Options for satisfying the "a-g" requirements

The “a-g” subject requirements are designed to prepare students for undergraduate work and assure the UC faculty that students have attained a body of general knowledge that will provide breadth and perspective to new, more advanced study. To be considered for admission to UC, students must complete the "a-g" subject requirements, have, at a minimum, a 3.0 UC GPA and take the SAT Reasoning or ACT with Writing exam.

There are a number of ways to fulfill the subject requirement. The options for satisfying the “a-g” subject requirements are described below. A chart is also available in UC’s Quick Reference for Counselors.

High school courses

The most common method students use to fulfill the “a-g” course pattern is by completing college-preparatory high school courses with grades of C or better. For California residents, these courses must appear on their high school’s “a-g” course list for the academic year the course was taken.

These high school courses must be academically challenging, involve substantial reading and writing, require students to think analytically as well as master factual content and develop critical oral and listening skills. All courses from California high schools must also meet subject-specific course criteria and be reviewed by UC for "a-g" approval.

Students are not restricted to completing high school coursework at their home high school to satisfy their subject requirements. They may use courses from any California high school or online school that appears on the institution's “a-g” course list for the year the course was completed.

College courses

Completing a three semester unit (or four quarter unit) or more UC-transferable college course with a grade of C or better is another method to fulfill the “a-g” subject requirements. Designated nontransferable English and math courses can also satisfy their respective subject requirements.


Exam scores

Earning a satisfactory score on a SAT Subject, Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exam can fulfill an “a-g” subject requirement.


Principal certification

Students who complete course work offered through a U.S. institution, organization or program that does not have an “a-g” course list may use that course work to meet “a-g” subject requirements through a process called principal certification. Courses must be completed in a classroom setting; online courses do not qualify for principal certification. This could include classroom-based courses from:

  • Non-accredited high schools
  • Accredited high schools in California that have not established an “a-g” course list
  • University extension/continuing education programs 
  • Language schools
  • Foreign exchange programs                                 

In order for coursework completed at any of the above types of institutions, organizations or programs to be acceptable by UC, the principal of the student's current/home high school must certify that the course(s) is/are comparable to other college-preparatory courses offered at the high school. However, principals cannot certify any courses offered online. Further, UC faculty expects that such “certification” follows a careful review of the course curriculum and/or testing of ability level by the principal, department chair, district curriculum director or other qualified school/district personnel. The principal designates their certification by granting permission for the course(s) to be listed on the student's official transcript, along with credits granted and grades earned.