From Celine Chen
A quick guide to transferring credit to Bryn Mawr.
What is the process of transferring credit like at Bryn Mawr? How do IB credits compare to transferring AP credits? I honestly did not know much about it when I started here. It wasn’t a huge concern for me because my goal was not necessarily to graduate as fast as possible; it was being able to learn under a well-rounded curriculum, which is what drew me to liberal arts colleges.
A few quick notes about Bryn Mawr’s credit requirements and policies.
Credit System at Bryn Mawr:
- 32 credits are required to graduate.
- 24 credits must be taken in residence (8 credits can be transferred in to reach a total of 32 credits).
- Minimum course load is 3 credits/semester. Maximum course load is 5 credits/semester.
- Credit may be available for AP, IB, and A-level exams.
Testing Up vs Testing Out:
At Bryn Mawr, you can test up into higher level courses, but you cannot test out of any graduation requirements. Placement tests are given to get a better understanding of a student’s academic foundation, rather than to encourage students to test out of a particular course, or area of study altogether. For example, if you took AP Calculus, you are more than welcome to take Calculus I at Bryn Mawr, so you can feel more confident in the course and build a stronger foundation for future math classes or you can test into a higher level of calculus to build off what you learned in AP Calculus.
With all this in mind, there are some things to consider when transferring credit to Bryn Mawr. Be sure to review transfer credit policies for any college you are considering!
Pros of Transferring Credit:
- Transfer credit can allow you to take a lighter course load.
- Many students who have AP/IB credits will take a 3-credit semester in the Fall or Spring of their senior year. Waiting until senior year to apply a transfer credit can be really helpful to balance out the time you may be spending writing a thesis, applying to jobs, or applying to grad school (all of which require the time and energy of essentially being in an extra class!)
- Transfer credit provides some flexibility a “safety net.” If extenuating circumstances arise, you have some credits to fill in any lighter semesters.
For example, I ended up taking a 3.5 credit semester due to difficulties in my schedule. I always meant to make up that extra half credit by taking a 4.5 or 5 credit semester, but never had the opportunity to. Therefore, I’m super grateful for my 2 units of IB credit that allowed me to take a 3-credit semester this spring and fill up that missing 0.5 credit!
Things to Consider:
- Courses taken as part of a study abroad program count as transfer credits at Bryn Mawr. Therefore, they are not considered credits taken in residence. If you transfer credits to Bryn Mawr, there is a chance that you may not be able to study abroad AND graduate early.
- You might not be able to use your transfer credit. Refer here for information on how test credit transfers at Bryn Mawr. Keep in mind that transfer credit is only given to liberal arts courses, not given for online courses, etc.
- If you apply all your transfer credit early on in your college career, you don’t have as many opportunities to explore different areas of study. Transfer credits essentially count as your elective credits, so if you apply all of your transfer credits, you are left to take your major required courses, and general education requirements. Thus, if you really want to take advantage of exploring a variety of areas of study, maybe consider holding back on transferring all of your credit and explore a religion course at Haverford, or a history of art class!
My personal experience as a former IB student allowed me to transfer 2 units of credit. Taking IB was helpful because it allowed me to test out of Calculus 1 and be placed directly in Calculus 2 as a freshman. I was also able to study abroad for a semester (which counts as 4 transfer credits) and use my 2 units of credit to have a slightly lighter course load my senior year.
Most of all, I would say that taking advanced classes in high school helped me manage my expectation for college courses, and the amount of time and effort that needs to be allotted for each class. I also learned a lot of critical thinking and communication skills in IB that were really helpful and transferrable to a liberal arts curriculum. That being said, I know people who came to Bryn Mawr from different academic curricula that are doing very well in college.
Bryn Mawr also provides resources to support students’ learning. We offer Quantitative Seminars (QSems) that aim to prepare students for the quantitative skills needed to succeed in entry level quantitative courses at Bryn Mawr.
In my time at Bryn Mawr, I have really appreciated how the institution aims to create a curriculum in which students can build their experience as a scholar. I’ve really enjoyed
the humanities courses I have taken alongside my STEM courses as welcome “break” and a way to learn more about topics I am interested about. For instance, last semester I took an Anthropology course on agriculture, and the year before I took a course on Japanese Civilization where we talked about everything from samurai culture to Studio Ghibli films!