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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?

Most importantly, you should ask:

Will it offer opportunities not offered by my current school?

Transfer Requirements

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 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.

Transfer Admission Rate versus Freshman Admission Rate

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.

Schools With Favorable Transfer Admission Rates

Here is a list of schools that have a higher transfer acceptance rate than their freshman acceptance rates 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 2021 admissions cycle.

Click the yellow arrows to the right of each column header to reorder the list.

Rank School Freshman Accept % Transfer Accept % Factor Increase (Number) Percentage Increase (%)
4Georgia Tech18.340.72.22122.40%
7Barnard 11.522.11.9292.17%
12Notre Dame15.125.71.7070.20%
14UCSD 34.354.81.6059.77%
17William and Mary 36.552.71.4444.38%
18UC Irvine28.937.71.3030.45%
19UC Berkeley14.519.71.3635.86%

Top 10 Schools to Transfer To in 2022

Here is a little more information about each of the top ten schools, ranked by factor increase. In this case, the factor increase refers to the increase in transfer acceptance rates than freshman acceptance rates. Almost all of these schools are doubled!

Be sure to check each school’s specific transfer requirements and deadlines early on in your research process!

1. Transferring to Emory University

Emory Transfer Admission Rate: 33.7% / Emory Freshman Admission Rate: 13.1%

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.

2. Transferring to Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt Transfer Admission Rate: 17.6% / Vanderbilt Freshman Admission Rate: 7.1%

Like Emory, Vanderbilt offers a transfer admission rate more than double its freshman admission rate, at 17.6%. 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.

3. Transferring to University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

UNC Transfer Admission Rate: 46.9% / UNC Freshman Admission Rate: 19.2%

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 more than 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.

4. Transferring to Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech Transfer Admission Rate: 40.7% /Georgia Tech Freshman Admission Rate: 18.3%

Ranked as one of the top public universities in the United States and offering a 40.7% 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.

5. Transferring to University of Michigan

Michigan Transfer Admission Rate: 41.5% /Michigan Freshman Admission Rate: 20.2%

UMich’s transfer admission rate is more than twice as high as its freshman admission rate, and 41.5% is unbelievable for a top-ranked public university with an 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.

6. Transferring to Boston University

Transfer Admission Rate: 36.6% / Freshman Admission Rate: 18.6%

As one of the top schools in Boston, BU offers a transfer admission rate more than 1.9x 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 to BU each year, so the school’s sizable transfer population is bound to make you feel at home sooner rather than later!

7. Transferring to Barnard College

Barnard Transfer Admission Rate: 22.1% / Barnard Freshman Admission Rate: 11.5%

Barnard College’s transfer admission rate is almost 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 gives transfer students the exciting opportunity to study in New York City and take Ivy League courses at Columbia University!

8. Transferring to Tulane University

Tulane Transfer Admission Rate: 18% /Tulane Freshman Admission Rate: 9.6%

Imagine a second chance at your New Orleans dream school with a transfer acceptance rate approximately 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?

9. Transferring to University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA Transfer Admission Rate: 19.6% / UCLA Freshman Admission Rate: 10.8%

As a state institution, the UC system prioritizes transfers from California community colleges, so these students reap the majority of the higher admission rate benefits. After California community college students, the UC system then prioritizes transfers from other UC campuses, so definitely consider transferring to this prestigious UC campus if you’re unhappy at your own. The median transfer GPA, 3.92, and other information about transferring to UCLA, can be found here!

10. Transferring to Cornell University

Cornell Transfer Admission Rate: 15.7% / Cornell Freshman Admission Rate: 8.7%

Of the Ivies, Cornell University is a school with one of the best transfer rates, nearly double their first-year acceptance rate. Each college and school has its own requirements for admission. For example, the College of Arts and Sciences requires students to submit a list of all courses they have taken that are prerequisite or required courses for their intended majors, while the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Architecture, Art and Planning both have majors requiring the submission of separate portfolios. Cornell welcomes between 500 to 600 transfer students each fall or spring semester.

Schools with Low Transfer Admission Rates

On the other hand, many top universities actually have lower transfer acceptance rates than freshman acceptance rates. This chart shows just a few schools that fall in this category. For example, Yale University and Princeton University only accepted about 15 students in the fall of 2021. You might notice that most of these schools have a low freshmen acceptance rate to begin with. Considering these stats, be mindful of balancing your list when applying as a transfer!

Rank School Transfer Accept % Freshman Accept % Factor Decrease (Number) Percentage Decrease (%)
4Williams 38.82.93193.33%
5Bowdoin 38.82.93193.33%
7Haverford 8.717.82.05104.60%
9Bucknell 22.834.51.5151.32%
10Wake Forest 1925.21.3332.63%
12Carnegie Mellon11.313.51.1919.47%

Advice for Prospective Transfer Students

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 the 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 offerings similar to 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 course selection wisely. Regardless of the ease of your dream school’s transfer process, college transcripts will always carry considerable weight in the transfer application, so finish strong! You can also read Command Education’s guide on how to transfer into your dream school for a more detailed guide on the transfer process!


Best of luck with your transfer!

2020 – 2021 Transfer Admission Rates

Rank School Freshman Accept % 2020-2021 Transfer Accept % 202o-2021 Factor Increase (Number) Percentage Increase (%)
2Vanderbilt 11.636.83.17217.24%
4Georgia Tech21.338.31.8079.81%
7Barnard 13.627.62.03102.94%
12Notre Dame1943.52.29128.95%
14UCSD 38.355.91.4645.95%
17William and Mary
18UC Irvine29.940.51.3535.45%
19UC Berkeley17.520.61.1817.71%