The Articulation Officer’s Key Role in Curriculum, General Education, and Transfer

ASCCC Area A Representative, Transfer, Articulation, and Student Services Committee Chair
Articulation Officer, Mendocino College

Articulation officers (AOs) in California community colleges are unsung heroes. They have essential knowledge and skills in navigating the world of transfer, including the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems. With new regulations regarding Ethnic Studies and legislation regarding Ethnic Studies, general education   (GE), and common course numbering, AOs need to be central in discussions of implementation.

AOs are often faculty members, many of whom are or previously were counselors, but colleges can also have AOs that are classified staff or administrators. The Minimum Qualifications for California Community Colleges Handbook lists no specific minimum qualifications for AOs. Local colleges can designate their own minimum qualifications, which often include understanding of transfer and articulation processes. Regardless of what role they hold in a college, AOs should be encouraged to be active participants in discussions of curriculum and transfer. AOs work together through the California Intersegmental Articulation Council to address issues of articulation. They are also appointed by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges to statewide committees on transfer and curriculum.

The work of an AO is often a mystery to those working in a community college.  From publishing courses on ASSIST [1], to requesting courses be added to the CSU GE Breadth program or Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC), most faculty and staff do not understand the cyclical nature of the work of an AO. From August through June of each year, the work of the AO is, in essence, year-round in the curriculum development process.  

August through May: Beginning with the first curriculum committee meeting of any given academic year, usually in August, the AO is a valuable consultant to faculty in the development and approval of the curriculum. Most curriculum workflows involve AO review. Most technical review committees have the AO as member. If a course is requested to have C-ID, UC Transfer Course Agreement, CSU GE Breadth, or IGETC certification, the AO provides feedback to ensure that the course conforms to the regulations in order to assist in its timely approval for the transfer attributes it is seeking to attain. During curriculum committee meetings, the AO serves as a resource to the committee when other committee members have questions about the transferability of a course.

Depending on local structure, AOs often maintain their colleges’ CSU Baccalaureate Level Course List on ASSIST. AOs can publish new courses on ASSIST after the courses have been approved by the local board of trustees.

December. Early December is a key timeline milestone in the cycle of the work of an AO. At this time, the AO finalizes the course submissions that are requesting CSU GE Breadth or IGETC consideration. The deadline for general education submission is usually the first or second Friday in December.  

April through June. Depending on the volume of courses submitted for CSU GE Breadth and IGETC review, GE decisions are usually released by the CSU Chancellor’s Office as early as mid-April through early June. At this time, the AO reports the GE decisions to affected stakeholders, such as counseling faculty, the curriculum committee, course authors, and others.  If the AO is tasked with updating the general education sheets, the AO can also update and disseminate those GE sheets for the upcoming year. Courses that are submitted in December are approved for the upcoming academic year. For example, courses submitted in December 2021 are, if approved, normally effective for Fall 2022.

June through August. The end of the academic year sees the last major deadline for AOs: the UC Transfer Course Agreement (TCA) submissions. Colleges are assigned a deadline of the 25th of either June, July, or August to submit courses that are requesting UC transferability in ASSIST. The UC Office of the President usually releases decisions several weeks after submission. Courses approved during the UC TCA cycle are backdated to have an effective term of the current Fall semester. For example, approved courses submitted June through August 2022 will have an effective term of Fall 2022.

Year-Round Activities. In between these major timelines, AOs consult with faculty during the curriculum development process. If a faculty member wants to create a new Associate Degree for Transfer or modify an existing one, the AO will walk the faculty through the transfer model curriculum (TMC) to show what courses are allowed to be included on the TMC, either through C-ID, Articulation Agreement by Major (AAM), General Education Certification Course list, or CSU Baccalaureate Level Course list.

If, to be added to the TMC, a course requires C-ID approval or requires articulation to a lower-division course in the major from a CSU, the AO will submit the course to C-ID or make an articulation request to the CSU.

Requests for articulation with four-year universities can occur at any time during the academic year. If gaps occur in articulation with the CSUs and UCs, the AO can submit a request to university partners to try to close those gaps in articulation to ensure a streamlined transfer to the universities.

AOs must also keep abreast of all the legislative and regulatory changes that will impact student transfer. More often than not, these changes may impact transfer curriculum development. Discipline faculty and educational administrators may invite AOs to meetings to discuss the implications of these legislative mandates.  

AOs play an important role on local curriculum committees. Whether the position is filled by a classified employee, certificated faculty, or a member of the administration, the AO plays a critical role as a consultant to the faculty during the campus’ curriculum approval process. On any curriculum committee, the AO provides an unbiased and objective voice that transcends departmental and discipline politics to serve as an advocate for student completion and transfer and to support the faculty in the curriculum process.  

During the curriculum review process, the AO supports the faculty’s development of courses by acting as an ambassador to the university system. In a role akin to a diplomat, the AO negotiates with faculty in the development of a course proposal or revision to ensure that it adheres to the standards and regulations of the CSUs and UCs. Doing so allows for a streamlined approval of a course’s transferability and approval for the CSU GE Breadth or IGETC. As an advocate for student completion and transfer, the AO ensures that courses proposed will serve to minimize unit bloat towards transfer or will be included in the students’ programs of study to maximize the value of the course towards the completion of the associate’s degree.      

The past two years have seen major legislative mandates that have impacted community colleges. AOs have taken a leading role in navigating these recent changes, from AB 1460 (Weber, 2020), which brought about CSU GE Area F Ethnic Studies, to AB 1111 on common course numbering (Berman, 2021) and AB 928 (Berman, 2021), the singular transfer general education pattern.

Since the early implementation stages of CSU GE Area F in December 2020, AOs have been the heart of the work in trying to navigate CSU requirements and getting courses approved so students can complete general education requirements at their community colleges. AOs have been navigating between their local community colleges and the CSU system. In addition, with AO advocacy, the CSU Chancellor’s Office and the UC Office of the President have announced that courses that were approved for CSU GE Area F Ethnic Studies will automatically receive approval for IGETC Area 7 Ethnic Studies when it launches in the Fall of 2023.

Once guidance is published regarding AB 928 and AB 1111, AOs should be central in the discussion of local implementation of the singular GE pattern and common course numbering.  With AB 928, AOs are familiar with the nuanced differences between the CSU GE Breadth and IGETC standards. They have provided feedback through ASCCC surveys and have been at the center of this conversation at the state level through the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates. If the proposed CalGETC, the GE pattern developed in response to AB 928, comes to fruition, AOs can support affected stakeholders as to how to transition their campus’ GE patterns to align with the new requirements.

AOs play a central and essential role on college campuses. Their work is often hidden in the shadows but impacts every student who wishes to transfer. Their expertise in transfer and navigating the CSU and UC systems makes them invaluable contributors to discussions of transfer, curriculum, and general education. Their knowledge and skills will be essential in navigating recent system changes.

[1] is the official statewide database and online resource that shows prospective California transfer students how courses they complete at a community college may be used to satisfy elective, general education and major requirements at a CSU or UC campus.