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Transfer credit policies

General policy

To students pursuing a first bachelor’s degree, the Office of Admissions awards transfer credit according to the guidelines discussed here. Admissions reserves the right to accept or reject credits earned at other institutions of higher education. In general, it is University policy to accept credits earned at institutions fully accredited by their regional accrediting association for colleges and universities, provided that such credits have been earned through university-level undergraduate courses appropriate to the student’s degree program at the University of Washington (UW). Exceptions are noted under Notable Restrictions on Transfer Credit and Courses Receiving No Credit.

Washington Community & Technical College transfer

Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA)

The public community colleges and baccalaureate colleges and universities in Washington have adopted an inter-institutional transfer agreement. The agreement applies to the applicability of transfer credit from community colleges to baccalaureate institutions; the DTA is not an admission agreement. The DTA Associate Degree Guidelines developed by the Intercollege Relations Commission (ICRC) outline an acceptable transfer curriculum, which serves as the foundation of the DTA associate degrees offered at each community college.  In general, transfer students who have been awarded a qualifying DTA associate will be eligible to transfer to a baccalaureate institution with junior standing and will have completed lower division general education requirements.

The University of Washington subscribes to the Direct Transfer Agreement as follows:

  • Students will be assigned junior standing upon admission.
  • The UW transfers credit on a course-by-course basis.  However, approved DTA degree-holders may use transfer courses toward the UW Areas of Inquiry requirements comparable to those the community college used toward DTA associate degree distribution requirements—even if those courses would not otherwise be allowed toward specific Areas of Inquiry requirements at the UW—if doing so is to the student’s advantage.
  • The UW’s College of Arts and Sciences agrees that transfer students from Washington community colleges who complete approved associate degree programs will be considered to have satisfied the College’s general education and proficiency requirements with the following provisos:
    1. Students who have completed the minimum of 45 credits of distribution (15-15-15) as part of their DTA degree will be required to take an additional 5 credits in each area plus an additional 15 credits drawn from their choice of one or more of the three areas in order to satisfy the Arts and Sciences Areas of Inquiry requirement.
    2. Up to 15 credits in the student’s major may be applied towards the 75-credit Areas of Inquiry requirement.
    3. Students who complete first-year language courses as a part of the transfer degree distribution requirement, and later use that foreign language to satisfy the Arts and Science language proficiency requirement (see item 4), may NOT use those foreign language credits towards the Arts and Science Areas of Inquiry requirement.
    4. Students will be required to complete foreign language study at the 103-level or to demonstrate language proficiency at the 103-level through an examination.
    5. Ten credits in courses emphasizing writing (W-courses or English composition) are required in addition to the 5-credit English composition requirement. W-courses must have attributes as defined by Arts and Sciences. If not completed as part of the transfer degree, this requirement must be completed at the University.

Note: Additional courses taken at the UW to fulfill general education or proficiency requirements may be upper division courses; students will not be required to complete additional lower division courses at the UW.

Equivalency Guide

The University of Washington transfers credit on course-by-course basis. The Equivalency Guide provides transfer information for academic courses completed at community and technical colleges in Washington State.

Recommended first year courses (Washington 45)

The “Washington 45” course list was developed to provide optimum course selection guidance to high school students enrolled in the Washington Running Start program or traditional transfer students who wish to transfer prior to earning an associate degree. The Washington 45 was developed as a way to provide students with guidance that would enable them to select courses that would successfully transfer to all public and private baccalaureate institutions in Washington State. Although the plan does not guarantee more than 45 transfer credits at all Washington institutions, the UW will allow more than 45 transfer credits for courses completed from this list.

State policy on inter-college transfer & articulation

The UW subscribes to the statewide Policy on Inter-College Transfer and Articulation Among Washington Public Colleges and Universities, endorsed by the public colleges and universities of Washington as well as by the State Board for Community and Technical College Education, and adopted by the Washington Student Achievement Council. The policy deals with the rights and responsibilities of students, and the review and appeal process in transfer-credit disputes.

Class standing

A student’s class standing is determined by the total number of transfer credits awarded by the UW, not by the number of years of college study or by the completion of an associate degree.

Class Awarded Credits Needed
Freshman 0 – 44 credits
Sophomore 45 – 89 credits
Junior 90 – 134 credits
Senior 135+ credits

Satisfying UW graduation requirements depends not only on the number of credits completed a minimum of 180 for most programs but also on completing all college and major requirements.

Quarter vs. semester credits

 U.S. colleges and universities that operate on a semester system award semester credit. The UW operates on a quarter system and awards quarter credit.

  • To convert quarter credits to semester credits, multiply by .67.
  • To convert semester to quarter credits, multiply by 1.5.

Example: A student who earned 30 semester credits would be awarded 45 quarter credits in transfer at the UW.

College credit completed outside the U.S. at a school recognized by the Ministry of Education is evaluated differently: No more than one year of transfer credit will be awarded for one year of study. College and university credit from outside the U.S. is generally awarded a maximum of 45 quarter credits for each full year completed. Semester credits outside the U.S. may not be calculated the same as U.S. semester credits.

Applying transfer credit to degree requirements

Before a student first registers for classes at the UW, s/he should meet with an academic adviser to plan a program of study. The adviser determines how the transfer credits may be used to meet UW degree requirements. For example, suppose that Admissions awards a student 120 transfer credits, but only 100 of those credits can be applied toward graduation requirements for that student’s degree program. If selective credits are needed, credits that do not apply toward specific requirements may still be applied toward the minimum number of total credits required for graduation.

Transfer credit evaluation

After an admitted student pays the New Student Enrollment and Orientation Fee, and shortly before the student’s Advising and Orientation session, the Office of Admissions completes a course-by-course evaluation of transfer credits.

The information recorded on the transfer credit evaluation, including the transfer of credits and the transfer GPA, becomes part of the student’s permanent record at the UW. If a student applies to an academic program with special admission requirements, transfer coursework and the transfer GPA will be considered.

The evaluation is not an official transcript. The official UW transcript that is sent out to other institutions does not include the transfer GPA or a detailed listing of the transfer credit the UW awarded, it merely lists the other colleges the student has attended and the total number of transfer credits awarded. Transfer grades are not included in the UW GPA.

Appeal procedure

If some courses do not transfer and the student questions a decision, the student should consult the admission specialist who completed the transfer evaluation. Further appeal can be directed to the UW Transfer Officer at the Admissions Office.

Courses receiving no credit

The UW reserves the right to deny credit for courses that are not compatible with those offered in its baccalaureate degree programs. Some general categories of courses never receive transfer credit or, in some instances, receive credit on a restricted basis only (see items marked with an asterisk in the list that follows). Examples of courses that receive no credit include:

  • Courses considered below college level (usually numbered below 100)
  • Repeated courses or courses with duplicate subject content
  • Coursework earned at an institution that did not hold at least candidacy status with its regional accrediting association when the coursework was taken
  • Courses that provide instruction in a particular religious doctrine
  • Mathematics courses considered below college level, including basic math, business math, and beginning and intermediate algebra
  • Courses offered for non-credit continuing education units
  • Remedial English (e.g., reading, vocabulary development, grammar, speed reading, or any courses that are preparatory to an institution’s first Freshman Composition course)*
  • Courses providing instruction in English as a Second Language (100-level or above)*
  • Examinations offered by the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
  • Remedial courses in any academic discipline (100-level and above)*
  • Non-academic/vocational-technical courses. **Up to 15 credits may be awarded for courses numbered 100 and above if included as electives within an academic associate degree from a Washington community college. See also Restricted Credit.

Notable restrictions on transfer credit

Transfer credit limit

The UW allows a maximum of 90 credits of lower-division transfer coursework to be applied toward a UW degree. Of the 180 credits required for graduation from the UW (some majors require more than 180), a maximum of 90 lower-division transfer credits are allowed. Once you are enrolled at the UW, if your lower-division credit exceeds 90, there will be a difference between the “total credits earned” and the “total credits allowed” under the Summary of Transfer Credit following the Detail of Transfer Credit.

Additionally, a maximum of 135 total transfer credits are allowed toward the 180 credit total. The University-wide residence requirement states that 45 of the last 60 credits must be taken “in residence” while enrolled as a matriculated student. Therefore, a student transferring 135 or more credits must complete a minimum of 45 more credits in residence at the UW.

Despite these restrictions, all of your transferable credit are listed under the Detail of Transfer Credit and may, with your adviser’s approval, be used to satisfy individual requirements for graduation. It may be helpful to think of your transfer credits as a “bank account” of credits from which you may draw. All of your transferable credits remain in the bank, but no more than 90 lower division credits and no more than 135 total transfer credits may be “withdrawn” in order to be applied toward the 180 (or more) credits required for your degree.

Extension credit from other schools

Extension credit, including correspondence courses, earned at other schools may not exceed 45 credits. Military credit is included in this 45-credit limit.

Foreign language courses

Students who have completed two or more years of a high-school foreign language receive no college credit for an entry-level course (e.g., FRENCH 101) in the same language when that course is completed after matriculation at the University. Transfer students who complete such a course before matriculation at the UW are eligible to receive transfer credit.

Native language

First-year (elementary) or second-year (intermediate) foreign-language credit is not granted either by examination or by course completion in a student’s native language. “Native language” is defined as the language spoken in the student’s home during the first six years of his or her life and in which he or she received instruction through the seventh grade.

Out-of-sequence courses

Credit is not awarded for prerequisite courses in mathematics or foreign languages completed after a more advanced course has been completed. For example, students will not be awarded credit for Spanish 102 if taken after Spanish 103.

Overlapping content

If a department considers two of its courses to have overlapping content, credit will be awarded for only one. For example, credit is granted for either PHYS 114 or PHYS 121. Other departments in which such overlapping courses occur include Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Foreign Language, Genetics, Geological Sciences, Linguistics, Psychology, and Statistics. Restrictions of this kind are noted in the Course Catalog.

Physical education

No more than three quarter credits will be allowed for physical education activity courses.

Restricted transfer credit

Transfer credit will not generally be awarded for vocational or technical courses. However, a maximum of 15 quarter credits will be awarded in transfer for college-level vocational-technical courses when they have been allowed as electives within the 90 credits comprising an academic associate degree from a Washington community college. Courses in this category are those that ordinarily provide specialized training for an occupation (e.g., allied health, bookkeeping, electronics, or physical therapy assistant). When allowed, these credits will apply only toward the elective credit component of a baccalaureate degree at the UW. Such courses are not included in the transfer GPA.

Senior residency requirement

To be recommended for a first or subsequent baccalaureate degree, a student must complete 45 of his or her final 60 credits as a matriculated student in residence at the University of Washington campus where the degree is to be earned.

Military credit

 Official military transcripts (Joint Services Transcripts) must be submitted to the Office of Admissions for evaluation. Coursework recommended for academic college credit at the lower- or upper-division level by the American Council on Education (ACE) will be considered for transfer provided that the coursework is applicable to the student’s degree program at the UW.

Military coursework is not included in the transfer GPA, and transfer credit will not be awarded until after the student has enrolled at the UW.

  • A maximum of 30 quarter credits may be awarded for academic courses completed through Armed Forces training schools (AFTS).
  • No credit is awarded for Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) programs.

Prior learning assessment

Advanced-level credit

Read more about UW policies regarding these programs offering college-level work in high school.

Alternative credit options

The UW does not award general credit for work or life experience. However, two avenues exist for obtaining credit under selected circumstances.

Once enrolled at the UW, students may explore the possibility of obtaining departmental approval for transfer of credit earned through coursework taken at a non-regionally accredited institution. For information about possible credit for this type of coursework, contact the Office of Admissions.

Students may arrange to challenge specific UW courses via credit by examination if the same knowledge has been gained through independent study outside a formal educational setting. For information about this type of credit by examination, contact the Graduation and Academic Records Office.

UW Reverse Transfer Program

Students transferring to the University of Washington from a Washington state community or technical college (WA CTC) before earning a WA CTC associate degree will be able to apply academic credits they earn at UW toward completion of an associate degree from their former WA CTC.

Adding an associate degree to your WA CTC transcript will show that you have completed a higher education program and earned a credential.  Having an associate degree on your WA CTC record may also help build your resume and document applicable job qualifications prior to earning your baccalaureate degree.

Do you qualify to earn your Associate degree?

If you earned at least 60 transferrable quarter credits at your Washington community or technical college prior to transferring to UW, you may be eligible to earn an associate degree from your former WA CTC.

For this program, you must have enrolled at UW prior to earning an associate degree. Upon completing 30 quarter credits at UW, the Office of the University Registrar will electronically notify eligible transfer students about their opportunity to earn an associate degree by submitting an official UW transcript back to their previous community or technical college.

See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for further information.