Have a Question About Transfer?

Review our Frequently Asked Questions to get answers to some of the most common transfer questions. Still have a question? Visit the Transfer Center to ask!

1. What does transfer mean?

The term "transfer" describes a student’s academic advancement from a community college to a university. Transfer means that you begin your bachelor's degree at a community college and complete it at a university.

2. What is the relationship between community colleges and the university?

Universities offer both lower division (freshman and sophomore) and upper division (junior and senior) coursework. Community colleges offer lower division courses only. The university accepts certain community college courses as comparable to courses that are required for freshman and sophomore students at the university through a process called articulation. In that way, community college courses become transferable and are counted toward the requirements to graduate from the university with a bachelor's degree.

3. What is articulation?

Articulation is the process of evaluating courses to determine whether coursework completed at one institution (e.g. a community college) will meet the requirements at another institution (e.g. a university) for the purposes of admission, transferable units, general education or major preparation. It is this process that ensures that the classes you take at CCSF will be credited toward your bachelor's degree requirements when you enter a university. Articulation agreements are formal documents that describe which coursework is accepted. Some articulation agreements are "course-to-course agreements", meaning that they show a specific course from one institution and the comparable specific course from another. Other articulation agreements are "major agreements", meaning that they show a set of courses that are acceptable to fulfill an entire requirement for major preparation. All segments of the public higher education system in California---the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California--have agreed to have a single repository for articulation agreements between the community colleges and the universities. That repository is the ASSIST web site, which you will find under our “Quick Links” on our homepage.

4. What is the difference between the California State University and the University of California?

The California State University (CSU) system of higher education in California grants the most bachelor degrees. It is considered the more practical, career-oriented of the two systems. There are 23 CSU campuses. The University of California (UC) system is considered more of a research institution. The UC grants professional and doctorate degrees as well as bachelor and master degrees. It is considered the more theoretical in approach of the two systems. There are ten UC campuses (though one is a professional school only).

5. What is the difference between a semester and a quarter?

Each academic institution operates according to an academic calendar, with terms marking the beginning and end of each session of classes. A semester is a calendar that divides the academic year into 15 - 17 week terms. There are generally two semesters per academic year: Fall (beginning in August or September) and Spring (beginning in January). Some semester-based schools also offer a Summer session that is shorter than a regular semester and is not a part of the regular academic year. A quarter is the other most common type of academic term. Each quarter is 10 weeks in length and there are usually three quarters in an academic year: Fall (beginning in September), Winter (beginning in January), and Spring (beginning in March). A few quarter-based schools offer a forth Summer Quarter, but it is not considered an official term in the academic year. CCSF is on the semester calendar.

6. Which CCSF courses transfer to a university?

CCSF has over 1800 transferable courses to the CSU, and over 1400 transferable courses to UC. Students can check if a course is transferable by referring to the CCSF Catalog or by going to www.assist.org

7. How many units do I need to transfer?

You will achieve full junior standing when you have completed 60 transferable semester units. If you wish to transfer as a lower division student, the university will consider your high school record in determining whether to admit you. The University of California requires 60 UC-transferable semester units for upper division transfer. UC campuses currently are not accepting students as lower division transfers. The California State University currently grants junior standing at 60 semester units. CSU campuses currently are not accepting lower division transfers. Independent and out-of-state universities often accept students with fewer than 60 semester units and will require out-of-state tuition. Please check the online catalog for the specific university to which you want to transfer for their requirements. A CCSF transfer counselor can assist you with that.

8. If I earn an Associate degree (A.A./A.S.), will I be prepared to transfer? Do I need this degree to transfer?

Generally, meeting the requirements for an Associate degree will not prepare you for transfer admissions. Not all courses that are counted toward an Associate degree are accepted for transfer, and General Education requirements differ as well. (See question 13, "What is General Education (GE)" below.) However, it is possible to earn a CCSF Associate degree by completing 60 Associate degree units and fulfilling all of the GE requirements for transfer. You do not need an A.A. or A.S. degree to transfer. The A.A./A.S. degree is not required or considered as an admissions requirement. Many students choose to obtain an A.A./A.S. degree prior to transferring for personal or professional reasons. The program of study for the A.A./A.S. degree can overlap with the lower division preparation for transfer. Privates, out-of-state and international schools vary. If your objective is to transfer, be sure to seek the advice of a Transfer Counselor for the appropriate program of study.

9. Is there a maximum number of units that I can transfer?

California public universities will count a maximum of 70 community college units toward the total number of units you need to complete for a bachelor's degree. Independent and out-of-state institutions vary in their limits and you should check their catalog or web site for information. Different limits may apply if you have already attended a "four-year" institution and you should meet with a counselor right away.

10. What if I take more than 70 transferable units?

The 70-unit limit applies only to the number of units that will be counted toward graduation and does not apply to courses. The university will grant subject credit for course content needed to satisfy requirements for general education or major preparation, even if they do not count the units for all of your courses toward graduation.

11. What is the minimum grade point average (GPA) required for transfer admission?

The minimum GPA accepted for transfer to the CSU is 2.0 for California residents, 2.0 for non-residents. The CSU has designated some highly popular majors or campuses as impacted or high demand, for which higher GPAs and/or minimum course completion are required. The minimum GPA accepted for transfer to the UC is 2.4 for California residents, 2.8 for non-residents. UC campuses have designated some highly popular majors as selective, for which students have to meet competitive selection criteria (higher GPAs and minimum course completion requirements) to be admitted. Grade point averages necessary for transfer to independent and out-of-state universities vary. Consult the institution's printed or online catalog.

12. What is a competitive GPA for transfer?

Grade point averages necessary to compete for admission to impacted or selective programs vary from year to year, depending on the pool of applicants for any given academic year. Generally, a GPA of 3.0 is considered competitive, though even higher GPAs may be required to gain admission to majors and campuses for which most students apply. A CCSF transfer counselor can tell you whether that is the case for the major or campus of your choice.

13. What is General Education (GE)?

General Education is a set of courses through which you will become broadly educated by taking classes that cover a wide range of disciplines. GE courses are usually introductory in nature and provide you with fundamental knowledge in English, mathematics, the arts and humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences. You will complete the majority of GE coursework needed to receive a bachelor's degree while you are lower division (freshman/sophomore) student at a community college. After transferring to a university with upper-division (junior/senior) status, you will be required to take only a few GE courses, so you can focus on your major. For example, you will be required to complete at least 48 units of GE to graduate from a CSU, 39 of which are completed at the lower division level. The GE unit requirements for independent and out-of-state institutions vary, but the ratio of lower division to upper-division is similar. GE courses are divided into subject areas and GE patterns and describe the number of courses that you must take in each subject area to meet total GE requirements. Each institution has its own GE (sometimes called breadth or core) pattern. There are also GE patterns that are accepted by the entire CSU and/or UC systems for transfer to any campus in that system.

14. What is a major?

A major is a program of coursework in a subject area or discipline that leads to a degree. Your major is the primary area of study in which you will develop the greatest depth of knowledge. The university faculty that teaches in the department of your major will determine the unit and subject area requirements you must meet to be granted your degree.

15. Do I have to declare a major and can I change it after I transfer?

You will need to indicate a major when you apply to the university. Some majors that are selective or impacted will have you apply as a pre-major. Upon completion of prerequisites, you would petition the department for admission. Some majors require very little such preparation, while other majors require many courses. It is important to choose a major early and find out about the preparation that you will need to be admitted to your major. For example, the UC requires that students complete most, if not all, of their major preparation before transfer.
The ability to change a major completely depends on the rules governing major changes at the college or university that you will be attending. Don't assume this is easy to do. In some majors that are impacted, changing your major is discouraged once you arrive at the university.

16. How do I choose a major?

The very best way to choose your major is by participating in a career exploration process or internship. You are probably becoming educated in order to enjoy a prosperous and interesting life and your work will a big part of that life. Along the way to discovering what you want to do with your time and energy, you will get information about the education you need to have in order to do it. That is your major. Some students also use a sampling method that involves taking GE courses in a number of disciplines to determine which one interests them most. One disadvantage of this method is that it can take a long time for such a process of elimination. Certainly, if you use this method, it is important to learn what you might do with your major and decide whether any of the possibilities appeal to you.

17. How do I find out what classes to take to prepare for my major?

Nearly all CSU and UC campuses provide information about articulation by major at www.assist.org. In addition, CCSF has articulation agreements with many private universities within California and selected private and public colleges and universities nationwide. These agreements can be found on the CCSF Articulation Office Webiste.

18. What is a minor?

A minor is a secondary focus of study that you may choose to augment your major for career purposes, for graduate education, or simply out of interest. Most minors require 18-24 units to complete. Minors are only available for some majors and not all schools offer minors.

19. How do I find out about the transfer requirements of any particular school?

Information for transfer students is published in the catalog (either printed or online) of any institution. The Transfer Counseling Center has an extensive library of catalogs and supplementary material that is sent to us from universities all over the country. Transfer Counseling Center staff is available to assist you in locating and using these resources. In addition, a number of universities send representatives to the annual Transfer Day event that is held in September. Some of those representatives also visit CCSF on a regular basis to meet with students individually.

20. Will my high school grades and SAT scores count when I transfer?

The UC and CSU system do not require high school grades and test scores when a student transfers as a junior, 60 or more transferable units. However, independent/private schools may consider these as factors in their admissions process.

21. What is the best school for my major? How can I find the best schools?

A common resource is this website - US News & World Report. Note: going to the “best” school or the “highest-ranking” relates more to students going into graduate studies or professional studies programs.
However, if the ranking is important to you, be sure to know the particular factors used in generating the rankings because they define "best" and their definition may not be yours. Talk with faculty here who teach courses related to your selected major to get their ideas about the best schools. Visit universities and talk with the faculty and teaching assistants from the department offering your major of choice.

22. When do I apply to transfer and what if I missed a deadline?

This depends on the deadlines given by the institution you are applying to, and the term for which you are applying. But, find out this information early so you can be ready to apply when the time comes. Generally, you apply one full academic year before you are ready to enroll. You will be applying to transfer well before you have all your requirements completed. The Transfer offers CSU and UC application workshops to help with the application process.

Applications past the filing deadline are accepted on a campus-by-campus basis. Universities determine a specific number of transfer admissions and when that number is reached, admission is closed. The more popular universities easily fill their admissions quota with applicants filing on time. Other universities continue to take applicants past the filing period/deadline.

23. Are there advantages to starting your college career at a community college rather than the four year school?

Yes, there are several important advantages. The community colleges are much less expensive, and often have smaller class sizes than the four-year schools. Also, it is often easier to get into the university of your choice at the junior level than it is to get in at the freshman level directly out of high school.

24. Are community college students as successful at the University as students who started at the University as a freshman?

Yes, our transfer students, on average, do as well as and in some cases better than, students who started as freshmen at the four-year schools. According Community College League of California, 55% of CSU graduates and 28% of UC graduates began their college years at a community college - and, upon transferring to either four-year institution, obtained GPAs equal to, or better than, "native" UC or CSU students.

25. Do credit/no credit grades transfer? Do "D" grades or "W's"?

In some classes, you can choose the Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) grading option rather than a letter grade. The deadline to notify your instructor that you prefer the CR/NC grade option is on the semester calendar in the schedule of classes. Grades of CR and NC are not factored into your GPA. A CR is a passing grade indicating satisfactory completion of course requirements. A NC grade is not a passing grade but will not hurt your GPA. This grading option is not intended for the courses required by your major. "D" grades received in transferable coursework are included in a student’s transferable GPA. In most cases, W's are not a focus of admission decisions unless there is an excessive number of W's over a longer course of time.

26. I have attended another college, how do I know if these courses transfer?

A Transfer Center counselor can help with an unofficial examination of domestic transcripts. Students need to make an appointment and bring in all transcripts (unofficial copies are okay).


Caution: The final responsibility for a successful transfer program rests with the student. This information changes frequently and can impact your admission to the university. It is highly advised that you meet periodically with counselors at City College AND advisors at the university to confirm your choice of classes and educational plan.