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Office of General Counsel Policies & Guidelines

Components of Articulation Agreements : A-031

Policy/Guideline Area

Academic Guidelines

Applicable Divisions

TCATs, Community Colleges, Universities


The purpose of this guideline is to establish the criteria and process for articulation agreements, i.e. the awarding of transfer semester credit hours, involving career-technical education by institutions governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.


  1. Compliance with Accrediting Agencies
    1. The awarding of transfer semester credit hours by community colleges and universities will be in compliance with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Principles of Accreditation on Programs (reference 3.4), the Commission’s Position Statement on the “Transfer of Academic Credit,” and its policy on “The Transfer or Transcripting of Academic Credit.”
    2. Specific articulation agreements between secondary education and the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology must comply with the Council on Occupational Education’s Handbook of Accreditation and its Policies and Rules.
    3. Specific articulation agreements between the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, the community colleges and/or the universities will comply with those policies and guidelines set forth by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Principles of Accreditation and other relevant documents.
    4. Articulation agreements and the subsequent awarding of transfer credit must be in compliance with all applicable program accrediting agencies.
  2. Articulation Agreements
    1. Articulation agreements must demonstrate compliance with the TBR Policy 2:01:00:04. Articulation agreements should ensure that students are not required by university, college or TCAT procedure or regulation to pursue educational/training experiences that duplicate competency skills the individual already possesses for the individual to acquire a credential.
    2. Statewide agreements for the awarding of semester credit hours will be based upon aligned common competencies among and between institutions of higher learning. The award of credit will be based upon:
      1. Equivalent competencies; and
      2. Where both programs have the purpose of the graduate being able to sit for the same industry credential, certification, or license, the community college will recognize the industry award as the validation assessment for the awarding of credit(s) within the program. Examples of industry certification include, but are not limited to: CISCO certifications [individual courses], state board licenses [individual and/or multiple courses depending upon the field], and Siemens certifications [multiple courses].
    3. Each articulation agreement should include:
      1. Competencies that indicate that the learning outcomes specified in courses offered by the lower-level institution satisfy learning outcomes in similar courses offered by the upper-level institution. Syllabi and competency lists of the courses from the institutions involved must be maintained in the appropriate offices of both institutions.
      2. Details of the articulation procedure for the awarding of credit;
      3. Descriptions of required proficiency levels and criteria for measurement;
      4. The evaluation plan and process; and
      5. A renewal date for the agreement (Note: Because technology changes so rapidly it is suggested that the period of review be no more than every three years).
  3. Awarding of Credit (Articulation) and Challenge Assessments
    1. Award by assessment may be for up to seventy-five percent (75%) of the semester credit hours required in accordance with SACSCOC/COE guidelines [SC 3.5.2], unless the program's professional accreditation agency designates in policy a lower transfer percentage.
    2. The community college system, upon the alignment of programs of study among the community colleges, may bring together representative in-field faculty from the institutions to develop a common method for the awarding of semester credit hours based upon recognition of equivalent learning outcomes through the establishment of statewide assessment processes.
      1. The representative faculty will establish common procedures for the recognition of equivalent learning outcomes, which may include performance and/or cognate assessments, portfolio assessment, or other means to validate the transfer credit.
      2. The representative faculty within the subject may recognize third-party assessment(s), which reflect equivalency of the competencies within the aligned program of study. Examples of third-party assessments include NOCTI assessments, industry skill certifications such as JAVA, CISCO, FANUC, Siemens, etc., and state/national allied health-related licenses. The assessments should be seen as a reflection of a level of proficiency of the individual, and as a quality assurance of the program, even in the absence of reference in active local industry job listings.
      3. The process for awarding credit must be for specific courses within the aligned curriculum.
    3. Individual community colleges may develop one-to-one articulation agreements with specific education/training entities for the purpose of awarding semester credit hours for courses that have not been part of a statewide award process.
      1. Credit awarded must be for specific courses.
      2. The credit must be awarded on the basis of successfully passing a challenge examination or competency-based assessment procedure for which the standards for proficiency are approved and accepted by the receiving department and institution.
      3. If the receiving institution’s faculty develops the challenge examination or competency-based assessment, and the content is equivalent to the regular on-site course’s competency-based assessment the institution has the option of awarding a letter grade, rather than a non-quality grade of  “pass/fail,” and therefore count toward calculation of the grade point average. The award of a letter grade must be in accordance with the policies, regulations and guidelines of the institution’s accrediting agency.
  4. General Requirements for Students
    1. Students are required to conform to all institutional requirements for admission, testing and placement.
    2. Upon enrollment in the TCAT, college or university, extra-institutional credit will be transcripted in a manner as to facilitate timely and adequate advising such that a student does not duplicate skill/competency attainment realized in the previous institution, i.e. is not required to repeat a course.


President’s Meeting, February 13, 2007; Presidents Meeting February 2, 2016. Revised at Presidents Meeting February 21, 2017.

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