Sep 25, 2021  
2020-2021 Student Handbook 
2020-2021 Student Handbook [ARCHIVED]

Part 4: Educational Options


Educational Options in California

Chart showing educational options. A doctorate degree is available at universities and private colleges. Master's and bachelor's degrees are available at UC, CSU and private colleges and universities. Certificates and associate degrees are available at 114 California community colleges and several private institutions. A high school diploma or GED is the baseline to earning any of these.

High School Diploma or High School Equivalency Certificate

The high school diploma is awarded for the successful completion of high school. It is considered the minimum education required for government jobs and higher education. California has approved the use of three high school equivalency tests (GED, HiSET, and TASC) for students 18 years old and older, and 17 years old in some instances, for the purpose of receiving a California High School Equivalency Certificate. Presentation of an official certificate or transcript received after passing one of these state-authorized tests should be considered equivalent to a high school diploma in order to obtain education or employment in California.

Certificate (Career and Technical)

Certificate of Competency (non-credit),
Certificate of Proficiency,
Certificate of Achievement

Career and technical certificates consist of a series of courses, all related to a particular career or technical skill. The number of units required varies. Certificates are offered by community colleges, university extension programs, and private educational organizations. They can be helpful in obtaining or upgrading employment.

Transfer Certification

CSU General Education Certification
Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC for CSU or UC)

California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) Systems permit certification of general education coursework taken at a community college to satisfy the equivalent of general education requirements at the university level.

Associate Degree

Photo showing two graduating studentsAssociate in Arts (AA),
Associate in Science (AS),
Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T),
Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T)

Associate degrees consist of courses in the student’s major or area of emphasis, plus general education courses and electives, with a total of 60 units required. Full-time students normally complete the degree in two years, but completion times vary. Associate degrees may qualify students for entry-level positions that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Students completing an AA-T or AS-T degree receive a .1 GPA bump for impacted campuses or majors and guaranteed admission to a CSU campus, though not necessarily to a particular campus or major.

Bachelor’s Degree

e.g., Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Music (BM)

Bachelor’s degrees are comprised of major courses plus general education and electives, with approximately 120-132 total units required. They normally require four to five years of full-time study to earn the degree.

Master’s Degree

e.g., Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA)

The master’s degree consists of the bachelor’s degree plus graduate courses, 36-56 units, in a specific academic or professional area. The degree normally takes between two and three years to complete, depending on the major. 

Doctorate Degree

e.g., Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Medicine (MD), Juris Doctor (JD), Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

The doctorate degree, the highest academic degree, requires advanced training beyond a bachelor’s or master’s degree. It usually takes between three to six years to complete the degree, depending on the field of study, and the unit requirement varies.

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Associate Degree Courses

General Education Courses + Major Courses + Electives

General Education Courses

General education courses engage students in reading and writing, critical thinking, mathematics/quantitative reasoning, physical and life sciences, social sciences, the humanities, fine arts, and lifelong health and personal development. They are meant to ensure that graduates have a well-rounded education. Irvine Valley College students can meet general education requirements in three ways:

  1. Completing the Irvine Valley College Associate Degree General Education Requirements (19-27.5 units minimum)
         Students whose goal is to achieve an associate degree and who do not intend to transfer to a university may choose this option. 
  2. Completing the California State University (CSU) General Education Certification (39 units minimum)
         This option is primarily for students whose goal is to transfer to a California State University campus.
  3. Completing the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) (37 units minimum)
         This option is for students who plan to transfer to a University of California campus; for students who will be applying to both UC and CSU campuses; and for those who have not yet decided on a transfer destination.

Some students may be well served by completing the general education requirements of their intended transfer school. An IVC counselor can provide valuable assistance in directing students to the wisest choice based on their specific educational and career goals. 

Major Courses

These courses focus on the student’s primary area of interest. The minimum number of units required is 18, but the number varies depending upon the major. Students can complete the requirements for the Associate in Arts (AA) degree, the Associate in Science (AS) degree, the Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) degree, or the Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T) degree. These choices are presented and explained in the Irvine Valley College catalog. For transferring students, preparation for the major focuses on completing the lower-division courses that are required for their major at the four-year schools where they plan to apply.


Electives are courses that students take to explore subjects or participate in classes they enjoy. Because students must complete 60 units to graduate, electives are sometimes considered the courses that make up the difference after completing general education and major requirements. In general, students should focus on general education and major courses before taking elective courses. 

Associate Degree and Transfer Course Numbers

Irvine Valley College courses numbered 1-299 generally apply toward the associate degree. Courses numbered 1-99 generally transfer to the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems, and courses numbered 100-199 generally transfer to CSUs but not UCs. 

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Bachelor’s Degree Courses

Irvine Valley College: Freshman and Sophomore Years

Colleges and Universities: Junior and Senior Years

Bachelor’s Degree Preparation:

Preparation for the bachelor’s degree at Irvine Valley College is made up of lower-division general education requirements and lower-division preparation for the major. Some students take elective courses in subjects in which they have an interest. Transfer-level electives may be counted toward the total units required for graduation with a bachelor’s degree.

Image showing a pie chart that illustrates the many types of courses: upper-division major and general education courses, lower-division general education and major preparation courses, and electives, and minor and double major courses.

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Associate Degrees and Certificates

To view a full list of the associate degrees and certificates offered at Irvine Valley College, visit the IVC catalog and select Program, Degree and Certificate List in the left navigation bar.

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Associate Degree GE Requirements

To view a full list of the GE requirements for an associate degree at Irvine Valley College, download one of the following:

Consult with a counselor for the most current version of the form.

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Preparing to Transfer to a Four-Year School

Narrow down your campus/major optionsPhoto of IVC graduate with mortarboard about transferring to UCI

After exploring your possibilities, you will eventually need to identify your top-choice universities and a major so you can determine the specific requirements you must fulfill for transfer. You may want to spend time in the Transfer Center browsing college catalogs and making use of the center’s services, such as campus tours and individual appointments with university representatives, which can help you get a better feel for campus student life and its transfer requirements. 

Fulfill your general education requirements

  • If you know that you will transfer to a CSU campus, you can complete the CSU GE certification. 
  • If you know that you will transfer to a UC, or you have not decided between CSU and UC, you can complete the IGETC. 
  • Have official copies of all of your prior college transcripts sent to IVC’s Admissions and Records Office and make a counseling appointment for transcript evaluations. 
  • Some UC campuses do not accept the IGETC for certain majors. See a counselor for assistance. 
  • Coursework for IGETC and CSU GE certification is listed in the IVC catalog. It is also available in the Counseling Center and Transfer Center and at

Identify the lower-division requirements for your major

You can find the required courses for the major at your transfer college at Some colleges want you to complete these courses before you are accepted to the major. A counselor can also help you to navigate the ASSIST site and locate information.

Complete the required number of units and keep up your GPA

You must have 60 transferable units, including required general education and major preparation courses, for UC or CSU. You also need to maintain a minimum GPA of at least 2.4 for UC and at least 2.0 for CSU in your transfer courses. Many majors and campuses will require higher GPAs. Meeting these criteria establishes minimum eligibility but does not guarantee admission. Consult with a counselor or the Transfer Center to learn about the appropriate transfer application filing period.  As a California community college student, you will be given preference over transfer students from four-year universities. The only exception to this policy is entrance into impacted majors, where you must meet other criteria as stipulated. Check with a counselor to find out if the major you’re considering is impacted at any of the UC or CSU campuses.

Apply as early as possible!

Students usually apply one year ahead. Opportunities for winter/spring transfer are very limited. Check with the campus to determine if it will be accepting applications. For 2021-2022 transfer, students who have completed about 30-40+ transferable units would apply during the following filing period:

UC Term Applications Accepted
Fall 2021 November 1-30, 2020
Winter Quarter/Spring Semester 2021 July 1-31, 2020
CSU Term Applications Accepted
Fall 2021 October 1-November 30, 2020
Spring 2021 August 1-31, 2020

File for CSU or IGETC Certification on MySite.

In the beginning of your last semester of completing GE requirements, you should apply on MySite, under My Information-Degrees/Certs/Transfers, to certify that your CSU or IGETC at IVC requirements are completed. Applying on time will expedite your admission to the four-year college.

Get TAGged! Transfer Admission Guarantee

Six UC campuses-Davis, Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz-offer Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) Programs to California community college students who meet specific requirements. Some campuses offer an early review of your academic record, early admission notification, and specific guidance on major preparation and general education coursework. TAG applications must be submitted online September 1-30, the year prior to transfer. For an online application, go to To learn more, visit or call the Counseling Center (SSC 210), 949-451-5319; or Transfer Center (SSC 230), 949-451-5339.  

Honors Program

Students who complete the IVC Honors Program can take advantage of unique agreements with several four-year schools that grant priority consideration for transfer admission. Contact the Honors Program director at 949-451-5300 or by visiting the Honors Program website at, or by seeing the honors counselor in the Counseling Center.

UC Course List

To view a full list of IVC courses transferable to the UC system, download the 2020-21 UC Course List .

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CSU GE Certification

To view the IVC courses applicable to the CSU general education breadth requirements, download the 2019-2020 Advising Form: CSU General Education - Breadth . Consult with a counselor for the most current version of the form.

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To view the IVC courses applicable to the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) course list, download the 2019-2020 Advising Form: IGETC . Consult with a counselor for the most current version of the form.

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Common Transfer Questions

1.    Which courses do I have to take?

In general, English and math are required whether you are transferring to a UC, CSU, private, or out-of-state school. Depending on your placement results, it may be necessary to take nontransferable courses before you begin your transferable English and math courses.  As a transfer student, you need to declare a major when you apply to the university. Therefore, in addition to completing general education courses (IGETC or CSU Certification), it is important to complete coursework toward major preparation. Major course information is found on Ideally, you will want to know your major as far ahead as possible before you transfer. If your major requires math and science (e.g., engineering, biology, or computer science), it is especially important that you complete these courses before you transfer. 

2.    Do I have to get all requirements out of the way first?

Basically, if you’re not sure where you’re going, how do you know which set of requirements to follow? Every university is going to have a similar, but somewhat different, pattern of requirements. Specific majors have extensive requirements that must be completed prior to transferring. Examples of these majors are engineering, architecture, art, music, and most sciences (consult a counselor regarding requirements for these majors).

3.    What if I don’t know what I want to major in or where I want to transfer? 

This is typical of students everywhere. Again, these decisions take time and exposure, so don’t pressure yourself into making a premature decision. Deciding what you will major in may eliminate a certain amount of anxiety, but if you make an unexamined choice, you may easily select the wrong major. You are encouraged to sign up for one of the many counseling classes listed in Part 1: Introduction & Applying to IVC .

4.    How can I become eligible to transfer as a junior to the UC or CSU system?

To be eligible to transfer as a junior, you need to complete at least 60 transferable units with a minimum 2.0 GPA (2.4 if you are a nonresident) for CSU, and at least 60 transferable units with a minimum 2.4 GPA (2.8 if you are a nonresident) for UC. These GPAs are the minimums, some majors require much higher GPAs to be competitive for admission. Meeting these criteria establishes minimum eligibility but does not guarantee admission. As a California community college student, you will be given preference over transfer students from four-year universities. The only exception to this policy is entrance into impacted majors, where you must meet other criteria as stipulated. Check with a counselor to find out if the major you’re considering is impacted at any of the UC or CSU campuses. Also ask a counselor about the Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T) degrees, which guarantee admission to a CSU campus, and about TAG (Transfer Admission Guarantee) programs at six of the UC campuses.

5.    How can I tell if a course is transferable?

The “transferability” of a course is indicated by its number. Almost every IVC course numbered 1-199 will transfer to the CSU system. UC will accept most courses numbered 1-99, though there are exceptions to this rule. Be sure to check the UC Course List and meet with an IVC counselor if you have questions about the transferability of a particular course. You can also check on to see if courses are transferable to the UC and/or CSU system. 

6.    What’s an associate degree? Do I need one to transfer?

An associate degree signifies you have completed two years of college study. Having the degree can be useful when you are applying for jobs or seeking promotions. You do not have to complete the degree in order to transfer, but you can earn the degree by completing the same courses as those required to transfer. For many students, getting the degree is rewarding; it functions as a benchmark along the way to a bachelor’s degree. Requirements for the associate degree may not be the same as requirements for transfer. The Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T) degrees allow students to complete both an associate degree and lower-division transfer requirements to a similar degree at a California State University campus. It is important to consult with a counselor to formulate an educational plan that will best suit your individual needs and goals.

7.    What are “articulation agreements”?

These are agreements developed cooperatively between IVC and other colleges indicating comparable courses and transferability. They are used in planning your transfer program. IVC has articulation agreements with all UC and most CSU campuses, and with many of the private colleges in Orange County and Los Angeles.  If the college or university you plan to attend does not currently have an articulation agreement with IVC, make an appointment with a counselor. Students are encouraged to use to find the most updated articulation information with all UC and CSU campuses. Visit the Transfer Center (949-451‑5339, or see a counselor (949-451-5319, for more information.

8.    What is an impacted major?

When more applications to a specific major program are received from eligible applicants than can be accommodated by the campus, the major is referred to as “impacted.”  Admission to these programs tends to be competitive or highly competitive, and each campus may have specific additional screening criteria for applicants.

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How to Calculate Your Transferable GPA

Your IVC transcript provides you with an overall grade point average, or GPA. If you are planning to transfer to a CSU or UC, you need to know how to calculate your transferable GPA. IVC, like most college campuses, uses the 4.0 grade point system.

Letter Grade  =  Grade Point Value Per Unit

A    =    Excellent, 4.0

B    =    Above Average, 3.0

C    =    Average, 2.0

D    =    Below Average, 1.0

F    =    Failing, 0.0

FW    =    Failing Withdrawal, 0.0

Annotations on your transcripts that are not included as part of the GPA computation:

P    =    Pass, 0.0, Counts for units

NP  =    No Pass, 0.0, No units completed

W    =    Withdrawal, 0.0, No units completed

EW    =    Excused Withdrawal, 0.0, No units completed

I      =    Incomplete, 0.0, No units completed

IP    =    In Progress, 0.0, No units completed

RD   =    Report Delayed, 0.0, No units completed

SP   =   Satisfactory Progress (non-credit only), 0.0, No units completed

UG    =   Ungraded (non-credit only), 0.0, No units completed

Computing Your Transferable GPA: 

Transferable Grade Points Divided by Transferable Units Attempted

  1. Print out an unofficial copy of your transcripts on MySite (My Classes: Academic History). Your IVC unofficial transcript has your overall GPA (transferable and non-transferable classes). UC and CSU campuses are only interested in transferable GPA. 
  2. Determine if the course is transferable. IVC courses numbered 1-99 transfer to UC, and courses numbered 1-199 transfer to CSU. You can also check to confirm whether or not a course is transferable. 
  3. If the transferable course has a letter grade of “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” “F,” or “FW,” highlight the units and the grade points of this class. 
  4. Add all highlighted transferable units attempted.
  5. Add all highlighted transferable grade points. (Computation is units attempted multiplied by grade point value.)
  6. Divide the total grade points by the total units attempted.

For example, if a student earned an A (4 grade points) and a B (3 grade points) in two three-unit transferable courses, they would have 21 grade points for six attempted units. Divide 21 by 6 to arrive at 3.5, the transferable GPA.

Note: If you are computing your transferable GPA for UC, you may count only UC-transferable courses (those numbered 1-99). If you are computing your transferable GPA for CSU, you may count only CSU-transferable courses (those numbered 1-199).

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a counselor, please call 949-451-5319. Students may also schedule counseling appointments online on IVC’s Counseling Center webpage at

Additional Transfer Information Online ASSIST is the official statewide database of articulation and transfer information that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. For CSU transfers. Includes campus information, CSU entrance and academic requirements, and admission and financial aid applications. For UC transfers. Includes eligibility requirements, paths to transfer, how to apply, where to find support, Transfer Admission Guarantee. Information about higher education in California for students, counselors, and parents. IVC’s own site includes transfer terminology, articulation guidance, deadlines for applications, links to financial aid sources, updates about CSU and UC application requirements, special programs, and news about Transfer Center events. Includes information about colleges and universities that accept the Common Application; application requirements; fee waivers; standardized testing; and answers to common questions.

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