Nearly 90% of Penn State World Campus students utilize transfer credits from another educational institution to help complete their degrees. We recently spoke with Tasha Brown, a transfer credit specialist, whose job is to help our students sort through which credits will transfer to Penn State and how they may be used toward degree requirements. Here’s our conversation:
Can you tell me about your background and how you arrived at your position with Penn State World Campus?
I started with Penn State five years ago as a front desk receptionist who supported academic advisers. The transfer credit specialist role was created three years ago and I was the first person selected for the new role. Since then, our team has grown to include eight individuals who solely focus on helping students with transfer credit evaluations.
How do you help our Penn State World Campus students?
For newly admitted and returning students, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions first determines which credits taken at other institutions are transferrable to Penn State. Then the transfer credit specialist team looks at this information to determine how those credits can be used in each student’s degree program. We each specialize in certain degrees and work closely with the academic departments and academic advisers to help evaluate these credits. Last semester, we evaluated 16,399 general transfer courses from other academic institutions!
Students are often concerned that their transfer credits may have been taken too long ago to transfer to Penn State. The usability of older courses depends on the degree program. We work with students within the parameters of each academic department’s requirements to maximize the use of each student’s transfer credits.
Is there a limit on the number of credits a student can transfer in to Penn State World Campus?
There’s no limit on the amount of credits that you can transfer to Penn State, but each academic program differs in what they will allow to transfer for the degree. Because Penn State is an accredited educational institution, we have high standards in place for assessing transfer credits. Bachelor’s degree programs require completion of at least 120 credits. You’ll need to take 36 out of the last 60 credits here in order to get your degree at Penn State. You must have earned a C (GPA of 2.0 or better) in courses from a regionally accredited institution in order to be eligible for a potential transfer.
How long does the transfer credit process take for incoming students?
Penn State does not currently pre-evaluate transfer credits. Credits are evaluated once you are accepted to a degree program. The transfer credit evaluation process usually depends on the program and the time of year in which transfer credits are being reviewed. General education credits are straightforward, but credits that are evaluated for major requirements might require more review from your academic department. Typically, this process will take about a month, but the time frame can widely vary for each student. Notifications are sent by email. Additionally, once transfer credit decisions have been made, there is no official process for appeal. Depending on your program, your courses could possibly be reviewed again on a case-by-case basis.
Students can use the Transfer Course Evaluation Guide to conduct an unofficial transfer credit evaluation.
What‘s the most challenging part of your position?
The most challenging part of being a transfer credit specialist is delivering the news to students when credits are not going to be used in their degree program. While we truly want to help our students save time and money by transferring credits, Penn State has a rigorous curriculum and we want to uphold the integrity of the degrees and the quality of a Penn State education. The review process is so thorough because we want to set our students up for success in their degree program.
What‘s the most rewarding part of your position?
It is really great to know how much our work is appreciated. We receive thank you emails from students all the time. I really enjoy putting together the “transfer credit puzzle” to use credits to their fullest potential in each student’s degree. Knowing that we have played a significant role in helping students start their journey or return to Penn State is really rewarding!
What is the best advice that you could give incoming students who think they may have credits to transfer?
When you’re first applying to Penn State, be sure to fully disclose on your application all of the places that you have attended prior to coming here. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions will determine which credits will transfer to Penn State. You’ll hear from a transfer credit specialist if we would need more specific information about your courses for use in your degree program, such as course syllabi or course descriptions. Don’t be alarmed if we contact you for more information; it’s what we do! If you do receive an email from us, please read all of the information closely because it will help you understand what to expect throughout the transfer credit process!