Competitive majors: Must-know tips for transfers

By Holly Landis
Class takes place in Eddy Hall on the CSU campus.

So you’re planning to transfer to CSU and begin the journey to become a Ram. You’ve read through the steps to apply as a transfer student and are knowledgeable of the admissions requirements. All that’s left is to decide on a major.

You pick a potential major and realize it is listed as “competitive”. Several questions are buzzing through your mind: What does this mean? Is this going to be a long and difficult process? Is there anything I can do now at my current school to help the process go smoothly?

As a transfer student myself who pursued a competitive major, these same questions flew around in my mind. I am now proud to say that I’m declared in a competitive major. And I totally understand the weight of the situation. I’m here to help you through the process by sharing tips and tricks that I picked up myself.

What exactly is a competitive major?

First, let’s break down the definition of a competitive major and what that means for transfer students.

A competitive major is an undergraduate degree program with certain GPA and course work requirements you must complete before you can enter the major.

These majors include Art, Biomedical Sciences, Business Administration, Computer Science, Engineering and Journalism and Media Communication.

For transfer students, the requirements are different than what is needed from freshmen or first year students. They typically include coursework requirements you’ve done beforehand. Click here to view transfer specific requirements.

How do I get accepted to a competitive major?

The sweet part: As a transfer student, you don’t need certain SAT or ACT scores when it comes to meeting competitive major requirements.

The not-so-sweet part: for all competitive majors at CSU (excluding Art), there are required classes that need to be taken beforehand. It can be difficult to determine which classes at your current institution are the correct ones, or if your school offers them at all.

Luckily, there are some guidelines you can follow and online tools to help.

  • Be aware of GPA requirements. All competitive majors require a specific cumulative GPA, ranging from 2.5 to 3.3. You’ll need to maintain a steady and good standing GPA, as this is a strict requirement for all majors.
  • Find out which courses are needed for your intended major now.  The sooner you understand which courses are required in order to get into your major, the sooner you can complete them. Some courses are easier to determine and are most likely offered as a general education course at your institution.
    • For example, the Biomedical Science major requires a ‘B’ or better in a semester of chemistry and biology courses. Those classes are general and will usually be fairly simple to enroll in at your current institution. Other majors, like Journalism and Media Communication, require courses a little bit more specific.
  • Use Transferology. Transferology allows you to input courses that you’ve taken or are planning to take at your current institution. You can then find out how they will transfer over to CSU. It’s a great planning tool.
  • Gain as much experience as you can at your current institution. Join the art club, sign up for student media, or look for research opportunities. Whatever major you’re trying to pursue, especially a competitive major, it will help to gain experience.

What if I don’t get accepted right away?

So now you know everything you need to declare yourself as a competitive major. But what happens if you are still unable to meet the requirements when you apply to CSU?

Don’t feel discouraged, there’s still hope. You’re most definitely not the first person this has happened to.

As a transfer student, I first came to CSU hoping to pursue a business major, but was unable to meet the requirements. At first I was upset, but then decided to take a variety of classes to see if there was a new path for me. While taking classes I found that I had a passion for journalism. I met with professors and students in that major and found myself meeting the requirements needed to declare it for the next semester.

Here are some tips that helped me as I went through the process:

  • On your application, be sure to list a second-interest major along with your preferred major. This will serve as a backup in case you don’t get into your preferred major.
    • If you have gained under 60 credits from your previous institution, you can opt to be an undeclared major and choose a major interest area. You’ll then take courses in that interest area during your first semester. This will allow you to gain the grades and GPA needed to declare yourself as the major you are intending.
    • If you have over 60 credits from your institution, you won’t be able to come in as Undeclared. You can, however, pursue a non-competitive major and then request a major change once you’ve met the requirements.
  • Meet with your assigned advisor or an undeclared advisor. Their job is to help you succeed in obtaining the major you want to pursue. They will work with you to achieve your goal of declaring yourself as a competitive major.
  • Reach out to professors in your desired major. Send a message to one or two professors. Explain that you just transferred and are hoping to join that department the following semester. They may know of ways to get involved in the department before officially declaring yourself as a major.

You can do it!

The transfer process can be stressful. Trying to meet requirements for competitive majors can make the situation feel even more nerve-wracking. It’s important to plan everything out ahead of time, take it day by day, and reach out to as many resources as you can find.

I hope that my experience will help you purse the major that you love.

Holly Landis
Author: Holly Landis
Holly is a senior majoring in Journalism and Media Communication with a minor in Film Studies. She’s a lover of film, television, and theatre, and plans to pursue a career in writing or content creation within the entertainment industry. You can usually find her eating a bowl of mac and cheese or laughing at her own jokes.