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Top Schools to Transfer Into Based on Fall 2020 Admissions Rates

Jan 20, 2022

So you’ve decided to transfer — amazing! But where should you go?

While there are a number of factors you’ll need to consider as you embark on the transfer process, a crucial step is putting together a list of schools you’ll want to apply to – your College List 2.0. Just as when you created your initial college list, you’ll want to conduct research on each of the schools you are considering, seeking to answer questions like: does this school offer my intended major? Does it offer extracurricular and research opportunities I would like to take advantage of during my time in college? Is it as academically rigorous as I would like? Will it offer opportunities not offered by my current school?

You should also find out what each school’s transfer requirements are. While some schools have specific and rigorous requirements, others’ requirements may be more flexible. Some schools may have minimum GPA, SAT or ACT score requirements, ask for letters of recommendation from instructors at your current school, or generally have very low transfer admissions rates. Some schools only allow students to apply to transfer for a particular year or semester of college. For example, the University of Pennsylvania only allows transfer students to apply to and enroll in their university during the fall semester. This is commonly seen among highly competitive schools, including Ivy League and other top-ranked colleges and universities.

Other schools, however, have more flexible transfer requirements and accept a higher percentage of transfer students each year. For example, Boston University does not require students to submit recommendations from professors at their current schools, and the University of Virginia does not require transfer students to submit standardized test scores.

In addition to ease of transfer, you should definitely take the difference between each school’s freshman admission rate and transfer admission rate into consideration. Many top schools have transfer admission rates that are double or triple their freshman admission rates, meaning that you statistically will have stronger chances of admission as a transfer applicant than as a high school applicant in comparison to the total pool of applicants.

Top Schools with Higher Transfer than First-Year Acceptance Rates

Schools are ranked by the factor difference between their transfer acceptance rate and their freshman admissions rate.

Rank

School

Transfer 

Accept %

Freshman Accept %

Factor Increase

1

Dartmouth

29%

9%

3.2x

2

Vanderbilt

37%

12%

3.1x

3

BU

54%

20%

2.7x

4

Tulane

26%

11%

2.4x

5

Notre Dame

43%

19%

2.3x

6

Barnard

28%

14%

2.3x

7

NYU

41%

21%

2x

8

UNC

45%

24%

2x

9

Georgia Tech

38%

21%

1.9x

10

Howard

70%

39%

1.8x

11

Michigan

46%

26%

1.8x

12

Tufts

28%

16%

1.8x

13

UVA

40%

23%

1.8x

14

Emory

33%

19%

1.7x

15

American

67%

39%

1.7x

16

UCLA

24%

14%

1.7x

17

USC

27%

16%

1.7x

18

WashU

26%

16%

1.6x

19

UCSB

59%

37%

1.6x

20

Miami

52%

33%

1.6x

Here is a list of 20 schools that accepted a significant number of transfer students to help you kickstart your transfer list. Schools are ranked by the factor difference between their transfer acceptance rate and their freshman admissions rate. All admissions rates are taken from the Fall 2020 admissions cycle.

Transferring to Dartmouth College

Dartmouth Transfer Admission Rate: 29% / Dartmouth Freshman Admission Rate: 9%

The only Ivy League school on this list, Dartmouth College offers a 29% transfer admission rate – triple its freshman admission rate, which is normally in the single digits. Dartmouth only offers one transfer admissions cycle: students must apply by March 1st and receive their admissions decision by mid-May.

Transferring to Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt Transfer Admission Rate: 37% / Vanderbilt Freshman Admission Rate: 12%

Like Dartmouth, Vanderbilt offers a transfer admission rate more than triple its freshman admission rate, at 37%. Students seeking transfer admission to Vanderbilt must apply in the spring for fall admission. Vanderbilt reports that 220-240 students join their school each fall! While the priority application deadline is March 15th, Vanderbilt reviews transfer applications on a rolling basis throughout the spring and typically stops accepting new applications by May 1st.

Transferring to Boston University

Transfer Admission Rate: 54% / Freshman Admission Rate: 20%

One of the top schools in Boston, BU offers a transfer admission rate more than 2.5x higher than that of its freshman class and requires only 12 credits to apply, meaning that you can apply to transfer into BU after completing just one semester at another college or university. BU allows students to apply for either September or January admission. Ultimately, 700 students transfer into BU each year, so the school’s sizable transfer population is bound to make you feel at home sooner rather than later!

Transferring to Tulane University

Tulane Transfer Admission Rate: 26% /Tulane Freshman Admission Rate: 11%

Imagine a second chance at your New Orleans dream school with a transfer acceptance rate more than double its freshman admission rate! Plus, with test-optional requirements, you’re only two transcript submissions away! Why not take advantage of Tulane’s vast transfer ambassador infrastructure and financial aid, and become one of the 175 students who transfer to Tulane next spring or fall?

Transferring to University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame Transfer Admission Rate: 43% / Notre Dame Freshman Admission Rate: 19%

The University of Notre Dame has stricter transfer requirements than most other schools, so you’ll want to be particularly thorough in your research if you choose to apply to transfer to this Indiana university. All transfer students are admitted to a college and major and cannot change to another major without permission from their dean. Despite rigid transfer requirements, with close to 2 out of every 5 applicants accepted, a transfer application could be worth a roll of the dice!

Transferring to Barnard College

Barnard Transfer Admission Rate: 28% / Barnard Freshman Admission Rate: 14%

Barnard College’s transfer admission rate is exactly double that of its freshman admission rate. Barnard allows students to apply to transfer in both the fall and spring, allowing students more flexibility when choosing which semester they want to apply. The all-female college would give transfer students the exciting opportunity to study in New York City and take Ivy League courses at the neighboring Columbia University.

Transferring to New York University

NYU Transfer Admission Rate: 41% /NYU Freshman Admission Rate: 21%

NYU has a transfer admission rate nearly double its freshman admission rate. You are bound to find your niche among NYU’s nearly 30,000 undergraduate students and ten undergraduate schools and colleges. You’ll want to carefully review the transfer requirements for the school you are interested in transferring into; for example, the Stern School of Business and the Global Liberal Studies programs only allow fall transfers, while some Tisch programs allow spring transfers but require students to audition and/or submit portfolios.

Transferring to UNC Chapel Hill

UNC Transfer Admission Rate: 45% / UNC Freshman Admission Rate: 24%

Michael Jordan’s iconic alma mater also accepts a significantly greater percentage of transfer applications in comparison to freshman applications, with a transfer admission rate almost twice as high as its freshman admission rate! With no specific course requirements, the school’s holistic review process should definitely appeal to students with a diversity of interests looking to take advantage of the amazing opportunities available in North Carolina’s Research Triangle.

Transferring to Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech Transfer Admission Rate: 38% /Georgia Tech Freshman Admission Rate: 21%

Ranked as one of the top public universities in the United States and offering a nearly 40% transfer admission rate, Georgia Tech is a fantastic option for transfer students, especially those seeking to study engineering. If that sounds like you, you’ll want to devote quite a bit of time to researching and understanding the school’s transfer requirements for each major, and making a plan to fulfill your requirements in time for the deadline relevant to your intended application cycle. Georgia Tech accepts fall, spring and summer transfer applicants, offering you flexibility as you work to complete your transfer requirements.

Transferring to Howard University

Howard Transfer Admission Rate: 70% /Howard Freshman Admission Rate: 39%

Yes – you read that correctly! Howard University offers a 70% transfer acceptance rate! Howard welcomes both transfer students who have completed a minimum of 15 transferable credit hours as well as students pursuing a second degree. Bear in mind that Art, Theatre Arts, Music, Dental Hygiene, and Architecture & Design Studies students must submit individual portfolios, auditions or complete specific prerequisite admission requirements!

Transferring to the University of Michigan

Michigan Transfer Admission Rate: 46% /Michigan Freshman Admission Rate: 26%

While UMich’s transfer admission rate isn’t twice as high as its freshman admission rate, 46% is still pretty unbelievable for a top-ranked public university with international pedigree in the arts, business and sciences. Furthermore, with transfer-specific advising, mentoring and housing services, the school is bound to have you chanting, “Go Blue!” before you know it.

Transferring to Tufts University

Tufts Transfer Admission Rate: 28% / Tufts Freshman Admission Rate: 16%

Both a top-ranked liberal arts college and a research institution, Tufts offers its students a unique undergraduate experience. Tufts only accepts spring transfer applicants for fall admission, and has a transfer admission rate exactly 1.75x its freshman admission rate.

Transferring to UVA

UVA Transfer Admission Rate: 40% / UVA Freshman Admission Rate: 23%

The Cavalier community similarly becomes much more accessible to transfer applicants, with a transfer acceptance rate of 40% compared to its 23% freshman admission rate. With an average GPA of 3.5, most admitted transfer students join for the fall semester, but a small number of students are admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences, Architectural History and Urban and Environmental Planning for the spring semester.

Transferring to Emory University

Emory Transfer Admission Rate: 33% / UVA Freshman Admission Rate: 19%

Emory’s world-class academics and stellar school spirit are bound to welcome you warmly come fall. While Emory’s minimum cumulative GPA is a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, most applicants have a GPA of 3.5 or better, so you’ll want to make sure that your performance at your current institution stacks up to the talented and competitive transfer applicant pool for this Atlanta institution.

Transferring to American University

American Transfer Admission Rate: 67% / American Freshman Admission Rate: 39%

American University has a flexible transfer application process, accepting both fall and spring transfer applications, with priority deadlines of May 1st for fall semester applicants and October 1st for spring semester applications, while also offering rolling admissions. American accepts nearly seven out of ten transfer applicants, so it’s a great option to add to your list as a match or safety school depending on your stats!

Transferring to UCLA

UCLA Transfer Admission Rate: 24% / UCLA Freshman Admission Rate: 14%

Students transferring from other UCs tend to reap the majority of the higher admission rate’s benefits compared to applicants outside of the UC system, so definitely consider transferring to this prestigious UC campus if you’re unhappy at your own. The average transfer GPA, 3.5, is also much lower than the 4.54 average (weighted) for freshman admissions.

Transferring to USC

USC Transfer Admission Rate: 27% / USC Freshman Admission Rate: 16%

USC accepts both sophomore and junior applicants who have completed the required coursework for their intended major, as well as the equivalent of USC’s lower division writing requirement, Writing 130. Over half of students transfer from California community colleges, and just under one quarter transfer from colleges outside of California. Between USC’s many online tools for determining which undergraduate courses taken at other institutions satisfy USC’s General Education requirements, and USC transfer student-run Transfer Student Community, you’re bound to find a home within the southern California community.

Transferring to Washington University in St Louis

WashU Transfer Admission Rate: 26% / WashU Freshman Admission Rate: 16%

Reflective of the school’s rigorous academics, successful applicants to Washington University in St. Louis typically have a GPA of at least 3.5/3,6, particularly earning strong grades in courses relevant to their intended major or academic division. Students apply to one of five academic divisions, each of which have specific suggested or required transfer requirements. Transferring between divisions can be difficult, so WashU is a good option for those transfer students who know what they want to study during the remainder of their time in college.

Transferring to UCSB

UCSB Transfer Admission Rate: 59% /UCSB Freshman Admission Rate: 37%

UCSB requires transfer applicants to complete a seven-course pattern requirement, including two courses in English composition, one course in mathematics beyond intermediate algebra, and four courses in two of the following areas: arts and humanities, behavioral and social sciences, or the biological and physical sciences. This UC school is a great option for those students who have completed a well-rounded course load. As a self-identified “transfer-friendly campus,” UCSB extends over 10,000 spots to applicants, meaning that you will certainly find a community of transfer students to ease your transition into scenic Santa Barbara.

Transferring to University of Miami

UMiami Transfer Admission Rate: 52% /Freshman Admission Rate: 33%

Last, but not least, we have the University of Miami. Founded in 1925, the nearly 100-year-old institution comprises 12 schools and offers nearly 35o majors and programs to advance you on the path towards your dream career post-transfer. A transfer admission rate of 52% means applicants to this incredible school face coin-flip odds to join the Coral Gables community.

Vertical versus Horizontal Transfers

As you create your transfer list, it’s important to keep in mind that it is easier to transfer vertically than it is to transfer horizontally. What does this mean?

A good transfer application makes a case for why the student needs to transfer out of their current school and into a new one. Strong reasons for transferring often include the lack of a desired program at a student’s current school or the desire to challenge more rigorous coursework. As such, it is much more difficult to make a compelling case why a student should transfer to a school with similar offerings as those available at their current school.

Wherever you decide to go, be sure to put your best foot forward at your current school until the very end while also planning your courses wisely. Regardless of the ease of your dream school’s transfer process, college transcripts will always weigh heavily in the strength of your application, so finish strong! You can also read Command Education’s guide for how to transfer into your dream school for a more detailed guide on the transfer process.

Best of luck with your transfer!