditation means a school or program has been evaluated by an independent accrediting body and has been found to meet certain standards for a quality education. Attending a school that is not accredited can lead to all sorts of problems, including:
Ineligibility for federal financial aid
Difficulty transferring credits
Trouble getting into graduate programs
Inability to obtain licensure or certification
Inability to gain employment in the healthcare field
Admissions: Can I Get in?
Admissions officers will want to make sure you are a good fit for their school and they will evaluate your potential transfer credits and other important factors to ensure you have the preparation necessary to succeed in the new program. A grade point average will speak for itself, but there are other things an aspiring transfer student can do to ensure they are ready to transfer. Here are a few things you can do to better your chances of admission into your transfer program:
Stay in close contact with admissions and transfer officers.
Show that you have completed prerequisite courses.
Demonstrate a great GPA and forward motion in pursuit of the degree.
Offer fresh letters of recommendation from current professors.
Inability to gain employment in the healthcare field
Cost: Can I Afford it?
There are certainly costs associated with transferring from one school to another. However, there are also financing options in place that can make funding the program transfer possible. Below are a few financial considerations to keep in mind when transferring your healthcare program:
Tuition Each school will have its own tuition and its own policy for financing the tuition. Some traditional schools charge tuition on the semester schedule, while some online schools might charge tuition per course so you can pay as you go. Depending upon your particular situation, your transfer might include out-of-state costs, which can be much higher than in-state costs. Keep in mind that no matter the situation with tuition, there are often financial aid options that can help with your bottom line.
Scholarships Though transferring from one school might mean losing scholarships that were school-specific, students can often find new scholarships at their transfer school. Some of these scholarships will be program-specific or school-specific, while others will be designed specifically for transfer students. This can help cut down on some of the out-of-pocket costs for tuition and fees when switching schools. To learn more about what’s out there, check out our healthcare scholarship guide.
Articulation Agreements Articulation agreements are designed to help make transferring credits easier. These agreements are made between two or more schools, often in the same region. They lay out the transfer policies between the institutions, thus making sure everyone knows what to expect. These agreements can make transferring easier and much less costly for students, and can eliminate the need to re-take courses along the way.
There are risks when it comes to transferring credits from one school to another. In some cases, not all courses will transfer, and that can lead to students taking courses again, thus costing more time and money. Sometimes schools will allow only 50-75% of credits to transfer, so a student who is almost at the finish line at the first school might find themselves taking extra semesters at their transfer school. Considering the following points can help you prevent loss of transfer credits when it’s time to move to a new school.
Core Equivalency These courses are those that practically every college student will take, often referred to as “core classes”. These include things like English, mathematics, social studies, history, and so on, often taken during the first semester or two of any program. These foundational courses will typically transfer with no problem from school to school. In some cases, core equivalency courses in healthcare programs will focus on the foundational experience, including those in statistics and anatomy. These will also likely transfer with little issue.
Core Waivers Core waivers are usually given to students who express significant aptitude in a particular subject. For example, someone who is fluently bilingual will likely not have to take a required course in a foreign language as long as they can demonstrate their abilities. Transfer students should always look at the potential core waivers to determine how many they might eligible for. It’s also important to remember that articulation agreements may waive core requirements if a student has met these core requirements at another school.
Core Substitutions What happens if a core course doesn’t transfer? Students can petition to get core classes transferred if they feel the course content is similar enough to the core class at their new school. These are different from core waivers in that it is asking the school not to assess knowledge a student already has, but to assess a course and determine whether the knowledge gleamed from it might deem it as an equivalent of what the transfer school offers. It’s always a good idea to request a core substitution before committing to a particular class to avoid wasting time.
Quarter vs. Semester Transfers When transferring from a semester system to a quarter system or vice versa, students should always try to speak with a transfer counselor at the transfer school to determine just how much of their credits will transfer and what courses those credits will apply to. Some schools offer a free transcript evaluation to help you get a firm idea of what your final transfer credits will look like.
Other Questions to Ask Before Transferring
The transfer process is anything but simple and students should be prepared to spend a good amount of time getting everything in order. There is a great deal of paperwork involved, as well as time spent looking at credits, determining what will transfer, and figuring out what the other school required to make it all happen. To help cut down on the time you spend applying to new healthcare programs, get answers to the following questions before spending your precious time on the applications.
Will my credits transfer?
Which credits won’t transfer?
Are the admission requirements different for transfer students?
Will I be eligible for housing as a transfer student?
Will my financial aid transfer?
What scholarships and grants am I eligible for?
Do I qualify for in-state-tuition?
Financial Details for Transfer Students
When transferring schools, talking with a transfer advisor is a must, but talking to a school’s financial adviser is also smart. That’s because financial aid, grant money, and scholarships can be affected by a transfer, and it is often close to impossible to figure out just what that impact will be without the help of someone who knows the transfer process well. Counselors will take into consideration the state a transfer student will be studying in, their current financial aid situation, any scholarships or grants they are receiving, and more. Here are some of the most important financial considerations:
In-State & Out-of-State Tuition
Generally, an out-of-state school will cost more than an in-state school. That’s because tuition rates are generally much higher for out-of-state students. Establishing residency in a new state can be tough when attending school; many states require that a person live in the state for six months-to-a year as a resident, not a college student, in order to establish full residency. There might be other residency stipulations in place for those who intend to move to another state to attend school, so be sure you’re aware of what is required.
Many students who want to transfer to an out-of-state school might benefit financially if they choose to take courses online. Some schools offer a special rate for online students or assess the in-state rate for online learning, rather than the higher out-of-state tuition. Attending college online also opens up many more options for those who aren’t entirely sure which school might be the best one of them.
To get a better idea of the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, check out the cost of in-state tuition vs. out-of-state tuition for full-time students at the following three healthcare education programs across the nation:
University of Washington
University of Alaska-Anchorage
University of Southern Maine
Federal Financial Aid
Most students are required to fill out the free application for Federal Student Aid only once per academic year. However, those who plan to transfer must add their transfer school to the list of schools that will receive FAFSA information. A new Student Aid Report (SAR) will be sent to the school. The new school will calculate financial aid based upon when the student transfers; a transfer halfway through a semester can lead to money being owed (or returned), while a transfer at the end of a semester is much easier. To find out more about financial aid for transfer students, visit our financial aid guide.
Scholarships for Transfer Students
Though transfer students may not have the same scholarships available to them as first-year students, there are still several options out there specifically for those who are transferring from one school to another. Transfer students looking for scholarships should look at their new school’s website and take the time to speak to a financial aid counselor to get good leads. Below are some of the national scholarships created specifically for transfer students.
A current sophomore or recently graduated (within the last five years) from a two-year institution with an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 and intentions to enroll in a four-year university. Students must also demonstrate financial aid; those who have previously enrolled in a four-year university are not eligible.
$1,000 (up to 200 scholarships are awarded; 25 of those are earmarked for military members or their families)
Must be a Phi Theta Kappa member in good standing with a 3.5 GPA and currently enrolled in a minimum of six semester hours at the associate degree level; the student must have completed between 12 and 36 semester hours of college-level coursework but not hold an associate degree.
Must be a Phi Theta Kappa member in good standing with a 3.5 GPA, currently enrolled in a minimum of six hours at the associate degree level, with intention to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Students must have completed 45 credit hours at the time of application.
Students must be of Hispanic heritage with a 3.5 GPA (high school students) or a 2.5 GPA (college students) and plan to enroll in a four-year university or graduate school. Emphasis placed on those who want to pursue STEM fields; award is based on need.
Students must be members in good standing of Tau Sigma and planning to transfer, or have recently transferred. Other scholarship eligibility requirements are announced when the chapters are informed of the scholarship for the year.
This professional site for academic advisors offers numerous publications and resources dedicated to helping advisors speak to transfer students – and transfer students themselves can enjoy reading through the many links and resources offered on the site.
Timon Kaple, Ph.D., is a full-time writer and researcher. His work focuses on sociolinguistics, small-group folklore, the anthropology of sound, higher education, and student support services. He has experience as an ethnographer and enjoys conducting fieldwork and archival research.
James Mielke is a freelance writer currently based in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to higher education topics, other areas of research and writing include food history, cooking, dining, and golf. James has a history degree from Belmont University and is an unapologetic fan of the Grateful Dead.