Which major to choose on UC & CSU app?

What major should my son choose on the UC & CSU app to increase his chances of acceptance? He ultimately is interested in finance so Business or Econ comes to mind, but is there a less competitive major he could apply under?

Here are his stats:
California Resident
SAT: 1220 (Eng 560, math 660)
6 APs: Calc AB, Calc BC, Lang, CSP, AP Econ/Govt, AP World History
GPA: UW 3.45, W: 3.90
Major: Econ or Math
NHS, volunteer at school for autistic kids for 3 years, math tutor

Generally, the major he really wants to study. If the desired major is more selective for frosh admission, it probably has high college GPA requirements or competitive admission to switch into after enrolling (because it is “full”). You can try doing a web search for “[college name] change major [desired major]” to see what requirements there are to change into the desired major.

CSU’s admit by major and some campuses do offer Undeclared. Test scores are not considered this admission cycle.

Econ is in the College of Letters and Sciences at the UC’s so they do not admit by major but as stated above may have course pre-req’s and GPA requirements to change later. Only 3 UC’s have a Business school: UCR, UCI and UCB. UCB does not offer a direct admit into the Business. UCI is a direct admit but highly competitive. UCR is a pre-business admit and requires completion of pre-req courses before declaring the major.

Which CSU ‘s and UC’s are on his list?

Hi ucbalumnus: Thanks- Yes I agree that he should apply for whichever he intends to study. He just doesn’t really have a strong opinion either way so I’m wondering if one might increase his chances.

Hi Gumbymom:
Thanks for your answer. What you mean when you say that Econ in in the College of Letters & Sciences so they don’t admit by major? Wouldn’t someone applying as a CS major have a much tougher chance of getting in than someone applying as Basket Weaving? I am missing something.

UCs: Davis, Irvine, Santa Barbara & San Diego
CSU: Cal Poly SLO, SDSU, Long Beach

Thank you!

@kmilano: CS is usually in the College of Engineering for the UC’s and for the UC’s that offer CS in the College of L&S, there is usually pre-req courses and specific GPA requirements to be met before declaring the major: example is UC Berkeley which is a tough admit overall.

Is your son’s GPA of 3.9, the capped weighted UC GPA or the Fully weighted UC GPA?

UC/CSU GPA calculator. UC capped weighted = CSU capped weighted.


The reason I am asking is that the schools listed will be all a tough admit with his current GPA unless he is local to one of the Cal states. What about a safety school?

Below are Freshman admit rates not major specific for the UC’s along with SAT score ranges.

2019 Freshman admit rates for UC GPA of 3.80-4.19 capped weighted and not major specific:
UCB: 12%
UCLA: 7%
UCSD: 33%
UCSB: 32%
UCD: 47%
UCI: 35%
UCSC: 72%
UCR: 87%
UCM: 96%

**2020 UC capped weighted GPA averages along with 25th-75th percentile range: **
UCB: 4.22 (4.13-4.30)
UCLA: 4.25 (4.18-4.31)
UCSD: 4.18(4.04-4.28)
UCSB: 4.17 (4.03-4.27)
UCI: 4.11 (3.96-4.26)
UCD: 4.11 (3.97-4.25)
UCSC: 3.94 (3.71-4.16)
UCR: 3.88 (3.65-4.11)
UCM: 3.68 (3.40-3.96)

2020 Data:
25th - 75th percentiles for SAT totals:

UCB: 1320-1560
UCLA: 1350-1550
UCSD: 1310-1520
UCSB: 1290-1510
UCD: 1230-1490
UCI: 1280-1510
UCSC: 1170-1440
UCR: 1110-1380
UCM: 980-1260

SDSU’s average CSU GPA capped weighted for admitted students was a 3.97 overall. CSULB’s average admitted GPA for Business majors was 3.89.

Cal Poly SLO uses 9-11th grades in their GPA calculation with the 8 semester Honors Cap. The middle 50th percentile GPA for admitted students in the College of Business which includes Econ was 3.96-4.25.

Hopefully he has a few solid target and safety schools besides the ones listed.

How UC’s admit:

UCD has no Business Major. They have Managerial Econ found in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and Environmental Sciences or Econ or Math can be found in the College of Letters and Sciences. Econ is a selective major at UCD.

College of Letters and Science admits by division within the college
• (Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies; Mathematics and Physical Sciences; Social Sciences)
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences admits by college

UCSD has no Business major and Econ is no longer a capped major but Math is a capped major.
The campus does not admit students on the basis of academic major or choice of UC San Diego undergraduate college. Alternate majors are considered and capped majors are highly competitive. Also note: Capped majors require additional pre-req courses and specific GPA to be able to qualify if changing majors. Also if applying to a capped major, select an non-capped major as an alternate.

UCI admits into the University first and then into the major. In the case that UCI is unable to accommodate all qualified applicants in their first-choice major, those students who indicate a valid alternate major may be offered admission in that major or Undeclared.
Change of major information for UCI: https://changeofmajor.uci.edu/school-of-business/

College of Letters and Sciences: Choice of major is not considered in selection to the College of Letters and Science
For UCSB, a student is admitted as a Pre-Econ major.
In order to qualify for admission into the Economics major, students must complete Economics 1, 2, and 10A with a UC grade-point average of 2.85 or above. No grade lower than a C in pre-major courses will be accepted. In addition, students must complete PSTAT 109 or 120A and Math 2A-B or 3A-B or 34A-B with a grade of “C” or higher; the grades in these courses will not be used in computing the pre-major GPA but will apply to the overall major GPA.

SDSU admission rate for Business Admin or Finance is around 35-40% and Econ is around 50%. Mathematics was around 51% admit rate. No data on the average admitted GPA by major unfortunately.

For CSULB, Econ has a slightly lower average admit GPA of 3.85 vs. Business Admin at 3.89. Mathematics had an average admit GPA of 3.96.

SLO’s GPA admit rate is in the above post for Business and Econ had around a 21% admit rate and Business Admin was around 30%, however the # of applicants for Business Admin was 6 times as many as Econ.

For the College of Mathematics and Sciences the admit GPA range is higher: 4.04 – 4.27. Math had around a 28% admit rate.

Due to Covid, there are many factors that will be different in the admission process this year so I would highly recommend he applies widely. I would add CSU Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona and UC Riverside to the list as more solid Match schools.

Thanks for all that info. I really appreciate it.

His capped GPA is actually 3.82, which I’m embarrassed to say I just figured out. I did the math wrong before. So it doesn’t sound like there’s really any point in even applying to any of the UC’s except Riverside, UCSC or Merced, correct? It sounds like SDSU and CSULB may also be reaches for him.

Do you have any thoughts on ASU’s business program? He’s interested in applying there. I also hear UNR (Reno) might be a match.

Another question- Is the capped GPA what he’ll be applying to the CSUs as well?

With a 3.82 capped weighted UC GPA, yes UCM, UCR and UCSC would be the target schools. For CSULB and SDSU, they would not be a solid Match but you never know so definitely worth an application to these campuses, just apply widely to the Cal states.

I have heard good things about the ASU Business program and UNR but I cannot give you any specifics. Best to post on their specific discussions with any questions.

The UC Capped weighted (8 semesters of honors points)= The CSU Capped weighted

ASU campus admission requirements can be found here:

Specific majors may have their own requirements to be admitted directly to the major. Look up the major web pages from here:

Note: Tempe is the main campus. Other campuses may be more aimed at non-traditional students.

@Gumbymom Hope this is the right place for this question. My son, has a 3.79 UC/cal state Gpa. Does that take him out of the running for most of the selective cal state’s and Uc’s? I see the cutoff seems to be 3.80. He has interest in Uc davis and San Diego state or slo with ASU as a strong safety which he’ll be happy with. He’s thinking about law so philosophy would be his major choice. Is this unrealistic expectations?

@kmilano Are you familiar with WUE reciprocity? UNR is one of the schools that CA students can attend at a discounted rate. https://wuesavingsfinder.wiche.edu/ U of Utah is another flagship in the WUE system that’s good for business-related majors. The main campus of ASU isn’t part of WUE, but it’s still relatively affordable.

@TwoforT , it’s better to start your own thread so it’s clear who the advice is for.

@Aquatic Thanks. Where do I go to do that? Seems like the interface has changed since I was last here two years back

Go to the forum section you want the new thread to be in and use the “Ask your question now” button to create a new thread.