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What is an articulation agreement?

How articulation agreements can help you transfer easily

What is an articulation agreement?

Articulation agreements are designed to build strong partnerships between community colleges and four-year institutions.

Tina McEntire, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, says, “An articulation agreement usually provides a simplified, guaranteed transfer process for transfer students.” 

The partnership becomes a binding agreement between a two-year and four-year institution. The agreement outlines specific courses and letter grades completed at the community college that will transfer to the university. They help students begin more defined curriculums.

For example, the agreement will articulate, along with some other stipulations, the exact classes a student should complete at the community college. This specific outline of transferable coursework within the agreement enables students to transfer from the community college to the university comfortably.

The four-year degree goal

Ideally, the transition would allow students to complete a particular bachelor’s degree. Four-year universities are noticing that transfer students have a high graduation rate, and articulation agreements often contribute to a student’s success at the university. 

Articulation agreements ensure that students understand exactly which courses will and will not transfer. That’s so students don’t spend a lot of time taking courses at the community college that will not satisfy their bachelor’s degree requirements. 

If a transfer student does not have access to articulation agreements, then the student may find the transfer process from a two-year institution to a four-year school baffling. Without an articulation agreement, a student doesn’t have as clear a perspective of what courses to complete at the community college to transfer to the university successfully. In addition to the confusion of coursework, the student may enroll in classes at the community college that will be repetitive on the university level, which will lengthen their time to degree completion.

A smooth transition

The coordination of transferable coursework similarities from a two-year school and four-year college ensures a smooth transition from community college to university or from associate degree to bachelor’s degree.

The most important measurement of effectiveness in transferring from a two-year to a four-year college is the correlation of coursework between the two institutions. Articulation agreements give students a better way of identifying appropriate community college coursework that will transfer and meet the university’s degree requirements.

Anthony J. Ervin is assistant director of undergraduate admissions and multicultural recruitment at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (


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