A student pursuing an advanced degree should prepare and file a Graduate Approved Program (GAP) form in the Graduate Division in the semester immediately preceding registration for the final six units of graduate work. This form lists the specific requirements (i.e., courses, examinations, theses, etc.) to be completed prior to award of the degree. It must be approved by the graduate major adviser and the graduate coordinator of the student's college, and then submitted to the dean of the Graduate Division for review and approval. Once the GAP is accepted and approved, the student is advanced to candidacy. Any change in the GAP requires the filing of a Petition for GAP Substitution or Exception form, including all required signatures, with the Graduate Division.

The following minimum standards apply to all master's degree Graduate Approved Programs.


Each graduate student must demonstrate the ability to write English correctly and effectively. To assure that each graduate student has the desired proficiency in written English, two distinct assessments are made by the major department. Requirements for each program area can be obtained from the major department. If a writing deficiency exists, the student shall be expected to complete prescribed courses in English at a level acceptable to the major department.


Any research conducted by a student that involves human and/or animal subjects requires the approval of the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) and/or the University Animal Care and Use Committee (UACUC). Such approval must be obtained prior to the initiation of any research activity involving these subjects. There are no exceptions. Forms are available from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.  No student is permitted to enroll in the culminating experience course until the research activity has been approved by CPHS or UACUC.


If a student does not compete the GAP with the required 3.0 GPS, the department/program may terminate the student's candidacy and classified status in the program or authorize a change in the courses listed on the GAP. The change may include courses taken by the student but not included on the GAP or stipulate additional courses the student is to take in order to raise the grade point average to the minimum level. Recommended courses must be: at the upper division or graduate level; graded with letter grades; regular courses, not to include 699 or 899 courses; approved by the graduate adviser; and applicable to the degree objective.

If the student fails to earn the minimum 3.0 GPA on completion of the revised GAP, his/her candidacy will be terminated without the award of the master's degree. There is no provision for waiving this requirement.


In accordance with Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, the culminating experience must be met by the satisfactory completion of a thesis, special project, comprehensive examination, or a combination of more than one of these. An oral defense of the work is normally required.

Students must file a Proposal for Culminating Experience Requirement which has been approved by program faculty. This form must be submitted subsequent to or simultaneous with the GAP. Students are not permitted to enroll in a culminating experience course until both of these forms have been approved by the Graduate Division.


A thesis is the written product of an original study. It demonstrates clarity of purpose, critical and independent thinking, and accurate and thorough documentation. Normally an oral defense of the thesis will be required.

SPECIAL PROJECT (COURSE 892, 893, 894, or 895)

There are several types of special projects as follows:

Supervised Field Internship (course 892): A supervised field internship involves the placement of the student in a work experience situation. The student is expected to establish written goals to be addressed. A written report addressing the significance, objectives, methodology, and a conclusion is required. An oral defense of the report may be required by the department. When the work is completed, all committee members must sign the Report of Completion of Culminating Experience Requirement form. This form must be filed in the Graduate Division by the deadline date as stated in the university calendar.

Written Creative Work (course 893): This culminating experience is a short story, novel, series of poems, and/or play in which students demonstrate a unique style of writing. An annotation page must be completed and filed as a part of the final work. This culminating experience requirement is restricted to graduate students in the creative writing program.

Creative Work Project (course 894): This culminating experience is a musical composition, a series or group of paintings, a performance, a film, or other creative arts endeavor. It must be described in a written document that summarizes the project's significance, objectives, creative methodology, and a conclusion. An oral defense of the project may be required. When the work is completed, all committee members must sign the Report of Completion of Culminating Experience Requirement form. This form must be filed in the Graduate Division by the deadline date as stated in the university calendar. This culminating experience is designed for students in the fine and applied arts.

Field Study or Applied Research Project (course 895): This culminating experience is a field study or research project. It must incorporate the application of knowledge and techniques acquired in the student's program of study. The field study or research project must be described in a written document which will include the project's significance, objectives, methodology, and a conclusion. An oral defense of the project may be required. When completed, all committee members must sign a Report of Completion of Culminating Experience Requirement form. This form must be filed in the Graduate Division by the deadline date as stated in the university calendar.


This culminating experience is a written and/or oral examination that is prepared and administered by the major department. The purpose of the examination is to allow the student to demonstrate their ability to integrate the content knowledge, independent thinking, and critical analysis, and, as may be appropriate, accuracy of documentation. The results of the examination (pass or fail) are reported to the Graduate Division on a Report of Completion of Culminating Experience Requirement form by the deadline date indicated in the university calendar.

A candidate who fails a comprehensive examination will be provided an opportunity to take it at least one more time. The conditions for repeating an examination (e.g., number of times, elapse of time required) are stated in the departmental description of the graduate program.


The university recognizes that there are circumstances that warrant joint/group projects or theses. In such instances, an attachment signed by each student and by the culminating experience committee chair must be appended to the Proposal for Culminating Experience Requirement form that identifies the names of other authors and describes the project and responsibilities of each author. The division of responsibilities specified must be reviewed, endorsed, and subsequently evaluated by the students' culminating experience committee members.


A committee must be established to evaluate a student's culminating experience.


A student must have a 3.0 GPA in all post-baccalaureate course work to register for a culminating experience requirement course. Students expecting to complete a culminating experience must register for the appropriate course. Prior to registering, the student must have received approval of the Graduate Approved Program and Proposal for Culminating Experience Requirement form by the Graduate Division.

A student who does not complete the course by the end of the semester of registration will be issued a grade of SP (Satisfactory Progress) or, if warranted, a NC (No Credit). When the project is completed, a grade change to CR (Credit) will be submitted to the Registrar's Office.

For internships, field studies, or creative work projects, the student is required to file the completed project in the department. All committee members must sign the Report of Completion of Culminating Experience Requirement form.


Detailed instructions for the preparation and submission of the thesis/written creative work are contained in the publication, Guidelines for Preparation and Submission of Theses/Written Creative Works, which can be purchased at the Rapid Copy Center of the library.

Review of Theses/Written Creative Works: Theses or written creative works received in the Graduate Division by the published deadline will be reviewed to determine if the requirements set forth in the guidelines have been met. Should corrections be necessary, it is the student's responsibility to resubmit the corrected copy by the published deadline.

Submission of the Document: The original document with signatures of the faculty committee members with original, must be filed in the library. Students must pay a fee to cover the costs of preparing two microfiche copies and binding the copy required for the library. A receipt from the Rapid Copy Center is sent to the graduation evaluator to verify that this process has been completed.


The California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Education, requires that all the requirements for a master's degree be completed within a seven-year period. No more than seven years may elapse between the start of the term of the earliest dated course on the Graduate Approved Program and the date the last course on the program is actually completed and the application for graduation is filed.

Exceptions to the Seven-year Rule. A student may submit the Petition for GAP Substitution or Exception form to substitute other appropriate courses, either those already completed or those yet to be completed. Transfer credit that exceeds seven years may not be used to meet degree requirements.

One-year Extension. In unusual circumstances, a candidate may file a request with the dean of the Graduate Division for an extension of up to one year to complete the requirements for the degree. Anytime an extension is granted, the California Code of Regulations , Title 5 , requires that the candidate pass a validating examination in the relevant course or subject field. The determination of the nature of the examination and its administration are the responsibility of the major department. After completion of this requirement, the major department reports the results to the Graduate Division using the Report of Completion of Specified Graduate Program Requirements form. Extensions beyond one year require a petition endorsed by the major department and approved by the dean of the Graduate Division.

The following chart provides examples of the dates of expiration of the work specified on the GAP according to the seven-year limitations:

First requirements on GAP begun: Time limit GAP will expire:
Summer 1994 June 2001
Fall 1994 August 2001
Spring 1995 January 2002
Summer 1995 June 2002
Fall 1995 August 2002
Spring 1996 January 2003
Summer 1996 June 2003
Fall 1996 August 2003
Spring 1997 January 2004
Summer 1997 June 2004
Fall 1997 August 2004
Spring 1998 January 2005
Summer 1998 June 2005
Fall 1998 August 2005
Spring 1999 January 2006
Summer 1999 June 2006
Fall 1999 August 2006
Spring 2000 January 2007
Summer 2000 June 2007
Fall 2000 August 2007
Spring 2001 January 2008
Summer 2001 June 2008
Fall 2001 August 2008
Spring 2002 January 2009
Summer 2002 June 2009


Candidates for degrees must file an application for graduation in accordance with the university calendar. The Application for Graduation, which is available at the Graduate Division, requires master's candidates to pay the graduation fee in the Bursar's Office and then file the form in the Graduate Division.

Applications will not be approved for a specified term unless all requirements have been met as of the deadline date for filing. If a candidate does not complete the requirements as planned in a particular semester, he/she must refile the Application for Graduation to be considered in a subsequent semester.

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