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Santa Monica College|Enrollment Development|International Education Center|Transferring to the Four-year University

Transferring to the Four-year University

Where SMC fits into the four-year university structure

SMC is a two-year community college and is part of the three- branch state system of higher education in California.  The state-funded higher education institutions are classified under the following systems:

  • Community Colleges (two-year institutions)  Associate degrees
  • California State University (CSU)  Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees
  • University of California (UC)  Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate and professional degrees

SMC prepares students so they will be eligible to transfer to the university in junior standing. Community colleges like SMC are generally considered the first two years of the university. 

Do all SMC courses transfer to the university?

No, not all SMC courses will transfer.  For the UC and CSU schools, students can determine if the course will transfer to the university by checking the SMC Catalog.

Which courses are required for transfer?

Transferring to UC and CSU schools: SMC has established numerous articulation agreements with various colleges and universities that assist students in determining appropriate courses to take prior to transfer.  The articulated information between SMC and the UC and CSU schools can be found at the ASSIST website. 

Transferring to Private and out-of-state schools:  Although SMC has not established articulations with private schools as extensively as with the UC and CSU schools, students can review the agreements we have with private California and out-of-state schools by going to the Articulation portion of our Transfer Center Articulation website.

Is an AA Degree required for transfer?

No, an AA degree is not required for transfer to most universities.  Instead, the universities are more concerned about general education, major and elective courses.  In many instances, students can do both; complete their AA degree as well as their requirements for transfer since there can be substantial overlap of requirements. 

What if I am undecided on my major course of study?

It is very common for new students to be undecided on their majors or academic goals.  Counselors can assist students in formulating realistic plans.  Students are advised to use other campus resources such as the Career Center to help them in their decision making. 

How long will it take to transfer to the university?

This depends on many factors such as where the student placed on their math and ESL tests, what major and transfer schools they select, their willingness to take summer and winter classes and their overall progress in their classes.  In most cases, students try to transfer in 2 to 2-1/2 years although 3 years is not unusual given the extensive preparation many universities require of transfer students and the fact that many will only accept students in the fall terms. Most UC and CSU schools require students to transfer with a minimum of 60 transferable units.    

When do I apply for transfer to the university?

In general, students should begin thinking about the application process about a year in advance of when they plan to transfer.  Deadlines to apply vary with schools.  For more information on when and how to apply refer to the Transfer Center website.  Students are highly recommended to take advantage of other Transfer Center events to guide them through the transfer application process. 

Can I use my foreign course work at the university?

This may be possible but it will be up to the universities to decide.  Since they will issue students their degrees, they have sole responsibility for determining which courses they will accept from other colleges and universities within the U.S. or abroad.  In general, most universities will not do a formal evaluation of your units until you are accepted to their school.  SMC counselors are unable to determine the transferability of foreign course work to the universities.  In most cases, credential evaluations done for the purpose of an AA degree are not accepted by the four-year institutions as they will do their own evaluations.

What services does the Transfer Center provide?

SMC’s Transfer Center offers an extensive array of services and events for students planning to transfer to a university.  Students can attend student success workshops on how to transfer and meet with university representatives on the SMC campus.