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Higher Eduction Summary

There are essentially four facets of post-secondary education in California: the 10 University of California (UC) campuses; the 23 California State University (CSU) campuses; the over 100 Community Colleges (CC); and the hundreds of private universities and colleges.  As you begin your college education at the community college, you have many options for future educational opportunities. 

California Community Colleges

Created by legislation in 1967, it is the largest system of higher education in the world, serving more than 2.5 million students with a wide variety of educational and career goals.
Campuses: There are 110 community colleges in California at present, each of which offers various degrees.

Degrees Offered: Associate of Arts, Associate of Sciences
Time to Degree:  Community colleges are "two-year" schools, in that two years is the average length of full-time attendance in which to achieve an associate’s degree.   Many students, however, take three years or longer to attain a degree. Students may also attend simply for enrichment purposes or to earn a certificate in a specific program (i.e., computer programming).

Student Profile: Entrance requirements are generous and are meant to encourage students who hope to transfer to a four-year school and students who are not on a traditional degree track. To this end, anyone who has a high school diploma or its equivalent (such as a General Educational Development [GED] diploma), or is at least 18 years of age, may attend a community college. Both CSU's and UC's coordinate their courses to make transfer to the other institutions easier. Many students who transfer to a UC  or CSU school as juniors have completed their general education requirements at a CC. Needless to say, the student body at CC's is very diverse in terms of age, ethnicity, preparation for post-secondary work, and area of interest.

Course Options: Several different educational objectives can be accomplished at acommunity college:

Certificate Programs
A specific occupational /vocational program is selected and courses are completed from the list in the college catalog for that skill area. Examples include Automotive / Diesel Technology, Cosmetology, Criminal Justice, Drafting Technology, Culinary Arts, Child Development, Heating and Air Conditioning, Medical Assisting, etc.  General education courses are not required; the focus is earning a certificate to prove proficiency in your occupational area. Most certificate programs range from 18-30 units, however, some more specialized certificates contain much higher units. 

Associate Degree Programs
A community college Associate of Arts degree program is also available. The Associate Degree is granted upon completion of 60 college units, general education courses, a major (or certificate program) and a 2.0 grade point average. Each community college has their list of required general education courses. Majors are completed from lists provided in the catalog.

Transfer Programs
Lower division university course requirements can be completed at a community college. Students may then enter a four-year college as a junior to complete their bachelor's degrees. There are two general education transfer patterns at each community college, CSU and IGETC. Students must have 60 transferable units, complete the general education courses, maintain the grade point average required for the campus they select, as well as meet prerequisite coursework for their major. Prerequisite coursework for most all majors is available at the community college.

Personal Enrichment
Any member of the community can enroll in coursework at the community college for general interest in the subject, personal enrichment, or career advancement. In addition to traditional academic courses, many community colleges offer Community Service programs, which are geared toward the community, and provide programs appropriate for all ages.

Fees and tuition:  California Community College enrollment fees are set by the California State Legislature’s office. Current fees for California residents are $20 per academic unit, plus additional campus-based and course-based fees. A full-time student enrolled for 12 units per semester would pay $480 in enrollment fees per year plus additional campus based fees. On average, CCC students yearly fees are less than $750.  Non-residents are be assessed out-of-state tuition of $181 per academic unit in addition to the enrollment fees.

Main Website: California Community College Chancellor’s Office:  

University of California  (UC)

The University of California is one of the world's largest and most distinguished centers of higher education. The faculty numbers over 5,000 and enrollment this year will total over 125,000 students. The University of California offers more than 200 undergraduate majors drawn from a vast array of courses that range from anthropology through zoology. Your academic experience at UC will be rigorous, challenging, and stimulating.

  • Berkeley
  • Davis
  • Irvine
  • Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Merced
  • Riverside
  • San Francisco **
  • San Diego 
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Cruz

**UC San Francisco is graduate studies/health science campus only

Degrees Offered:

UC campuses are the only branch of the California public school system that grants Ph.D.s; most doctoral degrees are given solely by the UC, but some are offered in conjunction with certain CSU departments.

Academic Calendar: All UC campuses, except Berkeley and Merced, operate on the quarter system. A quarter is about 10 weeks long, and the academic year includes three quarters.

At Berkeley and Merced, the academic year is two semesters, each 16 to 18 weeks long.

Time to Degree:  4 years to BA or BS degree; most students now take 5-6 years. Students that transfer from the community college to the university will take on average 2-3 years to reach the BA or BS degree.

Student Profile:  Students from among the top 12.5% of high school graduates are eligible for admission to UC campuses. Over 10,000 students transfer from a California Community College to the UC each year.  

Minimum Entrance Requirements: Transfer Students
Units: Complete 60 semester units or 90 quarter units of transferable college credit (no more than 14 semester/21 quarter units may be taken Pass/Not Pass).

Grade Point Average:  The minimum grade point average for eligibility to the UC system is a 2.4 overall. Many campuses require much higher GPA’s for admission selection.

Coursework: All students must complete the following course pattern requirement, earning a grade of C or better in each course:

  1. Two transferable college courses (3 semester or 4-5 quarter units each) in English composition, and;
  2. One transferable college course (3 semester or 4-5 quarter units) in mathematical concepts and quantitative reasoning, and;
  3. Four transferable college courses (3 semester or 4-5 quarter units each) chosen from at least two of the following subject areas: the arts and humanities, the social and behavioral sciences, and the physical and biological sciences.

Most students will be encouraged to complete the pattern of General Education classes that transfer to the University of California, known as IGETC while at the community college
Major Preparation: Each student should have sufficient preparation in their major to study at the junior level of university coursework. Lower division major preparation can be required prior to admission for selective majors and campuses. Students are encouraged to meet with a counselor to determine the type and amount of coursework needed for their major and campus choice. Some majors have additional requirements beyond coursework – please check the university catalog for more information.

Application Filing period:  Filing period for admission is November 1 through November 30 for the following fall semester;  July 1-30 for the following Winter quarter. Some campuses only accept fall admissions. A few campuses will remain open beyond the posted deadlines. Junior-level community college students receive priority consideration for admission over other transfer applicants, including those from four-year institutions and UC's own intercampus transfer students. 

For additional information, visit the following:
University of California:
Refer to the booklet "Introducing the University of California" (
or “Answers for Transfers”

California State University System

The CSU is a leader in high-quality, accessible, student-focused higher education. With 23 campuses, 405,000 students, and 44,000 faculty and staff, the CSU System is the largest, the most diverse, and one of the most affordable university systems in the country.
Campuses:  Ranging from Humboldt near the Oregon border to San Diego on the Mexican border, the twenty-three campuses of the California State University, with an enrollment exceeding 300,000 students and more than 1,600 degree programs, constitute one of the largest systems of higher education in the world. CSU Campuses are located in:

  • Bakersfield
  • Channel Islands
  • Chico
  • Dominguez Hills
  • Fresno
  • Fullerton
  • Hayward
  • Humboldt
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles
  • Maritime Academy
  • Monterey Bay
  • Northridge
  • Pomona  (Polytechnic)
  • San Marcos
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • San Luis Obispo (Polytechnic)
  • Sonoma
  • Stanislaus

Degrees Offered:

Application Filing period:  Initial filing period for admission is October 1 through November 30 for the following fall semester; August 1-30 for the following Spring semester.  Some campuses will remain open beyond the posted deadlines. CCC students receive the highest priority consideration for admission to the CSU. The majority of transfer students from the California Community Colleges enter the CSU as upper-division transfers.

Time to Degree: 4 years to BA or BS degree; most students now take 5-6 years. Students that transfer from the community college to the university will take on average 2-3 years to reach the BA or BS degree.

Student Profile: CSU's accept students from among the top third of graduating high school seniors, although their population often includes a greater number of older and returning students. Many