Ask a College Advisor: Can I Transfer Credits From a Completed Degree Towards a Second Degree?

Hear from one of our education professionals on the process of transferring credits towards a second degree.

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by Lonnie Woods III

Published on June 8, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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Ask a College Advisor: Can I Transfer Credits From a Completed Degree Towards a Second Degree?
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Question: Can I transfer credits from a completed degree towards a second degree?

Answer: In some cases, yes, you can transfer credits from a completed degree towards a second degree. If your completed degree is a bachelor's degree and you're seeking a second bachelor's, you can apply to a designated post-baccalaureate degree program where many of your general education credits will be accepted. However, few master's programs accept transfer credits from other master's degrees or undergraduate degrees.

Pursuing a Second Degree

So, you've completed a bachelor's degree, and you're wondering if you can transfer some or all of your credits to get another degree quickly. Whether you're considering a career change or just want to expand your expertise, this question is valid — especially given the time, hard work, and financial commitment it takes to complete a degree.

To help you assess your options, review the questions below.

Key Questions to Ask

Do I plan to stay at the same school or transfer to a new one?

Transfer credit policies vary from school to school but are often more liberal when you stay at the same school. If your current school has a post-baccalaureate program, you may be able to transfer a significant amount of credits into that program.

However, if you are considering a different school for your second degree, you should review that school's transfer policies carefully to see if it accepts credits from a completed degree. Schools also cap the number of transfer credits accepted and have residency requirements.

Am I seeking a second bachelor's or master's degree?

Unlike some undergraduate pathways, most master's programs will not accept transfer credits from a bachelor's degree. Instead, a completed bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for master's programs in the United States. However, there are some bridge programs where students can complete a few classes during their senior year that apply to both bachelor's and master's requirements.

If you hold a master's degree and would like to pursue another, you'll likely need to start from scratch on your second degree. Most master's programs do not accept credits from other completed degrees because these programs tend to be very specialized; they likely have little to no crossover with other programs. Post-master's certificates, however, can allow learners who already hold a master's degree to pursue further specialized postgraduate training in less time.

Does this school allow me to apply for a second bachelor's degree?

Some schools have dedicated post-baccalaureate programs designed for students who completed their first degree at that school. It may be possible to transfer credits from one school to another, but applying for a post-baccalaureate program at a school you hold a degree from is generally more straightforward. Many post-baccalaureate programs are related to medical school and other healthcare-related majors.

If you know you would like to pursue two bachelor's degrees, you should also consider applying to a dual-degree program when enrolling in college.

How many credits will be accepted?

Most bachelor's programs accept up to 60 general education transfer credits from other accredited institutions, but the exact number and the minimum grade requirements vary from school to school. It is important to do your research and make sure you understand the specific transfer policies at each college you are considering.

Schools only accept a certain number of credits from an outside institution, but if you are pursuing a second bachelor's degree from the same institution, you may be able to transfer more credits towards your second degree.

Summary

You may be able to transfer credits from a completed degree towards a bachelor's program, but this process is generally easier if you are pursuing a second degree at the same institution or applying to a designated post-baccalaureate program. Be proactive and reach out to your target school(s) to ask about relevant transfer credit policies if you're interested in pursuing a second degree.

Have a Question About College?

In our Ask a College Advisor series, experienced advisors provide an insider look at the college experience by answering your questions about college admissions, finances, and student life.

DISCLAIMER: The responses provided as part of the Ask a College Advisor series are for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact a professional academic, career, or financial advisor before making decisions regarding individual situations.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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