Colleges and universities can close at any time due to financial, managerial or enrollment complications. Your school’s closure, however, can be overcome easily by knowing what becomes of your degree, whether you are currently enrolled or formerly graduated, as well as the future impacts or situations related to a school’s closing of its doors.
Currently enrolled students with unfinished degrees will have to transfer to another college or university to complete requirements. Universities readily accept transfer credits from accredited institutions but often stipulate limits as to the number and type of credits you can import from a former institution. For example, some colleges limit the number of credits you can transfer, from around 60 if you are coming from a two-year institution to approximately 90 when transferring from a four-year school. Most universities also mandate that you take a certain percentage or number of credits, such as 50 percent of required major area courses or roughly 60 credits total, in residence at your new university to be eligible to graduate.
The impact on those already graduated from a closing university is minimal. Your degree will remain valid, as will any credits or credentials you earned during your degree’s completion. If you’ve lost the hard copy of your degree, you should contact your school prior to closure to order a duplicate copy, as this can be an essential form of degree verification in the future.
Whether you apply for graduate school or jobs following your degree, you'll most likely need to identify your educational history. Be prepared to explain your situation to potential employers or advisers and clearly indicate on your resume or application that your former school is now closed, which you can indicate as follows: bachelor’s degree, major, Former University (now closed), years attended. You might also want to order extra copies of your transcripts prior to your school’s closure, as accessing them later might be more cumbersome. You can find out if your records will be transferred to another institution for storage, particularly in the case your school is closing as part of a merger with another institution, or if they will be accessible through a transcript and enrollment verification service, such as the National Student Clearing House.
Similar questions about the status of your degree might arise if your university renames itself or loses accreditation. A school’s renaming has no impact on your degree’s validity, but you should make clear on future job or graduate school applications that this name change has occurred. You can list these changes in your academic history as follows: bachelor’s degree, major, Former University (currently New Name University), years attended. More problematic can be your university’s loss of accreditation. While the standards for accreditation differ between states, a university’s loss of accreditation can render your degree invalid. If loss of accreditation is a concern, you can seek assistance from resources such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Teresa J. Siskin has been a researcher, writer and editor since 2009. She holds a doctorate in art history.