Like most students, you probably intend to begin your education at one institution and finish it without ever switching schools. However, transferring colleges is becoming a common practice. You may worry that pursuing an education online might limit your options if you decide to change schools or degree programs in the future. While colleges have various policies regarding the transfer of credits, beginning your education online won’t necessarily stop you from transferring to another online or traditional college if you decide to make that choice.

A Changing Answer

Because academic institutions operate independently from one another, there is no blanket answer as to whether or not a traditional school will accept transfer credits from an online degree program. However, in many cases, you can transfer credits earned online from an accredited degree program. If you decide to transfer, research the school of your choice to determine if it will accept the credits you have already earned. Speaking directly with a staff member in the admissions office can help you get the answers you need and make sure you complete any paperwork or other requirements to get your credits transferred. If your first choice school will not accept the credits you have already earned, you may have to make a decision between redoing the coursework at your new school and selecting a second choice college.

In the past, online credits have not always been so easy to transfer. Now, it is not uncommon for students to switch from an online education to a traditional one or vice versa. Even some small niche schools that have long refused to accept transfers of credits earned online are now reviewing their policies and considering changes, according to Inside Higher Ed. This development is largely due to the increased number of students taking online courses and requesting to transfer credits as well as the improving perception of online college as legitimate and valuable.

Why the Transfer of Credits Matters

If you’re considering transferring from one school or degree program to another, you’re in good company. About one-third of all college students transfer schools at some point during their academic careers, according to The New York Times. The reasons for transfers are numerous. Some students are unhappy with their chosen major or college or find that the experience differs from their expectations. Other times, circumstances outside of academia change. Work and family obligations change. People move across the country. A traditional student may decide that an online education would be a better option. An online student may make the opposite decision.

The one thing that’s common among transfer students is that all of them have chosen to continue pursuing their goal of earning a college education. To succeed in this, it’s important for students to get value out of the coursework they have already completed. Current events suggest that more schools may begin accepting transfer of credits earned online, which will certainly benefit online students.