Reverse Course, Full Steam Ahead

County Administrator among Growing Trend to Claim Community College Degree

When St. Mary’s County Administrator Dr. Rebecca Bridgett graduated from McDonough High School she had already accumulated 30 college credits from the College of Southern Maryland. She had received a full-time college waiver during her senior year of high school that allowed her to start her college career early.

Although she was born and raised in Southern Maryland, her family had roots in North Carolina and with her sister Melissa already attending college there, she decided to transfer to Campbell University.

Through multiple graduate degrees and moves, she never forgot her experience or ties with Southern Maryland and CSM.

Bridgett learned about a program called “reverse transfer” that enables students with 30 or more credits at CSM to transfer college and university credits earned elsewhere back to CSM to complete their associate’s degree requirements.

“Many students leave community college without a degree. Some transfer their credits toward a bachelor’s degree as Dr. Bridgett did and others transfer their CSM credits but never complete their bachelor’s degree. In both cases, students can use credits they received at four-year institutions to fill in degree requirements for their associate’s degrees,” said CSM Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Joan Middleton. “Employers are looking for degree completion and statistics show that people with an associate’s degree will earn 35 percent more than a student with a high school diploma. Reverse Transfer is a way for students to claim an associate’s degree based on their combined academic efforts.”

“Students must have at least 30 credits from CSM and have transferrable credits from a college or university that meet their degree requirements in order to meet the criteria for a reverse transfer. Once we receive a student’s transcript and it is evaluated, we work with our academic affairs division to match up courses from both institutions,” Middleton added.

 “Reverse transfer helps students achieve an additional degree, typically while completing their bachelor’s degree,” said CSM Registrar Carol Harrison. “Earning an associate’s degree assists students in marketing themselves for jobs while at the same time helping increase completion rates at the community college level.”

CSM has agreements with University of Maryland University College (UMUC), Salisbury University and Towson University that streamline the reverse transfer process.

“This October seven students from Towson were evaluated for reverse transfer and received associate’s degrees in their field of study, 20 students from Salisbury are being evaluated for graduation in January 2014 and over the past two years we have had 15 reverse transfer students from UMUC,” said Harrison.

Bridgett received her associate’s degree in person from CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried during a meeting between St. Mary’s County officials and the college. “It was a humbling experience to be a small part of promoting such a commendable program,” said Bridgett, who added that she was honored that Gottfried personally conveyed her associate’s degree.

Bridgett earned a bachelor’s degree in English communication from Campbell University and a master’s degree in special education from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. While working full-time, Bridgett earned a doctorate in education through Nova Southeastern University, Fla., by attending classes at extension centers in Northern Virginia and summer programs in Ft. Lauderdale.

“I am proud to be an alumna of CSM and the reverse transfer program allowed me to complete the associate’s degree from my hometown college. I think CSM is a gem in our community,” said Bridgett.

For information on the reverse transfer programs, visit, or contact or 301-934-7521.