CSE Capped Admissions Program

Updated: September 9th, 2020

Thank you for your interest in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at UC San Diego. Students who were not admitted directly to UC San Diego as a CSE major can contact the UC San Diego Undergraduate Admissions Office with any questions regarding their assigned major or the appeal process. The CSE Department does not play a role in any portion of the undergraduate admissions review of applicants. Once a student matriculates at UC San Diego, the only way to change into one of the majors in the CSE Department from another major outside of our department is to go through our CSE Capped Admissions Program.  Please be advised that switching into the CSE major is a highly competitive process and there are no guarantees you would be able to major in CS even after going through the CSE Capped Admissions Program. 

What to do if you are not accepted into one of the CSE majors? See our Exploring Path to CS Career webpage 

Spring 2020 Grading Option Policies for Prospective CSE Majors

Spring 2020 UC San Diego FAQ's regarding P/NP

Currently declared CSE Majors: 

  • All currently enrolled students already in a CSE major must submit their request to change into another CSE major through the Major/Minor Tool  (requests are processed monthly except during summer)

  • Newly admitted UCSD CSE majors will need to wait until they are enrolled in courses in order to submit a change of major request using the Major/Minor Tool

  • CS-Bioinformatics (CS27) became impacted in FA14. CS27 majors who entered the program before FA14 who wish to change from CS with Specialization in Bioinformatics (CS27) to Computer Science (CS26) or Computer Engineering (CS25) must apply competitively for a spot through the CSE Capped Admissions Application

  • CSE Majors who intend to double major may NOT drop their CSE major to accept their offer into their secondary major. Come in and meet with an advisor before dropping your CSE Major. Once a student leaves the CSE Major, they will not be able to re-add the major unless they go through the CSE Capped Major Application Process which does not guarantee a student will be able to re-add.


CSE Capped Admissions Program Video: 


Non-CSE majors who are continuing enrolled undergraduate UCSD students: 

  • All non-CSE majors must apply to change into a CSE major through the MyJSOE Major Change Application

  • See MyJSOE Major Change Application for the timeline and all application deadlines. 

  • In the 2020-2021 academic year, requests to change into a CSE major will be open for Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 (55 students will be accepted each application cycle, with an anticipated yield of 50 students)

  • Be sure to read this webpage and the MyJSOE Major Change Application webpage material thoroughly (once an application is submitted, it may not be withdrawn for any reason)


Non-Major Advising

COVID-19 Update: We want to let you know that our CSE advisors are still here for you when you need us. However, to ensure we are doing our part to "flatten the curve" and keep you and our staff safe during this global pandemic, we are moving to remote advising until further notice. Prospective CSE majors may contact us via the Virtual Advising Center (vac.ucsd.edu) or csestudent@eng.ucsd.edu. We are offering advising appointments for prospective students which can be conducted via Zoom videoconference or phone. To schedule an appointment, please email csestudent@eng.ucsd.edu. If there are openings the day before the appointment, we will allow non-CSE Majors to book those time slots. We will not have staff in the office to monitor our phone lines starting Wednesday, March 18th, so please be sure to reach out to us via email only for an appointment. 


Eligibility Requirements to Submit an Application 

  • All of the following eligibility courses (or their accepted equivalent) must have been completed prior to application: CSE 8B or 11, CSE 12, CSE 15L, and CSE 20 (MATH 15A or MATH 109 may be substituted for CSE 20 if taken first). Courses must be completed with a letter grade. Eligibility courses taken outside of UCSD must be posted on a student's academic history by the time the application closes for students to meet eligibility requirements. Tentative grades, unofficial transcripts, or official transcripts submitted to directly the department will not be accepted in lieu of course credit on a student's academic history. 

  • If some or all of the eligibility courses listed above were completed with transfer credit from a different institution, students must still complete a minimum of eight units at UC San Diego for a letter grade, drawn from the following screening courses (or their approved petitioned equivalent) before submitting an application: CSE 8B or CSE 11, CSE 12, CSE 15L, CSE 20 (MATH 15A or MATH 109 will be substituted for CSE 20 if taken first), CSE 21, CSE 30, and CSE 100. 

  • Must have a minimum of a 3.3 UCSD GPA in the screening courses completed at UCSD (or their approved petitioned equivalents). All screening courses taken at UCSD will be used towards the CSE Screening GPA calculation.  

  •  May not have a D or F in any of the screening courses (unless the course has been retaken for a passing grade). 

  • May not exceed the 2-time CSE Capped Admissions Program application limit (each student may apply a maximum of two times for the opportunity to major in the CSE department through the CSE Capped Major Admissions Application).  Students who apply without meeting all eligibility requirements will be disqualified (application will be flagged as ineligible) and the application will count as one of the 2-time CSE Capped Admissions Program application limit.

  • Any course substitutions requiring a petition must be submitted to the CSE department no later than noon the Friday before the MyJSOE Major Change App opens

  • Students with 150+ units at the time of the application review will need to have submitted a quarter by quarter (QXQ) plan for their remaining requirements to be reviewed by the CSE department and their college. QXQ plan must be emailed to csestudent@eng.ucsd.edu no later than the capped major application deadline. 

    • Students may submit their application but will not be offered a seat until a college advisor has reviewed and approved the student's QXQ plan.

    • Approval from the college will be needed before the department's decision deadline. Students who cannot complete the CSE major requirements within the university term limits (6 terms for transfer students, 12 terms for students who start here as freshmen) may be considered ineligible for the CSE Capped Admissions Program and may not be approved to switch into the major.

    • 150 unit cap includes all credit, including AP and IP credit

  • Students will be notified via Virtual Advising Center with the decision


Application Process

  • Eligible students may apply using the MyJSOE Major Change Application.  

  • Eligible students who have not exceeded the two-time application limit and meet the 3.3 GPA cutoff for screening courses, UCSD 8 unit residency requirement in CSE courses, and approved quarter by quarter plan (QXQ plan needed for students with 150+ units) will be populated onto an Excel sheet. Each student is then randomly assigned a number using Excel's random number generator.  Students are then sorted by their assigned number from highest to lowest number. The students with the 55 highest assigned numbers are offered a seat in the CSE department (55 seats offered with an anticipated yield of 50 students). 

  • In the message you receive informing you of the department's decision, we will explain what the next steps are if you were or were not approved to declare the major.


If you are interested in the computational and data sciences, but do not receive admission to the CSE department, there are several excellent alternate choices available at UC San Diego. 

This CSE webpage only describes how to apply for a CSE major.  To discuss any of the below major requirements, we recommend contacting the appropriate department OR visit computingpaths.ucsd.edu  for information on the array of all the Computational Sciences offered at UCSD.

We also recommend you visit the Career Services Center and your College Adviser to discuss your academic and career goals.  Use their resources to identify majors that may be a good fit for you and explore them. 



What does Capped Major status mean?

Capped Major status means that there is a cap on the number of students who can declare the major. There will be spaces available in the major for incoming freshmen, transfer students from other institutions, and continuing UCSD students who wish to change into the CSE major. Students admitted to UCSD but not directly into one of the CSE majors will have to go through our CSE Capped Admissions Program.   

Which CSE majors are Capped Majors?

All of the CSE undergraduate majors are impacted for incoming and continuing students. See UCSD's Capped Majors web page for a list of all UCSD majors that are impacted, including other majors in the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Why is the CSE major capped?

The field of computer science is experiencing an explosion of growth not seen before, and the number of students wishing to major in the field has reached all-time highs.  The Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) is committed to providing an excellent education and learning environment for our students. To achieve this goal, we must assure students have access to the faculty and courses they need to thrive. Since a quality education and timely progress to graduation are thwarted by a disproportionately large student body, UCSD has made the difficult decision to implement Capped Major status.

Why was the continuing student admission policy changed? Why is GPA ranking not sufficient for the application process?

Initial admissions decisions  are made by the Office of Admissions at the time of admission to the university. Our CSE Capped Major Admissions Program is meant to offer a 2nd chance for all students accepted into the university that did not have the scores required by the Office of Admissions to be admitted to directly to our program (our department has no part in deciding who is admitted to our program at the time of admission to the university). 

The CSE Capped Major Admissions Policy rationale clearly outlines why GPA ranking alone does not work for the Capped Major Admissions Program in the CSE department.

What courses will be used to calculate the GPA for the change of major application? 

All of the following screening courses that have been taken at UCSD (or their approved petitioned equivalent taken at UCSD) will be used to calculate the GPA for the change of major application: CSE 8B or 11, CSE 12, CSE 15L, CSE 20 (or MATH 15A or MATH 109), CSE 21, CSE 30, and CSE 100.

Does my GPA in the screening courses impact my chances of getting accepted into the major? 

All students with a 3.3 GPA or higher in the CSE screening courses are considered competitive and have an equal opportunity for being accepted into the major. 

I received transfer credit from my previous institution for a CSE eligibility criteria course.  Can I repeat this course at UC San Diego and use my UC San Diego grade and/or units towards the CSE major application?
  • Repeating a course at UC San Diego, in which transfer credit has already been assigned, is considered duplicate credit (won't count towards UC San Diego GPA/units).  
  • The CSE Department follows this same policy, so students cannot use duplicate credit towards the CSE major application. 
Is there a benefit to requesting one CSE major over another in the application? 

CSE will review applicants to all of our majors as one large pool. There is no advantage to requesting one major over another.  For this reason, select what is truly your First Choice CSE major.

What is the application process for double majors?

Students who are majoring in a non-CSE major and wish to double major with CSE as one of their majors must still apply to and be accepted into the CSE major through the CSE Capped Admission Program noted above. If accepted into the major, students will need to contact a CSE advisor through the Virtual Advising Center or during drop-in advising to inform us of the intention to double major before the student decision deadline or it is considered a decline. A double major petition will be required. 

For double majors, does CSE have to be my first major?

CSE does not have to be listed as your first major in order to double major. However, if CSE is not your first major you will not receive CSE Major Priority for courses with a waitlist that require manual clearance. 

I was admitted into one of the CSE Capped Majors, changed to a major outside of CSE, and now wish to change back into CSE.  What should I do?
  • You will need to go through the CSE Capped Major Admissions Program noted above and all eligibility criteria must be met. 
  • Use the MyJSOE Major Change Application to submit the application for the change of major back to CSE.  
  • There is no guarantee you will be accepted back into the major.  
I was not admitted into one of the CSE Capped Majors at the time of admission and am currently Undeclared or other another major.   If I hope to change into a CSE major in a future quarter, what should I do prior to applying?
  • Can CSE be your "backup plan?"  Explore open majors -- is there one that meets your academic and career goals?  
  • Enroll in the CSE courses that are required to meet eligibility requirements for applying to the major (see above).
  • Consider your academic level.  Normally we recommend that students change into the CSE major by Fall quarter of their junior year, at the latest.  Also, the colleges may block a change of major for students with advanced standing.
  • Did you earn strong grades in CSE courses?  Have you developed a real interest for the field?  If the answer to both is "Yes!", then you should proceed with the application process (see above).
  • If you have already tried applying to the CSE major twice and were not accepted, you should meet with your college advisor and the Career Center advisors to discuss your options moving forward. 
  • Students who complete the required screening courses will have already completed a portion of the CS26 minor requirements. We recommend you consider a minor in CS26 as an alternate option (only if you are not a major in another JSOE major, MA30, or DS25).
Will CSE courses remain open to all majors?

We will make as many seats available as possible for non-CSE majors, especially in the screening courses that are required for application to the major (see above).   We offer the CSE screening courses every quarter, so do not lose hope if you do not get a seat the first quarter you try!  Work with your College Adviser to decide what General Education courses you could take instead, or take a course in another major you are contemplating.  See also Enrolling in CSE Courses.

Upper division CSE courses may be restricted to CSE majors, but non-CSE majors will be allowed to enroll as space permits (after CSE majors have had the opportunity to enroll). An enrollment authorization request may be required. 

How many students will be accepted into the Capped Majors?

The number of continuing students accepted can vary from year to year. At the start of the UC Admissions cycle each year, CSE and the campus will determine the target number of new majors to be drawn from freshmen admissions, transfer admissions, and continuing UCSD students petitioning to change into CSE.

What are my odds of being accepted into a CSE major?
  • The odds will vary from quarter to quarter, which will depend on: 
    • How many students are being accepted that quarter? 
    • How many eligible applicants are there in the quarter? 
  • The odds of getting into the major should not be your focus!  Focus on setting your long-term goals for academic and career development.  Explore the many options you have for attaining them. Learn to manage expectations, and to be resilient, resourceful, adaptable, and creative! Resources included College Advisors, Computing Paths  , Career Services Center, and CAPS. And remember, a CSE degree is NOT required to pursue a career in computer science. 
Historical Applicant Information


Summer 2020

Spring 2020

Summer 2019

Spring 2019

Summer 2018

Spring 2018








Eligible Applicants