Can I transfer credits into a doctoral program?

January 8, 2020

When considering a doctoral program at Capella University, many students wonder whether previous academic credits can be applied toward the doctoral degree to save time and cost.

Kelly Brooks, Capella’s registrar, and Pete Woxland, supervisor of Admissions and Records Operations, provide answers to frequently asked questions.

Q. Can I transfer credits into a doctoral program?

A. It really depends on the program as each one has different requirements. In general, any transferred credits have to be directly applied toward the doctoral degree. Many programs allow some applicability of master’s work if it’s relevant to the doctoral work. A few programs also include open electives at the graduate level, so masters-level courses may be applicable to those requirements as well.

Q. What factors are involved in deciding if credits are transferable?

A. Overall, the credits need to be from an accredited school, with grades of a B- or better on graduate-level courses. The content and credits awarded need to be at least 75% the same as an existing Capella doctoral-level course. But that’s not a guarantee that a course will be accepted. Some courses can’t be transferred, such as program orientation courses, residency, practicum, or internships. Those must be taken through Capella.

Q. What is the process to find out if credits are transferable?

A. First, study the current program catalog. The course descriptions will indicate if transferred credit is accepted. Make sure you’re looking at the current program catalog, as things can change from year to year.

Next, apply to the program you’re interested in. Capella will work with you on transfer credits, but we can’t do this until you’ve applied for admission. Next, you’ll need to fill out a form allowing us to request the official transcript containing the credits you want to transfer. Also, it’s important to know that if you have any holds from your prior school (such as unpaid fees or unfinished coursework), we won’t be able to obtain the transcript until the holds have been cleared.

Once you’ve allowed us to request the transcript, the rest of the process is up to Capella. Each transcript will be evaluated within 48 hours after it has been received. If you have multiple transcripts to be evaluated, we will review and update your evaluation as each one arrives.

Q. What is the likelihood of credits being accepted?

A. Capella always strives to maximize transfer credit giving students as many credits as possible toward the doctoral program. But the content must align, and the grades must meet the minimum requirements in order to be used. If a course is not accepted, there may be an option to appeal by providing a syllabus from the course you are hoping to transfer. There are even situations where you may receive more credits than you expected. For example, Capella operates on a quarter-based system, with courses running 10-12 weeks. If you're bringing in credits from a semester-based school with courses that run 15 weeks, those credits translate into a quarter system, so that one-semester credit is equal to one-and-a-half quarter credits.

Q. Any last advice?

A. Talk to your enrollment counselor, and look at the current program catalog for the most up-to-date information to determine where your courses might apply in the transfer.

Learn more about transferring credits to Capella.

Capella University offers PhD and professional doctoral degree programs ranging from business to education and health to technology. Learn more about Capella’s online doctoral programs.

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