Transfer pathways are a mechanism colleges use to make it easy to start at a two-year college and transfer to a four-year institution. Most two-year colleges will have a number of four-year colleges they have pathways with. These pathways are designed to save you money and time.

How Do Pathways Work?

Transfer pathways can be complicated but, with a little bit of extra effort, they can really pay off. Pathways present a direct, guaranteed, and seamless way a student can transfer their academic credits from one institution to another. Given that a substantial proportion of new undergraduate college students in Minnesota are transfer students (37% -entering year 2021-2022), colleges and universities have worked out agreements to make transfer work better for students.

In Minnesota, many colleges and universities have put in place transfer agreements to accept accreditation from a different institution. For example, Minnesota State (colleges and universities) participate in the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC), 40-credit package of general education courses accepted for transfer among the system's institutions, the University of Minnesota, and many private colleges and universities in Minnesota. 

College students sitting at the library
Many students use transfer pathways to transition from a two-year college to a four-year institution to earn their bachelor's degree.

Effective Ways To Transfer

Transfer within a system

One type of pathway ensures the courses you take at a two-year college will lineup with a course at a four-year institution. Meaning, if you take an English course at your two-year college, it will be equivalent to an English course at a four-year institution. These well-defined pathways help students know exactly what classes to take so they can earn their four-year degree as quickly as possible.

That is the case of Minnesota State. Through Transfer Pathways, Minnesota State allows students to complete a specific associate degree and transfer to any of the seven Minnesota State Universities. By completing a Transfer Pathway degree at a Minnesota State college, you are guaranteed junior status when transferred and admitted to a state university. This means that your completed 60 academic credits will be accepted toward the related bachelor’s degree within the selected pathway.

Earn an Associate Degree And Start as A Junior

Some four-year institutions grant junior status to individuals who have earned an associate’s degree. This type of pathway is becoming more common because it allows students to enter the workforce in their career of choice and carry less debt by earning their first degree in a community college. However, full accreditation may depend on the major or type of associate degree earned. 

For example, an Associate of Arts (AA) will transfer into most liberal arts four-year majors; however, depending on the major, you may require to take specific courses as part of the degree program.

Articulation Agreements are generally for specialized professional or technical programs offered at colleges that can be accepted when transferring to a specific program/major at the receiving university. To explore transfer agreements in Minnesota, visit

If you plan on going to a two-year college and transferring to a four-year -or are currently at a two-year college, ask your college about transfer pathways. And reach out to college you’d like to transfer to as soon as you can.

When switching between four-year institutions

As a student, you may decide to transfer to a different college due to moving to a different city, financial reasons, changing major, dissatisfaction with your current teaching setting, or other personal circumstances,. 

If you are transferring from one baccalaureate program to another at a different school, do the following:

  •  Make sure to discuss credit requirements with academic advisors from both institutions
  • Research as extensively as possible
  • Start planning early

Without a pathway or a defined plan for transferring, you may be risking that your credits won’t transfer and you will be required to spend more time in college to complete your degree. Which means spending more money in tuition and fees, risking losing your financial aid package, and delaying your entry to the workforce.

Transfer while in the military

If you are transferred to Minnesota while active in the military,  you may find yourself in need to transfer colleges as well. The GI Bill® can still provide you with educational benefits so you can request to transfer your credits to a new college, and let you take courses at two different institutions as long as the credits taken count toward your degree. 

As a military member, you are considered a Minnesota resident eligible to participate in the Minnesota State Grant and other Minnesota financial aid programs provided you meet program eligibility guidelines. 

Finally, if you would like to start a program at a Minnesota institution, many colleges accept your military training and experience transfer as academic credits toward your program of choice. Such is the case of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; visit the Veterans Education Transfer System to learn more.

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