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Credits Earned Elsewhere

Transfer students working at computers


Attention Transfer Students: Any passing grades received from outside institutions during the Spring 2020 semester may transfer to WCU. Please reach out to the Registrar's Office ( if you have a course that is not transferring.

Credits earned from an institutionally accredited institution may be approved as credits toward a degree at Western Carolina University. Regardless of the basis of credit, a minimum of 25 percent of semester hours applied toward a bachelor’s degree must be earned through regular enrollment in Western Carolina University junior-senior level courses, including a minimum of 12 hours in junior-senior courses in the major field.

No time limit exists on the coursework accepted for undergraduate credit assessment or awarding. However, students who plan to schedule courses with stated prerequisites should consider auditing the prerequisite courses if no work has been attempted in the field within the past five years.

Applicants who attempt coursework elsewhere are required to notify WCU of the work as part of the application process, and students submitting an application as degree-seeking students are required to submit official transcripts from all institutions attended. Grades made in courses earned elsewhere are used as part of the admission process but are not used in computing the GPA at Western Carolina University (they remain part of a student’s higher education GPA). In addition, credits accepted at WCU from other sources are added to earned hours and will affect a student’s overall academic standing. A student may not expect to have the course repetition policy applied on the basis of courses completed at other institutions. 

Please check out our Transfer Frequently Asked Questions for answers to some of our most common transfer questions.

Only work passed with a grade of C or better may be considered for credit at WCU. Except for consortium agreements, no credit will be allowed toward graduation or toward fulfillment of major requirements for a course passed with a C- or less at another institution. Credit will not be awarded at Western Carolina University for courses determined to be below the collegiate level nor from an institution not accredited by a nationally recognized institutional accrediting agency (appropriate institutional accreditation, such as SACS or its equivalent). Undergraduate credit will not be awarded for graduate-level courses.

Early college or other high school dual enrollment students are classified as first-year students for admission purposes, regardless of how much college work they have earned. Once an Early College student (or other dual-enrollment student) completes high school and attempts any college coursework at another institution (beyond a summer session immediately following spring graduation from high school), then the applicant is deemed to be a transfer student. The amount of credit earned elsewhere has no bearing on whether the applicant is a first-year student or a transfer student.

Regardless of whether an Early college student is a first-year or transfer student, the total amount of credit to be applied toward a degree at WCU determines the student’s academic standing at WCU (freshman: 0-29 hours; sophomore: 30-59 hours; junior: 60-89 hours; senior: 90 or more hours). High school dual-enrollment students who fulfill the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement by satisfactorily completing the 44-hour general education core or the appropriate associate degree are entitled to the credit benefits of the agreement. Timely submission of college transcripts and examination results are very important in the credit assessment, advising and registration processes as well.

WCU awards credit based upon examination results from several test instruments including Advanced Placement, the International Baccalaureate, Cambridge International AS & A Level Examinations, CLEP Subject Examinations and DSST Exams. Applicants should request official examination scores to be sent to the Office of Admission at the point of application or as soon as examination results become available. Timely submission of college transcripts and examination results are very important in the credit assessment, advising, and registration processes.

A student may apply to be examined in any course identified by a department head as available for credit by examination. The student must present an approved permission form after the examination has been completed. Students making an A (4.0) or B (3.0) will receive credit. Those making C (2.0) do not receive credit but are eligible for a waiver of a course requirement. With a D or F, credit may be earned only by regular enrollment during a subsequent semester. The GPA will not be affected by the grade made on the examination. All credit by examination attempts must be completed prior to the semester of graduation.

The examination procedure may be attempted only once for any one course. Students who have completed more than two collegiate courses in the field of study concerned may earn credit by examination only after securing written approval of the head of the department in which the course is offered. However, they may take the examination and secure a waiver of a curricular requirement by scoring a C (2.0) or higher.

The fee for scheduling a course on a credit by examination basis is $15. No fee will be assessed if the examination is being used to validate transfer credits or when the student is enrolled full time during a fall or spring semester.

Students who hold an Associate of Arts (AA), an Associate of Science (AS), or an Associate of Engineering (AE) from an institution belonging to the North Carolina Community College System will be exempt from meeting Western Carolina University’s Liberal Studies (general education) requirements. This benefit applies to students who complete their degrees through the North Carolina Community College standard programs of study, Early College, or Reverse Transfer. Other Associate's degrees such as the Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Fine Arts, etc. are not eligible for this exemption.

To receive credit for military service, a veteran must have served at least 12 months in continuous active duty in a branch of military service and must present the registrar an official copy of the Department of Defense form 214. Once the DD214 is received, the student will receive seven hours of credit in free electives. Service school courses will be evaluated on a course-by-course basis using the American Council of Education recommendations for evaluation of military credits. The UNC System has complied a database of military credit equivalencies for each UNC System school.

This award of credit does not alter other university requirements or major, minor, concentration, or general education requirements for a degree. Questions regarding the transfer of credit for veterans of military service should be directed to the director of Military Student Services at 828.227.2135.

Graduate degree programs require at least 30 semester hours of graduate coursework; graduate certificate programs require at least 12 semester hours. Many programs require substantially more than the minimum hours. At least 24 semester hours of a student’s work toward a degree must be earned through instruction offered by Western Carolina University. Transfer credit refers to any credit transferred to WCU from another institution.

Policies regarding transfer credit vary according to the graduate program. The number of hours that can be considered for transfer into a graduate program at WCU is related to the number of hours required for a graduate program at WCU. No more than 6 hours can be considered for transfer for WCU graduate programs consisting of 30-39 hours. No more than nine hours can be considered for transfer for WCU graduate programs consisting of 40-49 hours. No more than 12 hours can be considered for transfer for WCU graduate programs consisting of 50 or more hours.

Credit recommendations for college coursework from international colleges and universities must be evaluated by an approved agency for international transcripts displaying a satisfactory academic record. A list of appropriate agencies can be found on the NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) member directory website. You may be required to take undergraduate courses to build competency in your field. Please note that course descriptions may be required after evaluation for specific course credit.

Credit may be transferred from a technical program of a two-year institution and applied toward an appropriate bachelor’s degree if the institution is fully accredited or is a candidate for institutional accreditation (appropriate institutional accreditation, such as SACS or its equivalent).

Credit for courses taken at unaccredited institutions (those that do not hold appropriate institutional accreditation, such as SACS or its equivalent) generally is not accepted. If accepted, it may be subject to validation by successful completion of more advanced courses or through the university’s credit by examination and CLEP policies.

North Carolina's Reverse Transfer Program is a state initiative in which students are rewarded for credit they have already earned or will earn at the four year university.  The program is designed to help students combine credits earned at WCU with credit already earned at the community college in order to meet the requirements for an associate's degree at their community college. Please see the official Reverse Transfer Program website for eligibility and additional resources. The Reverse Transfer User Guide can be found at the North Carolina Community Colleges website.

 Students will need to request to have their WCU transcript sent to their community college in order to be awarded the degree. Students may have already completed a degree, and this initiative ensures that they will receive the degree they have earned. This could contribute to earning potential or be added to a resume to help apply for a job. Students can also have their community college transcript sent back to WCU in order to qualify for a Liberal Studies waiver (for Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or Associate in Engineering degrees).

The University of North Carolina Common Numbering System (UNC CNS) improves the transfer of courses between the 16 UNC System universities and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM).

If your Common Numbering System (CNS) course isn’t transferring the way you expect, initiate the UNC CNS Transfer Credit Appeal Procedure.

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