New degree program to ease transfer

California State University and California Community College chancellors headed a conference call that outlined the new associate degree for transfer program, which aims to reduce unit overlap, among other issues.

Senate Bill 1440, the legislation responsible for the associate degree for transfer program, is a "historic reform and improvement in the way students transfer between California Community Colleges and California State Universities," said Erik Skinner, CCC deputy chancellor, during the conference call.

Passed on Sept. 29, 2010 by Sen. Alex Padilla, the bill's aim is to provide a clear path of transfer to CSUs from CCCs, guaranteeing CSU admission and diminishing the issue of wasted or repeated credits.

Under SB 1440, students will be working toward an Associate in Arts degree for transfer or an Associate in Science degree for transfer at CCCs to receive their bachelor's degree from a CSU.

The transfer degrees will "guarantee admission somewhere in the system," said Skinner. Sixty lower division units at CCCs link directly with CSU units, where students will then take an additional 60 units to graduate with a bachelor's degree.

Before SB 1440, requirements forced students to over-prepare, mandating that they take extra lower division courses that would not transfer to the CSU of their choice, or were unnecessary for their major. Transfer students had to repeat these courses at CSUs.

This reduction of extra units will create class space at CCCs for up to 40,000 students, and 14,000 at the CSU level, said Skinner.

"Following the 1440 path [will reduce] wasted time on courses not going toward a degree, saving time and money on both the student and administrative level," said Ephraim P. Smith, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer.

Students who complete the AA-T or AS-T degree also receive priority in the CSU admission process.

Students, who are applying to an impacted CSU or impacted major with an AA-T or AS-T, receive a 0.1 GPA boost. For CSUs that are not impacted, a 0.2 GPA bump is given.

If an SMC student on the 1440 path applies to a CSU with identical grades as a non-transfer student, the SMC student will be admitted because of the extra GPA bump that the AA-T or AS-T degree gave them.

So far, 22 of the most popular majors are already set in place, with six additional programs in development. There are a total of 557 degrees offered throughout the 112 CCCs, and by fall of this year, 80 percent of these majors are set to have a transfer degree. By fall of 2014, 100 percent of the majors are to be covered. Smith states that this goal is a top priority.

Skinner said that the state holds value in the multiple missions CCCs provide, like job training and ESL courses, but that their current aim is "strengthening one of the legs of the tripod."

However, California's higher education system has suffered from recent budget cuts.

"The governor's new budget will hopefully stop the hemorrhaging," said Smith, referring to the $1.4 billion in additional general fund support for higher education.

If the schools can get the state funding back, they will fully support these new pathways with sufficient courses so that there are no wait lists, said Smith.

A companion bill has been established that identifies similar initiatives for the University of California system.

The list of majors offered, as well as other vital informationon the new transfer program, can be found at

NewsRachael GarciaComment