University Requirements for Master’s Degree
Graduate study has been a major part of the academic commitment of Cal State L.A. since its founding. Students who are engaged in graduate and postbaccalaureate study constitute approximately one fifth of the total student body.
Cal State L.A. offers Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees in a variety of majors, with opportunities for specialization through the selection of options or areas of emphasis within degree programs. Also offered are the Master of Business Administration , Master of Fine Arts degree in Art , Master of Fine Arts degree in Television, Film and Theatre , Master of Music , Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees with an Interdisciplinary Studies major , Master of Social Work , Doctorate in Education, Doctor of Nursing Practice , and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Special Education . The complete list of graduate degrees offered appears on the Program Indices, Directories, and Rosters page of this chapter.
Postbaccalaureate students also pursue teaching credentials, certificate programs, and personal enrichment courses.
Objectives of Graduate Study
Cal State L.A.’s graduate programs are coherent patterns of study designed for a level of academic accomplishment substantially beyond that required for the baccalaureate. Graduate programs enable students to progress in their chosen vocation, to assume positions of leadership, and to contribute to the advancement of their profession. Graduate study helps students to develop greater awareness of themselves in relation to other people and cultures, both present and past, and to gain a better understanding of their particular profession. Completion of a master’s degree program at Cal State L.A. also prepares students for further graduate study appropriate to their abilities and ambitions.
Organization of Graduate Study at Cal State L.A.
Graduate study at Cal State L.A. is organized and administered by each of the seven Colleges within the University, with coordination provided by the Dean of Graduate Studies.
This Graduate and Postbaccalaureate Study section of the catalog describes the requirements, regulations, and procedures for engaging in graduate study. General University regulations and procedures that apply to postbaccalaureate or graduate students, including the grading system and the determination of scholastic status, are explained in the Procedures and Regulations chapter in this catalog. Admission requirements and procedures are explained in the Admissions chapter.
Requirements for admission, advancement to classified graduate standing and candidacy, and graduation described in this section apply to all advanced degree programs. Any additional requirements are stated in the descriptions of the individual programs.
Each department/division/school that offers graduate degree programs and/or credential programs has a principal graduate adviser as well as credential advisers (when applicable). These advisers’ names and phone numbers appear each semester in the Schedule of Classes, and students can make appointments to see them in their offices.
Graduate Studies Directory
Interdisciplinary Studies Master’s Degrees
The Interdisciplinary Studies Master of Arts or Master of Science degree is a highly restricted interdisciplinary program for students whose professional or academic objectives are unique and cannot be met by existing master’s degree offerings. It consists of an individual program of course offerings from at least two departments/divisions in related disciplines and must provide sharp focus and appropriate coherence.
Teaching Credential Programs
Teaching, specialist, and services credential programs are available to students who hold an acceptable baccalaureate. Students who seek teaching credentials must fulfill admission criteria and program requirements established by the College of Education in accordance with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Students who are admitted into a teaching credential program are referred to as postbaccalaureate classified students. Description of admission criteria and program requirements appear on the Undergraduate Studies: General Information page and on the College of Education page.
Credential Application Processing: Cal State L.A. charges a non-refundable fee to cover part of the expenses of processing admission and credential applications. This fee is assessed in addition to, and separate from, the fee charged by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). For additional information, contact the College of Education, Office for Student Services, King Hall D2078, or call the office at (323) 343-4320.
Visit the CTC Approved Credential Programs age for a list of credential programs.
Credit Certificate Programs
Students who have a baccalaureate may be admitted to a certificate program to receive specialized instruction and training within a particular field. Students who pursue a certificate must fulfill admission criteria and program requirements established by the departments, divisions, and schools that offer the programs. Individual admission and program requirements appear in academic department/division/school listings.
University Requirements for Master’s Degree
Minimum University Requirements
All candidates for master’s degrees at Cal State L.A. must fulfill the following minimum requirements:
Completion of at least 30 semester units in approved courses, of which at least half (15) must be graduate (5000-level) courses. Master’s degree programs whose minimum total units are established at more than 30-semester units must include at least half of those units in courses at the graduate (5000) level.
Grade Point Average Requirement
Achievement of a minimum B (3.0) grade point average in all courses on the approved Study Plan. A grade of C is allowed on the Study Plan; however, any grade below C, including C-, requires that the course be repeated with both grades computed in the grade point average.
At least 21-semester units for the master’s degree completed in residence at Cal State L.A.
Culminating Experience Requirement
A comprehensive examination or a thesis or project as described later in this chapter.
Requirements for Additional Master’s Degrees or for an Additional Option within a Master’s Degree
Students may work simultaneously on two master’s degrees. Both degrees may be listed on the same diploma if the requirements for both degrees are completed in the same semester. Degrees completed in different semesters will be listed on separate diplomas.
Students who have earned a master’s degree at Cal State L.A. and wish to obtain a subsequent master’s degree or to add an additional option to a previously-completed master’s degree from this University must complete an approved study plan of at least 30-semester units. At least half of the units must be new work not included in the previous degree or option. The remainder can be from the previous degree provided that the courses have been completed within seven years of the award date of the degree and are otherwise eligible for inclusion.
Students who are currently enrolled in a master’s degree program at Cal State L.A. may concurrently complete an additional option under the same degree if the department/division/school and college concerned verify that the additional option requires significantly different knowledge, skill, and course work. The additional option must include a minimum of 15-semester units of course work that is specific to the option (not included in the previous option) and an appropriate culminating experience (thesis/project or comprehensive examination). An approved study plan for each option is required.
Students who have earned a master’s degree at an institution other than Cal State L.A. may petition to apply for an identical degree at Cal State L.A. Students must provide extraordinary justification and receive approval of the department/division/school and college concerned before they may enter the program.
Completion of Program
Completion of a master’s degree requires:
- completion of the final approved study plan and any special department/division/school requirements and
- passing of a comprehensive examination within the number of attempts allowed by the department/division/school and college, or filing of a thesis or project report approved by the candidate’s thesis/project committee and cleared by the Office of Graduate Studies.
No subject, unit, or grade credit will be granted for any course completed more than seven years before the date of completion of the master’s degree. In extraordinary circumstances, students may petition for, and the college may grant, permission to validate such an expired course by an examination given by, and with the concurrence of, the department/division/school that offers the course. An expired course taken at another institution may not be validated by examination.
Recommendation for the degree by the faculty.
As the first step of registration, all students must obtain department/division/school approval of the courses selected for their study plan for each semester.
Prior to or early in their first semester, students should make an appointment with a graduate faculty adviser to develop a complete study plan for the degree. The approved master’s degree study plan becomes the basis for evaluating the student’s eligibility for receiving the degree. Changes in the study plan may be made only with the approval of the student’s academic adviser and college graduate dean.
Credit for Transfer Work
To receive credit toward a master’s degree for acceptable postbaccalaureate work taken at other colleges and universities, students must have official transcripts forwarded to the Office of Graduate Studies and must file a “Request for Records” (Form GS-1A) with their major department/division/school. Cal State L.A. will allow credit for work taken at another college or university only when it appears on the student’s official transcript from that institution, is acceptable for master’s degree credit at the offering institution, and is deemed appropriate to the student’s master’s degree program by the major department/division/school at Cal State L.A. The following limitations and exclusions apply:
- For master’s degrees that require 30 total semester units, no more than 9-semester units of acceptable transfer, extension and/or special session courses may be included on a master’s degree study plan.
- For master’s degrees that require more than 30 semester units, up to 30% of the total required units may consist of acceptable transfer, extension, and/or special session courses, if approved by the appropriate graduate/departmental adviser.
- No master’s degree credit is allowed for directed teaching, 7000- or 8000-level courses, courses numbered below 4000, and courses taken at another accredited institution that would not be accepted toward a master’s degree at that institution.
- Six semester units of 5000-level or other graduate courses taken through extension are eligible for master’s degree credit.
Work Taken before Approval of Program
No more than 9 semester units of acceptable course work completed before approval by the principal graduate adviser, major department/division/school, and college graduate dean may be included on a master’s degree study plan. This includes acceptable transfer work. Credit for thesis (i.e., 5990), research (i.e., 5970), and comprehensive examinations (i.e., 5960) is not transferable. All other course work included on the master’s degree study plan must be completed after approval by the principal graduate adviser, major department/division/school, and college graduate dean. This policy shall not apply to students admitted to a master’s or doctorate degree program offered jointly with other educational institutions.
Credit for Extension Courses
No graduate credit will be allowed for extension courses that would not be accepted toward a master’s degree at the offering institution (e.g., University of California extension courses in the X300 or X400 series) unless specifically approved in advance by the major department/division/school and college concerned.
Classified Graduate Standing
Requirements for Classified Graduate Standing
Once an applicant has been admitted to a graduate degree program the minimum University requirements for admission to classified graduate standing are as follows:
- Certification by the major department/division/school to the college graduate dean that all department/division/school admission requirements, procedures, and prerequisites have been completed.
- Filing of a master’s degree study plan with the college graduate dean during the student’s first semester of graduate enrollment at Cal State L.A. The study plan must be approved by the principal graduate adviser and the major department/division/school. Any change in the study plan must be approved by the principal graduate adviser, the major department/division/school, and the college graduate dean before the completed courses are affected by the change. This includes courses in which a grade of Incomplete is received. Courses in which a grade of C- or lower was earned may not be removed from a Study Plan and these courses must be repeated with both grades contributing to the graduate grade point average.
Special Action Admission Students
Except for those who hold an advanced degree from an accredited institution, all students admitted by special action must complete a minimum of 10-semester units of upper-division qualifying courses on a formally approved master’s degree study plan with a minimum B (3.0) grade point average with the following conditions:
- The principal graduate adviser, major department/division/school, and college graduate dean must approve qualifying courses before the student completes them. Courses graded CR/NC may not be used on the qualifying study plan.
- Upon the recommendation of the principal graduate adviser and the major department/division/school, and with the approval of the college graduate dean, qualifying courses may be waived for students whose postbaccalaureate work demonstrates the promise of the scholarly ability required for graduate study. To be eligible for a recommendation of such a waiver, a student must have completed, with a minimum B (3.0) overall grade point average, 10 or more semester units of upper-division or graduate-level postbaccalaureate work at an accredited institution that is acceptable toward a master’s degree at that institution.
- Failure to achieve a B (3.0) grade point average in qualifying courses will result in the student’s termination from the degree program.
Other Graduate and Post-Baccalaureate Regulations
Admission to 5000-Level Courses
Students admitted with postbaccalaureate classified, graduate classified, or graduate conditionally classified standing may enroll in 5000-level courses. The following exceptions and restrictions apply:
- Postbaccalaureate unclassified students may register for 5000-level courses if the department/division/school chair or director determines that space is available. These students must satisfy all prerequisites for the course and obtain the approval of the instructor, the principal graduate adviser, and the chair of the department/division/school that offers the course.
- Undergraduate students may, with prior approval and subject to policies governing graduate credit for undergraduate students, enroll in up to 9 semester units of 4000 and 5000-level coursework. See section on Graduate Credit for Undergraduate Students in this Catalog.
- Matriculated Cal State L.A. students may not enroll in Open University courses. Students who are not matriculated at Cal State L.A. may enroll in 5000-level courses through the Open University (concurrent enrollment) Program administered by the College of Professional and Global Education. These students must satisfy all prerequisites for the course and obtain the approval of the instructor and the chair of the department/division/school that offers the course.
- Colleges and departments/divisions may impose additional restrictions. For all programs, students may complete no more than 20% of their total units at the 5000-level before their principal graduate adviser, major department/division/school, and college graduate dean have formally approved their official master’s degree study plan. In addition, all such students must either have completed the prerequisites for the course or demonstrated equivalent competency.
Enrollment in Degree Credit-Granting Classes through the College of Professional and Global Education
Students who are matriculated at the University in continuing status may enroll in, and earn residence credit for, courses that are offered through the College of Professional and Global Education in self-support special sessions. Any course or program offered in special sessions must, each time that it is offered, have the approval of the appropriate college dean and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Matriculated students at the University in continuing status may not enroll in degree credit-granting classes offered under state support and made available to students by the College of Professional and Global Education through Open University.
Courses Completed in Undergraduate Standing
Students can include no courses taken as an undergraduate on a master’s degree program except as specifically provided for baccalaureate candidates in their final semester of undergraduate study.
No credit toward a master’s degree is allowed for course work taken to meet necessary undergraduate preparation for a master’s degree program.
A course may not be added to or deleted from a master’s degree study plan after it has been taken. Any change in the master’s degree study plan must be approved in advance by the principal graduate adviser, major department/division/school, and college graduate dean. When such a change has been approved, it becomes part of the master’s degree study plan.
Program Change Limitation
No more than 6 semester units beyond the total number of units approved at the time a student achieves classified graduate standing may be added to a student’s master’s degree program.
Course Prerequisites and Co-requisites
Students are responsible for fulfilling prerequisites and corequisites. The instructor and department/division/school have the authority to waive specific prerequisites and corequisites for students who have completed equivalent courses at another institution, who have had equivalent experience (such as work experience), or who possess the needed skills to proceed with the work of the course. Students should consult the instructor before registering to determine whether the course(s) or experience will justify waiver of the stated prerequisite(s) and/or corequisite(s).
All qualifying courses that are otherwise eligible may be included in a master’s degree study plan if recommended by the principal graduate adviser and major department/division/school and approved by the college graduate dean. Students must obtain approval to include qualifying courses on the master’s degree study plan before they complete the courses.
Student Use of Human Subjects or Animals
Students, like all others in the University community, must follow established University and federal guidelines when using human subjects or animals either in research or as part of course activity. Prior approval by the relevant campus committee must be obtained when necessary. For further information, contact the Office of Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities (323) 343-3793, or visit the Website at Office of Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities - Reseach Compliance
Graduate Grading System and Scholastic Status
For an explanation of the grading system for graduate and postbaccalaureate students, see the Grading System section of the Procedures and Regulations chapter of this catalog.
For an explanation of the regulations regarding academic notice and disqualification, see the Academic Notice and Disqualification Policy for Graduate and Postbaccalaureate Students section of the Procedures and Regulations chapter.
Advancement to Candidacy to Undertake Culminating Experience
Advancement to candidacy is a part of the continual review of a student’s progress and is not automatic. It is granted by the college graduate dean upon completion of the requirements listed below and upon the recommendation of the major department/division/school. It is the University prerequisite to enrolling for the thesis, project, and comprehensive examination; individual departments/divisions and colleges may have additional requirements.
Advancement to candidacy requires:
- Classified graduate standing.
- An approved master’s degree study plan on file in the college graduate studies office.
- Completion of a minimum of 12-semester units of the master’s degree study plan with an overall B (3.0) grade point average or higher.
- Recommendation of the major department/division/school.
- Approval of the college graduate dean.
Only students who are advanced to candidacy are eligible to enroll for comprehensive examinations (i.e. #5960 in their major discipline) or for thesis or project units (i.e. 5990 in their discipline).
Culminating Experience: Comprehensive Examination, Thesis, or Project
Each program that offers a comprehensive examination for the master’s degree shall implement and maintain in writing explicit guidelines that address both content and procedures relating to the examination. All comprehensive examinations must conform to the following requirement of Title 5: ”A comprehensive examination is an assessment of the student’s ability to integrate the knowledge of the area, show critical and independent thinking, and demonstrate mastery of the subject matter. The results of the examination provide evidence of independent thinking, appropriate organization, critical analysis, and accuracy of documentation. A record of the examination questions and responses shall be maintained in accordance with the records retention policy of The California State University.”
Students must fulfill all department/division/school requirements for the written and/or oral comprehensive examinations. Such requirements include, but are not limited to, the date and time for the comprehensive examinations, length of testing, topics covered, and number of questions for the comprehensive examinations.
Students whose program requires a comprehensive examination must declare to their major department/division/school, at least one semester in advance, their intent to take it, obtain department/division/school permission, and register for the comprehensive examination that carries the course number 5960 in their major discipline. Students who are not enrolled in any credit-bearing course during the semester in which they take the comprehensive examination must pay the comprehensive examination fee. Students who elect comprehensive examination options are not permitted to enroll in UNIV 9000. Payment of State University, student services, facilities, and Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) fees, or any tuition charges, is not required.
Students should expect to take their comprehensive examinations during the semester in which they complete all course work on their program or shortly thereafter. Those who do not pass the comprehensive examinations must fulfill any department, division, and/or college requirements for subsequent enrollments in these examinations.
Thesis and Project Requirements
Students who choose to write a thesis or project as their master’s degree culminating experience should consult the “Guide to Preparation of Master’s Theses and Project Reports. It provides information about the following: procedures, regulations, and responsibilities governing the master’s thesis or project; general requirements for thesis preparation and acceptance; format requirements for the thesis; and special instructions for projects and project reports. In addition, students must obtain specific department/division/school requirements from their advisers.
- Graduate students who complete research units (5970) and thesis or project units (5990) required for master’s degrees must be regularly enrolled during any semester in which they use University facilities or consult with faculty. Students must also be enrolled during the semester they submit their thesis or project to the library and graduate.
- Students who have exceeded the one calendar year time limitation associated with the SP grading symbol for research units (5970) must petition to register in UNIV 9000. Petition forms and instructions are available in college graduate studies offices.
- Students who have previously enrolled in all allowable research units (5970) and are not enrolled in any other credit-bearing courses or thesis or project units (5990) but who will use University facilities or consult with faculty must register in UNIV 9000.
- To maintain residence requirements and continuing student registration privileges, graduate students who are not enrolled in credit-bearing course work must register for UNIV 9000.
- Once officially accepted and processed, master’s theses are made available to the public through the Library.
Application for Graduation (Degree Check)
Application for graduation (degree check) is made on a form that is available on the Graduation Office in academic department/division/school offices and college-based advisement centers, or in Administration 409 beginning five days prior to the application filing period. Candidates must be granted permission to apply for graduation by their major department/division/school or college-based advisement center before they may submit the completed application and required fee to the Cashiers’ Office for fee payment.
Students are required to file an application by the deadline announced on the University Registrar website. Students who are enrolled the semester they expect to graduate but do not meet the degree requirements will have their graduation application transferred to the next semester. Students who do not complete requirements for the stated semester must file a new application by the deadline announced on the University Registrar website. More information appears in the Undergraduate Studies: General Information chapter of this catalog.
Students will be granted no subject, unit, or grade credit for any course work they completed more than seven years before the date of issuance of their master’s degree. Refer to Time Limitation earlier in this chapter.
Commencement Exercises are held annually at the end of the spring semester. Students who have completed degree requirements the previous fall, spring or summer are eligible to participate in the ceremony along with those who will complete their work in the summer. Information bulletins about commencement activities are mailed to the home address of those eligible to participate early in the spring and are available on campus in college, department/division/school offices and Enrollment Services, Administration 409.
During Commencement Exercises, the President of the University confers degrees on the candidates. Although each candidate receives a diploma cover during the program, the actual diploma is sent several months later. Within a few weeks after graduation, eligible candidates receive a letter of congratulations in the mail, and degrees are posted on their permanent academic record.
Use of Social Security Number
Applicants are required to include their correct social security numbers in designated places on applications for admission pursuant to the authority contained in Section 41201, Title 5, California Code of Regulations, and Section 6109 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6109). The university uses the social security number to identify students and their records including identification for purposes of financial aid eligibility and disbursement and the repayment of financial aid and other debts payable to the institution. Also, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires the university to file information returns that include the student’s social security number and other information such as the amount paid for qualified tuition, related expenses and interest on educational loans. This information is used by the IRS to help determine whether a student, or a person claiming a student as a dependent, may take a credit or deduction to reduce federal income taxes.
Full-Time Unit Load for Graduate Students
For full-time enrollment certification by the University graduate students must carry a unit load of 8 units of approved prerequisite, corequisite, or graduate program courses. Upon recommendation of a student’s major department/division/school and approval by the appropriate college dean, a student enrolled in any of the following department/division/school courses may be certified as full-time with fewer than 8 units: 5960, 5970, 5990, 5995, 6990. The maximum unit load for students working towards a graduate degree is 16 units per semester. Authorization to enroll in more than 16 units requires a petition approved by the student’s major department/division chair or school director and the appropriate college dean.
Credit by Examination
Students may challenge courses by taking examinations developed at Cal State L.A. Credit shall be awarded to those who pass them successfully.
Graduate students who are in good standing and are enrolled in one or more residence courses may request permission to receive credit for courses by examination. Graduate credit by examination is restricted to eligible 4000- and 5000-level courses listed in this catalog. It is without a unit limit, but does not count as residence credit. Total credit earned for courses and examinations taken in Special Sessions may not exceed the limit established for Special Session study. See Residence Requirement and Credit for Transfer Work in the earlier section.
Prior to taking the examination, students must obtain concurrent approval of the chair of the department/division/school concerned, and the instructor for the course. Forms for approval may be obtained from department/division/school offices. One copy of the approval to take the examination must be filed with Registrar’s Office (SSB, 1st floor AR Center), before the eighth week of the semester in which the examination is taken.
Recognition of Academic Excellence
Students who receive Special Recognition in Graduate Studies have demonstrated superior scholastic achievement by maintaining a grade point average of 3.8 or higher in 80% or more of their required program and have received special recommendation by their department or division.
Foreign Language Proficiency Examinations
Graduate students whose programs require that they pass the Modern Language Reading Examination must obtain permission from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and pay an examination fee when they register for the examination. The fee must be paid each semester the examination is attempted. No other registration fees are required when the student registers only for the Modern Language Reading Examination, and students are not entitled to the same privileges and services as students enrolled in regular classes. Modern Language Reading Examination results are posted on students’ academic record and appear on official transcripts. This exam is not given during the summer term.
Graduate students may be eligible for study abroad under The California State University International Programs. Information about cooperating universities abroad, eligibility requirements and application procedures appear under International Programs in The University chapter of this catalog.
There are over 300 scholarships available to students who are currently attending Cal State L.A. Available scholarships have a wide variety of criteria, and many are for undergraduate, graduate and certificate students enrolled with the University. Scholarships are based on such criteria as academic major, academic achievement, campus and/or community participation, financial need, or a variety of other purposes. Some scholarships will provide funding for student fees; others will support the cost of books, transportation and living expenses. Students who wish to be considered for all institutional scholarships for which they are qualified should consult the information at Financial Aid and Scholarships
Cal State L.A. provides the latest information technology resources to students, faculty and staff. Students have access to 217 electronic classrooms with networked computers, five student Open Access Labs, three training labs and many other “smart” rooms. Students also have access to a variety of state-of-the-art, campus-provided computers with more than 200 software packages, applications and plug-ins, including the latest web browsers. The campus wide wireless network (802.11a/b/g/n) provides anytime network access to University and Internet resources for laptops, iPads, smart phones and other electronic devices. Access is available inside all classroom buildings and from all outside areas where seating is available.
- MyCalStateLA Identity is an online self-service offering many features designed to improve service and accessibility to information. This self-service automatically creates new network/e-mail accounts, issues new accounts and passwords online, resets passwords online and reduces the sign-on to GET, GETLA and other campus systems. myCSULA Portal recognizes each user’s myCSULA Identity and opens access to e-mail, WebCT, Moodle, electronic Library resources, systems and targeted announcements based on the user’s University role. myCSULA Community enables faculty, administrators and campus group leaders to create their own communities of interest to share ideas and information.
- Open Access Labs (OAL) are available to students during daytime, evening and weekend hours. The labs are staffed by qualified student technology assistants who answer questions and provide assistance. The five OALs provide student access to a variety of services including: use of Windows and MAC computers; printing; informal lounge environment with wireless access. In addition, three of the labs also have smart rooms, which have the same equipment as the electronic classrooms, allowing students to practice their presentations. There are also group study rooms in these three labs that allow students to work on collaborative projects within the lab setting. Further information about the Open Access Labs can be obtained by visiting the computer lab website at Open Access Labs.
- ITS Training Services offer a wide variety of software application training resources ranging from hands-on workshops, online YouTube and iTunesU video and informational handouts. More information on training is available at Information Technology Services - Training Services
- ITS Help Desk provides the campus community with friendly one-on-one technical assistance including support of campus e-mail, wireless Internet access, telecommunications and more. The walk-up ITS Help Desk is available five days a week to assist students, faculty and staff with computer and network related problems: phone support is available after hours. Additional information is available at the ITS Hlp Desk website: Information Technology Services - Help Desk.