Basic CSU College Preparatory Subject Requirements

The California State University requires that first-time freshman applicants complete, with a grade of C or better in each course, the following comprehensive pattern of college preparatory study totaling 15 units. A "unit" is one year of study in high school.

  • English, 4 years.
  • Mathematics, 3 years: algebra, geometry, and intermediate algebra. Alternatively, you may complete 3 years of college preparatory integrated math which includes components of both algebra and geometry.
  • U.S. history / Social Science, 2 years including 1 year US History / Government and 1 year social science (world history, geography, anthropology, etc)..
  • Laboratory science, 2 years including 1 year physical science (chemistry, physics, etc.) and 1 year biological science (biology, zoology, anatomy, etc.)
  • Foreign language, 2 years in the same language (subject to waiver for applicants demonstrating equivalent competence).
  • Visual and performing arts, 1 year: art, dance, drama/theatre, or music.
  • Electives1 year: Selected from the list above.

Fulfilling Subject Requirements in college

It is possible to take college courses to make up any missing high school courses. A college course must be at least 3 semester units or 4 quarter units and must be taken for a grade, not credit/no credit. One semester at the college level is considered equivalent to a full year at the high school level. It is also possible to take online college courses to make up missing subject requirements. Contact Admissions before you register, so we can confirm you're taking the proper course(s).

For the English high school subject requirement, we can count either a "general education" college English course (such a course would also count towards your bachelor's degree) or you may take an English course one level below the general education English course (such a course would improve your high school subject tally but would not count towards your bachelor's degree). In the mathematics area, you may take intermediate algebra or geometry. Neither of these course are considered "baccalaureate" level, so they would not count towards your eventual bachelor's degree, but they would count towards the high school subject requirement.

Feel free to call us in the Admissions Office at (707) 664-2778 if you have any questions about eligibility.

Subject Requirement Substitution for Students with Disabilities

Applicants with disabilities are strongly encouraged to complete college preparatory course requirements if at all possible. If an applicant is judged unable to fulfill a specific course requirement because of his or her disability, alternative college preparatory courses may be substituted for specific subject requirements. Students who are deaf or hearing impaired, are blind or visually impaired, or have learning disabilities may in certain circumstances qualify for substitutions for the foreign language, laboratory science, and mathematics subject requirements. Substitutions may be authorized on an individual basis after review and recommendation by the applicant's academic advisor or guidance counselor in consultation with the director of a CSU disabled-student services program. Although the distribution may be slightly different from the course pattern required of other students, students qualifying for substitutions will still be held for 15 units of college preparatory study. Students should be aware that course substitutions may limit later enrollment in certain majors, particularly those involving mathematics. For further information and substitution forms, please call the director of disabled-student services at your nearest CSU campus.

Waiver of Foreign Language Subject Requirement

The foreign language subject requirement may be waived by applicants who demonstrate competence in a language other than English equivalent to or higher than expected of students who complete two years of foreign language study. Consult with your school counselor or any CSU campus Admission or Admissions Development offices for further information.