Transfer Terms | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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Transfer Terms

View the following transfer terms to help you better understand the transfer process. 


When a college or program is defined as "accredited," that means it has been certified as fulfilling certain standards by a national and/or regional professional association.

ACTS – Arkansas Course Transfer System

The Arkansas Course Transfer System (ACTS) contains information about the transferability of courses within Arkansas public colleges and universities.  Students are guaranteed the transfer of applicable credits and equitable treatment in the application of credits for admissions and degree requirements.  Students may complete specified General Education courses anywhere in the public system as well as many courses in the degree/major that have been pre-identified for transfer.

Articulation agreement

An "articulation agreement" defines an understanding between community and four-year colleges/universities that indicate the acceptability of courses in transfer toward meeting specific degree requirements.

Associate's Degree (AA/ASLAS/AAS)

An associate's degree requires the completion of sixty directed hours of college credits, and it is conferred by two-year community colleges.  If you are considering transferring, it is not advisable to complete an associate's of applied science, for this particular two-year degree aims to prepare students to enter the workforce upon completion, as opposed to continuing education at a four-year institution.

Bachelor's (Baccalaureate) Degree

A bachelor's degree requires completion of at least 120 college credits at a four-year degree granting institution.

Common course numbering

A method some states use to ease transfer of credits from one institution to another.

Comparable course

A course that satisfies all course requirements as another course with respect to course content.  When a comparable course is offered by a sending and receiving institution, it will transfer for full credit.

Course equivalency

Course equivalency is defined as follows: Course "A" is equivalent to course "B" if and only if "A" satisfies all program requirements that course "B" satisfies – fulfilling the same purpose, content, and college credits necessary to complete general education or program degree requirements. 

Credit hour

A measure of credit earned for course completion.  A credit is based on the number of hours of instruction per week required in the classroom and /or lab or in independent study. A course earning three semester units will usually meet for approximately three hours a week. They are sometimes called semester hours.


A course that is not used to meet specific major, general education, or graduation requirements, but can be used to complete the total units required for a degree. An elective course may be in the student's major area of study or any department of a college.

Gen Ed

General Education requirements are usually courses that give undergraduates a background in all major academic disciplines: natural sciences, social sciences, mathematics, literature and language, and fine arts.  Most colleges have general education requirements – students usually take these courses in their first and second years, getting the chance to sample a wide range of courses before selecting a major.   At some colleges, general education courses are referred to as the core curriculum; at others, a few courses within the general education requirements that all students must take.

Lower–division major requirements

Lower division courses that are required as foundation information for upper division coursework - usually taught the freshmen or sophomore year of college. These courses should be completed prior to transfer if possible.


A subject of academic study chosen as a field of specialization.

Master's Degree

Degree awarded upon completion of one or two years of study beyond the bachelor's degree.


A secondary field of study outside of the major, often requiring substantially less course work.

Receiving institution

Any post-secondary institution in which a student transfers.

Sending institution

Any post-secondary institution from which a student transfers.


A term used to describe an enrollment trend. More and more students are part of a growing number of learners who will attend multiple schools to earn their four-year degrees. The practice has become so popular that college officials have come up with a name for the trend: "swirling." Universities and community colleges are helping make swirling more prevalent by easing the ability to transfer credits and offering more courses online.

Transfer agreement

An agreement between two institutions (a sender and a receiver) that specifies how the sending institution's course or program will be accepted for (transfer) credit at the receiving institution.

Transfer courses

Courses designed to transfer to another institution.

Transferable courses

Courses designed to complete an institution's own credential, but may transfer to another institution through a transfer agreement.


A student enrolled in the years of college study prior to receiving a bachelor's degree.


The measure of college-credit given a course, usually on the basis of one unit for each lecture hour per week or for every two to three laboratory hours per week. They are sometimes called credit or semester hours.

Upper division

A category of study at the undergraduate level that is narrower in focus than lower division study. These courses are usually taught at the junior and senior level and encompass most of the major.

Unspecified course or free elective

A course that is not close enough in content to a receiving institution course to be given credit for a specific receiving institution course.  However, it will transfer as an elective.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information presented is factual; however, errors may exist. Always countercheck facts when considering their use in other applications.