UC admissions requirements to help students, families in wake of COVID-19

The University of California acted last night (March 31) to implement temporary measures which relax undergraduate admissions requirements for students looking to enroll at UC for fall 2020 and future years as applicable. These measures will help mitigate some of the extraordinary challenges students and their families face in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to help alleviate the tremendous disruption and anxiety that is already overwhelming prospective students due to COVID-19,” said John A. Pérez, chair of the Board of Regents, the governing board for UC. “By removing artificial barriers and decreasing stressors – including suspending the use of the SAT – for this unprecedented moment in time, we hope there will be less worry for our future students.”

“The COVID-19 outbreak is a disaster of historic proportions disrupting every aspect of our lives, including education for high school students, among others,” said University of California President Janet Napolitano, who endorsed the changes. “The University’s flexibility at this crucial time will ensure prospective students aiming for UC get a full and fair shot — no matter their current challenges.”

The global health crisis has forced the closure of high schools across the country and prompted sudden shifts to remote instruction. Some schools adopted “pass/fail” or “credit/no credit” grading instead of letter grades for A-G courses needed to qualify for UC admission. These measures had the potential to adversely affect not only the incoming freshman class, but all high school students seeking a UC education, making it challenging to meet University requirements. Meanwhile, K-12 standardized testing and college entrance exams have been cancelled, further thwarting student progress.

In response, the Regents approved a series of critical, short-term measures:

  • Suspending the letter grade requirement for A-G courses completed in winter/spring/summer 2020 for all students, including UC’s most recently admitted freshmen.
  • Suspending the standardized test requirement for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission.
  • Providing that there will be no rescission of student admissions offers that result from students or schools missing official final transcript deadlines, and student retention of admission status through the first day of class until official documents are received by campuses.
  • For transfer students, temporarily suspending the cap on the number of transferable units with “pass/no pass” grading applied toward the minimum 60 semester/90 quarter units required for junior standing.

In addition to the University’s actions, the College Board recently announced changes to Advanced Placement (AP) exam content and formats for spring 2020. UC recognizes the effort that students have already applied in these challenging courses and will award UC credit for 2020 AP exams completed with scores of 3, 4 or 5, consistent with previous years. 

“The goal of these changes is to ensure a fair process that does not affect the life chances of students who, but for the coronavirus pandemic, would have become full-time students at the University of California,” said Kum-Kum Bhavnani, chair of the Academic Senate. The Senate exercises direct control over academic matters of central importance to UC and made the admissions recommendations to the Regents.

UC requests submission of final transcripts by July 1. If schools are unable or unsure about their ability to issue transcripts by this date, they may notify UC at AskUC@ucop.edu and include a date when transcripts are expected to be available.

For more information on the changes, visit here.