External Transcript Review

Policy Sponsor: Academic Affairs
Policy Contact: Provost
Policy Category: Academic 
Policy Number: 100.100
Effective Date: 08/28/2020
Implementation History: Originally implemented on April 1, 1975, and revised in Aug. 2020, July 2009, February 1996, October 1978.
Keywords: Assessment Process, Advanced Standing Credit, Transfer Credit, Policy and Procedures for Degree Program and Portfolio Review and Approval, Policy on Educational Planning Studies


This policy establishes principles that govern university practices on external transcript review.


External Transcript Review: the assessment of external transcript credits according to the judgement of professional staff trained to evaluate credit with faculty review and input. Through this process university personnel designate advanced level, liberal, and general education credit. Transfer courses retain their original titles.

Advanced Standing: a term used to describe incoming credits previously earned through acceptable sources, e.g. college transcripts, standardized exams, professional learning evaluations, and military transcripts. Readers should refer to the Individualized Prior Learning Assessment Policy and Procedures for policies regulating the individualized prior learning assessment (iPLA) process. The university awards advanced standing credit after admission. Credits are available, but not necessarily applicable to a particular degree program, which is determined when the program is concurred.

Degree Program: under the guidance of a mentor, a student develops a degree program proposal that identifies advanced standing credits, iPLA opportunities, and courses at SUNY Empire that meet college and SUNY guidelines and are tailored to the student’s goals and interests.

Official Documentation: To be considered official, a transcript or other academic document must be sent at the student’s request directly from the originating institution or organization to Admissions at Empire State University. Documents must be properly validated by admissions before credits are available for use. Not all documents received by the college may be credit worthy.

Regional Accreditation: a validation achieved when an institution has been reviewed and found acceptable by one of the seven regional accrediting associations (e.g. Middle States Commission on Higher Education).


Students are required to provide official documentation in order for their credits to be accepted.

External transcript review procedures identify a pool of available credits, from which, with guidance from a mentor, a student can draw to build a degree plan. General principles govern these procedures:

  • Advanced standing credit that meets policy for acceptance will be evaluated and applied to the student’s record as close to the time of admission as possible.
  • Credit cannot be awarded twice for the same learning.
  • The currency of learning will be considered as part of the development of the degree program proposal and assessed in the academic review process.

Liberal arts designations follow the New York State Department of Education’s (NYSED) Policy statement on Liberal Art and Sciences.

Students with credits from regionally accredited colleges may transfer in all credits that are appropriate to their degree program and that conform to general college policies and procedures. As part of the design of their SUNY Empire degree during their Educational Planning course(s), students with their mentors determine which transcript credits are most suitable for the student’s new degree while addressing SUNY and SUNY Empire policies about the integrity of degree programs.

In determining how to use any transferred credit in an Empire State University degree program, students and mentors should be aware that transferred courses can be incorporated into their degree plan if those courses fit any of these criteria:

  • They were part of an awarded associate in arts, associate in science or associate in applied science degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • They were awarded by a degree-granting institution on the NYSED list at the time of the student's attendance.
  • They were awarded by an institution with which SUNY Empire has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Students who were awarded an Associate in the Arts (AA), Associate in Science (AS), or Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree can bring in all or part of the credit earned, including courses with D grades. Students without a completed associate’s degree can bring in credits for which the student received a C- or above.

In the case of an Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS) degree, division assessment committees evaluate a submitted degree on a course-by-course basis. D grades earned as part of an AOS degree are not transferable, even if the student completed the AOS.

Credit will only be included in the degree program if it is appropriate within the context of the degree.

Individual Exceptions

Student/faculty requests for exceptions about how credits are designated in the external transfer process are made through the Office of the Registrar. Academic departments may wish to periodically revisit decisions about course attributes that would affect future courses.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

State the relevant legislation this policy must comply with or is referenced to. Regulations are rules or orders issued by an executive authority or regulatory agency of government that have the force of law. State any relevant regulations that affect this policy.

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices
100.101 – Individualized Prior Learning Assessment Policy and Procedures
100.102 – Degree Program Rationale