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Part 7: Articulation Information for Transfer Students

While the Upper Division course structure is entirely dependent upon the academic considerations of the faculty and departments along with accrediting agencies, there are more tightly structured guidelines throughout the state of California governing lower division courses. Lower division courses are mandated to align with an agreed-upon set of standards for lower division courses within the California Community College system (see the CSU compendium of laws and policies related to degree completion, including transferring between institutions). Each undergraduate major in the CSU system is required to provide a minimum of 18 semester units (generally 6 courses) that will be accepted as lower division requirements. A semester-based curriculum at CSUSB will facilitate articulation of courses since the community colleges are all semester-based.

Information from the Chancellor’s office:

The Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act

The Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act (SB 1440 – Padilla) signed into legislation on September 29, 2010, enables the California Community Colleges and California State University to collaborate on the creation of Associate in Arts Degree (AA) and Associate in Science (AS) Degree transfer programs. This law requires community colleges to grant an associate degree for transfer to a student once a student has met specified general education and major requirements for the degree. Upon completion of the associate degree, the student is eligible for transfer with junior standing into the California State University (CSU) system.

Students are given guaranteed admission into the California State University (CSU) system and, further, are given priority consideration when applying to a particular program that is similar to the student’s community college major. The law prohibits the CSU from requiring a transferring student to repeat courses similar to those taken at the community college that counted toward their associate degree for transfer.

As students transfer to CSUSB, the courses taken at community colleges must be “articulated” into the CSUSB GE package as well as major-specific lower division. As explained in the California Articulation, Policies and Procedures Handbook: “Articulation, for purposes of this handbook, refers specifically to course articulation: the process of developing a formal, written agreement that identifies courses (or sequences of courses) on a “sending” campus that are comparable to, or acceptable in lieu of, specific course requirements at a “receiving” campus. Successful completion of an articulated course assures the student and the faculty that the student has taken the appropriate course, received the necessary instruction and preparation, and that similar outcomes can be assured. In short, the articulation process enables the student to progress to the next level of instruction at the receiving institution.”

The CSU Transfer website also has information about the GE transfer program (also known as IGETC: Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum).

ASSIST: California’s Official Articulation Repository

As departments begin the process of preparing programs for semesters, they should be well aware of the ASSIST website.  ASSIST is a computerized student-transfer information system. ASSIST displays reports of how course credits earned at one California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. The mission of ASSIST is to facilitate the transfer of California Community College students to California’s public four-year universities by providing an electronic system for academic planning that delivers accurate, timely, and complete information.

Courses may be transferable but not articulated and, in general (with some exceptions), articulated courses are transferable. Although the terms are sometimes used as though they are interchangeable, there is an important difference between a transferable course and an articulated course:

  • Transferable Course: A transferable course is a course taken at one college or university that can be used for unit credit at another institution. This does not indicate how the course can be used to fulfill a subject matter requirement at a university campus. A course that is California State University (CSU) transferable (or Baccalaureate level) is accepted for unit credit at any California State University campus. Transferability to CSU is determined by the community college that offers the course.
  • Articulated Course: An articulated course is a course taken at one college or university that can be used to satisfy subject matter requirements (major or general education) at another institution. Except for a handful of exceptions, all articulated courses must first be transferable. It is important to remember, however, that not all transferable courses are articulated.

As departments convert or transform programs, it is vital that articulation for lower division be a significant consideration in developing courses. Generally, it has been the community colleges who have borne the burden of creating courses with the correct content to make agreements work. However, in this unique case of converting to semesters, programs and majors are encouraged to consider existing agreements regarding content as factors in decisions about course content.

Transfer Model Curriculum (TMC) Development and Review Process

A Transfer Model Curriculum (TMC) describes the major component of a CCC associate degree. Each TMC consists of a minimum of 18 semester units that is intended to describe coursework that prepares a student for transfer into a CSU major (or majors) and consists of courses that comprise the major component of a CCC degree.

Each department is encouraged to study the TMC for its discipline. This information can be found online at the Course Identification Numbering System website.  Here basic major lower division courses within a Transfer Model Curriculum are presented. Further reading throughout the C-IDnet website is recommended for all members of the curriculum development team in order to create programs in line with state mandates for transferable and articulated courses.

The bottom line is – the more lower-division course-to-course articulation we have with the CCCs, the better it is for us and for transfer students.  We are currently the only campus (CCC, CSU, or UC) to have full lower-division articulation with all of the other colleges.