Evaluation of Transfer Credit

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Transfer Credit

The Evaluations Unit in the Office of the Registrar will evaluate previous college work and test credit in relation to Cal Poly degree requirements. Newly admitted and matriculated transfer students will receive an email from Evaluations that their evaluation has been completed and that the results are available in their Degree Progress Report via the Student Center on the Cal Poly Portal. New students cannot access their Degree Progress Report prior to matriculation, nor can Evaluations provide any specific information about credit prior to that time.

Every effort is made to provide a complete Degree Progress Report (DPR), with all transfer credit reflected, prior to the date of new transfer student registration in mid-August. The DPR serves as the basis for determining remaining degree requirements and should be used frequently to track progress toward the degree. More information about the Degree Progress Report can be found here:

While every effort is made to complete the evaluation according to the timelines outlined above, it is important that new transfer students review their previous college work in relation to the degree requirements outlined in the catalog in order to make a tentative selection of courses for their first quarter of enrollment. Students should consult their college advising center or a faculty advisor in their major department for assistance in the selection of courses. They should also use the “By Major” agreements on www.assist.org for assistance with work from California Community Colleges.

Sending transcripts as early as possible helps expedite the process of finalizing the transfer evaluation. A delay in receipt of final transcripts will postpone the finalization of the transfer evaluation.

Some major/support courses may need to be petitioned through the student’s major department if articulation agreements are not in place in ASSIST, or if classes were taken at a private institution in California, a University of California campus, or an out-of-state school.

Note: Transfer students with Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credit must have their scores sent to Cal Poly directly from the College Board or IB; notation of AP or IB exams on a college transcript is not sufficient for Cal Poly to award credit. Students should do this as soon as possible, in order for the transfer evaluation to be complete and accurate, and in order to satisfy registration prerequisites.

Semester units transferred to Cal Poly are converted to quarter units by multiplying the semester units by 1.5; a 3-unit semester class will equate to 4.5 Cal Poly units. If the Cal Poly requirement is 4 units, the excess 0.5 unit will count toward free electives.

The evaluation remains valid provided that the student matriculates for the term they are admitted, remains in their declared major, and remains in continuous attendance.

While students may follow the specific major requirements for the catalog year on which their initial evaluation of transfer credit is based, they are responsible for complying with any and all changes in other regulations, policies, and procedures, which may appear in subsequent catalogs, or which are communicated to them via email from the Office of the Registrar. These include CSU-mandated changes and changes approved by Cal Poly’s Academic Senate and/or administration.

Credit for Community College Courses

Course credit earned at regionally accredited community colleges inside and outside the state of California is evaluated by the Evaluations Unit in accordance with the following provisions:

  • Community college credit is allowed up to a maximum of 105 quarter units (70 semester units) toward overall units for the degree. Credits earned above this allowable maximum may still be used to satisfy specific subject and grade point requirements, but may not be applied toward the total count of units required for graduation (Example: a student in a 180-unit program, who has 110 quarter units of community college credit, all of which satisfies subject requirements, must still complete 75 units of non-community college work [not 70 units]).
  • Upper division credit is never granted for community college work.
  • The 105-unit limit does not apply to work from four-year institutions; however, specific course requirements, as well as all Cal Poly residency requirements, must still be met regardless of the number of units transferred from four-year institutions (see "Academic Residence Requirements" under "Minimum Requirements for Graduation").

Cal Poly maintains articulation agreements at www.assist.org with all California Community Colleges (CCC), the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) campuses. The CCC campuses publish the CSU General Education (GE), the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Core (IGETC) course lists, and the lists of CSU transferable courses on the ASSIST website.

Transfer credit for GE courses is accepted from California community colleges, as approved by the CSU Chancellor’s office and listed on www.assist.org. For students on catalogs prior to the 2020-21 catalog, Cal Poly’s GE Area letters and numbers can differ from other schools in Assist. For help in understanding these differences, please refer to https://registrar.calpoly.edu/how-use-assist. For GE coursework taken at a private institution in California, a University of California campus, or an out-of-state school, every effort is made to extend all appropriate credit, including honoring the GE pattern of the transfer institution whenever possible.

Note: GE certification, whereby transfer students can complete all lower-division GE at a CCC or CSU, does not exempt students from meeting the CSU requirement of 72 overall units of GE, nor from completing upper-division GE requirements. Many Cal Poly programs require specific GE courses in the Major and/or Support; these courses must be met with articulated equivalencies, regardless of the status of GE completion at the CCC. See the General Education page for General Education requirements.

Submitting a CSU GE certification form is not required; Evaluations will use assist.org and/or the catalog, to determine GE certification. Submitting an IGETC certification, if the student is IGETC certified, is highly encouraged. Note: if a CCC GE certification is incorrect, it will not be honored (i.e., if it applies AP credit or work from a previous institution in an inappropriate manner). As the institution granting the bachelor’s degree, Cal Poly will make the final determination of GE certification.

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Other Academic Credit

Advanced Placement (AP) Credit

Cal Poly grants credit toward its undergraduate degrees for successful completion of examinations of the Advanced Placement Program of the College Board. Students who present scores of three or better will be granted up to six semester units (nine quarter units) of college credit.  Cal Poly receives official scores when a student designates either our school institution code (4038) or the CSU system wide code (3594) in Cal State Apply. After scores are released, it is recommended students confirm Cal Poly as an institution designated to receive scores by accessing the AP student score reporting portal at; https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/view-scores. If necessary, see the College Board site: https://apscore.collegeboard.org/scores/score-reporting for details on Score Reporting Services. Admitted students should send their AP scores as soon as possible to ensure that credit is applied toward their fall schedule. Newly admitted students who have sent in scores will not immediately see their scores and related test credit applied to their student record until they are matriculated, typically in the first week of July. To ensure scores are matched to the correct student record, it is imperative that the student’s name on AP or IB transcripts and in the Cal Poly student system match exactly. Neither opened paper AP score reports nor Advanced Placement notation on high school transcripts is acceptable to determine credit awarded. 

To see the credit awarded for a specific AP exam, view the annually published AP credit matrices at: https://registrar.calpoly.edu/other_ac_credit . Exams passed with a score of 3 or higher result in nine (9) quarter units of credit, except where otherwise noted on the credit matrix. All credit is given on a credit/no credit basis; AP units do not calculate into the GPA. Credit may vary from year to year, as Cal Poly requirements and AP Exams change. Please refer to the credit matrix for the specific year the exam was taken; credit is always extended based on the year of the exam. To determine credit for combined exams, use the matrix for the year of the last exam taken.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Exam Credit

The International Baccalaureate Diploma shall be considered in lieu of a high school diploma for admission to the University.

The International Baccalaureate transcript is required to receive University credit; the diploma is not sufficient to receive credit. IB transcripts may be requested from IB North America by email: transcripts.ibna@ibo.org, or by phone: (212) 696-4464.

Credit is awarded for classes at the Higher level. No credit is extended for Standard level exams.

All credit is given on a credit/no credit basis; IB units do not calculate into the GPA.

For each Higher Level exam score of 5 or higher, a maximum of 8 units of credit is awarded.

To see the credit awarded for a specific IB exam view the annually published IB credit matrices at:at: https://registrar.calpoly.edu/other_ac_credit. Please refer to the matrix for the specific year the exam was taken; credit is always extended based on the year of the exam.

Credit for Non-collegiate Instruction

Cal Poly grants undergraduate degree credit for successful completion of non-collegiate instruction, either military or civilian, appropriate to the baccalaureate degree, which has been recommended by the Commission on Educational Credit and Credentials of the American Council on Education. The numbers of units allowed are those recommended in the Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experience in the Armed Services and the National Guide to Educational Credit for Training Programs.

Credit for Military Service

Nine quarter units of elective credit are allowed toward graduation to any student submitting evidence of satisfactory completion of basic training in the military service of the United States. 4 units satisfy GE Area E and 5 units are elective credit (Cal Poly requires the DD-214 form to extend credit). Credit is allowed in accordance with the recommendations by the Commission on Educational Credit and Credentials of the American Council on Education. The numbers of units allowed are those recommended in the Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experience in the Armed Services. Credit is not given for college level General Educational Development Tests. Military Service credit does not calculate into the GPA. Military Service credit is not included in scholarship computations.

CLEP Exam Credit

As each campus in the CSU system determines how it will apply external examinations towards credit in the major, Cal Poly has established that the CLEP tests acceptable for credit are:

  • College Algebra-Trigonometry with a passing score of 50;
  • Pre-Calculus with a passing score of 50;
  • General Chemistry with a passing score of 50;
  • Calculus with Elementary Functions with a passing score of 51.

4.5 quarter units of credit may be earned with an assigned grade of credit (CR), which is not included in the GPA calculation.

Credit for CLEP and other externally developed examinations is not awarded if any of the following apply:

  • equivalent degree credit or duplicate credit has already been granted;
  • credit has been granted for previous coursework or for a previously completed more advanced or higher level examination.

Credit by Examination (Challenging Cal Poly Courses)

Students may challenge courses by taking examinations developed at Cal Poly. Credit shall be awarded to those who pass them successfully. A student may not petition for credit by examination if the student has ever been enrolled in the course. Credit shall not be awarded when credit has been granted at a level more advanced than that represented by the course being challenged.

The credit by examination option is only available to admitted Cal Poly students during a term in which they are officially enrolled. A fee is charged for each credit by exam petition.

The examination may include written, oral, or skills tests, or a combination of all three types, and is sufficiently comprehensive to determine that the student has essentially the same knowledge and skills as those students who successfully complete the course. The grade received is entered on the student's permanent record. The grade may not be Credit/No Credit (CR/NC), except for courses which have CR/NC grading only. The length of the examination is consistent with the unit value of the course.

Arrangements to obtain course credit by exam may be made with the head of the department in which the course is taught. The request for credit by exam must be approved by the instructor and head of the department. Not all Cal Poly courses are available or appropriate for credit by exam. Units of credit received through this procedure do not apply toward the residence requirements or the Cal Poly GPA for any of the degrees or credentials offered by the University. Detailed instructions for applying for credit by examination may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar.

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