Jun 12, 2024  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Enrollment Policies

Residence Requirement

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 master’s program, whichever is larger, must be taken in residence at this university. The Ed.D. program requires a minimum 48 units for residency. The DNP program requires a minimum of 30 units for residency. Extension credit may not be used to fulfill the minimum residence requirement.

Continuous Enrollment

From the beginning of the program of study until the award of the degree, a graduate degree student is required to maintain continuous enrollment in every fall and spring semester, if a master’s or DNP student; or every fall, spring and summer, if an Ed.D. student. 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 in a given 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 enrolled in 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 master’s 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. A master’s student near the end of the degree program may be eligible to enroll in Graduate Studies 700 (called GRAD 700 or GS 700) via Extension. It carries no unit credit. 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.

Leave of Absence

Graduate degree or credential students may request a leave of absence for up to one year, though a leave of absence is not normally granted for more than one semester. Conditionally classified or classified graduate students qualify for a leave if they have completed at least six units (if a master’s student) or eight units (if a doctoral student) of work in residence at Cal State Fullerton toward the degree. 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 Office of Graduate Studies and online at fullerton.edu/graduate/_files/current_students/LOA%20Form%20w-Policy_2015.pdf. 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. severe financial hardship; or
  5. other reasons at the discretion of the associate vice president for academic programs (or designee).

After review by the Office of Graduate Studies, 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 for the semester following the leave will be available to the student.

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

Study Load

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.

Federal regulations for non-immigrant “F-1” and “J-1” visa students allow some degree programs to define full-time status by fewer than 12 units per semester. 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 and the Registrar’s Office. Forms to request excess units are available in the Admissions/Registration and Records Office or online at records.fullerton.edu/resources/forms/Request-for-excess-units-GR.pdf.


In addition to its state-supported academic programs, the university offers self-supported courses and programs through Extension. This includes winter session, self-support degree programs, special session credit courses and Open University enrollment. The applicability of credit earned in courses taken through Extension may be subject to approval by the graduate program adviser and the director of graduate programs; therefore, consultation with the program’s graduate adviser before taking courses 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 Extension does not maintain continuous enrollment for students in state-funded degree programs.

Winter Session/Special Sessions/Summer Session

Courses taken during special sessions, Summer Session or Winter Session may be applied to a degree program, provided the courses are approved in advance by the departmental program adviser.

Enrollment in courses taken during Winter Session or Summer Session does not constitute admission to the university or enrollment as a continuing student.

Extension Credit

No more than nine units of extension credit may be applied to a graduate degree. Extension credit is granted for courses with an “X” prefix in the Extension Class Schedule.

Open University Enrollment

Open University provides an opportunity for people not currently admitted to Cal State Fullerton to enroll in undergraduate and graduate-level classes during all academic terms, on a space available basis. Open University is managed by Extension. Enrollment through Open University does not constitute admission to CSUF. Courses taken through Open University enrollment do not meet graduate residence requirements (units that must be taken in admitted status.) In addition, verification of English skill is also required for any individual, regardless of citizenship, who has not attended, for at least three years, a school at the secondary level or beyond in which English was the principal language of instruction. Such students are required to score at or above the minimums on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): 500 (PBT) or 6.1 (iBT) or 5.5 (IELTS). Verification of test scores must be presented when registering.

Enrollment in 500-Level Courses by Seniors

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; and
  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.

Postgraduate Credit

A master’s 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 Cal State 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 12 months immediately prior to the student’s graduation; and
  3. each course was completed with a grade of B (3.0) or better.

Petition forms are available at the Admissions/Registration 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 for academic programs (or designee).

Transfer Credit Policy

Graduate students may request to apply a limited (nine units or less) amount of transfer coursework toward unit requirements for a graduate degree. The use of transfer coursework on a student’s Study Plan is subject to the following provisions.

  1. Each course being transferred must:
    1. have been taken at an accredited college or university;
    2. be acceptable for credit toward a graduate degree at the institution where the coursework was taken; in the case of transfer work for the Ed.D. and DNP, the course must be acceptable for doctoral credit at the institution where it was taken;
    3. have been completed with a grade of B (3.0) or better;
    4. not have been used in meeting the requirements for another earned degree (either graduate or undergraduate); and
    5. have been completed within the student’s five-year time period which is required for completion of the requirements for the graduate degree at CSUF.
  2. For the master’s degree, 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. A minimum of 42 units must be taken in residence for the Ed.D. program. A minimum of 30 units must be taken in residence for the DNP. Residence units are granted for courses taken at the university during regular sessions of fall, spring, summer 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.
  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 for academic programs (or designee). Coursework taken at another institution after admission to CSUF as a graduate student is rarely accepted for credit toward a graduate degree and can only be accepted if the student has received prior approval of both the graduate program adviser and the associate vice president for academic programs (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.