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

Kelly Brooks, Capella’s Registrar, and Cori Syring, Capella’s Supervisor of Admissions and Records Operations, provide important 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 applicable towards the doctoral degree. Many programs allow some applicability of master’s work if it’s relevant to the doctoral work. A few also include open electives at the graduate level, so master’s courses may be applicable to those requirements.


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 in graduate-level courses. The content and credit level need to be about 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 at 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 formally applied. Next, you’ll need to fill out a form allowing us to access a transcript with 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 get the transcript until the holds are cleared.

Once you’ve allowed us to request the transcript, the rest of the process is up to Capella. It typically takes less than a week to receive your transfer evaluation once Capella has received all the necessary transcripts.


Q. What is the likelihood of credits being accepted?

A. Capella always strives to maximize transfer credits as much as possible, 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 some credits are not accepted, there is an appeals process, and we can work with faculty if additional review is needed. There are even cases 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 at higher levels, 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 a transfer.



Learn more about transferring credits at Capella.

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