Transfer Services

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English & Mathematics Competencies


If you are unsure of your major, concentrate on completing lower-division general education requirements. These courses are transferable, and meet admission requirements. Taking general education courses is a good way of learning about the various disciplines and helping you decide on a major.

General Education

A baccalaureate degree from the CSU has a dual purpose: to provide a broad education and to prepare you for specific professional and occupational goals. CSU stresses the importance of the arts and sciences as the foundation of the baccalaureate degree. For this reason, the CSU requires all students, regardless of major, to complete a program of general education as part of the baccalaureate.

California community college catalogs identify which courses are acceptable to meet CSU lower-division general education requirements. While completion of general education requirements is not required for admission, it is important to complete as many of the lower-division general education requirements as possible prior to transfer. (Some students in majors that require extensive lower-division prerequisites may not be able to complete all lower-division general education requirements prior to transfer. (See Lower-Division Pre-Major section). If you enroll at CSU with 56 transferable semester (84 quarter) units but have completed few general education units, completion of your baccalaureate program may take longer than expected. Good planning is essential!

The CSU provides California community college transfers with two options for fulfilling CSU lower-division general education requirements. You should review the two programs described below and discuss with your college counselor which program is best for you.

CSU Education-Breadth Requirements--
The General Education-Breadth (GE-Breadth) program requires that students who select this option complete at least 48 semester (72 quarter) units of general education to receive the baccalaureate degree. At least 9 of these units must be upper division level.

The GE-Breadth program is designed to educate students to:

  • think, write, and speak clearly and logically;
  • reason quantitatively;
  • gain knowledge about the human body and mind, the development and functioning of human society, the physical and biological world, and human cultures and civilizations; and
  • develop an understanding of the principles, methods, and values of human inquiry.

The 48 semester (72 quarter) units required for CSU GE-Breadth are distributed as follows:

  • Area A--A minimum of 9 semester (12 quarter) units in Communication in the English Language, to include both oral and written communication, and, in Critical Thinking, to include consideration of common fallacies in reasoning,
  • Area B--A minimum of 12 semester (18 quarter) units to include inquiry into the Physical Universe and Its Life Forms ,with some immediate participation in laboratory activity, and into mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning and their applications.
  • Area C--A minimum of 12 semester (18 quarter) units among the Arts, Literature, Philosophy, and Foreign Language.
  • Area D--A minimum of 12 semester (18 quarter) units dealing with Human Social, Political, and Economic Institutions and Behavior and their historical background.
  • Area E--A minimum of 3 semester (4 quarter) units in study designed to equip human beings for Lifelong Understanding and Development of themselves as integrated physiological and psychological entities.

Up to 39 of the 48 GE-Breadth units required can be transferred from and certified by a California Community College or other certifying institution. Students who are certified with 39 semester units of lower-division GE-Breadth units will be required to complete a minimum of 9 semester units of upper division general education work after transfer.

It is important that you request that your community college certify completion of California Community College coursework that meets CSU general education requirements. Certification mean that the CSU will accept these courses to meet the CSU GE-Breadth areas designated by your California Community College. (Please see Certification section)

Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC)--
The Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum is a general education program that California Community College transfers can use to fulfill all lower-division general education requirements at any CSU or University of California campus. This curriculum provides transfer students with an alternative to the CSU General Education-Breadth requirements.

The IGETC requires completion of a minimum of 37 semester (49 quarter) units of lower division work with a C grade or better in each course.

Requirements of the IGETC are:

  • Area 1--English Communication--Three courses required, one in English composition, one in critical thinking-English composition, and one in oral communication (at least 9 semester or 12 quarter units);
  • Area 2--Mathematical Concepts and Quantitative Reasoning--One course (at least 3 semester or 4 quarter units);
  • Area 3--Arts and Humanities--At least three courses, with at least one from the arts and one from the humanities (at least 9 semester or 12 quarter units);
  • Area 4--Social and Behavior Sciences--At least three courses from at least two disciplines or an interdisciplinary (at least 9 semester or 12 quarter units);
  • Area 5--Physical and Biological Sciences--Two courses, one physical science and one biological science; at least one must include a laboratory (at least 7 semester or 9 quarter units).

The course requirements for all areas of IGETC must be completed and certified by a California Community College to be accepted by CSU or UC. (See Certification section below.) If you complete IGETC requirements and your courses are certified, you will be required to complete at least 9 semester units of upper division general education work after transfer to a CSU campus.

Since IGETC is accepted by both the CSU and University of California, it is a good option if you are undecided about the system to which you will transfer. If you are enrolled in a major that requires extensive lower-division preparation, you may not be able to complete all the IGETC requirements prior to transfer. Therefore, completing IGETC may not be useful since partial certification is not allowed.

You should consult with your counselor to determine which general education program is most appropriate for you.

Certification of General Education Requirements--
California Community Colleges and other qualified institutions can certify completion of up to 39 lower-division semester units applicable to GE-Breadth requirements or all of the courses required for IGETC. "Certification" refers to official notification from a California Community College that a transfer student has completed courses fulfilling CSU general education requirements.

After you have applied for admission to a CSU campus, you should visit your California Community College admission or counseling office to request certification of courses meeting CSU general education requirements. The California Community College will then officially notify a CSU campus that these requirements have been satisfied. (CSU campuses will also accept certification of courses meeting the CSU graduation requirement in the U.S. History, Constitution, and American Ideals. See American Institutions Requirement.)

Certification of General Education-Breadth Courses: Certification of GE-Breadth is not required prior to transfer. CSU campuses will accept certification of one or more complete areas (e.g., all of the units required for Area A) or up to 39 lower division units.

Certification of IGETC: All of the courses required for the IGETC must be completed in order for CSU campuses to accept the certification. Certification of "Areas" is not allowed under IGETC. Additionally, all of the courses used for IGETC must be completed with a C or better grade (a C minus is not acceptable) for the certification to be accepted. If you are following the IGETC program but you have not completed all of the courses required for IGETC before you are ready to transfer, most of this coursework can be certified under the CSU GE-Breadth program.

It is important that you request certification of general education coursework. Certification will ensure that a CSU campus accepts all your courses in the areas in which the coursework is certified. If you do not request certification, the CSU campus you transfer to will apply your general education courses to the general education areas that are the most appropriate. See your counselor for more information about certification.

Lower Division Pre-Major Courses

Some majors require or recommend introductory or prerequisites courses, most of which are offered at community colleges. These "pre-major" requirements are described in CSU campus catalogs. Most CSU campuses have articulation agreements with several California Community Colleges specifying coursework that can be completed to satisfy lower-division requirements for the major. Check the articulation agreement to be sure your courses will be accepted toward the degree at the CSU campus you plan to attend. You can obtain articulation agreements for specific majors from your counselor or Transfer Center director.

A few CSU majors, such as engineering, some math-based fields, science, and other technical majors, have many lower-division requirements that you may not be able to complete the lower-division general education requirements before you transfer. You should see your counselor to determine which courses can be completed after you transfer.

American Institution Requirements

The CSU requires each graduate to be knowledgeable about the Constitution of the United States, American History and state and local government. The "U.S. History, Constitution, and American Ideals Requirement" is generally known as the American Institution Requirement. You can complete this requirement either by passing a comprehensive examination or by completing the required courses--generally two. California Community Colleges have identified courses that can be completed at the lower-division level before you transfer. In addition, many CSU campuses permit courses that meet this requirement to satisfy General Education-Breadth requirements. Community college counselors have information about how individual CSU campuses handle this requirement.

All California Community Colleges have designated courses that satisfy CSU's American Institution Requirement. Completion of these courses can be certified by your community college.

Elective Courses

Elective courses are those that count toward total transfer units needed for admission but are not used to fulfill lower division pre-major, general education, or graduation requirements. If you haven't decided on a major, taking elective courses in different fields is a good way to explore your career interests and aptitudes. Check your college catalog carefully to be sure that these courses are transferable to the CSU for elective credit.

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

All CSU campuses require students to demonstrate competence in writing skills at the upper-division level as a requirement for graduation. At some CSU campuses students who enter their junior year can meet this requirement by completing an appropriate course, while other campuses require a passing score on a specified exam.

Many transfer students report that there is an increased amount of required writing in the CSU. Therefore, while you are taking courses that prepare you for transfer, you should also work on continued improvement of your reading and writing skills. Getting assistance with writing while you are at the California Community College will prepare you for the demands of university study and help you prepare to pass the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement for the baccalaureate.

Other Baccalaureate Requirements

Besides requirements for the major and general education, CSU campuses may require other courses for the baccalaureate degree. You should read the catalogs of the CSU campuses that you are considering for transfer and familiarize yourself with their graduation requirements. For example, some campuses require foreign language study as a part of the preparation for certain majors or for graduation.

Continuous Attendance and Catalog Rights

Students who have been enrolled either at a California Community College or a CSU campus for at least one semester or two quarters of consecutive calendar years are considered to be "in continuous attendance".

This concept is important because continuous attendance affects the requirements you must meet to graduate from a CSU campus. Institutions occasionally modify graduation requirements. If you have been in continuous attendance, you may choose to meet the CSU campus graduation requirements in the CSU catalog that was in effect:

  • at the time you began continuous attendance at the California Community College.
  • at the time you transferred to the CSU campus, or
  • at the time you graduate from the CSU campus.

By maintaining continuous attendance and selecting option (1) or (2), you can be assured that your CSU campus graduation requirements will not change. Your right to choose one of these options is called "catalog rights."

If you do not remain in continuous attendance, you will reestablish catalog rights at the time you reenroll in any California Community College or begin attending a CSU campus. If you are unsure about your catalog rights, you should consult your community college counselor.

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