NCAA Transfer Rules

This guide is designed to explain the complex transfer rules for college student athletes. Written by a former NCAA Compliance Officer, it breaks down the process they would go through when determining the eligibility of transfer athletes. We have laid out the information so you can determine what kind of transfer you are and what you will need to do.

If have a specific transfer questions and know what kind of transfer you are look here:

Make Sure You Are a Transfer Athlete

There are a number of conditions, some more common than others, which make you a transfer. To be a transfer, you meet one of the conditions in these lists at one school, and then enroll at another school. Here are the common ways to trigger transfer status:

  • You were officially enrolled full-time for a regular term (fall or spring semester, fall, winter, or spring quarter) and present at the school on the first day of classes for that term (this is most common)
  • You reported for a regular squad practice prior to the start of classes (this is second more common)
  • You participated in practice or competed even if you were not enrolled full-time (this is third most common)

Less Common Ways That an Athlete Might Trigger Transfer Status

  • You attended a class while enrolled full-time, even if you were only provisionally admitted and later denied admission
  • You attend a night school enrolled full-time if the night school has the same terms as the institution’s day school and considers you to be a regular full-time student
  • You attend a branch school while enrolled full-time, if either
    The branch school has varsity intercollegiate athletics and you do not transfer to the main campus; or
    You attended another college prior to attending the branch campus.
  • You received financial aid from the school to attend summer school prior to starting classes, unless you are denied admissions.

Once you are considered a transfer student, you must know what type of transfer student you are in order to make sure you comply with the correct set of requirements.

Know What Type of Transfer You Are

2-4 Transfers (Junior College or Community College Transfer)

A 2-4 transfer is a transfer from a two-year college (junior or community college) to a four-year college. There are two different types of 2-4 transfers with different requirements to play right away.


A 2-4 qualifier transfer is a transfer from a two-year college who has been certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center as a final academic qualifier. If an athlete has not been certified yet as a qualifier, he or she may go through the Eligibility Center process after starting at the two-year college. However, an athlete may not use any course work or standardized tests (SAT/ACT) taken after starting college to become a qualifier.


A 2-4 non-qualifier transfer is a transfer from a two-year college who has not been certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center as a final academic qualifier. This includes athletes who received a final certification in Divisions I and II, athletes who received a final certification in Division II, and athletes who have not received any final certification from the Eligibility Center.

4-4 Transfers (Four Year Transfer)

A 4-4 transfer is a transfer from one four-year college to another four-year college. This includes transfers from one NCAA school to another, transfers from NAIA schools to NCAA schools (or vice versa) and transfers from colleges that do not offer athletics (like international colleges) to NCAA or NAIA schools.

Click here to find complete instructions for athlete attempting to transfer from one four year school to another.

4-2-4 Transfers

A 4-2-4 transfer is a transfer from a four-year college to a two-year college then to another four-year college. In Division I, 4-2-4 transfers have an entirely separate set of transfer rules. In Division II, the 4-2-4 transfer rules are mixed up with the 2-4 transfer rules and are most similar to the rules that apply to nonqualifiers.

Find out more here about 4-2-4 transfers.

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