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.
GRAD E699 is only for Master's students who have completed all of their graduate coursework, including the for-credit supervised thesis/project coursework called for in their respective graduate programs. Students enrolled in GRAD E699 should need no more than minimal faculty supervision. Students who are still working closely with an advisor (e.g., thesis/ project requires extensive work and supervision) should enroll in their respective department's graduate-level independent study course, rather than GRAD E699.
GRAD E699 carries zero credit units, has no instructor of record, and is "graded" CR automatically upon completion of the term. It is designed to confer enrollment status for the purpose of the continuous enrollment policy. The course may not be repeated.
Repeat of Graduate Courses and GPA Adjustment Policy
When students repeat a course for the sake of improving upon an earlier, unsatisfactory performance, they may, under certain circumstances, request to have the earlier grade ignored in the computation of their grade point average (GPA). The following policies, applying only to coursework completed at Cal State San Marcos, outline the circumstances under which undergraduate and graduate students may request adjustment of the GPA.
Graduate and Post-Baccalaureate Student Course Repeat Policy
A student will be placed on academic probation if, during any academic term, the student fails to maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in all units attempted subsequent to admission to the program.
A student may also be placed on administrative probation by the Dean of Graduate Studies for any of the following reasons (see Exclusion Section for exclusions):
The student shall be advised of probation status promptly, and shall be provided with the conditions for removal from probation and the circumstances that would lead to disqualification, should probation not be removed. Notification shall occur through one of the following actions, as appropriate:
The Dean of Graduate Studies shall inform Registration and Records when students have been placed on or removed from administrative probationary status so that student records can be updated.
When a student is placed on academic or administrative-academic probation, they must work with the program coordinator to develop a plan for remediation, including a timeline for completion. In the case of administrative probation, the remediation plan must be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies, who will send a letter to the student documenting the plan.
Without the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies, a student cannot be advanced to candidacy if they are on either academic or administrative probation1.
1 Advancement to candidacy occurs when a master’s program has approved a student to proceed toward completing the final requirements for the master’s degree, e.g., final coursework, and culminating experience (thesis, project, or comprehensive exam).
A student who has been placed on administrative probation may be disqualified from further attendance by the Dean of Graduate Studies (see Exclusion Section for exclusions) if:
When such action is taken the student shall receive written notification including an explanation of the basis for the action.
In addition, the Dean of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the graduate program coordinator, may disqualify a student who at any time during enrollment has demonstrated behavior so contrary to the standards of the profession for which the student is preparing as to render them unfit for the profession. In such cases, disqualification will occur immediately upon notice to the student, which shall include an explanation of the basis for the action, and the campus may require the student to discontinue enrollment as of the date of the notification.
Disqualification may be either from further registration in a particular program or from further enrollment at the campus, as determined by the Dean of Graduate Studies. A student disqualified for academic deficiency may not enroll in any regular session of the campus without permission from the appropriate campus authority, and may be denied admission to other educational programs operated or sponsored by the campus.
In the event that a student fails the thesis/project defense, the student may repeat the thesis/project defense once. Failure at the second thesis/project defense will result in disqualification from a program. The thesis/project committee will specify the time period and/or conditions of the repeated defense.
A student may repeat a comprehensive examination once. Failure of the second comprehensive examination results in disqualification from a program. The comprehensive exam committee will specify the time period and/or conditions of the repeated examination.
Students who are disqualified at the end of an enrollment period should be notified by the Dean of Graduate Studies before the beginning of the next consecutive regular enrollment period. Students disqualified at the beginning of a summer enrollment break should be notified at least one month before the start of the fall term. In cases where a student ordinarily would be disqualified at the end of a term, save for the fact that it is not possible to make timely notification, the student may be advised that the disqualification is to be effective at the end of the next term. Such notification should include any conditions that, if met, would result in permission to continue in enrollment. Failure to notify students does not create the right of a student to continue enrollment.
If the student is disqualified, either academically or administratively, they may petition for reinstatement. Reinstatement must be based upon evidence that the causes of previous low achievement have been removed. Reinstatement will be approved only if the student is able to provide compelling evidence of their ability to complete the degree. If the candidate is disqualified a second time, reinstatement will normally not be considered.
Master’s students should submit a petition requesting reinstatement to the Dean of Graduate Studies. The petition, along with a recommendation from the student’s graduate coordinator, will be forwarded to the reinstatement subcommittee of the Graduate Studies Council. The subcommittee will make recommendations to the Dean of Graduate Studies, who has final authority to approve reinstatement. The size of the reinstatement subcommittee may vary, depending on the volume of applications, but shall have one member representing each college at a minimum. The subcommittee must evaluate the probable impact of any medical condition on previous unsatisfactory performance. If the student is approved for reinstatement, the Dean of Graduate Studies will send a letter granting reinstatement that specifies the conditions and time frame for achieving good standing. Students must achieve good standing to advance to candidacy and to be eligible to graduate.
Reinstatement for credential students is handled by a separate process in the School of Education and is not governed by this document.
Administrative probation, disqualification and reinstatement for students in College of Education, Health, and Human Services professionally accredited graduate and teacher credential programs are handled by a separate process inside the College and are not governed by this document. Note that this exclusion pertains only to administrative probation, disqualification and reinstatement arising under Probation, #3.
Students enrolled in master’s programs at California State University must fulfill the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement: Graduate Level (GWARGL) as described in the Procedure below prior to advancement to candidacy.
This Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement: Graduate Level (GWARGL) 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 GWARGL in one of two ways:
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 GWARGL.
The College/Department/Program from which the student will receive the graduate degree determines the passing score on standardized tests.
If a student is satisfying the graduate writing requirement through a submission of a paper(s), the student’s writing should demonstrate graduate level skills in:
The paper(s) will be scored using a rubric (1 - 4) in each of four areas: “I. Style and Format,” “II. Mechanics,” “III. Content and Organization,” and “IV. Integration and Critical Analysis.” The minimum acceptable combined score from all of the four (I-IV) sections is 10 points, with no scores of “1” on any section, resulting in a minimum of a 2.5 average for all sections. A master’s program may establish a higher minimum average score for passing. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies and Research for more information about the rubric.
Each master’s program will have a remediation protocol for admitted graduate students who do not satisfy the GWARGL on their first attempt. Each master’s program will specify the maximum number of attempts that students may be allowed to satisfy the GWARGL.
Each master’s program will file its respective GWARGL and remediation protocol with the Office of Graduate Studies and Research (OGSR). Each master’s program will provide the OGSR with annual aggregate student GWARGL performance data.
Graduate degree students may take an authorized leave of absence for 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.
All members of the thesis or project committee will be individuals with advanced degrees and/or relevant professional experience.
Thesis Committee: Each thesis committee will have a minimum of two members.
Project Committee: Each project committee will have a minimum of two members, one of whom must be a tenure line CSUSM faculty member.
Individual programs may have more stringent guidelines for thesis and project committee membership, as approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies.
CSUSM applicants may pursue and earn a second master’s degree. In certain instances, applicants may wish to seek a second master’s degree in the same discipline for which they already hold a master’s degree in order to fulfill new career, professional, or specialization requirements. These applicants may seek a second master’s degree for the same discipline if they:
Individual master’s programs may impose more restrictive requirements.
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.
Withdrawal from Courses
Students may withdraw on or before the Add/Drop deadline (end of the second week of semester or end of approximately 10% of the academic term) and the course will not appear on their permanent records. No symbol need be recorded in such instances. After the second week of instruction and prior to the 19th day of the semester, students may withdraw with a “W” for reasons such as inadequate preparation. In connection with all other approved withdrawals, the “W” symbol shall be used. Students may withdraw from no more than 18 semester-units attempted at CSU San Marcos during each of their respective undergraduate, credential, or graduate studies.
Withdrawals After the 19th Day of the Semester and Prior to the End of the Twelfth Week of Instruction. Withdrawal during this period is permissible only for serious and compelling reasons (see below). Permission to withdraw during this time shall be granted only with the approval of the instructor, and the department chair or dean or dean’s designee. Permission to withdraw during this time from graduate or credential courses shall be granted only with the approval of the appropriate graduate or credential program coordinator or the Dean of Graduate Studies (or designee). All requests to withdraw under these circumstances and all approvals shall be documented as prescribed by the campus. The requests and approvals shall state the reasons for the withdrawal. Records of such approvals shall be maintained in accordance with the campus record retention policy.
Serious and Compelling Reasons. The following situations are typical of those for which “serious and compelling” is appropriate justification for approving withdrawals.
The following situations would not fall under the intent of “serious and compelling.”
Documentation. All requests for withdrawals after the 19th day of the semester must be for verifiable reasons and require appropriate documentation.
Withdrawals after the Twelfth Week or Retroactive Withdrawal. Requests for withdrawal from courses after the twelfth week of instruction (retroactive withdrawal) are seldom granted. Students are expected to formally withdraw from classes or the University prior to the end of the twelfth week of instruction if work, personal, or health reasons interfere with class attendance or ability to complete work or exams.
Withdrawals for Extenuating Circumstances
Complete Withdrawal for Medical Reasons. The University may allow a student to withdraw without academic penalty from all classes if the following criteria are met:
A grade of “W” will be used for withdrawal from all courses for the term due to medical reasons, and will not be counted toward the maximum 18 units allowable for withdrawals.
Repeat Complete Medical Withdrawal. If the student has been granted a complete medical withdrawal in the subsequent preceding term, then additional medical withdrawal requests must consider the question of whether or not the student can complete appropriate educational objectives, and must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
After a repeat medical withdrawal is granted, the student may be required to obtain a clearance from an appropriate medical or psychological professional that states the student is well enough to return to classes with the full expectation that the student will be able to complete the semester and intended educational objectives.
Withdrawal Procedures for Students Mobilized for Active Military Duty. Students called for active military duty may withdraw from courses throughout the term without restriction or penalty with the appropriate documentation. For clarification of Veterans Administration policies on withdrawals, incompletes, course repeats, etc., please contact the veterans’ representative located in the Office of Registration and Records.