Other Academic Policies

Catalog Home

Academic Honors

The Dean's Honors List is compiled at the end of each quarter to honor undergraduate students who have completed 12 or more letter-graded units during the quarter with a 3.5 grade point average or better for that term. Units with a grade of CR do not count toward the 12-unit minimum, nor do units from Credit by Examination. The President's Honors List is compiled at the end of each university year to honor those undergraduate students who have demonstrated consistent achievement, as represented by being named to the Dean's Honors List for any three of the four quarters of the university year. Note that the university year begins with summer quarter.

Candidates for bachelor's degrees with the following Cal Poly cumulative grade point averages are awarded honors at graduation. Only courses taken at Cal Poly calculate into the Cal Poly grade point averages. The GPA is officially calculated at the time the student has completed graduation requirements:

Summa cum laude – 3.850
Magna cum laude – 3.700
Cum laude – 3.500

These honors are noted on both the diploma and the transcript.

Academic Minors

A minor is an integrated, coherent group of courses (24 to 30 quarter units in most cases), which gives the student knowledge in an area that lies outside of the major field of study. Please see Programs A-Z for the list of minors.

Requirements for the minor:

  • At least half of the units must be from upper-division courses (300- or 400-level)
  • At least half of the units must be taken at Cal Poly (in residence). For the French, German, Italian Studies, and Spanish minors, the requirement for students studying abroad is at least one third of the units must be taken at Cal Poly; this allowance is for study abroad programs only and does not apply to any domestic transfer credit.
  • Not more than one-third of the courses in a minor can be graded with student-selected Credit/No Credit (CR/NC), except for courses that have mandatory CR/NC grading
  • A minimum 2.0 GPA is required in all units counted for completion of the minor

The minor must be completed prior to, or at the same time as, the requirements for the bachelor's degree. A major and a minor may not be taken in the same degree program, and a minor is not required for a degree.

Students who wish to earn a minor should contact the department offering the academic minor as early as possible in the program and fill out the appropriate agreement form. Students may select a minor which has requirements from a catalog that is different from that of their major. The minor form must then be submitted to the Office of the Registrar. The completion of the minor is noted on the student's transcript, but is not shown on the diploma. In no case is a diploma awarded for the minor.

Blended BS+MS Programs

Blended programs can provide an accelerated route to a graduate professional degree, with simultaneous awarding of both bachelor's and master's degrees. See individual programs and the Graduate Education section for additional information.

Back to top

Change of Major

Policy Statement

Because of the impaction of the campus and its programs, Cal Poly students must declare a major at the time of application. After making this decision, some students may find that their interests and abilities lead them in a different direction. The university must then offer a transparent and timely process for students to change majors and successfully complete a degree program.

General Information

Entering students are encouraged to make careful and informed decisions about their majors. All majors at Cal Poly are impacted, and it may be difficult to change majors despite students’ best efforts. If students decide to change majors, doing so early in their academic career will help students make degree progress in a timely manner. This is likely to be a greater challenge for upper-division students (more than 90 units completed), including transfer students, who have fewer remaining degree requirements. Furthermore, students need to be aware that not all departments can accommodate an upper-division change of major.   

Policy Standards

I. Minimum Time at Cal Poly
Students must complete at least one quarter at Cal Poly before requesting a change of major. The major exploration process can begin in their first quarter, but no official change of major may be initiated at that time. To begin the exploration process, students should access the Change of Major portlet on the Academics tab of their Cal Poly Portal (see Requesting a Change of Major, below).

II. Basic Criteria
In determining standards for major changes, a department representative may consider the following criteria when considering students’ requests:

a. Eligibility for the proposed major at the time of admission.

b. Academic record (e.g. GPA, coursework, etc.).

c. Ability to complete degree requirements in the new major in a timely manner.

If students meet the basic criteria for the proposed major, an Individualized Change of Major Agreement (ICMA) may be initiated by a department representative of the proposed major.

III. One Request Per Major
Students who enter into a change of major agreement and do not complete the agreement’s requirements, either by failing to complete the terms or by opting out due to a change of plan or interest, will not be eligible to request that same major again later in their career at Cal Poly.

IV. Academic Standing
A change of major agreement can be initiated while students are on Academic Probation (AP), if the department offering the intended major believes that the AP status is due to students being in a less suitable major and that the new major represents a viable path toward good academic standing. A change of major agreement will be void if the students are academically disqualified prior to the completion of the agreement.

V. Requesting a Change of Major

To begin the formal change of major process, students must log into the Change of Major portlet located on the Academics tab at my.calpoly.edu. More information is available at advising.calpoly.edu.

VI. Individualized Change of Major Agreement

a. The change of major may be approved immediately, completed within one quarter, or completed within a maximum of two quarters.

b. The ICMA includes the following conditions:

i. Students cannot be required to take courses before the ICMA begins.

ii. Students cannot be required to take courses that are outside of the ICMA.

iii. Students cannot be required to enroll in more than three specified courses or 12 units in the new major curriculum during the ICMA process.

iv. Students should balance their schedule with General Education (GE) or other courses that may apply to both majors.

v. Students’ GPA requirements may include minimum GPA in courses specified in the ICMA, Term GPA, Cal Poly SLO GPA, or Higher Ed GPA.

vi. Students’ GPA expectation(s) established by the department representative must be attainable.

Back to top

Course Substitution

Although a curriculum is specified for each major, under certain conditions a student may be permitted some deviation from the established curriculum. See the major department for substitutions involving major or support courses.

All Cal Poly students are expected to complete the GE courses specified in their degree program. Cal Poly GE courses must be selected from the GE requirement list. Substitutions are not permitted except in extraordinary circumstances. Students requesting exceptions must follow petition procedures, outlined on the GE web site. This process may take several weeks.

Double Majors or Degrees

If a student has completed the requirements for two or more majors leading to the same baccalaureate degree (e.g., two BS degrees), those majors are acknowledged on a single diploma. The major which the student requests as her/his primary major will appear first on the diploma. If a student has completed the requirements for two or more majors leading to different baccalaureate degrees (e.g., a BS and a BA), those degrees and the completed major or majors leading to each degree are acknowledged on two separate diplomas. If a student has completed concurrently the requirements for two or more degrees, at least one of which is a graduate degree, Cal Poly issues a separate diploma for each degree earned.

A student who adds a second major to her/his degree objective is expected to fulfill all requirements for both majors, including General Education requirements. However, a student may be allowed to use one senior project to fulfill the requirements for two majors. The program in which the student seeks to replace the senior project must grant permission before the student begins the project. Permission must be obtained using a major/support substitution.

Students who have declared two majors will be awarded both degrees for the term in which all requirements are completed for both majors.

Final Examinations

Except in specific circumstances, final assessments are administered during the scheduled finals week.  If the assessment is a final exam, faculty will include the date and time of the exam on the course syllabus and, whenever applicable, provide students with advance notice if the final exam date is not available at the start of the term or has been rescheduled with the written approval of the appropriate dean.

If a student has three or more final exams on the same day, faculty should make a reasonable effort to schedule an alternative final exam for that student during the finals week. It is the student’s responsibility to notify an instructor to request to reschedule a final exam by the end of the seventh week of instruction.

Graduate Courses Taken by Undergraduates for Graduate Credit

Cal Poly undergraduates who have achieved senior standing may take courses in the 400 or 500 series for possible graduate credit while still undergraduates. If they subsequently enter a Cal Poly master’s or credential program, they may petition to have up to 12 units of such course credit applied toward their master’s degree or credential program, if the units were not used in any way for the baccalaureate degree. Such courses should be noted in the appropriate section of the Formal Study Plan.

Student Classification/Standing

Undergraduate students are assigned a classification level according to the number of quarter units earned:

Lower Division

Freshman ................... fewer than 45 units
Sophomore................. 45 to 89 units

Upper Division

Junior ......................... 90 to 134 units
Senior......................... 135 or more units

For the purposes of this calculation, earned units include transfer and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate credit, in addition to Cal Poly units. Note that Student Standing can differ from Academic Progress levels; the Academic Progress calculation takes into account only degree-applicable units, whereas Student Standing includes all earned units, whether they apply to the degree or not.

Back to top