Across the United States, colleges and universities have developed and expanded upon varying strategies to improve the quality of transfer. Key areas discussed in the literature which bear upon students’ ability to transfer include, but are not limited to, general education transferability, transfer student advising, and availability of academic programs. To improve transfer from one institution to another, states have developed policies, technology applications, and statewide collaborations. No state has accomplished more than Maryland to improve the transferability of courses and the advising of students who intend to transfer.

Policies to Improve Transfer

Many states have developed policies to improve the acceptance of general education credit. For example, Missouri requires that "institutions shall accept in transfer a general education program of at least 39 semester credit hours which shall consist of, but not be limited to, the distribution of courses: communication, humanities, physical and biological sciences, mathematics and social and behavioral sciences." Missouri acknowledges exceptions for professional schools, and requirements of foreign language. In addition, students with an Associate of Applied Science Degree (AAS) are not expected to transfer and are evaluated on a course by course basis (Missouri Coordinating Board, October, 1987).

The State College System of West Virginia’s Core Coursework Transfer agreement addresses a statute requiring "that undergraduate core coursework completed at any of its institutions is transferable as general studies credit to all other state institutions of higher education in West Virginia for credit with the grade earned." West Virginia has adopted this core coursework transfer agreement which designates specific courses including English Composition, Communication and Literature, Mathematics, Natural Science, Social Science. Institutions shall list courses which are "acceptable" for transfer as general studies credit (State College System of West Virginia, January 1, 1994).

In January 1993, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board and the Transfer Coordinators of Illinois Colleges and Universities launched an initiative to develop a model general education curriculum. In July 1994, the Illinois Board of Higher Education adopted a core curriculum which they expect to fully implement by summer 1998. Students who satisfactorily complete an associate degree that incorporates the core curriculum will be granted credit after transfer for completing the lower division general education program. Illinois extends the benefit of the completion of the common core to any public or private college or university in the state (Illinois State Board of Higher Education, July 12, 1994).

Some states have gone farther than adopting statewide general education policies to improve transfer. For example, some of Massachusetts’ colleges have established guidelines for dual enrollment between two- and four-year colleges.

Other states have adopted or are investigating a number of ways to facilitate transfer. A recent study by the Southern Regional Education Board listed the following as steps taken by several states:

Maryland’s higher education community has made progress on all of these fronts and on several others. The following pages describe the elements of Maryland’s system of articulation and transfer.


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