Degree Planner Frequently Asked Questions
These frequently asked questions have been compiled to assist students as they navigate Degree Planner.
We anticipate that several reported issues will be resolved by December, 2020 as we continue to work with our vendor to install software patches.
I. Add Free Elective Button (Landing Page and Filters)
Issue: The "Add a Free Elective course" button on the landing page is not working. The filters for the "Add a Free Elective course" inside each term are not working except for one filter within the search bar.
Degree Planner is currently experiencing technical difficulties with the "Add Free Elective" button found on the landing page and within each term. While a fix is underway, we apologize for this inconvenience.
In the meantime, you can add Free Elective courses a different way:
1.) Check that the maximum units for the term is enough to allow you to add or move a course to that term.
2.) Instead of clicking the "Add Free Elective" button (shown in the image below), click "Open" to open the term.
- On the left-hand side of the new page, there should be another "Add Free Elective" button (shown in the image below). Click on this button.
- Filters should appear for adding courses. Unfortunately, the only filter currently working is the search bar on the far right of the page. Type the exact title of the course you want to add or just the prefix of a course and click "Apply." The course should appear with a "Select" button next to it, which will allow you to add the course.
II. Verify Path
Issue: Unnecessary alerts/warnings appearing when using "Verify Path."
"Verify Path" is occasionally triggering unnecessary alerts. You may receive a warning that a course is not satisfying the requirement you expected it to satisfy, even if the course is degree applicable.
If you have any questions about verification issues, please email us at email@example.com.
III. Locked Approved Elective
Issue: Student unable to move or unlock a course within "Unplanned Requirements."
Some students are experiencing an issue with an Approved Elective course being locked in the "Unplanned Requirements" category. Currently, we have no way of moving or unlocking the course.
For now, it might be best to add the Approved Elective course you planned to take as a Free Elective instead. This is a temporary solution to help us gather course demand data and allow you to complete your plans. However, when this bug is resolved, it is important that the placeholder Free Elective course that was added be replaced by the unlocked Approved Elective course.
*Please note that Degree Planner is a student planning tool and should not be relied upon for graduation purposes. You must check your Degree Progress Report regularly.
1. Find Degree Planner
Degree Planner is located in the Student Center. In your My Cal Poly Portal, your Student Center will appear on the left-hand side under your "My Apps."
Both Degree Planner and Schedule Builder are located in the Student Center under the "Academics" tab on the left-hand side of the screen.
2. Satisfy your compliance requirement and determine your status
All undergraduate degree-seeking students must meet the single compliance requirement each term to prevent receiving a delayed registration appointment penalty:
- Login Requirement - Log in at least once each term. The login window is between the end of Add/Drop for the current term and the end of Add/Drop for the next term (excluding summer). The Add/Drop deadline falls on the 8th business day of each term. Check important dates on the Office of the Registrar's Calendars and Deadlines page.
- Determine your login status - Your compliance indicator is visible in two places:
- View under the portal "Home" tab. This indicator is only visible immediately before each deadline.
- Desktop: The compliance indicator is located beside "My Apps."
- Mobile: The compliance indicator is visible in the list of tools under "Home."
- View within PolyProfile beneath "Planned Courses." Your planning activity is captured on the day of the deadline, and you are able to view your compliance status throughout the term.
- View under the portal "Home" tab. This indicator is only visible immediately before each deadline.
3. Adjust the number of units in a term
Degree Planner is universally programed to load each term with a maximum of 18 units.
To change the number of units:
- Go to the desired term and expand "Term Details" or select the "OPEN" button
- Click on "Edit" and update/save the new unit max
4. Add a course to your plan
Degree Planner imports all course requirements directly from your Degree Progress Report. You should not add a course to your plan using the "Add Free Elective" button unless the course is intended as a Free Elective [for possible exceptions, see also "Prepare for an Individualized Change of Major Agreement (ICMA) or undeclared concentration/minor" or "Plan courses for an Individualized Course of Study (ICS)" in Troubleshooting below].
Sometimes you will need to locate a course in your plan in order to move it to a different term. See the next two questions for instructions on finding courses within your plan and for more information about planning Free Electives.
5. Determine where a course is planned/Print Path
Because all courses in your declared program of study are imported into Degree Planner, you may want to find where courses exist in your plan in order to move them to different terms. There are two methods to view all courses within your plan:
- Expand Requirements:
- Print Path - "Print Path" is a printable version of your plan that also contains other information about your past courses, required General Education courses, unplanned requirements, and requirement options within your major. To view, click the "More" button (3 dots) in upper right-hand corner and select "Print Path":
6. Add a Free Elective course
Degree Planner calculates your Free Electives and adds the estimated number of required courses to your plan. The system provides an alert if you will be deficient in total units for graduation:
Degree Planner is a student planning tool and should not be relied upon for graduation purposes. Check your Degree Progress Report regularly.
There are two methods for adding Free Electives:
- Find a Free Elective in your plan (see previous question for instructions on finding courses). Free Electives are designated with a letter "E" symbol beside them. Move courses to the desired term (see next question) or keep the Free Elective in the existing term. Then click "Select a course":
- Add a Free Elective to any term by clicking on "Add a Free Elective course (if needed)." Free Electives added by you will automatically adjust the number of Free Electives in your plan:
*NOTE: Only use the "Add a Free Elective course" button to add a Free Elective [for potential exceptions, see also "Prepare for an Individualized Change of Major Agreement (ICMA) or undeclared concentration/minor" or "Plan courses for an Individualized Course of Study (ICS)" in Troubleshooting below].
7. Move a course/requirement to a different term
Find the course (or requirement) you want to move and click the "More" button (3 dots) or click on "Edit Course" and select "Move":
When a course (or requirement) is moved to a new term, it becomes "locked" in that term.
8. Lock/unlock a course/requirement
Once you move a course/requirement to a new term, it is automatically locked by the system:
A lock prevents the system from moving the course/requirement when your plan refreshes (see next question regarding what triggers a path refresh).
To move or unlock a course/requirement, click on the "More" (3 dots) button and select "Unlock":
Tip: When planning an upcoming term, you can lock courses you intend to keep and move unwanted courses out. Locked courses are preserved unless your final registration contradicts your plan and triggers a refresh.
9. Understand what triggers your plan to refresh
The Notifications Center in the upper right-hand corner will alert you about changes to your plan and summarize the changes after your path refreshes.
A path refresh can be triggered by universal curriculum/course changes or by your personal academic status. The following is a list of factors that can impact your plan:
- Universal course change (prerequisites, term typically offered, etc.)
- Universal curriculum change (requirement update for your catalog and program of study)
- Personal registration update (if actual enrollment deviates from original plan)
- Personal transfer work posts to your Degree Progress Report
- Personal program of study change
- Personal failed course
When any of the above occurs, Degree Planner will automatically refresh your path the next time you log in. This refresh may shuffle the position of the planned courses in your path and move requirements to an earlier or later term.
See previous question regarding how to prevent the system from moving a course out of a desired term (lock) during a subsequent refresh.
10. Choose/change a course within a requirement option
Some requirements contain options and require IMMEDIATE attention in order to ensure the best user experience.
NOTE: If you delay selecting an option, other requirements may display in the "Unplanned Requirements" column (instead of in the terms of your plan) because that option contains a prerequisite course for subsequent requirements.
If applicable, you will see option choices displayed within an "Option" column on the landing page:
Selecting an option will prompt the system to add the corresponding course choices to terms within your plan (note that you are unable to make course selections here):
To select a course for an option, you must first find your selected option within your path. Remember that the option is placed within a term after you make your option choice (for instructions on finding requirements within your path, see "Determine where course is planned/Print Path" in Getting Started):
11. Alert Cal Poly if you will not attend a term
Complete the Cal Poly Undergraduate Informal Time Off form. For questions or support, contact a Retention Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adjust your term units to zero to signal that you will be away (see next question regarding study abroad/transfer courses):
- Go to desired term and expand "Term Details" or select the "OPEN" button
- Click on "Edit":
- Set the maximum number of units for the term to zero (0) and update/save:
If you intend to be absent for a year, click on "Options" (3 dots) and select "Clear Year." If you select "Clear Year," the unit maximum for each term in that year will be set to zero (0):
12. Start planning as an admitted transfer student
Your transfer records will need to be processed before you attend your first term at Cal Poly. Once your transfer transcripts have been thoroughly reviewed, you will receive an email from the Evaluations Unit of the Office of the Registrar (email@example.com) indicating that your transcript evaluation is complete and your Degree Progress Report (DPR) is ready to be viewed.
Please WAIT until you receive this notification from Evaluations to begin using your Degree Planner. If you view your Degree Planner before your transfer records have been thoroughly evaluated, you may see inaccuracies in your plan.
13. Plan for study abroad or transfer courses
If you anticipate that a requirement will be met by a study abroad course, plan the corresponding Cal Poly course in Degree Planner. Plan the course in the term you will study abroad.
14. Remove a course/requirement
You are able to exclude a course (or requirement) in your plan.*
To prevent a course/requirement from appearing in your plan, follow these steps:
- Find the course/requirement, click on "More" (3 dots), and select "Remove":
- The course/requirement will be moved to "Unplanned Requirements" and automatically locked:
*NOTE: Removing a course/requirement can result in issues if it is a prerequisite for additional courses/requirements in subsequent terms. Please plan accordingly. It may be preferable to leave a course/requirement in your plan if removing it results in problems.
15. Reset path
The "Reset Path" option clears all previous planning activity.
To reset your path, click on "More" (3 dots) in the upper right-hand corner and select "Reset Path":
*NOTE: Any previously selected courses will be lost and will require your attention.
16. View course details
Check the prerequisites, term typically offered, and general description of a course using two methods:
- Click on the course where it appears within the plan on the landing page.
- Open the term and click on the course within the term.
*NOTE: For issues regarding term typically offered, see also "Plan a course in a term when the system determines the course is not offered" in Troubleshooting below.
17. Plan General Education requirements
Degree Planner will customize your GE requirement listings and display the appropriate GE Areas that align with your Cal Poly catalog and your major.
GE Areas that are satisfied by required major/support courses should NOT be planned in Degree Planner. Please verify the required GE Areas for your major by reviewing the GE section listed beneath your major in the Cal Poly catalog.
Follow these steps to plan a GE requirement:
"Select a course" will display courses from GE Areas required for your catalog/major:
View course details for a course within your GE list to verify the GE details of that course. You can open a course by clicking on the carrot:
18. Verify path
Use the green "Verify Path" button in the upper right-hand corner to check your path at the end of your planning session. This process runs your planned courses against your Degree Progress Report (DPR) to determine where courses align with requirements while verifying that nothing has been duplicated:
*NOTE: "Verify Path" does not run your planned courses against all degree requirements (GWR, USCP, residency requirements, etc.). You must review your Degree Progress Report regularly.
19. Use a supported browser
Please use Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to access Degree Planner. Using supported browsers will prevent potential performance issues.
20. Prepare for an Individualized Change of Major Agreement (ICMA) or undeclared concentration/minor
Only your currently declared program of study (major/concentration/minor) will be visible in your plan (see next question about planning your declared minor).
If your major requires a concentration and you have not yet declared one, you will see a block of Concentration Courses in "Unplanned Requirements." Seeing your Concentration Courses in "Unplanned Requirements" should serve as a reminder that you must declare your concentration.
Do not attempt to move the box into your plan. Instead, follow the instructions listed below.
Choose which action to take before an anticipated program of study change:
- Wait for courses in new program of study to appear in your plan. Your plan will automatically refresh to contain new requirements.
- Add courses that are not in your plan by using the "Add a Free Elective course" option until your program of study officially changes and prompts your plan to refresh.*
*NOTE: If you add courses using the Free Electives option, your plan must be adjusted once your program of study changes. The system will not recognize your Free Electives as required courses. Eliminate duplicate requirements in your plan by removing the Free Electives that are satisfying a repeated requirement (find where courses reside in your plan by using the "Print Path" option. Free Elective courses are designated with an "E" beside them).
21. Plan your declared minor
Only major/concentration requirements are added to terms in your Degree Planner. Minor course requirements will appear in the "Unplanned Requirements" column:
Once your minor is declared, move all minor courses/requirements out of "Unplanned Requirements" and place them in your desired terms (see "Move a course/requirement to a different term" in Getting Started above).
22. Plan your double major
Both of your majors will display in your plan title. However, only the primary major path courses/requirements will be automatically generated in your plan. Use the "Add a Free Elective course" option within terms to add courses for your non-primary major.
23. Prevent Degree Planner from adding more courses to a term
Degree Planner is universally programed to plan a maximum of 18 units each term. If you have a term planned and do not want Degree Planner to add more courses, you can update the maximum number of units in the term:
- Go to the desired term and expand "Term Details" or select the "OPEN" button
- Click on "Edit" and adjust the units to match your desired total
- Save your new maximum unit total
24. Plan a course in a term when the system determines the course is not offered
Departments forecast when courses will be offered. The data is stored in Degree Planner and enforced by the system (Degree Planner will warn you if you are planning a course in a term it is not typically offered).
View course details to check when a course is offered using either of these two methods:
- Click on the course where it appears within the plan on the landing page
- Open the term and click on the course within the term
The terms are visible at the top:
*NOTE: Sometimes departments offer courses during different terms than they intended. If you are certain that a course will be offered in a term that contradicts the offered information, you can move the course to your desired term and lock it (see "Lock/unlock courses" in Getting Started above). When you move the course, Degree Planner will still warn you that the course is not typically offered in that term.
25. Plan a course if a prerequisite is not met
Degree Planner enforces prerequisites based on requirement lines in the Degree Progress Report (DPR). You can progress to a subsequent requirement (versus course) once it is met. Therefore, once a substitution is fully processed and the requirement is met, Degree Planner will plan subsequent requirements that are dependent on that requirement prerequisite.
You will need to obtain a permission number when you register for a course without completing the prerequisite course.
It is possible to remove a required prerequisite course from your plan if you know it will be substituted (see "Remove Course" in Getting Started). However, removing a course can result in problems with planning subsequent courses, so it may not be the most favorable option.
26. Determine why multiple major requirements are appearing in the "Unplanned Requirements" column
Some requirements in your plan may contain options and require IMMEDIATE attention in order to ensure the best user experience:
If you delay selecting an option, requirements may display in the "Unplanned Requirements" column because an option contains a prerequisite course that is required for subsequent requirements. For more information about selecting options, see "Choose/change a course within a requirement option" in Getting Started.
27. Plan a repeat course
If you previously failed or withdrew from a course, find the course/requirement within your plan (see "Determine where a course is planned/Print Path" in Getting Started) and select the exact course you took previously for the same requirement.
If you passed a course but wish to retake it for a better grade, add the course as a Free Elective in Degree Planner (see "Add a Free Elective course" in Getting Started). Please speak with your advisor to learn more about Cal Poly's Grade Forgiveness Policy before retaking a course.
If you may not pass a current course and want to plan it in a future term, add the future course as a Free Elective during the interim before grades post. If you do not pass, you must then add the course under the proper requirement and delete the course you previously added as a Free Elective. If you pass, delete the Free Elective course you added.
28. Prepare for your switch to a Blended degree program
Blended students are not currently provided access to Degree Planner. In order to preserve your plan before you are locked out (when you transition to graduate student standing), you may want to print a copy of your plan (see "Determine where a course is planned/Print Path" in Getting Started above).
29. Plan courses for an Individualized Course of Study (ICS)
Nonspecific ICS course requirements appear within terms in your plan.
You will see a "Select a course" button beneath each requirement:
However, you are unable to plan courses for your ICS and will see this message after choosing "Select a course":
There is also a note explaining each ICS requirement:
View the note by clicking on the 3 dots ("More") option and selecting "Notes":
Selecting "Notes" will open this message:
Conclusion: You do not need to plan ICS courses. As your ICS courses are processed and display in the ICS section of your DPR, those corresponding placeholder requirements will vanish from your plan.
30. Plan an HNRS (honors) course to satisfy a degree requirement
Degree Planner defaults to add non-honors courses to your plan. If you intend to take the corresponding HNRS course to satisfy a requirement, leave the regular course in Degree Planner to prevent issues. Once you prepare to enroll using Schedule Builder, you can delete the regular course and manually add the corresponding HNRS course to your schedule for that term. First-year students are registered into HNRS 161 and HNRS 162 during block enrollment and can disregard planning for both courses.
31. Add courses to a summer term
Summer terms are universally set to contain zero (0) units. Adjust the units above zero to prompt the system to add courses:
*NOTE: Once the units are adjusted, Degree Planner will automatically add courses to your summer term.
32. Add required Topics courses
Topics courses appear in your plan. However, you are unable to specify the exact Topics course you intend to take.
*NOTE: Please disregard a warning message after "Verify Path" saying "You chose a course that satisfies one or more requirements, not just the one you were intending to satisfy."
33. Designate a different last term in your plan
There are a number of factors that can delay the last term in your plan, including:
- Too few units/courses planned in previous terms
- Courses toward the end of your plan are only offered in certain terms
- Transfer work has not been processed
- Wrong Expected Graduation Term (see next question)
You may need to check whether the above variables are impacting your plan.
34. Understand how terms are assigned in your plan
Degree Planner automatically displays five years of terms in your plan. This will often result in a plan that extends past your intended graduation term. Please note that courses are typically only planned for the number of terms that coincide with your flowchart, although there are exceptions (see next question). Once you are assigned an Expected Graduation Term (EGT), your plan will only extend until your EGT.
35. Adjust your Expected Graduation Term
Your Expected Graduation Term is assigned after you reach 72% degree completion (78% for Architecture and Landscape Architecture majors). Your progress is visible to you on the Academic Progress Gauge on PolyProfile. Once your Expected Graduation Term is assigned, it is visible to you in Degree Planner:
*NOTE: You are unable to add terms past your assigned Expected Graduation Term. To change your Expected Graduation Term, submit either a Notification of Earlier Expected Graduation Term or a Request to Extend Expected Graduation Term.