Feb 27, 2024  
2022-2023 University Catalog 
2022-2023 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Enrollment Policies

Residence Requirement

A student is considered to be in residence when registered during fall and spring semesters at CSUF. Extension credit may not be used to fulfill the minimum residence requirement. For master’s programs, at least 21 semester units or half the units required by the master’s program, whichever is larger, must be taken in residence. For the Ed.D. program, 48 units are required for residency. For the DNP program, 30 units are required for residency. For the DNP program with a concentration in Nurse Anesthesia, 88 units are required for residency.

Continuous Enrollment

Master’s and DNP students are required to maintain continuous enrollment in every fall and spring semester and Ed.D. students every fall, spring and summer. Unless a leave of absence is granted, a graduate student who fails to maintain continuous enrollment needs to reapply for admission through Cal State Apply and the degree program, and meet any new admissions requirements and any new degree completion requirements at the time of re-entry.

Students who have enrolled in all Study Plan coursework and are working on the culminating experience should register in GRAD 700 to maintain continuous enrollment. GRAD 700 carries no unit credit, but allows the student to maintain continuous enrollment. Registration in GRAD 700 is necessary until the degree is granted.

CRED 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

In order to maintain continuous enrollment, graduate degree or credential students may request a leave of absence for a semester, with total leave requests not exceeding more than one year throughout the student’s academic career. Leaves may be granted to graduate students (conditionally classified, classified or credential only) who have completed at least one semester of coursework. Students may request a leave using the Leave of Absence Form found on the Graduate Studies website. Students are required to submit requests for a leave of absence prior to the first day of classes in the semester for which the leave is being requested.

Leaves are not granted to take coursework outside of CSUF or continue work on a culminating experience. A leave can be requested for any of the following reasons:

  • 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.
  • Activities that enhance a student’s professional career objectives.
  • Active duty in the armed forces of the United States.
  • Severe financial hardship.
  • Other reasons at the discretion of the Associate Vice President for Academic Programs (or designee).

A leave of absence is not normally granted for more than one semester. 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). In addition, all leaves due to medical reasons require valid documentation. Requests longer than one semester or a subsequent leave must also be endorsed by the appropriate degree program authority (normally the graduate program adviser).

A leave granted 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. Non-approved breaks in enrollment require the student to reapply for admission to the university.

After a leave is reviewed by the Office of Graduate Studies and the Registrar’s Office, a response is emailed to the student. Students on an approved leave are not required to pay fees, therefore services provided in whole or in part by fees (such as student health center services) are not available to students on approved leaves of absence.

Study Load

Full-time enrollment for graduate students in a master’s program is typically nine units of coursework per semester. The maximum study load for students working toward a master’s degree is 12 units per semester; in exceptional cases, 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 through Registration and Records. International students are usually expected to maintain full time status; students can contact International Student Services with questions, since full-time unit loads for visa status may vary across programs. Students receiving financial aid should also contact the Office of Financial Aid with questions on understanding minimum unit loads for receiving financial aid. Students receiving VA educational benefits can contact the Veterans Resource Center for information on maintaining benefit eligibility.


For master’s students, enrollment through Extension and International Programs does not maintain continuous enrollment for students in state-funded degree programs.

Winter Session/Special Sessions/Summer Session

Students enrolled in a degree program can take courses during special sessions, summer session or winter session. If courses were taken under open university, units may be able to be transferred if it meets transfer unit requirements and is approved 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

Enrollment in courses through Open University does not constitute admission to degree programs at CSUF. Courses taken through Open University do not meet graduate residence requirements.

Enrollment in 500-Level Courses by Seniors

Undergraduate students may enroll in graduate level courses (500-level) if they:

  • have reached senior status (a minimum of 90 semester units);
  • have the academic preparation and prerequisites required for entry into the course; and
  • 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 CSUF, if:

  • the coursework was not used to meet any of the university’s requirements for the baccalaureate degree (including major, minor or concentration);
  • the coursework was taken during the 12 months immediately prior to the student’s graduation; and
  • each course was completed with a grade of B or better.

Petition forms are available on the Registration and Records website. 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 maximum of 9 units 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.

  • Each course being transferred must:
  1. have been taken at a regionally 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 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 degree completion time period.
  • Use of transfer work on a student’s Study Plan is subject to all other policies concerning Study Plan coursework.
  • 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).
  • All approved transfer units and grade points will be entered on the CSUF transcript at classification or graduation.
  • A unit of coursework taken at a college or university on the quarter system is equivalent to two-thirds of a semester unit when such coursework is considered acceptable as transfer work.