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Degree Planner FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Degree Planner?
Degree Planner is a planning tool to assist students and advisors in mapping courses towards degree completion and to provide students with the best recommended sequence of courses for success. Students and advisors should continue to refer to the Academic Advisement Report (ARR) to ensure all degree requirements are met (GPA, Language Other Than English, etc.).

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Who can use the Degree Planner?
Degree Planner is currently available to select majors with a planned rollout for all undergraduate majors in the coming months. Both students and advisors have access to the tool. Students can click on “Degree Planner” from the Student Center in MyCSUSM to see if their major is available.

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Why should students use the Degree Planner?
Degree Planner clearly shows students what courses they need to take each term to efficiently earn a degree in 4-Years. When students plan/select courses for future terms, it helps the campus know how many sections of a course to offer in a particular term.

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How are students being made aware of Degree Planner?
As the four year plans are built and tested in Degree Planner, students will receive an email inviting them to log in and use their Degree Planner in the Student Center.

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How can a student access Degree Planner? 
Students can access Degree Planner from MyCSUSM within their Student Center under Academics.

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How can an advisor access a student’s information in Degree Planner?
Advisors have access to Degree Planner in the Advisee Student Center. Advisors should be aware that by clicking on the Degree Planner link, updates to the students plan may occur. Updates occur when course substitutions or transfer credit is applied, a course is cancelled, etc.

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Will transfer credits appear in Degree Planner? 
Degree Planner utilizes the Academic Requirements Report (ARR) to determine which requirements have already been satisfied. As a result, if transfer credit is posted and meets a requirement, it will also be met in the Planner. If the transfer credit has not been posted yet or if the student plans to take the course elsewhere in the future, the ‘remove’ feature can be used until the official credit is available. The Degree Planner Report (green button next to the Arrange My Plan) displays how transfer and test credit and related course information from the student’s enrollment records fulfill course requirements for the student’s particular major.

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What is the difference between the Degree Planner and the Academic Requirements Report (ARR)?
The ARR tells the student WHAT courses they still need to take (red boxes) and the Degree Planner displays the requirements with red boxes and puts them in sequential order, displaying WHEN to take the classes each semester for a particular major. The Degree Planner shows the student’s path toward graduation and shows the student how their progress toward a degree could be impacted if they fail to meet a requirement or do not enroll in a course in the semester recommended. Note: The ARR still remains the graduation evaluation for all graduation requirements. Students should run both reports at least once a semester. Some requirements cannot be accounted for in Degree Planner, such as Grade Point Average requirements, Language Other Than English requirement, and units in residence. Since these requirements can be met while completing other requirements, Degree Planner cannot place those requirements into a sequence. Therefore, it is recommended that students and advisors run an ARR with Planned Courses from within Degree Planner to ensure all degree requirements are being met.

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Where can a student or advisor access help documents?
Help documents can be accessed through the eAdvising How-To Guides.

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Who should I contact if I need additional assistance with the Degree Planner?
Students who need assistance with Degree Planner should contact the academic advisor for their primary major:

Staff and Faculty who need assistance with the Degree Planner should contact eadvising@csusm.edu.

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Can a student change their major through Degree Planner tool?
While the Degree Planner has a ‘what-if’ report that will allow students to explore changing their major or adding a major/minor, it doesn’t replace the formal process to request a change. Students can change their major online through the Student Center by accessing the Online Change of Major feature. The new major is automatically entered in the system and is displayed immediately in the Degree Planner (if the major is built) and the ARR.

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How does Degree Planner account for changes to curricula and academic policies?
Degree Planner will be updated and maintained regularly to reflect curricula changes in degree requirements as approved by the University.

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Why does the Degree Planner sometimes recommend taking several challenging courses within a single semester rather than spreading the difficulty level out between semesters more evenly?
The Degree Planner attempts to construct the most timely path to degree based on an advising roadmap provided by the college. It also takes into account key pre-requisites, co-requisites, and when courses are typically offered. The Degree Planner does not attempt to evaluate the mix of courses recommended in a term as many factors can contribute to the appropriateness of the schedule for an individual student. The recommended path should be reviewed and adjusted by the student and advisor in order to maximize the student’s ability to succeed.

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How can I be sure my plan will meet all degree requirements and allow me to graduate?
The Academic Requirements Report (ARR), available in Degree Planner, shows how the student’s plan will satisfy degree requirements. Once the student or advisor has selected all courses in the degree planner, they should review this report carefully to identify items still marked as ‘unmet’ to ensure the plan adds up. They may be able to easily adjust the plan to ensure all requirements will be met.

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Where does Degree Planner display the student’s catalog year?
On the Degree Planner's Overview page, the student’s catalog year and degree plan(s) are listed just below the graphs.

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If a student’s record becomes inactive, can they use Degree Planner when they enroll again at Cal State San Marcos?
Yes, as long as the student is declared in a major built in the Degree Planner system.

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Does Degree Planner account for multiple majors and/or minors?
Yes, if all majors or minors have been published in the Degree Planner. The overview page of the planner will indicate which majors/minors are being accounted for in the Degree Planner.

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Are substitutions integrated into Degree Planner?
Yes, Degree Planner utilizes the Academic Requirements Report (ARR) to determine which requirements have already been satisfied. As a result, if a substitution or waiver has been posted, the results will also be reflected in the Degree Planner. If the adjustment is not reflected, the ‘remove’ feature can be used until the official request is processed. Tip: If you know a substitution has been approved and submitted, but has not been processed, you may use the ‘Remove’ feature to move the requirement to the ‘Manually Removed Courses’ section at the bottom of the plan.  Once the substitution is processed, the requirement will be satisfied and no longer appear in the "Manually Removed Courses" section of the Degree Planner.

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Does Degree Planner track for general elective requirements?
Yes. The Degree Planner does account for general electives and will automatically fill general elective requirements where it can find eligible courses that are in progress or completed. Tip: A student may use the ‘Select’ link to identify a preferred elective course in their Degree Planner or view completed credits that could apply to electives that are remaining.

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Why are courses appearing under the Unassigned Requirements section?
Normally this occurs when there are not enough units in the remaining semesters for the unassigned courses to be placed. Courses may also appear here if a student has not completed the necessary pre-requirements. Tip: Under "Preferences" in the Degree Planner add semesters, including Summer and/or additional units to existing semesters to resolve this issue. Once you have updated your preferences, click “Refresh Suggestions” to populate your new preferences. Students who need assistance resolving unassigned requirements should contact the academic advisor for their primary major:

Staff/Faculty who need assistance determining why a course is in unassigned requirements should send an email to eadvising@csusm.edu.

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Does Degree Planner capture a failed course?
Yes. If a student fails a course required for their degree, the course will repopulate in the appropriate term within the Degree Planner.

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Why is the ‘Off Track’ indicator appearing in the Degree Planner?
Not all students will see an ‘Off Track’ indicator. If one appears, simply click on the ‘Off Track’ button to get specific information on why it is occurring in your Degree Planner. Staff/Faculty who need assistance determining why the “Off Track” indicator is appearing should consult eadvising@csusm.edu.

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How does the What-if Report in Degree Planner compare to the What-if Report in the Academic Requirements Report (ARR)?
Similar to the ARR, the Degree Planner What-if Report provides a glimpse of what a student’s Degree Planner would look like if they changed their major. Degree Planner What-If provides a suggested path to complete the program semester by semester, while the ARR What-if Report is a more comprehensive look at all degree requirements. (ex. minimum GPA requirements, etc.)

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What if I want to take a course in a summer term? 
Click Edit Preferences at the top of the Degree Planner and add the summer term along with the units you plan on taking that summer. The Degree Planner will automatically shuffle courses that are typically offered in the summer to the summer term you just added.

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What is the difference between an “error” and a “warning” in the message pop-ups?
An error indicates that a student or advisor cannot proceed with a change until the error is resolved. A warning serves as a cautionary notice; it will let the student or advisor proceed with making a change.

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What does “Lock” do?
By checking the “Lock” box, the specified course will remain in that term. If the Refresh Suggestions button is clicked, courses will arrange around the requirement locked to that term. A course can be locked for various reasons: it was placed into a specific term on the Arrange My Plan page, the lock option is clicked, or the course is chosen by the “Add Course” link. Please note you can uncheck the “Lock” box to allow courses to rearrange back to the original sequence.

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What does “Refresh Suggestions” do?
Clicking the Refresh Suggestions button restores the recommended plan back to its original sequence of courses, except for courses that have been locked. Locked courses will remain in the term for which they have been locked.

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What is the difference between “Refresh Defaults” under Edit Preferences: “Refresh Suggestions” on the main screen and “Reset” on Arrange My Plan?
Refresh Defaults (Edit Preferences) – restores the term and unit preferences back to the default for that specific plan.
Refresh Suggestions (Main Screen) – sets the recommended order of courses back to default for the major, with the exception of courses that have been locked into a term.
Reset (Arrange My Plan) – allows students to undo drag and drop changes made during the current session.

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How are changes saved in Degree Planner?
Degree Planner saves automatically every time you make a change within the tool.

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Can I drag and drop a course to a term when it’s not typically offered?
No. The Degree Planner gives an error message when you drag a course from a suggested term to a term when the course is not typically offered. Note: You can, however, drag a course to any term regardless of when it’s typically offered if the course was not assigned to a term and was put in the UNASSIGNED area of the planner.

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What happens when I select a course for a term in the future and the course is cancelled or inactivated?
Degree Planner will automatically remove the course from your planner and will send you an email notifying you to select another course.

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When does the Degree Planner refer to the Class Schedule?
The moment the Class schedule is “published” or available for viewing.

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How do I determine if I should attempt to complete my degree within a 4 year plan?
Degree Planner is a tool that is responsive to your personal timelines for degree completion. Many factors can come into play that can impact your preferred pace and time to a degree. Having a flexible mindset and working with your academic advisor throughout your academic career to develop the best possible plan is highly recommended.

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How do the Degree Planner and Schedule Assistant work together to assist my planning
Once a student has planned their upcoming semesters, the student can then export the semester plan into Schedule Assistant and begin to view potential schedules that might work best and load into their shopping cart for the upcoming registration period. For more information visit eAdvising How-To Guides.

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How can students with disabilities get help in using the Degree Planner?
For both on-campus and off-campus, students may contact the Disabled Student Services Office on the main campus.

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What if I am an Undeclared student?
Undeclared students may use the Degree Planner. They must keep in mind that major requirements cannot be incorporated into the Degree Planner until a major is declared.

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What does a "This Course is Currently Full" message mean?

When you click Select on a requirement line, the Degree Planner checks the current enrollment data for each course for the target term (when the Schedule of Classes is available). If it finds that all sections are full or closed (including Extended Learning sections), then you'll see the message saying "this course is currently full". If there's even one section with one seat available, you won't see the message.

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How does SPAN 250 (or any Intermediate Foreign Language course) meet Language 1 and Language 2 in Degree Planner?

SPAN 250 is equivalent to Intermediate Spanish and fulfills the Language Other Than English and GE Area C3 requirement at CSUSM. After a student is enrolled in SPAN 250 or any Intermediate Foreign Language course, the Degree Planner automatically removes the Language 1 & Language 2 lines. When a student selects SPAN 250 in their Degree Planner on a Language 1 line, the Degree Planner still displays the Intermediate Language course requirement line and this needs to be manually removed. When SPAN 250 is selected on Language 2 line, the Degree Planner automatically removes the Language 1 line but still displays the Intermediate Language course requirement line and this needs to be manually removed. When SPAN 250 selection is made on the Intermediate Language line, the Degree Planner still displays both Language 1 & Language 2 lines and both need to be manually removed.

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