Articulation / Transfer

An explanation of what these agreements mean

Articulation agreements

An articulation agreement is a legal document produced when two or more academic institutions follow a process leading to a partnership to provide a formalized pathway for student transfer.

Their purpose

Articulation agreements are designed to build strong partnerships and coordination between schools to aid in a smooth transition for students. By identifying comparable coursework, degree requirements can be met at one institution and transferred to another institution.


Articulation agreements ensure that students understand exactly which courses will and will not transfer. With such an agreement, students are more likely to make better course choices and can save students both time to degree and money. Four-year universities are noticing that transfer students have a high graduation rate, and well-crafted articulation agreements often contribute to a student's success at the university. 

  • Articulation agreements generally are formed through partnerships between two-year community and technical colleges and four-year universities. During articulation, representatives from each institution conduct meetings among faculty and staff before finalizing an agreement. The representatives consider similarities in course work, curricula, syllabi, textbooks and competency/outcomes profiles to ensure seamless transfer of credits to the partner institution.
  • As the legal document of a partnership, the articulation agreement contains the final accords as agreed upon between the two institutions. This may include a description of the relationship between degree programs at the partner institutions illustrating their cohesiveness, operation guidelines and expectations, and, in the event the partnership is no longer viable, a foundation for dissolving or amending the terms of the agreement.
  • The articulation agreement also details any benefits accorded from one institution to the other. For example, a university might offer community college students, faculty and staff a discount per credit hour, excluding fees, in addition to marketing assistance between the institutions, sponsorships and joint extracurricular and academic programs.

Types of articulation agreements

Shoreline Community College recognizes 5 different types of articulation agreements:

  1. Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (DTA, AS-T, etc.)
  2. Program specific articulation agreement
  3. Upside Down Degree: Students finish their specialty AAAS degree, then accepting institution takes all credits for a liberal arts degree
  4. Conditional Admission Agreement
  5. Tech Prep Articulation Agreement: high school students take certain classes which count as college credit at selected community college.

1. Comprehensive Articulation Agreement

Comprehensive Articulation Agreements typically apply to multiple institutions. The Washington State Direct Transfer Agreement (DTA) and Associate in Science Transfer Agreement (AST) are statewide agreements governing the transfer of credits between Washington State's community and technical colleges and its public universities. Many of Washington State's private colleges and universities have also signed either the DTA or AS-T or both. These Comprehensive Agreements focus on transfer of the entire Associate Degree package of courses to meet a set of requirements at the receiving institution and apply to multiple institutions.

These agreements have been approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) of the State of Washington and the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). The DTA provides certain assurances to the transferring student; for example, the DTA identifies community college courses that are appropriate for transfer as meeting general education requirements and electives. The AS-T identifies community college courses that will satisfy pre-major requirements typical for science and engineering programs as well as some (but not all) general education requirements. Both the DTA and AS-T imply that students at a community college will take a certain set of classes which give them junior status upon transferring.

2. Program Specific Articulation Agreement

In Program Specific Articulation Agreements a specific set of courses is designated to meet specific course requirements at another institution. Typically these agreements focus on freshman and sophomore course preparation to enter a major, rather than meeting general education requirements.

3. Upside Down Degree

The Upside Down Degree program is a process which allows a student to transfer an approved professional-technical degree or AAS-T degree as a block of 90-credits.  Students finish their specialty AAAS degree, and then the accepting institution takes all credits for a Bachelor's degree.

4. Conditional Acceptance/Admission Agreement

Conditional acceptance refers to a student being accepted into an institution IF he or she meets certain criteria. Criteria might include a certain number of credits, certain specific courses, grades, English language proficiency as demonstrated by a test, a time limit, as indicated in the agreement. Such an agreement may also include specifics about which courses are accepted for transfer and which requirements are met by these courses.

5. Tech Prep Articulation Agreements

Tech Prep is a nationwide career development system that provides a student with a planned program of study that incorporates academic and career-related courses articulated between the secondary and postsecondary levels leading to a diploma, degree, or two-year apprenticeship certificate. High school students take certain classes which count as college credit at selected community colleges.

Other programs for accepting credits

Shoreline Community College has several programs for awarding or accepting credits from high schools and from other postsecondary institutions.

High School Programs

  • Credit for Advanced Placement (AP) exams 
  • Credit for International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma or exams
  • Credit for A level exams
  • College in the High School 

Post Secondary Programs

  • Accept credits from another college/university
  • Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)