College Transfer Admission Criteria: What’s a “Good” GPA?

This question was inspired by an email we received from a reader.

So, what GPA do you need to get if you’re applying to transfer? The obvious answer is “get all As (and maybe even shoot for A pluses) so that the school you apply to will have no excuse to reject you.” Of course, it’s not that easy to get straight As (or it might be too late for you), so here’s another answer: it depends. Whether or not your GPA is good enough depends on which school and program you’re looking at. In this blog post, we go over the following:

  • Expected GPA from top schools
  • Minimum GPA requirements
  • GPA requirements under transfer agreements

Top-tier Schools Demand an Ambiguously “High” GPA

If you’re shooting for a top-tier school, expect extremely high standards in terms of grades and other qualifications. Let’s say you’re interested in Yale. Here’s what Yale’s “Who Makes a Good Transfer Student” web page says this:

Given the large number of extremely able candidates who wish to transfer to Yale and the very limited number of transfer spaces, no simple profile of grades, scores, and interests can assure a student admission to Yale.

Yes, the evaluation process is difficult and a little fuzzy, but a competitive academic record is still expected:

Successful transfer applicants present evidence of exceptionally strong college performance in demanding courses. The average GPA of admitted transfer students is usually 3.8 and above.

Minimum GPA Requirements

Some schools explicitly lay out their GPA requirements. Purdue University lists minimum GPA requirements for transfer applicants according to field of study. For example, you should have at least a 2.5 GPA if you’re going to apply to transfer into the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology program. For the minimum GPA requirement for other academic programs, visit Purdue’s Transfer Student Admission Criteria page.

Other schools similarly outline the grades you need to be considered for transfer admission. Check if the school you’re interested in does this. Note that meeting the minimum GPA requirement does NOT guarantee transfer admission.

GPA Requirements under Transfer Agreements

Transfer agreements between two institutions tell you exactly what you need to do to get from School X to School Y. Foothill College put together an extremely clear explanation of how their transfer agreements with other school work:

This page lets students know the exact minimum GPA they need in order to transfer to a particular school (or to be considered for transfer admission) that has teamed up with Foothill College. If a Foothill College student wants to transfer to UC San Diego, for example, she should have at least a 3.0 GPA. If your current school has transfer agreements with other institutions, they’ll probably work in a similar way. You can ask an academic counselor (if possible, a transfer counselor), about transfer agreements.

However, you can probably find the info you need by searching online. Let’s be honest: counselors don’t know everything, so it’s to your advantage to do your own research as well as consult school counselors. Let’s say you currently attend Delaware County Community College ( and you want to find out about the transfer agreements your college has with other schools. Do an advance Google search by using the “search within a specific site (:site)” function. What’s the point? You want to do an online search of info on transfer agreements published somewhere in the Delaware County Community College web space. That way, the info you obtain is more likely official than if you found it on a random website. In the Google search box type this:

transfer agreement

The second search result item should take you exactly where you need to go: Let’s try another one. If you currently attend Santa Monica College (, you can find transfer agreements by googling this:

transfer agreement

Again, it just so happens that the second item in the list of search results steers you to the exact page you need.

There are websites that are trying to compile as many transfer agreement documents as possible. It’s a noble attempt, indeed, but the compilations are a work-in-progress. There are just so many colleges and transfer agreements out there, but at least you can try the Google “:site” search.

Final Remarks

Looking up all this information can be a grueling process, but all your efforts will pay off! With careful research (and lots of introspection), you should be able to find a school that’s a better fit for you.

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash