Transferring to a UC or CSU from another Four-year College

Parent Q&A

  • hello bpn community. My daughter is considering attempting a transfer to UC following her sophomore year. We realize this can be a relatively uncomplicated process for students who are at community colleges. But she is currently attending another 4 year university and worries that her chances are terribly bleak. Does anyone out there know anything about the transfer from university to UC?  Any recommendations on who we might consult? The thought of returning to the nightmare of college applications is so daunting for us ... 

    All UC campuses will prioritize CCC students for transfer admissions but will consider students from other 4-year schools as space allows.   She will not have the admissions advantage that CCC transfer applicants have (i.e., greater chance of getting into top campuses than the same students would have had out of HS).  

    You will need to read the information on the UC websites (UCOP for UC-wide policies, campus admissions pages for campus-specific guidance).  Because UC does not have transfer agreements with non-CCC schools, you and your daughter will need to evaluate whether her courses are transferable and make sure she does not exceed the maximum units.   There is guidance for this on the website. 

    You say she wants to transfer to "UC," but don't mention if she has a campus in mind.  My guess is that the difficulty will depend in part on the campus.   Berkeley and Merced will  have different rates of admissions for students in this category, just as they do for students in other categories.  

    In sum, the first thing I would do is very carefully read up on all the public information provided by UC.  Follow up with her current school for transcript and course information.   Once you have done that, you can contact admissions officers at the various campuses.  By doing your homework first, you can call with well-informed, targeted questions that will move your daughter's process along more efficiently.

    It will be a new application to UC, not a transfer. You apply as something like "other than freshman." It is not that big a deal. I did this, from a CSU to a UC, UC did not accept any of my humanities units but English, Economics, foreign language, all those were accepted and I still graduated in 4 years.

    Hi, the process will be the same as it would be for kids transferring from community college who do not go through the "guaranteed admission" transfer process; if she's considering Berkeley or UCLA, community college students never have a guaranteed admission (so for those two schools the transfer process is the same no matter where they are transferring from).  It is possibly a slightly "easier" process at the Junior than Freshman level; in any case, it's 100% "on her", so if she's ready & willing, I wouldn't let the "nightmare" aspect deter you.  Colleges like to see previous success at the college level; no exams required, just essay & grades.  Best of luck to her

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Will UC's accept transfer credits from private universities?

Oct 2014

After completing one semester at Bennington College, one at Goddard College (two very alternative schools that use narrative over letter grades) and three at Laney, my daughter has been unable to find out which of the CSU's or UC's will accept her credits. The UC staff she's spoken with have been discouraging about the transferability of her Goddard credits, but SF State seemed to indicate, when we checked with them in 2013, that they'd allow them. College counselors she's consulted have not been able to advise her.

We are starting to wonder if it might be wiser to apply to private colleges and hope the financial aid we might be eligible for would cover the difference in tuitions.

Does anyone out there know of a good resource for answering these questions?

Thank you.


You are right to check private college transfer requirements, because it may be possible to finish in two years as a transfer student when it often can take three at a UC or CSU. Scholarships alone will not make a private college's cost of attendance comparable to UC's and CSU's.

Your daughter should start with a counselor at Laney to assess her progress with IGETC, the fulfillment of general education undergraduate requirements for UC's. They will need her college transcripts and should be able to tell her what information she will need to determine what courses from other colleges might satisfy the IGETC requirements. The actual IGETC certification will be done by the Peralta district office. Most UC's also accept partial IGETC.

IGETC mostly will work for CSU's too. CSU's do require a communications course. Once she has an idea where she stands on undergraduate requirements, keep in mind that CSU's require three upper division general education courses.. Assist.org helps with both IGETC and major prerequisites but does not assess private college courses. Some private colleges also accept IGETC but will have varying additional requirements.

Laney's website should have information on private college articulation agreements. Ms. Sun's UC admissions blog should have a link to the full list of colleges that accept IGETC. University of the Pacific requires a senior seminar and St. Mary's requires religion courses and seminars. Pacific requires transcripts and will evaluate all courses taken for credit/course fulfillment. If a course needs to be evaluated for transferability, Pacific will note that a syllabus will be evaluated. Pacific has scholarships for transfer students based on GPA. Good luck to your daughter on finding her transfer college! Anon