California State University, Fullerton


Graduate Enrollment Policies


Graduate Enrollment Policies


A student is considered to be in residence when registered during regular semesters at this university. At least 21 semester units or half the units required by the program, whichever is larger, must be taken in residence at this university. Approved units earned in summer sessions may be used to meet regular semester unit requirements on a course by course basis. Extension credit may not be used to fulfill the minimum residence requirement.

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A graduate degree student is required to maintain continuous enrollment in every fall and spring semester from the beginning of the program of study until award of the degree. This policy is designed to eliminate the need for readmission to the university, provide opportunity for continuous use of facilities, including the library, and assure the development of an integrated program, which is adequately supervised and effectively completed within the time limitations allowed by regulations.

Unless granted an approved leave of absence, a graduate student who fails to register each semester has discontinued enrollment in the graduate degree program. In order to resume study, the student needs to reapply for admission to the university and to the degree program and meet any changed or additional requirements approved in the interim.

Students who may have completed all coursework, but who may not have satisfactorily completed a comprehensive examination or other requirement, are expected to maintain continuous enrollment until award of the degree.

A graduate student who finds it impossible to attend during a certain semester and is not eligible for a leave of absence must register in Graduate Studies 700. Registration in this course is restricted to conditionally classified or classified graduate students. It carries no unit credit and does not require class attendance. Registration in this course in each semester when no other coursework is taken will be necessary until award of the degree.

Similarly, Credential Studies 701 is available for students with a credential-only objective who find it impossible to enroll in coursework and are not eligible for a leave of absence.

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Graduate degree or credential students may request a leave of absence for up to one year. Conditionally classified or classified graduate students qualify for a leave if they are in good academic standing and have completed at least six credit hours’ work toward the degree in residence at Cal State Fullerton. Students with a credential-only objective qualify if they have completed at least one semester of coursework in good academic standing. Forms to request a leave of absence are available at the Admissions and Records Service Center, in the Graduate Studies Office, and on the Graduate Studies website. Students are encouraged to submit requests for leave of absence prior to the start of the semester for which they are requesting a leave.

Any one of the following circumstances may be grounds for requesting a leave of absence:

  1. Illness or disability (permanent or temporary) or similar personal exigencies including pregnancy which make it impossible or inadvisable for a student to register for classes.

  2. Activities that enhance a student’s professional career objectives.

  3. Active duty in the armed forces of the United States.

  4. Other reasons at the discretion of the associate vice president, Graduate Programs and Research.

After review by the Graduate Studies Office, the academic unit (where applicable), and the Registrar’s Office, a response is mailed to the student.

A first-time leave of absence of one semester only will normally be granted upon request for students who qualify and will not require an application for readmission to the university. Registration materials for the semester following the leave will be sent to the student.

Students requesting a subsequent leave or a leave longer than one semester are required to provide appropriate documentation (e.g., doctor’s recommendation, verification of employment). Such requests must also be endorsed by the graduate program adviser.

A leave granted to a degree objective student preserves the election of curriculum rights regarding catalog requirements. However, leaves of absence do not change the time limit for completion of the degree. For credential students, a leave granted by the university does not exempt them from new requirements imposed by the State regardless of the catalog year and also does not extend time limitations imposed by the State for completing specific teaching credential requirements.

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To qualify for full-time enrollment certification by the university, graduate students must carry a study load of 12 units of coursework a semester, or nine units of which six are in 500-level courses. A normal full-time load in summer session is one and one-third units per week of instruction.

As required by federal regulations for non-immigrant “F-1” and “J-1” visa students, the Graduate Studies office maintains a listing of programs that allow less than 12 units per semester to qualify for full-time status. These departmental unit requirements do not change the official definition (stated above) that is used to certify full-time enrollment for financial aid eligibility or loan deferment.

The maximum study load for students working toward a master’s degree is 12 units per semester; in exceptional cases, however, a student may take more with the approval of the graduate program adviser. Forms to request excess units are available in the Graduate Studies Office, on the Graduate Studies website, or from the departmental graduate program adviser.

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In addition to its regular academic programs, the university offers courses through Extended Education. This includes intersession, extension-only courses, and Open University enrollment. The applicability of credit earned in courses taken through Extended Education is subject to approval by the graduate program adviser and the associate vice president, Graduate Programs and Research(or designee). Consultation with a graduate adviser before taking any course through Extended Education is strongly recommended.

Any student desiring a master’s degree must be admitted to the university and maintain continuous enrollment every fall and spring semester until award of the degree. Enrollment through University Extension does not maintain continuous enrollment.

Intersession/Special Sessions
Appropriate courses taken during special sessions or intersession may be applied to a graduate degree program, provided the courses are approved in advance by the departmental graduate program adviser.
Enrollment in courses taken during intersession does not constitute admission to the university or enrollment as a continuing student in the university.

Extension Credit
No more than nine units of extension credit may be applied to a graduate degree. Extension credit is granted for two types of courses: (1) those with an “X” prefix in the Extended Education Class Schedule and (2) those taken through Open University enrollment.

Open University Enrollment
Open University enrollment through Extended Education permits students who are not formally admitted to the university to enroll in university courses, on a space available basis. However, Open University participation does not constitute admission to a CSUF degree program. Open University is not available to (1) students currently admitted to CSUF, (2) foreign students with scores of less than 500 on the TOEFL examination, or (3) foreign students without an I-20 from another educational institution.

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Undergraduate students may enroll in graduate level courses (500-level) if they:

  1. have reached senior status (i.e., completed a minimum of 90 semester units),

  2. have the academic preparation and prerequisites required for entry into the course,

  3. gain the consent of the instructor.

Students wishing to use 500-level coursework taken during their undergraduate degree toward a master’s degree should read the following section on Postgraduate Credit.

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A graduate student may petition for a maximum of nine units of postgraduate credit for coursework (either 400 or 500 level) taken during the undergraduate degree at California State University, Fullerton, if:

  1. the coursework was not used to meet any of the university’s requirements for the baccalaureate degree (including major, minor or concentration),

  2. the coursework was taken during the twelve months immediately prior to the student’s graduation,

  3. each course was completed with a grade of “B” (3.0) or better.

Petition forms are available at the Admissions and Records Service Center. If approved, appropriate notations will be entered on the student’s transcript.

The use of postgraduate coursework on a student’s graduate Study Plan is governed by the general regulations for all graduate degrees and must be approved by the graduate program adviser, the appropriate graduate committee and the associate vice president, Graduate Programs and Research (or designee).

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Graduate students may request to apply a limited amount of transfer coursework towards unit requirements for a master’s degree. The use of transfer coursework on a student’s Study Plan is subject to the following provisions:

  1. Each course being transferred must:

    a. have been taken at an accredited college or university,

    b. be acceptable for credit toward a graduate degree at the institution where the coursework was taken,

    c. have been completed with a grade of “B” (3.0) or better,

    d. not have been used in meeting the requirements for another earned degree (either graduate or undergraduate),

    e. have been completed within the student’s five-year time period which is required for completion of the requirements for the master’s degree at CSUF.

  2. An absolute minimum of 21 semester units or half the units required by the program, whichever is larger, must be taken in residence at this university. Residence units are granted for courses taken at the university during regular sessions of fall and spring and any special session.

  3. Use of transfer work on a student’s Study Plan is subject to all other policies concerning Study Plan coursework; e.g., 50 percent must be graduate-level work, no correspondence coursework, no credit by examination, no courses with nontraditional grades.

  4. In all cases, the use of transfer coursework on a student’s Study Plan is subject to the acceptance and approval of the academic unit’s graduate program adviser and the associate vice president, Graduate Programs and Research (or designee). Coursework taken at another institution after admission to CSUF as a graduate student is rarely accepted for credit toward a master’s degree and can only be accepted if the student has received prior approval of both the graduate program adviser and the associate vice president, Graduate Programs and Research (or designee).

  5. All approved transfer units and grade points will be entered on the CSUF transcript at classification or graduation.

  6. A unit of coursework taken at a college or university on the quarter system will be considered as equivalent to two-thirds of a unit when such coursework is considered acceptable as transfer work.


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