Understanding UC Maximum Transfer Credit Limitation Policy

Confused about the UC Maximum Transfer Credit Limitation Policy? This information applies to intercampus (UC-to-UC) transfers and transfer students with four-year college credits. Empower yourself with knowledge so you can make informed decisions about your future.

February 2021 update: UCs did a webinar for transfer counselors on how to advise “reverse transfers” that covered some specific issues and noteworthy problem areas for former UC students and students with four-year college credits. Access a recording of the webinar and the presentation slides (including presentation notes) here.

April 2020 update: UCs have renamed the “Maximum Transfer Credit Limitation Policy” to “High-Unit Limits and Admission Policy” and moved the explanation into the Quick Reference for Counselors (the short link in the video “askmssun.com/unit-cap” now directs you there). You can find a campus-by-campus unit limit chart on page 34 of the PDF file and some additional information regarding the policy on page 35 of the same PDF file under “Limits on Transfer Credit.”



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34 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Tariq Kafireply
September 17, 2016 at 1:24 am

You are the most important source for UC Admissions. Period. I am sorely disappointed by the billion dollar UC System’s total failure to clarify this bureaucratic maze. I personally think this policy is utterly moronic to say the least; but even more moronic is UC System Wide dearth of information. Not a single campus’s web site has information remotely as clear as your web site does. You are doing a great service for the public, and UC should give you a medal. If not, they should come up with one, so that you can be the first recipient. I mean it seriously. Thank you for your dedication.

Ms. Sunreply
September 17, 2016 at 9:19 am
– In reply to: Tariq Kafi

Thank you very much for your kind words 🙂

Tariq Kafireply
September 17, 2016 at 1:28 am

p.s.: Oh! I forgot to mention, the short URL is no longer active. I think UC took it somewhere and cannot be found. Typical UC.

Ms. Sunreply
September 17, 2016 at 9:21 am
– In reply to: Tariq Kafi

Yeah, that’s on my “fix” list. For now, I added a comment to direct viewers to the correct location (it’s now buried in a 78-page document).

Christine Buireply
December 6, 2017 at 10:46 am

Hello Ms.Sun. What if I have only 3 units of upper division coursework at a 4-year university (I don’t know if it’s transferable or not) on top of the 70 semester units cap? Am I still automatically disqualified for admission? Thank you!

Ms. Sunreply
December 6, 2017 at 11:57 am
– In reply to: Christine Bui

Did you look at the chart on page 30 of the Quick Reference for Counselors?

Marilyn Nguyenreply
April 29, 2019 at 6:24 pm

If I am a student who double timed at 2 community colleges and then I transferred with 98.5 units only at CC. Then if I transfer to a CSU to do biochemistry but I am not doing upper division classes yet (I’m still completing calculus, physics, biology) would those disqualify me from transferring from CSU to UC?

Ms. Sunreply
April 29, 2019 at 10:30 pm
– In reply to: Marilyn Nguyen

As long as you don’t have upper-division units (and no UC units), you should remain eligible.

April 25, 2020 at 7:41 pm

If I earned 65 units at a community college and have 15 units from AP credits, will 80 units of lower division courses be able to go toward my bachelors degree?

Ms. Sunreply
April 26, 2020 at 10:48 am
– In reply to: JC

You will only get “unit credit” (number of units that will count toward UC graduation unit requirement) for up to 70 semester or 105 quarter units. But you will receive “subject credit” for all of the courses/AP credits you have (you don’t need to retake anything you already passed). Duplicate credits (for example, AP Calculus BC score of 5 and one year of calculus course sequence) will only count once.

April 26, 2020 at 3:07 pm
– In reply to: Ms. Sun

Are you saying all of the credits including the subject credits from the AP tests can only add up to 70 units? Or the subject credits are separate from the 70 units and can push someone over that unit cap?

Ms. Sunreply
April 27, 2020 at 10:33 am
– In reply to: JC

“Unit credit” has to do with the number of units you need to accumulate in order to graduate; that is capped at 70 semester units (you can apply 70 semester units you have earned toward meeting that graduation unit requirement). “Subject credit” is different and that has to do with the courses you can take or don’t need to take (for example, if you already took Calculus, you don’t need to retake that).

Devinreply
July 31, 2020 at 8:35 pm

I plan on having 74 semester units (all lower division from community college) by the end of next spring, and earned 24 AP unit credit, am I a junior level transfer?

Ms. Sunreply
July 31, 2020 at 10:06 pm
– In reply to: Devin

You are a junior level transfer. After you transfer, you can apply up to 70 semester units toward your UC graduation unit requirement but you will retain subject credit for all of the courses you have completed and AP credits you have earned.

Johnreply
October 21, 2020 at 8:34 am

I spent one semester at a 4-year University and completed 17 units of all lower division courses. I have 71.50 units from CCC. So 88.5 total. Am I ineligible for the UCs? Some of the lower division units at the 4 year university don’t match UC coursework on ASSIST, so would those not be counted? Thanks!

Ms. Sunreply
October 21, 2020 at 10:25 am
– In reply to: John

As long as that 4-year university is NOT a UC and all of your units from that 4-year university are lower-division, you will be under the maximum unit limit (you cannot exceed the limit if you only have lower-division units; the only exception is when you have UC units).

You need to report ALL coursework and grades on your UC Application. The UCs will determine which courses are transferable. If you omit courses and then the UCs later find out (when reviewing official transcripts in July), you may get your admission offer revoked.

January 2, 2021 at 11:08 pm

Hi Ms. Sun,

I am currently attending UC Riverside where I am going to start the Winter quarter of my second year in January. Currently, my major is Psychology, though I have decided to change my major to Computer Science with Business Application. I talked to an advisor in my current college (CHASS) and I was told that I cannot change to another major in the engineering college after my first year. I am confident that I do not want to pursue my initial major and career choice after college and I feel the college of engineering would be integral for my long term career plan. I am considering a full withdrawal from UCR, instead taking the required courses at a community college to apply for a junior transfer or readmission to my major of choice. In this case, would you say these actions are effective for a change of major? If otherwise, could you offer any recommendations for other options? I appreciate your time and consideration on this matter! Thank you.

Ms. Sunreply
January 3, 2021 at 1:35 pm
– In reply to: A

You may have too many UC units to stay under the maximum cap, which would make you ineligible for transfer admission. CS majors at most UCs require a six-course sequence in math (single-variable/multivariable calculus, differential equation, linear algebra), a three-course sequence in physics (mechanics, electricity and magnetism, heat/light/waves), and an assortment of four to six computer science courses (programming, data structure, assembly language, computer organization, discrete math, etc.). I’m not sure how many UC units you have now and if the courses you have already completed coincide with the CS requirements; if you haven’t taken the math/physics/computer science sequences, my guess is you’ll exceed the cap before you finish all of the required CS courses.

I recommend that you check with with your UCR Transition Advisor to see if leaving UCR and then returning to a different major is actually allowed (that sounds like a massive loophole and I would be surprised if UCR is not aware of it).

For the other UCs, you need to match the courses you have completed against the CS requirements at each UC campus where you intend to transfer to see how many courses you are missing and then figure out if you can actually complete all of the missing courses without exceeding the maximum cap. If you’d rather have me do that for you, you can sign up for this service.

January 3, 2021 at 11:43 pm

Yes, I’ve worked out a course plan that would enable me to not exceed the credit limit for a major switch, I will be checking if I can do the same the graduation credit limit. Thank you for your help! If I need assistance in a plan, I will subscribe the service.

Ms. Sunreply
January 4, 2021 at 11:08 am
– In reply to: A

Ok, if your intention is to go back to UCR (the major there doesn’t seem to require the extensive math and physics preparation that the other UCs require), then definitely discuss your plan with the UCR Transition Advisor. Your instinct may be to avoid discussing this, but know that UCR may choose to close the loopholes (if it hasn’t already) and you don’t want to unknowingly walk into a dead end (especially if you are not planning for transfer to other UCs).

January 5, 2021 at 6:20 pm

Ok, thank you for your time and your reply!

Ms. Sunreply
January 6, 2021 at 10:11 am
– In reply to: A

You are very welcome (I took out your name to preserve confidentiality given the information you have disclosed).

January 6, 2021 at 11:45 pm

Thank you, I appreciate that very much!

Ms. Sunreply
January 7, 2021 at 11:45 am
– In reply to: a

👍

Evanreply
March 3, 2021 at 3:04 am

Hi Ms. Sun! I have around 80 units as a transfer student (all from CCC’s), and understand that I’ll receive unit credit for up to 70, but am wondering if that means I will necessarily be receiving that credit or if I’m able to apply only some of those units to my graduation requirements.

I wasn’t able to find any mention in the Quick Reference Guide of whether you have a choice in what courses above the 60 unit minimum to transfer you earn credit for, and considering that I might want to take more than 50 units in my upper division courses, I’m concerned that I’ll be capped off at the 120 unit maximum because I received unit credit for CCC courses I didn’t want nor need.

This might be sort of a silly question, so any clarification on how the process work would really help. I’ve been on your site since starting my application last year and you’ve been nothing but tremendously helpful, so I also just want to thank you for all the effort you put in to helping so many students like myself.

Ms. Sunreply
March 3, 2021 at 1:13 pm
– In reply to: Evan

You will get subject credit for ALL of UC-transferable courses you completed. You will just get 70 semester units (wholesale) applied toward your UC graduation unit requirement. Think of your units as having two distinct forms: a qualitative form (subject credit) and a quantitative form (capped at 70 when applied toward graduation).

A somewhat ambiguous version of what I just said is in the Quick Reference, page 35, first paragraph under “Limits on Transfer Credit.”

Evanreply
March 3, 2021 at 2:29 pm
– In reply to: Ms. Sun

Okay, I think I’m understanding you correctly-instead of telling the UC’s something like, “I only want 60 units applied to my graduation requirement, and from only these classes…,” I would just have a flat 70 units automatically applied to the unit requirement, regardless of what courses I earned them in.

What I’m getting caught up on is the wording of “up to” in “up to 70 semester units” in the Limits on Transfer Credit section. Let me know if what I wrote sounds correct, and thanks again for the help!

Ms. Sunreply
March 3, 2021 at 6:14 pm
– In reply to: Evan

You got it.

The UCs are using “up to” like “a maximum of” (so “Students will be granted a maximum of 70 semester units …”). Either way, it’s meant to convey that you will NOT get unit credit beyond 70 semester units (but you’ll always have subject credit). If you completed 68 units, you’ll carry over 68 units. But if you have 72 units or 84 units, you’ll only be able to carry over 70 units.

Evan
March 3, 2021 at 6:42 pm
– In reply to: Ms. Sun

Got it! Thanks so much for the clarification.

Ms. Sun
March 3, 2021 at 6:50 pm
– In reply to: Evan

I’m happy to help!

Kexinreply
March 7, 2021 at 4:04 am

Hi, Ms Sun, I am currently applying to UC Berkeley from UCSB. However, my total units are about 121 by the end of spring quarter. I was wondering whether all courses taken at UCSB can be given credits in Berkeley. Because Berkeley has a 120quarter unit maximum requirement, so I am hoping one course will not be transferable to Berkeley.

Ms. Sunreply
March 7, 2021 at 11:02 am
– In reply to: Kexin

All UC units are transferable within the system. However, I have heard of one case where the student was capped at 70 UC units (it really depends on the campus policy). Once you transfer and figure out how your units are counted, any disputes you have would require you to research the academic policy at your campus and work things out with your academic advisor and/or college dean.

The maximum unit limit that you CANNOT exceed for Berkeley is 135 (look at the chart on page 34 of the Quick Reference). All of the units you have completed at UCSB will count against that limit.

Kexinreply
March 7, 2021 at 4:50 pm

Thank you so much, I really appreciate your help!

Ms. Sunreply
March 8, 2021 at 11:41 am
– In reply to: Kexin

I’m happy to help. My best wishes to you and good luck!

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