Do College Credits Ever Expire? What You Need to Know Before Transferring

Do College Credits Ever Expire? What You Need to Know Before Transferring

Do College Credits Ever Expire? What You Need to Know Before Transferring

Sometimes students face unforeseen circumstances and need to take a break from their college studies. In other cases, students may earn their associate degree, embark on a career in their chosen path, and then return to pursue a bachelor’s degree to open up more and better-paying job opportunities. In other instances, a student may have earned their bachelor’s degree, but then want to earn a second bachelor’s or master’s degree to distinguish themselves within a related — or completely different — field.

Regardless of the situation, students often have questions around whether the college credits they’ve previously earned have expired or if those credits can count towards a different degree they plan to pursue. The ability to transfer previously earned college credits can help reduce the amount of time (and money) a student must spend working toward a new degree.

The good news is that, in most cases, college credits that have previously been earned may remain valid and do not expire. There are, however, some instances where certain types of courses and educational credits may have an expiration date.

We’ll cover the different scenarios where previously earned college credits can still be applied, as well as some of the common questions students have when considering returning to school.

Do College Credits Expire After 5 Years?

The short answer is “no.” Most credits do not have an expiration date. Many credits, particularly core courses (such as composition, English, or language arts-based courses and history courses), may be able to be applied to a new degree program. Core course credits from different colleges or universities may also be applied, provided those credits were earned at a regionally accredited school and are transferred to another regionally accredited or nationally accredited college or university.

Transferring Credits Between Nationally and Regionally Accredited Schools

While nationally accredited colleges and universities often accept credits from both regionally and nationally accredited schools, regionally accredited schools only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions.

The reason for this is because regionally accredited schools are reviewed by a specific, regional governing body that evaluates a school’s curriculum and makes sure it’s up to the rigorous academic standards of that governing body. On the flipside, nationally accredited schools are often more vocational or trade-based in nature, as opposed to more strictly academic institutions within the regionally accredited category.

It’s much easier to transfer college credits between regionally accredited schools. For instance, National University is a regionally accredited institution. So, if you have credits from another regionally accredited college or university, you may likely be able to transfer those credits to a degree program at National University. However, if you’d earned those credits at a nationally accredited university, they may not successfully carry over.

College credits can be transferred across state lines, too. For instance, the geographic location of your former institute of higher learning may have been located in New York, but you may be resuming your academic career at a school such as National University in California. There is no time stamp on how long college credits last in California. Rather, if you’ve attended a regionally accredited school anywhere in the country, you can transfer those credits to a college or university in a completely different state.

Can College Credits Earned Online Apply to a Different School?


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