Students have multiple pathways to higher education by transferring with an AA degree

By Angela Colonna/UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Central Florida is home to Orlando and its world-renowned theme parks. One of the fastest-growing urban centers in the U.S., the city is a short drive from some of the state’s beautiful beaches. 

But there’s more to central Florida than tourist attractions: you can earn a University of Florida degree here. 

As an academic adviser for the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), part of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), I meet many Orlando-area state and community college students. These students think the only way to be admitted to UF is as a traditional freshman, right out of high school. 

However, these bright, prospective UF students don’t realize there is another window that has been open all along: to transfer into the university with their associate of arts (AA) degree.

In addition to options for transferring to the Gainesville campus, an AA degree can also be used to transfer into a UF/IFAS CALS major at Apopka or online, so students can pursue a university degree while staying in their hometown for work or family reasons. 

“When I graduated high school, moving to Gainesville was not an option for me,” said Betty Morris, a UF/IFAS CALS geomatics student in Apopka. “Having the ability to take my classes online and work at the same time helps my dream of getting a UF degree finally come true.”

In central Florida, UF/IFAS CALS offers two undergraduate degrees, plant science and geomatics at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (MREC) in Apopka. Located just west of Orlando, MREC supports students with lab and field resources, teaching greenhouses, computers, and classrooms. Students work directly with on-site teaching faculty. Each of these degree programs has online lectures and coursework with in-person labs to gain hands-on experience.

The plant science major focuses on the art and science of growing plants and understanding their natural properties. Students in the geomatics major learn how to collect and utilize geospatial data for surveying and land mapping, and prepares students for state licensure.

In elementary school, I knew I loved working with plants,” said Kevin Dewansingh, a UF/IFAS CALS plant science student in Apopka. “It wasn’t until college I realized I can make this interest a career.”

From October 21-25, the nation celebrates Transfer Student Week. About half of the students who start at a two-year institution transfer into a four-year institution to complete their degree, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

UF/IFAS CALS undergraduate students located in Apopka, are all AA transfer students. Some are mid-career professionals who chose to return to school later in life while they continue to work. Other students are unable to move to the UF main campus due to financial or personal reasons but still want to join the Gator Nation. 

To become a UF/IFAS CALS student, all you need are the following: 

  • An Associate of Arts (AA) degree
  • Meet the UF foreign language requirement
  • Have at least a 2.0 GPA at all higher education institutions attended
  • Have the required GPA for the major you would like to pursue
  • Complete prerequisite courses for your major of interest found in the CALS transfer guide to majors: 

UF/IFAS CALS wants to help guide state and community college students to the university to achieve their dream careers. The best resource is to connect with the academic adviser in the degree program you wish to pursue to be sure all prerequisites and deadlines are met. 

If you are interested in a plant science or geomatics major, you can connect with me, the academic adviser for UF/IFAS CALS in Apopka, at or call 407-410-6946. 

Angela Colonna is an academic adviser for the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She is located at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida.

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources, and sustainable communities. The college has received more total (national and regional combined) USDA teaching awards than any other institution. Visit the CALS website at, and follow CALS on social media platforms at @ufcals.


  1. Oh okay, at the research center, in Apopka, or online. I thought I had missed something concerning a campus being built in Apopka. You know, I may be the only one who thinks that UCF having a campus in downtown Orlando is NOT SUCH A GREAT IDEA! Sorry, Mayor Dyer, IMO.

  2. I just finished sitting through 3 hours of the Democratic debate, and sipping about a pint of rum. The cutest thing was, I sat my laptop on my love seat, and turned the lights out, and had it on when the debate started, and Prince Giorgio went over to the front of the love seat, and raised up on his hind legs watching intently when Elizabeth Warren came on, and in his normally friendly self, he offered her his paw, and started whining, wanting her to talk to him, and pay him some attention! He really thought she was right there and real, and would tell him how cute and special, and what a treasure he is! Yes, that is the candidate who Prince Giorgio likes the best……..what a great opportunity for free college and forgiveness of college debts with Elizabeth, if she is elected president, plus she would clamp down on corporate monopoly, greed, and getting away with paying no taxes.


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