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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Transfer

When should I see an advisor to prepare to transfer?
Ideally, you should see an advisor sometime during the first semester. It is very important that you choose the correct general education courses that are required by a four-year college or university. Even if you graduate with a transferable degree at NOVA, it may take you longer than four years to earn a bachelor's degree, unless you carefully plan your course selections.

How do colleges and universities define a transfer student?
A transfer student is anyone who wishes to enroll in an undergraduate degree program and has attended another college or university after graduating from high school. If you have earned only advanced placement credit or college credit while attending high school, you are not considered a transfer student.

I want to be guaranteed admission to a four- year college. Where can I learn about VCCS Guaranteed Admissions Agreements?
If you want to be guaranteed admissions to four-year college of your dreams, you need to carefully read the college's admissions agreements. The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) has agreements with almost all of the Virginia public colleges and universities! There are also some private colleges that guarantee admissions. For more information, visit NOVA's Guaranteed Admission Agreements website.

Which NOVA degrees transfer best?
The Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS) are designed specifically for transfer. They require courses equivalent to those typically required during the first two years of baccalaureate degrees. These courses meet the lower-level (freshman/sophomore years) general-education requirements of the four-year colleges and universities. 

NOVA offers the following AA degrees:
Fine Arts 
Liberal Arts    
Specializations:
   Art History    
   International Studies     
   Psychology    
   Speech Communication
Music

NOVA offers the following AS degrees:
Business Administration          
Computer Science    
Engineering
   Specialization: Electrical   
General Studies 
   Specialization: Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies
Information Technology    
Science
   Specializations: Mathematics  
Social Science
   Specializations:
   Deaf Studies
   Psychology       
   Teacher Education

What if I am almost finished with another type of degree?
The Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) degree, though designed to prepare students for employment, also transfers reasonably well to some senior institutions. The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree programs are designed to prepare students for employment. You probably will lose credits transferring to a traditional university baccalaureate degree program. NOVA has articulated transfer agreements with specific institutions for some applied programs. For guidance on your options, consult a NOVA counselor or your faculty advisor and visit the Transfer website.

What if I have not chosen a major yet?
The sooner you decide what you want to major in for your baccalaureate degree, the sooner you can begin to take the courses that will best prepare you for transfer and minimize the loss of credit upon transfer.  If you are fairly sure you want to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, consider enrolling in NOVA's Liberal Arts AA degree program.  If you prefer a very general transfer-oriented degree program with even greater flexibility and with no foreign language requirement, consider the General Studies AS degree program.

Are there advantages to earning an AA or AS before transferring?
Yes. Students who have earned transfer-oriented AA or AS degree are considered to have met the lower-division general education requirements at public senior institutions in Virginia, even if their courses do not match up exactly to that university's requirements. In addition, Guaranteed Admission Agreements guaranteed admission to universities for students who complete their AA or AS and have a qualifying GPA. A major advantage to earning an associate degree at NOVA is the lower tuition rate compared to those at senior colleges and universities.

What do I need to know if I plan to transfer without earning an AA or AS?
Although students can maximize the number of credits that will transfer by completing a college transfer associate's degree, some students choose to transfer before completing a degree program. Be sure to review the transfer policies for the schools you wish to attend. Many schools require high school transcripts and/or SAT/ACT scores if you have fewer than 30 transferable credits at the time of application. You will need to consider whether your performance in these areas will meet a school's requirements.

  • If you transfer without graduating from NOVA, each course will be evaluated individually. Courses that might have been accepted toward specific general education requirements for a NOVA graduate may not be accepted as equivalent without the degree.
  • If you plan to transfer but have not yet selected an institution or a major, work closely with a counselor to help you choose courses that are likely to transfer to most schools.

Particularly for highly selective or unique bachelor's degree programs, students should follow the advice of the four-year institution to ensure that courses selected will transfer.

How do I find the colleges and universities that are best for the major I want?
Ask your instructors, counselors and people in the field you have chosen. The Virginia Wizard can also help you locate all colleges and universities in Virginia that offer a particular program.

How do I know which classes will transfer?
Talk with a NOVA counselor and review university website transfer guides for help in selecting transferable courses. Community colleges offer degree programs for a number of purposes -- to prepare students for immediate entry into the workforce, to develop skills for career advancement or personal growth, and to prepare students for continuing their studies at four-year colleges and universities. Generally, courses taken as part of a "university parallel" transfer program will be accepted at all senior public institutions in Virginia. Courses taken in occupational/technical areas may not meet the requirements for transfer to a bachelor's degree program. Most Virginia state schools and many Virginia private schools have their guides posted on the Internet. Check out the Transfer Guide Links on our site.

Can a NOVA counselor tell me which courses will transfer to an out-of-state school?
A NOVA counselor can assist with finding the transfer information website for out-of-state schools.  The college where the student wants to transfer determines which courses they will accept, how many credits will be awarded, and the type of credit that will be awarded (general education, major requirements, or elective credit). NOVA counselors can suggest courses that are generally transferable to most schools, but because each college determines its own policies about accepting credits in transfer, guarantees cannot be made except by the receiving institution.

When should I apply to the colleges I am considering?
Each college has its own application deadlines. It is a good rule of thumb to apply a year ahead of the date you wish to enroll. If you would like to attend in the fall of 2012, begin the application process in the fall of 2011. Most colleges set their deadlines at approximately six months prior to enrollment. Visit our Transfer page to find information for specific schools. Once you locate the Admissions link, you should see another link for "transfer students."

How do I have my NOVA transcript sent to a college or university for admissions?
Submit an online Transcript Request Form.

Do I have to report all colleges I have attended when I apply for transfer from NOVA to another college?
Yes. If you don't and the college you applied to discovers your omission, you may not be accepted. Note: Some colleges and universities will also want your high school transcript.

What grades are accepted by other colleges and universities?
Most colleges have policies requiring a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 for all course work attempted at the community college. For individual courses, D grades are generally not accepted for credit. If you earned D grades in general education courses or prerequisites for your major required by the transfer institution, you will often be directed to re-take those classes to earn a grade of C or better before being admitted to the new institution.

What is the maximum number of hours that I can transfer to the bachelor's degree program?
Many colleges have a maximum limit on the number of credits accepted in transfer. Graduation requirements for the baccalaureate degree include a minimum number of credits at the upper division level (courses with 300 and 400 level numbers) and a minimum number of credits completed at the senior institution. This information is available in a school's transfer guide or catalog.

How many more years will I have to attend college after I leave NOVA to complete my bachelor's degree?
Many factors affect years in school. If you are admitted as a junior in your major, and attend full time, you should finish in approximately two years. Because some students transfer with less than 60 credits, attend school part-time, or change majors, degree completion can take longer.

Where can I find course equivalencies for four year colleges and universities?
Visit the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia's website. Keep in mind that you still need to check to determine the appropriate general education course selections for your major and four-year college/university.  

Do most colleges and universities accept the Common Application?
The only way to apply to many schools now is with the Common Application

How do colleges and universities determine a student's GPA if he or she has attended more than one college or university?
They usually review each individual cumulative GPA from each institution attended. They also look at factors such as dates of attendance and grade trends when reviewing multiple college transcripts. Be aware, if you continue to take classes at NOVA to improve your GPA, after you graduate from NOVA the transcript will continue to show the GPA when the degree was awarded. Your cumulative GPA may increase, but the GPA at the time of the degree date will not change.

If I am admitted as a transfer student, am I automatically admitted into my major?
Several college majors traditionally have their own application process such as the School of Business, Nursing School, and the School of Education. Art and Music departments often require portfolio reviews or auditions that occur after being admitted to the general college or university. These majors are said to have a "second gate admission process."  The first gate is applying and receiving admission to the college or university in general.  The second gate is getting into the specific, selective major. Majors that have "second gate admission" traditionally have demanding pre-requisite classes and receive more applications than seats available.

Can I continue to take NOVA courses after I transfer?
Once a student has been accepted to a new college or university, the new school usually has strict guidelines regarding transferring in further coursework. You must request prior permission from the designated school official. It is best to plan to complete all courses at the community college before transferring.

What questions should I ask my new college or university?
Services for transfer students are important to your new college or university.  The following list includes just a few of the resources that your future college or university will assist with such as transfer credit, course registration, new student orientation, financial aid and housing.

How do I find out about transfer information sessions or campus tours arranged by a college or university that I am interested in?
Visit the Admissions website and specifically the transfer link of the school that you are interested in. This will lead you to the latest dates and times for these events. For example, the University of Virginia has a Web page to assist you called "Plan Your Visit." 

How can I pay for the rest of my college education?
Scholarships, grants, loans and work-study opportunities can make your college education more affordable.  Check the financial aid website of your future college or university. The Virginia Two-Year College Transfer Grant offers community college students up to $1000 per year. During your acceptance process, your future four-year college will assist with this opportunity.

What transfer resources are available to me at NOVA?
Counselors at each NOVA Campus and the Extended Learning Institute are available to help you plan your transfer. Counselors can also help you select the NOVA program best designed to prepare you for transfer to the college and major of your choice. A transfer fair is scheduled annually in the Fall Semester at each campus. Admissions representatives from the major four-year colleges and universities in Virginia and many out-of-state schools attend to discuss their institutions with interested students.

Where do I find transfer guides?
Not all colleges have transfer guides, but most Virginia institutions do have them posted to their websites. These guides usually include transfer admission guidelines, a list of transferable courses, and guidance about the transfer of specific community college programs. Visit NOVA's Transfer Resource website to see a list of links to many popular transfer guides.