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Transfer Admission Rates: What are Your Chances of Getting In?

The transfer admissions process can often be even more selective than regular undergraduate admissions, and with 35% of college students transferring at least once, it’s important to understand exactly how difficult (or not!) it is to transfer to your dream school.

Why Transfer?

There are a number of reasons why students choose to transfer schools. It can be anything from homesickness or a negative experience their first year, to a change in major that isn’t offered at their current institution. Often students are also transferring from a two-year school to a four-year university. What’s key when transferring is to know why you want to transfer and how to build a balanced transfer college list that can meet your new needs. Part of building that list includes understanding your chances of admission.

Transfer Admission Rates

It’s important to understand that the transfer admission process is often much more selective than the undergraduate process – especially at universities where gaining admission is already very difficult. According to NACAC, on average, transfer admission rates were slightly lower than that of first-year students. Why? First, students are applying for admission to classes that are already established and may have few seats available. It’s not like the undergraduate process, where the class is first being built and there are thousands of spots for applicants. However, that’s not to say that it’s hard to gain admission as a transfer student at all universities. In fact, at some schools transfer admission rates are about the same or slightly higher than the undergraduate admission rate. As schools look to fill out their classes and maintain high yield rates, they’ve placed more of an emphasis on recruiting transfer students.

Here are some transfer admission rates for fall 2022 (the most recent data available.)

SchoolFirst-Year Acceptance RateTransfer Acceptance Rate
American University40.63%8.64%
Amherst College7.25%5.96%
Bates College13.76%7.53%
Bowdoin College9.19% 9.41%
Bucknell University32.55%23.98%
Carleton College16.63%9.64%
Carnegie Mellon University11.30%7.33%
Case Western Reserve 27.41%30.35%
Claremont McKenna10.30%6.19%
Colorado College16.30%28.97%
College of William and Mary33.50%44.62%
Columbia University3.74%11.34%
Dartmouth College6.38%7.35%
Emory University – Emory Campus11.35%19.11%
Georgia Institute of Technology17.14%36.16%
Grinnell College10.76%14.86%
Harvey Mudd13.36%8.75%
Haverford College14.21%14.44%
Johns Hopkins University6.49%7.24%
Lehigh University36.98%33.15%
New York University12.46%20.48%
Olin College of Engineering19.14%100%
(one transfer applicant)
Pitzer College18.40%10.00%
Pomona College7.02%7.39%
Princeton University5.70%2.91%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute64.51%61.15%
Smith College22.86%20.51%
Stanford University3.68%1.82%
Swarthmore College6.93%2.42%
Trinity University31.00%34.87%
Tulane University11.45%49.84%
University of California – Los Angeles8.57%24.42%
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill16.85%42.11%
University of Richmond24.37%36.13%
University of Southern California9.90%23.64%
University of Texas – Austin31.41%33.87%
Washington and Lee University 16.96%4.47%
Wellesley University13.57%17.84%
Wesleyan University14.43$20.08%
Williams College8.50%2.97%
Yale University4.57%1.62%


What to Know as a Transfer Applicant

As a transfer student it’s important to know how your application will be evaluated in the admissions process. According to NACAC, GPA and grades at students’ current college or university are most important to schools when evaluating transfer applications. Students need to be doing well in their current courses in order to have the best chance of admission at their top-choice transfer schools.

The transfer application will also be a lot different than the applications you may be familiar with from the undergraduate admissions process. Instead of providing information on your high school courses and activities, you will provide information on your courses at your current school and recommendations from current professors. While transfer application essays vary from school to school, overall, they tend to ask questions about why you are transferring and your intended field of study – rather than the usual personal statements and quirky prompts.

Resources for Transfer Students

There are a number of resources to help guide you through the transfer admissions process. Here are a few below:

At IvyWise, we work with students in any part of the college admissions process, including those who are navigating the transfer admissions process. For more information on our college counseling services for transfer students, contact us today.

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