Transferring from Santa Monica College

Many students use Santa Monica College as the freshman and sophomore years of a four-year college plan. In fact, SMC is a leader in transferring students to four-year colleges and universities, including the UC and CSU systems. Each of these institutions has a list of courses that must be completed to satisfy:

   •   general education requirements,

   •   lower division pre-major requirements, and

   •   elective requirements.

How credit for a course at Santa Monica College transfers to another educational institution depends on how that college or university will accept the course and how clearly defined a student’s transfer goal is.

An overview of the transfer process and IGETC and General Education certification is presented below. For details, see the Academics section of this catalog, visit the Transfer/Counseling Center, call (310) 434-4210, or see for information available online.

About Transfer Units

Typically, for admission to the UC or CSU system, a student will need to have completed 60 or more transferable semester units by the end of the Spring semester for Fall admission, or by the end of the Fall semester for Spring admission, with the required grade point average. However, these institutions do not look just at the number of units that have been completed—they also look at how to apply those units to a student’s educational goal, e.g., how many of the units meet the general education requirements, how many of these units meet the pre-major requirements, and so on.

Santa Monica College has worked out transfer agreements—usually referred to as articulation agreements—with most local colleges and universities on how SMC’s units of credit will transfer to meet these particular requirements. Students can look up this transfer information themselves (go to for details), but they are strongly encouraged, and will probably find it much easier, to use the assistance of a counselor at the Transfer/Counseling Center. To schedule an appointment to discuss transfer information with a counselor, call (310) 434-4210.

See the Academics section of this catalog for detailed information on transfer requirements and the transfer process.

IGETC & General Education Certification

Nearly every college and university requires the completion of a series of lower-division general education courses prior to awarding their bachelor’s degrees. Santa Monica College offers a selection of general education courses broad enough to satisfy almost any lower division general education graduation requirement. However, each college and university has a unique pattern that it requires of its native or nontransfer students.

Caution: Because there are numerous general education patterns, all potential transfer students SHOULD see a counselor to determine which pattern is best for them and to develop an appropriate transfer course plan. Students are urged NOT to attempt to plan a transfer without professional advice.

The fact that so many different patterns exist creates some problems for the community college transfer student. Fortunately, the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) systems have addressed this problem. CSU has developed a general education plan for community college transfer students that meets the lower-division general education requirements for all of the CSU campuses. Also, CSU and UC have developed an Intersegmental General Education Transfer Core (IGETC) that applies to all UC and CSU campuses throughout California.

What Certification Means

Certification guarantees that no additional lower-division general education courses can be imposed on a student as a condition of graduation. “Certified” community college students are deemed to have satisfied the lower-division general education requirements of their chosen transfer institution. “Uncertified” UC and CSU transfer students will have their transfer coursework applied to the graduation requirements of their new UC or CSU campus, but will find that they must complete more lower division, general education units than are required of a “certified” transfer. For this reason, “fully certified” transfer is strongly recommended.

CSU System Certification

The California State University (CSU) system will extend Full Certification to students who have completed all sections of the CSU General Education Pattern. Partial Certification is awarded for completion of any of the five general education subsections. CSU Certification should be requested during your last semester at Santa Monica College. If you are only partially certified, most CSU campuses will allow you to work on your full certification by taking SMC courses during a summer session or during concurrent SMC-CSU enrollment.

IGETC Certification

When Santa Monica College is the last school of attendance, SMC can certify the completion of the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC), which satisfies the lower-division general education requirements for both UC and CSU transfer students. All IGETC coursework MUST be completed before a student’s transfer to receive complete IGETC Certification. Students may be partially certified under the IGETC pattern if they are missing no more than two courses from the IGETC pattern.

Authorization to Certify

Santa Monica College is authorized to certify students who have satisfactorily completed the required courses for the IGETC or the CSU General Education Pattern. Certification includes not only courses taken at SMC, but also selected coursework taken at other regionally accredited colleges and universities. Therefore, it is critically important for every student who transfers into SMC from another college or university to have official transcripts sent directly from the other institution(s) to SMC’s Admissions Office.

Requesting Certification

Students whose transfer plan is the IGETC or the CSU General Education Pattern should request certification during the term in which they expect to complete their general education or IGETC requirements. Requests for certification should be filed in the Admissions Office during these dates (requests will be processed ONLY during these periods):

      Fall semester – October 1 to December 1
      Spring semester – January 1 to July 31

Students are responsible for making the request for certification; Santa Monica College does not automatically certify. Certification request forms are available online at and in the Admissions Office. A minimal processing fee will be assessed (consult the Admissions Office website for details).

PLEASE NOTE: IGETC or CSU GE certification from SMC might not be completed by the transfer college’s published deadline for submission of application transcripts. Students should NOT depend on this process for submission of transcripts. A separate transcript order is recommended.

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