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How Transfer Works

Want to know more about the BC Transfer System?

Find out how to successfully transfer, learn about the different types of transfer credit, and how to move from another post-secondary institution to another.

What is Transfer?

Make Every Credit Count

Transfer is when one post-secondary institution recognizes education completed at another. This allows you to use the credits you’ve already earned at one institution to meet some of the requirements for a credential at another institution.

BC’s post-secondary institutions offer a variety of programs, and transfer opens up possibilities for accessing these programs. Transfer also allows students to take courses closer to home and take advantage of smaller class sizes, and more affordable tuition fees.

For example, you may start a diploma at one institution and finish it at another. Or, if you don’t get admitted to a school, you may be able to apply later as a transfer student. Students can complete up to two years of course credit (and sometimes more!), then transfer to a university to finish their degree. Students can also transfer between non-degree programs. For example, you may start a diploma at one institution and finish it at another. Or you can take distance education and online courses from a few places, and transfer the credits back to your main institution.

Common Routes to Your Educational Goal

The Direct Route

Enter post-secondary institution directly from high school.

The Transfer Route

Start at one institution, then transfer to another institution.

Where Can You Transfer? What Transfers?

Open

Transfer is based on course equivalency. If your courses match the content of the program to which you are applying, you will likely get transfer credit. However, if the programs are totally unrelated, and courses are not equivalent, you may be unable to transfer any credits. The following are all transfer possibilities:

Individual Courses:

  • The courses and their transfer agreements listed in the Course-to-Course search tool transfer unless otherwise stated
  • Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses transfer between institutions offering similar ABE programs
  • Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses are transferable, subject to minimum grades

Completed Programs:

  • An Associate Degree guarantees 60 transfer credits (i.e. 2 years) towards an Arts or Science degree.
  • Many diplomas receive block transfer of one or two years credit towards a specific degree program.

Other courses, such as a course that:

  • has not yet been assessed for transfer credit;
  • is from outside of BC;

In these cases, you will need to provide extra information such as course outlines for transfer credit to be assessed by the institution.

The BC Transfer Guide lists courses and programs where transfer agreements have been established between members of the BC Transfer System. You may also receive transfer credit for courses not listed in the BC Transfer Guide, contact the post-secondary institution directly to have them evaluate courses that aren’t listed in the BC Transfer Guide.

Planning to transfer takes planning and research. The earlier you start, the better!
  • Research your Transfer Options

    Do your research!

    • look up program requirements – you can find this information on the post-secondary institution’s website or using EducationPlannerBC‘s program search;
    • search the course-to-course search tool on BC Transfer Guide to see how your courses transfer;
    • talk to a faculty advisor at the institution you want to transfer to and go to their info sessions;
    • Hang on to your course outlines!
  • Get Admitted

    You can’t transfer if you are not admitted! The first thing you need to do is apply to the institution to which you want to transfer. You can apply to most public institutions either at their website or through EducationPlannerBC. Each institution sets its own admission requirements, so be sure to review the academic calendar for details regarding institutional policies.

    Here are some basics regarding admission as a BC transfer student:

    * You must have completed the minimum number of transferable credits (usually 24 or higher) with a minimum GPA of C (or 60% or 2.00 average) or better on all courses, as calculated by the university.

    * Admission can be to an institution, a faculty, or a program

    The Institution: Your grade point average (GPA) and transfer credits will usually determine if you’re admitted to an institution. At some institutions you must apply and be admitted to a specific program, not just to the institution.

    A Faculty or Program: Admission to a faculty or program may involve additional considerations. A Faculty of Science, for example, may expect you to have taken certain math and science courses.

    * You must arrange to send all your official transcripts: Arrange for your home institution(s) to send a copy of your official final transcript(s) to the transfer institution. This won’t happen automatically – only you can authorize this. Most institutions charge a transcript fee. Check to see if an official interim transcript is required with your application.

  • Grades may be Recalculated

    When you apply for admission to a program at another BC public post-secondary institution, credits and courses already earned will be considered for transfer and the Grade Point Average (GPA) that you earned at the institution you’re transferring from will be recalculated by the institution to which you’re transferring.  Institutions consider several different factors and employ several different methods when calculating the Admission GPA. Here are some of the things that affect the admission GPA that may be applied differently by different institutions.

    The number of credit used in the calculation
    • The calculation could be based on credits or on individual courses and the number of credits/courses used in the calculation may not be the same for all institutions or programs.
    The criteria used to decide which credits are used in the calculation
    • Not all credits completed are necessarily counted in the recalculated admission GPA. It depends on the institution.
    • Credits counted could be the most recent completed up to a maximum number set by a transfer institution.
    • Different courses can be used in the calculation depending on the program to which you are applying.
    • Institutions handle repeated courses differently. Some include the grades of all courses attempted, while others use only the higher grade of the repeated course.
    • Failed course grades are included by some institutions, but others don’t count them if the course was repeated with a higher grade achieved.
    Different course weightings and values

    Some institutions give equal weight to all course grades when calculating a GPA, while others may assign greater weight to grades for courses with a higher credit value. For example, three 3-credit courses with grades of 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5 average out to a GPA of 3.0, but if the course with the 2.5 grade was a 4 credit course, it would reduce the overall GPA to 2.95 if it was given more weight; i.e., equal to the number of credits assigned to it. Each institution has its own credit value system. Institutions will not usually assign more credit to a transfer course than they assign to their own course. So if, for example, a 4 credit course at a home institution transfers as a 3 credit course at the transfer institution, the admission GPA may be affected depending on the other rules in place for calculation.

    Grade Conversion

    Most institutions express the Admission GPA in terms of their own grading scale.  This means that the grades from the home institution are converted into the equivalent grades on the scale at the transfer institution.

    Transfer appeals process

    If you have a concern with the admission GPA calculated by an institution your concern has not been satisfactorily addressed, you can enquire about the institution’s appeals process. There may be a special transfer appeals process in place. Ask at the Registrar’s Office at the transfer institution.

  • Transfer your Credit

    At some institutions, credit transfer is automatic – the institution will assess your credits once they have your transcripts. At others, you have to request an assessment and it can take a while, so the sooner you submit your official transcript, the better.  It’s also a good idea to hang on to your old course outlines, as they may be requested to assist with the transfer credit evaluation process.

    There are a number of reasons that transfer credit can be denied. One reason may be a failure to meet Residency requirements. Residency requirements mean you must take a certain percentage of your coursework from the institution granting the credential. For example, many universities require 120 credits for a degree, 50% of which must be taken at the university. If you transfer more than 60 credits:

    • you may get credit for all of your courses, but only be able to use 60 credits; or
    • the institution may place a limit on the number you can transfer (e.g. 60 credits max.)

    Some institutions have more lenient residency requirements so check the institutional calendar to be sure.

    In addition to residency requirements, the minimum grade required of a student to obtain transfer credit for any specific course for which transfer has been established is a “Pass” (normally a “P” or “D”) as defined by the home institution. Please note that:

    • a grade of “C” or higher is normally required for courses intended to be used to satisfy pre-requisites;
    • once registered in a degree program, a student requires a Letter of Permission to take courses elsewhere and normally requires a minimum grade of “C” in each course taken at another institution for transfer to the degree program.
You may think after you transfer, your work is done. Not true! There are a number of things you should consider once you have transferred. These include "transfer shock", attending multiple institutions at the same time, and transferring your student loan.
  • Transfer Shock

    When you move from one institution to another, the transition can often be more difficult than you expect. Both high school and post-secondary students who transfer discover that classes are larger, instructors have different expectations, and the atmosphere is more competitive.

    Researchers have studied this experience, and call it “transfer shock.” A common result is a drop in grades in the first year after transfer.

  • Some Advice

    But it doesn’t have to be like that. Here is some of their advice:

    • The way you studied at your previous institution may not work at your new institution. Be prepared to change your strategies. One student said, “I think they expect more of you. You have to read more. The tests are harder and they mark the papers harder too.” Others said large classes were too intimidating to ask questions in, so they used tutorials for that.
    • Find out right away what the professor wants. Ask other students who have already taken the class.
    • Familiarize yourself with your department and faculty resources. Connect with an educational advisor and check out the websites for your intended program.
    • Connect — join clubs, study with other students, volunteer for research projects. Professors are approachable — meet with them during their office hours. Researchers have found that students who make an effort to reach out to others enjoy their time more and do better in their studies.
    • Seek advice and make use of all the support systems available. One student told us, “Here they were just as good as at my home institution. They made a calendar available for me. My advisor told me what problems I might have and what I should make sure to do.”

    The good news is that once students adjust, their grades go back up. So if you experience some transfer shock, try the things other students have found helpful. And hang in there! It will get better.

  • Attending Multiple Institutions

    Once you’re accepted as a student at a university, the university considers you to be one of its own students, and you have to get permission to take courses anywhere else. Not realizing this, some students sometimes continue to take courses at the institution they attended before transferring and are taken aback when they’re denied credit for these courses.

    To receive credit for courses taken at other institutions you must obtain a Letter of Permission (LOP) beforehand, authorizing you to take the course.

    Note: Permission is not always granted, and there is usually a grade requirement for LOP courses (normally C or higher).

    Ask at the Registrar’s or Academic Advising Office for an LOP form.

  • Transferring your Student Loan

    If you’re counting on government student aid you must let the federal and/or provincial governments know that you’re changing schools. If you don’t, you could delay the processing of your loan application, or not receive as much money as you may be entitled.

    Have you already received any disbursements of loan money from your current application?

    • YES. If you’re transferring during this loan period, you must complete a loan transfer form to ensure that your money is sent to the new institution.
    • NO. In this case, you should either:
      • submit a Request for Reassessment to the Student Services Branch of the BC Ministry responsible for post-secondary education (if you’re a BC resident who’s applied for BC Student Assistance); or
      • send a letter to the provincial/territorial government (if you’re studying in BC, but have applied for student aid through another province or territory).

    The government will reassess your student aid eligibility based on academic year length, and the tuition, book and supply costs at your new school.

    If you want to transfer your BC Student Aid to a public institution outside BC or to a private post-secondary institution in BC or elsewhere, you must make sure the institution you’re transferring to is “designated” for government student aid.

    Questions? Check with the Financial Aid office at your institution or the BC government’s Web site: StudentAidBC.

This glossary defines some commonly used terms in post-secondary. You can also search our knowledge base for answers to frequently asked questions or send us your questions by selecting the mail icon on the bottom right of our website.
  • Academic program

    A program of study, usually involving theoretical knowledge and research, and usually leading to a diploma, certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree.

  • Admission

    Being allowed into an institution, faculty or program once the entrance requirements are met. Some admission is limited by spaces available, and by selection criteria.

  • Application

    The formal way of notifying a post-secondary institution that you want to be a student there.

  • Articulation

    The system used by post-secondary institutions to determine which courses are equivalent to one another.

  • Associate Degree

    The Associate of Arts and Associate of Science Degrees are provincial credentials designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students for life as an educated person, and to lay a solid foundation for further study.  The associate degree curriculum comprises two years of university level study in a variety of academic areas.  For more information, please visit Associate Degrees.

  • Audit

    Taking a course for interest, and not for credit. Auditing students usually don’t do assignments or exams, and don’t get a grade.

  • Basis of Admission

    The evidence, primarily academic, on which your admission decision is based, e.g., high school record, college credits and GPA, etc.

  • BCCAT

    The British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer, who is responsible for the management of BC Transfer Guide and Education Planner.

  • Block transfer

    The process whereby a block of credits is granted to students who have successfully completed a cluster of courses, certificate or diploma, recognized as having an academic wholeness or integrity, and related in a meaningful way to part of the degree program.

  • Calendar

    The book of rules, regulations, policies, programs (and requirements), and courses for a particular post-secondary institution.

  • Career/technical

    An applied program of study involving theoretical and practical knowledge, usually leading directly to a certificate or diploma in a specific career path.

  • Certificate

    Recognition of successful completion of a program of study, of varying lengths, often one year.

  • Chair

    The head of a program or department. “Coordinator” is sometimes used synonymously with “Chair.”

  • College

    In BC, colleges offer developmental programs that prepare adult learners for post-secondary studies, as well as courses and programs in trades, vocational, career technical and academic studies leading to certificates, diplomas, associate degrees and applied degrees.

  • Concentration

    A program of study with a required number of courses in a specific discipline. Similar to a Major or Minor, but with fewer requirements.

  • Co-op

    The system of having paid work placements, usually four to eight months, as a component of a program of study.

  • Course outline

    A description of the main content, organization and expected outcomes of a course, normally including the number of credits awarded, hours of class time, how it’s evaluated, assignments, and texts (also called a syllabus).

  • Credit

    The value given to a course. May be related to the number of hours of instruction. The majority of academic courses are worth three credits. Many degrees require 120 credits. (See also Unit.)

  • Dean

    Head of a Faculty. For example, the Dean of Science is the Head of the Faculty of Science.

  • Degree

    Recognition or implied recognition of academic achievement that (a) is specified in writing to be an associate, baccalaureate, masters, doctoral or similar degree, and (b) is not a degree in theology. For more information, please visit the Ministry of Advanced Education.

  • Degree-Granting Institution

    An institution in BC that has been given authorization by the Ministry of Advanced Education to offer degree programs.  For a list of degree-granting institutions, please visit the Degree Quality Assessment Board.

  • Department

    Faculty and administrators associated with a particular discipline or program (e.g. the Sociology Department).

  • Diploma

    Recognition of successful completion of a program of study, usually two years in length. Post-degree diplomas are often one year in length.

  • EducationPlannerBC

    EducationPlannerBC allows students to plan, search, and apply to programs for BC’s public post-secondary institutions.

  • Exemption

    The waiving of a prerequisite or required course for students who have proven they have comparable learning. The student may be required to replace the exempted course with an alternate.

  • Faculty

    The teachers at a post-secondary institution. Also a grouping of departments and programs in a similar area (e.g., Faculty of Arts).

  • GPA or Grade Point Average

    The average overall grade for all courses taken for credit in a particular semester, year or institution. A cumulative GPA (CGPA) is the average of all grades for courses taken to date at one institution.

  • Home Institution

    The institution from which you are transferring.

  • Institute

    In BC, Institutes are organized according to career, vocational and technical specialties, covering a variety of occupations. They may offer credentials from certificates to degrees. One institute (Nicola Valley Institute of Technology) has an Aboriginal focus.

  • Laddering

    A process which allows you to build upon previously earned credits or credentials, either from secondary or post-secondary institutions.

  • Letter of Permission (LOP)

    A document which gives you permission to take a course at an institution other than the university in which you are currently enrolled.  See Attending Multiple Institutions.

  • Lower division (or lower level)

    General introductory courses, usually making up the first two years of a bachelor’s degree.

  • Major

    A program of study in a degree where about 25-50% of the courses are in a single discipline (e.g. Philosophy, History).

  • Minor

    A program of study requiring fewer courses than a major.

  • Non-credit course

    A course taken for learning value. A grade may be assigned, but the course is not usually applicable to a credential.

  • Preclude

    As in “precludes credit for Anthropology 301.” A preclusion indicates you will not receive credit if you take the precluded course later.

  • Prerequisite

    A course you must take before you can take a more advanced course in the discipline.

  • Program plan

    Your informal checklist of the requirements for a program, and how many of those requirements you have satisfied with your various courses (including transferred courses).

  • Registration

    The process of enroling in individual courses after completion of all required admission procedures.

  • Requirement

    A course you must take in order to complete a credential.

  • Residency

    The number of courses or credits (or percentage of the program) you must complete at an institution to graduate from that institution.

  • Syllabus

    See Course outline.

  • Transfer Institution

    The institution to which you are transferring.

  • Transcript

    An official transcript is the original record verifying your enrolment and achievement, and certified (e.g., by signature and/or seal) by the institution. It is normally sent directly, by mail or electronically, on your request.

  • Transfer

    Consists of the granting of credit (transfer credit) toward a credential by one institution, for programs or courses completed at another.

  • Unassigned credit

    Recognition of learning where the course doesn’t have a specific equivalent at the receiving institution. See Types of Transfer Credit.

  • Unit

    See Credit. Only the University of Victoria uses a unit rather than a credit system: 1 unit = 2 credits.

  • University

    In BC, universities offer an array of undergraduate degree programs and a range of programs at the graduate level. Some also offer courses and programs in trades, vocational, and career technical studies leading to certificates and diplomas, as well as developmental programs that prepare adult learners for post-secondary studies. Some universities undertake original and applied research in a range of disciplines, while others undertake applied research and scholarly activities in support of their programming.

  • Upper division (or upper level)

    Less general, more focused courses, usually making up most of the final two years of a bachelor’s degree.

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