Updated: February 20th, 2024
Please note: UC San Diego has updated the Capped Major program to the Selective Majors program.
Thank you for your interest in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at UC San Diego. 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 Selective Major Application Process. There is no appeal process for changing to a selective major. Please be advised that the number of available spots in the CSE majors is constrained by the available resources. There are no guarantees you would be able to major in CS as a result of the CSE Selective Major Application Process.
For the Summer 2024 cycle, there were not any spots available. The JSOE Application for the CSE Selective Major Application process was not available for students to apply in Summer 2024 for this reason.
Beginning with the Summer 2025 application cycle, students will be able to apply to this major once per year (between Summer and Fall quarters). Note that space will be limited and acceptance to this major is not guaranteed.
What to do if you are not accepted into one of the CSE majors? See our Computing Paths website.
The CSE Selective Major Application Has Changed
This new application process went into effect in Fall 2022 (the first application cycle under the new process was in Summer 2023). Starting in Fall 2022, the incoming CSE class is growing and it will be hard (if not impossible) for students to switch into CSE majors if they are not admitted directly.
View the application process (below) for more information on how to apply once you're eligible.
If you have questions after reviewing the information below, please contact CSE Advising for assistance.
SUMMER 2023 + LATER APPLICATION CYCLES
- 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
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 Selective Major Application Process which does not guarantee a student will be able to re-add.
- Non-CSE majors/Continuing enrolled undergraduate UCSD students:
The CSE department will be increasing the number of students admitted directly into a CSE major as a first-year direct admit or transfer, while mostly eliminating the number of spots available for late switches to the major. The department does not anticipate that there will be any spots available beyond those used for these direct admissions. For more information, please review the full CSE Selective Major process change rationale.
All UCSD students who were admitted to UCSD, but were not admitted to one of the CSE majors directly by the Office of Admissions must apply to change into one of the majors in the CSE department through the MyJSOE Major Change Application
- See MyJSOE Major Change Application for the timeline and all application deadlines
- For the Summer 2023 cycle, there were not any spots available. The JSOE Application for the CSE Selective Major process was not available for students to apply in Summer 2023 for this reason.
- In future academic years, the CSE Selective Major Application will only be open once per year in Summer. The next application after Summer 2023 will be in Summer 2024.
- 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)
- Eligibility Requirements to Submit an Application
A minimum of 8 units of screening courses must have been completed at UC San Diego prior to application: CSE 8B or 11, CSE 12, CSE 15L, CSE 20 (MATH 15A or MATH 109 may be substituted for CSE 20 if taken first), CSE 21 (or MATH 154 or MATH 184), CSE 30, and CSE 100. Courses must be completed with a letter grade. Equivalent transfer coursework will not count toward the eligibility requirement.
Must have a minimum of a 3.0 UCSD GPA in the screening courses completed at UCSD. All screening courses taken at UCSD will be used towards the CSE Screening GPA calculation (as long as the course carries units of credit awarded - e.g. not retaking courses the student already has equivalent credit for).
May not have a D or F in any of the screening courses (unless the course has been retaken for a passing grade). Students also may not have any outstanding grades for the screening courses or any reason (i.e Incompletes, pending Academic Integrity case, etc).
Applicants must be in Good Academic Standing.
Applicants may only apply to CSE once. Any subsequent applications will be deemed ineligible. Students who apply without meeting all eligibility requirements will be disqualified (application will be flagged as ineligible), and the application will count as their one CSE Selective major application.
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 submitted no later than the selective 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 CSE Selective Major Application and may not be approved to switch into the major.
150 unit cap includes all credit, including AP and IB credit
Information on how to submit your QXQ plan:
Create an Academic Plan using Degree Planner Tool, label the plan "SU23 CSE Selective Major"
Send a message to CSE advising through the Virtual Advising Center (VAC, vac.ucsd.edu) to let us know you have created the plan and it is ready for advisor review
Monitor your email daily for a message regarding your Academic Plan in case there are any questions or updates are needed
Students will be notified via Virtual Advising Center with the decision
IMPORTANT ACADEMIC INTEGRITY NOTE: Students with outstanding AI cases or incompletes in CSE screening courses will NOT be eligible for the CSE Selective Major application. The case will need to be resolved to be eligible to apply. It is a student's responsibility to not apply if they do not meet all of the eligibility requirements.
- Application Process
The CSE department will determine the total number of spots available to fill through the Selective Major Application.
Most years, we do not forecast there being any spots available beyond those used for these direct admissions. For the Summer 2023 cycle, there were not any spots available. The JSOE Application for the CSE Selective Major process was not available for students to apply in Summer 2023 for this reason.
Students may apply using the MyJSOE Major Change Application.
Students applying to switch to a CSE major will be populated onto an Excel sheet. Students will then be sorted into 2 subgroups:
- Students who did not declare a computing-related major and who have never been in a computing-related major at UCSD. We define a computing-related major to be any of the following majors: CS25, CS26, CS27, EC26, BI34, BE28, CG33, CG35, DS25, and MA30. We define a student declaring a major to mean that major was declared on their application to UCSD as their first or second choice.
- All other students.
Within each subgroup, 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 (that is, who have not exceeded the one-time application limit and meet the 3.0 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).
The CSE department will offer spots to students until all available spots are filled, starting with the highest numbered students in subgroup 1. In the rare case that spots are still available after all subgroup 1 students have been extended an offer, the CSE department will offer a spot to students in subgroup 2, starting with the highest number, until all available spots are filled.
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.
- Alternative CS Options
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.
- 2020-2021 Grading policies
CSE eligibility/screening courses taken in 2020-2021 academic year must still be taken for a letter grade. The capped major eligibility requirements include having a minimum 3.3 screening GPA, which we are unable to properly calculate if students take their eligibility/screening courses for Pass grades. However, if you do not do well in a class (D or F) due to current circumstances, you are still able to change your grading option to P/NP grading option before the grading option deadline and retake the course in a future quarter for a letter grade (where you can show that you are able to successfully grasp the required course content and do well in future coursework).
- All eligibility courses taken in Fall 2020, Winter 2021, and Spring 2021 still must be completed for a letter grade (no exceptions) - this includes CSE 8B (or CSE 11), CSE 12, CSE 15L, and CSE 20
- Students who do choose to take a Pass grade in screening courses that exceed the eligibility requirements (e.g. CSE 21, CSE 30, and CSE 100) will have the GPA points for a C- attached to the P grade (1.7) calculated into their CSE screening GPA (only for the CSE Capped Major Application; not for official university GPA, major GPA, transcripts, etc).
- Spring 2020 Grading Policies
CSE MAJOR APPLICATION INFORMATION - Q & A
- What does Selective Major status mean?
Selective Major status means that there is a maximum 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 Selective Major Application process.
- Which CSE majors are Selective Majors?
All of the CSE undergraduate majors are impacted for incoming and continuing students. See UCSD's Selective 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 a selective major?
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 Selective Major status.
- 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 3.0 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 Selective Major Application process 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 Selective 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 Application process 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.
- How should I prepare for the CSE Selective Major application process?
In addition to preparing to meet the eligibility requirements (see above), consider the following...
- Explore open majors -- is there one that meets your academic and career goals?
- 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 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 Selective 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?
- Keep in mind that with the new application process (starting in Summer 2023), the CSE department does not anticipate that there will be any spots available through the CSE Selective Major Application Process
- For the Summer 2023 cycle, there were not any spots available. The JSOE Application for the CSE Selective Major application process was not available for students to apply in Summer 2023 for this reason.
- The odds of getting into the major should not be your focus! Instead, 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.
- The odds will vary from quarter to quarter, which will depend on:
- I was not accepted in to one of the CSE majors. Now what do I do?
There are many excellent academic programs on campus to consider. Please see your college advisor for resources about next steps. The campus-wide Computing Paths website has stories and advice from alumni and students in many programs.
- What about pursuing an Individual Major with CSE coursework?
- Each college offers an individual major for a B.A. degree; Revelle College offers a B.A. and B.S.
- Some students who want to bypass our CSE Capped Major process attempt to declare an individual major with CSE coursework. Students who have declared an Individual Major within their college will NOT receive priority for CSE courses that are restricted to specific majors.
- Although creating an Individual Major is something that the colleges allow, when it comes to CSE coursework being included, the department policy is that our faculty deny the request to sponsor the student. The reason being is that most of our upper-division courses are restricted to CSE majors, so it would be difficult for a student to graduate on time because they would NOT receive priority in our major restricted courses.
- Historical Applicant Information