International Student FAQs

General and Miscellaneous Questions

Am I an “international student”?

  • If you have visa status that is F-1 or J-1 and you have been issued an I-20, you are considered a degree-seeking international student

How can I change my major or add another major?

  • To change your major, you must fill out a Change of Major petition and have it signed by the department advisor. The petition may be found under the advising tab.
  • To declare a double major, you must fill out the Change of Major petition AND the memo of understanding. Your new major department advisor will need to sign the petition.
  • You may need to schedule an appointment with your department advisor to get the signature and discuss your progress in the major.

I’m a transfer student. Can I retake a course that I took at my Community College?

  • If you have credit from any other school or exam for a UCSB course, you may not repeat it.

Can I go part-time for a quarter?

  • You must speak with the Office of International Students and Scholars and an academic advisor in the College of Letters & Science. These requests are only approved under very special circumstances.

Can I work in the U.S.?

  • Possibly.  For more information, please speak with the Office of International Students and Scholars          

Can I study abroad or attend UCDC as an international student?

  • Yes. However, you will need to discuss visa matters with the Office of International Students and Scholars

How do I transfer to another UC or another University?

  • You must look up the admissions requirements and deadlines for each school you wish to apply.
  • You may request official transcripts through GOLD.  Forms confirming academic standing should be directed to the Office of the Registrar.
  • If you are transferring to another UC, please speak with a College of Letters & Science advisor about General Education.


How do Pass registration times work and why don't I have an earlier time?

  • Pass times are issued by the Office of the Registrar and assigned based on current unit standing.
  • You are given three (3) pass times and can only make changes during a pass time.
  • Register during Pass I for at least 10 units and choose the courses that are most likely to fill, especially if they are required for your major.
  • Register for at least 12 units during Pass 2 as this is the minimum amount of units you must enroll in each quarter.

How does the waitlist on GOLD work?

  • When you are in your scheduled pass time, you may find that some courses no longer have space. Many departments will create a waitlist in GOLD starting in Pass II that allows students to indicate that they would like to join the class if additional space is created in the course.
  • Putting your name on the waitlist does NOT mean that you will be able to join the class. It does not count toward your minimum enrollment in 12 units.
  • You must still attend the course on the first day of classes, even if you are the first name on the waitlist.
  • You’ll need to note your position on the waitlist to give you an idea of how many students are ahead of you on the list.
  • Note if the waitlist for the course uses the “auto add” feature. If auto add is used and a space opens in the class and you are the next person on the waitlist, the course will be automatically added to your schedule
  • When signing up for a waitlist or adding a course in GOLD, you will see the option to link a waitlist course to any registered course on your schedule. This means:
    1. If space becomes available and you are added to the waitlisted course, the corresponding registered course will be dropped from your schedule.
    2. A waitlist entry that is linked to a registered course will not count toward your unit limit for the pass or quarter. 
  • Waitlisted courses that are NOT linked with a course you are registered in, will count toward the maximum number of units you can use in your pass time.

Who can help me choose the right courses?

  • Academic advisors in your major department can help you with the requirements in your major.
  • Academic advisors in the College of Letters & Science can help with general education requirements and electives.

What are prerequisites and why do I have to take them?

  • Prerequisites are classes that you must complete before enrolling in a specific class. For example, an advanced mathematics course may require a more basic mathematics course before students can enroll. Not all courses have prerequisites. Prerequisites are required because they give students the knowledge and skills to be successful in that class.

Can I drop a class after the drop deadline?

  • Students may ask to drop a class after the deadline by filling out a petition.  However, they should speak with a College advisor, as not all requests can be granted. 

Can I repeat a class?

  • You may repeat courses in which you earned a grade of C-, D+, D, D-, F, or NP.
  • Courses can be repeated for letter or passed/not passed. However, a grade of “NP” will not replace a letter grade in the computation of the GPA.
  • You may only repeat a course one time.
  • See an advisor for questions about how your GPA will be impacted by repeating classes.

What is P/NP grading?

  • P/NP grading stands for Passed/Not Passed grading.  This grading option awards unit credit and GE credit if a grade of “Passed” is earned.  If a grade of “Not Passed” is earned, neither units nor GE credit will be awarded.  Neither grade will be calculated into your grade point average (GPA).
  • To earn a grade of “Passed,” you must have an equivalent grade of “C” or higher.  Equivalent grades of “C-” or lower will earn you a grade of “Not Passed.”
  • Courses required for your major must be completed for a letter-grade to satisfy major requirements.  If you earn a grade of “Passed,” you will not be able to apply the course to your major.

Is it a good idea to change my class to P/NP grading?

  • It can be a good idea if you are trying to protect your GPA or the course content is unfamiliar to you.  But, remember, “passed" graded courses cannot apply to major requirements. If you earn a grade of “passed” in a major course, you will not be able to apply to the major.
  • Additionally, no more than 1/3 of your UCSB units can be completed with a grade of “Passed.”
  • You may repeat a course if you earn a grade of “Not Passed.”
  • Some graduate programs may prefer you take the majority of your courses for a letter-grade.  For example, Law Schools in the United States will recalculate grades of “Not Passed” as an “F.”

How do I change my course to P/NP grading?

  • If a class is offered for this grading option, you may change to P/NP grading in GOLD.  Courses must be changed to P/NP grading, before the deadline, which typically comes in the 7th week of the quarter.
  • Requests to change the grading option after the deadline are rarely approved.

Degree Requirements

What are elective courses?

  • No courses are specifically designated as “electives.”  Any course not being used to satisfy a major or GE requirement would be considered an elective.

Why do I need electives?  Can’t I just take general education (GE) and my major courses?

  • To earn a degree, students need to successfully complete at least 180 or 184 total units, 60 of which must be upper-division.  If you take only GE and major courses, you probably won’t have enough total units and upper-division units to graduate.

How many classes can I take P/NP?

  • No more than 1/3 of your UCSB units can be completed with a grade of “passed.” But, remember, if you earn a grade of “passed” in a major course, you will not be able to apply it to the major.

Do I have to take foreign language courses to earn my BA/BS degree?

  • All students must satisfy General Education Area B, the Foreign Language requirement.  Please check the General Catalog to find different options for how this requirement can be satisfied.  You may not need to take a course here at UCSB.

I have A Level Exam credit. How does it apply toward my degree requirements?

  • The General Catalog has information about how each exam will apply to degree requirements.  The Cambridge International A Level exams may have UCSB course equivalents and apply to General Education requirements.

Do I have to fulfill the American History & Institutions requirement?

  • We strongly encourage you to take a course to satisfy this requirement. However, if you find that you cannot fit a course into schedule, you may ask to be excused from this requirement by sending an email to 

I have taken a course that appears in the lists for two different general subject areas (GE Areas A-G). Will I get credit for completing both areas?

  • Although some courses appear on more than one list, individual courses can only satisfy one of the general subject areas. However, some courses can satisfy both a general subject area and a special subject area.  For example, Classics 40 satisfies general subject area G (literature) and special subject area European traditions.