First-Quarter Guide for Transfer Students

campus bike path in autumn

The following guide will provide information that you can use to select appropriate courses, balance your schedule, and start satisfying your graduation requirements. It is important for you to consult with your major advisor in addition to this general information.

Getting Started

Here are a few important questions to answer before you begin selecting classes for Fall.

  • Have you completed all preparatory coursework for your major?
  • If you have not completed all the lower division courses required as preparatory subject matter in your major, then enrolling in these courses should be your main priority.
  • Do you need to take a Course Placement?
  • If your major requires one of the courses listed below and you have not completed the equivalent course at your previous institution, then you will be required to take the appropriate course placement prior to enrolling (or before instruction begins). If your major does not require one of the courses then you are not required to take a course placement, but it is still recommended if you are exploring other majors or minors. If you're not sure, check with your major advisor.

    Math Placement required for MAT 12, 16A, 17A, 21A, or 21M
    Chemistry Placement required for CHE 2A or 2AH
    Computer Science Placement required for ECS 36A
  • Have you satisfied the Foreign Language requirement?
  • All students who are pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must be proficient at the 15-unit level in a single language. This requirement can be met with a qualifying SAT exam score, AP or IB exam score, or an equivalent transfer course.

    If you studied a language in high school or are already fluent in a language other than English, you may consider taking the Foreign Language Proficiency Exam. This is a proctored exam administered by the UC Davis Language Center and is used to demonstrate language proficiency or determine proper placement in a language series. If you demonstrate proficiency beyond the 15-unit equivalent based on this exam then you will satisfy the College’s foreign language requirement. *Note: The Language Center also offers a non-proctored placement option—this cannot be used to satisfy the foreign language requirement.

    If you have been fully certified as completing the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) by your previous community college, the foreign language requirement has been satisfied.
  • Did you complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC)?
  • If you attended a California community college you may have been following the IGETC pattern of courses to satisfy General Education requirements. If so, be sure that you receive an Official IGETC certification from your community college. Note: this is different than your official transcript and may require you to place a specific request with your community college.

    If you did not complete an IGETC, then you may need to plan on taking additional General Education (GE) courses to satisfy the UC Davis GE requirements.

How to Pick Classes and Build a Balanced Schedule

First, it is very important to review the questions above with your Major and College advisors. Knowing what you have already completed will give you information needed to select appropriate courses in your first quarter.

While it may be tempting to focus only on satisfying your major requirements, you may still need to take additional General Education (GE), prerequisites, or elective courses.

With this in mind, we want to provide some suggestions as to the types of courses you should consider taking during your first quarter.

General Advice:
  • Major Courses. Prioritize the courses recommended by your major advisor. You should take no more than two upper division major courses. These will be the core of your schedule
  • Upper Division Composition. Register for University Writing Program (UWP) 101, 102, or 104 to satisfy the College's English Composition requirement. Note: these courses require completion of UWP 1, ENL 3, or an approved equivalent. Check your transfer articulation or ask your College advisor to see if you have met the prerequisite. 
  • General Education or Elective courses.
    • If you did not complete an IGETC at community college, review the General Education (GE) requirements in the General Catalog. Remember to use Assist to see how your community college courses can apply to GE. If you did not transfer from a California community college, contact your College advisor for assistance.
    • If you did complete an IGETC, consider taking some lower or upper division elective courses in a field that interests you. Note: be sure to check upper division courses for additional prerequisites.
  • Take a First-Year Seminar. These are small, innovative classes that reflect an instructor’s intellectual interests. Limited to 19 students each, these once-in-a-lifetime courses promote intellectual exchange, critical thinking, and community. These 1- or 2-unit courses can be a great way to round out your schedule.
Creating a Balanced Schedule:
  • In general we recommend taking 15 units in your first quarter. By completing an average of 15 units per quarter, you will be on track to graduate. Remember, you must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 units to be considered a full-time student.
  • Avoid taking too many math and science courses. Even if you're in a math or science major, you should consider taking no more than two courses to avoid overloading your schedule. 
  • Avoid taking too many writing intensive courses (denoted with WE). Courses with large reading lists and heavy writing assignments can become overwhelming if you're not careful. No more than two of your courses should be heavily focused on writing during your first quarter.
  • Don't take more than 16 units your first quarter. Remember, instructors will expect you to spend two hours in out-of-class preparation for every hour that you spend in class. For example, a 16-unit course load implies 48 hours of work on your part every week (16 hours in class and 32 hours outside of class). You should consider this workload as you plan your first quarter.
Before You Register
  • Be sure to review your transfer courses carefully if taking lower division UC Davis courses. You are not permitted to duplicate courses at UC Davis if you have complete the equivalent course at another institution.
  • Identify several back-up courses. You may not get your first choice schedule, so be sure you have a list of courses you could take instead.

Prepare for Your First Year

Once you've successfully registered for your first quarter, you'll need to start planning for the rest of the academic year.

  • Familiarize yourself with the additional College and University requirements that are required for graduation.
  • Make an academic plan in OASIS. This helpful tool will allow you to plan out future quarters. Both you and your advisor can update and adjust it as you progress throughout your academic career.
  • Get ready for Mandatory Advising. Contact your major advisor to learn more.


Transfer Student First Quarter FAQ's

  • How can I tell if I've completed the equivalent prerequisite with my transfer coursework?
  • If you took the course at a California community college, use to check the articulation agreement. If your course is equivalent to the UC Davis course number listed as a prerequisite, then you can register. If you completed coursework elsewhere, consult your major advisor.
  • Schedule Builder says I don't have the prerequisite, but I know I've completed it. How do I register?
  • Select the prerequisite petition option for the course and fill out the petition form. It's possible that your transfer courses have not been fully processed. If your course is from a non-California community college, you'll need to provide the department with additional information on the course.

    Be aware that completing the petition will allow you reserve a seat in the course, but you will need to follow up to make sure your petition is approved or you may be dropped from the course.
  • I don't see any open seats in Schedule Builder and my pass time is tomorrow, what do I do?
  • In order to keep access to courses equitable over multiple registration days, UC Davis will only release a small number of seats for many high demand courses for each registration time. If you do not find an open seat during Pass 1 you should check again during Pass 2 when all seats will be opened to students.
  • I didn't get into all the recommended courses, will I be behind?
  • Not necessarily. Many of the courses you need will be offered in a future quarter (including summer). If you don't get the perfect schedule in your first quarter, you should still have plenty of time to take the courses you need. Be sure to check in with your Major advisor to discuss your options in more detail.
  • How do I wait-list a course?
  • If a course is full, there will be an option to wait-list beginning in Pass 2 in Schedule Builder. Wait-lists are established on a first come, first serve basis and end on the 12th day of instruction. You will receive a wait-list number that reflects your place "in line". Students are notified via their UC Davis email address when they are moved from the wait-list and are enrolled into a class. Be sure to check your schedule regularly if you wait-list a course.
  • I'm used to taking 16 or more units a semester at my community college. Why do you recommend 12-15 units at UC Davis?
  • Unlike the majority of community colleges which consist of 15-week semesters, UC Davis runs on a 10-week quarter system. Not only is this a much faster pace--which takes some getting use to--but the expectations for academic performance at UC Davis will be higher than at your community college. The combination of a fast paced schedule and higher expectations will be challenging for even the most prepared transfer student, trust us!
  • I couldn't get into 15 units, is that okay?
  • Yes, 15 units is the recommended total. However, you should be enrolled in at least 12 units as this is the minimum requirement for a full-time student.
  • I'm not sure if I can manage the workload in 15 units, what should I do?
  • You should be in a schedule that feels comfortable and manageable for you. The most important thing is that you take a balanced workload to ensure that you are successful. While college should be your top priority, we understand that some students have additional commitments in their lives beyond school, including work, health, family obligations, etc. UC Davis has many resources to help students balance school and life, so talk to your advisor about your concerns and they can help you find a schedule that will set you up for success.
  • I enrolled as a part-time student at my community college. Do I have to be a full-time student at UC Davis?
  • All students are expected to maintain full-time student status and be enrolled in at least 12 units per quarter. Part-Time status is available only to students who are unable to pursue their studies full-time due to extenuating circumstances, such as employment (30 hours or more worked per week), health conditions, accommodation for disability, or primary care responsibilities. Students must apply for part-time status with the Office of the University Registrar by the 10th day of instruction each quarter they wish to be part-time.
  • I have a full IGETC, shouldn't I just take all major courses?
  • No. We recommend taking only 1-2 major classes during your first quarter at UCD. While a full IGETC will satisfy your GE, Foreign Language (A.B. only), and Natural Science & Math (B.S. only) requirements, students are still required to take 64 upper division units to satisfy College degree requirements. You will not reach 64 upper division units with major courses alone. Since you will need to take some upper division courses outside of your major, we encourage you to use these units to explore other areas of interest, or even work towards completing a minor.
  • What is a Partial IGETC?
  • Partial IGETC means that students have finished all but 1 or 2 classes for a full IGETC. Students with a partial IGETC do have options to complete the remaining courses--either at UC Davis or at a community college next Summer. Contact an advisor in the College of Letters & Science to discuss your options in more detail.

    Note: If you are missing more than 2 requirements, you will not qualify for a partial IGETC and will be required to complete the UC Davis General Education (GE) requirements.
  • How do I know if I have completed a full or partial IGETC?
  • Consult with your community college counselor to verify if you have completed a full or partial certification. If you qualify for either, be sure to have an official copy sent to the following address:

    College of Letters & Science
    Undergraduate Education & Advising
    200 Social Science & Humanities Bldg.
    One Shields Ave.
    Davis CA 95695
  • What is the difference between a "transferable" course, and an "articulated" course?
  • A transferable course will grant units towards your degree, even if there is no direct equivalent to the course at UCD. An articulated course is one that has been evaluated and published on as equivalent to a UC Davis course. Along with granting units toward your degree, it may also be used to satisfy specific major, College, or University requirements.
  • How do units from a semester system transfer to the quarter system at UC Davis?
  • Semester units are multiplied by 1.5 when they are converted to quarter units. For example, if you took a course that was 3 semester units, it would be equivalent to 4.5 quarter units at UC Davis (3 x 1.5 = 4.5).
  • How many units am I able to transfer to UC Davis?
  • UC Davis has a limit of 105 lower division transfer units. If you completed more than 105 lower division units, you will still receive articulation credit for additional courses, but only 105 units will count toward the 180 units required to graduate.
  • Can I change my major or complete a double major?
  • Possibly, however it is important to speak with the major advisor(s) for more detail and to review your lower division prerequisites. It is important to know that UC Davis has a maximum unit limit of 225 units (which includes up 105 transfer units). You would need to ensure that you can complete your new or second major within that limit. You speak with an advisor in the College of Letters & Science if you think you may reach the 225 unit limit.
  • I have more questions, who should I talk to?
  • You should speak with your academic advisor! They can help with any other questions you may have about your first quarter and beyond.