Can You Take College Courses at Different Colleges?

From unexpected opportunities to pandemics, life can be unpredictable. And while you likely planned to complete your degree at one college, a variety of situations can disrupt your plans. Or perhaps you’re just looking to take a summer course at a college in your hometown. The question is, can you take college courses at different colleges?

It’s possible to split your time between two colleges, but you should be aware of some caveats. Understanding how to transfer college credits and what types of college credits (also known as units) will transfer is essential to determining your options.

Can You Take College Courses at Different Colleges?

At the most basic level, it’s typically easier to transfer general education courses than it is to transfer units for your major. However, depending on how far along you are in your academic journey, you may still have some flexibility. For example, if you’re a first- or second-year student, you may be able to take lower-level college units for your major at an outside institution.

Are All Courses Transferable?

So, how do you figure out what’s transferable and what’s not? If both colleges are located in the same state, the first step is to look at the articulation agreement between the colleges. An articulation agreement is a course-to-course arrangement between two institutions that identifies courses at a sending institution as “acceptable in lieu of” corresponding courses at the receiving institution (more on those terms later). This is a great starting point to identify courses you’ve already taken or are considering taking that will transfer between universities.

The process may be a little more complicated if the colleges are in different states, but it’s certainly possible to transfer college units across state lines. The best way to find out what your options are is by contacting your university’s Student Services Center and explaining your situation. They’ll be able to help you determine which college credits are transferable and direct you to any required paperwork to ensure the process goes smoothly.

How Can You Transfer Units Seamlessly?

As you weigh your options, a few general guidelines can help you determine which courses you might be able to take elsewhere.

Understand Which University Is Sending and Which Is Receiving

Even if you take college courses at two different institutions, you can only receive your degree from one of those colleges. If you’re taking outside courses at a community college, this is fairly straightforward. Community colleges don’t offer bachelor’s degree programs, so the community college would be the sending institution—meaning it sends college units to the university where you’ll earn your degree.

But what happens if you want to take courses at a state university and a private university, for example? They both offer bachelor’s programs, so you’ll need to decide which institution you plan to graduate from. The university you want to receive your degree from will be the receiving university, while the other will be the sending university.

Focus on General Education Courses

If you’re looking to take classes at a second college to speed up your academic journey and receive your degree sooner, general education courses are the best route since they’re the easiest to transfer. Most colleges have comparable general education courses.

Stick to Lower-Level Courses

Likewise, 100- and 200-level courses are easier to transfer to your receiving institution. These are the introductory classes you generally take in your first or second year of college. While transferring units from an upper-level class may be possible if you’re attending a university that offers bachelor’s degree programs, clearing the transfer is likely to be more complicated.

Transferring College Credits to Azusa Pacific University

APU offers a wide range of transfer pathways for students looking for an alternative way to complete their degree. Whether you’ve received your associate’s degree or you’re still figuring out what your path forward looks like, there are many transfer options to ensure you get the most out of your academic experience.

To learn more about transferring units or to find out what transfer options are available to you at APU, contact the Student Services Center.