Transferring Distance Learning Credits
Over the past decade, distance learning has really begun to take off. The flexibility that it offers and the technology that it involves have both contributed to its rise in popularity. But many students decide to participate in distance learning for other reasons. Many students use distance learning credits as a way to get into a traditional university or college at a later date. Distance learning credits can often be applied to diplomas or degrees offered by traditional schools, and may help you to complete your schooling more quickly. But transferring distance learning credits isn’t always straightforward, so be sure to find out all the details before you decide to sign up.
What Happens when you Transfer Credits?
Every school, whether it’s a traditional institution, a distance learning program, or an online school, offers credits for all courses that you complete. In order to complete a certificate, diploma, or degree program, you will need to earn a certain number of credits. The number of credits that you are required to earn depends upon the institution that you are enrolled with and the course you are taking. If you decide to change schools or enter into a new program, it is sometimes possible to transfer existing course credits that you have already earned and apply it to that new program.
Why Transfer Credits?
If you have earned a number of course credits through a distance learning program you may decide to transfer these credits when you choose to attend another school. By transferring credits that you have already earned you can:
- prevent having to take the same course over again at your new school
- reduce the number of courses that you have to complete at your new school
- earn your degree or diploma faster
- save money
Can You Transfer Distance Learning Credits?
As with most schools, it is usually possible to transfer credits, diplomas, or degrees that you have earned through a distance learning program. If you have taken an e-learning course or enrolled with an online school, you may wish to transfer your credits to another school. Most institutions have programs in place that allow you to transfer some or all of these credits to the new degree that you are pursuing. However, most colleges or universities require that you have received these credits from an accredited distance learning school.
Accreditation and Transferring Credits
An accredited college or university is one that has been shown to offer education that meets nationally accepted levels. Because there are many schools out there that operate simply as "diploma mills," countries need to keep a record of all reputable schools in the area. All countries have specific groups that are responsible for accrediting institutions of higher education. In the United States, most colleges and universities are accredited by one of six regional bodies, which are evaluated and monitored by the U.S. Department of Education. These bodies include:
- the New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- the Southwestern Association of Colleges and Schools
- the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- the Northwestern Association of Schools and Colleges
As long as your distance learning program has been accredited by a recognized body, you should be able to transfer credits without many problems. However, transferring credits that have be earned through a non-accredited program may be quite difficult or even impossible.
How Much Credit Can You Get?
You may not be able to get credit for all of the courses that you have completed in your distance learning program. Most schools, whether traditional or online, have an upper limit as to how many transfer credits you can apply towards a diploma or degree. You may be required to complete up to 75% of your program requirements at your new school. If your credits are particularly specialized, it may also be difficult to get a lot of credit for them at another school. General course credits are the most easily transferred between institutions.
How Else Can You Get Transfer Credits?
If the new school that you are attending doesn’t wish to give you credit for courses that you have already completed, there are a few routes that you can take to try and earn the credits.
- Testing: Most colleges and universities offer testing programs that will evaluate your knowledge in specific areas. These tests are designed to assess whether or not you have college-level knowledge in a particular credit area. Common testing programs include the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Academic Support (DANTES).
- Portfolio: Some colleges and universities will be happy to review a portfolio of your work in order to evaluate your knowledge in certain subject areas.
Tips on Transferring Distance Learning Credits
If you plan on transferring schools at some point in the future, or if you think you may want to transfer some of your credits to another degree or program, here are some tips that you will want to familiarize yourself with before you register:
- Find out your school’s policy on transfer credits before you enrol.
- Be sure that your distance learning program is accredited by a national or regional organization.
- When signing up for distance learning courses, speak to a Transfer Counselor. Most distance learning programs employ counselors that specialize in credit transfers. These counselors can help you sign up for courses that can be easily transferred to another institution.