U to instate 26-credit minimum for transfers

Officials estimate it will eliminate 200-300 new transfers each year.

Emma Nelson


Students transferring to the University of Minnesota will likely need to meet a minimum requirement of 26 credits starting this fall.

A policy recommended by a Faculty Senate committee would take effect this fall and is part of a four-year plan to decrease the number of transfer students to 33 percent of the undergraduate population.

Previously, the University didn’t have a standard credit requirement. Colleges on the Twin Cities campus set their own admissions criteria, and most already suggest 26-60 credits for transfer admissions, said Robert McMaster, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. The 26 credit minimum requirement is standard at a number of peer institutions.

Some colleges have more stringent criteria than others — the Carlson School of Management, for example, requires a minimum of 30 credits.

The change would create a uniform policy across all colleges on the Twin Cities campus.

But according to McMaster, colleges are already suggesting 26 credits.

The new policy would encourage prospective transfer students to apply after having completed a full year of coursework, but will allow exceptions, McMaster said. For students with fewer than 26 credits, other factors — like academic performance — will be taken into consideration.

“This is just to put an additional level of surveillance on those students who we feel might be vulnerable coming to the University of Minnesota because they don’t have proven track records,” he said.

Data shows that transfer students who enter the University with between 1 and 24 credits are less likely to complete their degree than those who arrive with more than 24 credits.

Professor Thomas Brothen, who chairs the Faculty Senate Educational Policy Committee that recommended the change, called it a “touchy” issue.

The University has often served students who begin at community colleges and then transfer to finish their bachelor’s degree, a practice that Brothen said is a “good thing.”

But because transfer students who have one or more years of credits prior to arriving at the University are more likely to be successful, he said, the University is increasingly looking to serve that type of student instead.

Associate professor Eva von Dassow, a member of the faculty senate committee, said she sees an increased focus by the University on students deemed most likely to succeed.

“The University is choosing to admit only students who seem likely to proceed along the assembly line to graduation, and they are not interested in admitting students who might not help the U raise [numbers used in national rankings],” she said.

The issue is also a matter of the number of students the University can accommodate, Brothen said. The policy change allows some increased control over the number of transfer students admitted, he said.

The percentage of transfer students in the Twin Cities campus’ undergraduate population fluctuates each year, usually ranging from 33 to 36 percent, McMaster said. In 2010, the number rose to 41 percent, a trend he said was concerning because there was not enough faculty and staff to handle it.

The number of transfer students on the Twin Cities campus is significantly higher than at peer institutions, McMaster said. At other Big Ten universities, percentages are as low as 12 percent.

According to McMaster, about 200 to 300 of the approximately 3,100 transfer students accepted to the University each year arrive with fewer than 26 credits. The policy, he said, is less about eliminating students than it is about streamlining the University’s admissions process.

Von Dassow said she prefers focusing on the circumstances of individual students rather than using numerical criteria. The circumstances surrounding students’ education and the reasons behind their transfer “vary greatly,” she said.

“Frankly, things like grade point average in high school, class rank, numbers of credits completed, scores on tests, just are a completely inadequate and inaccurate proxy for learning and for the substance of education,” von Dassow said.