How hard it is to transfer to higher ranking UC

Good day,
Does anyone has experience about the transfer process? How hard or not is it to transfer from UCM to more competitive campus - UCB, UCSD or UCSB?

Does applying as a transfer student make things more favorable or is it as hard as getting in as a freshman?

Any words of wisdom?


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The CC to UC transfer pathway is an excellent option and a well proven pathway. For many majors, it can be an easier admit than as a Freshman. What major are you considering?

UCs offer TAG which is Transfer Admission Guarantee. If you complete the major pre-req courses and GPA requirement, you will be guaranteed admission into one of the 6 participating UC’s (some majors are excluded).

Of the 3 UC campuses mentioned, only UCSB still accepts TAG however, you can still apply as a regular transfer admit to UCB and UCSD. UCSB excludes all Engineering majors, Performing Arts majors and majors located in CCS.

Other TAG campuses are UC Merced, Riverside, Santa Cruz, Irvine and Davis. There are excluded majors at these campuses also so check the TAG matrix.

Below is the TAG matrix information:

Also the UC’s to post UC Transfer GPA admit data by major, campus and GPA range so you can see what target GPA’s are needed to be a competitive transfer:

@gumbymom, thank you for all the great info.

My kid won’t consider CC because got accepted to some colleges that my kid likes. And, of course UCB, UCSD, UCSB are the fav ones.

If my kid doesn’t go to CC and attends any other college or UCM, then my student applies as a regular transfer to UCB, UCSD, UCSB.

Is applying as a regular transfer as hard to get into as applying as a freshman?

Thanks a bunch

With transferring, what is most important is the UC Transfer GPA, intended major and completion of the major prep courses. PIQ’s can help differentiate transfers with similar GPA.

Depending upon the intended major, transfers can be easier or sometimes harder than as a Freshman admit. I posted the UC Transfer GPA link with admit rates. You can filter by campus and major to determine that the UC campuses and major are a reasonable goal.

A UC to UC transfer is possible but CC students get priority over the UC to UC or CSU to UC transfers. There are many transfers of this type that have been successful so yes another pathway.

My advice is to accept one of the other schools without going in with the idea to transfer. Embrace the opportunities and he may find that that the school was a right choice after all.


@Gumbymom, thanks for the explanation. Yes, I’m looking at the data by UC campus and major.

Agree, maybe my kid really gets to like the the other colleges, and we want to have all the options open at this point too and thus the transfer idea.

Related question, waitlisted to UCSD and if nothing opens up, would it be easier to apply as a regular transfer? would the waitlisted status as a freshman would work on my kid’s favor?


No the Freshman waitlist status will not be considered when applying as a Transfer. Transfers are evaluated differently. As i stated above, UC Transfer GPA, major prep completion and PIQ’s are the main factors for Transfers. What they did in HS does not factor in as a Junior level transfer (60 semester/90 quarter units).

If he does consider the UC to UC transfer pathway, make sure he gets a UC reciprocity agreement from his current UC before transfer.

Reciprocity is the completion of the general education requirements as listed at your current UC. Each UC has its own set of GE requirements that need to be completed in order to graduate and they don’t match across campuses. The Letter, which you request from the Registrar’s Office, certifies that you completed the full GE course list at your current UC and will therefore not be required to take any other GE courses at your new UC, even if they differ.

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Great info @gumbymom! thank you.

PIQ ? not sure what it means


Personal Insight questions. Transfers have different prompts than Freshman.

You’re great @Gumbymom, thank u for the great info again

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What are the realistic chances to get off the waiting list for the middle ranking UC’s?

It seems to me that the UC waitlists a lot of students.
So do they review the original application and the new additional materials for the students who want to be place on the waiting list? It seems like another round of application from a smaller pool but still huge.

I looked at UCSD CDS this morning as my D23 is waitlisted at UCSD. Latest data set I could find was 21-22. They took zero (0) off the ~7000 person waitlist. Ouch.

One thing to note is that California community college students can generally know ahead of time which courses at their current college will count for subject credit for their target major at their target UC (or CSU) by looking at . This is less certain for transfer applicants to UC or CSU coming from colleges other than California community colleges.

Yes, you will know that UC courses will transfer to another UC, but that is different from knowing whether they will be counted as fulfilling specific course requirements at the target UC.

@jtb, indeed ouch! what is your daughter plan to do? I hope she got accepted to other colleges that she likes too.

@gumbymom, do you have any words of wisdom about the waitlisting torment?

Yes, move on and get excited about your other acceptances.

I post this blog every year and it pretty much sums up the the Universal Waitlist message although originally directed at Georgia Tech admissions.

as per the link above – movin’ on… She has other good options in hand, some hopefuls still to come.

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@ucbalumnus, you make good points. If a student attends a non-UC college or one outside California, how to know which courses are equivalent to UC’s for the transferring requirements?

Other than those where there is a listed articulation (usually on for transferring to UCs or CSUs), transfer subject credit can only be guessed at before matriculation. A transfer student should retain all course materials including syllabus, reading lists, completed assignments, and returned exams in case there is a question from the new school about the content of the course being transferred.

Quarter versus semester system can also complicate things, since a 4 quarter unit course would typically cover about 2/3 of the material that a 4 semester unit course covers. So courses are less likely to be one-to-one matches if going between quarter and semester system. UCB and UCM are on semesters, while other UCs are on quarters. All but 3 of the >110 community colleges in California are on semesters, as are all CSUs other than CPSLO, which will change to semesters in the next few years.

OOS transfer have the lowest priority so if one if the UC’s are your targets, better to attend a CA CC and transfer. If that is not an option, then you can look up the UC course descriptions required for transfer and match them to the OOS schools courses. Some schools may give allow you to submit your OOS transcript for evaluation prior to transfer for most will not evaluate the transcript prior to enrolling.

Students should follow these guidelines to have courses considered for credit:

  • attend a regionally accredited U.S. college or university, or a recognized international university
  • take academic courses substantially similar to those offered by the University of California
  • take all courses in proper sequence
  • not take courses that repeat material already completed in another college- or university-level course

Final approval of how coursework transfers to a UC is made only when a complete, official transcript with grades has been received.

This link could help. https://www.■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■■/

@ucbalumnus, it could get complicated trying to have direct equivalent courses plus semester/quarter.

In our case, it would be a non-UC or CSU.

If a student is applying as a transfer, what would happen if a UC doesn’t grant credit for all the courses required?