It’s About to Get Easier for California Community College Students to Transfer to UC Institutions

California's new Associate Degree for Transfer pilot program will start at UCLA during the 2026-2027 school year.
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Published on October 18, 2023
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  • California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation creating a new transfer program between the University of California and California community colleges.
  • Students will get prioritized admission to UC if they meet certain transfer requirements.
  • The program will start at UCLA and expand to other campuses.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation creating a new transfer student pilot program for students aimed at easing the transfer process from California community colleges to the University of California (UC).

The new Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) pilot program will start at UCLA and require the campus to prioritize admission for students who earn an associate degree in specific majors and meet all applicable requirements.

The program will include at least eight majors at UCLA by the 2026-2027 academic year and will expand to a minimum of 12 majors in the 2028-2029 school year. At least four of the majors will be in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field.

The program would also expand to include at least five different campuses by 2028-2029, all with at least 12 majors considered.

Assembly Bill 1291 was sponsored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D).

“AB 1291 starts to tackle a long-standing goal in California: to simplify and streamline transfer paths for hardworking, qualified community college students wishing to attend a UC or a CSU,” McCarty said in a UC press release. “This bill gets UC into the game with universal transfer pathways and will increase economic opportunities and prosperity for all Californians to help our state economy thrive.”

While the legislation requires admission preference for students in the program, participants aren’t guaranteed admission to their preferred campus. If a student does not get accepted to their chosen campus, the program will “redirect” and admit them to at least one other UC campus.

“By working together, California's three world-leading higher education systems are ensuring more students have the freedom to thrive, learn, and succeed,” Newsom said in the release. “With this new law, the Golden State is streamlining the transfer process, making a four-year degree more affordable for transfer students, and helping students obtain high-paying and fulfilling careers.”

Most UC campuses — besides the campuses at Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego — offer guaranteed admission to students from any California community college if they meet individual, campus-specific criteria. Additionally, the California State University (CSU) system has its own set of requirements for transfer students.

Both the UC Student Association and the Student Senate for California Community Colleges spoke out against the legislation, saying the billing process did not include student input and asking for a transfer process that allows students to get admitted to the campus of their choice

“Instead of creating one transfer pathway that will result in admission to two university systems, AB1291 will allow the UC to expand the ADT to only select majors, based on community colleges that may not even be located within their region,” a joint statement read.