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Common Transfer Questions

Find answers to commonly asked transfer questions.

Q1. What does transfer mean?
Generally "transfer" is movement between any two educational institutions. Here, however, the term is specifically used to describe 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.


Q2. What is the difference between lower division and upper division courses?
Lower division courses are offered for freshman- and sophomore-level credit. All courses offered at a community college are lower division courses. Upper division courses are offered for junior- and senior-level credit. These courses are not offered at community colleges.


Q3. What is the difference between a UC and a CSU?
California has two public university systems. The California State University (CSU) system has a more practical, career-oriented approach to education in contrast to the more theoretical, research-based approach at the UC system. Both systems offer advanced degree opportunities (i.e., master’s, doctoral).


Q4a. What courses do I need to complete before I transfer? 
Ideally you should complete the general education requirements and major preparation courses.


Q4b. What courses do I need to meet minimum admission requirements?
Minimum university course requirements vary by university system and/or institution.

For CSU:
Completion of 30 units of general education courses with a grade of C or better including the “Golden Four,” which on the CSU-GE pattern, is one course from each of the following areas completed with a C or better:

  • Area A1 (Oral Communication)
  • Area A2 (Written Communication)
  • Area A3 (Critical Thinking)
  • Area B4 (Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning)

For UC:

Completion of the following course pattern requirements, earning a grade of C or better in each course:

  • Two transferable college courses (3 semester or 4-5 quarter units each) in English composition
  • One transferable college course (3 semester or 4-5 quarter units) in mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning;
  • Four transferable college courses (3 semester or 4-5 quarter units each) chosen from at least two of the following subject areas:
  • Arts and humanities
  • Social and behavioral sciences
  • Physical and biological sciences

For Private/Out-of-State:

Course requirements will vary from campus to campus. 


Q5. How many units are needed to transfer?
To transfer to a UC or CSU with junior-level status, you must complete 60 transferable semester units prior to transferring from ECC. Generally, units must be completed an entire term prior to transferring. For private, out-of-state universities/colleges, you can transfer with 12-30 units minimum.


Q6. Is there a maximum number of units I can transfer?
Specific regulations vary from college to college. However, the California State University and the University of California allow a maximum of 70 transferable semester units toward the degree. Units above the maximum will be given subject credit. However, all transferable courses are calculated into the transferable GPA for admission. Different limits may apply if you have already attended a four-year institution. You should meet with a counselor for more details.


Q7. 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.


Q8. What GPA do I need to transfer to a UC/CSU?
The GPA necessary for admission can vary from year to year and depends on the campus, the major, and the applicant pool. The minimum GPA for admission eligibility to CSU is 2.0 (2.4 for California nonresidents) in all transferable college units attempted. To be eligible for admission to UC, the minimum GPA is 2.4 (2.8 for nonresidents) in transferable courses.


Q9. What is an impacted or selective major?
Impacted or selective majors are those for which the university receives more applications for admission than the campus can accommodate. Impacted is also an official designation by the CSU system that allows the department that offers an impacted major to require a higher GPA or specific major preparation. Selective is a term used by the UC system to describe majors for which the same conditions exist and for which the university imposes the same kind of selection criteria (GPA and major preparation) to screen for the most qualified applicants.


Q10. Do I need to declare a major before I transfer?
It is required that you choose a major before transferring. In most cases you will be required to have major preparation coursework completed before you transfer to ensure an easier transition to the university.


Q11. What is a Transfer Admission Guarantee?
By participating in a Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program, you will receive early review of your academic records, early admission notification and specific guidance about major preparation and general education coursework. A student who fulfills specific TAG program requirements and earns a specific GPA will have guaranteed admission to a university.


Q12. What is General Education (GE)?
General Education 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 a student at a community college. After you transfer to a university, you may be required to take a few GE courses. The GE unit requirements of 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 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.


Q13. What is IGETC?
The Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) is a general education program that California Community College transfer students can use to fulfill lower-division general education requirements at a California State University, University of California, as well as some California private universities and out-of-state universities.


Q14. What is CSU GE Breadth?
CSU GE Breadth is a general education pattern and is appropriate for students who intend to apply and transfer only to a California State University (CSU).


Q15. Where can I find UC/CSU general education patterns for El Camino College?
Visit the Transfer Requirements web page. Guide sheets for specific transfer majors can also be found at this page. (You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.)

For more information or clarification, consult with a counselor in the Counseling Division, in the Student Services Building (first floor, across from Admissions).


Q16. What is General Education Certification?
GE Certification is verification that you have completed lower division general education requirements (CSU GE or IGETC). The certification is sent to the university to which you have been accepted and where you plan to enroll. The university will not hold you to any additional GE requirements with full certification. A request for certification form must be obtained and turned into the ECC Records window toward the end of your last semester.


Q17. Which El Camino College courses transfer to a university?
To find out which courses are transferable please reference the following resources:

  • El Camino College Catalog


Q18. What is ASSIST?
Articulation System Stimulating Inter Institutional Transfer (ASSIST) is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California’s public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information available about student transfer in California: www.assist.org


Q19. What is an articulation agreement?
Articulation is the process of developing a formal, written agreement that identifies a course or a group of courses offered on a "sending" campus that are comparable to, or acceptable in lieu of, specific course requirements at a "receiving" campus.

El Camino College articulation agreements with the California State University and the University of California can be found on the ASSIST website (www.assist.org). For additional agreements with independent and private colleges as well as some out of state universities, students should make an appointment with a counselor in the Student Services building. For more information visit: http://www.elcamino.edu/studentservices/co/articulation.asp 


Q20. Will my high school grades and SAT scores count when I transfer?
The UC and CSU systems do not require high school grades and test scores when a student transfers as a junior with a minimum of 60 transferable units. For private schools it will vary from campus to campus.


Q21. Do I need an associate degree to transfer?  
In general, no. However, if a student is planning on participating at an NCAA DI or DII institution, they may be required to have an AA or AS degree for eligibility purposes.  Please see an athletic counselor for clarification. 


Q22. I have attended another college/university. Do these courses transfer to El Camino College?
It depends on the courses taken. A student who has attended another college/university prior to their start at El Camino is recommended to make a counseling appointment to have coursework from other colleges evaluated and given an educational plan based on the student’s goal.


Q23. I have bad grades at another college. Do I have to report these grades to the university I plan to transfer to?
Yes, you must report all colleges/universities attended on your admission application, including coursework completed from outside of the U.S.


Q24. I already have a bachelor’s degree. Can I transfer and get another one?
You must contact each campus to determine their policy on admitting students for a second bachelor’s degree.