Associate Degrees for Transfer

In 2010 the California Legislature passed SB 1440 (Padilla), a Senate Bill that authorized California community colleges to create associate degrees for transfer that would guarantee students admission into the CSU system. The official titles for these degrees reflect the major or area of emphasis and are structured as “Associate in Arts in for Transfer” or “Associate in Science in for Transfer,” abbreviated to “AA-T” or “AS-T” respectively.

SB 1440 directed all California community colleges to develop Associate Degrees for Transfer. These degrees would be composed of no more than 60 transferable units, including a general education plan for transfer (IGETC or CSU Breadth) and a minimum of 18 units in a major or area of emphasis. The legislation provides that students who successfully complete these degrees will receive guaranteed admission with junior status into the CSU system and into a major similar to the one indicated by their specific degree, as well as priority admission to their local CSU. The bill also contained several other provisions, such as the directive that the CSU can not make students repeat courses similar to those they had passed at a community college.

To facilitate the development of the transfer degrees and to ensure their statewide applicability, the Academic Senate began to develop a “Transfer Model Curriculum” (TMC) that would fulfill the required 18 unit minimum of major preparation for each discipline. During the 2010-2011 academic year, the Academic Senate convened intersegmental discipline groups to determine the content of TMCs for the 20 most popular transfer majors at the CSU. The C-ID course numbering system was utilized in this process to facilitate the identification of comparable courses throughout the community college system. Each TMC is first approved by the appropriate discipline group and then by an intersegmental oversight group consisting of representatives from the California community college and CSU Academic Senates. Once each TMC receives final approval, it is disseminated to individual community colleges which then develop their own TMC-aligned AA-T and AS-T degrees.

The AA-T and AS-T degrees do not supersede or eliminate existing local degrees, but instead offer additional options for students who wish to pursue transfer to the CSU system. While local colleges have the authority to design their own versions of the transfer degrees and are not obligated to follow the TMCs, a consistent and statewide approach to the development of Associate Degrees for Transfer offers many benefits. The most significant advantage is the assurance that the AA-T or AS-T will be accepted as appropriate major preparation at all CSU campuses, rather than just the one nearest to the college at which the degree was completed. Additionally, the TMC structure allows for streamlined approval of the degrees by the community college Chancellor’s Office. Through the coordinated approach led by the Academic Senate, the degrees authorized under SB 1440 encourage students to complete their associate degrees before transferring while offering a streamlined pathway for transfer to the CSU, thus benefiting students in multiple ways.