Biology Department photograph montage

Obtaining approval for transfer courses for your Major (Equivalency Form)

If a SF State Biology student plans to use a course taken at another university to satisfy a Biology Major requirement, the student must have this approved by a Biology Advisor and the Chair of the Department of Biology.  The Equivalency Form is used to obtain permission from your major advisor to use a non-SFSU course as part of your major program.  Continuing students must consult with a major advisor well in advance to discuss every single class in the major that may be taken at another college, including courses in math, chemistry, biology, and physics.

This transfer to the major is a TWO STEP process. 

First, the University must approve the transfer. 

Second, the Department must approve the transfer.


Before the Department can consider accepting the course for major credit, the University must approve the transfer of the course, designated on the Advanced Standing Evaluation (ASE) (request ASE at One Stop Center) or the Degree Audit Report (DARS, download from MySFSU). More information on the DARS and ASE can be found at the Registrar's web site. Transfer students submit their transcripts prior to entering the University.  Approved courses are transferred for specified units as indicated on the ASE or DARS.

To determine equivalency of a transfer course, the the following resources may be of use:

Articulation web site

Lower Division Articulation chart

This chart shows which courses at Bay Area colleges transfer for lower division courses required for the SF State Biology degrees.  The information in the chart was obtained using the articulation web site.

UC Berkeley Extension courses: In general, we do not accept UC Berkeley Extension courses for use in the Biology major. We follow the same policy that UC Berkeley Biology programs follow: they do not accept UC Berkeley Extension courses (see policy here

For example, these introductory biology courses are NOT accepted: MCELLBI X15A, MCELLBI X15.1A, INTEGBI X15B, INTEGBI X15.1B.


Filling out the equivalency form:  The student enters the requested contact information on the top of the form.  Up to three courses may be listed for approval on one form.  For each course, indicate the transfer campus, the course number and title at the transfer campus, the number of units, and specify the semester or quarter when the course was taken, as well as the grade received.  Then, fill out the same information for the SFSU course.  The "important notes" below explains restrictions on how many units may be applied toward the major.

HOW TO OBTAIN Department Approval.

 If the transfer course is listed on the student's DARS report as equivalent to a majors course OR there is an existing articulation agreement listed on the articulation web site (, then the student is not required to meet with a Biology Advisor.  The student may fill out the Equivalency Form and submit it with  supporting documents to the Department of Biology for approval. Supporting documents include SF State Transcript, DARS report, Advanced Standing Evaluation (if the transfer campus is not a DARS campus) and the transcript showing the grade for the transfer course.  The student will drop off the form at HH534, and pick it up after it has been approved.  The student does not meet with the Chair of the Department.  If the form is not approved, the student will be directed to meet with a Biology Advisor.  The student must keep the approved equivalency form to submit with the graduation application.  Certainly, the student may choose to meet with your Biology Advisor for initial advisor approval (Path 2 below).

If the transfer course was not taken at a DARS campus, the transfer units appear on the Advanced Standing Evaluation once SF State accepts the units for transfer.  In this case, the student must meet with the Biology Advisor to confirm that a specific transfer course is equivalent to a majors requirement. The student must bring to the meeting with the Biology Advisor:

• a copy of his/her unofficial SF State transcripts

• a copy of his/her Advanced Standing Evaluation (ASE), and Degree Audit Report (if a transfer student)

• current course enrollment

• all supporting documentation to demonstrate course equivalency:

  1. If the course equivalency is shown on the articulation website, the student must print out this articulation agreement and attach the agreement to the Equivalency Form.
  2. If the course equivalency is to be based on the analysis of course materials by faculty, the course syllabus or course catalog description must be attached to the Equivalency Form.

Important notes:

  • Students cannot receive more units than the University has awarded on the ASE (or DARS) and cannot receive more units than the equivalent SF State course.
  • Semester and quarter units:  2 semester units = 3 quarter units.
  • Courses taken at a junior college (two-year college) can fulfill ONLY LOWER DIVISION REQUIREMENTS. However, such course work may be given "content only" credit if the course work is deemed equivalent to an SF State upper division course. Upper division units must be made up by taking additional upper division major elective(s).

Once a Biology Advisor has approved the form, the student submits the form to the Department of Biology for approval by the Chair of the Department. The student does not meet with the Chair of the Department. The student picks up the form (typically within two days) from the Department after it has been approved.

Transfer students must meet with their Biology Advisor and obtain both Advisor and Departmental Approval during their first two weeks at SF State.  Continuing students must obtain approval of their transfer courses as soon as the course appears on their DARS or ASE form.  Do not wait until you submit your graduation application for approval of your transfer courses, as they may not be accepted for transfer by the Department.

Note: It is the responsibility of the student to keep all Department-approved Equivalency and Substitution Forms to submit with the graduation application.


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