Undergraduate Transfer Credit Policy

Op3.04-45 Undergraduate Transfer Credit Policy


Missouri State University (MSU) welcomes transfer students and endorses the "Joint Statement on Transfer and Award of Academic Credit" approved by the American Council on Education, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Many of the principles of that statement are inherent to this policy.

Determination of transferability

MSU awards credit in transfer for undergraduate courses completed at colleges and universities accredited by regional accrediting associations recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE).

To be accepted, coursework must have been completed at an institution after it received accreditation or during the time it was granted candidacy status for accreditation from one of the above accrediting associations

In addition, transfer credit is:

  • awarded for regular academic courses taken at institutions accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). Courses such as mission, theology, doctrine, homiletics, and religious education courses are not accepted. A limited number of Bible courses (e.g., Old Testament, New Testament, Life of Christ, and Life of Paul) that are substantially similar to courses offered at MSU may be accepted. Education courses transfer only as general electives.
  • awarded for courses completed at colleges and universities outside of the United States that are accredited or approved by the Ministry of Education (or other appropriate governmental agency) of the country in which they are located. Credit and placement decisions are based on recommendations of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and selected other professional organizations and agencies that evaluate foreign educational institutions.
  • generally not awarded for courses completed at institutions not accredited or approved as indicated above. Exceptions may be approved on a course-by-course basis by the head of the MSU department through which similar course are offered. In the case of courses that may be applicable to general education requirements at MSU but that do not have specific equivalents, exceptions must be approved by the Provost or designee. Students should contact the Office of Admissions for information on the procedure.
  • not awarded for remedial courses.
  • awarded for graduate credit at another institution only if approved by the head of the appropriate academic department at MSU.
  • generally only awarded for vocational-technical courses if they are included in a transfer agreement with the source institution or on a case-by-case basis with approval by the Provost as applicable to an MSU degree program.
  • awarded and posted to transcripts only for students who enroll at MSU subsequent to completing coursework at other institutions.

Course equivalencies

Transfer equivalencies are based on current policies and generally reflect course numbers from the MSU catalog at the time the evaluation is conducted. MSU courses and course numbers are subject to change; thus, transfer equivalencies are subject to change as well. MSU maintains a transfer course equivalency website. Established course equivalencies for most Missouri and many out-of-state institutions are included. Current MSU students who plan to take courses at other institutions are encouraged to consult with their advisors and to confirm transferability of such courses prior to enrolling.

Courses from institutions that participate in the Missouri Higher Education Core Curriculum (CORE 42) initiative that have been designated as CORE 42 courses will transfer in accordance with the statewide policy. The MSU CORE 42 website provides additional details.

Initial determination of course equivalencies

Initial determinations of transfer credit equivalencies are made by the MSU Office of Admissions through a comparison of course descriptions and/or course titles. If substantial similarity exists between a course taken at another institution and an MSU course, transfer credit will be awarded for the MSU course. If substantial similarity does not exist, but the course is in a subject matter taught at MSU under a specific subject code, elective credit will be awarded under that subject code (e.g., MTH electives for a mathematics course).

If the content of a course includes subject matter offered in more than one MSU department or if the course description does not provide sufficient information to assign the credit to a specific prefix, general elective credit will be awarded. In some such cases, the course may be designated as applicable to a specific category of the MSU general education requirements. Elective credits awarded for upper-division courses taken at four-year colleges and universities will be designated as upper-division for transfer purposes (i.e., will apply to the upper-division credit hour requirement for graduation at MSU).

Appeal of transferability or course equivalencies

The ultimate authority for transfer of credit rests with the head of the department through which similar courses are offered at MSU. Students who wish to appeal the initial evaluation or transferability of a course may do so through the online “Transfer Credit Reevaluation and Preapproval” system on My Missouri State through which requests are routed to the appropriate department head. This process is available only to admitted students who have conferred with an academic advisor and received an initial advisor release to register. When making an appeal, students must be prepared to provide supporting documentation (e.g., a course syllabus, course description from the other institution's catalog, examples of work).

Students who have taken courses that do not have specific equivalencies at MSU but that appear to be substantially similar to courses in the MSU general education program may appeal through the Transfer Credit Reevaluation and Preapproval system to have those courses applied to the general education program. Such appeals will be routed to the appropriate designee of the Provost for review. Students should be prepared to provide supporting documentation as indicated above. Students may also appeal to have courses applied to the CORE 42 requirement. The procedure is described on the CORE 42 website.

Credit hour equivalencies

Credit is converted to semester hour equivalents. In converting quarter hours to semester hours, a conversion factor of two-thirds is used.

If a course at another institution is offered for fewer credit hours than an equivalent course at MSU (e.g., if a three credit hour course at another institution is substantially similar in content to a four credit hour course at MSU), the student will be given transfer credit for the equivalent course at MSU but only for the number of credit hours earned at the other institution. In such cases, the student may need to take an additional course to fulfill MSU credit hour requirements. Conversely, if the number of credit hours for a course at another institution is greater than the credit hours attached to the MSU course, the student will be given credit for the MSU course and additional elective credit to make up the difference.

Grade equivalencies

Transfer grade equivalents will be determined and recorded with the student's transfer credit. Credit will be awarded for courses in which a passing grade was earned. Grades of "F" are included in the calculation of the transfer grade point average. In all cases, transfer grades are preceded by a T (e.g., TA) on a student’s MSU transcript.

Transfer grades are assigned on the basis of the MSU grading policy. Courses taken at institutions that do not use a grading system comparable to the MSU grading system (i.e., an A, B, C, D, F grading scale, regardless of whether pluses and minuses are used) will be evaluated with the transfer grade equivalents of Pass or Not Pass. "Withdraw failing" grades are calculated in a student's transfer grade point average as "F" grades. Failing grades assigned as a result of academic dishonesty will be so noted in transfer and treated as “F” grades.

Courses for which transfer credit is awarded that are taken at colleges and universities not accredited by a USDE approved regional accrediting organization or the ABHE will be treated as "Pass/Not Pass" courses for grading purposes. This includes courses taken through colleges or universities in other countries.

A student's grade point average at MSU is based only on courses completed at MSU. A transfer grade point average is carried as part of the student's total record. The MSU and transfer grade point average are combined into a combined grade point average. Refer to the MSU undergraduate catalog for details on how MSU and combined grade point averages are used (e.g., to determine eligibility for admission to programs, academic status, and graduation honors).

Repeating courses

The MSU repeat policy applies to transfer credit as well as MSU credit. Transfer students also have the option to apply for academic renewal under the academic renewal policy.

Transfer of general education requirements

MSU adheres to the guidelines set forth in Credit Transfer: Guidelines for Student Transfer and Articulation among Missouri Colleges and Universities, approved by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) in June 2000 and revised in April 2013. Under these guidelines, students who transfer from Missouri public colleges and universities and Missouri private institutions that adhere to these guidelines will be considered as having met the MSU general education requirements if they complete:

  • an Associate of Arts (AA) or an Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) degree; or,
  • the Missouri CORE 42 requirement; or,
  • the designated general education program at the other institution, provided that the institution certifies the student's completion of that program on an official transcript.

MSU will also honor an AA or AAT degree from any college or university accredited by a USDE-recognized regional accrediting organization. Students with an AA or AAT degree from such an institution will be exempt from the MSU general education requirements. This is a policy of MSU and may not be recognized by other institutions to which a student may subsequently transfer.

Students with a two-year degree other than an AA or AAT (for example, an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science) are not exempt from MSU general education requirements on the basis of their degrees unless approved for an exception by the Provost or designee. Such students will receive a course-by-course evaluation of their transfer credit that will indicate applicability of their courses to MSU general education requirements.

Students who have a bachelor's degree from a college or university accredited by a USDE-recognized regional accrediting organization or by the ABHE and who wish to pursue an additional undergraduate degree will be exempt from all general education requirements at MSU.

Students who have completed or been exempted from the general education requirements by any of the provisions listed above are not exempt from specific course requirements for their majors, even if those courses may be used to satisfy general education requirements at MSU.

Special provisions regarding transfer of credit from two-year institutions

Students are generally awarded only lower division credit for courses completed at two-year institutions. Departments may approve individual courses for upper division credit and may require that a student complete a validation examination or course at MSU.

Professional education courses at Missouri community colleges must be approved by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to be acceptable in transfer as specific equivalencies for MSU professional education courses required for the Bachelor of Science in Education or Bachelor of Music Education degrees. Such courses that are not approved by DESE may transfer as elective credit.

If a direct equivalency is not given by an academic department, but the College of Education decides that substantial similarity exists between a course taken at the community college with the DESE approved education program and an MSU course with respect to Missouri Teaching Standards (MTS), a code will be assigned to the transfer credit associated with the community college course that will allow it to substitute for the MSU course in an undergraduate education degree program. Such credit is at the lower-division level unless otherwise specified.

The MSU Professional Education Certification office maintains additional information on its website.

Transfer credit limit

No limit exists on the number of credits that may be transferred from other institutions; however, students must meet the minimum residence and upper division requirements in effect at MSU to receive a degree, as described in the MSU catalog.

Transfer of dual credit courses

Courses taken for dual credit (courses for which students receive both high school and college credit) are evaluated for transfer credit in the same manner as traditional courses offered by the institution through which they are taken. No limit exists on the number of transfer credit hours that will be awarded for dual credit courses.

Credit for military education and experience

MSU maintains a separate policy regarding credit for military education and experience.

Prior learning assessment/credit for experiential learning

The University recognizes that students may attain college-level competencies through a variety of extra institutional means, including rigorous high school curricula, professional or military experience, corporate training, and self-directed learning. MSU maintains a separate prior learning assessment policy through which students may be considered for credit.

Administration of policy and right of appeal

The Provost has delegated the authority for administering this policy to the Office of Admissions. Students with questions regarding initial determinations of transferability or course equivalencies are encouraged to contact the Office of Admissions for clarification or guidance. Appeals of transferability or course equivalency decisions may be submitted as outlined under the "Appeal of transferability or course equivalencies" section of this policy. Students have a right to appeal previous decisions by contacting the MSU Articulation Officer, appointed by the Provost. The final level of appeal within the institution is the Provost. Students from Missouri public institutions have the right of further appeal as outlined in Credit Transfer: Guidelines for Student Transfer and Articulation among Missouri Colleges and Universities, available on the CBHE website.