09 Feb Articulation Agreements: What are they and how do they work?
If you’re thinking of entering the US education system through a community college and transferring to a university after 2 years, you have probably come across the term “articulation agreement.”
In daily practice, our transfer admissions professionals find that there are many misconceptions students have about the term. That is an unfortunate fact as it’s rather important to understand how these agreements work at the very beginning of your higher education journey in the US. In this article, we cover the most important questions.
What’s the definition of an articulation agreement?
An articulation agreement is a formalized agreement between two academic institutions that spells out a process for transfer between those institutions. Simply put, the agreement will generally say that courses/credits from one school are guaranteed to transfer into another school.
These agreements may also cover admissions requirements, which we will discuss later.
When are articulation agreements useful?
Articulation agreements are powerful because they give students at two-year colleges, for example, assurance that their courses will be accepted at their target transfer university. This is important because the last thing you want is to spend money and take courses to then find out that those courses don’t count towards your graduation from a four-year university.
One of the most well-known and utilized examples of an articulation agreement is between the California community college system and the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems.
These articulation agreements spell out course requirements by major that are needed to transfer into the universities that are part of each of these systems.
Articulation agreements make no promise that your community college will have these courses available in their catalog, and certain courses might not be available when you try to register for them. Still, they will give you a sense that your time and money will go towards transferable credits and will help you build a schedule of courses that are certain to transfer to your preferred university.
How do articulation agreements work?
Articulation agreements, like the one explained above for the UC and CSU systems, focus on:
- Overall requirements for the university system
- Specific requirements for a certain university, and even
- Specific requirements for a major.
For example, if you wish to attend UC Santa Barbara for pre-Economics, you will find that the articulation agreement you need to follow has information about major-related courses such as Economics and Calculus.
Beyond the major required courses, you might be surprised to learn about the seven-course pattern requirement for all UC system universities. This involves taking a minimum of four courses from three different subject areas: social and behavioral sciences, arts and humanities, and physical and biological sciences as well as two college-level English courses and a transferable Math course.
Beyond these requirements, there may be a minimum number of credits required for transfer as well as minimum GPA’s required to be considered for admission.
What do you need to be aware of with articulation agreements?
Two things. First of all, articulation agreements are not a guarantee of admission.
Secondly, articulation agreements can be filled with difficult academic terminology and small requirements that can trip you up.
So our advice is to always seek professional assistance in completing the requirements of an articulation agreement, either from resources available at the two-year college or from a trusted professional with a deep knowledge of these agreements.
Articulation agreements and guaranteed admission agreements – what’s the difference?
As it turns out, the UC and CSU systems, along with numerous other state-run public university systems in the USA do have guaranteed admissions agreements between two-year colleges and their universities.
In fact, some of the best universities in the world offer students guaranteed admissions by way of transfer from community college. For example, University of California Irvine (UCI), UC Davis (UCD) and UC Santa Barbara are all top 40 ranked schools that participate in guaranteed admissions programs.
In Virginia, a number of great schools including University of Virginia, a top 25 ranked school, also offers an admission guarantee.
How can I find the relevant articulation agreements?
The best place to find out more about articulation agreements between California community colleges and universities is assist.org.
As said above, the agreements can be more complex than they appear at first glance, so make sure to consult a trusted expert before taking action based on what you find.
I’m an international student, how can articulation agreements help me?
As mentioned above, it can be tough to gain admission to a top US university, especially if you’re an international student. Applying to a community college first can offer a safe spot to land. By picking your college and courses strategically, you set yourself up for a smooth transfer into the top university of your choice.
University Bridge specializes in helping international students navigate these complex agreements and historically places 100% of students into a Top 100 university and around 80% into a Top 40 U.S. university each year.
Wonder if this route makes sense for you? Feel free to contact us.
In summary, articulation agreements can be very powerful tools to make sure you are on the right track to transfer and that your courses will be accepted at your destination transfer university. They can save you time and money.
But you should be aware that they are not guarantees of admission, but rather guarantees of course and credit transfer. Additionally, they can be difficult to understand and an academic counselor can assist in helping customize the best transfer path for an individual students’ needs.
University Bridge specializes in guiding international students through a host of articulation agreements as well as guaranteed admissions agreements to over 200 U.S. universities.
If you are thinking of transferring between US institutions as an international student, we can advise you about the possibilities and what you need to keep in mind. Feel free to get in touch with us to know more.