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Catalog Rights

The University Catalog is revised and updated annually.  Within the catalog are policies, major requirements, and course descriptions - all of which may affect graduation requirements. However, students’ individual graduation requirements are not subject to these annual updates; in fact, students who remain continuously enrolled (or ensure no gaps in attendance greater than 4 years) maintain rights to a particular set of graduation requirements, which is referred to as catalog rights.

This group of pages is intended to provide additional detail regarding catalog rights, including how to maintain them, eligibility to elect new requirements, etc.

    • If you are a new student, please be sure to review the section on Eligibility.
    • If you are returning to CSUSM after an absence, please review the Maintaining Catalog Rights section.
  • Types of Requirements

    There are three groups of graduation requirements to complete an undergraduate degree program. Each of these, as described above, are subject to change from catalog year to catalog year (and term to term).

    • General Education: These include the breadth requirements created by the California State University system.
    • University: These include requirements specific to CSUSM; these include Diversity & Equity, GPA, residency, as well as American Institutions.
    • Major/Minor: The courses required for your declared major (or minor) are a third set of graduation requirements.
  • Eligibility

    Per California state education code, and CSUSM policy, undergraduate students are eligible to elect the graduation requirements (General Education, University, Major/Minor) in effect:

    • at the time the student began his/her program at a CSU campus or California Community College
    • when the student entered the CSU campus from which s/he intends to graduate
    • at the time the student graduates from Cal State San Marcos


    In addition, students are eligible to elect the graduation requirements for the major or minor in effect:

    • at the time the student declares or changes his/her Major/Concentration/Option/Track/Minor
    • at the time changes in Major or Minor requirements affect the student


    Important Notes

    • A student becomes an undergraduate student by earning college units after high school graduation in the first regular academic term. High school students are considered first-time freshmen for admission (and not eligible for catalog rights as undergraduate students), regardless of the number of college credits transferred.
    • Eligibilty based on the timeframes above applies to all 3 types of graduation requirements (General Education, University and major/minor); the catalog terms elected for each do not have to be the same.
    • At CSUSM, students are automatically assigned the graduation requirements in effect upon admission to the university. A student must request to elect different catalog rights (according to the eligibility described above) in order to be subject to different graduation requirements.
  • Maintaining Catalog Rights (for students who stop attending CSUSM)

    A student’s catalog rights are preserved provided:

    • there is no gap of five or more years during which the student has not been enrolled as an undergraduate student in at least one course at any regionally accredited institution of higher education.*


    • a student maintains continuous enrollment (i.e., enrollment in one course per calendar year) at a regionally accredited institution 

    *In cases where there is a gap of five or more years in attendance the student’s catalog rights may be preserved with the approval of the Dean of the College of the student’s major or the Dean’s designee.     

  • Electing Catalog Rights

    Continuing students who are eligible to elect the catalog rights in effect for one of the 3 types of graduation requirements described here, may use the Election of Catalog Rights form.