Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the BA Completion Program
How many units do I need?
The minimum number of transferable units required to enter the program is 60 units.* CIIS accepts a maximum of 75 lower division semester units, and will accept up to 9 additional upper division semester units for a maximum number of 84 transferable units. *Transfer students from City College of San Francisco (CCSF), please refer to this guideline.
What kind of transfer units do you accept?
Within the limits cited above, we accept as transfer credit:
- Work in college level classes completed at regionally accredited institutions of higher learning in the U.S. and Canada or from other foreign institutions provided that acceptable documentation and evaluation demonstrates that these institutions and their courses are equivalent to regionally accredited institutions. International applicants must submit foreign transcripts to a foreign credential evaluation service for a "course by course" evaluation. CIIS accepts evaluations completed by the World Education Service (WES) and J. Silny & Associates.
- Documented military training, granting credit based on the American Council on Education (ACE) guidelines.
- Test results from the College Level Examination Program (C.L.E.P.), Advanced Placement Exams, and Excelsior College Exams (E.C.E) may provide a student with a total maximum of 30 units. The CLEP exam is administered by the College Board, a non-profit organization which is known for its SAT, PSAT, and Advanced Placement programs. Applicants must provide the Institute with official test results.
- College Level Work: Courses must be college level. This means that courses that are developmental or college-preparatory will not transfer. Graduate level courses may be accepted as transfer credit; students should understand, however, that credit can be counted towards only one degree and that graduate credit applied to an undergraduate degree cannot then be applied again for a graduate degree. Associate of Arts (AA) credits are acceptable except for developmental or college-preparatory courses.
- Grade Criteria: Students must have earned passing credit or a grade of C or better. Coursework marked by a grade of C-, D, D-, F, or NP (No Pass) or incomplete work is not transferable.
- Physical Education: CIIS does not accept physical education credit except in specifically defined areas: dance, yoga, and some forms of martial art.
- Double Credit: Students cannot receive credit twice for the same course of study. This is most easily determined when courses are standardized mainstream college curricula and bear comparable or identical names. It may be less easy to determine in other circumstances. More specific courses, for example, "Modern European Art," are considered as fully separate from survey courses, such as, "Western Art through the Ages," even though there may be some duplication of material. In certain cases, course descriptions may need to be procured to determine content overlap.
- Single Subject Limits: Because the BA completion degree is interdisciplinary, students must demonstrate some balance in their studies. A limit of 40 units, or 1/3 of the degree, has been set in this area. However, it is important to apply this criterion thoughtfully. Subjects which are inherently interdisciplinary such as Women's Studies or some ethnic studies may be viewed differently. Simply because some studies may share certain historical or theoretical background may not make them a single subject.
- Extension Credit: CIIS accepts a maximum of 12 units completed in university extension programs for professional development. These units are reviewed on a case by case basis. Students should be aware that there is no guarantee that these units will be accepted. Please note that Continuing Education Units (CEU) units are not transferable.
How can I know how many transfer units I have?
You can submit your transcript(s) to the Admissions Office for review. These do not need to be official transcripts, but students will need to submit official transcripts with their application. Students with outstanding official transcripts and/or work-in-progress can be accepted into the program on a provisional basis. The provisional status impacts the packaging and disbursement of a student's financial aid package; students will not be eligible for financial aid until they move to full admission status.
I took classes a long time ago. Will these classes count as transfer units?
Yes, as long as they meet the criteria listed above and you can present an official transcript. The institution(s) you attended may need some extra time to retrieve your records, but they do not expire. General education requirements may need to be repeated, especially in the field of science because scientific knowledge changes over time.
Do I need to have meet all general education (GE) requirements in order to transfer?
No, students can meet their GE units while in the program, including the math GE requirement.
What kind of units or courses are you looking for?
The completion of the following fields is not a prerequisite to enter the program, but rather an assessment of general education requirements necessary for graduation. If you are lacking units in one of these fields, you'll be able to elective courses while enrolled in the program here:
- 3 units of college level math
- 3 units of experiential art
- 6 units of natural sciences
- 6 units of expository writing
- 9 units of humanities
- 9 units of social sciences
Do you offer units for prior life experience?
Yes, but only once accepted into the program. Students with extensive experience and skills in one or more subject areas in which they have not yet earned college credits can participate in an academic process of identifying, documenting, and presenting their knowledge for assessment to earn credit units. Essentially, it's an extensive writing project based on previous life learning, for which up to 21 units can be earned. This option is not available outside of the program, i.e. students can apply for prior learning credits only once enrolled in the program.
What is the length of the program?
The exact length depends on a student's number of transfer units and what workload a student wants to carry per semester, which typically ranges between 12-18 units per semester. Students can graduate in as quickly as one year (68%), and most students complete the program in 3-4 semesters. To graduate, a student must earn 120 units and complete the core curriculum, as well as all general education requirements (if these haven't been met prior to entry into the program).
Can I study part-time?
Only full-time study is available for BA degree completion students, but the program is designed for adults with busy lives. The program requires a commitment to attend all of the 18 cohort weekends throughout the year, plus whatever electives and/or general education courses a student might need to take (based on their number of transfer units). The cohort weekend schedule is available online so that students can plan ahead. Based on the number of transfer units a student has, full-time course of study works out to 12-18 units per semester.
What additional time commitment is there for the electives and/or general education classes?
Beyond the 18 cohort weekends for the year, students entering the program with less than 84 transfer units and missing general education courses need to plan in additional class and work time to take courses. Students can take their elective courses either in the School of Undergraduate Studies, in select graduate courses offered in the School of Consciousness and Transformation, or public program workshops offered for academic credit. Elective and/or general education courses offered in the BA Degree Completion Program are typically offered in the following formats:
- 5 Friday afternoons of cohort weekends (1pm-5:30pm)
- 5 Sundays of cohort weekends (10am-2.30pm)
- 3-5 meetings on alternate Saturdays that are not cohort weekends (either from 9am-5pm or for a 4.5 hour timeslot)
We also offer
- 1-unit elective courses that typically meet one weekend, all-day Saturday and Sunday
- intensives that meet for a compressed period of time intensely (for example, 5 consecutive days all day)
How much time will I need to plan in each week for coursework?
Every student is different and the amount of time they will spend on reading, writing, preparing, and working on projects may differ. A good rule of thumb, however, is to plan in 2 hours/week for each unit of credit for the coursework (in addition to the time spent in class). For example, if a student takes only the core curriculum of 12 units, they can expect to spend (12 x 2 =) 24 hours/week on coursework. Similarly, if a student takes the core curriculum, as well as a 3-unit math class, they can expect to spend (15 x 2=) 30 hours/week on coursework.
How much does the program cost?
Please consult the Tuition and Fees page for the current rates and connect with the Financial Aid Office for more information on what financial aid is available to you. You may also wish to consider this chart, showing how comparable graduation rates between different institutions of higher learning add up the time and cost to completion.
When can I apply?
Applications are accepted for a fall and spring semester start. Students wishing to apply for the minor in Critical Psychology must start in the fall semester; it is not an option to start in the spring semester and choose the minor in Critical Psychology. The priority application deadline for fall is April 1 and for spring October 15. Applications received after these deadlines will be reviewed on a space available basis.
What do I need to do in order to apply?
We recommend that students attend an info session and/or admission open house to learn more about our program. Check that you have enough transfer units and submit a complete application.