Transfer students

Changes happen. Transferring between institutions doesn’t have to be stressful. We have resources to help.

What is transfer?

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.

B.C.’s post-secondary institutions offer a variety of programs, and transfer opens new possibilities for accessing these programs. For example, if a student does not meet the admission requirements for entering a B.C. institution directly, they may be eligible to apply for admission later as a transfer student. Students can complete up to two years credit (and sometimes more) and 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 courses from a variety of places and transfer the credits back to your “home” institution. Transfer allows students to begin their studies at an institution of their choice, opening possibilities of taking courses close to home, smaller class sizes, and more affordable tuition fees. 

Two Routes to Your Educational Goal: 

  • The Direct Route - enter a post-secondary institution directly from high school. 
  • The Transfer Route - start at one institution, then transfer. This route can be taken whether you are eligible for the direct route.

Credit transfer

Credit transfer consists of the granting of credit by one institution for equivalent courses completed at another. Once transfer credit is granted, the course is accepted in lieu of an internal course and can be applied in the same way as the internal course to fulfill general or specific credential requirements. Block transfer may also be granted for completed programs. Course and program equivalencies that have been articulated (i.e. assessed for equivalence and awarded credit through a formal inter-institutional request process) are recorded as transfer agreements in the BC Transfer Guide. Non-articulated courses are assessed and credit is awarded on a case-by-case basis.

Transfer student

Some institutions formally define a basis of admission for transfer students and specify criteria for that admission category, but the term transfer student is also used more broadly to refer to any student who wishes to transfer credit from one institution to another.

Credit transfer provides efficient, cost-effective access to post-secondary education and limits geographical barriers for students. The BC Transfer System includes public and recognized private and out-of-province institutions, facilitates student mobility, supports system quality and ensures the portability and applicability of credit by providing dependable, accurate resources to students and institutions.

Why transfer?

If you're planning to apply directly to a university, you may be wondering why think about transfer. However, the path to your education is not always direct. There are a variety of reasons why transfer may become an option for you: 

  1. The program you selected is not the right fit – It can be difficult to know if you will like certain programs or courses until you try them. The good news is most of your courses will transfer into other programs. 
  2. You must move – sometimes it is not possible to complete your program where you started. 
  3. Some of the courses you need are full – Sometimes required courses fill up fast and you cannot get the course you need. It may be possible for you to take the course at another nearby institution. Once you have completed the course you can transfer it back to your home institution. 
  4. You have courses from years ago – You may have taken a program, or some courses years ago and now are thinking about returning to post-secondary. It is possible that some, or even all, of your past courses may still transfer. You will need to do is submit a transfer request to your admissions office and supply them with transcripts and/or detailed course outlines. 

Regardless of whether you planned to transfer from the beginning, or because of a change of circumstances, it is helpful to be aware of your options so you can continue to move forward.

Where can you transfer?

The BC Transfer Guide lists all 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, including from institutions outside B.C. 

If you’re researching programs for potential transfer, the Program Search here at EducationPlannerBC is a great place to find information on programs, admission requirements, and more. 

Transfer is based on course equivalency. If your courses match the content of the program to which you are applying, you will probably get transfer credit. However, if the programs are totally unrelated, you may be unable to transfer any credits. 

The following are all transfer possibilities: 

  • All courses listed in the BC Transfer Guide 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

Transfer from outside B.C.

Many students each year transfer credits to and from B.C. Transfer from another province works the same as transfer within B.C. Students must first apply to the institution they wish to transfer to and arrange to have official transcripts sent directly from your former institution(s). If the institution admits the student, they can be evaluated for transfer credit. The BC Transfer Guide contains transfer information regarding courses obtained world-wide and how these courses may receive transfer credit at BC institutions, as well as for Athabasca University in Alberta and Yukon University in the Yukon Territory and will provide a good reference to understand what transfer credit a student will receive from the institution. Check with the institution to find out whether your transcript will be automatically evaluated for transfer credit, or whether you have to request an evaluation.

Types of transfer credit

Each institution has its own policy regarding the type of transfer credit they award. Here are some of the different ways in which transfer credit can be awarded.

Direct or General Credit

Credit can be granted for a specific course or granted for a specific subject and year level.

Direct Credit also known as Assigned Credit – Credit is granted for a specific course.
For example:

CAPU ENGL 100 = UVIC ENGL 115 (3)

General Credit also know as Unassigned Credit – Credit is granted for a specific subject and year level.  This credit may be used as an elective towards your credential.
For example:

UNBC FREN 1XX (3) – 3 credits of 100 level French at UNBC

Cluster or Multi-Agreement

Two or more courses must be completed to receive transfer credit.

Because institutions differ in the way courses are instructed, direct equivalencies cannot always be established. In some cases, institutions will create transfer agreements that involve multiple courses. This is known as cluster credit. Both courses must be taken in order to receive transfer credit, unless otherwise specified.

For example:

LANG HIST 1115 & 1130 = UBC HIST 125

Block Transfer

Block Transfer occurs when a group of courses, often in the form of a certificate or diploma, is recognized for transfer credit.

You should be able to transfer directly into the second or third year of the degree program depending on the agreement. Block transfer works well if you complete the entire diploma. If you don’t complete the entire diploma, you’ll probably still receive some transfer credit if the individual courses are listed in the BC Transfer Guide Course Search. Or search their Block Transfer to find institutions with block transfer agreements.

Degree Partnerships

Degree Partnerships are programs offered jointly by two or more institutions.

Degree partnerships are offered in a variety of different disciplines. For more information, search BC Transfer Guide's Degree Partnerships.

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) or Flexible Assessment

Students are eligible to receive credit for learning that’s occurred in a non-standard or non-traditional environment, such as self-directed study, paid employment, volunteer work, travel, and non-college courses.

The process for this type of recognition is often called Prior Learning Assessment (PLAR) or Flexible Assessment.  This is different from transfer credit. Check with the institution to which you have applied for information on their policy for PLAR or Flexible Assessment.

Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) programs are enriched secondary school program that provides students with the opportunity to earn advanced credit towards their undergraduate degrees.

If you have completed IB or AP courses, you may be eligible for advanced credit. See BC Transfer Guide's High School Transfer more information.

Program Transfer

Faculty members in many institutions often collaborate to arrange special transfer agreements for their discipline.

See BC Transfer Guide's Program Specific transfer for specific programs.


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