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Frequently Asked Questions

Use the links below to skip to answers to questions frequently asked of Advising Center staff. More detailed information can also be found in the Cal Poly catalog.

How does the university know when I want to graduate?

Once you have reached 75% of degree completion (indicated in your Poly Profile gauge), the university will notify you by email. This term will be indicated within your student center. Once you receive notification, you should run your Degree Progress Report (DPR) in your student center immediately, and consult with your academic advisor if you have any questions about your remaining degree requirements and the amount of terms needed to graduate.

If you plan to graduate earlier than the term indicated in your Student Center or if you feel that you have an extenuating circumstance, and will need additional time, you will need to complete a "Change of Degree Completion Term" form which requires an advisor's approval (if additional terms are to be requested). Many circumstances are legitimate, but approval is not automatic.

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How do I find out if a GE class that I want to take at a CA community college will substitute for a Cal Poly class?

Go to assist.org on the Web. It lists articulation (course equivalency) agreements with other schools in California. Articulation agreements are formal contracts between schools that determine equivalency of courses at the two schools.

  1. Select the community college from the drop down menu.
  2. Make sure you have the correct academic year.
  3. Click on the link: CSU GE -Breadth Certification Courses
  4. Select the GE area you need from the drop down menu (see chart below).
  5. Exclude courses that have a date in the "Date Removed" column.
  6. You must also check the articulation of the class to be sure that you are not repeating a class you already have credit for or taking a class that is lower level than you have credit for (e.g foreign language)

Upon completion of the course, have the transcript sent to:

Cal Poly State University
Office of the Registrar-Evaluations Unit
Building 1, Room 218
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407


Please note: If you plan to take classes at a school outside of California, bring course descriptions to your department or advising center to determine appropriate credit that could be awarded.

Need help figuring out how to use ASSIST?

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Who is my faculty advisor/mentor? 

Faculty in the College of Science and Mathematics take an active role in academic and career advising/mentoring. Each student in the College of Science and Mathematics is assigned a faculty advisor in their major. Check with the College Advising Center or your department office to find out who your advisor is and where their office is located.

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, come to the Advising Center to request a new mentor. 

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Where do I go to get information on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?

Research the GRE website or visit the Testing Office on campus (Bldg 124, Rm 121) for test date information on the GRE.

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How do I take online courses elsewhere for credit?

Use California Virtual Campus to find lower division online courses. The following handout will explain how to use this website to find courses. Be sure to go to ASSIST to ensure it will transfer to Cal Poly for course credit.

Upon completion of the course, have a transcript sent to

Cal Poly State University
Office of the Registrar -Evaluations Unit
Building 1 -Room 218
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

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Where can I find out about minors?

Check the most recent catalog for a listing of minors currently offered and the coursework required. If you wish to pursue a minor, you will need to talk with the department offering the minor to find out how to officially declare the minor. You should also inform your advisor of your interest in pursuing the minor and have a discussion on how to best incorporate the minor courses along with your major degree program.

Please note: Some minor courses have the ability to overlap/double-count with GE or concentration/elective courses. Please consult with your advisor to learn more.

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Where do I go to get information on studying abroad?

Take the first step by attending a mandatory Study Abroad 101 workshop. At the workshop, study abroad advisors will guide you through goal setting, financial and academic planning and inform you of study abroad options. Workshops are held in the Kennedy Library. You will need to sign up in advance for a workshop date. Check out the times and dates listed on the study abroad website at: International Center 

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What is the "No Show" policy?

Students who have missed three (3) appointments with an advisor without cancelling in advance must be cleared by an advisor during walk-ins before scheduling another appointment. 

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Does Cal Poly have a pre-med major?

No. But 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, health professions newsletter, various health profession-oriented clubs, mock interviews, assistance with the application process and critique of personal statements. Please refer to our prehealth.calpoly.edu website.

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Where can I find out the credit I would receive for various Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate exams?

Check your Poly Profile -Click on the "Test Credits Detail" or you can see how your AP test credit was applied to your degree by viewing your Degree Progress Report (DPR) via your Portal -Student Center. The general AP and/or IB test credit by score earned and the year taken is also available on the Office of the Registrar's website. In general, for each AP exam you pass with a score of 3 or higher, you will receive 9 units of college level credit. By passing AP exams with a score of 3 or higher, you will either receive credit for required major, support, GE or elective credit. Please consult with an academic advisor regarding your AP/IB test credit.

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How do I change my major?

Cal Poly students are required to declare a major at the time of application to the University. As much as possible, entering students are encouraged to make careful and informed decisions about the initial application to their declared majors. Several majors at Cal Poly are considered impacted and it may be difficult to change into some majors despite a student’s best efforts. Nevertheless, sometimes students will find that their interests, abilities, or talents will take them in a different direction than they had identified when they originally applied to Cal Poly and they may seek to change to a different major. Depending on the degree of impaction of the target major (i.e., the relationship between the number of applicants to the major and the number of places available), there might only be a few spaces available for change of majors, or no spaces at all.

If a student makes the decision to change major, doing so early in the academic career will better allow a student to make degree progress in a timely manner and stay within the university’s expected academic progress (EAP) to degree standards; major changes late in the academic career will be restricted by the university’s EAP policy. All students, whether lower division (those with fewer than 90 Cal Poly units) or upper division (those with more than 90 Cal Poly units or 90 transfer units), intending to change majors must demonstrate that they can complete the new major within the EAP standards and the unit maximum set forth by the university.

You should meet with the department of your intended major to find out the likelihood of success in the new major. If you do not know which major you want, you are encouraged to attend a Change of Major workshop hosted by the Mustang Success Center. Alternatively, you are encouraged to make an appointment with a career counselor in Career Services to receive some help exploring your options. Then check with your current major department to determine the process for pursuing the new major. In the College of Science and Math, we require you to seek an Individualized Change of Major (ICMA) agreement with the prospective department and will allow you up to three quarters to pursue and declare a new major as long as it is reasonable and likely that you can successfully change to your desired major. You must establish a written Individualized Change of Major (ICMA) agreement with both your current department and target major to pursue this option. See Changing Your Major for more information.

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What is the GWR?

This acronym stands for Graduation Writing Requirement. Each student must demonstrate competency in writing skills as a requirement for graduation. Once a student becomes a junior (reaches 90 units) he/she may meet the GWR in one of two ways:

  • Pass the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE). This is offered every quarter (Fall, Winter or Spring) typically the second Saturday of every quarter. The cost is $35.
  • Pass a GWR-approved upper-division course with a grade of C or better AND receive certification of proficiency in writing based on a 500-word in-class essay. Students must inform the instructor teaching the course that they are taking it to fulfill the GWR.
  • Check the web page of the Writing & Rhetoric Center for more information.

How do I fulfill the U.S. Cultural Pluralism Requirement (USCP)?

Each student at Cal Poly must take one course that deals with one or more diverse groups in contemporary American society who have faced cultural conflict or restricted opportunities. Please refer to the online catalog or look at PASS for the most current listing of courses that fulfill this requirement. Some USCP courses can double count for both General Education requirements and or major requirements. 

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Which catalog should I follow?

You may elect to follow the catalog in effect at the time that you enter the university or any catalog in effect from the time you arrive until the time you graduate, provided you have been in continuous attendance each quarter. Transfer students may use any catalog from the time they entered the higher education system until graduation, as long as they have not broken enrollment- meaning you have been enrolled in at least 1 semester or 2 quarters each year continuously. Talk with an advisor to determine if there is some advantage for you to be on one catalog versus another.

Important: If you are following an older catalog, talk with an advisor to make sure you understand what you are required to take. Some course numbers and courses offered may have changed.

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How do I find out when courses will be offered?

Each department in the College of Science and Mathematics prepares a list of tentative course offerings for the coming year. Usually the list for the next year is available during spring quarter. The Advising Center maintains hard copies of course offerings in our kiosk outside our office, or you can check online on the majors pages of this website or with the department offering the course.

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What is the minimum passing grade for a course?

A "D-" is the minimum passing grade.  In order to graduate, your major GPA, Cal Poly or CPSLO GPA and Higher Ed GPA must be a 2.0 (C Average).

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Can I take classes with the CR/NC grading option?

The University policy for Credit/No Credit grading is that each student 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, and the remaining units can be used for free electives. A C- must be earned in the course to receive credit.

*Liberal Studies should take caution when selecting CR/NC. If the course double-counts in the major & GE, it will count for both areas -major AND GE.

Major Credit/No Credit Policy
Liberal Studies *4 units within major or support
Kinesiology 4 units within major or support
Physics 4 units within major or support but cannot be applied to courses with lab
Statistics 4 units in support courses only
Biology/Marine Sciences/Microbiology Not allowed for major or support
Chemistry/Biochemistry Not allowed for major or support
Mathematics Not allowed for major or support

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