Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Strategic Leadership Studies


Margaret F. Sloan


Transfer students often lose credits that they have earned for completing courses at previous institutions and face other complications during lateral transitions between public four-year institutions because the current process of transferring credits is awkward, which raises barriers to affordable, accessible, and accountable national-level transfers. More research is needed to understand how the transfer policy could best be adapted to create an improved, transparent, and seamless transfer process. This mixed methods study’s purpose is to explore how the transfer policies across states are functioning, and determine what states are doing regarding postsecondary transfer policy and which factors influence the decision to adopt a state-wide transfer policy. This sequential explanatory mixed-methods study methodologically, drawing on the systems leaderships model to assess how the national-level transfer system can reform students’ transfer experiences and provide a seamless transition from one public four-year institution to another by building robust high-level collaboration among all postsecondary institutions. At the same time, the study assesses political and bureaucratic leadership perspectives to determine what influences leaders in this policy arena. Methodologically, the study employed event history analysis to estimate the coefficients of American states adopting new credit-transfer policies. The statistical analysis and qualitative content analysis revealed insights into adopting transfer credit policies and implementation. State leaders' motivation serves an important factor in advancing the transfer credit system policy and its implementation. A strong positive collaboration with legislators can get the attention of political leaders to advance the four-year-to-four-year public university transfer credit process. The result shows that bureaucratic leaders are looking for supporting an electronic transfer; a separate system for technical colleges recently merged with the system of higher education governing degree-granting institutions; a clearly displayed state-wide articulation matrix system of common course numbering; and a state-wide well-explained framework for awarding credit and the transfer of assessments (CLEP, IB, AP, DLPT, and DSST), military occupations, and work-based learning. The results create a positive impression and promise a successful implementation of the future nationwide seamless transfer system.



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