Can I transfer college credits from 20 years ago?

People often ask if credits from previous institutions can expire. You probably put a pause on getting your bachelor’s degree and now you’re back after 20 years wondering if you can transfer credits from your previous institution to a new college.

Different colleges have different credit transfer policies. Not all transfer credits have a lifespan, some do, some don’t. Generally, it depends on the college you’re trying to get admission into. The life spans of some courses and how to transfer credits from previous colleges would be discussed below.

Can I transfer college credits from 20 years ago?

Credit Transfer

Transferring credits from one university to another depends on some factors, the college you’re applying to, and your previous college. The following are things the college considers before letting you transfer credits.

  • Recency/ time.
  • Relevance to the new program.
  • Accreditation.
  • GPA.

Recency/ Time

This deals with how recent your program was. Some courses are dynamic, therefore what was useful information some years ago could be regarded as false now. Courses that are science and technology-related are examples. If courses in your program are dynamic it would be more helpful if the curriculum you studied with was recent enough and not outdated before attempting to transfer credits. If the courses are not dynamic, then the college’s policy could let you transfer credits.

Relevance to The New Program 

The course credits you want to transfer should be relevant or similar to the program you now choose to offer, it could be a continuation of the previous program or an entirely new program. All that matters is the courses are relevant.


Accreditation simply refers to when a college or university is approved by legal bodies to be qualified in handling the matters of education. If the college you’re coming from is not accredited, that can cancel out your credits. It simply means that you don’t have enough knowledge or the quality of your said knowledge is low and not good enough.


Your GPA in your previous college could determine if your credits are transferable. A good GPA means good credits.

Lifespan of college credits

Asides from some of the factors mentioned above, the real question is would your credit expires. Your credits would not expire, but they can have a short lifespan, meaning if it is eligible for transfer to another program or not. 

Again it depends on the college you’re applying to, some colleges give credits a lifespan of ten years, if your credits are over ten years old they may not consider you transferring them, but it all depends on the college’s policy you’re applying to.

 It would be in your favor to apply to colleges after researching their transfer credit policies and finding the one which fits you properly.

After you’ve researched and found some transfer-friendly colleges all you need to do is send the institution your transcript, even your high school grades if you took any AP (advanced placement) classes. You should send all important documents involving your academic history.

Try talking to an admissions officer to discuss your chances of getting your credits transferred. They should be able to explain to you the college’s policies when it comes to credit transfer. Also, some colleges would ask you to take placement exams to test your knowledge and know whether you’re fit to keep on going from where you stopped. 

It’s possible that you wouldn’t be allowed to transfer your credits to the college of your choice, so you would have to retake the courses.

Why Transfer Credits?

Transferring credits makes it easier for you to continue without wasting time retaking courses you already learned. While your credit transfer wouldn’t be accepted by some institutions, you could always get lucky there’s no harm in trying especially if your program was recent.

In another case, not transferring your courses i.e not including them in your transcript can hinder your chances of getting admitted. Even if you don’t want to transfer those credits, you should include them in your transcript as your educational information.


Transferring credits over 20 years old seems impossible because of the period which has passed. If you’re lucky enough and your courses aren’t dynamic, or the college lets you transfer them after a placement test then lucky you! But if you’re not allowed to transfer your credits, you already know about the course, so retaking it wouldn’t be too bad, because you would end up having good grades anyway.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can you transfer credits from a degree you have already completed?

Yes, you can, the admissions department would review your results and transfer the relevant credits that are most similar and helpful for your new degree.

  1. Is it hard to transfer credits?

Transferring credits can be troublesome for people when curricula have been changed or when the college you’re applying to has strict policies in transferring credits.

  1. Can I transfer credits from a school abroad?

It is possible to transfer credits from a school in a different country. But the accreditation of the college isn’t from the country, you may be allowed to transfer credits but it has a tight limit to it. Speaking to your admissions officer would help you know which course credits you can transfer.

  1. How many credits can I transfer?

Depending on the years spent in your previous college, you can transfer about thirty to sixty credits minimum.

  1. Can you transfer online college credits?

Yes! You can transfer online college credits to a traditional university even to another online college. Likewise, you can transfer credits from a traditional university to an online college.

  1. Can you transfer with a bad GPA?

Transferring with a bad GPA is possible, colleges often award credit to courses with grades of C and above, and a Gpa of 2.0 minimum if your grades do not fall into this place, you would not be able to transfer credits, but explaining why your grades were low and how you can do better in your new college would give you chances at being admitted.