Freshman: Admission Requirements

The California State University (CSU) no longer uses ACT or SAT examinations in determining admission eligibility for all CSU campuses. If accepted to a CSU campus, ACT or SAT test scores can be used as one of the measures to place students in the proper mathematics and written communication courses.  Visit the CSU Student Success site for further information on course placement. For more information on admission criteria, please visit the First-Time Freshman Guidance and the First-Time Freshman Frequently Asked Questions  pages.


Admission Requirements

Freshman Admission Requirements for California Residents

Admission offices at the 23 campuses use three factors to determine eligibility.

Most applicants who are admitted meet the standards in each of the following areas:

Specific high school courses (referred to as the “a-g” courses)

Grades in “a-g” courses

Graduation from high school

Many CSU campuses have higher standards for particular majors or for students who live outside their local admission area. Because of the number of students who apply, several campuses have higher standards (supplementary admission criteria) for all applicants. See Impaction at the CSU to determine if the campus or major you are interested in applying is impacted and may have higher or additional admission criteria.

Many CSU campuses use local admission policies for students who graduate or transfer from high schools and community colleges that are historically served by a CSU campus in that region. See CSU Local Admission & Service Areas for each campus here (PDF).


The three factors used to determine the admissibility of nonresident students are the same as those used for California residents.

Nonresident students need to complete the same pattern of courses, but need a higher grade point average (GPA). 

Please note that California residents receive priority whenever admission space is limited.

High School Course Requirements (“a-g” courses)

The CSU requires a minimum 15-unit pattern of courses for admission as a first-time freshman. Each unit is equal to a year of study in a subject area. A grade of C or better is required for each course you use to meet any subject requirement.

a. History and Social Science (including 1 year of U.S. history or 1 semester of U.S. history and 1 semester of civics or American government AND 1 year of social science)2
b. English (4 years of college preparatory English composition and literature)4
c. Math (4 years recommended) of college preparatory math including or integrating topics covered in algebra, geometry, and intermediate algebra.
d. Laboratory Science (2 years of college preparatory science required with laboratory [1 biological and 1 physical]. Integrated science and interdisciplinary courses can meet this requirement.)2
e. Language Other Than English (2 years or through the second level of high school instruction in the same language; American Sign Language and classical languages such as Latin and Greek are acceptable – See below about a possible waiver of this requirement).
f. Visual and Performing Arts (1 year or 2 semester courses from the same discipline required including dance, music, theatre, visual arts or interdisciplinary arts.)​
College Preparatory Elective (additional year chosen from the University of California "a-g" list)1
Total Required Courses15

There are career and technical education (CTE) courses that can be used to meet any of the subject area requirements listed above. Please refer to the University of California’s Course List Search for the entire listing of approved courses.


If you can demonstrate competency in a language other than English that is equivalent to or higher than that expected of students who have completed two years of language other than English study, you may be allowed a waiver for this language requirement. For further information, contact the CSU campuses to which you are applying.


If you didn't take all the required high school courses or earned D or F grades in some of them, you have several options to make up these courses and qualify for CSU admission.

You can complete appropriate high school courses with a grade of C or better either in summer school or in adult school. Courses in this category must be those found on the high school or adult school UC "a-g" course lists. Some adult schools may not have “a-g” course lists.

You may also complete college courses with a grade of C or better in the missing subject areas. Finally, you can earn an acceptable score on examinations such as the SAT subject examinations, Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, or International Baccalaureate examinations.

If you are unable or do not choose to make up your subject deficiency, you may earn at least 60 units, including 30 semester units of general education from a California Community College or other college and transfer as an upper-division transfer student, where only your college performance is considered for admission.


All students must be able to meet the academic, accreditation and technical standards required for admission or participation in their chosen program of study. Students with disabilities, therefore, are not excused from course prerequisites, GPA requirements or degree requirements. However, in some limited circumstances, substitution of course requirements based on a documented disability may be appropriate.

Such substitutions are granted only when it is clear that the student’s disability makes completion of the requirement(s) impossible and when the course in question is not a fundamental element of the curriculum. A course substitution means that the credit hours for the course are met through an alternate course. A course substitution may not alter or reduce the number of credits needed for degree completion or create a fundamental alteration in the program of study.

Students should visit their campus’s admissions website for the process to appeal an admission denial when the student’s disability directly impacts their ability to complete an admission requirement.

Grades in "a-g" Courses

The grades you earn in high school are the most important factor in CSU admission decisions. Your high school grade point average is calculated using your grades in all your college prep "a-g" classes completed after the 9th grade.

If you are accepted to a CSU campus, ACT or SAT test scores can be used as one of the measures to place you in the proper mathematics and English courses. You can visit the CSU Student Success site for further information on course placement.

First-time freshmen must meet the following eligibility requirements: be a high school graduate or equivalent; complete the 15-unit comprehensive “a-g” pattern of college preparatory course; and earn a qualifying “a-g” grade point average (GPA) as described below.
  • California residents and graduates of California high schools will be eligible for admission by earning a 2.50 or greater “a-g” GPA.
  • Any California high school graduate or resident of California earning a GPA between 2.00 and 2.49 may be evaluated for admission based upon supplemental factors.
  • Non-California residents may be eligible for admission to the CSU by earning a 3.00 or greater “a-g” GPA along with other supplemental factors utilized by the individual campus, including those outlined by impacted campuses and programs.
  • ​Any Non-California high school graduate earning a GPA between 2.47 and 2.99 may be evaluated for admission based upon supplemental factors.
​​Campuses and programs designated as impacted may utilize higher “a-g” GPA thresholds for applicants, as well as identify supplemental criteria and their relative weights, in making admission decisions.

Campuses will use a combination of students' “a-g" GPA and supplemental factors to determine admission eligibility. Supplemental Factors that campuses may use include:
  • Number of courses exceeding minimum “a-g” requirements, 
  • GPA in math and or science courses,
  • Household income, 
  • Extracurricular and leadership involvement, 
  • Educational program participation in high school
  • Other available information that would inform the campus admission decision. 
Each CSU campus will determine the supplemental factors used with GPA to determine eligibility. See the Supplemental Factors by campus for campus details.
Graduation from High School
For admission to the CSU, graduation from high school and receipt of a high school diploma are admission requirements.

For most CSU freshman applicants, the other basic admission requirements — high school coursework and grades— should be the focus of your attention.


It's always best to stay in high school to receive your high school diploma. Sometimes, though, that’s just not possible to do. There are options for completing the equivalent of a high school diploma. So if you cannot earn your diploma, consider the General Education Development program (GED), High School Equivalency (HiSET), or Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) exams. These are examinations that, upon successful completion, offer the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Remember that completing any of these exams does not eliminate the high school course requirements or the grades and test requirements.


The CSU assigns extra points for up to eight semesters of approved honors level, International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses taken in the last three years of high school: A=5 points, B=4 points, C=3 points.

No more than two approved honors level courses taken in the 10th grade may be given extra points. A grade of D in an honors IB or Advanced Placement course does not earn extra points.

Approved high school honors level courses means that the courses are identified as honors level on your official high school “a-g” course list. You can find your school's course list at the University of California’s Cour​se List Search.

Extra points are also awarded for college courses used to meet CSU "a-g" requirements. However, no more than eight (8) extra points may be awarded to any one applicant.

The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)

The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) is designed to improve access and retention of historically low-income and educationally disadvantaged students. The program provides admission and academic assistance to EOP-eligible undergraduate students. In many cases, the program also offers financial assistance to eligible students. Campuses tailor their programs to accommodate the needs of their student population.

Every CSU campus has an EOP for low-income undergraduate students who are California residents or qualify for an AB540 non-resident tuition exemption and are disadvantaged because of their economic and educational backgrounds

EOP accepts students who do not meet regular admission criteria, as well as those who qualify for regular admission. Be sure to indicate on the undergraduate application for admission if you are applying through EOP and ensure you complete the supplemental EOP Application along with the two letters of recommendation by the deadline determined by the campus.

Note: The criteria for acceptance to the EOP program at the CSU are more restrictive than those of the Extended Opportunity Program & Services (EOP&S) program at California Community Colleges. Therefore, you may not be accepted to an EOP program at the CSU even though you may be an EOP&S student at a California Community College.

More information about the EOP program is available here.


Impacted Majors & Campuses Search

When the number of applications received by a ca​​mpus or a major exceeds the number of available spaces, the campus or major is considered "impacted."

Learn M​ore

GPA Calculator

Your CSU “a-g” grade point average (GPA) is calculated based on all grades earned after 9th grade. Credit and No Credit grades are not included in the calculation. Don’t know your current GPA? Find out using the GPA Calculator

Learn More

The California Promis​​e Program

This program enables some CSU campuses to establish pledge programs for first-time students who are interested and able to complete a baccalaureate degree in four years​.

Learn More​​