How to transfer universities in the USA as an International Student
Suppose you are an international student in the United States of America (USA), and you are looking to transfer from your current university to another university in the USA. In that case, this step-by-step guide will help you comprehend the application process, admission requirements for transfer students, transfer admission policies, immigration considerations as an international transfer student, and much more.
Transferring universities in the U.S. is more common than you might think. According to the National Clearing House Research Center, it is estimated that approximately 2.2 million university and college students transferred between universities last year. As an international student, you might also be considered a transfer student if you have completed college-level credits in your home country, and transferring from one U.S. university to another can be a very confusing and complicated process for any international student. This transfer guide is for international students, whether you are transferring inside the U.S. or another country.
International students have various reasons why they would like to transfer from one university or college to another. When you choose to transfer, you are deciding to leave your current university and continue your education in another one that is located in the same state or another state in the U.S. It is always essential that you understand the application requirements as a transfer student which can be significantly different than when you applied as a first-year student. International students choose to transfer to another university or college for various reasons; some students choose to move because they are not happy with their current institution and would like to have a better experience elsewhere. Others transfer because they want to apply to higher-ranked universities where they have better chances of being admitted as an international transfer student. Some may transfer because their financial situation has changed and they are looking for a more affordable college or university, and some transfer because they have decided to change their degree and pursue it in another institution. Whatever your reason is, know we are here to help you every step of the way.
Steps to apply as an international transfer student in the USA
Step One (1) Understanding application requirements
Applying as a transfer international student means that you have completed a number of college or university level credits and you would like to bring those credits with your to your new institution. However, keep mind you must check the criteria of what the new university considers makes you a transfer student. Many institution in the USA require a minimum number of credit hours for you to be considered a transfer student. Also know that some universities only allow students to transfer once they have completed two years of college credits which usually amounts to 60 credits and this is what some colleges refer as to upper level transfer student. In most cases universities will consider you a transfer student if you have completed a total of 24 credits which is usually two semesters.
English Proficiency Requirements
As an international student, you also need to understand that many colleges have different criteria for their English proficiency requirements. At the same time, the university you are currently at only requires you to have a TOEFL score of 60, and the new institution might need you to have a TOEFL score of 80 or above. Most international students assume that because they are now transfer students, English proficiency is optional, but this is rarely the case. Most universities usually require international students to have completed both English Composition I and English Composition II classes to waive the English proficiency requirement; some will also need you to have met both those classes and a specific number of credits. Other universities like Oregon State University only require you to have completed one English Composition class to waive the English proficiency. Other universities, like the University of Colorado Boulder, need the student to complete 30 credits at a U.S. college or university, regardless of the classes taken, and they will also waive their English proficiency requirement. It is essential to check and understand the English Proficiency requirements of the new institution and what criteria will allow you to waive this requirement.
Another issue international students may encounter when it comes to waiving their English Proficiency is that their current institutions may not offer both English Composition classes that are required for the new institution to waive English proficiency. For example, Michigan State University only offers one college-level English Composition class as part of their curriculum for most of their engineering programs; this can cause an issue if, for example, you want to transfer to Georgia Institute of Technology, which requires all transfer students to have completed both English Composition I and II classes. This would mean you will likely need to enroll in an online English composition class outside of your current university to take the English composition missing at your current university. Checking the English proficiency requirements and waivers is crucial for a smooth transition from one university to the next. If you need help with this process, you can always book an online meeting with one of our university advisors.
Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirements
Grade point average will be the most crucial factor in your admission process as an international transfer student. Unlike the application as a first-year international student, the majority of universities will only be looking at three factors when deciding your application for admission. One is English proficiency, two is your GPA, and three is your essays. However, the most emphasis is going to be given to the GPA of your current institution. Most universities will consider students for admission when they have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or above. Still, many universities will also accept GPAs of 2.0 or higher. It is usual for some universities to take international transfer students with a lower GPA than they would as first-year applicants. While this rule does not apply to all universities, many universities in the USA will accept transfer students with lower GPA requirements.
Having a high GPA at your current institution may be the only way you will be admitted to a high-ranking university. In California, for example, the University of California (U.C.) System is one of the most competitive admissions for international students as a first-year student. However, as an international transfer student, you sometimes have up to eight (8) times more chances of being admitted to one of the U.C. universities since it is only based on your GPA and the classes you have taken for your first two years. The U.C. System will only accept transfer students after they have completed 60 credits, otherwise known as upper-level transfers. The University of California Irvine is a great example, as they will have guaranteed admission for students who are part of the U.C. pathway program and have completed their first two years with a minimum GPA of 3.4.
Other universities have specific GPA requirements for transfer students for their programs; it is always important to check that you are meeting the GPA requirement because you need to complete this admission requirement. Your application will most likely be denied.
While most university applications for transfer students will not require essays, you must spend time on your essay answers for the universities that do. Usually, higher-ranked universities will require international transfer students to write a certain number of essays. Understand that if the university requires an essay, it is an integral part of their application process. Writing a great essay then becomes quite important, and you need to make sure that your essay has no grammatical errors, that you are answering the prompt with clarity, that it is engaging, and it is cohesive. Understand that you are no longer a student just out of high school, and you will be held to a higher standard regarding your writing skills as a transfer student.
As an international student, you will sometimes be required to provide recommendation letters as part of your transfer application. In most cases, you must ask your current or past semester professors. Professors in U.S. universities are used to students asking for recommendation letters, and most professors will be happy to write a recommendation letter for you if you ask them. However, there are several things you should know when asking for a recommendation letter. The first thing you need to know is that you are asking the professor for a favor; they do not have any obligation to write a recommendation letter for you; you must be polite when asking for a professor to write a recommendation letter for you. Second, you should ask professors in the classes you have gotten good grades in; if you did poorly in a class, do not ask that professor to write a recommendation letter for you since they will either not write a recommendation letter for you or write a recommendation letter that will not help your application. Third, professors who write recommendations like to know the students they are recommending, so it is ideal that you request recommendation letters from professors you have gotten to know personally or that you know well enough to write a recommendation letter.