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​​​​​​​​​​​​Transfer and Credit Strategies

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission is committed to simplifying and aligning pathways in the higher education network, including pathways for students to successfully transfer between institutions, and maximize credits toward their degrees and certificates. The HECC and Oregon’s community colleges and public universities collaborate on this effort through legislation, research, and campus level initiatives. Our partners can read here about current state policy strategies to streamline transfer pathways.

Many state strategies to improve transfer are focused on transitions from public 2 to 4-year institutions given the large numbers of students who transfer from community colleges. Approximately one third of Oregon’s public university graduates with a bachelor’s degree in recent years transferred from an Oregon community college.​

Students, families, and counselors, please see Oregon Transfer Compass: Transfer Tools, featuring information about Oregon’s statewide transfer tools, ​links to public campus transfer pages, tips, and frequently asked questions to help simplify the transfer process. The Oregon Transfer Compass is a growing set of tools to help students navigate the transfer process.

Streamlining Transfer: Establishment of the Transfer Council

Background on Senate Bill 233 (2021): To improve and build upon the work of HB 2998 (2017), the Oregon Legislature passed SB 233 (2021) establishing the Transfer Council. The Council is charged with developing recommendations on a common course numbering system and Major Transfer Maps, and also addressing other credit transfer-related concerns, building upon the transfer work previously completed under HB 2998 (2017). Senate Bill 233 requires the HECC to establish, by rule, a common course numbering system and system of transfer and articulation based on recommendations from the Transfer Council. Upcoming public meetings of the Transfer Council and its subcommittees are included under the Current HECC Public Meetings portion of the website.

Development of the Oregon Transfer Compass and Transfer Maps 

Background on House Bill 2998 (2017): To streamline transfer among Oregon’s higher education institutions, simplify the process and reduce loss of credit, Oregon’s State Legislature passed HB​ 2998 (2017) which led to the development of the Oregon Transfer Compass and Transfer Maps. 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.​

Q&A on Transfer Legislation

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 (MTM) 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 MTM. For example, Business faculty negotiated a statewide pathway from community college to university for Business 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 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.​

Students: see Oregon Transfer Compass: Tools for Transfer Students​ 

Faculty are instrumental in the establishment of Major Transfer Maps. Institutions 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 have been available to students at all of Oregon’s community by the winter term of 2019.

HB 2998 mandates that the first Major Transfer Map (MTMs) be established by December 1, 2018, the second by April 1, 2019, and the third by December 1, 2019. So far, five MTMs have been established. For more information see the Memoranda of Understanding at the link below:  

The legislation does not include any mandates related to course changes or creation. Institutions are expected to develop one or more Core Transfer Map and Major Transfer Map, in the process institutions may need to add or remove courses, and/or ensure that existing courses meet any competencies and learning outcomes included in the Core Transfer Maps or Major Transfer Maps. Senate Bill 233 requires MTM groups to, “(f) Explore alignment, to the greatest extent possible, of lower-division requirements in the major courses of study.”​

Yes. According to the Education Commission of the States in 2020, 38 states have a transferable core of lower-division courses, 18 states have a statewide common course numbering system, 35 states have statewide guaranteed transfer of an associate degree, and 22 states have enacted statewide reverse transfer legislation. ​
Statewide Transfer Degrees and Other Transfer Initiatives

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.  Learn more about the following degrees on the Oregon Transfer Compass: Tools for Transfer Students page of our website:​

  • Associates Of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT)​
  • ASOT-Business and the ASOT-C​omputer Science 

Oregon Transfer Module: The 45-credit Oregon Transfer Module (OTM) provides a subset of general education courses which all “count” as a transferable block toward university requirements. It serves as a portable and stackable credential for community college students pursuing an associate’s degree, and can provide an early start on a college degree for high school students.​

Interstate Passport: Several Oregon institutions have been instrumental in creation of the Interstate Passport: a 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.​

Credit for Prior Learning​

Many Oregon institutions offer Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) for students to obtain credit for evidence-based assessment of learning that occurs outside of traditional college-level coursework. Read here about HECC’s work to support CPL plans, policies and practices statewide through a Credit for Prior Learning Advisory Committee, working with public universities, community colleges, as well as independent for-profit and not-for-profit institutions of higher education.​​​​​​

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For More Information

Key Partner Links  

Staff directory for Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development