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Lower-Division Transfer Credits

CONTENTS       Overview
The 2005 policy
Things to note when applying this policy
    When the additional lower-division transfer credits may be taken
    The final year residence-credit requirement
    4-year transfers with many accumulated credits
    Baccalaureate honors
    Using additional lower division transfer credits to fulfill course requirements
Approving additional lower division transfer credits
DARS, GARS, and transcripts
Degrees requiring more than 180 credits


    Beginning in winter 2005, the rules for transferring credits into the UW changed.

Prior to 2005, students could use a maximum of 90 credits from a 2-year college toward their UW degree. The number of credits from a 4-year university was essentially unrestricted, although then, as now, students still had to meet the matriculation requirement and the UW residence-credit requirement in order to graduate.

In 2004, the Washington state legislature passed a bill requiring Washington public baccalaureate institutions to treat lower-division (i.e., 100- and 200-level) transfer credit from 2-year colleges the same way they treat lower-division transfer credit from 4-year universities. In response, the UW instituted a new policy that changed several things about how transfer credits can be used at the UW. In short, it shifts the 90 credit limitation from a focus on "2-year vs. 4-year" credit to "lower-division vs. upper division" credit, it caps all transfer credit (lower-division + upper-division) at 135, and it allows for the possibility of counting more than 90 lower-division transfer credits toward graduation.


The 2005 policy

  1. Upon matriculation to the UW, students may count no more than 90 lower-division transfer credits, whether from 2-year or 4-year schools, toward the 180 credits required for graduation.
  2. However, additional credits may be allowed when ALL of the following are true:
    • the student requests additional credits (i.e., it doesn't happen automatically)
    • the additional credits will advance the student toward a degree (i.e., the credits are necessary)
    • the additional credits are approved by the student's academic unit (see Approving additional lower-division transfer credits, below).
  3. No more than 135 (lower-division + upper division) may be accepted in transfer for a bachelor's degree.

Things to note when applying this policy


When the additional lower-division transfer credits may be taken

There is no restriction on when the credits may be taken, except with regard to the final year residence-credit requirement (see next section). So, additional lower division credits may be taken at any regionally accredited college, including a community college, before or after matriculation to the UW. Students sometimes return to a community college after matriculation in order to fulfill requirements (e.g., attending a community college in their final summer to fulfill the foreign language requirement); the difference under the new rule is that the student can request that these courses count for credit as well as for fulfilling the course requirement.

The final year residence-credit requirement

Students must still take 45 of their last 60 credits in residence at the UW, so, just as under the old rule, students must be careful how many additional lower-division transfer credits they take and transfer in toward the end of their degree. However, if students are merely applying additional lower-division transfer credits that they took before transferring to the UW, then these credits should not fall within the final 45. That is, with respect to the final year residence-credit requirements, additional lower-division transfer credits count in the quarter they were taken, not in the quarter the request is approved.

4-year transfers with many accumulated credits

Transfer students from 4-year institutions are also limited to 90 lower-division transfer credits, and can use no more than 135 transfer credits toward their 180. The 135-credit restriction amounts to no effective change in required credits, since students have always had to take a minimum of 45 UW residence credits as a matriculated student (135 + 45 = 180). However, it may help some 4-year transfer students with mass accumulations of transfer credit who, in the past, would have encountered the 105-credit and 210-credit satisfactory progress rules sooner than most students.

Baccalaureate honors

In order to be eligible for baccalaureate honors (e.g., summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude), students must take a minimum of 90 UW residence credits, at least 60 of which must be taken on a graded basis. Students who are interested in earning baccalaureate honors should consider this before requesting additional lower-division transfer credits to complete their degree.

Using additional lower-division transfer credits to fulfill course requirements

This policy does not affect the way transfer courses can be applied to fulfill course requirements. That is, just as under the old policy, all transferable courses are listed under the Detail of Transfer Credit and may be used to satisfy individual requirements for graduation. This policy only affects the number of credits that can count toward the 180 needed to graduate.

Approving additional lower-division transfer credits

    Departments are under no obligation to approve additional lower-division transfer credits, and are encouraged to make these determinations consistent with the philosophy and will of their faculty and administrators.

Before additional lower-division transfer credits can be officially approved the credits must be earned at the other institution, be transferred in, be evaluated, and appear on the student's unofficial transcript. Unfortunately, this means that if a student's final credits for her degree will be lower-division transfer credits, her advisor may have to send in the approval in the short window between the end of the quarter and the day Graduation closes the book on that quarter's graduation list.

The earliest a department can officially approve additional lower-division transfer credits is when the graduation application is submitted. There is a space on the GDARS to approve these credits (see below).

If a department wants to approve additional lower-division transfer credits after a graduation application has been submitted, this can be done using this web form.


DARS, GDARS, and transcripts

    This policy has led to some changes in DARS and GDARS, and some upcoming changes in the unofficial transcript.

DARS now contains a section entitled "Summary of Transfer Credit" which displays the number of upper division transfer credits, lower division transfer credits, and total transfer credits that the student has transferred to the UW. Note that this number is merely a total of all transferable credits; it is not necessarily the number of credits that have been approved to be applied toward the 180.

GDARS now contains a section in which advisers can request that additional lower-division transfer credits be applied. The format is as follows: "Apply ___ more lower division transfer credits beyond the ___ currently applied for a total of ___."

The "Summary of Transfer Credit" section of the unofficial transcript will also undergo some changes due to this policy. Currently, this section includes columns entitled, "2 Year" and "4 Year." These will change to "lower-division" and "upper-division." As of this writing these changes have not yet occurred.