University College Advising Toolbox

Special Populations

Special Populations

This page provides information about special populations including Early College Students, First Year Spring Admits (FYSAs), Military Students, Pre-Professional Students, and Transfer Students.

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Early College Students

  • Early College Students

    For more information contact Chris Moreland - 910-962-3709.

    Students enrolling in UNCW from an Early College High School (ECHS) Program, will be assigned to an academic advisor in University College (UC) for advising until they officially declare a major, usually after their 2nd semester.  Although UC recognizes their previous college experience and incoming credits, UC also knows that UNCW will be a new experience and UC wants to support you through this transition.

    Many ECHS students come to college with numerous transfer credits, and even an Associate's Degree, but they still have specific needs and questions. Advisors will work with ECHS to answer questions about major and career exploration, graduation requirements and timeline, University policies and processes, and class registration.

    Current Early College students at UNCW tell us that overall they experience a successful transition to UNCW. However, they also share that there are some challenges as a new student. Although any new experience presents change and new experiences, positive and negative, considering these possible challenges ahead of time can help in preparing for navigating them successfully. Below are the aspects that students report as "most challenging coming from an Early College Program:"

    • Paying for school and meeting financial obligations
    • Longer timeline to graduation than expected
    • Getting to know other students and social adjustment
    • Course registration process
    • Earned grades lower than expected in their first year
    • Understanding UNCW policies and graduation requirements
    • Choosing a major


First Year Spring Admits  (FYSAs)

  • Overview

    For more information contact Maria Ramirez - 910-962-4294.

    The First-Year Spring Admit program (FYSA) through the Office of Admissions is designed for freshmen to start their UNCW career in the Spring Semester instead of the Fall semester. This enables them to spend their fall semester traveling, working, or taking classes at a community college or four-year university before attending UNCW in the Spring.

    Each year, UNCW has become increasingly selective and is unable to bring in all students in the fall.  These FYSA students might not fit UNCW’s academic profile precisely but they possess the leadership skills and academic preparation to make them successful at UNCW.  Because space becomes available in the spring semester when some UNCW students are studying abroad or graduating, Admissions offers a select group of students the opportunity for entrance at that time. Each Spring FYSA cohort is approximately 150-250 students.

    University College (UC) Advisors work with FYSA students from the time of their admission until they declare their major by assisting with their transition to UNCW and proving academic advising and support especially during their formative semesters.  Advisors help FYSA students in the decision making process as they consider their fall semester options (e.g. traveling abroad, working or taking courses at another institution).  This includes assisting students in finding appropriate transfer courses during their fall semester.

    During the fall semester, UC advisors  contact FYSA students regarding early registration and orientation.  Advisors meet with FYSA students during January orientation and connect students to various support networks on campus.  

  • UC Advice

    Advisors should encourage FYSA students to:

    • Review the UC FYSA website – This website includes links to assist with transfer course selection, Maynooth information, FAQs, and important dates.
    • Review the Steps to Take After Your Acceptance – Includes links to Transient Study Form and steps for selecting transfer courses, etc.
    • Review the FYSA Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
    • Review the FYSA Prezi
    • Complete the Transient Study Form Due by August 1st
    • Communicate with the Office of Housing and Residence Life regarding housing options and processes.
    • Check their UNCW email on a regular basis for newsletters from UC, Admissions communication and other important UNCW next steps.
    • Check their Teal Ticket for next steps.
    • Request an FYSA Mentor through the First-Year Spring Admit Mentor student organization. Info to be included in newsletters.
    • Get connected to involvement, other students, and the campus early in January. 

Military Students

  • Overview

    For more information contact Maria Ramirez 910-962-4294

    Military veterans or a students on active duty, are waived from WPA/WPAL-101 and may earn college elective transfer credit for their service.  Students will need to provide a Military Registry Transcript with the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations provided on the transcript. UNCW reviews these recommendations and awards elective credit for programs and experiences under lower baccalaureate and higher baccalaureate areas. Each branch of service has a website with information on how to send your transcript. More detailed information on the process and transfer credit can be found at Military Admissions.

Pre-Professional Students

  • Overview

    For more information contact Patti Schulz, 910-962-3018 or Nile McKibben, 910-962-3549

    Pre-Professional Programs offers advising, resources, programs and courses to prepare pre-health and pre-law undergraduates for admission to and success in graduate preparation programs for health and legal careers. Advisors are available one-on-one and can navigate application timelines, requirements, and program prerequisites.

    Pre-Professional students are encouraged to enroll with Pre-Professional Programs. Students can Enroll to receive updates about programs and advising during the school year.


Transfer Students

  • Overview

    For more information contact Dr. Jamie Pond, 910-962-3987, or Dr. Christine Pesetski, 910-962-3245.

    University College works with select transfer students from orientation and their first semester to declaration of major. These students include those who meet the Admissions criteria set below. These students work with UC Students in Transition advisors for at least one semester or until they meet the prerequisites mentioned below:

    University College works with select transfer students starting at orientation, through at least their first semester, and until they officially declare a major. These students include those who meet the Admissions criteria set below. These students are assigned to a UC “Students in Transition” advisor for at least one semester or until they meet the prerequisites mentioned below:

    Effective October 2015, transfer students who fit the criteria below will be assigned to University College and given a major of UC-Transition:

    • Active duty military and veterans with little or no traditional college credit
    • First-year transfers who have not completed or registered to complete at least 24 semester hours of credit, English Composition I and II, and the appropriate prerequisite math for their major.
    • All Athletic Training majors
    • All Business majors who have not completed or registered to complete the equivalent to UNCW MAT 111 or 115 with a C or better
    • All Psychology majors with less than 45 credit hours completed or in progress who have not completed or registered to complete the equivalent to UNCW MAT 111 or 115 and BIO 105, 140, 201 or 240 with a C or better
    • All Biology/Marine Biology majors with less than 45 credit hours completed or in progress who have not completed or registered to complete the equivalent to UNCW MAT 111 or 115 and BIO 201 or 202 with a C or better

    Transfer students, unlike freshmen, must select a major at time of admission; there is no “undecided” major. Only those meeting criteria above are with UC. Others go directly into their academic department for advising. 

  • Considerations When Working with Transfer Students
    • Transfer students come from all educational and personal backgrounds – from 4 year institutions, community colleges, military, years away from school, adult learners, etc. Ask about their education experiences.
    • Although each student has his/her own strengths and challenges, there are common obstacles to transfer student success. Ask what each student perceives to be his/her biggest challenge as a new student. Avoid generalizations.
      • Academic rigor – Students may not have been in college for some time or may be coming from less rigorous program or school. Usually the outside-of-class study and reading time is unexpected.
      • Navigating transfer credits – Students usually need to follow up on academic records and benefit from working closely with advisors to understand their records.
      • Understanding new policies, processes, and curriculum can be challenging and frustrating.
      • Feeling connected and a sense of belonging – Transfer students are not always the focus of campus services and programs (focus is usually on freshmen); they may have other commitments or live off-campus making involvement more difficult. They may feel under-represented on campus.
      • Other commitments – Many transfer students also work, have family responsibilities, commute, etc.
      • An increasing amount of transfer students are also first-generation college students.
    • Ask about other commitments while in school. Are they working? Do they have a family? Are they commuting? This may affect their schedule and number of hours they want to register for.
    • Ask about their academic and professional goals. They may have clear ideas on what career they want to work towards. These conversations can help students explore majors and have a realistic timeline to graduation.
    • Transfer students typically have a goal of when they’d like to graduate, which is not always realistic based on their major and transfer credits.  Many students are focused on a graduation timeline due to financial constraints, requirements of GI Bill, or professional/graduate school plans.
    • Although transfer students have to choose a major and declare a major at time of admission (there is no “undecided” option), many are still undecided and would benefit from major and career exploration.
    • Make sure to review major requirements early with transfer students to clearly inform them of coursework, any admission requirements, and career options. This early education may help them confirm their choice or lead to major and career exploration. It will also assist them in understanding their timeline to graduation.
  • Transfer Student Equivalents
    • Students must submit all official transcripts from all previous institutions, including military transcripts. Remind them to also submit any high school college coursework and/or AP/IB credits.
    • If transcripts have not been received, students/advisors can refer to the Transfer Credit Equivalency tool on the Office of the Registrar website.

    Transfer Equivalency Tool

    • Students may receive up to 93 semester hours of academic credit from all institutions attended; however, no more than 64 semester hours can be transferred from two-year institutions and no more than 93 from 4-year institutions. All exam and military credit will be counted toward the total.
    • Only grades of C or higher will transfer to UNCW. The GPA does not transfer to UNCW, only the credits hours.
    • Only college-level, college-transferrable credits will show on UNCW official transcript. For instance, MAT 050 or courses starting with 0 are developmental courses and are not college-level courses.
  • Review of Academic Records
    • Advisors will need to review all academic records to make sure students are not taking duplicate courses. It is helpful to review in this order:
      • UNCW Transcript (on SeaNet) – This will show what official records have been received and evaluated and what UNCW credit they are receiving. If a student has received an Associate’s degree from a NC Community College, there will be an “AA-Waiver” note at the top of the transcript. The waived areas are noted throughout the audit in appropriate areas (see chart below). For more information on the CAA Waiver, see below.
      • Degree Audit – Whatever is showing on the UNCW transcript will also show in the Degree Audit, and advisors can see how courses fit into University Studies, competencies, and the major.
  • Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA)
    • The North Carolina Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA) is a statewide agreement governing the transfer of credits between the North Carolina Community Colleges (NCCCS) and public universities in North Carolina. This agreement establishes college transfer courses that are accepted by University of North Carolina Wilmington from all 58 NC community colleges. Students who complete Associates degree requirements will have certain guarantees that credits earned will transfer to UNC institutions. However, the Office of the Registrar will ultimately determine, on an individual basis, the amount of transfer credit for students with a combination of college and/or other types of credit.
    • If a student has earned an Associate’s degree from a NC Community College – either Associate’s in Arts or Associate’s in Science –several areas of University Studies will be met automatically. A “Transfer Core Diploma” also gives waiver credits. Therefore, students do not have to have taken the exact equivalent in a University Studies category (although many courses are evaluated as exact equivalencies). See below for waived areas and those NOT waived:
    • University Studies Requirements


      Waived with Associate’s?



      1. Composition (ENG 100/101 and 200/201)


      1. Lifetime Wellness (WPA/WPAL-101)


      Student must take exact equivalent of PED 101 – PED 110, 111, or 112. Many take a 1-credit PE and/or a separate HEA class

      1. Mathematics and Statistics


      May need more math depending on major

      1. World Language (need 201 level for previous studied language or 101-102 in language not previously studied)


      Many transfer students take 101/102 levels before UNCW but will still need 201. If they did not have World Language in high school, they will still need 201 level, so will take 101, 102, and 201 in Spanish (for instance)

      1. First-Year Seminar


      Not required for transfer students

      Approaches and Perspectives

      1. Aesthetic, Interpretive, and Literary Perspectives


      1. Historical and Philosophical Approaches


      1. Scientific Approaches to the Natural World


      1. Understanding Human Institutions and Behaviors


      1. Living in our Diverse Nation

      Yes, if already receive credit for Global Society

      See below.

      1. Living in a Global Society


      Waiver credit is automatically given for this area. However, if a course transfers as an equivalent in this area and the student will already have credit here, they can request for the waiver to apply to Living in our Diverse Nation instead. They can email the Registrar’s Office with this request or advisors can contact Registrar.

      Building Competencies

      1. Writing Intensive

      3 hours waived

      These 3 hours can count towards the 300-400 level but not in the major requirement

      1. Information Literacy

      3 hours waived

      1. Quantitative and Logical Reasoning

      3 hours waived

    • For a list of other Articulation Agreements, visit However, the CAA is the most common for University College advisors.
  • Substitutions/Waiver/Petition Process
    • Transfer students often come in with courses that do not transfer as exact equivalents to UNCW courses and receive elective credit (i.e. ELEC 001 or PED 001). These will show under “Electives” at the bottom of the degree audit. If a student has taken a course similar to the content of a UNCW course but was designated as elective credit, a Course Substitution request can be done via SeaPort. Advisors initiate this form and process, which includes a rationale and ideally a course description from the college’s catalogue as support. The student should take the lead in getting supporting documentation and catalogue information.
    • A request for a Waiver of credit towards University Studies or a major requirement is less likely. One instance where this may occur is if a student transfers in credit for ENG 201 but has not taken ENG 100/101 (required at UNCW). The student will not need to back-track and take the 100/101 courses at UNCW, so a course waiver could be submitted for ENG 100/101. The student will still have to meet the 124 hours for graduation but will not have to complete this particular course.
    • If the Sub/Waiver request is for the Living in a Diverse Nation or Living in Global Society or Capstone course, the Sub/Waiver form should be printed and sent via campus mail directly to the department chair of the course department for approval. 

    University Studies Sub/Waiver Request

    • If a student has taken the course equivalent to something listed in Writing Intensive or Information Literacy or Quantitative and Logical Reasoning, but it was not equivalent to competency credit, the advisor (with student’s work) can submit a hard-copy Petition form to the Director of University Studies for review. The course must meet the methods/outcomes of WI/IL/QLR listed here - The student will have to provide supporting documentation of the methods/outcomes ideally by providing a syllabus or perhaps assignment details. The petition form can be found here - 
    • University College advisors can direct students to work with their departmental advisors once they declare regarding major requests, particularly for Capstones, 300-400 level, etc.
      • Swap of Credit – Even though students are limited to number of credits of transfer (64 2-year institution, 93 4-year institution), all courses will be listed on the UNCW transcript (if college credit courses with C or higher). Sometimes students are not given credit (already met limit) for a course that is needed towards their major or University Studies credit. In these cases, advisors/students can contact the Registrar’s Office and request a “swap of credit.” For instance, a student may come in with 3 credit hours for COM 101 and 0 credits for ECN 221. The hours can be used for ECN 221 (for a Business major, for instance) instead of for COM 101, which would be an elective.

    • Advising Tips for Specific Majors
      • Advisors working with transfer students will advise on University Studies (including Competencies), major entrance requirements, and upper-level major requirements. Advisors often assist students in drafting an academic/graduation plan.  These are tips for select majors most common for University College transfer students.

        • Business – focus on meeting entrance requirements first, mainly the MAT 151 requirement. A student needs to work towards at least meeting MAT 111 as soon as possible in order to take other Business requirements for admission – MAT 151, ECN 221/222, QMM 280, and ACG 201 with lab. If students place into MAT 105, they should take MyMathTest as soon as possible. Students may be eligible to take junior standing courses (MGT 350, MKT 340, BLA 361) as they work on admission requirements, but advisors are encouraged to balance these courses with others (University Studies/minor/electives) in order to not allow a student to get too far into Business without admission. Declare pre-Business when student has completed MAT 111 and has at least a 2.3 cumulative GPA.
        • Psychology – Students should register for MAT 111 or higher, PSY 105, and BIO 105/140/201/240 as soon as possible. Focus on meeting 2.5 GPA and prerequisites for PSY 225 (MAT 111 or higher). Students will have a 3-semester sequence for graduation (PSY 225, PSY 355, Capstone Course), so they should work to declare as soon as possible, as PSY 225 is restricted to majors. Declare students pre-Psychology once they earn C or higher in MAT 111, PSY 105, and BIO.
        • ATR – Students should meet with Dr. Kirk Brown (Coordinator of ATR program) as soon as possible because he gives permission to register for ATR 210 (only offered in the Spring). Students should work on Admission requirements first – BIO 201 (complete ASAP as it is prerequisite for ATR 210), PSY 105 and ATR 210 (only offered in Spring semester). Students should also prioritize for CHM 101 as it is required for BIO 240. Students will declare ATR once they are formally admitted into program after taking ATR 210, BIO 201 and PSY 105 and meeting other requirements.
        • Biology / Marine Biology – Students should register for MAT 111 or higher and for BIO 201 or 202 as soon as possible. They can be declared as Pre-Biology/Marine Biology once they earn at least C in MAT 111 and BIO 201 or 202.
    • Campus Supports and Referrals
      • UNI 201: Transfer Seminar is available to transfer students only in their first semester. This course covers skills for success at UNCW (study strategies, time management, stress management, etc), campus resources, academic planning (students create a graduation plan), major and career exploration, and campus involvement. The course, although an elective, provides credit for 3 hours of Writing Intensive and Information Literacy University Studies Competency requirements.
      • PERCH (Office of the Dean of Students) – Assistance for non-traditional,  off-campus, and military students, community resources and overall support and programming -
      • Teal Bridge Mentors - Transition Programs – New transfer students can request a current transfer student peer mentor who will work with them during their transition to UNCW and help them connect to campus -
      • Tau Sigma National Honor Society - Tau Sigma is an academic honor society designed specifically to recognize and promote the academic excellence and involvement of transfer students. Students who earn a 3.5 GPA or higher in their first semester at UNCW are eligible for membership. Interested students can visit WaveLink for more information.
    • Resources