Transferring To A School Of General Studies

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You don’t have to join the military or anything if you choose “general” studies.

Are you an adult or returning student that has had at least a 1-year break in your educational path? (AND/OR) Are you currently in community college and seeking to transfer to an institution where you won’t feel out of place as an older student?

Well, let me introduce you to my friend: The School of General Studies.


A School of General Studies is typically a separate school (with its own admissions department) within a university that focuses on admitting non-traditional and returning students. They offer Bachelor’s of Arts and Science degrees in a wide variety of majors and typically have more favorable acceptance rates than the university as a whole.

We aren’t talking about some no-name schools that you haven’t heard of before either. Here are just a few notable universities with Schools of General Studies:

  1. Columbia University School of General Studies
  2. University of Pennsylvania School of General Studies
  3. University of Pittsburgh College of General Studies

That’s right, there are two Ivy League institutions on that list! In fact, Columbia University boasts that 75% of their incoming students at the School of General Studies are transfer students!

How To Transfer

To apply to these schools as a transfer student, you’ll have to go through the school directly. For example, you’ll want to apply to Columbia’s School of General Studies itself, as opposed to Columbia University’s general transfer process. The links above will take you to each school’s website where you can find additional admissions information.

Anecdotally, I’ve known a few individuals who have transferred from community college to a school of general studies and have said nothing but great things about the counselors, the academic experience, and their fellow students.

A Unique Opportunity

A School of General Studies allows you to get a top-notch education at an institution that understands your personal history and challenges. These schools were practically set up for non-traditional community college transfer students!

If you meet the criteria mentioned above, you should definitely consider adding one of these institutions to your list of prospective transfer schools.

Good luck!

Have a question about transferring to a School of General Studies? Post it in the comments.

(Photo: Wikimedia)

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  1. Jaime November 21, 2014 / 10:54 am

    I am considering both UPenn’s and Columbia’s School of General Studies for transfer (I am currently a 2-year college student). My question is: Is the “School of General Studies” Bachelors degree the same as the regular, traditional degree? Is there some sort of difference?
    Also, will I take classes only with the “nontraditional” students, or will I take the same courses as students that applied to the University itself?
    I want to make sure that I get the same education and that I am entitled to take the same courses as the traditional students would.

    Thank you for the information.

  2. Diane Melville November 24, 2014 / 8:41 am


    Great question(s)!

    While I can’t speak on the specifics of any individual program, I can say that generally speaking the degree you’ll earn from the School of General Studies is the same as the traditional bachelor’s degree. Like most degree programs, you’re not relegated to only taking classes with other students from the School of General Studies. If you’re required to take, say, Organic Chemistry as a biology major, you’ll take the same Organic Chemistry course as everyone else with other students from other degree programs.

    The program mainly focuses on providing resources and a flexible schedule to exceptional students who are non-traditional. The admissions criteria is different from other schools like The School of Arts and Sciences, but other than that, your day to day activity will not be impacted heavily by attending a School of General Studies.

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