By Jessica Medearis
MSCSA Associate Director
It used to be that students attending two-year community and technical colleges took one of two paths. Some entered technical programs, graduating and entering the workforce without plans to return to higher education. The rest got an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree, and transferred to a university. Not anymore. Today’s community and technical college students pursue a variety of educational goals, and credit transfer plays a key role. Many students enroll in Associate in Science (A.S.) or even Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees – programs not traditionally designed for transfer – with plans to ladder their degree to a four-year program. Some students also transfer “backwards,” starting at a four-year university and transferring to a two-year college as their career goals change. As students’ transfer goals changed, the complex and sometimes confusing systems of credit transfer have often lagged behind, stymieing two-year graduates.
Today, system policies provide access to a variety of transfer paths for students. Agreements between two and four year programs, known as articulation agreements, are published online for easy access. Course outlines are posted on college and university websites to allow students to show other institutions what they covered in a given course on their transcript. A Student Transfer Rights and Responsibilities policy protects basic tenants of transfer and spells out what steps students need to follow for transfer success. Minnesota’s transfer curriculum, an agreement in place between MnSCU institutions and the University of Minnesota in place since the mid-90s, allows students to transfer lower-division general education easily and with consistency.
Additionally, recent improvements in technology offer students electronic tools to assist them in planning for transfer. While there is no substitute for one-on-one meetings with advisors, these tools can help students ensure their transfer goals are attainable. Here’s a breakdown of ways students can plan their educational career, from registration to graduation, and beyond.
This website includes transfer information about MnSCU institions, the University of Minnesota and private colleges and universities. Students can access a database of articulation agreements between programs, learn about the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum’s goal areas, research relocation options, find transfer checklist and planning guide, and learn about financial aid. Students can also find direct links to campus website transfer pages and contact information for their college’s transfer specialist.
This website, accessible from some school websites or mntransfer.org, allows users to sign up for a free account. Students can look up which courses they’ve taken are equivalent to courses elsewhere, and compare equivalencies between potential transfer schools. Students can also compare different programs, and even upload their transcripts to see how courses will transfer to various programs, course by course.
Degree Audit Report System (DARS)
This interactive report allows students to see progress towards their degree, including required courses and electives. The DARS report also shows students which of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum’s ten goal areas are completed. Once a student completes the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum of 40 credits, it transfers in its entirety to four-year programs across the state.
E-Services Equivalency Search
Every student attending a MnSCU college or university has an e-services dashboard. Upon logging in, a student can search for course equivalencies in the registration portal. Students can use this tool to see if a course they are taking is equivalent to a required course elsewhere, or even search and enroll in an equivalent course at another college or university if the course is full or at an inconvenient time on their home campus.