This post is geared toward UC to UC transfers, and specifically concerns the issue of the UC Letter of Reciprocity. There is a lot of confusion about reciprocity, so I will give a quick rundown and my personal recommendation (for what it’s worth).
The Definition of Reciprocity
First off, what is Reciprocity? Reciprocity is the completion of the general education requirements as listed at your current UC. Each UC has its own set of GE requirements that need to be completed in order to graduate and they don’t match across campuses. If you are hoping to transfer from one UC to another in junior standing, the best thing you can do is complete the GE requirements listed at your current UC and get a Letter of Reciprocity. The Letter, which you request from the Registrar’s Office, certifies that you completed the full GE course list at your current UC and will therefore not be required to take any other GE courses at your new UC, even if they differ.
Is a Letter of Reciprocity required?
Can you get admitted without obtaining the Letter of Reciprocity? In theory, yes. It is not a UC requirement; however, how each major and department may interpret your lack of completion — in other words, how competitive it makes you in comparison to other applicants — is dependent on campus and selectivity of major.
I do know of one case this last year where a student was admitted to UC Berkeley from another UC and had noted in the application that he would have his Letter of Reciprocity. By spring it was clear he would be missing one GE class. He contacted a liaison at Berkeley, noting he would take the course in summer, and the rep said that sounded doable, but the rep had to get final approval. End of story, the student’s admission was rescinded. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the major, although I do remember it being selective. I know nothing more than what I heard; it may be a rare situation, and it may be solely due to the fact the applicant noted it would be completed.
More courses required
Another complication of not completing Reciprocity at your current UC, is after you transfer you must then fulfill the GE requirements at your new UC. This often entails more classes because (1) your target UC simply may have different requirements, and (2) a course you took to fulfill a GE requirement in the same category at Campus 1 may not be acceptable in that same category at Campus 2.
Keep in mind, applicants do get in without completion, it is not a requirement, but I recommend a student attempt to get the Letter of Reciprocity by spring, if at all possible. If it is not completed and you are accepted, keep in mind you may have additional GE courses to complete upon transfer.