Political Science

Semester Conversion

In fall 2018, Cal Poly Pomona converted from the quarter system to the semester system. This page serves as guidance for students who began their degree in quarters, this page will be discontinued at the end of spring 2023. 

In 2013, after conversations and reports by the six Cal State campuses on quarters, then CSU Chancellor Timothy White and the CSU Board of Trustees determined all CSU campuses would convert to semesters. Each department at the university transformed their curriculum from three 10-week quarters (Fall, Winter, Spring) into two 15-week semesters (Fall, Spring). Your faculty in the department spent over FIVE YEARS planning and executing this transition. 

Helpful Tools for Conversion

In planning for semester conversion, check out these helpful links:

  • PLS Conversion Guide: This guide is a complete list of our courses and their equivalents under semester (as of 4/27/18).
  • PLS Quarter-to-Semester Comparison Worksheet: This worksheet allows you to view the quarter and semester curriculum on the same page, helping you determine if you should remain on the quarter curriculum or switch to semesters (as of 4/27/18).
  • PLS Conversion Flyer: A helpful flyer that walks you through semesters. 

How many courses should I take in semester?

Full-time students should plan to take 5 courses each semester. Semester courses are worth 3 units each, thus the standard load for a semester is 15 units. This is a shift from quarters where the standard full-time load was 4 courses per quarter (and some students even took 3 courses in a quarter). However, in order to graduate in four years in a semester system, one should enroll in 5 courses each semester. This sounds strenuous, but when you compare quarters to a semester system, each individual course will have less contact hours per week. Each individual week in a semester course should be a somewhat smaller load than each individual week in a quarter course. You make up that small difference in an extra 5 weeks of the semester.

How will the political science degree be different in semesters?

The principal difference rests in the units needed to graduate. In Fall 2018, the Degree Progress Reports shifted to using semester units. Prior to conversion, most of our classes in the department had been offered in 4 quarter units. In a semester, our classes are now offered in 3 semester units. In our previous quarter curriculum, a student needed 180 quarter units to graduate. In the semester curriculum, a student now needs 120 semester units to graduate. 

Additionally, our new semester curriculum is not radically different than our old quarter curriculum. That is, the configuration of courses that you need to take in order to graduate will be similar under semesters. In the semester curriculum, students take an additional research methods course (PLS 3055) but are alleviated from having to take an Economics support course (EC 201 or 202). Also in quarters, students had to take four upper-division political science elective classes after completing upper-division work specific to the subfields. Under semesters, students only have to take two additional upper-division political science elective courses. 

You will have a choice to either remain on the curriculum requirements for the quarter you entered or to transition to the new semester curriculum requirements. Watch the video on understanding your curriculum sheets to see how this process is done. If you have already taken PLS 205, Economics 201, or Economics 202, it's probably best to stay on the quarter curriculum. 

How will General Education (GE) requirements be different in semesters?

. GE Areas A, B, and E have the same number of courses in quarters and in semesters. However, GE Area C has re-numbered to a new system. And GE Area D requires one less course in semesters than in quarters, as well as less units. 

How will my quarter courses count for my graduation requirements? 

On your degree progress report, each course will automatically convert from quarter units to semester units. To find out how many semester units you have completed, divide your quarter units by 1.5. To learn more, watch the video on understanding unit conversion.

Remember, you will need at least 120 semester units to graduate.

Are there additional resources available to help me plan to graduate?

Absolutely. Check out these resources: