Transferability of Courses

Community colleges, including Fullerton, offer curriculums paralleling the first two years of Bachelors degree programs as well as those preparing for employment at the completion of the
AA/AS degree. These categories are not mutually exclusive, however, as many courses included in occupational programs are also transferable to four-year colleges. For this and other reasons the definition of a transfer course is somewhat complicated.

First it needs to be said that each four-year institution decides for itself on the acceptance of courses from other colleges. In general, the policy, whether liberal or restrictive, will apply equally to entrants from community colleges and from other four-year colleges with two exceptions. All four-year colleges impose a ceiling (between 60 and 70 units) on the acceptance of community college credit, and all recognize that community colleges offer remedial and vocational courses usually not intended for transfer.

In this context a community college course can be “transferable” in any one of the following ways:

  1. As meeting lower-division requirements in the major. To be accepted for this purpose, the course must correspond almost exactly to the comparable course at the four-year college in content, prerequisites, and unit value.
  2. As applying to general education requirements. Some four-year institutions are fairly flexible in accepting courses for this purpose, provided they are in the proper category; e.g. physical science, social science, fine arts. In many cases, however, the institution will accept only courses paralleling its own lower-division offerings. A special case here is the 39-unit block of general education which a community college certifies to the California State University System. In this case any course listed for this purpose by the community college will be accepted by any California State University as applicable to the 39-unit block, provided the applicable category (natural science, social science, humanities, basic subjects) has been completed and the student has requested general education certification on transcript request.
  3. As elective credit. A course not acceptable as part of a major, support for the major, or as general education may be accepted as elective credit. This signifies that it will apply to the total-unit requirement for the Bachelors degree. Four-year institutions are generally liberal in accepting courses for elective credit, but almost certainly will exclude avowedly vocational courses or specialized courses which they do not offer.
  4. For subject credit only. Acceptance of a course for subject credit only, without unit credit, usually takes place in one of the following situations:
    1. The student has accumulated as many units as the four-year college will accept from a community college.
    2. The corresponding course in the four-year college is upper-division.
    3. The course is a prerequisite for a course in the student’s major, but the prerequisite is normally completed in high school.

In summary, then, the question of whether a course is transferable can be accurately answered only with reference to a particular four-year college and the purpose for which the course will be used. Checking the four-year college catalog in the Fullerton College Counseling Resource Center or the Cadena/Transfer Center as well as consultation with a counselor are recommended. A counselor can give you up-to-date information.