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Office of General Counsel Policies & Guidelines

Articulation Among Community Colleges and Universities : A-030

Policy/Guideline Area

Academic Guidelines

Applicable Divisions

Community Colleges, Universities


The purpose of this guideline is to provide for collegiate articulation among community colleges and universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents System. The provisions in this guideline are intended to promote the orderly process of students who transfer from the community colleges to baccalaureate degree programs in the universities, while protecting the integrity of the university and community college programs. The guideline supplements the provisions for transfer of credits in current policies of the Board of Regents.


  1. General
    1. Each institution shall develop and maintain counseling services which shall include collecting and disseminating information pertaining to the structure and requirements of degree programs offered by the universities and community colleges in the System.
      1. The specific institutional office, or officer, designated to serve as the contact for transfer student advisement and for inter-institutional articulation shall be clearly identified in institutional catalogs and other appropriate publications.
    2. Each university shall work cooperatively with appropriate community colleges in developing and maintaining current course-by-course transfer lists and, when feasible, curriculum-by-curriculum transfer outlines.
      1. Where a transfer student has satisfactorily completed an associate’s degree designed for transfer to a university, all general education requirements will have been fulfilled and not subject to repetition at a university.
      2. Further, students who transfer without an associate’s degree designed for transfer but who have completed blocks of subject categories within the common forty-one semester-hour general education core distribution have fulfilled general education requirements in the affected subject categories.
    3. Relative to courses subject to transfer other than general education, each university shall accept those level one (freshman and sophomore) courses completed at a community college which have been determined to be equivalent to level one courses offered by the university, as creditable toward completion of relevant requirements for degree programs at the university, to the same extent that the courses would be creditable toward completion of the degree programs by the university's native students with the same degree major.
    4. The community college programs designed for transfer shall be clearly identified in the catalog of the community college. For career programs the community college shall include the following statement very prominently for each program: "This program is designed for the student who does not intend to transfer to a baccalaureate degree program."
    5. Each university and community college shall use one or more of the following criteria to determine the courses to be offered as level-one courses:
      1. Courses which build upon high school preparation in primary areas of knowledge and academic skills or courses which provide a next step in the student's formal study beyond high school;
      2. Courses which consist of an overview or introduction to a broad or general area of inquiry;
      3. Courses with survey content applicable to many areas;
      4. Courses which provide knowledge and skills fundamental and prerequisite for advanced study;
      5. Courses which are job oriented or technological in nature and are designed to aid in preparing students for employment at the beginning technician level after a maximum of two years of college study;
      6. Courses which are broadly established as traditional level one offerings at colleges;
      7. Courses which meet the standards for level one curricular offerings as specified by accrediting agencies.
        1. The credit offerings by community colleges shall be limited to level one courses within the above criteria.
    6. Courses classified as level two courses yet normally open to freshmen or sophomores at a university, even though taught at a community college as level one transfer courses, shall be transferable as satisfying that part of the student's requirement in the content area. The universities shall not impose additional admissions requirements upon transfer applicants who:
      1. Are not seeking admission to programs with special admissions requirements; and
      2. Meet the retention standards of the university.
    7. During the transfer process, the transcripts from sending institutions must include, or have attached, an explanation of the complete grading system.
    8. There shall be no limit to the number of credits transferred from a community college to a university within the System. However, the application of these credits to meet degree requirements will vary according to the degree sought, and the transfer student must meet the requirements for level-two work and residency at the university.
      1. Transfer students shall have the same privileges of catalog options as native students at the receiving institution, i.e., the option of complying with the catalog for the transfer student's freshman year to the extent that this privilege is provided for native students.
      2. The content of student orientation programs shall include information designed specifically for transfer students.
      3. Transfer students shall be afforded all the privileges and opportunities of native students at the receiving institution in the areas of awards, honors, housing, financial aid, enrollment in classes of limited size, and appointment to special positions, such as editors of the yearbook or college newspaper.
      4. Credit based on Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) at another TBR institution will be accepted in transfer and applied toward the student's degree in the same way that any other type of transfer credit is accepted. The Recommended Standards in Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Policy and Practice for Tennessee Public Colleges and Universities (August 7, 2012) Exhibit 1 to this Guideline.
      5. All institutions shall cooperate fully with the Board staff in developing research concerning transfer students.



September 6, 1978 TBR presidents meeting. Revised November 13, 1981 and August 23, 1983 presidents meetings; July 1, 1984. Revised February 12, 2008 presidents meeting; August 20, 2013 Presidents Meeting.

Note: This guideline was adopted initially to be effective for students who sought to enroll in universities through the transfer process for the 1979 - 1980 academic year and thereafter.