Community College Students: How to Transfer to the UC System

Find out what requirements you need to meet in order to transfer to a University of California school.

If you’re hoping to transfer from a community college to one of the University of California’s (UC’s) nine undergraduate campuses, there are a few things you need to know. While transfer students are quite common on UC campuses (about 20 percent of UC undergrads are transfers), you still need to meet strict admission requirements in order to get in. Find out more about what steps you need to take in order to make the leap from community college to the UC system.

Get First Priority

If you’re attending community college in California, here’s some great news regarding your chances of being accepted as a transfer student at a UC school: The University of California gives first priority to California community college (CCC) students. You’ll need to provide transcripts from your CCC in order to get this priority status during the admissions process.

Students who attend community college in another state are not eligible for this priority status when applying to UC.

Make Your Courses Count

If you’re currently attending a CCC, your first step as a potential UC transfer student should be getting information on the Articulation System Stimulating Interinstitutional Student Transfer (ASSIST) website. This is the official repository for up-to-date and accurate information regarding course articulation in California.

On the site, students can explore both majors and campuses in order to find a good match for their interests and goals. Once they’ve settled on a major and an institution to which they’d like to transfer, ASSIST can provide information about how the credits earned at a California community college will be applied at a California university. Make sure you utilize this site (in conjunction with working with a counselor at your community college) in order to sign up for the right classes in preparation for your transfer.

Meet Admission Requirements

Due to UC’s high academic standards, there are certain admissions requirements that all community college students are expected to meet as transfer applicants. The following are the minimum requirements for junior-level transfers:

  • 60 semester (90 quarter) units completed, all of which are transferable college credits with a GPA of at least 2.4 (2.8 for non-residents). No more than 14 semester (21 quarter) units taken as Pass/Not Pass.
  • The following number of transferable course requirements completed, with a grade of C or better in each course: English composition (2), mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning (1), arts and humanities/social and behavioral sciences/physical and biological sciences (4 chosen from at least 2 of these subject areas)

Each of the courses must be worth at least three semester units (4.5 quarter units). You can use ASSIST to make sure that all the courses you take are transferable to the UC system. Keep in mind that while some academic requirements are UC-wide, other requirements can vary according to campus or your chosen major. To help determine which classes to take based on your major, look through UC’s major preparation paths.

Though most students transfer at the junior level, some UC campuses will admit a limited number of lower-division transfers. The UC website provides more information about how to transfer as a sophomore.

Guarantee Your Admission

California community college students who meet specific requirements can lock in their admission when they participate in a Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program. Available at most UC campuses, this program offers CCC students early review of their academic records, early admission notification and academic guidance tailored to their majors. Students who wish to obtain this guaranteed admission must complete a TAG application and review it with their college counselor and/or TAG advisor. If all the requirements in the student’s TAG agreement are met, transfer admission is secure.

To get started with the TAG program, use the Transfer Admission Planner on the UC website. This gives you access to customized transfer prep programs for each UC campus.

Know What Admissions Reviewers Look For

While the minimum requirements deal mainly with academics, that’s just part of what UC officials will be looking for when reviewing your transfer application. To help boost your chances of being accepted to your preferred UC campus, check out the following eight criteria that UC looks for in transfer applicants:

1. Completion of the appropriate number and pattern of courses to meet general education requirements
2. Completion of the appropriate number and pattern of courses to provide continuity with upper-division courses in the student’s chosen major
3. GPA in all transferable courses
4. Participation in academically selective honors courses or programs
5. Special talents, awards in a particular field, special interests, leadership experience, significant achievements, etc.
6. Completion of special academic or school-related projects
7. Academic accomplishments in light of the student’s life experiences (disability, low-income, veteran status, etc.)
8. Location of the college and the student’s residence

Keep in mind that, while using this comprehensive review system, UC places top priority on junior-level transfer students who attended a California community college.

Transferring from a community college to the UC system is a great way to save money and explore your interests on your way to earning a bachelor’s degree. Contact your community college counselor for assistance if you plan to transfer to the University of California.

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