UW institutions award transfer credits for educational experiences, courses, degrees, or credentials completed by students at other higher education institutions. UW institutions award credit for extra-institutional learning for knowledge and skills acquired through education and training received in a setting outside of a higher education institution and includes knowledge and skills acquired from life experience.
This policy applies to efforts at UW institutions to evaluate and award transfer credits and credits for extra-institutional learning, including statutorily mandated efforts to establish systemwide transfer agreements with other Wisconsin higher education systems and institutions as required under s. 36.31 (2m), Wis. Stats.
The UW System Board of Regents has authority, under s. 36.11(3) (b), Wis. Stats., to establish policies for the transfer of credits between institutions within the UW System and, under s. 36.11 (3) (c), Wis. Stats., to establish transfer policies with other educational institutions outside the system.
This policy establishes guidelines for evaluating and awarding transfer credits and credits for extra-institutional learning within the UW System with the goal of fostering educational attainment and accommodating student mobility. Student-centered policies that give full consideration for prior education and experience are essential for reducing time-to-degree, improving graduation rates, and minimizing the cost of attendance. The policy also provides guidance regarding the implementation of systemwide transfer agreements with other educational agencies such as through the Universal Credit Transfer Agreement, which is required under s. 36.31 (2m) (b), Wis. Stats., and the agreement required under s. 36.31 (2m) (am), Wis. Stats., to promote and support program-to-program articulation agreements.
The Board of Regents encourages UW System institutions to consider awarding credit to students for all learning, wherever and however attained. At the same time, the Board recognizes that there are legitimate differences between the missions and academic programs of UW System’s educational institutions and acknowledges that institutional autonomy and program integrity must be considered in the awarding of transfer credit and credit for extra-institutional learning.
In awarding transfer credit and credit for extra-institutional learning, UW institutions shall consider the quality and comparability of the transfer student’s coursework, and the applicability of that work to the receiving institution’s degree requirements. UW institutions shall base transfer admission on comprehensive, individualized admission review, consistent with the process for freshman admission.
The UW System process for evaluating and awarding transfer credits and credits for extra-institutional learning shall be designed to provide equitable treatment of transfer and continuing students. UW institutions shall provide transfer students with the same opportunities as continuing students to demonstrate their competence through the use of internally and externally developed tests, portfolio assessment procedures, and other competency-based alternatives. These principles apply to all transfer students with coursework from within the UW System, from the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), or from other accredited institutions.
UW System transfer and award of credit for extra-institutional learning policies shall, to the extent possible, align with the Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit developed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Articulation Agreements and Transfer Credits
The Board of Regents delegates authority to the System President to establish a UW System transfer policy. The policy shall comply with all applicable accreditation standards, federal and state laws, and this policy.
Universal Credit Transfer Agreement
In accordance with s. 36.31 (2m), Wis. Stats., the UW System Board of Regents and the Wisconsin Technical College System are required to enter into an agreement identifying an array of not less than 72 credits of core general education courses that shall be transferable and satisfy general education requirements of the receiving institution. Wisconsin’s tribally controlled colleges and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities acting on behalf of its membership of private nonprofit higher education institutions may also elect to enter into the Universal Credit Transfer Agreement.
The Board approved the initial Universal Credit Transfer Agreement with the Wisconsin Technical College System on June 6, 2014. The Board authorizes the UW System Administration’s Office of Academic and Student Affairs to implement and maintain the Universal Credit Transfer Agreement as needed to comply with the statutes and to ensure the agreement remains current with curriculum and course offerings. The Office shall seek Board approval for any substantive change to the Universal Credit Transfer Agreement.
An articulation agreement is a written agreement between institutions that guarantees the transfer of credits from one institution to another typically for completion of an academic program.
Section 36.31 (2m) (am), Wis. Stats., requires the UW System and the Wisconsin Technical College System to enter into an agreement to promote and support program-to-program articulation agreements, as defined by s. 36.31 (2m) (a), Wis. Stats. Wisconsin’s tribally controlled colleges and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities acting on behalf of its membership of private nonprofit higher education institutions may also elect to enter into the agreement.
Subject to Board approval, the Board authorizes UW System Administration’s Office of Academic and Student Affairs to develop the agreement consistent with the provisions of s. 36.21 (2m) (am), Wis. Stats. The Board further authorizes the Office of Academic and Student Affairs to implement and maintain the agreement as needed to comply with the statutes and to ensure the agreement remains current with curricular and course offerings. Once the initial agreement is approved, the Office shall seek Board approval for any substantive change to the agreement.
Transfer of UW System Associate Degrees
UW System institutions shall recognize an associate degree earned from a UW institution as having fulfilled the general education distribution or breadth requirements of the receiving institution. Associate degrees offered by the UW System shall meet minimum general education and breadth requirements as required by the System President. UW institutions shall establish an appeal process for students to resolve any disputes regarding the transfer process.
The System President shall establish a policy related to awarding credit for extra-institutional learning experiences. Among other provisions, the policy shall include guidance regarding the following:
Evaluation and Award of Credit for Extra-institutional Learning and Prior Learning Assessment
Institutions may award credit for educational accomplishments obtained through extra-institutional learning, such as from prior learning and experience in the workplace or military, from community service, or through independent study. Institutions may assess extra-institutional learning for the award of credit through a variety of methods, including evaluating student portfolios, adopting credit recommendations published by national organizations for courses offered by extra-institutional organizations, and awarding credit based on acceptable scores on national examinations or challenge examinations developed by an institution.
Credit for Military Experience and Training
The Board encourages the System President and UW institutions to identify and promote efforts to award credit for military experience and training. In support of this goal and consistent with s. 36.31 (4), Wis. Stats., a UW institution shall upon receiving a student’s official joint services transcript or Community College of the Air Force transcript from the Department of Defense:
- Accept all American Council on Education credit recommendations included in the official joint services transcript and award academic credit to the student in accordance with these recommendations.
- Accept all credits included in the Community College of the Air Force transcript and award academic credit to the student accordingly.
Advanced Placement Programs and Examinations
UW System guidelines and procedures shall include the systemwide proficiency score standards adopted by the Board of Regents for the College Board Advanced Placement Program, Project Lead the Way, and the International Baccalaureate Program.
Upon approval by the UW System Board of Regents, the System President may modify existing proficiency score standards or adopt additional standards for awarding credit for completion of specific courses or credit by examination programs.
UW System and UW institutions shall publish clear, complete and accessible information about the policies and procedures for awarding credit for transfer and extra-institutional learning, consistent with procedures established by the System President. The information shall be published on an electronic transfer information system administered by the UW System Administration, as well as in institutional printed and electronic resources.
Oversight, Roles, and Responsibilities
The UW System’s Office of Academic and Student Affairs is charged with developing and ensuring compliance with systemwide transfer and award of credit policies, and with coordinating the UW System’s electronic transfer information system, the Universal Credit Transfer Agreement and other articulation agreements between UW System and other institutions.
Related Regent Policy Documents and Applicable Laws
- Section 36.11 (3), Wis. Stats., “Admission of Applicants.”
- Section 36.31 (2m), Wis. Stats., “Coordination with other educational agencies; credit for military education.”
- Section 38.04, Wis. Stats., “Teacher and course requirements.”
- Section 38.12 (8), Wis. Stats., “Cooperation with other state agencies.”
- Regent Policy Document 4-6, “Granting of Degrees, Honors and Awards”
- Regent Policy Document 7-3, “The University of Wisconsin System Freshman Admissions Policy”
History: Res. 429, adopted 03/09/1973, created Regent Policy Document 73-5; Res. 942, adopted 02/07/1975, created Regent Policy Document 75-1; Res. 1205, adopted 04/09/1976, created Regent Policy Document 76-1. Res. 3045, adopted 05/11/1984, created Regent Policy Document 84-3 and replaced Regent Policy Documents 73-5, 75-1, and 76-1.
Res. 5383, adopted 12/08/1989, created Regent Policy Document 89-9 and amended Regent Policy Document 84-3. Res. 7076, adopted 12/08/1995; Res. 7718, adopted 06/05/1998; Res. 8276, adopted 12/08/2000; and Res. 8847, adopted 05/07/2004, amended Regent Policy Document 84-3. Regent Policy Document 84-3 was subsequently renumbered 7-1.
Res. 9960, adopted 07/15/2011, and Res. 10383, adopted 06/06/2014, amended Regent Policy Document 7-1. Res. 10835, adopted 03/09/2017, authorized technical corrections.
Res. 11404, adopted 04/02/2020, rescinded and recreated Regent Policy Document 7-1.
Res. 11405, adopted 04/02/2020, rescinded Regent Policy Document 4-4 and consolidated provisions with the recreated Regent Policy Document 7-1. (Res. 3850, adopted 07/10/1987, created Regent Policy Document 87-9, subsequently renumbered 4-4.)
Res. 11406, adopted 04/02/2020, removed Regent Policy Documents 4-11, 4-17, and 7-2, and consolidated provisions with the recreated Regent Policy Document 7-1. (Res. 5746, adopted 04/11/1991, created Regent Policy Document 91-3, subsequently renumbered 4-11. Res. 8128, adopted 05/05/2000, created Regent Policy Document 00-2, subsequently renumbered 7-2. Res. 9714, adopted 12/11/2009, created Regent Policy Document 4-17.)
SYS 115, Associate Degree Standards (formerly ACIS 1.3)
SYS 135, Undergraduate Transfer Policy (formerly ACIS 6.0)
SYS 185, College Credit in High School (formerly G36)
[UW System Administrative policies are included for reference and are separate from Regent Policy Documents adopted by the Board.]