Transferring to a University


About the College System in California

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) award Associate degrees
    • A few California Community Colleges have been approved to grant a limited number of Bachelor’s Degrees. For more information, please see a counselor.
  • California State University (CSU) award Bachelor’s, Master’s degrees, and Educational Doctorates
  • University of California (UC) award Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorates and professional degrees

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

Do all SMC courses transfer to CSU and UC campuses?

No, not all SMC courses will transfer to UCs/CSUs. For the UC and CSU schools, students can determine if the course will transfer 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/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, out-of-state, and International colleges by going on our Transfer Center Articulation website

Is an Associate’s Degree required for transfer?

No, an Associate’s degree is not required for transfer to most universities. Instead, the universities are more concerned about major preparation and general education courses. In many cases, students can do both; complete their Associate’s degree as well as their requirements for transfer since there can be substantial overlap of courses. The CSU schools have a special Associate’s Degree program (ADT) designed for transfer students. To see the options available, please visit the SMC ADT website.

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

It is 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 the student’s self placement in math and ESL/English, 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 uncommon given the extensive preparation many universities require of transfer students and the fact that many will only accept students in the fall term. 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 coursework 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 coursework to the universities. In most cases, credential evaluations done for the purpose of an Associate’s degree are not accepted by the transfer 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 a variety of workshops on how to transfer and meet with university representatives on the SMC campus.

For individual transfer counseling sessions, see an international counselor through the International Education Counseling Center, not the Transfer Center.