Strategy & Collaboration

Streamlining Community College to University Transfer: Development of the Oregon Transfer Compass

Below are ongoing projects and Oregon policy initiatives to improve outcomes for transfer students and streamline community college to university transfer.

Students, families, and advisors should also see the Oregon Transfer Compass: Transfer Student Tools, featuring links to Oregon’s statewide transfer tools, public campus transfer pages, tips, and responses to common questions to help simplify the transfer process.

Background: House Bill 2998 (2017)  

In 2017, as a result of collaboration among the HECC, Oregon’s community colleges and public universities, and lawmakers, the State Legislature passed House Bill 2998, a bill designed to streamline transfer between Oregon’s community colleges and public universities. The legislation directs the HECC to bring together community colleges and universities to establish statewide “foundational curricula,” now called Core Transfer Maps, of at least 30 credits and major-specific “unified statewide transfer agreements,” now called Major Transfer Maps​, that prepare students for transfer into one of Oregon’s public universities in a particular major. 

Since HB 2998’s passage, the HECC has been working with community colleges, public universities, student associations, and other stakeholders to simplify and better align pathways for students to successfully transfer between institutions, maximize credits toward their degrees and certificates, and decrease time-to-degree completion. 

Implementing House Bill 2998 

To develop the Core Transfer Maps and select the first disciplines for which Major Transfer Maps​ are to be developed, HECC staff convened a faculty-driven Transfer Workgroup, with representatives from Oregon’s public colleges and universities, and related stakeholder groups. 

Transfer Workgroup membership includes representation from diverse institutions and partners, including: public postsecondary faculty; public higher education professionals in instructional administration, advising, registration, and institutional research; the Oregon Community College Association, the Oregon Council of Presidents, the HECC, the Council of Student Services Administrators, the Joint Transfer and Articulation Committee, and the Oregon Student Association. Representatives from private higher education institutions were invited to attend meetings as observers. Click here for a list of Transfer Workgroup members.

The HECC also convened faculty-led, major-specific workgroups of faculty discipline specialists, advisers, and others, to develop the first four Major Transfer Maps in biology, business, elementary education, and English. As these workgroups complete their Major Transfer Maps, the HECC will convene additional workgroup to develop Major Transfer Maps for new disciplines. To learn more about the process of implementation, see:
Approximately half of Oregon’s public university students in recent years transferred from an Oregon community college. According to data collected by the HECC from Oregon public universities, in the 2015-2016 academic year, just 62 percent of these transfer students who transfer with at least 24-36 credits complete degrees within six years, compared to 82 percent of the comparable non-transfer student population (those who successfully completed two-years of university credit). Those who do complete often do so after taking more credits than their non-transferring peers, which translates to higher costs for these students and families.​
What is a “Core Transfer Map” and “Major Transfer Map”?
A Core Transfer Map is a statewide set of general education courses at Oregon’s public postsecondary institutions that contain at least 30 college-level academic credits, all of which will satisfy degree requirements at any Oregon public university. 

A Major Transfer Map is a major-specific pathway, common across Oregon’s public higher education institutions, that allows students to transfer from an Oregon community college to an Oregon public university without loss of academic credit or the requirement to retake a successfully completed course. Each Major Transfer Map workgroup, composed mainly of institutional faculty in that major discipline, will determine the course and completion standards for that USTA. For example, Business Administration faculty will negotiate a statewide pathway from community college to university for Business Administration majors. 

The intention of this work is to create clearer, more visible pathways between community colleges and public universities in Oregon that minimize credit loss and unnecessary costs for students. If the creation of guided major pathways from community college to university across the state has the intended effect, students will find their degree path sooner, spend less time and money, and complete degrees at higher rates.​​​
Faculty will be instrumental in the establishment of Major Transfer Maps. Institutions will review, approve, and adopt the Core Transfer Maps and Major Transfer Maps. State policy makers will not make any curricular decisions. Once implemented, community college transfer students will have more visible, navigable pathways from any community college to any public university for majors with a Major Transfer Map in place. 

The Core Transfer Maps will be available to students at all of Oregon’s community by the fall term of 2018.

HB 2998 mandates that the first Major Transfer Map be established by December 1, 2018, the second by April 1, 2019, and the third by December 1, 2019. Once the first three USTAs are established, community colleges and public universities must continue to create USTAs at a rate of three majors per year.

The legislation does not include any mandates related to course changes or creation. While the HECC expects the Transfer Workgroup to develop one or more Core Transfer Maps in alignment with current course offerings, institutions may need to add or remove courses, or ensure that existing courses meet any competencies and learning outcomes included in the Core Transfer Maps.

Yes. The HECC and members of the workgroup plan to host a public roundtable to answer questions and seek feedback on HB 2998 implementation. In addition, the HECC will manage a listserv and email inbox where we will distribute updates and receive feedback. Click here to sign up for the HECC’s transfer listserv. 
Yes. According to the Education Commission of the States, 36 states have a transferable core of lower-division courses, 16 states have a statewide common course numbering system, 31 states have statewide guaranteed transfer of an associate degree, and 15 states have enacted statewide reverse transfer legislation. Recently, New Mexico and Connecticut enacted legislation that uses the “guided pathways” approach, similar to HB 2998.

​Statewide Transfer Degrees

Statewide transfer degrees satisfy the lower division general education requirements of baccalaureate degrees at the public universities in Oregon. They assure a student who transfers to a university will hold junior status for registration purposes, but neither guarantee admittance to a university or to a program, nor assure junior-level standing in a particular major. All statewide degrees must contain at least 90 credits, the broad guidelines of which are common across Oregon community colleges.

Associates Of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT): 

The Associates Of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) is a 90 credit hour statewide associate’s degree that is intended to prepare community college students for transfer into a variety of majors in the humanities or social sciences at Oregon’s public universities. 

ASOT-Business and the ASOT-Computer Science: 

In addition to the AAOT, Oregon has more specialized Associate of Science – Oregon Transfer degrees: the ASOT-Business and the ASOT-Computer Science. The intention of the ASOT degrees is similar to the AAOT in that the degrees provide for comprehensively recognized lower division coursework, but these degrees also include requisite coursework designed to prepare students intending to major in specific fields at Oregon public universities. Since both the lower-division and upper-division coursework requirement to complete a major in a given field varies across universities, the established degrees include information on universities’ program requirements and recommendations.

Students are highly encouraged to seek and obtain advising from both their community college and their intended university to ensure efficiency and course relevance for any particular program and degree. Some university programs may allow certain courses to meet both general education and program requirements. ​​

Interstate Passport

Several Oregon institutions have been instrumental in creation of the Interstate Passporta Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)-led initiative to create a multi-state lower division general education transfer framework based on learning outcomes.

​​Reverse Transfer​

Reverse Transfer is the practice of retro-awarding associate’s degrees to university students who complete the required credits for the AS or AAOT following transfer to a university. All public institutions are required by statute to participate in Reverse Transfer, but each institution implements the policy locally.​



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