Two Words You Need to Know: Reverse Transfer

Two students smiling in an office.
Rebecca A. Eckland

Kayla Freeman remembers feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of college. Not because of any lack of academic preparation: a student of the Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technologies (AACT), Freeman started taking college-level math and English classes in her senior year. Along with her classes, she was completing several volunteer hours in the hospital and other health-related settings. College was definitely in her future, but which college path she would take was uncertain. “I just wasn’t ready for a big university,” she said. “Going out of state for college wasn’t financially feasible and the possibility of going to UNR was terrifying—it seemed so big.” 

So Freeman began her academic experience at TMCC, where she discovered her love of Public Health and Community Health Science courses. After her first semester, she was also hired as a Peer Mentor for TMCC in the Academic Advising office. “I got to know the degree requirements and transfer process really well because of my job,” she said. In the Fall of 2018, just six credits short of her Associate of Science degree, Freeman made the decision to transfer to UNR. “All that was left were elective credits, and so if I transferred to UNR, I would be able to take classes in my degree program.” During the winter session, she began to take the courses she needed. Through the Reverse Transfer process, Freeman received her Associate of Science degree, even though the final six credits weren’t completed at TMCC. 

Now Freeman is working toward her Bachelor of Science in Public Health at UNR. She will become a senior next January and projects she will graduate in the spring of 2021. The Reverse Transfer process was an integral part of her journey that has enabled Freeman to use her credits efficiently for her academic goals. “Every Bachelor’s degree requires you to complete 120 credits, so going through the Reverse Transfer process doesn’t ‘waive’ credits,” she said. “Instead, it enables you to ‘relocate’ them—so you can focus your energy on classes in your field of study instead of working to fulfill core requirements.”

What is Reverse Transfer again? 

Imagine this: you’re a TMCC student working toward an associate degree in your chosen field of study and you transfer to UNR. Maybe you still take classes at TMCC, maybe you don’t. We realize that, for many of our students, taking classes at more than one NSHE institution is a common scenario. That’s why TMCC utilizes a process called Reverse Transfer. 

Never heard of it? Well, read on because this nifty program can help you on your academic journey without you even knowing about it. 

If “Reverse Transfer” was an entry in Webster’s Dictionary, its definition would look something like this:

Reverse Transfer:  | ri-vərs tran(t)-fər : (singular noun): if a TMCC degree-seeking student is either dual-enrolled at TMCC and UNR, or transfers from TMCC to another NSHE institution, our Admissions and Records teams continues to track their progress and awards an associate degree when those credits have been obtained even if they weren't all completed at TMCC. 

In other words, once you start a degree program at TMCC and earn at least 15 credits toward your degree from us, as long as you stay within the NSHE system, we keep track of your progress and through Reverse Transfer, we can award you your degree. Pretty cool, right? 

Reverse Transfer and How it Can Help You

If you’re thinking: so what? We can sympathize, but there are advantages to having an associate degree even if it’s not quite the goal you had in mind. For one, it’s important to celebrate meeting milestones on your way to accomplishing goals. Even if you’re working toward a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, pausing to celebrate completing the first two years of that journey is important—and the Reverse Transfer process can help you do exactly that. 

“Sometimes students don’t think that an associate degree is necessary,” said Freeman. “But getting that degree could help you to move up in your current workplace, and act as a solid reminder to keep moving forward.”

Having an associate degree in-hand as you continue your academic journey offers its own set of perks. According to TMCC Lead Academic Advisor and Transfer Coordinator Staci Miller, one of the biggest advantages is its ability to enable you to take advantage of a “core waiver.”

General Education (GE) requirements are a part of every degree program. At TMCC, there are several classes that fulfill the college’s GE requirements. For example, TMCC offers 41 classes that satisfy the requirement that every student must take a three-credit Humanities course. By comparison, UNR has a list of eight classes that they accept for the Humanities Silver Core. So, even if you took a humanities class from TMCC, if you transfer without earning an associate degree, you might have to take another humanities class to satisfy UNR’s requirement. 

If you earn an associate degree (even if some of the credits come from UNR) up to eight of the 14 Silver Core requirements would be accepted on the basis of possessing the Associate degree. “This is a big advantage for students because it means they don’t have to take extra classes to fulfill core requirements,” said Miller, who often encourages students to complete their associate degree. Through the Reverse Transfer process, Freeman had eight of her core credits relocated-- which saved her both time and money. After graduation, Freeman is already thinking of continuing to graduate school to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Health. 

Even completing a general Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree through the Reverse Transfer process can help students to save money on their general education core requirements that aren’t specific to their degree. “I always encourage students who aren’t completing their associates before transferring to use Reverse Transfer,” said Miller. “Send your classes back to us and earn your associate degree—it’s really a great way to reach your academic goals efficiently while recognizing all the hard work you’re doing along the way,” she said. 

For more information about the Reverse Transfer process, contact TMCC’s Academic Advisement Office at 775-673-7062.