Story Transfer Student

CSU Campuses Lauded for Transfer Student Success

Alisia Ruble


Sixteen California State University campuses were named to Money magazine’s list of the top 50 Best Colleges for Transfer Students in the country for enrolling, supporting and graduating the most transfer students. 

The publication analyzed its list of the 727 Best Colleges in America—which included nearly all 23 CSU campuses—and rated each university based on its transfer student enrollment data and its graduation rate for transfer students. 

The campuses included are, listed in order of ranking: Channel Islands (4), Long Beach (5), San Diego (9),  Sonoma (12), Fullerton (13), Northridge (15), San Francisco (18), East Bay (21), San José (22), Pomona (25), Stanislaus (26), San Marcos (27), Chico (32), San Bernardino (43), Fresno (44) and Sacramento (50).

Creating Pathways to a Degree

The CSU is committed to providing access to students transferring from a California Community College (CCC). In fall 2018, more than 61,000 students entered the CSU as transfers from a CCC, and more than one-third of the CSU’s total undergraduate student population are transfer students. 

 The Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) places transfer students on a path to earn a bachelor’s degree from the CSU while at a CCC. Students are able to complete 60 semester units on an approved pathway at a CCC and be guaranteed admission to the CSU.

Once enrolled at the CSU, students are guaranteed to complete their bachelor’s degree in 60 semester units, as long as they are enrolled in a similar pathway—a major that has been deemed similar or related to their ADT by faculty at the CSU campus.

Since its creation in 2010, the ADT has steadily grown in participation. Today, there are 40 ADT pathways for students, which account for 90 percent of students’ preferred pathways, and all CCCs offer ADT programs. Faculty from both the CSU and the CCC continue to collaborate to ensure pathways remain up-to-date and are relevant to California’s workforce needs.

The total number of students enrolling at the CSU with an ADT has continued to increase steadily. In fall of 2017, nearly 21,000 new transfer students held an ADT—an increase of 11 percent above the previous year. 

ADT and other efforts to create pathways to a degree for CCC students are key to the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025. While improving student achievement and reducing equity gaps, the university is working to graduate an additional 500,000 students by 2025 to produce its share of the 1.1 million college graduates California needs to address its looming degree gap. 

Supporting Transfer Students

CSU campuses have ramped up efforts to ease the transition from a CCC In order to ensure transfer students are able to graduate in a timely manner. In addition to preview days and orientation, campuses have created programs to meet the unique needs of transfer students.

PolyTransfer at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona hosts events and workshops designed to make transfer students feel connected to the university. The program also trains peer mentors who provide advice for incoming transfer students on transitioning and navigating the university.

Several campuses offer themed housing in which transfer students live together, enabling them to network and form connections with like-minded students. U-Engage at Sonoma State University also connects students to campus resources and provides opportunities for career and leadership development.

To learn more about how the CSU is supporting incoming transfer students, visit our page