Sometimes students find that they have chosen a program or institution that is not a good fit for them or sometimes personal circumstances will require that a student move from one program or institution to another. When this happens, students need to know which credits they have already earned will transfer to the new program or institution.
Credit transfer in postsecondary education refers, at the most general level, to the ability of students to move from one institution to another and receive appropriate credit in one institution for learning achieved in another. The primary goal of credit transfer frameworks and policies is to support student mobility while, at the same time, maintaining the integrity of educational programs and credentials. How the process works varies from province to province and is directly related to the structure of the postsecondary education system, the degree of alignment between college and university programs and the level of institutional autonomy, especially with regard to curriculum design and institutional policies. Agreements among institutions with regard to credit transfer are often published in a central database accessible by students and potential students.
What is Transfer Credit?
Transfer credit refers to courses taken at one institution that are credited toward a degree or diploma at another institution. Transferring courses is essentially dependent on the degree of similarity between one course and another and/or how the course being transferred applies to the requirements of the new program. Because credit for courses taken at another institution will be dependent on the program a student is taking, changes to the student's major or program that occur after credits have been transferred could affect how those credits are applied.
Transfer credit may also be expressed as a block of credit rather than as specific courses. This usually occurs when a group of courses taken at a sending institution is equivalent to a group of courses required at the receiving institution. Block or program transfer is usually granted when a graduate of a program wishes to transfer credits to another program that is closely related in content, for example a diploma in Accounting to an advanced diploma or degree in Accounting. The receiving institution may list the courses in the block of credit or may simply specify entry to a specific year of the program.
Credit for courses or programs taken at another institution will be dependent on the student having achieved a minimum grade in the course or a minimum overall grade point average in the program. There may also be a requirement for the student to complete specific bridge courses with a minimum grade. Details of these requirements are listed in the transfer pathways.
When a course or program was completed may also affect credit transfer decisions. Some subject and program areas have shorter time frames for credit recognition than others to ensure that the curriculum studied is consistent with current expectations. Transfer pathways and policies will include any limitations on when courses were completed.
Finally, all institutions have residency policies that require a student to complete a minimum amount of credit at the school in order to receive a degree or diploma. Students may encounter limits on the amount of credit that can be transferred because they have completed more than the maximum number of courses that can be applied at the receiving institution.
The most common form of credit transfer in Ontario is from a college diploma or advanced diploma program to a degree in a college or university. These usually involve a block of transfer credit into a specific point of a degree program. Sometimes there may be required bridge courses that must be completed at the beginning of the degree program. Colleges have also recently begun to develop transfer pathways from certificate to diploma programs and from diploma programs to advanced diploma programs. Colleges have also developed Graduate Certificate programs designed for university graduates. If you are a certified apprentice, some colleges offer transfer pathways into diploma and advanced diploma programs.
Transfer Policies and Advisors
Each college and university in Ontario has its own transfer policy. Although there may be similarities between them, the policy at one institution will not necessarily be the same at another. Students should be sure to consult the transfer policy at the college or university they wish to attend and also consult the institution's transfer advisor.
The Ontario Postsecondary Transfer Guide (OPTG)
The Transfer Guide on ONTransfer.ca is designed to assist college and university students to find out how credits for learning at one institution can transfer to another among the publicly funded colleges and universities in Ontario. The Guide provides information on:
- Course transfers, detailing how individual courses can be transferred from one institution to another
- Program transfers, detailing how a block of credit from your current program can be applied to a similar program at another institution
- College diploma and advanced diploma programs to degree programs at colleges and universities;
- College certificate to diploma and diploma to advanced diploma programs at other colleges;
- Apprenticeship Certificates of Qualification to college diploma programs in related fields; and
- Secondary school dual credit courses to college programs.
The Transfer Guide database does not currently provide transfer credit equivalencies for university courses. However, most institutions have formal policies on how they recognize credits from other institutions.
We operate from the principle that the Transfer Guide should be a useful tool that facilitates lifelong learning opportunities and pathways among students and graduates of the publicly funded colleges and universities in Ontario, with built-in flexibility to meet future needs. To this end, we include information on collaborative degree-diploma programs open to secondary school graduates and on accelerated diploma and Graduate Certificate programs open to university graduates.
ONTransfer's goal is to provide information and resources to help students and potential students find their way through Ontario's postsecondary system. On our site you will find our interactive Transfer Guide and information on how to explore transfer pathways. There are many routes to your postsecondary goal; ONTransfer is here to help you on your journey.
Postsecondary Education in Ontario
Ontario is home to an internationally respected postsecondary education system with 21 publicly assisted universities and 24 publicly assisted colleges, and 9 Indigenous Institutes. Main and satellite campuses provide learning opportunities in every region of the province. Two of the colleges and nine of the universities offer programs in the French language. Private career colleges also offer vocational training in many communities.
Generally, colleges offer one year certificates, two year diplomas, three year advanced diplomas, four year degrees in applied areas of study and one year graduate certificate programs for students who have completed a diploma or degree. Colleges also offer the in-school portion of apprenticeship training programs and collaborate with the Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities to offer specially designed second career training opportunities for adults.
Universities offer Bachelor's degrees and first professional degrees, as well as graduate programs leading to Master's degrees and Doctorates. Some colleges and universities have developed collaborative programs, also called joint or integrated programs, where students study at both institutions either sequentially or concurrently.
Learn about the credentials offered by Ontario institutions: