Writing "a-g" courses

Tips and techniques

Read the subject area course criteria.

Not all courses will meet the University’s criteria for “a-g” certification. Before beginning the “a-g” course development and submission process, please review the subject area course criteria to ensure that the curricular content of your course meets the objectives and requirements of the respective subject area. The course criteria for the seven “a-g” subject areas was developed by the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) which is a committee of the University's Academic Senate and includes faculty representatives from each UC campus.

Become familiar with all aspects of the “a-g” subject area course criteria. Look out for requirements specific to each subject area. Some subject areas require courses to include appropriate pre- or co-requisite work, substantial reading and writing, laboratory activities and relevant information addressing the goals of the subject area.

Focus on course content.

Your submitted course description should emphasize the core knowledge and skills students are expected to learn, including concepts, theory and texts. Provide adequate detail about the content, outlining and describing major themes, topics and sub-topics. There should be clear evidence of the level of rigor of the course and the development of essential critical thinking skills.

Explanation of major assignments, instructional methods and assessment tools should include the intent and significance of each, in addition to a general description.

For courses that integrate academic and career-technical content, provide a detailed description of the academic and technical content in your course submission. Discuss how the career-technical content is used as a strategy to deepen understanding of theoretical concepts and brings the curriculum to life through real-world applications.

Be specific and detailed.

All sections of your course submission should be expository in nature. Bulleted lists of topics, assignments, instructional methods and assessment tools do not provide our subject area analysts adequate insight into the content, intent and rigor of the curriculum. UC expects to see information that shows specific, detailed evidence of the academically challenging content and use of essential skills and habits of mind.

Write to your audience.

Just as you advise your students - write to your audience. Keep in mind that your audience is the High School Articulation unit and UC faculty. Include relevant information that would assist those reviewing the course and provide UC a better understanding and clarity about the intent of the curriculum. Recognize that UC is looking for breadth and depth of the content and rigor, and evidence of the development of essential analytical and critical thinking skills.

If appropriate, provide a context for the course so that the subject area analysts understand how the course fits into broader school reform efforts, programs, pathways and students’ needs.

Presentation is important.

UC may ask for different and more specific information than what may be typically submitted to a school board. Review and use the course description templates for each subject area to ensure that all pertinent information is prepared and included in the submitted course content description.

Use formats, text and jargon that are easy to read and understand. The Online Update website cannot accept all symbols, fonts and table formats. Irregular text and formatting makes it harder for our analysts to properly assess a course’s content for “a-g” approval.

Resources and tools

Course content description templates

These templates are a helpful guide when preparing a new course for “a-g” review. The templates provide the course information required for all new course submissions. Separate templates are available for each subject area.


Sample courses

UC provides examples of course descriptions to assist in the development and preparation of a course for submission. These sample courses illustrate the type of course information and level of detail our subject area analysts are looking for in a course submission.


Course evaluation guidelines

The course evaluation guidelines are used by our subject area analysts when reviewing courses for “a-g” approval. The guidelines provide the criteria for each section of the new course submission form and provides suggestions on how a course can demonstrate that it meets all required components.


Workshops and webinars

The High School Articulation unit hosts free online trainings and hands-on workshops focusing on developing, preparing and submitting courses for “a-g” approval. Archived presentations and webinars are also available.