Are you interested in transferring to a school in the University of California (UC) system from a California community college? The UC pathways program allows California community college students to transfer to a select number of UCs by completing a curated list of transferable courses.

This blog post will discuss the impetus for the UC Transfer Pathway program and how students can navigate the process. It is our hope that by the end of this blog, you will have a better understanding of what is required to transfer to your dream UC school.

Creation of the UC Transfer Admissions Pathway

The University of California system is one of the two largest higher education systems in the State, with the California State University (CSU) system being the other. Transfer students are vital to the UC system, and nearly one-third of those students are from a California community college.

The transfer pipeline from the CCCs to the UC is an important pathway for low-income students and those from families who have never attended college.

Although UC transfer has been a viable option for some community college students, the UC system recognized that its transfer admission policies were not providing the same opportunities for students at all of the California Community Colleges.

The Transfer Pathways Program was created to curtail the alarming number of UC transfers from fewer than 20 percent of all California Community Colleges.

Pathways to Transfer with Arrows going out.
Pick your Transfer Path, whether it is UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, etc

The lack of diversity among different CCC transfer students reflected a barrier to transferring that does not promote nor represent California’s full racial, geographic, and ethnic diversity.

What is a UC Transfer Pathway?

A Transfer Pathway is a predetermined major preparation plan for a transfer student who wishes to major in one of the ten majors included in the original effort, regardless of which UC campus or campus they apply to.

The goal is to educate potential transfer students about what core coursework they’ll need before transferring to ensure they complete the process. Eligible students can apply to any UC system universities after successfully completing the courses.

This standardization of the major preparation for transfer students throughout the UC system represents an important step toward making it easier for prospective UC attendees to transition from community college students to full-fledged Bachelor’s Degree holders.

Majors Represented in UC Transfer Pathways

Although the list of pathways could increase in the coming years, the UC Transfer Pathways currently offers a comprehensive major preparation program for the following majors:

  • Anthropology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Business administration
  • Cell Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Communication
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • Electrical engineering
  • English
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Molecular biology
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

If you are curious about the requirements for each major, please reference the UC Transfer Pathways Available Majors.

UC Transfer Pathways Guide official logo
UC Transfer Pathways Guide is the go-to resource for Pathways questions.

Who Should Consider the UC Transfer Pathway Program?

If you already know what you want to do and major in but are unsure what UC campus you want, then Transfer Pathways benefits you.

If you are a student who wants to increase your chances of being competitive across the UC system, then completing the program is right for you because the UC institutions will not ask for more than what is required in the program list.

Students majoring in highly sought-after programs are advised to check the Transfer Pathways route for transferring. It is recommended that students wishing to major in one of the ones listed above enroll in a Transfer Pathways program for transfer.

ucsd, uc application, ucsd library
La Jolla, California, USA – April 3, 2017: The Geisel Library on Gilman Drive in the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

This is precisely because it eliminates any potential for the student to enroll in classes that are unnecessary or required to transfer with their chosen major. If you are currently on track for the Associate Degree for Transfer, then you are not advised to view Pathways as an option.

Benefits of the UC Transfer Pathway Program

There are several benefits to utilizing the UC Pathways. Students receive special support and services that engage interest in various UC schools and programs.

All the guidance provided can determine what you need to prepare to transfer in two years to whatever UC you want (accepted, of course).

Priority Admission for California Community College Students

If you are currently enrolled at a California Community College, you are given priority admission to UC schools. Priority admission should not be confused with guaranteed admission.

Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program guarantees admission to a select number of UC schools. The UCLA extension, for example, does not offer a TAG program but does have a Transfer Pathway.

CCC Students receive priority admission. Depicted is black sign with office of admissions placed on it
Priority Admission for CCC Students

This is a huge benefit for California residents because it streamlines students’ options to stay in California and receive a high-quality education from one of the state’s robust and prestigious UC institutions.

By following the clearly-displayed course guide, students can change the trajectory of their lives and enroll at a UC campus that they would have otherwise not been able to straight out of high school.

Develop a Sound Educational Plan

A significant benefit of the Pathways program was its ability to allow students who intend to transfer to a UC to develop their education plans around the UC Transfer Pathways Program.

Students can have peace of mind knowing that if they complete their major preparation courses before they begin transferring, all the major requirements will be completed for all UC campuses.

educational plan. Figure head with gears and equations + education material.
Have a developed educational plan to transfer to UC

In other words, if you want to major in Biochemistry and are undecided on which UC to attend, you can take the listed classes on the Pathway for Biochemistry and apply those credits to all nine undergraduate UC Campuses.

Whereas before, interested Biochemistry transfer students had to locate the specific major preparation courses for every UC. Which required looking at the major preparation courses for UCLA, UCSB, UC Riverside, etc., and cross-referencing those with the classes you are taking to ensure all of the courses were completed and will count for transferability.


In conclusion, the UC Pathways program increases the accessibility of the UC system to California Community College Students.

Every student should have the opportunity to receive higher education, and the transfer pipeline from CCC to UCs is a vital component of this.

The Pathways program is essential in ensuring all students can transfer and receive a degree from a UC institution.

If you are considering transferring to a UC school, the UC Pathways program is a great option. The program’s benefits can help you transition smoothly to a UC campus and receive a quality education.

Do you need help transferring from a California Community College to a UC or CSU?

Contact Us so we can provide a transfer plan that considers your intended transfer institution and the major you want to declare.

Feeling generous? Consider making a tax-deductible Donation to California Transfer Support Network (CTSN)