Moving from community college to a 4-year university in California.
If your college search starts with a community college program in California and you are interested in making a college transfer to a school in the University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) system, you should be aware of the California college transfer agreements. As with several other states, California college admissions boards are required by law to offer very generous college transfer policies. For those who thought they would find college transfer from a community college to a 4-year college to be an arduous process, this is great news.
These California college transfer agreements can make it easier for students to transfer from community colleges to UC or CSU schools. If you are trying to get into a UC or CSU school but don’t quite have the money, grades or test scores to attend right now, you may discover that a California community college can offer you the most direct path to the school of your choice.
Transfer Law in California
According to state law on college transfer agreements, each California community college must develop a core curriculum that, if completed, will satisfy the lower division degree requirements for any UC or CSU schools. UC and CSU schools are requested to develop a commonality of major requirements, so students at community colleges taking specific courses as prerequisites to given undergraduate majors will be able to transfer those prerequisites to the UC or CSU school.
The law requires that UC and CSU schools set up a specific path of requirements that, if fulfilled by the community college student, will lead directly to admission to that school, subject to enrollment limitations and special circumstances. As a result, 8 out of 10 California community college students are accepted to 4-year California colleges and universities through a transfer.
The transfer requirements include:
- Completion of 60 semester or 90 quarter units of transferable UC college credit with a GPA of no less than 2.4 (with no more than 14 semester or 21 quarter units taken pass/no pass)
- A grade of C or better in two transferable college courses (a transferable course must be three semesters or 4-5 quarter units) in Area UC-E (English composition), one transferrable college course in Area UC-M (mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning) and four transferable college courses in two out of the following three areas: Area UC-H (arts and humanities), Area UC-B (social and behavioral sciences) and Area UC-S (physical and biological sciences).
According to the UC Transfer website, nearly a third of all UC bachelors degrees are awarded to transfer students, and students who transfer in as juniors graduate on average 2.4 years after starting at the UC school.
What all of this means is that for those who want to go to undergraduate colleges and universities in California and aren’t quite ready yet, either due to academic performance or personal circumstances, there are other routes. While pursuing online degrees or some kind of distance learning program is one way to deal with difficulty getting into a traditional 4-year program, starting at a community college and then transferring instead can be another helpful option.
What Is the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum?
As you’re exploring transfer possibilities, you may hear about the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC). What is it? This is the curriculum that fulfills the lower division core requirements at UC schools as part of the college transfer agreements. There are 34 core units required for UC schools and 37 for CSU schools. Completing the IGETC does not guarantee admissions to UC schools. However, if you are admitted, you will be on a fast track to completing your degree, as many basic requirements will already have been satisfied.
Tips & Tactics for Transferring from California Community Colleges to 4-Year Schools
- A Campus Explorer college search can help you find the right community college and the UC or CSU transfer college you’d like to transfer to.
- To find a list of the various core curriculum courses offered by California community colleges, visit the IGETC website. Taking these courses will make it easier to complete your undergraduate degree.
- Not sure which CSU or UC school you want to go to? Remember: Your credits will transfer to any of them, so you can choose the schools based on other factors important to you. As you’re deciding, think short-term about the type of college experience you want to have, as well as what your long-term goals are for your education. If you will eventually want to continue your education to an MBA program or PhD, your best bet is to start thinking now about which college programs and schools can help you best achieve that goal.