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A Comprehensive Guide on How to Transfer Universities in the USA


For international students, the decision to transfer universities in the USA is a significant step that involves careful planning and consideration. Whether you're looking to change majors, seeking a different campus experience, or navigating unforeseen circumstances, this step-by-step guide aims to demystify the process of transferring to a new academic home.

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Transfer Universities in the USA
Source: Times Higher Education

Understanding the Transfer Landscape

The decision to transfer universities is a common occurrence in the US, with approximately 2.1 million college students making the move between institutions in the academic year 2020-2021, as per the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Whether you're transferring within your home country or internationally, understanding the application process, entry requirements, and transfer policies is crucial for success.

1. Can You Transfer Universities as an International Student?

Transferring universities involves leaving your current institution and enrolling in a new one. As an international transfer student, you can continue your original degree or opt for a new program. The key is understanding the application requirements and transfer policies of both your current and prospective universities.

2. Reasons for Transfer

There are various reasons why you might want to transfer, such as changing majors, financial considerations, finding a more rewarding program elsewhere, or seeking a different cultural environment. Be aware of transfer deadlines set by universities and plan accordingly.

3. Transfer Options and Eligibility

You can transfer from a local university outside the US, a US two-year community college to a four-year institution, or from one four-year US university to another. Each option has its own requirements, so it's essential to choose the one that aligns with your goals. Seek advice from advisors to navigate the complex transfer landscape.

4. Timing Matters

Universities typically accept transfer students with up to two years of study at another institution. Be mindful of enrollment deadlines and start gathering necessary documents early. The application process for transferring may require time for document collection and evaluation.

5. Working with Academic Advisors

Given the unique policies of each university, it's crucial to work closely with academic advisors, also known as Designated School Officials (DSOs). They can guide you through the transfer process, ensuring you understand the information and documentation needed, anticipated costs, and any changes to your student visa.

6. Transfer Processes for Different Scenarios

  • Transferring From a Four-Year US University:

  • Academic Transfer: Evaluate credits earned at your current institution for transfer.

  • Immigration Transfer: Update SEVIS information and transfer to the new school.

  • Transferring From a US Community College:

  • Explore interests at a lower cost.

  • Waived standardised test requirements for many institutions.

  • Transferring From a University in the Home Country to the US:

  • Acclimate to university life in a familiar environment.

  • Evaluate completed courses for transfer eligibility.

7. Research Transfer Schools and Policies

Before deciding where to transfer, research entry requirements, application deadlines, and credit transfer policies. Some universities may require foreign transcript evaluations and affiliations or partnerships with US institutions can streamline credit transfer processes.

8. Take Care of Financial Obligations

Settle any pending financial obligations to your current institution well in advance of the transfer. Understand the costs associated with your new university, including tuition, housing, and dining expenses.

9. Contact the University

Stay informed about your new university's policies and unique offerings. Regular communication with advisors can help you navigate the transfer process seamlessly.

10. Gather Required Documentation

When applying to transfer, be prepared to submit academic credentials, standardised English language test scores, SAT/ACT or GRE scores, a valid I-20, a valid student visa, letters of recommendation, and an application fee.

11. Update Visa Requirements

Ensure that your chosen program and university align with your visa requirements. Understand the certification process for specific visa types and consult with a visa authority for guidance.

12. Explore Transfer Programs

Consider programs like American Collegiate, which facilitates credit transfers to top-ranked US universities. Explore digital learning, on-campus options, or Honors programs that offer flexibility and recognised credits.


In conclusion, transferring to universities in the USA as an international student involves meticulous planning and collaboration with academic advisors. By following this comprehensive guide, you'll be better equipped to navigate the intricacies of the transfer process and embark on a successful academic journey in your new university.

We know and understand that the application process can be overwhelming, so we are here for you. The study abroad experts at Hello Study Global are there for you every step of the way. From preparing for entrance exams to college applications, we will guide you to success.

Feel free to reach out to us at Hello Study Global.

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