Prospective Students

Early Start Program

* * * Early Start Info Session! * * *

Learn about Early Start! Check out the Early Start Info Session Slides (PDF) from our May 19, 2021, live web presentation. Tip: To read presenter's comments, select the orange "Sticky Note" bubble icon in the upper left corner of some slides. Or, download and save the PDF to read comments in the right panel.


Overview

The Early Start Program is offered by all California State University (CSU) campuses for admitted first-time freshmen to better prepare them for college-level course work in mathematics/quantitative reasoning and/or written communication during the summer before their first year of college. The goal of Early Start is to increase students' readiness to successfully complete their college degree.

Student participation in Early Start is based on CSU multiple measures of academic placement as follows:

  • Participation in the Early Start Program is required for students needing academic support in math and/or writing (general education areas A2 and B4).
  • Students who are required to take Early Start will be expected to enroll in an Early Start Math or Early Start Writing course (but not both unless they want to) during the summer before the fall term begins.
  • For other students, participation in the Early Start Program is strongly encouraged/recommended. 

Log into the EARLY START PROGRAM PAGE through the student web portal of the CSU campus that admitted you to find out:

  • If you are exempt from, strongly encouraged/recommended or required to participate in the Early Start Program.
  • If you have qualified for an Early Start fee waiver based on your FAFSA and Estimated Family Contribution.

If you've been admitted to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) or if you're a "host" student from another CSU campus and want to take Early Start at CSUN, find login instructions at How to Enroll on this page. 

Details and Guidance

Select the topics below to find out which Early Start classes to take, where to take them, how to enroll and when to enroll. And check out the advantages of Early Start!

If after reviewing this information you have any questions, please contact CSUN Admissions and Records.

You can also visit the CSU systemwide website CSU Student Success to:

  • Understand the multiple measures used to assess your readiness for college courses
  • Estimate your placement into general education (GE) math and writing courses before May 3
  • View an all-campus CSU Early Start course listing

Best wishes as you prepare for your first semester at CSUN or another CSU campus!

Early Start Advantages

As a California State University, Northridge (CSUN) student who will take Early Start math or writing classes at CSUN, you will:

  1. Be better prepared for, and feel more comfortable in, your fall General Education (GE) writing or math courses (GE Subareas A2 and B4).
  2. Receive college-level credit for passing Early Start classes.
  3. Possibly skip a required math and/or writing course this fall, saving time:
    • Students who do well in ESM can take the next general education (GE) math course in the fall without a supplemental instruction (SI) class to go along with it.
    • Students majoring in STEM could potentially be placed into Pre-Calculus II or even into Calculus I for fall based on their proctored final assessment score in ESM. This opportunity could potentially save 11 units for STEM students.
    • Students who do well in ESW can enter the second half of their lower-division writing requirement class in the fall instead of starting with the first half.
  1. Receive an Early Start fee waiver IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE for financial aid and have an Estimated Family Contribution of $6,000 or less. If you wait until the fall, you’ll have to pay for the courses that are equivalent to ESM and ESW.
  2. Meet CSUN professors and other students, connect to the campus community, and transition more smoothly to your fall-term math and writing courses. See also Where to Take Early Start.

 

Participation and Exemptions

Participation

Student participation in Early Start is based on CSU multiple measures of academic placement for college-level general education (GE) math/quantitative reasoning and written communication courses. Multiple measures include high school course work, GPA, and/or test scores (CAASPP/EAP, SAT, ACT, AP, IB, and CLEP) if available. You will be exempt from, strongly encouraged/recommended, or required to take one or both Early Start classes based on these measures.

To find out if you need to take Early Start, log into the Early Start Program Page, as explained below at How to Enroll. CSUN's Early Start Program Page opens May 3, 2021. Note: To estimate your possible placement before May 3, you can use the CSU General Education Placement Estimator.

  • Location: If absolutely necessary, CSUN students may choose another CSU campus to take an Early Start class through June 11, 2021, 11:59 pm. However, taking Early Start at your home campus offers many advantages, and nearly all classes at all campuses are offered fully online this summer.
  • Deadline to enroll: Students attending CSUN this fall who need Early Start must enroll in an Early Start Math (ESM) or Early Start Writing (ESW) course by June 20, 2021, no later than the day before the class begins. Students attending another CSU campus this fall must enroll in CSUN's classes no later than June 16, 2021. See additional Key Dates below.

Early Start Exemptions

The following first-time freshmen will not be required to participate in CSUN’s Early Start Program:

  • Students who have already fulfilled college-level written communication and/or mathematics/quantitative reasoning requirements
  • Students who are deemed ready for college-level mathematics/quantitative reasoning and/or written communication without additional academic support
  • Students who are deemed conditionally ready for college-level courses
  • International students
  • Residents of states other than California
  • Students who qualify for admission through the CSUN EOP Program
  • Students enrolled in CSUN's MARC/MBRS Math and Language Arts Summer Enrichment Program
  • Students enrolled in CSUN's Student Athlete Summer Success Program
  • Students admitted to CSUN after May 28, 2021.

Services for Students with Disabilities: Students who believe they should be exempted from the Early Start requirement because of a disability need to contact CSUN's Disabilities Resources and Educational Services (DRES) or our National Center on Deafness (NCOD).

Resources

Fees, Financial Aid and Waivers

Fee Rates

Early Start courses offered at any of the CSU campuses will have the same fee rate.

  • The current fee is $191 per semester unit and is subject to change based on approved fee increases.
  • An additional campus fee of $2.00 ($1 each for Health Facilities and Student Union) at any CSU campus is also required.
  • Some courses at other CSU campuses might charge an instructional materials fee.

Financial Aid and Fee Waivers

Early Start fee waivers are available for students demonstrating need. California residents who apply for financial aid by March 2, 2021 and have an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) of $6,000 or less may be eligible for a fee waiver for any course meeting Early Start Program requirements. The waiver does not cover the cost of textbooks if any are assigned.

Financial Aid Dates
2021-2022 Federal & California Financial Aid application (FAFSA) period beginsOctober 1, 2020
Priority consideration given to those who file FAFSA byMarch 2, 2021
Document deadline for on-time Fall 2021 financial aid*May 14, 2021 

*Find more CSUN Financial Aid Information and Urgent Financial Aid Dates.

Refunds

Important: Students are expected to verify placement and exemptions on the Early Start Program Page before classes begin. Refunds will not be granted for withdrawal from Early Start classes once they begin. In all other cases, summer session refund policies will apply.

Please contact the Tseng College (extended learning) with payment or refund questions.

Courses

Where to Take Early Start

You are strongly encouraged to complete the Early Start Program with your CSU "home" campus, the one you'll attend in the fall. By taking Early Start classes at your home campus, you will:

  • Meet professors and other students
  • Connect to the campus community
  • Ensure your Early Start courses line up with your home campus' general education plan
  • Transition more smoothly to your fall math and writing courses

If necessary, you may participate in the Early Start program offered at any other CSU campus. See the Early Start course listing for all CSU campusesCSUN home students who select a campus other than CSUN on the Early Start Program Page must do so no later than June 11, 2021.

Mode of Instruction

Most Summer 2021 Early Start classes at all CSU campuses are offered fully online. The classes do not require campus visits. 

CSUN Early Start math and writing courses will use the following fully online course types:

  • CSUN Early Start Writing (ESW) classes will meet fully online with class sessions held synchronously, that is, students must attend online at scheduled times with the instructor and other students.
  • CSUN Early Start Math (ESM) classes will meet fully online asynchronously. You do not need to attend online at scheduled times because course work is self paced. Tutoring is available.

Which Course(s) to Take

If the Early Start Program Page indicates that Early Start is required or recommended in both math and writing, you should select the class option that will better prepare you for your academic career at CSUN. If majoring in any of the following STEM-based disciplines, you should seriously consider enrolling in Early Start Math (ESM):

  • Environmental and occupational health
  • Kinesiology exercise science
  • Radiologic science
  • Science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM)
  • Exploratory major if you are interested in any of the fields listed above

CSUN first-time freshmen who are required to participate in Early Start Math (ESM) based on the Early Start Program Page must enroll in a 1-unit ESM course for either STEM or non-STEM majors. Students who are required to participate only in Early Start Writing (ESW) will take a 3-unit ESW class together with the 1-unit UNIV 61ESW supplemental instruction (SI) course concurrently.

CSUN freshmen should choose an Early Start course based on their intended major:

  • If you are planning to major in one of the STEM-based fields (see list above), you should take a section of ESM 196P that is designed for STEM majors.
  • Students who are Exploratory and considering a STEM major should take an ESM 196P section for STEM majors.
  • If you are a Business and Economics major who is required to take ESW and ESM, seriously consider taking ESM 196P for non-STEM majors.
  • If you are majoring in a non-STEM field and need Early Start Math, enroll in a section of ESM 196P for non-STEM majors.
  • If you need Early Start Writing, enroll in the ESW 113A + UNIV 61ESW pairing regardless of your major.

Freshmen admitted to another CSU campus this fall may enroll in CSUN Early Start classes as "host" students. But please note:

  • Before enrolling, ask your home campus academic advisor how the credits earned will transfer.
  • The ESW 113A + UNIV 61ESW class pairing is the first half of a “stretch” writing class that aligns with CSUN's general education plan.

CSUN Early Start Courses, Summer 2021

CSUN’s Early Start courses are described below. You'll find more detailed course descriptions when you:

  1. Log into myNorthridge Portal and the Early Start Program Page
  2. Select the "Enroll in Early Start" button to navigate to Early Start Class Search.

Helpful guide: How to Enroll in CSUN Early Start Classes

Early Start Writing

Students who are required to participate in Early Start Writing (ESW) based on the Early Start Program Page must enroll in both of the following courses concurrently:

  1. the 3-unit ESW 113A course and
  2. the 1-unit UNIV 61ESW course (Supplemental Instruction).

Check the "Class Notes" section in Early Start Class Search to find out which sections of ESW 113A and UNIV 61ESW to concurrently enroll in. Helpful: How to Enroll in CSUN Early Start Classes

Title
ESW 113A + UNIV 61ESW
Dates
Jun 21 - Aug 12
Mode
Fully Online Synchronous
Duration
2.5 hrs/day
Days
Tu-Th
Audience
For CSUN home and visiting host students of any major. First half of a "stretch" writing course that is specific to CSUN. Also enroll concurrently in the assigned 1-unit UNIV 61ESW section.
Units: 3 + 1
Fees: $766*

*The current fee estimate is $191 per semester unit and is subject to change based on approved fee increases. An additional campus fee of $2.00 ($1 each for Health Facilities and Student Union) at any CSU campus is also required. This estimate does not include the cost of course instruction materials if any. Some students may qualify for a fee waiver based on FAFSA.

 

Early Start Math

Students taking Early Start Math (ESM) enroll in only one course, ESM 196P, based on their major—STEM or non-STEM. Some sections of ESM 196P are only for STEM majors while others are only for Non-STEM majors.

  • If you have declared a major, the Early Start Program Page in the SOLAR Student Center will display the ESM 196P course section(s) for your major when you select classes to add.
  • If your major is Exploratory (undeclared/undecided) and you are interested in STEM subjects, you should enroll in the ESM 196P class section for STEM majors.
  • If you're Exploratory and equally interested in STEM and Non-STEM fields, consider taking an ESM 196P section for STEM majors so that it will count toward a STEM path in a major that you later choose.
  • If unsure, consult with your academic advisor.

CSUN’s ESM 196P course is self-paced, fully online asynchronous (there are no scheduled online class meeting times), and include tutoring.

Title
ESM 196P (Non-STEM)
Dates
Jun 21 - Jul 29
Mode
Fully Online Asynchronous
Duration
Self-paced
Days
n/a
Audience
For CSUN home and visiting host students who are NOT majoring in STEM-based fields (see list above). Exploratory majors may enroll.
Units: 1
Fees: $193*
Title
ESM 196P (STEM)
Dates
Jun 21 - Jul 29
Mode
Fully Online Asynchronous
Duration
Self-paced
Days
n/a
Audience
For CSUN home and visiting host students who ARE majoring in STEM-based fields (see list above). Exploratory majors may enroll.
Units: 1
Fees: $193*

*The current fee estimate is $191 per semester unit and is subject to change based on approved fee increases. An additional campus fee of $2.00 ($1 each for Health Facilities and Student Union) at any CSU campus is also required. This estimate does not include the cost of course instruction materials if any. Some students may qualify for a fee waiver based on FAFSA.

 

How to Enroll

To enroll in the CSU Early Start Program:

  1. Go to the Early Start Program Page link, located in the student web portal of the CSU campus that admitted you. This is your “home” campus. If you've been admitted to CSUN:
    • Log into myNorthridge Portal at www.csun.edu starting May 3, 2021.
    • On the "Home" tab, select the SOLAR Student Center icon in the Quick Links box.
    • On the SOLAR Student Center page, click the Early Start Program link.
  1. Review your Early Start Program Page to:
    • Find out if you need to participate in Early Start math and/or writing.
    • Find out if you qualify for an Early Start fee waiver based on your FAFSA information.
  1. Students admitted to CSUN:
    • Your default location to take Early Start classes is CSUN on the Early Start Program Page.
    • You will also see the "Enroll in Early Start Classes" button. Enroll in CSUN Early Start ESM and/or ESW classes starting May 3, 2021, but no later than June 20.
  1. Host students admitted to another CSU campus:
    • Go to the Early Start Program Page in your CSU home campus student portal. You are strongly encouraged to take Early Start classes with your CSU campus you will attend in the fall.
    • If you cannot take Early Start math and/or writing classes at your home campus, select and confirm a different CSU “host” campus where you will take Early Start classes. This action will initiate your access to enrollment in Early Start classes at the host campus.
    • Once you've selected and confirmed the host CSU campus, you will receive Early Start course enrollment information by email from the campus you selected. Do not enroll in Early Start classes until you hear from the host campus.
    • If you selected CSUN, you will receive an "Activate Your CSUN Account" email and enrollment instructions 24 hours after completing the Early Start Program Page.
    • You may enroll in CSUN Early Start classes starting May 3, 2021.
    • The last day to enroll is June 16. You'll need a day or so to receive our welcome email and set up your CSUN email and myNorthridge Portal account before classes begin.

HELPFUL GUIDE: How to Enroll in CSUN Early Start Classes

Key Dates

The table below lists key dates for the Summer 2021 Early Start Program at CSUN.

Find additional important dates to prepare for Fall 2021 academic advisement and registration in the First-Time Freshman Checklist (PDF). Activities begin in May.

  • Fall 2021 classes begin Mon, August 30, 2021.
  • Fri-Sat and Sat-only classes begin August 28.
  • Sun-only classes begin August 29.
Early Start Dates at CSUN
Earliest possible date to log into the Early Start Program Page and check your participation and fee waiver statusMay 3, 2021
Earliest possible date to enroll in CSUN Early Start coursesMay 3
Last day to select the CSU campus location for your Early Start classJune 11
Last day for visiting host students to enroll in CSUN Early Start Math or Writing coursesJune 16
Last day for CSUN home students to enroll in CSUN Early Start Math or Writing coursesJune 20
CSUN Early Start Math (ESM) and Writing (ESW) courses beginJune 21
Deadline to complete CSUN Early Start Math (ESM) coursesJuly 29
Deadline to complete CSUN Early Start Writing (ESW) coursesAug. 12