FAQ – International Students

Frequently Asked Questions by International Students

General and Miscellanous Questions 

Am I an “international student”?

It depends on whose definition you are using!  At UC Davis students are considered to be “international” if they are studying at our University on a student visa.  The vast majority of undergraduate international students are studying on an F-1 visa.

In the College of Letters and Science, we understand that this definition does not always meet the exact needs of all of our students.

For example:  we have students who are US citizens but they have lived the majority of lives in a foreign country prior to returning to the US to study at UC Davis.  We also have “international students” (studying on an F-1 or J-1 visa) who have lived the majority of lives in the US and have even attended local high schools.

If you are not an international student according to the university definition but feel that you may benefit from international student advising services, please contact one of our International Academic Advisors. 

How can I change my major or add another major?

You should meet with the major advisor in your new major to make sure you have completed any required preparatory classes. You should also do a four-year academic plan with the major adviser so you know you can complete all requirements within the 225 unit cap. The major adviser will have the required forms and explain the next steps in changing your major or adding another major. 

I’m a transfer student. Can I retake a course that I took at my Community College?

With the exception of courses that you have earned an F grade, you will not earn any units for courses you repeat at UC Davis that you have previously taken at your prior college. This includes any courses that you may have earned a grade of D. 

Can I go part-time for a quarter?

International students may only go part-time (10 units or less) in their final quarter before graduation with the appropriate approvals. Exceptions to full-time status at any other time are only made under exceptional circumstances. Please consult with your academic counselor or an advisor from Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS)

Can I work in the U.S.?

It may be possible to work on-campus on a student visa. In fact, we hire international students as Peer Advisors in our office. Please review the information available through SISS (Services for International Students and Scholars) and if you have specific questions about working in the U.S. http://siss.ucdavis.edu/students/current_students/employment.html

Can I study abroad as an international student?

Yes! Visit the Study Abroad office to find out about opportunities. UC Davis Summer Abroad and Quarter Abroad offer UC Davis courses taught abroad. UC EAP offers the opportunity to participate in language and culture programs, internship programs, and study at a foreign university. UC EAP courses appear on your UC Davis transcript and the grades are calculated into your UC Davis GPA. http://studyabroad.ucdavis.edu/

How do I transfer to another UC or another University?

First, you should look at the admissions requirements at the university you wish to attend. Each university will have its own requirements for transfer students. You should contact the university you are interested in transferring to for information about the transfer admissions process.

If you plan to transfer to another UC campus, and have completed all General Education requirements, you can request a Letter of Reciprocity from an Academic Advisor at UC Davis. If you complete reciprocity at a UC campus prior to transferring to another UC campus, the new campus will consider those your General Education requirements satisfied. 

What are Peer Advisors and what do they do?

Peer Advisors are current students who are employed to assist their fellow students with course selection, major exploration, and college or university requirements. They present evening programs and staff the Advising Centers in the Residence Halls as part of the Residence Hall Advising Team (RHAT).  Peer Advisors are critical in the smooth operation of Undergraduate Education and Advising in the Dean’s Office and answer advising questions over the phone and at the front desk. They also represent the College of Letters & Science at campus events.


How do registration PASS times work and why don't I have an earlier time?

Registration for courses occurs during two appointment times called “passes”.  All students are assigned a Pass 1 and Pass 2 appointment time. This is a four-hour period of time in which you are may sign up for courses. Pass appointment time assignment is based on the number of units you have completed.  For additional information, please refer to the Office of University Registrar website: http://registrar.ucdavis.edu/registration/register/pass-times.cfm

Who can help me choose the right courses?

We can! If you are a first-year international freshman or transfer student, you can expect to receive an email from Undergraduate Education and Advising in the Dean’s Office with recommendations on the courses that you have chosen for your first quarter after your Pass 1 appointment and before classes begin. Your peer advisors in the resident halls are also an excellent resource for course and schedule recommendations. Transfer students are best served by their major advisors because most of their remaining coursework will largely apply toward their major requirements in their final years at UC Davis. 

What are prerequisites and why do I have to take them?

It is your responsibility to meet the prerequisites of courses; however, the registration system at UC Davis will prevent you from registering for courses that you do not have the prerequisites for. Prerequisites are often in the form of lower-division, preparatory courses that are required before you continue on to a more advanced-level course. Other prerequisites may include placement exams. You can find more information about prerequisite checking on the Registrar's website: http://registrar.ucdavis.edu/registration/schedule/prerequisites.cfm

Should I take MAT21A or MAT16A?

All students who want to take MAT16A, 17A or 21A must take and pass the Math Placement Exam to avoid being dropped from the course. Many students misunderstand the purpose of the placement exam. It is intended to determine if you are prepared to take the course. It is not meant to determine which course you should take. Depending on your major, you may have the option to take 16A or 17A even if you placed into MAT21A. MAT21A is largely intended for students majoring in Math or Physical Sciences or students seeking a degree in engineering.

Will I earn units for WLD57?

Workload units count for 4.5 units toward minimum progress (the completion of at least 39 units your first year at UC Davis) and full-time enrollment (12 units minimum per quarter) but will not count toward the 180 minimum units required for graduation. Although this course does not count toward graduation it should still be treated like any other course. WLD57 is a very challenging course for many of our international students. It will require the same amount of class and study time that any 4.5 unit course would. We would not recommend adding an additional course as an attempt to make-up units. Please consult with your Academic Advisor if you have questions. 

Can I drop a class after the drop deadline?

Approval for a late drop or late Pass/No Pass option can be granted only if unexpected circumstances beyond your control occur after the deadline for either late action. You must make an appointment with an Academic Advisor in our office and bring documentation for your unexpected circumstances with you. You can find information about the required documentation and petition process on our website at Late Drop or File P/NP

If you believe that you do not meet the requirements for a late drop or late Pass/No Pass but you are still struggling with the course (earning a grade below a C), you should still meet with your Academic Advisor in our office to discuss your circumstances and your options.  

Can I do coursework in my home country over summer?

Yes, but Undergraduate Admissions generally will not pre-approve transfer coursework that you complete at a foreign university over summer. After you have completed your coursework you will need to have the university send an official transcript to Undergraduate Admissions. They will evaluate the coursework and determine if transfer credit can be awarded. This process could take several months from the time Undergraduate Admissions receives your transcript.

This means there is no way to know in advance if the coursework you plan to transfer to UC Davis will be approved for transfer credit before you take the classes. If you want to be sure that summer coursework will be transferable to UC Davis, you can attend a California community college and take a UC transferrable course. You can determine if a course is transferrable by using assist.org. Or, you may attend UC Davis Summer Sessions.

What is P/NP grading? Is it a good idea to change my class to P/NP grading?

If you are a student in the College of Letters and Science, you have the option to change your letter graded courses to Pass/No-Pass grading (P/NP grading). A grade of “P” means the following:

  • You have passed the course and will earn full unit credit for it.
  • The course will not be included in your GPA (Grade Point Average).
  • The course can be used towards your major requirements and towards your GE (General Education) requirements.

When you opt for P/NP grading, your instructor will not know that you have changed the grading mode. They will still enter a letter grade when the course has ended. If the letter grade is “C-“ or higher, you will have earned a “P”. If the grade is below “C-“ you will have earned a “NP” and no unit credit for the course.

*Students must be in Good Academic Standing (grades) in order to opt for P/NP grading.

*If you change your major into a different College, the policies regarding P/NP may also be different.

Please consult with your International Academic Advisor if you have additional questions.

How do I change my course to P/NP grading?

Students must be in Good Academic Standing in order to opt for P/NP grading. To change to P/NP grading, log on to Schedule Builder and click the “edit” button found underneath the course that you wish to change and select “Optional Pass/No-Pass Grading”.

Degree Requirements 

How many classes can I take P/NP?

There are limitations to P/NP grading for students in the College of Letters and Science:

  • In our College, you are allowed to take a maximum 1/3 (33.3%) of your total UC Davis units as P/NP upon graduation. This total includes courses that can only be taken P/NP as well as courses that you have opted to take P/NP.
  • You may only take a maximum of 1/4 (25%) of your UC Davis units opted P/NP upon graduation.
  • You must have a GPA in your major to graduate. Students cannot take all of their major courses as P/NP.

*Students must be in Good Academic Standing (grades) in order to opt for P/NP grading.

Can I earn Writing Experience (WE) GE credit before I satisfy the Entry-Level Writing Requirement?

No, you must satisfy the Entry-Level Writing Requirement (ELWR) first. If you did not satisfy the ELWR before coming to UC Davis, you will need to pass WLD 57 or WR 39A with a grade of C or better. You will not receive any Writing Experience GE credit for courses taken prior to satisfying ELWR.  

Do I have to take foreign language courses to earn my AB degree?

If English is not your first language, ask your Academic Advisor how you can satisfy the foreign language requirement without taking classes. If you are seeking a B.S. degree, there is no Foreign Language requirement.

I have A-Level Exam credit. How does it apply toward my degree requirements?

You can earn unit credit if you have completed Advanced Levels Exams. These units can be used toward the minimum 180 unit requirement to graduate. A-Level credit is not equivalent to coursework taken at UC Davis. Students cannot earn GE credit for it. However, it may be possible to skip some courses that may be required for your major. Please consult with your major advisor about this option. Please be aware that if exceptions are granted, they are specific to your current major only. If you decide to change majors later, there is no guarantee that your new major will honor the same exceptions of the prior major.