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Continuous Enrollment Requirement and Time-Limit to Degree
Conditionally Classified or Classified graduate students must be continuously enrolled unless an authorized Request for Graduate Student Leave of Absence has been granted by the program and filed with the Office of Registration and Records. No more than two (2) semesters can be excused through authorized leaves of absence. Students who do not maintain continuous enrollment are dropped from the graduate program and must reapply to the university and the graduate program to be considered for reinstatement.

Requirements for the master’s degree are to be finished within five (5) years following admission as a Conditionally Classified or Classified graduate student at CSUSM. Authorized leaves of absence do not extend the time limit for completion of the master’s degree.

Graduate Student Leave of Absence
Graduate degree students may take an authorized leave of absence. Up to two (2) semesters leaves of absence can be authorized for conditionally classified or classified graduate students providing the student is: (1) in good academic standing (as defined by the program’s requirements), (2) has completed at least six credit hours of CSUSM coursework toward the graduate degree in the program, and (3) has filed a completed Request for Graduate Student Leave of Absence form. The completed form, including signatures of the student’s faculty advisor (where applicable) and the graduate program coordinator, must be filed with the Office of Enrollment Management Services Operation/Registrar before the end of the add/drop period of the term for which the leave has been requested. A leave of absence will not be authorized if the student has completed all requirements except the culminating experience. Unauthorized leaves and failures to return from an authorized leave of absence will result in the student being dropped from the graduate program. In such cases, the student must reapply to the university and the graduate program to be considered for reinstatement.

An authorized leave of absence preserves curriculum rights regarding catalog requirements. A student on a leave of absence may not have access to or use of university resources. Students submitting the completed thesis or final project must be regularly enrolled or enrolled for thesis or project extension credit through the Office of Extended Learning; the completed thesis or final project will not be accepted during the term of an authorized leave of absence.

Authorized leaves of absence do not extend the time limit for completion of the master’s degree.

Students with exceptional circumstances that fall outside this policy may petition the Dean of Graduate Studies for special consideration. A petition must include the recommendation of the graduate program coordinator.

Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement
This Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) applies to graduate students enrolled in master’s programs.

The writing requirement must be completed before a graduate student advances to candidacy. A student may satisfy the graduate writing requirement in one of two ways:

  • an acceptable standardized test score, such as the Analytical Writing subtest of the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), or
  • a paper(s) that receive(s) a passing score.

The College/Department/Program from which the student will receive the graduate degree determines the manner by which a student satisfies or does not satisfy the graduate writing requirement

The Culminating Experience
Every Master’s degree program is required to include a culminating experience. The form of this experience differs according to degree programs, but all Master’s students must satisfactorily complete either a thesis, a project or a comprehensive examination.

A finished Master’s thesis or Master’s project is a scholarly work that is the product of extensive research and related preparation. The University will make Master’s theses and Master’s projects publicly available online in the University’s institutional repository, ScholarWorks at CSUSM. Electronic theses and projects provide increased visibility of research produced at the University. The immediate and widespread availability provides worldwide access to scholarship. Students should consult the University’s guidelines for electronic Master’s theses and Master’s projects at the University Library web site.

Graduate Student Course Load
Graduate students who are enrolled in nine (9) units or more in a fall or spring semester are classified as full-time. Graduate students who hold a University assistantship requiring one-third time services or more are considered full-time when enrolled in six (6) units during an academic term.

Use of Undergraduate Courses in Master’s Degree Programs
Master’s students may not count any course at the 300-level or lower toward fulfillment of Master’s degree requirements, nor may courses which bear General Education credit be counted toward Master’s degree requirements.

Only with prior, case-by-case approval of the graduate program offering the degree may Master’s students, on an individual basis, count a 400-level, non-General Education course toward the Master’s degree requirements.

Under no circumstances may a Master’s student apply more than nine (9) units of 400-level coursework toward fulfillment of Master’s degree requirements.

Additional CSUSM graduate student information:
Office of Graduate Studies
  • Policies for graduate students
  • Forms for graduate students
  • Graduate Research Dissemination Fund
  • Thesis, Project Information & Forms
Office of Global Education
  • International (Graduate) students