Resources for Counselors

General Preparation Guidelines

Subject Requirements

Students wishing to attend the CSU must meet the following a-g subject requirements:

  1. History/Social Sciences
    Two years of history/social science including one year of U.S. history or one semester of U.S. history and one semester of civics or American government and one year of social science.
  2. English
    Four years of English, which can include not more than one year of ESL/ELD courses.
  3. Mathematics
    Three years of math (Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry); four years recommended.
  4. Laboratory Science
    Two years of laboratory science, including one year of physical science and one year of biological science; one of which must be from the "d" subject area with the other from either the "d" or "g" area.
  5. Language Other Than English
    Two years of a language other than English. Both years must be in the same language.
  6. Visual & Performing Arts
    One year (equivalent to one year or two semesters) required, chosen from one of the following disciplines: Dance, Music, Theater, Visual arts (e.g., painting, web/graphic design, film/video, inter/multimedia arts).
  7. College Preparatory Electives
    One year in addition to those required in "a-f" above, chosen from the following areas: visual and performing arts (nonintroductory-level courses), history, social science, English, advanced mathematics, laboratory science, and language other than English (a third year in the language used for the "e" requirement or two years of another language). Agriculture courses traditionally accepted by the CSU that are not on the "a-g" list will be considered on a course-by-course basis.

Career Technical Courses (CTE)

The CSU encourages and accepts the use of "a-g" approved CTE courses to meet "a-g" requirements.

High School GPA

Use Cal State Apply's GPA calculator to calculate GPA using only "a-g" approved courses taken after the 9th grade.

Honors Courses

  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)

The grades in these courses are assigned extra points: "A"=5, "B"=4, "C"=3. A maximum of 8 extra points are allowed for approved honors courses. A maximum of 2 of these units can be completed in the 10th grade.

Entrance Test Scores

The ACT or SAT Reasoning Test is required. Make sure that the destination campus receives an official copy of the student's test results directly from the ACT or the College Board after self-reporting on the college application.

CSU campuses will accept current and redesigned SAT scores (beginning in spring 2016) for admission and exemption from the Entry Level Mathematics and English Placement Test. Applicants may submit scores from either test. Students may combine the best Reading and Math scores from multiple sittings of the SAT. The SAT and ACT Writing tests are not required. The CSU encourage students to take the ACT or SAT as early as possible. Student should check with the campus of interest for test requirements and deadlines. Listing CSU Mentor's institution code 3594 on the SAT score report will send scores to all CSU campuses for one price.

Admission Impaction

Many CSU campuses receive more applications during the filing period than can be accommodated and are designated impacted campuses. Students should check with each campus of choice to determine if a more selective admissions criteria or a higher eligibility index for admissions at these campuses will be used. There may also be an additional application process for a campus that admits by major. Check which campuses and degree programs are impacted »

Validation of "D" (or "F") Grades in Required Courses

A "D" grade in English, history/social science, laboratory science (except chemistry), or visual and performing arts cannot be validated by subsequent coursework. The course must be repeated.

"D" (or "F") Grade Validation of Subject Requirements and Electives


A grade of "C" or higher in Algebra II validates Algebra I. A grade of "C" or higher in the second semester of a yearlong course will validate a "D" or "F" in the first semester. A grade of "C" or higher in a higher-level math course (i.e., trigonometry or pre-calculus) validates the entire high school college preparatory requirement. Successful completion of a statistics course will validate Algebra I and Algebra II, but will not validate Geometry. Integrated mathematics courses may also validate prior coursework. For more information, see the FAQ provided on the UC "a-g" list.

Language Other Than English (LOTE)

A grade of "C" or higher in the second semester of a yearlong course will validate a "D" or "F" in the first semester. A grade of "C" or higher in a higher-level course will validate a lower-level course. A higher-level LOTE course can validate the appropriate number of years based on the level.

A second semester college course will validate the two-year high school requirement; a third quarter college course will validate the two-year high school course requirement.


A grade "C" or higher in the second semester will validate a "D" or "F"in the first semester.

Validation of Subject Requirements by Test Scores

Subject omissions may be satisfied with appropriate test scores on SAT Subject Tests, Advanced Placement Exams, and designated International Baccalaureate Exams. A list of acceptable tests and scores is available on both the CSU and UC websites.

Repeated Courses

The best grade will be used in the GPA calculation. There is no restriction on the number of times a course may be repeated. The repeated course must be identical to the original course.

If the student is currently repeating a course or plans to repeat a course, the original grade must be considered in the section of the application for admission on high school preparation with a notation indicating when the course repetition is planned. The original course grade is used to calculate the GPA if the course to be repeated has not already been completed.