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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

July 3, 2008

Transfer in Iowa website

New Web site helps community college students plan ahead for transfer to an Iowa public university

by Anne Krapfl

A Web site launched July 1 lets students at any of Iowa's 15 community colleges know if a community college course will transfer to an Iowa public university -- before they even register for that class. is a collaborative effort of Iowa State, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa mandated by the 2007 Iowa Legislature to:

  • "Provide a seamless transition for students transferring from Iowa's community colleges to Iowa's state universities"
  • "Allow students to make informed, cost-effective decisions regarding their postsecondary education plans"

The Web site development team included representatives from the three universities, several community colleges and Board of Regents office.

"We wanted to do this because at Iowa State transfer students are important. About 30 percent of our student population is transfer students," said Laura Doering, associate registrar and director of transfer relations in the office of admissions. Doering is one of three ISU members on the Web site committee. "The legislation was a great impetus to do this . . . and to get it done in about 10 months."

How it works

TransferInIowa is the front page Web site that provides links to the three universities' transfer admissions and articulation sites. Iowa State's site is called TRANSIT. (Iowa's is called I-CHART; UNI's is called TRANSFER PLAN-IT.) Each university developed its own site.

A student logs into the site and enters the course number(s) he or she has taken or is thinking about taking at another school, as well as the major(s) he or she is considering at Iowa State. The articulation software is able to tell the student:

  • Whether Iowa State will accept a community college course
  • The category (for example, math, arts and humanities, diversity) in which Iowa State will accept the course
  • How the course will apply towards the intended degree program

Doering said students have the option of logging in anonymously as "guests," or they can create an account in TRANSIT and store their past and planned coursework for future reference.

For Iowa community college course updates, TRANSIT will rely on the content of a course database shared by all of Iowa's community colleges. Fortunately, the 15 schools recently developed a system of common course numbers so that, for example, Business 204 covers the same material at any of the community college campuses at which it's offered. Preliminary plans call for the database to be updated monthly.

"For the three university articulation resources to be most effective, it's important that the community colleges continually record curriculum changes in the common course numbering database," Doering noted. "We'll be relying on what's in that database."

Going beyond the state mandate, TRANSIT actually provides articulation information for Iowa State's top 80 "feeder" schools, Doering said. These include Iowa's community colleges, the other two regent universities and regional colleges and universities.

Two useful tools

In May, Iowa State officials completed Admissions Partnership Programs with all 15 Iowa community colleges. Doering said the new articulation Web site will work well with the partnership program.

"The centerpiece of the Admissions Partnership Program is academic advising. Both TransferInIowa and TRANSIT will help with that advising and planning," she noted.

"We know there are two kinds of students: those who plan and those who don't. These are wonderful tools for students who plan ahead," she added. "Transfer students are encouraged to use the articulation site at enrollment time at their community colleges."

The intent is that the tools will help transfer students answer their No. 1 question: How will my credits transfer?

"There should be no surprises in how their credits transfer to Iowa State," Doering said.

Ultimately, she said, the goal is that students are satisfied with the transfer process when they arrive at Iowa State -- or Iowa or UNI -- and they stay to complete a degree.


An early version of the TransferInIowa Web site was developed in 2005 by the "2+2 Council," also created by the board of regents to facilitate transfer discussions among Iowa's regent universities and community colleges. It included information about distance education opportunities at the universities and links to articulation documents and policies, but no actual articulation tools.

The cost to further develop TransferInIowa, including the articulation tools, was about $300,000. Those costs and estimated annual maintenance costs of $60,000 will be covered by reallocations within the three universities' admissions offices, Doering said.


Articulation: The process of coordinating transfer practices among postsecondary sectors to provide students a smooth transition from one sector to another A one-stop Web resource for Iowa community college students planning to transfer to any of Iowa's three regent universities

TRANSIT: Iowa State's Web articulation tool, accessible from numerous sites, including the ISU Admissions, Board of Regents, Iowa Department of Education, state community colleges and regent university admissions sites. DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) is the engine that drives TRANSIT.