How to Transfer to Illinois: A Complete Guide

Welcome! We’re so excited you’re thinking of making the jump to Illinois.

Transferring can be a confusing process. Are you taking the right classes? Will your credits transfer? What information do you need to apply?

We’re here to lay it out plain and simple.


students talking on the steps of Lincoln Hall

Prep Work

Your “prep work” is basically just doing some research. Make sure you can check off these five steps before beginning your application. Our Transfer Requirements Directory is a good place to start; it’ll give you a quick snapshot of some of these details for your major.

  1. Know our dates and deadlines. Application deadlines depend on which semester you’re applying for and whether you’re considering our fall priority filing period (and you totally should).
  2. Compare your GPA. Figure out what your GPA is and compare it with our transfer GPA guidelines to get a sense of where you stand among other transfer applicants.
  3. Pick a major. We have over 150 majors at Illinois, but not all of them are open to transfers. Check our open and closed programs list to see if the major you’re interested in is accepting transfer applicants at your level for the term you’re hoping to enroll.
  4. Figure out what courses you need to take in order to transfer. Our Transfer Handbook describes the recommended course sequences for each of our majors. It may look intimidating at first, but that’s just because it has a ton of information in it! Reference the page that talks about the major you’re interested in; you must complete the courses listed in red italics before transferring.
  5. Figure out which of your courses will transfer. When you come to Illinois, some of your course credits may come along with you! The site Transferology can help you figure out what credits will make the trip.

60-Credit-Hour Rule

No matter how many credits you have when you transfer, you still need to take at least 60 credit hours at Illinois. Most students take around 15 credit hours each semester, meaning that you’re probably going to spend at least four semesters here.


student excited to apply to Illinois

The Application Process

Once you’ve done your prep work, you’re ready to apply! This includes filling out our application as well as submitting some additional materials. Let’s break things down.

Your Application

You’ll submit your application through myIllini, our student portal. Most things will be fairly easy to fill out, but it can take some time (so make sure you don’t wait until the night before a deadline to start!).

You’ll begin by adding some personal information, like your name and address, where you go to school, and so on. We won’t get into all that here, but let’s touch on some of the more substantial parts.

  1. Major—In our application, we’ll ask you to select both a first- and second-choice major (in case you aren’t admitted to your first choice). It’s a good idea to refer to our Transfer Handbook to make sure your choices fit your academic goals.
  2. Essay—Personal essays are always challenging, but the good news is you can check out our essay question for transfer applicants even before you start your application. Our biggest tip? Be sure to answer the question!
  3. Activities, Honors, & Distinctions—We’ll ask you to provide a certain number of activities, honors, and distinctions. Take some time to think about the things you’ve been involved in and the things you’ve accomplished. Whatever is most important to you belongs on this list!
  4. Application Fee—Unless you have a fee waiver, you’ll be asked to pay a fee when you submit your application. If you think you may qualify for a fee waiver, ask a school official at your current college to fill out our fee waiver form and send it directly to our admissions office.

Application Pro Tip

If you have any questions as you’re working, review our FAQ. You can also call or email our admissions counselors—they’re more than happy to help!

Your Supporting Materials

First, congratulations on making it this far—this means you’re almost done! But before you breathe that big sigh of relief, we need just a few more things from you.

Transcripts

You’ll be asked to submit official university transcripts from the colleges you’ve gone to, along with an official high school transcript to confirm graduation. (We’ll also accept the GED and other high school equivalency exams in place of a high school transcript.)

This information should be sent straight to our admissions office. Note that we’ll only consider your high school performance if you have fewer than 30 graded and transferable credit hours from previous colleges when you apply.

Test Scores

If you’ve taken fewer than 30 graded and transferable credit hours at previous colleges when you apply, you’ll need to have official scores from any standardized tests like the ACT or SAT sent our way directly from the testing agency. We recommend that applicants with fewer than 59 graded and transferable credit hours send scores as well.

English Proficiency

You must prove you’re proficient in the English language to be admitted. If you spent all four years of high school in the United States (excluding Puerto Rico), good news: You automatically qualify! If this doesn’t describe you, see our admissions website for how to satisfy this requirement.

Special Requirements

If you’re applying into a talent-based major like art, dance, music, or theatre, you’ll likely need to complete an audition or submit a portfolio. If you’re an international student or are applying into a Teacher Education major or Social Work, you also have a few more steps to take. Learn more on our website.


girls looking at applications on a computer

Checking Your Application Status

After you’ve submitted your application and supporting materials, make sure to check myIllini to verify we aren’t missing anything. Seriously, there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve applied only to discover later on that your application was never actually complete!

If you apply for the fall semester, you’ll receive a decision by mid-April. If you apply for the spring semester, you’ll receive a decision by mid-December.


Applying for Financial Aid

Although financial aid is a crucial part of the college application process, you actually have to apply for it separately. How? By submitting the Free Application for Student Financial Aid, or FAFSA. To learn more about that process as well as other ways to cut your cost of attendance, read our Guide to Paying for College.


We want your transition to Illinois to be as smooth as possible. Feel free to reach out to our office if you have any questions at all. We hope to see you on campus!

Illinois Admissions

Illinois Admissions

We're here for you as you prepare for college. Whether you're looking for guidance on the college search process or have questions about Illinois, we hope our blogs will help!

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