FAQs by International Students

Apr 30, 2015 Brad Horton
Frequently Asked Questions by International Students

Am I an “international” student?

It depends on whose definition you are using!  At UC Davis students are considered to be “international” if they are studying at our University on a student visa.  Most undergraduate international students are studying on an F-1 or J-1 visa.

In the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences we understand that this definition does not always meet the exact needs of all of our students.

For example:  we have students who are US citizens but they have lived the majority of lives in a foreign country prior to returning to the US to study at UC Davis.  We also have “international students” (studying on an F-1 or J-1 visa) who have lived the majority of lives in the US and have even attended local high schools.

If you are not an international student according to the university definition but feel that you may benefit from international student advising services please contact our International Academic Counselor. 

How can I change my major or add another major?

Please meet with the major advisor in your new major to make sure you have completed any required preparatory classes. You should also do a four-year academic plan with the major advisor so you know you can complete all requirements within the 225 unit limit. The major advisor will have the required forms and explain the next steps in changing your major or adding another major. 

I’m a transfer student. Can I retake a course that I took at my community college?

Unless you received an F grade, you will not earn any units for courses you repeat at UC Davis that you have previously taken at your prior college. This includes any courses that you may have earned a grade of D. However, sometimes it is best to repeat these courses even if you will not earn unit credit for them. For example, if you earned a D in the equivalent of CHE118A at your community college and you are required to continue into 118B and 118C, it would be advisable to retake 118A before you continuing in this sequence. 

Can I go part-time for a quarter?

International students may only go part-time (10 units or less) in their final quarter before graduation with the appropriate approvals. Exceptions to full-time status at any other time are only made under exceptional circumstances.  Please consult with your academic counselor or an advisor from Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS). 

Can I work in the U.S.?

You may be able to work on-campus on a student visa. Please review the employment website available through Services for International Students and Scholar for more info on working in the US.  

Can I study abroad as an international student?

Absolutely! Visit the Study Abroad website or office to learn more about the many opportunities. UC Davis Summer Abroad and Quarter Abroad offer UC Davis courses taught abroad. UC EAP offers the opportunity to participate in language and culture programs, internship programs, and study at a foreign university. UC EAP courses appear on your UC Davis transcript and the grades are calculated into your UC Davis GPA. 

How do I transfer to another UCD or another University?

First, you should look at the admissions requirements at the university you wish to attend. Each university will have its own requirements for transfer students.

If you plan to transfer to another university you should make an appointment with your International Academic Counselor as soon as possible. 

What are Peer Advisors and what do they do?

Peer Advisors are current students who are employed by the Dean’s Office or major departments to assist their fellow students with course selection, major exploration, and college or university requirements.  They also staff and present evening programs at the Advising Centers in the Residence Halls as part of the Residence Hall Advising Team (RHAT).  Peer Advisors are well-trained and can answer general advising questions or help you check your General Education requirements.

How do PASS registration times work and why don’t I have an earlier time?

Registration for courses occurs during two appointment times called “passes”.  All students are assigned a Pass 1 and Pass 2 appointment time.  This is a four hour period of time in which you are may sign up for courses.  Pass appointment time assignment is based on the number of units you have completed.  For additional information please refer to the Office of University Registrar Registration website

What if I missed my PASS time?

Don’t worry – you will still be able to enroll in classes. Students who miss their pass time are able to register during Open Hours during Evenings (M-F) 8pm-midnight and Weekends (Sa-Su) 10am-6pm after their appointment times.

Who can help me choose the right courses?

If you are a first-year international freshman or transfer student you can expect to receive an email from our office with recommendations on the courses that you have chosen for your first quarter.  The International Academic Counselor can help you choose courses as well.

If you are a continuing or transfer student, you will be best served by meeting with your major advisor because most of your remaining coursework will largely apply toward major requirements. Taking courses in order matters and major advisors can help you design your schedule.

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

It is your responsibility to meet the prerequisites of courses. The registration system at UC Davis will not prevent you from registering in an advanced level course for which you are unprepared.  Prerequisites are often lower division courses that are required before you continue on to more advanced courses. Sometimes prerequisites include placement exams or a certain academic standing.  Thoroughly read the description for any course that you plan to take and to verify that you have met the prerequisites for that course.

For example, ECN100 lists the following prerequisites:  course 1A, 1B; Mathematics 16A-16B or 21A-21B with a grade of C- or better in each.  A freshman student should not expect to take ECN100 during their first year.  ECN100 should only be taken after all prerequisites have been completed.  If you have questions regarding the prerequisites for a course it would be best to consult with your Academic Counselor, a departmental Major Advisor or a Peer Advisor.

Should I take MAT 16A, 17A, or 21A?

All students who want to take MAT16A, 17A or 21A must take and pass the Math Placement Exam to avoid being dropped from the course. The purpose of the placement exam is to determine if you are prepared to take the course.  It is not meant to determine which course you should take. You may have the option to take 16A or 17A even if you placed into MAT21A – we recommend you check with an advisor before choosing the MAT 21 series. MAT21A is largely intended for students majoring in the sciences or engineering and in CA&ES only Hydrology and Atmospheric Science require the MAT 21 series.

Will I earn units for WLD 57?

Workload units count for 4.5 units toward minimum progress (the completion of at least 39 units your first year at UC Davis) and full-time enrollment (12 units minimum per quarter) but will not count toward the 180 minimum units required for graduation.  Although this course does not count toward graduation it should still be treated like any other course.  WLD57 is a very challenging course for many of our international students.  It will require the same amount of class and study time that any 4.5 unit course would.

Can I drop a class after the drop deadline?

Approval for a late drop or late Pass/No Pass option can be granted only if unexpected circumstances beyond your control occur after the deadline for either late action. You must make an appointment with the Dean’s Office and bring a completed Petition for Late Drop or Pass/No Pass Grading plus documentation for your unexpected circumstances.

If you believe that you do not meet the requirements for a late drop or late Pass/No Pass but you are still struggling with the course (earning a grade below a C) you should still meet with your International Academic Counselor to discuss your circumstances and your options.  

Can I do coursework in my home country over summer?

Yes, but Undergraduate Admissions will not pre-approve transfer coursework that you complete at a foreign institution over summer. After you have completed your coursework, you will need to have the university send an official transcript to Undergraduate Admissions. They will evaluate the coursework and determine if transfer credit can be awarded. This process could take several months from the time Undergraduate Admissions receives your transcript.

This means there is no way to know in advance if the coursework you plan to transfer to UC Davis will be approved for transfer credit before you take the classes. If you want to be sure that summer coursework will be transferable to UC Davis you can attend a California community college and take a UC transferrable course. You can determine if a course is transferrable by using assist.org.  

Or, you may attend UC Davis Summer Sessions.

What is P/NP grading? Can I change my course to P/NP grading?

If you are a student in CA&ES you have the option to change your letter graded courses to Pass/No-Pass grading (P/NP grading) if you are in good academic standing. The deadline for this is always the 25th day of instruction.

When you opt for P/NP grading your instructor will not know that you have changed the grading mode. They will still enter a letter grade when the course has ended. If the letter grade is “C-“ or higher you receive a Pass grade and you earn unit credit for the course; if the grade is below “C-“ you will have earned a No Pass grade and no unit credit for the course.

Courses you take on a P/NP basis DO NOT affect your GPA.

Please consult with your International Academic Counselor if you have additional questions.

Can I take major courses P/NP?

No you cannot.

The registration system does not stop you from changing your grading option though. If you choose to change to P/NP or do it accidentally, you will not be able to change back without a Petition for Late Drop or Pass/No Pass Grading. These requests are only approved if you provide documented evidence of unforeseen circumstances beyond your control which occurred after the deadline.

How do I change to P/NP grading?

Students must be in Good Academic Standing in order to opt for P/NP grading. To change to P/NP grading log on to Schedule Builder and click the “edit” button found underneath the course that you wish to change and select “Optional Pass/No-Pass Grading”.

How many classes can I take P/NP?

There are limitations to P/NP grading for students in the CA&ES:

In our College you are allowed to take a maximum of 1/3 (33.3%) of your total UC Davis units as P/NP upon graduation. This total includes courses that can only be taken P/NP as well as courses that you have opted to take P/NP.

What is the ELWR?

The Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR) is a University requirement all UC students must fulfill. For a full explanation, see the ELWR page in the Catalog. You have a specified amount of time to complete the ELWR depending on your English level placement.

Can I earn Writing Experience (WE) GE credit before I satisfy the ELWR?

No, you must satisfy the Entry Level Writing Requirement first. If you did not satisfy the ELWR before coming to UC Davis you will need to pass WLD 57 with a grade of C or better. You will not receive any Writing Experience GE credit for courses taken prior to satisfying ELWR.  

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

You can earn unit credit if you have completed Advanced Levels Exams. These units can be used toward the minimum 180 unit requirement to graduate. A-Level credit is not equivalent to coursework taken at UC Davis. Students cannot earn GE credit for it. However, it may be possible to skip some courses that may be required for your major. Please consult with your major advisor about this option. Please be aware that if exceptions are granted they are specific to your current major only.  If you decide to change majors later there is no guarantee that your new major will honor the same exceptions of the prior major advisor. 

Student News

Design It, Build It

Aug 21, 2015 Truscott donation allows landscape architecture students to dig in.

Student News - More Student News…
Research News

UC Davis Receives Unique, $1.5 Million Gift from Aggie Couple

Jul 07, 2016 Michael and Joelle Hurlston have pledged $1.5 million to endow a first-of-its-kind chair position.

Research News - More Research News…
Outreach News

Summer Internships

Jul 28, 2015 CA&ES students and Salinas Valley employers find common ground.

Outreach News - More Outreach News…
Advising Resources
Web Editors

Content in this section is managed by UAP & Lili Bynes. If you have any suggestions or need something changed, please contact her at