Transfer Guide – Know before You Go!


Prior to making the decision to transfer, it’s important to confirm the accreditation of your current and prospective schools. Accreditation is the process by which a school meets defined standards for student achievement, curricula, faculty, facilities, administrative capacity, compliance with government regulations, and more. Accreditation is designed to assure academic quality and public accountability for colleges.

Students who are considering transferring should make sure each of their prospective schools are accredited. There may be serious repercussions for attending an unaccredited school, including:

  • Difficulty in transferring academic credits or getting into graduate school.
  • Ineligibility for federal financial aid.
  • Inability to obtain professional licensure or meet employment requirements.

In order to check accreditation, students may utilize the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited institutions and programs:

Transferrable Credits

The primary academic concern for any student considering a transfer between schools should be, “Will my credits transfer?” The answer to this question is highly variable, so research is key. In general, transferring credits is simplest between public schools within the same state. For instance the state of Montana uses Common Course Numbering throughout the Montana University System (MUS), making it easy for students to see how their credits will transfer from FVCC. Schools within the MUS often have agreements which facilitate credit transfers and may even guarantee admission to students meeting specific requirements.

Articulation agreements are formal written agreements that explain how courses transfer from one institution to another, either “as comparable to” or acceptable in lieu of” specific course requirements at four-year institutions.  In addition to Common Course Numbering in the MUS system, FVCC offers several formal articulation agreements with colleges in Montana and out of state:

If transferring to an out-of-state school, be sure to look specifically at policies surrounding course equivalency, transfers between course levels, and transfers between quarter and semester systems. Remember that the power to accept or reject credit transfers always lies with the credit-receiving institution.

Credit Transfer Appeals

Often transfer credits are denied and downgraded to general elective credits, even if the courses are equivalent to those required at your new institution. If this happens, you are entitled to appeal.

Generally, all credit transfer appeal processes are designed to provide evidence of equivalency in order to overturn the admission office’s first decision. You will most likely be required to provide, among other materials:

  • Course materials
  • Class descriptions
  • Syllabi
  • Examples of coursework
  • Letters from professors, or other authorities on the subject matter

If you are transferring from FVCC and need help finding syllabi from your courses at FVCC, please contact the Student Support Center advisors for help: (406) 756-3880.

Academic Residency Requirements

Academic residency requirements state the number of credits students must earn at a school to receive a degree. In some cases, they also mandate continuous residency on campus before graduating. This requirement is justified by the idea that institutions need to have students on campus in order to maintain quality control in the degrees awarded.

Academic requirements vary considerably from school to school. Most institutions specify the number of credits that must be earned on campus. Some also specify how many must be upper-level courses and/or within a student’s major. Additionally, schools may limit the number of transfer credits they will accept. For example, to earn a degree at FVCC, a student must complete at least 20 credits at FVCC with the last 10 credits being at FVCC.

Tuition Costs and Residency Requirements

Students seeking new educational opportunities may consider out-of-state schools, but it’s important to acknowledge that out-of-state tuition is generally far more expensive. According to the College Board, in 2015-16 the national average for annual in-state tuition at public four-year institutions is $9,142. Conversely, the national average for out-of-state tuition is $23,439.

If you’re really drawn to a program or major offered out-of-state, it may be worthwhile to establish residency there. Eligibility for in-state tuition usually requires at least a year of residency without taking any classes. If you’re a “dependent” student who is receiving substantial financial support from your parents, at least one of your parents must have lived in that state for a year. To qualify as an “independent” student, you will probably need to demonstrate two years of self-sufficiency and state residency.

Depending on what state you are transferring to and from, you might be eligible for a Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) discount.  WUE was established by Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).  With WUE, out-of-state students pay no more than 150% of in-state tuition at participating schools, compared with nonresident rates that can exceed 300% of in-state rates. If a transfer school participates in WUE, you must inform the school that you are interested in the program. Most schools have a simple form you will need to fill out to be considered.

Information above adapted from

Applying for Transfer to a Montana School

To simplify transfer within Montana and reduce cost to students, the Transmittal Form was created. The Transmittal Form is only for transfer students (must have earned a minimum of 12 college credits).  It eliminates the need to apply online and is much less expensive. The Transmittal will send all records on file with the admissions office at the school you are attending to the transfer school(s) of your choice. Transcripts will be received as “official” at your transfer school.

Montana universities have different processes for admitting and registering transfer students. Check the website of the transfer school you plan to attend for details.

University of Montana:

Montana State University:

MSU Billings:

MSU Northern:

Montana Tech:

Transferring Credits within the Montana University System

The Montana University System has adopted a Common Course Numbering (CCN) policy. The CCN policy ensures that equivalent courses at different campuses will have the same title, number, and prefix, and that all such equivalent courses will be accepted in transfer as if they had been taken at the receiving campus. This makes it easy to know which courses taken at one campus have equivalents at other campuses, and thus which courses will transfer without the need for further transcript review. A CCN guide has been created to assist students and advisors in looking up course equivalencies.

Colleges and universities in the Montana University System also have an agreement that states a completed Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or General Education Core will satisfy the general education requirements at any other college or university.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is every course in the Montana University System Common Course Numbered?

No. There are courses that have not been Common Course Numbered. You may need to apply for a course substitution. Work with your FVCC advisor and the advisor of the transfer program you are pursuing to determine possible substitutions.

Should I earn an associate’s degree before transferring?

Yes, if all your lower-division courses will apply to your transfer major.

No, if several lower-division courses required for your major are not offered at FVCC and must be completed at your transfer school. In this case, completing the MUS Core might be your best option.

Transfer Checklist
  • Discuss educational goals with advisor at FVCC.
  • Research the transfer school’s website and contact your prospective school’s admissions counselor, as well as the department chair or undergraduate coordinator for your intended major.
  • Check for accreditation and articulation agreements, and review application deadlines.
  • Compile all paperwork needed for transferring colleges.
  • Begin application process to school you’ve decided upon. Once admitted, connect with an advisor at your prospective school.
  • If transferring within Montana, use the Transmittal Form.
  • Confirm transferable credits with the department offering your major and admissions office.

Remember that higher education is complex, dynamic, and multifaceted.  Curriculums and polices often change. It is your responsibility to stay informed and manage your transfer process. Advisors are there to help you, so check and double check with them.

Transfer Requirements
  • Transferring to a Montana University System institution has been streamlined by articulation agreements and transfer policies. With advance planning our Associate Degrees can transfer seamlessly to Montana University System schools.
  • Transferring to a private college or to a university out of state requires more research, planning, and working with both a faculty advisor and the transfer advisor.
  • Students should plan early so that all lower division requirements are met to help with a smooth transfer.
  • It is important to know that baccalaureate requirements vary among universities and although many transfer agreements exist, the granting of credits is determined by the receiving institution.
  • Lower division general education requirements can be met in four ways before transferring. All general education courses must be completed with a C- or better some programs may require specific minimum GPA’s.
    1. By completing an AA or AS degree
    2. Completing the 31 credits of the FVCC core
    3. Completing the 30 credits of the Montana University System Core
    4. Completing at least 20 credits of the MUS core and take the rest at the transfer institution
  • Students transferring to a MUS school who has at least 12 credits (not including Running Start credits) can submit a Transfer Transmittal request to the FVCC Admissions Office, pay a small fee, and have all academic records (admission, high school and college transcripts and shot records) processed at once. Hard copy Transfer Transmittal forms can also be obtained from the Admissions Office or from the transfer advisor.

If you want a smooth transfer from FVCC making an appointment with a Student Support Center Advisor should be at the top of your to-do list. Academic Advisors provide a full range of advising and transfer services for students entering or leaving FVCC.

  • Students transferring college credits to FVCC should get all official transcripts sent to the admission office for evaluation.
  • Students transferring from the MUS system can submit the Transfer Transmittal form to admissions.
  • Advice on General Education Requirements and major prerequisites for in state and out of state schools. Early planning is extremely important for out of state schools.
  • Clarifies articulation agreements, shares steps for timely transfer, program requirements, contact information, and required forms.
  • Helps you choose the college or university that is best for you.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 756-3880 or stop by the Learning Resource Building, room 129.