SUNY Achieves Seamless Transfer Guarantee as Chancellor Zimpher Aims to Boost Completion

August 26, 2015

Students are Guaranteed Seamless Transfer of Credits To & From All SUNY Campuses as 2015-16 Academic Year Begins

SUNY’s Landmark Policy Helps Ensure Students Graduate On Time & With Less Debt 

Albany – State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher today announced that the university system has achieved the most comprehensive seamless transfer policy in the country. As the 2015-16 academic year begins, SUNY guarantees students the ability to transfer all completed general education requirements and courses toward their major to and from any SUNY campus. In all, the system has aligned more than 32,000 academic courses that comprise the most popular majors and account for more than 95 percent of transfer students.

Seamless transfer, first announced by Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and the SUNY Board of Trustees in 2012, serves as the foundation of SUNY’s ambitious Completion Agenda, which aims to boost the number of degrees awarded from 93,000 to 150,000 annually by 2020.

"When you start college at SUNY, we are going to do all we can to help you finish your degree on time and with less debt. Ensuring seamless transfer is one of the most fundamental ways we deliver on that promise," said Chancellor Zimpher. "Together with improved advising services, expanded online offerings, the most cutting-edge financial literacy tools, and more, SUNY’s seamless transfer policy is a landmark achievement that puts our Completion Agenda within reach."

By enabling students to move credits to and from any campus, the SUNY policy goes above and beyond what any other system of public higher education in the country can guarantee. It also places added value on efforts to bring quality advising and online learning opportunities to scale across SUNY. 

"Every year, more than 30,000 students transfer from one SUNY campus to another," said Alexander N. Cartwright, SUNY provost and executive vice chancellor. "We have a responsibility to these students to ensure that they can continue their degree program without interruption, limiting not only the time – but the money – they spend on their education. In a system as complex as SUNY, this has been no small task. Thank you to all the faculty, staff, and campus leaders across the system who have made seamless transfer a reality for our students."

SUNY now guarantees transfer of its 30 general education requirements as well as discipline-specific courses in the major called Transfer Paths, resulting in true junior status for students who complete two years of study. There are currently 52 Transfer Paths in place for the start of the 2015-16 academic year, ranging from aerospace engineering to nursing to theater.

Parallel to national trends, student transfer patterns within SUNY have become increasingly complex over time. Among the more than 30,000 students who transfer within SUNY annually, 49 percent transfer from a community college to a four-year campus while 51 percent follow a less traditional path, such as moving from one four-year college to another (16 percent), from a four-year school to a community college (17 percent), or from one community college to another (18 percent).

The policy ensures transfer of credits in any direction; supports the continued expansion of Degree Works, which helps students and their advisers identify the most timely and efficient path to their degree; and aligns with Open SUNY, which offers more than 400 degree programs and 12,000 online course sections, including general education and Transfer Path courses.

Finally, to support on-time degree completion and keep costs down for students, SUNY has put caps in place on the number of credits for all undergraduate degree programs, with a maximum of 64 credits for an associate degree and 126 credits for a bachelor’s degree.

To develop the policy and implement it effectively, SUNY consulted with more than 1,000 faculty across the system as well as shared governance leaders and organizations throughout an intensive multi-year process. Faculty will continue to be consulted as SUNY develops additional Transfer Paths in high-demand fields, such as Engineering Technology and Sports Management.

"The commitment of Chancellor Zimpher and all of SUNY to providing seamless transfer between our 64 campuses is one of the most critical milestones in the University's history toward enabling students to truly reap the benefits of being part of a system," said Thomas Mastro, trustee and president of the SUNY Student Assembly. "Taking credits with us from one campus to another helps to ensure on-time graduation and thousands of dollars in savings from avoiding additional and unnecessary coursework simply to meet requirements. We applaud this new guarantee on behalf of all students and look forward to watching these benefits work for years to come."

"The full implementation of SUNY's seamless transfer initiative will provide an unprecedented level of guidance to students as they seek to transfer between and among SUNY institutions," said Peter Knuepfer, SUNY Trustee and president of the University Faculty Senate. "More than 1,000 faculty members worked in disciplinary groups to identify transfer paths that provide the framework of required and recommended courses in the first two years, so that students know what to take if they plan to transfer and complete a particular major. As faculty, we look forward to working with our students, fellow faculty, staff, and administrators to ensure the success of this initiative."

"Community college faculty from around the state were very engaged with the transfer path discussions held among two- and four-year college faculty," said Nina Tamrowski, president of the Faculty Council of Community Colleges. "We are proud to have contributed to a process that makes a SUNY education more timely, more affordable, and more seamless while maintaining the academic integrity of our courses and degrees for which we are known."

"SUNY’s new seamless transfer policy will ease students’ concerns about the transfer process and whether credits will transfer, one of the most important concerns for community college students," said Herkimer County Community College President Cathleen C. McColgin, Ph.D. "This policy is especially important to a campus like Herkimer, where more than two-thirds of our graduates continue their education at four-year colleges and universities."

"We applaud SUNY leadership and the hard work of our SUNY colleagues to achieve this impressive goal," said SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian. "SUNY New Paltz has a long history of partnership with community colleges, especially those in the Hudson Valley, to provide exceptional learning opportunities for transfer students. The seamless transfer policy complements longstanding practice and a current New Paltz Transfer Student Initiative to further advance the academic success and timely graduation of our transfer students."

"A robust seamless transfer policy makes absolute sense," said Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger. "Not only is it another way to keep students in New York, but seamless transitions from other schools make graduation with a degree in four years a real possibility."

Additional details about SUNY’s policy and the Transfer Paths available for students are available online.


About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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