Prospective Transfer Students

Introduction (revised 1/13/12)

Prospective transfer students should review all admission information posted on the Cal Poly Admissions web site. Admission to the Architecture Department is a two step process.

Step 1: Admissions screens all applicants and ranks each application according to the formula outlined on the Admissions Web Site.

Step 2: The Architecture Department invites the top candidates to submit a portfolio of their work for final selection by the Architecture Department Faculty. See information below regarding Portfolio Submissions.

You can view prospective student information available 24/7 through Cal Poly's Admissions web site (link available under "Resources" to the right). The site contains all official admission information and most questions regarding the admission process and qualifications are answered on this site.

Refer to the Prospective Students web page for information about computer and drawing equipment requirements.

Preparing To Transfer

The key questions that prospective transfer students need to research and answer are; What courses must I take to apply for admission? and What community colleges offer the courses? Resources to help you answer these questions along with other articulation information is provided below.

Transfer Selection Criteria

The Transfer Selection Criteria for the Architecture program provides information required to answer the first question—it identifies the courses that are required before a student applies to transfer to Cal Poly. Each of the courses identified earns points toward admissions.


ASSIST is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California’s public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California.

ASSIST Web Site:

Use ASSIST to research which California Community Colleges offer the courses identified in the Transfer Model.

Caution: In order to satisfy a GE&B requirement, you do not have to find an articulated course. If you enter two institutions (Example: Cuesta and Cal Poly) you will only find courses that are articulated with specific Cal Poly courses. Only courses that are in your "Major" or "Support" category need to be articulated in order to receive credit (example: Calculus, Physics, etc.).

To find a GE&B courses acceptable to Cal Poly:

• You select an institution that you anticipate attending. (example: Cuesta)
• Do not select "Agreements with Other Campuses".
• Go to "Courses Applicable for Transfer".
• Select "CSU General Education & Breadth (GE&B) Area".
• Select the particular GE&B area you are interested in taking (example: D1, C3, etc.).
• This will give you a list of the classes offered at that institution that will fulfill the GE&B requirement at Cal Poly.

You can be sure that these classes are transferable and will satisfy the GE&B requirement when your transcripts are received.

Equivalent First Year Architecture Courses

The 1st Year Syllabi links under "Resources" on this page are provided to help prospective students assess if they have had comparable courses. The specific architecture courses are:
Beginning Design & Drawing - ARCH 121 & 122 & 123;
Computer Applications: Digital Tools for Architecture - ARCH 160.

NOTE: Cal Poly Architecture Department is currently reviewing our articulation agreements with community colleges. ARCH 131, 132 & 133 are currently equal to ARCH 121, 122, 123, & 160.

Equivalent Second Year Architecture Courses

The architecture curriculum links second year design studios (ARCH 251, 252, 253) with Practice (ARCH 241, 242) and ECS (ARCH 207) courses. This means that students enroll in the linked courses simultaneously and the content of the courses is interwoven. Fall quarter students take ARCH 251 & 241, Winter quarter they take ARCH 252 & 242 and Spring quarter they take ARCH 253 & 207.

Because of the linkage, transfer students must take both linked courses before transferring or at Cal Poly. For example, ARCH 251 will not be articulated unless ARCH 241 can also be articulated.

Finally, it is strongly suggested that the second year structures courses ARCE 211 and 212 be taken before entry into the program. This is because both classes should be completed before an architecture student begins third year.

ARCE 211 & 212: Structures Equivalents

Transfer students may be able to take courses that articulate with Cal Poly courses ME 211 Engineering Statistics (3) and CE 204 Strength of Materials I (3) at their community college. For example, ENGR 50 and ENGR 52A at Cuesta College and ENGR152 and 156 at Allan Hancock are equivalent courses.

If a student takes both ME 211 Engineering Statistics and CE 204 Strength of Materials at Cal Poly or equivalent courses at their community college, the two courses can be substituted for ARCE 211 & 212. You must take both courses or their equivalent to receive substitution credit.

Meeting The Math Requirement

Architecture students are required to take either Math 141 and 182 or Math 141 and 142. Transfer students should note that a special Cal Poly Math 182 course is not articulated on The Admissions Architecture Major Transfer Selection Criteria web site will only state to take the required course that articulates with Math 141/Calculus1. Transfer students must have a minimum of 4 semester units of calculus classes in order to fulfill the math requirements for the BArch degree and fulfill prerequisites for Cal Poly structure courses.

Meeting The Physics Requirement

Architecture students are required to take two semesters of trigonometry based physics. (Courses that articulate with PHYS 121 & 122) Two Semesters of calculus based physics is also acceptable (Courses that articulate with PHYS 131 & 142)

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Portfolio Format & Content (Transfer students Only) (revised 1/13/12)

Submission of Portfolio
Transfer students who rank the highest during Part 1 of the application process will be invited to submit a portfolio of their work (to be notified mid to late January – portfolio to be submitted by late February) to the Architecture Department for final selection of students to be admitted for Fall Quarter. A faculty committee will review the pool of student portfolios on the basis of two standards: (1) the quality of the work, and (2) the applicants projected placement in the five-year BARCH degree program. Priority for admissions will be given to those students who both display a high quality of work product and are ready or near ready to enter the third year of the five-year program. The selection process is very competitive and an invitation to students to submit a portfolio it is not a guarantee of acceptance. The number of accepted students depends largely on the enrollment goals of the university and the Architecture Department. Recent budget issues have limited the number of transfer students we are able to accept. Part 1 of the Fall transfer admissions requirements are available on the Cal Poly Admissions web site.

Note: Students are selected in part for their completion of work leading to 3rd year standing. Some students are not selected simply due to the limited number of classes completed. Students are encouraged to re-apply after completing additional classes.

What is a portfolio?
In general the portfolio is a collection of your previous work that relates to the skills necessary to succeed in the Cal Poly architecture program. Specifically your portfolio is intended to showcase your previous college work that has satisfied academic requirements necessary to receive credit for specific first and second year architecture classes at Cal Poly. Additionally work outside of the college setting may be part of your portfolio. See “Portfolio Submission Requirements” below.

Portfolio Submission Requirements. What should be in your portfolio?
Specific requirements for your portfolio are outlined below. It is important that you follow the instructions.

Part of our criteria for admission is a clear demonstration of knowledge and skills related to the first two years of the Architecture Department curriculum. We suggest that you view the sample portfolio provided for the level of work and how it may be formatted.

How do I make a portfolio?

Format: 8.5” x 11” hard copy with spiral binding on one edge (either portrait or landscape). The portfolio is limited to no more than 12 single sided pages (does not include covers, transcripts, table of contents, and letters of recommendation) and the order of work shall be as listed below. Three-dimensional objects sent in addition to the portfolio are not allowed.

Cover: Provide a front and back cover. The front cover shall include your name and the name of any colleges that you have attended.

CD: Include an electronic copy of all portfolio pages as a PDF on a CD and adhere it to the inside cover of the portfolio.

Unofficial Transcripts: Include transcript(s) of all of your college work (unofficial transcripts are acceptable). This transcript(s) will not normally include grades for Spring 2011 semester but could include a list of classes currently in progress. Transcripts shall be bound into the back of the portfolio.

Contents Page: Provide a Table of Contents in the order of exhibits. The table of contents should indicate the class # of each course and the college where it was taken.

Class Work to Be Included in Your Portfolio: It is not necessary for your portfolio to include every Architecture class that you have taken. It is most important that you include courses that articulate (see with the first two years of our curriculum (see list below). A number of colleges do not have formal articulation agreements with Cal Poly, however their classes may satisfy our requirements – see the Architecture Department’s web site for a list of syllabi that outline course content. These courses may be used to guide you in organizing your work. Submit examples of projects for those courses you have completed or are in the process of completing. The following course material is essential in your submission:

[Note: It is understood that not all students invited to submit a portfolio have completed all of these classes.]

First Year Design & Graphics:
Classes that articulate with:
Arch 121, 122, 123 (Design and Visual Communication 1.1 – 1.3)
Arch 160 (Computer Graphics - includes computer applications Adobe Photoshop, 3-D drawing applications, Adobe In-Design)

Second Year Design:
Classes that articulate with:
Arch 251, 252, 253 (Architectural Design 2.1 – 2.3)

Architectural Practice & Environmental design:
Classes that articulate with:
Arch 242 Architectural Practice 2.2 (construction systems and construction documentation)

The following two classes need not be part of the portfolio but should be highlighted on your transcript.
Classes that articulate with:
Arch 241 Architectural Practice 2.1 (materials of construction)
Arch 207 Environmental Control Systems

Arrangement of Work: Arrange your portfolio in the order classes are listed above. Each sheet shall clearly indicate the class number, and the name of the class as listed on the unofficial transcript (ex. Arch 221 Design and Visual Communication 1). If a class is currently in progress you may include work in progress.

Additional Work:
Your portfolio may include up to 5 examples of work (this is within the 12 page limit) that you have personally completed in related courses (example, Art), while working in a professional office, or on your own. These might include drawings, photographs, sculpture, handcrafted items, etc.).

Unofficial Transcripts: Include transcript(s) of all of your college work (unofficial transcripts are acceptable). This transcript(s) will not normally include grades for Spring 2011 semester but could include a list of classes currently in progress.

Letters of Recommendation: You may submit up to 3 Letters of Recommendation (in addition to the 12 page limit). Letters are accepted only from Architecture faculty or practicing architects. Letters should be in sealed envelopes and included in the back of your portfolio. A simpler recommendation form is available for your recommender to fill out and submit. Simplified recommendation form.

How do I ship a portfolio?
Portfolios should be shipped in the smallest container that protects your portfolio. Please do not use packing peanuts. If you wish to have your portfolio returned enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Send Portfolios To:
        Architecture Department
        Cal Poly State University
        San Luis Obispo, Calif.  93407
        Attn: Michael Lucas

Due Date: 2014 TBD

Showcase your talents—When submitting a portfolio, you must follow the directions. You should showcase your talents while highlighting any unique skills (such as computer knowledge, freehand drawing, craftsmanship, etc.) that you may have.

Examples of Past Portfolios: Applicants are welcome to view the selected example via our web site (see Portfolio examples below).

Portfolio Help
Your portfolio need not include everything that you completed in a class; therefore some editing is suggested. Most projects (assignments) can be illustrated on one page. Portfolios should have an overall organizing layout. It's best to get another opinion to help you develop a well-ordered and concise presentation. Students may also find it helpful, before submission, to ask a mentor or community college instructor for guidance, as long as the instructor is not affiliated with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Portfolio Review Policy
The Cal Poly Architecture Department faculty will review each applicant’s portfolio. We consider this review an important evaluation of a student’s potential for success in our program and we give the procedure our most serious consideration. We have established the following policy regarding portfolio review:

The Cal Poly Architecture Department considers it unethical and impractical to preview any applicant’s portfolio prior to the official portfolio review or to assist with decisions regarding content or interpretation of the portfolio requirements. To do so would give some applicants an unfair advantage over others. This creates a potential for liability that we cannot assume. We therefore decline to review any student portfolios prior to the official review. We ask that you review the requirements carefully, then prepare and submit your portfolio based on the information provided rather than seeking additional information by contacting our department.

The Cal Poly Architecture Department does, however, post samples of portions of selected applicant’s portfolios that demonstrate the level of work we consider characteristic of applicants admitted to our program. Applicants are welcome to view these selected samples via our web site (see Portfolio examples below). Following the review, we are unable to provide feedback and/or recommendations towards improving an applicant’s portfolio, as this also would give an unfair advantage should the applicant be invited to submit during another application period.

General Comment:
This is the second year that we have required portfolios as part of the admissions process.  Be assured that we will not be eliminating students from acceptance based upon minor discrepancies in your portfolios.  We will expect you to follow instructions as best you can.  Our intention is to control the scope of each student's portfolio size, shape, and content.   In this way we will be able to compare your work fairly.  Good luck in your efforts.

Questions & Answers:
Questions regarding the portfolio may be addressed to Answers to student questions will be added to this web site so that all students will be made aware of any additional information or clarification.

Q. I am taking an Architecture class this Spring semester/quarter that I did not include on my application. How will you know that I will be completing it when you evaluate my portfolio?

A. It will be listed on your unofficial transcript as 'In Progress'. We will note it.

Q. I plan on taking a class this summer (Eng 252A @ Cuesta C. C.). How will you know this?

A. We do want to know if you are taking any required class. You can simply hand write a note @ the bottom of your unofficial transcript.

Q. Is it acceptable to publish my portfolio in a digital format as an alternative to the required "spiral bound" hard copy.

A. No. We require a digital disk along with your hard bound copy. An important part of the faculty review includes a comparison of portfolios. This aspect of the review is best accomplished with hard copies.

Portfolio examples
Please go to Portfolio to view samples of portfolio contents