Frequently Asked Questions

Use the links below to skip to answers to questions frequently asked of Advising Center staff.

How does the university know when I want to graduate?

Four quarters before you plan to graduate, you should fill out a Request for a Graduation Evaluation and submit it to the Registrar's Office in Building 1, Room 222. This will initiate an evaluation of your coursework to date to let you know what you still have left to complete your degree. It will also set your graduation date in the system and allow you to participate in commencement. You will not be allowed to register for any classes beyond this graduation date without changing your graduation date. If your major requires a concentration with advisor approved electives, you will need to submit a concentration form along with your request for the evaluation. Check with the Advising Center if you are unsure.

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How do I find out if a class taken at another school will substitute for a Cal Poly class?

Go to on the Web. It lists articulation agreements with other schools in California. Articulation agreements are formal contracts between schools that determine the equivalency of courses at the two schools. If you took classes at a school outside of California, bring course descriptions to your department or advising center to determine appropriate credit. Need help figuring out how to use ASSIST?

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Who is my faculty advisor? Where can I find her/him?

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. Advisors are assigned randomly because we have no information about your interests or career goals when we assign advisors. If you meet with your advisor and find that your interests are not the same or your personalities do not mesh, come to the Advising Center to see about getting a new advisor. It is important to see your faculty advisor on a regular basis. So find someone that you like and can work with.

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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 can 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, be sure to have a transcript sent to Cal Poly State University OAR -Evaluations Unit. Building 1 -Room 218. San Luis Obispo, CA 93407.

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Where can I find out about minors?

Minors are not available for all subjects. Check the most recent catalog for a listing of minors. If you wish to pursue a minor, talk with the department offering the program to find out how to officially declare the minor.

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Where do I go to get information on studying abroad?

Go to the International Education and Programs website or visit their office (Bldg 38, Rm 108).

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Does Cal Poly have a pre-med program?

No. But we do offer a full range of support services for students interested in the Health Professions. These include: health professions advising (both peer and professional), various health profession-oriented clubs, mock interviews, assistance with the application process and critique of personal statements, practice MCATs, and a letter of reference collection service. Please refer to our healthprofessions 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 by viewing your Degree Progress Report via your Portal -Student Center. This general AP and/or IB test credit information is also available on the Office of the Registrar's website. Remember that for each AP exam you pass with a score of 3 or higher, you will receive 9 units of college level credit. In addition, you may receive credit for required major or GE courses.

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How hard is it to change majors? What is the process for changing 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. All majors at Cal Poly are impacted and it will 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 minimum progress to degree standards; major changes late in the academic career will be restricted by the university’s minimum progress standards, including the unit maximum. 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 minimum progress 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, make an appointment with a 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 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 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 three ways

  • Pass the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE). This is given once a quarter (Fall, Winter or Spring) lon a Saturday. The cost is $35.
  • Pass an approved 300-level composition course with a grade of C or better and receive certification from the instructor of proficiency in writing
  • Pass an approved 300-level literature course with a grade of C or better and receive certification from the instructor of proficiency in writing. Check the web page of the Writing Skills Office 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 cultural diversity in America. Refer to the USCP list in the catalog for the most current listing of courses that fulfill this requirement. Some courses can double count for both General Education requirements and the USCP requirement. Liberal Studies (HIST 208) and Kinesiology (KINE 255) has a course in the major that can satisfy this requirement.

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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. 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 continuosly.. Talk with an advisor to determine if there is some advantage for you to be on one catalog versus another.

IImportant: 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 may have changed or other curricular changes may have occurred between the time the catalog first appeared and the present time.

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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 or with your department.

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What is the minimum passing grade for a course?

A "D-" is the minimum passing grade. However, if you receive a "D" grade or lower in a class that is the prerequisite for other classes, we recommend that you repeat the prerequisite class before you move on to the higher level one. 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.

In the College of Science and Mathematics, the Liberal Studies and Kinesiology Departments allow 4 units of CR/NC grading for major or concentration/emphasis courses. The Physics Department allows 4 units of major coursework to be taken CR/NC, but this option cannot be used for any course that has a lab component. The Statistics Department allows 4 units of CR/NC grading for support courses only. No classes with a STAT prefix. The Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Mathematics Departments do NOTallow their students to take any major or support courses with the CR/NC grading option.

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