Frequently Asked Questions
Who is my faculty advisor/mentor?
Each student in the College of Science and Mathematics is assigned a faculty advisor in their major. Check with the your department office to find out who your advisor is and how to best contact them.
In some departments, faculty advisors/mentors are assigned randomly to students at the time of entrance into Cal Poly. If you meet with your mentor and find that your interests are not the same, you can change your faculty advisor by asking a professor of your choice to be your advisor. Please make sure to inform your department of this change.
How do I declare a concentration?
Many majors in CSM allow or require students to declare a concentration. A concentration is an area of emphasis within your field of study.
To declare, make sure the concentration is available for the catalog you are following. Then, submit this form to the Office of the Registrar.Please note that it will take some time for your concentration to be applied to your degree progress.
How do I declare a minor?
The minor declaration process depends on the minor you are declaring. Some minors (e.g., BIO minor) may have major exclusions and/or GPA requirements. A list of all minors can be found in the Cal Poly catalog. University Advising also maintains a list of minors that includes declaration information.
Please note that it may take some time for your minor to be applied to your Degree Progress Report and Poly Profile after you have declared it.
Does Cal Poly have a "pre-med" major or concentration?
No, we encourage students to choose the area of study they are most passionate about and add in the necessary prerequisites as applicable. We do offer a full range of support services and resources for students interested in the health professions. These include: pre-health professions advising (both peer and professional), career profiles with course prerequisites required for health profession programs, a health professions newsletter, various health profession-oriented clubs, mock interviews, assistance with the application process and critique of personal statements.
How do I change my major?
In general, the change of major process is consistent across colleges. However, ICMA requirements vary according to major. If you have reviewed the resources below and still have questions, please speak with the appropriate advising center for the major you are interested in.
- Changing your major within (or into) the College of Science and Mathematics
- Changing your major outside of CSM
- Note: you do not need to meet with a CSM advisor if you are considering leaving the college, but you are welcome to if you have questions
What is the minimum passing grade for a course?
A "D-" is the minimum passing grade in order to earn units for a class. However, this does not always mean that a D- grade will satisfy a given requirement. A good example of this is the Calculus series (MATH 141-143 in the 17-19 Catalog):
MATH 141. Calculus I. 4 units
GE Area B1
Term Typically Offered: F,W,SP,SU
Limits, continuity, differentiation. Introduction to integration. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as HNRS/MATH 141. Fulfills GE Area B1; for students admitted Fall 2016 or later, a grade of C- or better in one GE Area B1 course is required to fulfill GE Area B.
Additionally, MATH 142 requires that students earn a C- or better in MATH 141 or obtain consent from the instructor before enrolling:
MATH 142. Calculus II. 4 units
GE Area B1
Term Typically Offered: F,W,SP,SU
Prerequisite: MATH 141 with a grade of C- or better or consent of instructor.
Techniques of integration, applications to physics, transcendental functions. 4 lectures. Crosslisted as HNRS/MATH 142. Fulfills GE B1; for students admitted Fall 2016 or later, a grade of C- or better in one GE B1 course is required to fulfill GE Area B.
Remember: while a D- may be considered passing, your major GPA, CPSLO GPA and Higher Ed GPA must be at least 2.0 (a C Average) in order to graduate.
What classes can I take as Credit/No Credit (CR/NC)?
The University policy for Credit/No Credit grading is that students may choose to take up to 16 units of coursework with this grading option. This does not include courses that are only taught with the CR/NC option.
Of the 16 units:
- 4 units can be from GE courses*
- 4 units can be from Major and Support courses if your department allows it
- the remaining units can be used for free electives
|Biological Sciences||No major, support, or concentration courses may be selected as CR/NC.|
|Biochemistry||No major, support, or concentration courses may be selected as CR/NC.|
|Chemistry||No major, support, or concentration courses may be selected as CR/NC.|
|Kinesiology||Up to 4 units of CR/NC grading may be selected for courses in major, support, or concentration.|
|Liberal Studies*||Up to 4 units of CR/NC grading may be selected for courses in major, support, or concentration.|
|Marine Sciences||No major, support, or concentration courses may be selected as CR/NC.|
|Mathematics||No major or concentration courses may be selected as CR/NC.|
|Microbiology||No major or support courses may be selected as CR/NC.|
|Physics (BA & BS)||No major courses with a lab component may be selected as CR/NC.|
|Public Health||Up to 4 units of CR/NC grading may be selected for courses in major, support, or concentration.|
|Statistics||No course with a STAT prefix may be selected as CR/NC.|
*All students, especially those in Liberal Studies, should take caution when selecting CR/NC. If the course double-counts in the major & GE, it will count as using 4 units of CR/NC grading for both major AND GE. Please refer to the full policy in the catalog.
What if I need to cancel my advising appointment?
As a courtesy to our office and your peers, if you need to cancel or reschedule your advising appointment, please use the links in your confirmation email. We prefer at least 24 hours advance notice, but we know last minute things come up. CSM Advising will notify students by email if they have missed an appointment.
Where can I find answers if my question isn't listed here?
Great question! University Advising maintains a comprehensive website of general tips and resources for all Cal Poly students. If you've looked there and you still have questions, please come see us!