Postsecondary Education

California Universities

In 1960 the California Legislature and Governor Pat Brown approved the establishment of the California Master Plan for Higher Education. The Master Plan assigns specific roles to three separate institutions of publicly supported higher education in California.

The University of California (UC) and its ten campuses are responsible for conducting intensive research and awarding of the pinnacle of the American collegiate system, the Doctor of Philosophy degree (see http://www.ucop.ed/ucal or further information on the UC system).

The California State University (CSU) System and its 23 campuses have two distinct roles: the training of teachers and high-level career preparation for immediate employment after the baccalaureate degree. The CSU system does offer graduate programs and the M.A. degree. In 2005 the California Education Roundtable and the Intersegmental Commission agreed to permit several CSU campuses, including Fullerton, to offer the Doctor of Education degree (see for further information on the CSU system).

The third component of the Master Plan is the California Community College (CCC) System. Comprised of 109 campuses spread throughout the state, the CCC prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, offers specialized certificate programs, and awards the A.A. degree in a number of subjects (see for further information on the community college system). Specifically, the Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) serves the Waterford Unified School District attendance boundary. YCCD has two separate and distinct campuses: Modesto Junior College (East and West Campuses), Columbia Community College. Modesto Junior College is the main destination for WUSD students (see: for further information on Modesto Junior College).

In addition to the California public university system, the state has over 77 private colleges and universities of varying size and orientation. Some are large campuses—Stanford and the University of Southern California—that compete with UC and CSU for students. Others, like Harvey Mudd, are very small (350 students), highly selective, and specifically focused (physical sciences and engineering). Stanford and USC confer doctorates; Harvey Mudd offers baccalaureate degrees, but does have a connection to Cal Tech to achieve a doctoral degree (see the following website for further information regarding California private universities and colleges:

For many years, UC and CSU campuses maintained different entrance/admissions requirements. In an attempt to avoid the confusion, the California Education Roundtable (CER), the California Post Secondary Education Commission (CPSEC), the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS), and the Academic Senates of UC/CSU met in the 1990s to explore the possibility of establishing common entrance requirements to both UC and CSU.

College Admissions Requirements

As a result of the work begun in the early 1990s, today California public universities use the same procedures and policies for the admission of matriculating freshman students. Although California private universities and colleges may have slightly different requirements, in general, if students follow the three areas required by California public universities they will easily meet more than 90 percent of what may be required. Some California private universities and colleges do require personal, on-campus interviews.

Typically, students applying to a California public university are evaluated on three measures:

  • The Subject Requirement (more commonly known as the “a-g” requirements) specifies the 15 year-long courses a student must complete in high school;

  • The Examination Requirement (more commonly known as the SAT I and II tests or the ACT test) specifies the college admissions tests the student must take prior to applying;

  • The Scholarship Requirement is the combination of Grade Point Average (GPA) and standardized test scores (see above).

  • The student must attain;

    • Local Eligibility or the Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) program recognizes students who have created a distinguished academic record in light of the opportunities provided at their high school. If the student ranks in the top four percent of students in his/her California high school’s graduating class as determined by UC, and the student’s high school participates in the program, you can become UC-eligible through ELC;

    • Eligibility by Examination Alone provides students who come from non-accredited home and private schools an opportunity to become admissible to UC; and

    • Additional requirements included are a submitted essay and the possibility that the student may need to take the Entry Level Writing Requirement.

Subject Requirements

The University of California and the California State University System maintain the same set of course requirements for entering freshmen. The list is comprised of 15 courses and is often referred to as the “a-g” list.

A-G Course Guide