Newly Admitted Transfer Student FAQs


To ensure a positive start to your semester, it is important to attend CalSO. Academic advisors from the MCB department will be available to answer many of your questions. You will also have the opportunity to meet fellow transfer students. We will cover many important topics at CalSO, such as:

  • The differences among the five emphases and their tracks
  • How to choose an emphasis
  • The MCB prerequisites, and what to do if you haven't completed them
  • One-on-one schedule planning for your first semester
  • Resources on campus to help you be successful
  • Sample schedules for transfer students
  • Information on how to schedule courses outside your major
  • Declaring MCB and the probation policy

Common Questions

Additional Questions?

If you have any additional questions about the MCB major or transferring courses, contact the transfer student advisor, Clara Ng-Quinn, at or 510.643.8895.

Can I get advising over the phone or email?

It depends. We prefer to limit phone and email advising to quick questions. For things such as creation of full academic plans, we strongly prefer and recommend in-person advising. We hope that you attend CalSO!  If you are out of state and absolutely cannot come see us in person, please contact Clara about a phone or Skype appointment. Be aware that due to privacy concerns, there are some things we cannot discuss over phone or email and it will have to wait until you are able to come in person.

How do I register for classes and get my advising hold released on CalCentral?

You will receive an email after June 24th with preliminary course enrollment advising and further instructions on how to release your advisor hold. The email will include guidance on which major courses to enroll in and how to construct a first semester schedule. 

Will classes fill up before I am able to register?

It depends on the class. There will still be seats available in most upper-division MCB classes in mid-July. However, classes such as Physics 8A will fill up very quickly. The MCB advisors are here to help you come up with an alternative plan if you are not able to register for your first-choice classes.

Can I make a 2-year academic plan with an MCB advisor?

Yes!  Such plans can be made in person; please stop by the office during our open hours. In the meantime, review the plans on the emphasis pages, but keep in mind these plans are suggestions only and are not intended to replace planning with an advisor.

I am not transferring from a California community college. How will my science courses transfer?

We must see the syllabi for all courses you intend to count toward your major requirements.  We are unable to verify if your coursework is acceptable without a syllabus that includes a course outline, textbook information, exam styles, lab information if application, etc. Please email all syllabi to Clara Ng-Quinn. If you are unable to email them, please fax them to 510-643-0365 or drop them off at our office in 3060 VLSB.

How can I get credit for some upper-division science courses I took?

A MCB faculty advisor will review the syllabi for any upper-division classes once the fall semester starts.  Upper-division course reviews will not be made before then. If you are debating on whether or not to take a course in the fall because you might get transfer credit for it, you will not have a definite answer until classes start. To start the evaluation process please see a staff advisor in 3060 VLSB.

I am transferring from a quarter-system school, and I only took 2 quarters of (organic chemistry, physics, calculus, etc.).  Do I have to take the class at Berkeley?

Three quarters of coursework are equivalent to two semesters of coursework at Berkeley. Therefore, if you took the first 2 quarters of, for example, organic chemistry at your transfer institution, you will have to take the second semester of organic chemistry at Berkeley. We do not offer abbreviated versions of courses for students who are transferring from quarter-system schools.

Should I do research my first semester as a transfer student?

We recommend transfer students wait to do research until they are more familiar with classes and the amount of work they have to do to be successful. Many transfer students start looking for research in the fall semester, but don't actually start in the lab until the spring. At a minimum, we suggest waiting until you get the grades back for your first midterms before committing to a lab position. See the Finding Research page for more information.