Transfer Credit: How it Works

When you choose to take a class outside of the school you attend—typically in the online environment—the most important thing to verify is whether your school will accept the transfer credit.  Second on the list is to verify which graduation requirement the class will fulfill (i.e.: elective, science, art, etc.).  But how do those processes work?

While I can’t speak for every school in the nation, I can say that things generally follow a similar protocol..  The first step is to find the class(es) you plan to take, verify if the school is accredited, and relay that information to your high school counselor.  Likely he/she

  • Will want to understand why you are choosing to take an online class (if that conversation hasn’t already happened)
  • May need to reach out to the online school to verify course information or address any other questions
  • May need to seek approval from the principal


Because most schools are accredited by an external agency, and those agencies call for a protocol on accepting transfer credits from both accredited and non-accredited schools, there is likely already a policy in place.

So what happens if your counselor tells you that the course is not approved and/or will not be added to your transcript?  Now you have a choice to make, but not before you measure the reason you’re taking the class.  If the reason you are taking the class is to satisfy a graduation requirement, you can work harder to get the class approved.  This may mean working with the principal or even superintendent of your school district (I’ve even seen students and parents take their case to the state board of education).  If the reason you’re taking the class is to learn about something not offered at your school, to increase/specialize in a topic that is offered at your school but not to the level you’d like to learn, or if it’s to stand out on a college, internship, or job application, it may be just as well to go ahead and take it even though it won’t be recorded on your school’s transcript.  You will likely still receive an official transcript from the online school that can and should be used for any application process, resume, or portfolio.

Have you had issues transferring credit?  Do you have more questions about the process?  Leave a comment below and we’ll respond.

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