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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a permission number?

The process to obtain permission varies by the department that offers the course.  If you are trying to get a permission number for a course offered outside the College of Science and Mathematics, we recommend contacting the instructor and/or department offering the course (use the Cal Poly directory or search their website to find contact information).   

Below are the preferred contacts for the departments in the College of Science and Mathematics. When reaching out about a permission number, be clear in what you are looking for and include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Cal Poly Email
  • Empl ID
  • The reason you are requesting a permission number
  • Preferred Course
  • Preferred Section Number (location in Schedule Builder)
Departments & Course Prefixes WHO TO CONTACT  CONTACT INFORMATION
Biological Sciences (BIO, BOT, MCRO, MSCI) Instructor of course first, department if no response biosci@calpoly.edu
Chemistry and Biochemistry (CHEM) Instructor of course first, department if no response, chair (last preference) chem@calpoly.edu
Kinesiology and Public Health (KINE, HLTH) Instructor of course first, department if no response

kinesiology@calpoly.edu;

publichealth@calpoly.edu

Liberal Studies (LS) Instructor of course first, department if no response

libstud@calpoly.edu

Mathematics (ESM, MATH) Instructor of course first, department if no response math@calpoly.edu
Physics (ASTR, GEOL, PHYS, PSC) Instructor of course first, department if no response physics@calpoly.edu
Statistics (STAT and DATA) Instructor of course first, department if no response statisticsdepartment@calpoly.edu
School of Education (EDUC, SPED) Department soe@calpoly.edu
CESAME (SCM) Program Coordinator cesame@calpoly.edu

What is a permission number?

Permission numbers are special “codes” departments or class instructors may choose to issue so you can enroll in the class that the system may be preventing you from enrolling in on your own.

Why do I need a permission number?

Permission numbers are needed to do the following:

  • Add a class during the last 4 days of the add/drop period, check the Student Planning Calendar for specific dates
  • Override the prerequisite(s) of a course
  • Enroll in a full class with or without a waitlist
  • Enroll in a class without enrolling into its component (e.g., lab, activity, corequisite etc.)

How do I use a permission number?

If you receive a permission number, you will want to follow the steps outlined in the "Add a Class- with Permission Number demo" on https://registrar.calpoly.edu/student-center/#AddClass to officially enroll in the course.

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.

How do I drop a class, take a quarter off, or take multiple quarters off?

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

Prerequisite: Completion of ELM requirement and passing score on Mathematics Placement Examination; or appropriate Math Placement Level; or MATH 118 and high school trigonometry; or MATH 119.

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
Credit/No Credit Allowances by Major
Credit/No credit allowances vary by major and catalog year. Each major lists its policy as a note on the appropriate curriculum sheet. This table has been updated for the 19-20 catalog. For older catalogs, refer to your curriculum sheet.
Major Policy
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 meet with us!

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