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Change of Major Policy Pre-Fall 2010

This policy applies only to students admitted before Fall 2010. Students admitted Fall 2010 or later should follow the updated change of major policy. Students admitted before Fall 2010 may use either this policy or the updated policy.

Links to Colleges' Change of Major Criteria

Applies to matriculated undergraduate students admitted to Cal Poly before Fall 2010 wishing to change major. The "target" major is the major to which a student wishes to change.

Minimum Period at Cal Poly

An application for internal change of major will not be considered until/unless a student has completed at least one quarter at Cal Poly;


Prior to applying for a change of major, students must consult with the department chair/head in the target major and are strongly advised to consult with at least one of the following:

  • Department chair/head in the current major
  • Faculty in the target major
  • Advising Center staff in the current major
  • Advising Center staff in the target major
  • Career Services staff

Process for Admitting Students to Target Major

Depending on the degree of impaction of the target major (i.e., the relationship between the number of applicants to the major and the number of places available), decisions on admitting students who wish to change major will be made by one or other of the following processes. Each major will publicize in advance which process it is using.

  • Applicants will be evaluated against published performance criteria. Those who meet the criteria will automatically be admitted to the major and will be so notified prior to the start of the next course registration period; OR
  • Applicants meeting published minimum performance criteria will be considered for acceptance into a limited number of available spaces in the major. At a minimum, this selection process will take place twice each year, early in the fall and spring quarters, and applicants will be notified of the results before the course registration periods for the following winter and fall quarters, respectively.

Unsuccessful applicants may be counseled to try again in another quarter and/or directed to faculty advisor, collge advising center, or Career Services for help in developing alternative plans.

Performance Criteria

The performance criteria established by departments/programs for changing majors will be designed primarily to assess the student's likelihood of achieving success in the new major (taking into account the possibility that poor past performance at Cal Poly may in part reflect an inappropriate choice of major on entry). As far as possible, performance criteria for change of major:

  • will discourage students from seeking "backdoor" entry to a more impacted major by first applying to a less impacted (and more readily accessible) major, while
  • accepting a responsibility to treat existing Cal Poly students who are acting in good faith somewhat more favorably than those applying from the outside.

Time Needed to Meet Performance Criteria

Performance criteria should not impose an unreasonable burden on students; that is, a student who is in good standing and is academically prepared for the lower division courses needed to satisfy the criteria should be able to complete this coursework within two to three quarters.

Waiting Lists and Repeated Applications

Majors may not keep waiting lists of students who have been deemed admissible but whose entry into the major is being delayed pending space availability. Applicants will be admitted only if they can be accommodated promptly; others will be rejected. Denied students may re-apply at a later date but should be made clearly aware that they will not be given preference based on persistence (i.e., repeated applications).

Option for Reviewing Freshmen Students

When a freshman student applies to change major within the first three quarters after entering Cal Poly, the target major has the option, where feasible, of first considering the student on the basis of his/her academic Multi-Criteria Admissions (MCA) score, possibly combined with a specified Cal Poly grade point average, in lieu of employing other performance criteria. Feasibility may depend on whether the MCA scores for the originating and target majors are based on the same formula, and on the availability of relevant historical data. If this option is selected, the target major will:

  • Recalculate the academic MCA as if the student had applied to the target major on entry.
  • Compare with the academic MCA cut-off used to determine admissions for the fall quarter in which the student first enrolled (when the student first enrolled in winter, the comparison will be made with the admissions cut-off for the preceding fall; when the student first enrolled in summer, the comparison will be made with the admissions cut-off for the following fall).
  • Admit the student if his/her MCA exceeds this cut-off, there is space available within the target major, and (where applicable) the student meets the Cal Poly grade point average requirement prescribed by the target major.

A freshman student who is considered in this manner but fails to meet the criteria for admission based on MCA will still be subject to review under the target major's normal process for change of major decisions.

Communications Regarding Satisfactory Progress in Current Major

There should be communications sent to students who are not meeting the requirements for making satisfactory progress within their current major. The communications should be constructive in tone while clearly indicating:

  • the nature of the satisfactorfy progress requirements;
  • the potential consequences of failing to meet them; and
  • the "window of opportunity" that is available for students seeking to change major.

Deviations from Process for Change of Major

Programs/departments may deviate from the process described above only with the explicit prior and timely approval of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Undergraduate Education. Any such approved deviations must be clearly and widely communicated to the campus; in particular, they must be communicated to the various campus advising centers and to all students currently trying to change to the affected majors.

Publication of Change of Major Criteria

Each college publishes on its website (or in readily available printed form) the minimum criteria that must be met for Cal Poly students to transfer into each of its majors, as well as the acceptance rates for at least the past two years. All colleges will have the change of major criteria published on their websites (or in printed form).

Academic Senate Resolution AS-582-02/IC (PDF)

Academic Senate Resolution AS-563-01/IC (PDF)

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