Transfer Student Guide

transfer student guide

Thinking of transferring to Reed? Here's what you'll need to know.

Fall admission timeline (spring entrance not available)
Financial aid timeline
Am I eligible?
What paperwork is required to apply as a transfer student?

How do I reapply as a transfer applicant?
Financial aid
Older students
How will my credits transfer to Reed?
Can we compromise here?
How do I get that diploma?

General requirements
Distribution requirements
Where will my credits put me in the way of class standing?
Can I transfer as a junior?
How do I get help?
What does Reed look like?
Where can I live?
Write a Reedie

Fall admission timeline (spring entrance not available)

Applications due (postmarked by): March 1
Decisions mailed (for completed applications): May 15
Candidate's reply: two weeks from date of decision mailing

Financial aid timeline

It is imperative that the appropriate deadlines be met in order to receive full financial aid consideration.

File the FAFSA with the federal processor: March 1
File the Profile with CSS: March 1
File student and parent IRS income tax forms, W-2, and 1099 statements: April 15

Am I eligible?

You can apply to Reed as a transfer candidate if, by the time you would enroll at Reed, you have graduated from high school or the equivalent and will have:

  • completed one or more terms (such as a quarter or semester) as a full-time student working toward a degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning, or
  • received financial aid at an accredited institution of higher learning, or
  • earned a minimum of six Reed units (one Reed unit equals four semester or six quarter credit hours) of allowable transfer credit from an institution of higher learning. For further details, please refer to the "How will my credits transfer to Reed?" section of this guide.

Students who have not attended college full time, but are interested in transferring college courses or receiving credit for AP or other advanced placement examinations, should consult the admission office's AP guide available in print or here.

What paperwork is required to apply as a transfer student?

The following forms and information are required. The deadline for fall admission is March 1 (spring admission is not available).   Applications received after the deadline will only be considered as space allows.

  • Common Application (go to
  • Application essay: "Why Reed" essay
  • Transfer essay: "Why do you want to leave your current institution?"
  • Ask two college instructors to write your recommendation letters. If you cannot supply two college instructor evaluations, email for additional information.
  • Official transcripts of all previous college work attempted or completed
  • Registrar's Report (from your current or most recent college attended)
  • An official final high school transcript or an official GED score report
  • SAT or ACT scores

If you have not taken the SAT or the ACT, plan on doing so as soon as possible so that scores can be submitted by the application deadlines.

If your college does not give grades, your professors must submit written evaluations of your work.

International students are required to present results from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or ACT. If English is not your native language, it is also recommended that you submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Test (IELTS) score.

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How do I reapply as a transfer applicant?

If you meet the published definition of transfer student, you must reapply as a transfer candidate. The following items are required to complete the reapplication for transfer admission:

  • The Common Application Transfer Application Form - Go to and follow instructions for applying to Reed.
  • Registrar's Report - Follow the instructions for this form
  • SAT or ACT test scores If submitted for your previous application, there is no need to resubmit these unless you have taken the test again iand want us to see the new scores
  • Final high school transcript - Have your high school send an official copy of your final high school transcript showing your graduation date. If you were home schooled, refer to Home Schooled Candidates. If you submitted your final high school transcript with your previous application, you do not need to submit it again.
  • One new academic evaluation - This recommendation must come from a different college instructor from those who submitted recommendations for your previous application. If you have questions about fulfilling this requirement, email
  • Writing supplement - In addition to the personal essay on the Common Application form, submit the following new essays with your full name written on each essay:
    •  "Why Reed" essay- Please refer to the prompt on the Writing Supplement to the Common Application.
    •  Writing supplementIf you have not been continuously enrolled since you last applied, submit a brief statement addressing what you have been doing in the interim.

Financial Aid

800/547-4750 or 503/777-7223

The goal of Reed's financial aid program is to provide educational opportunity to qualified students who would otherwise be unable to afford a Reed education. Eligibility for financial aid, therefore, is based on need. Reed offers no merit aid. Aside from an egalitarian value, this approach benefits the Reed community by creating an economically and socially diverse student population.

Reed meets 100 percent of demonstrated need for every admitted student who, in turn, meets all admission and financial aid application deadlines. Demonstrated need is determined by Reed's financial aid office using nationally standardized formulas, as well as institutional policies, to assess the information families submit on the CSS PROFILE, FAFSA, and income tax returns.

Reed aspires to make every admission decision without regard to an applicant's ability to pay. However, when financial aid resources are insufficient to meet the need of all qualified applicants, those applicants deemed more qualified are given precedence in the admission process.

students at computerEligibility for financial aid is limited to a total of 12 semesters of college attendance. For institutional funding, eligibility is limited to a total of eight semesters of college attendance, including semesters spent at other colleges, whether or not students receive aid those semesters. Students are notified of the number of semesters of institutional funding available to them once the registrar's office completes a credit evaluation and determines the coursework acceptable for transfer credit.

To apply for financial assistance at Reed, you must complete two separate application forms:

  • College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE: The PROFILE assesses eligibility for institutional grant funds. Register for the PROFILE application here. Once you have registered, you can begin the online application immediately. Submit the completed PROFILE application to the College Board by March 1.
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The FAFSA, which assesses a student's eligibility for federal funds, is available from any college financial aid office, or online. This form cannot be filed before January 1, but must be filed by March 1 to meet Reed's financial aid application deadline.

Reed College expects you and your parents to assume the primary responsibility for your educational expenses; therefore, unless you are over 25 years of age, a ward of the court, or both of your parents are deceased, you will be required to complete the parental income and asset portions of the CSS PROFILE to be considered for institutional financial aid (Reed Grant).

Limited funds are available to assist international transfer applicants who demonstrate need. International applicants who are not Canadian citizens must also complete the CSS PROFILE by March 1.

Reed College code for PROFILE: 4654
Reed College code for FAFSA: 003217

Older Students

Reed welcomes the diversity of age and experience that older students bring to campus. The college encourages applications from those students who have been away from school for a time and wish to resume or begin college studies toward a bachelor's degree. With approximately 20 percent of the student body over age 22, the Reed curriculum and community offer an atmosphere of serious learning that is particularly suited for the mature student who plans to pursue a full-time program.

Reed follows the established federal guidelines to determine independent status for financial aid applicants. A special fund at Reed provides reentry scholarships to students age 25 to 50 who are returning to four-year institutions after a significant break from their studies to obtain their first bachelor's degree. For more information, contact the financial aid office at 503-777-7223.

How will my credits transfer to Reed?

With an offer of admission to Reed College, you will receive a preliminary credit evaluation. Courses are evaluated in terms of their applicability toward a liberal
arts and sciences degree.

LeavesYou should note that transfer credit will not be given for the following:

  • courses that cover work at a level below introductory courses at Reed
  • courses that are vocational, technical, or experiential in nature
  • courses, or portions of courses, that teach general writing skills
  • courses for which you received a grade below C-

Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) test credit is limited to a maximum of eight Reed units and will only be granted upon receipt of an original AP score report. AP credits may not be used to fulfill college distribution requirements but will count toward the total number of units required for graduation.

We recommend that you keep your syllabi from previous courses. This will better prepare you to meet with the faculty in your chosen major to discuss which courses will count toward major requirements.

Can we compromise here?

The college allows for certain decisions on transfer credit and requirements to be made on a case-by-case basis through a petition process. Students can petition to meet distribution requirements with fewer than the minimum units or to obtain departmental approval of credit. Although such petitions are not always granted, the potential benefits of filing a petition may make the process worth your time and effort. Once at Reed, you can ask your adviser if petitioning may be an option for you.

How do I get that diploma?

In order to graduate, you must complete 30 Reed units, 15 of which must be completed at Reed. The average course load at Reed is three to four units per semester. Reed graduates must fulfill general college requirements as well as major, departmental, and divisional requirements. Every standard major falls into a "division," which is a grouping of related departments.

If admitted, the evaluation of transfer credit that you will receive in your admission packet will indicate how your previous work may be applied toward the general college requirements. To determine how the credits might be applied towards departmental and divisional requirements, you may need to speak with your faculty adviser and with the chair of your department and division.

General requirements

Humanities 110 is required of all first-year students and students who transfer with first-year standing but without transfer credit equivalent to Humanities 110.

Students who transfer as sophomores or juniors without transfer credit equivalent to Humanities 110 may fulfill the humanities requirement by taking either Humanities 110, or, in lieu of Humanities 110, a combination of Humanities 210, 220, or 230, plus one additional unit from Group A or Group B.

Courses used to fulfill the humanities requirement may not be used to fulfill the Group A or B requirements. We do recommend taking Humanities 110, if at all possible; at Reed, it truly is the course upon which everything else builds.

reed cupThree semesters (six quarters) of physical education are required before graduation. Only one quarter of PE may be earned at a time. PE courses will transfer from other institutions.

Reed students must pass the junior qualifying exam before beginning a thesis in the senior year. The exam (known as the junior qual) is administered by each department near the end of the junior year. The objectives of the qual are to gauge students' mastery of their disciplines, to identify weaknesses in students' preparation for advanced study or thesis work in those disciplines, and to assist students in unifying their knowledge of a major field of study.

The senior thesis and oral examination are distinctive features of the Reed education. The thesis is the sustained investigation of a carefully defined problem - experimental, critical, or creative - chosen from the major field. The thesis culminates with a final comprehensive two-hour oral review under the direction of the major department.

Distribution requirements

The distribution requirements for all Reed undergraduates include breadth across disciplines and depth within each group. They are designed to ensure the broad understanding of the arts and sciences signified by a liberal arts education.

Each group calls for two units in the same discipline. No course may satisfy more than one group requirement.

Group A: literature, philosophy, religion, and the arts
Group B: history, social sciences, and psychology
Group C: natural sciences
Group D: mathematics, logic, foreign language or linguistics
Group X: 2 units in a single department outside the major department

No student may fulfill more than one distribution requirement through work in his or her major department. In exception to this, students pursuing interdisciplinary majors may, at the discretion of the major committee, fulfill two distribution requirements through their major department(s).

Distribution requirements may not be be satisfied by a waiver, by independent study courses, by Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credit, or by courses taken for credit/no credit.

Only one of Humanities 210, 220, or 230 may be used to satisfy group requirements.

For details on distribution requirements see the college catalog.

Where will my credits put me in the way of class standing?

In general, class standing can be estimated as follows:

1-6 Reed units: first-year student
7-12 Reed units: second-year student
15+ Reed units: junior standing (with departmental approval)

Remember: 1 Reed unit equals 4 semester or 6 quarter credit hours.

Can I transfer as a junior?

If you plan to transfer to Reed as a junior (with 15 or more Reed units), it is important to understand the structure of the junior year here. All juniors take the junior qualifying exam (described in the general requirements section) in the second semester of that year. It is very difficult to transfer in as a junior and sit for the exam after only one semester of Reed College work. Therefore, if applying as a junior, keep in mind that an additional semester or two might be needed to prepare fully for advanced work in your department.

When a credit evaluation is completed for someone applying for junior standing, that evaluation is sent to the department chair in the intended major. The chair will then assess which courses will satisfy departmental and divisional requirements. (Remember, they are doing this by looking over course descriptions and without the benefit of talking with you about each course.) The chair will also estimate how many semesters it may take you to complete your major requirements at Reed. When you arrive on campus for orientation, you will meet with your adviser, who will be better able to assess, in depth, your preparation in your major.

How do I get help?

You will meet with your adviser during orientation to go over your credit evaluation and plan your course of study at Reed. Having course descriptions and syllabi from your previous institution(s) with you can prove very helpful to this meeting.

What does Reed look like?

800/547-4750 or 503/777-7511

AerialWe strongly encourage you to visit campus. During your visit you can attend an information session, have an interview, go on a campus tour, sit in on classes, and spend a night in a residence hall. Additionally, our visit coordinator can assist you in making appointments with faculty members. The most important advantage of visiting Reed is that you will experience the intangible qualities of the community that the literature cannot convey.

If visiting Reed is not feasible, but you would like to have an interview, please call the admission office. We can arrange an interview with an alumna or alumnus in your area. Interviews for transfer applicants are conducted September through January 15th each year, but interview requests must be submitted by December 1st.

Where can I live?


Should you wish to live on campus, new transfer students are guaranteed housing. Upon receipt of your enrollment deposit, the residence life office will send you information about housing.

If you prefer not to live on campus, there are many off-campus housing options within a two-mile radius of Reed. The residence life office has information on houses, apartments, and studios available for rent.

Write a Reedie

What is the Glow Opera? Renn Fayre? The Doyle Owl? Satisfy your curiosity about social life, Reed lore, or the general college experience by corresponding with a real, live Reedie! Please address your letter to Write A Reedie, c/o the admission office. You can also email your questions to

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