UC Transfer Admission Update

This is a repost of my last public UC transfer admission update (from Fall 2016). I no longer make the updates publicly available due to multiple incursions by the UCs.

To obtain current updates, you have the option to wade through comprehensive information provided by the UCs in the Quick Reference Guide to UC Admissions (86 pages; about half of the guide covers transfer admissions) or the presentation slides/notes from the September 2023 UC Ensuring Transfer Success conference. If you want to get my notes (include my opinions and interpretation of the updates) of the sessions I attended (systemwide/campus updates, advanced evaluation, and UC Application), you may purchase a back issue of my September 2023 transfer newsletter here for $25 (remain on the payment page after you pay and you will be redirected to the PDF – please note, purchase of a digital product is NONREFUNDABLE).

The information below is accumulated from previous Ensuring Transfer Success conferences (up to Fall 2016) and not likely to change dramatically in the foreseeable future. I did my best to label the information (with headings) to make scanning through everything easier.

General Information

  • The UCs want you to know that your previous transfer application(s) are available and will be reviewed/compared to your current transfer application (note that your freshman application will NOT be reviewed if you are applying as a transfer); make sure there are no discrepancies between your applications or preemptively offer an explanation if discrepancies exist.
  • Winter grades submitted through Transfer Academic Update are NOT calculated into the GPA used for admission evaluation. However, some UCs MAY use the information for selection.
  • You MUST complete the English and Math requirements before the end of Fall term to be competitive for admission.
    • If you are completing the requirements in Spring prior to transfer, you need to demonstrate good progress toward successful completion of those courses. For example, showing that you have completed prerequisite courses (even if they are not transferable) with good grades. This may mean listing all of your ESL classes or non-transferable English classes, or non-transferable math classes, to show that you have a consistent record of doing well in them (that also means you should not be taking these classes P/NP).
    • I think you can get away with finishing the English and Math requirements in winter term as long as you can report the grades while the Transfer Academic Update remains open, which is to the end of March (the grades will not count in the GPA used for admission evaluation, but they will assure the UCs that you passed the required courses).
  • Try to have a comfortable cushion above the 60-semester/90-quarter minimum unit requirement. Otherwise you may become ineligible if you miscounted AP credits or unknowingly lost some units due to credit limitation.
  • In the UC Application, focus on activities AFTER high school. I think it’s ok for you to pad the list with high school activities if you have nothing else to add, but activities you partake after high school should get priority.
  • UCs do not consider geographical location when making admission decisions.
  • Check Quick Reference Guide to UC Admissions for the “UC Campus Policies and Procedures for Evaluating Transfer Applicants” (starting on page 44) for a campus-by-campus comparison of transfer admission criteria, process, and procedure.
  • It is imperative that you replicate your college transcripts on the UC Application. That means entering in every D/F/AR/NP grades you have and every course you took (manually enter in any courses that are not UC-transferable). Discrepancies in UC-transferable coursework are grounds for admission cancellation. While you are not required to report courses that are not UC-transferable, reporting them will help UCs see your enrollment pattern (full-time vs. part-time).
  • Applicants interested in UCLA should do everything they can to get into the Honors/Scholars programs at their community college campus (UCLA TAP). TAP applicants are 2.5 times more likely to be admitted than regular applicants.
  • TAG composes a small percentage of admitted students (usually less than 25%) at most UCs that offer it. The UCs want to encourage you to apply during the regular application cycle even if you do not have TAG.
  • Intercampus transfers should complete major prerequisites for their major at the UCs where they want to transfer (not their current UC campus). Check Assist.org for a list of major prerequisites (randomly pick a CCC and check each UC campus for the major prerequisites, then make educated guesses as to which course at your UC will fulfill the requirements). UC Reciprocity will make your life easier after you transfer, but it’s not required.
  • In the June 2023 Annual Report on Undergraduate Admissions Requirements and Comprehensive Review, each of the UC campuses provided a description of how transfer admission evaluation is conducted.

Major Preparation

Berkeley – Major prep is exceptionally important, especially for Engineering, Haas, Chemistry (where 100% of required coursework MUST be completed or else you are ineligible for admission), and “high demand” majors in the College of Letters & Science. Remember you must complete the MAP@Berkeley update along with the UC Transfer Academic Update to remain eligible for admission evaluation. Missing/incomplete updates mean your application won’t be reviewed.

Davis – Only “selective majors” screen for major prep. You can see the list of “selective majors” here. College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will consider lower-division transfers for certain majors.

Irvine – The required major prep listed here (use Assist.org to find corresponding courses) MUST be completed.

UCLA – The campus emphasized, repeatedly, that common major prep that are often available should be completed even if your CCC does NOT offer them (if the CCC 10 miles away from your CCC offers them, you are expected to cross-enroll). I also want to bring your attention to the fact that UCLA requires major prep for ALL majors, but NOT all major prep courses are listed on Assist.org (especially the humanities majors). For the most ACCURATE and UP-TO-DATE major prep requirements, go here.

Merced – The campus is screening major prep for EVERY major; you will not be considered for admission if you are missing major prep that is listed on Assist.org. The campus will admit students with GPA as low as 2.4 for Engineering and Humanities/Arts, as long as all major prep is completed.

Riverside – Only “selective majors” screen for major prep. You can see the list of “selective majors” here. The campus will consider lower-division transfers; applicants must be UC-eligible out of high school.

San Diego – The campus only screens major prep for “selective” or “screening major prep” majors. Applicants to other majors, provided that they complete at least the minimum transfer requirements, appear to be admitted based on a ranking of GPA. Last reliable information for the general GPA cutoff was from Fall 2015 and it was around 3.4.

Santa Barbara – Only “selective” majors screen for major prep. You can see the majors and the required major prep here. The campus no longer automatically review engineering applicants for admission to the College of Letters & Science; now engineering applicants MUST indicate an alternate major in L&S to be considered for admission to the campus if they are NOT competitive for admission to engineering.

Santa Cruz – The campus has indicated that only “screening” majors require major prep. You can see the majors and the required major prep here.

Transfer Selection Process

  • Confidentiality does NOT extend to crimes committed; ongoing/current crimes mentioned in the Personal Insight Questions will be reported to the authorities.
  • Unlike the freshman applications, transfer applications all reside on the same server and each campus accesses/sees the same applications, with any notes or requested information attached (this is why when one UC asks you for more information, you are told that other UCs will see the information too; whatever you submit is attached to your application, which is accessed by all of the UCs that you have applied to).
  • What students should do when there aren’t many/any articulated engineering courses at their home CCCs.
    • Berkeley said that it expects students to take similar, non-articulated courses to demonstrate subject proficiency (same goes for the recommended requirements).
    • Davis said it will waive required courses if the student’s home CCC does not offer articulated coursework.
    • UCLA said that students cannot miss more than two required courses regardless of whether the student’s home CCC offers the articulated coursework.
    • Santa Barbara said that students are encouraged to check with the engineering undergraduate advisor for available online courses to take (might be a good resource for satisfying requirements for other UCs as well).
    • If you are missing any requirements or had to take non-articulated courses, be sure to provide an explanation in Additional Comments.


The UCs want to remind you that it is most likely worth the time to stay at your CCC and finish IGETC. Lower-division requirements at the UCs can be numerous and potentially costly if you have to stay an extra term or year to finish them. If you are in a hurry to transfer, see if you can get partial-IGETC, which will allow you to wrap up the requirements after you transfer (Berkeley does NOT accept partial-IGETC).


I want to remind you that picking different majors between the TAG and the UC Application will VOID your TAG application. You will simply be considered as a regular applicant for admission (the guarantee is out the window but you won’t be penalized as a regular applicant).

Complicated Transfer Situations

Gaps in Education

Even though you are only allowed to put your last high school attended on the UC Application, you have the option to add more than one high school on the Transfer Admission Planner (TAP) and you should account for ALL high schools attended (and add a note in the UC Application to account for ALL high schools attended). The UCs are super finicky about this (partly due to gaps in education and partly due to language of instruction issues) so just provide the information upfront to save yourself the trouble of getting contacted later.

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Assist Footnotes

Be sure to review footnotes (usually signaled with a symbol next to the course, such as *, +, #) for credit limitations, partial credit, and other course restrictions (which can often result in students completing insufficient units or missing requirements).

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Credit Limitation/Partial Credit

For any courses that have unit limitations (like PE or ESL), the UCs will count the best grades you receive within the course group. Example: UCs will count a maximum of 4 semester units of PE courses and let’s say you have 6 units in PE with 3 units worth of As, 2 units worth of Bs, and 1 unit worth of Cs; the UCs will count 3 units of As and 1 unit of Bs for your GPA calculation. Courses with unit limitations also provide a loophole for you to “repeat” courses in which you received a C or better; for example, you may take business calculus for a better grade if you received a C in general calculus, since there is usually a unit limitation between the calculus courses.

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Out-of-Sequence Coursework

You will not receive credit for lower-level coursework if you had successfully completed higher-level coursework. This applies to chemistry, English as a second language, math, and language other than English courses only (UCs only consider these four subjects to be sequential). For example, if you receive a C in organic chemistry and go back to take regular (inorganic) chemistry, you DON’T get unit credit for the LOWER (inorganic) chemistry course (because you got credit with the C for organic chemistry).

Now, if you received a non-passing grade (lower than a C) in organic chemistry, then you can get credit for regular (inorganic) chemistry. Does that make sense? Similarly, if you take the second half of Calculus and get a C, you won’t get unit credit if you take the first half of Calculus (but you can get unit credit if you received a C- in the second half of Calculus). I know this is really confusing!

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If you report an “incomplete” on your UC Application, make sure you clearly explain how you are resolving the grade and the approximate timeline.

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Transfer Academic Update

Failure to submit the TAU will render your UC Application incomplete and therefore ineligible for admission consideration. Depending on how strong your academic profile is, some UCs may nag you to update or still consider your application, but I don’t recommend taking that risk. Make sure you complete the TAU (accessible by logging back into the UC Application) by the priority deadline, which is January 31. Don’t forget, Berkeley requires a separate update that you MUST complete to remain eligible for admission to that campus. The deadline is also January 31 and the update is accessible through MAP@Berkeley.

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Maximum Credit Limit

Review “High-Unit Limits and Admission Policy By Campus,” which can be found here (on pages 37 and 38 of the PDF file), if you have four-year college or UC coursework; the policy does NOT apply to students with ONLY CCC coursework.

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Former UC Students

You are NOT eligible to transfer to ANY UC campus if you were previously DISMISSED from an UC campus due to unsatisfactory academic performance. You must work with your UC campus to come up with a plan to remove the academic dismissal before you can transfer to another UC campus.

UC -> CC -> different UC – You may complete IGETC and satisfy the ELWR with a CCC English course.

UC -> CC -> same UC – You CANNOT use IGETC for returning to your UC and you CANNOT use a CCC English course to satisfy ELWR. You must work with your UC campus to come up with an academic plan that will ensure your readmission.

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Berkeley Reading & Composition Requirement for Non-CCC Transfers

Search for articulated coursework from your institution here. Follow the instructions on that page to request articulation evaluation if your school or coursework is not listed.

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CCC Transfer Definition

The UCs define CCC students as students who have:

  • Completed at least 30 semester (45 quarter) UC-transferable units at one or more California community colleges; and
  • A California community college as the last institution attended prior to transfer (excluding summer sessions).

Source: Quick Reference Guide to UC Admissions (page 31)

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Major Prep P/NP Grading

Absolutely not (some exceptions allowed during COVID-19 pandemic terms).

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Course Repeat Policy

The UCs will only count the most recent grade for any repeated courses (you can only repeat courses in which you have received a D, F, or NP; please note exception below regarding C- grades). Here are some examples:

  • Let’s say you got an F, repeated the course and got a D, then repeated it again and got an F, the last F is what will be calculated into your GPA because it is the most recent. The other D and F will be excluded because you have “repeated” the course.
  • The policy gets turned upside down when it comes to P/NP courses. So let’s say you took a course for P/NP and received a NP, then repeated the course for a grade and received an F, then repeated the course again for P/NP and received a NP, the F gets calculated into your GPA because it is a letter grade (P/NP grades are excluded from GPA calculation).

If your community college uses the +/- designations and on your transcript, you see an explanation for how the +/- affects grade points (for example, a C- is a 1.7), then you should repeat courses in which you received a C- or lower (because you need at least a C or 2.0 to pass).

For any courses in which you received a D- or better, you will receive unit credit for the course but not the subject credit. That means you may count those units toward your 60 semester/90 quarter unit requirements, but the courses will not count toward satisfying any course requirements.

For UC Students – If you receive a grade between C- and D- in a course at your UC campus, you CANNOT repeat the course at CCC because units were granted at your UC; you must repeat the course at a UC campus (UC Extension ok) to improve your GPA. If you received an F in a course at your UC campus, you may repeat the course at CCC because you did not receive any units; however, your GPA will not improve (the F will still be calculated into your GPA) even though you will receive subject credit (for satisfying course requirements) for the CCC course.

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Non-CCC/International Coursework Transferability

Carefully review Transfer credit practices if you have coursework from four-year (non-UC), out-of-state (four-year or two-year), or international colleges to determine whether your coursework is UC-transferable (if you are currently attending a CCC, be sure to also refer to your counselor/transfer center for assistance).

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Special Requirements for International Students

IGETC – You cannot use international courses to satisfy IGETC (but you can fulfill the foreign language requirement if the language of instruction of your institution is not English) but the UCs may allow you to use them to satisfy major prep (after transfer).

English Proficiency – If you attended high school where English was not the language of instruction, you will be required to demonstrate English proficiency by meeting the following criteria:

  • For Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside or Santa Barbara: grades of C or higher in both of the required English composition courses
  • For Los Angeles, San Diego or Santa Cruz: grades of B or higher in both of the required English composition courses

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Determining UC-Transferability

UC-transferability is determined based on 1) the institution (college) and 2) the course content. The institution must have accreditation of some sort and the course content must be comparable content to UC coursework.

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English Coursework (UC-E)

Just because your CCC is certifying your non-CCC coursework as satisfying IGETC 1A and/or 1B, that does NOT mean the UCs will deem you to have fulfilled UC-E. UC-E is a minimum eligibility screening (meaning you are ineligible for admission consideration if you don’t have it) that the UCs do independently from IGETC (also, IGETC certification doesn’t usually happen until after admission decisions have been made, so it’s a timing issue as well). Make the best possible guess whether your courses will pass UC scrutiny (by using resources such as Berkeley’s Non-CCC Reading and Composition Articulation List and Transfer credit practices) and, when in doubt, take a CCC course to fulfill the requirement.

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Math Coursework (UC-M)

Similar to the English requirement, just because your CCC is certifying your non-CCC coursework as satisfying IGETC 2A, do NOT assume the UCs will deem you to have fulfilled UC-M. UC-M is a minimum eligibility screening (meaning you are ineligible for admission consideration if you don’t have it) that the UCs do independently from IGETC (also, IGETC certification doesn’t usually happen until after admission decisions have been made, so it’s a timing issue as well). Make the best possible guess whether your coursework will pass UC scrutiny and, when in doubt, take a CCC course to fulfill the requirement.

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Foreign Language Coursework

For Language Other Than English (LOTE), CCCs can go back to 6th grade for language proficiency in order to certify IGETC (if you have completed up to the end of 6th grade in a country where the language of instruction is NOT English, you are deemed to have satisfied the LOTE requirement in that language).

If you have completed schooling up to 8th grade in a country where the language of instruction is NOT English, you may still take LOTE courses at a CCC in your native language and receive both subject and unit credit.

You cannot get credit for foreign language courses taken in the U.S. that are in your native language if you completed any part of high school (one year of any part of 9th through 12th grade) in that language (this refers specifically to languages other than English). UCs will ONLY allow credit for CCC foreign literature courses as long as the courses are teaching literature and not using literature as a vehicle to teach language skills.

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International Exams

Find an explanation of the English language proficiency requirement, the required minimum score if taking a test (TOEFL or IELTS) to demonstrate proficiency is necessary, and the score submission guideline here.

The “external exams” results (such as IGCSE/GCSE/GCE exams, Year X/XII Board exams, SPM, etc.) should be reported in the “Test scores” section of the UC Application, under “International exams.” Internal grades should be reported in the “Academic history” section of the UC Application.

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International Transcripts

Obtain official, sealed transcripts from your school(s)/college(s) abroad early (must contain your complete academic record). UCs allow students to hand deliver or mail official, sealed transcripts in lieu of having the documents sent directly from the school(s)/college(s), which can sometimes take too long to arrive (by the July 1 deadline).

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