There are approximately 6,000 students enrolled in post-baccalaureate study in ninety-four master’s programs, an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, and three joint doctoral programs with the University of California. In addition to the degree programs, the University offers credential programs in education and specialized graduate certificate programs. Our students, most of whom are working full- or part-time, are fully engaged in scholarly endeavors, including applied research, creative projects, and service to the community. General information about graduate study and how to begin and complete a post-baccalaureate program can be found in the following pages of the Bulletin, by accessing the web at, or by contacting the Division of Graduate Studies. A handbook for graduate students, the GradGuide, is available on the Graduate Studies web site or at the graduate orientation held before the start of each fall and spring semester.

Faculty Teaching in Graduate Programs

Faculty members teaching in graduate programs hold doctoral or other terminal degrees in their field. These tenured and tenure track faculty members serve as advisors on theses, creative works, field projects, and/or graduate comprehensive examinations committees based on the faculty member’s expertise and area of research or scholarly work. In some cases, non-tenure track faculty members with exceptional backgrounds in specific areas of study may be assigned to teach in graduate-level courses.

For detailed information about a specific program, the student should refer to that program’s entry in this Bulletin or contact the program’s graduate coordinator to obtain program specific admission and/or degree requirements. Graduate coordinator information is available on the Graduate Studies website under Graduate Advising.


Application for admission to a graduate degree, credential or certificate program requires the student to apply to both the University through CSU Mentor online and to the academic department/program.

Application to a post-baccalaureate program is limited to the choice of a single campus on each CSU Mentor application. Students may apply to one degree program only with each application submitted. To be assured of consideration for admission by more than one campus, applicants must submit separate applications (including fees) to each campus.


Minimum requirements for admission to graduate study in the California State University are in accordance with Title 5, Division 5, Chapter 1, Subchapter 3, of the California Code of Regulations. The University has the right to require higher standards than the minimum requirements published in Title 5.

Specifically, a student must at the time of enrollment: (1) hold an acceptable baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting association, or shall have completed equivalent academic preparation as determined by appropriate campus authorities; (2) be in good academic standing at the last college or university attended; (3) have attained a grade point average of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted; and (4) satisfactorily meet the professional, personal, scholastic, and other standards for graduate study, including qualifying examinations, as appropriate campus authorities may prescribe. In unusual circumstances, a campus may make exceptions to these criteria.

Programs and departments admit students based on academic qualifications and resource implications associated with offering the degree or program; therefore, not all students meeting minimal Title 5 and minimum University or program requirements can be accepted to the program.

Importance of Filing Complete, Accurate, and Authentic Application Documents

Applicants must supply complete and accurate information on all application materials for admission, residence questionnaire, and financial aid forms. Failure to file complete, accurate, and authentic application documents may result in denial of admission, cancellation of academic credit, suspension, or expulsion (Section 41301, Article 1.1, Title 5, California Code of Regulations). Admissions personnel have the right to verify all documents and statements made in documents submitted by students as part of the application process.


All graduate and post-baccalaureate applicants must furnish the Division of Graduate Studies with one official transcript from each college or university attended, including community college and study abroad coursework. Separate transcripts from each college or university are required even though one transcript may show work taken at another institution. Transcripts are not required for coursework completed at SFSU. Students must check the academic department/program information to determine if official transcripts must also be sent directly to the department. Official transcripts must be submitted in envelopes sealed by the issuing college or university.

Transcripts which have been submitted for admission or evaluation become the property of the university and are not returned or copied for distribution.

Entrance Examinations/Standardized Test Scores:

The University does not require applicants to complete an entrance examination as a condition for graduate admission; however, some departments or programs require that graduate degree applicants submit results of the aptitude, advanced, or area tests of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), or other required examinations. Some departments require that students complete the SFSU Graduate Essay Test (GET) prior to or during the first semester of admission. Information about the GET can be obtained at: Applicants are responsible for having the required examination results forwarded directly to the department or program.

Other Application Materials:

Letters of recommendation, statements of purpose, writing samples and /or résumé materials required by the department or program must be submitted directly to the department or degree program. Check department/program website or credential office for requirements.


The CSU Mentor online application filing periods open on the dates listed below. All applications must be submitted by the academic department deadline. Applicants should consult the website:, or contact the department/program for deadline and additional department/program information.

Domestic and International Applications:

Applications for spring are accepted beginning August. Not all programs accept spring applications.

Applications for fall are accepted beginning October.

Note: International Priority Application Period

International students whose application materials are received during the “priority” application period are most likely to complete the application process by the department deadline. The priority application deadlines for spring and fall are earlier than domestic application deadlines for most programs. Check the Graduate Studies or department deadlines.


A domestic applicant who is a graduate of an institution without regional accreditation, or from an institution whose degree is not considered equivalent to a baccalaureate degree from this university in terms of quality and/or content (e.g., specialized, professional, or certain international institutions), may not be admitted directly to graduate or credential status at this university. Instead, the applicant may be considered for admission as an undergraduate student. Upon satisfactory completion of the undergraduate degree or specified course work as determined by the appropriate campus authority, the student may then apply and be considered for admission to graduate or credential status. International students should review the International Student Admission Requirements section below. Information about regionally accredited universities can be found at the Council for Higher Education website (



Application to a graduate degree, credential or graduate certificate program, is a two-part process. Students must apply to the university via the online CSU Mentor application AND apply to the specific department/program offering the degree, credential or certificate. San Francisco State University accepts applications for admission for the fall and spring semesters only. Applicants seeking a second bachelor’s degree should submit the undergraduate CSU Mentor application for admission.

Applicants applying for one of the four doctoral programs offered through SFSU should check the Graduate Studies website and department for specific application deadlines and requirements. San Francisco State University offers four doctoral degree options. The Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, a SFSU degree, a Ph.D. in Special Education offered jointly with the University of California, Berkeley and the Doctor of Physical Therapy (clinical doctorate) and Doctor of Physical Therapy Science (research doctorate) offered jointly with the University of California San Francisco.

For the master’s degrees, credentials, graduate certificates programs and the Ed.D, the following processes must be followed:

PART ONE: Apply to the university online via CSU Mentor at, pay the required fee and submit to the Division of Graduate Studies official transcripts from all universities attended. Paper applications will not be accepted without prior approval from the Division of Graduate Studies. In addition to the online application, to ensure more rapid processing, applicants should gather official university-sealed transcripts from each institution previously attended, place them together in the same large envelope and submit them by mail or in person to the Division of Graduate Studies, ADM 250, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132-4013. Evaluation of a student application cannot occur until all transcripts have been received.

Applicants to graduate programs should apply early in the application period so that documents can be processed and forwarded to the department/programs in a timely manner for review. Students applying to degree programs offered through Special Sessions in the College of Extended Learning also must complete the CSU Mentor Application AND apply directly to the graduate program.

PART TWO: All graduate programs have additional application requirements. Department/program specific application materials may include (but are not limited to): copies of transcripts, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation and a résumé. These must be submitted directly to the department or program. Please consult directly with the major department or program for information about additional required materials or check online at (Prospective Students) to link to department-specific requirements.

Additional International Student Admission Requirements

SFSU has separate application requirements for international applicants—individuals holding or requiring an F1 or J1 visa and all applicants who have earned degrees outside of the U.S. International applicants may have earlier application deadlines than those listed for domestic students. Applicants holding or requiring F1 or J1 visas must also submit the SEVIS Information Form for International Admission and documents required for student visas. International students should access the Graduate Studies web site for information:

All F-1/J-1 visa international students must be formally admitted and enrolled in conditionally classified or classified status as matriculated students in degree or credential programs offered through the university or in selected certificate programs leading to professional preparation or certification. International applicants will be given full consideration for admission based on the SFSU’s commitment to internationalizing the student body.

Academic Eligibility. Applicants educated outside of the United States must have earned a degree or diploma that SFSU considers to be the equivalent to a 4-year U.S. bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. An official determination of eligibility will be made during the application process. Students graduating from international institutions with three year degrees preceded by thirteen years of pre-collegiate work and “A-level” passes are directly admissible to SFSU graduate programs if they meet all other university and program requirements. Students who hold a Bologna degree may be eligible for admission following comprehensive evaluation.

In general, international students with twelve years of pre-collegiate education, a three-year bachelor’s degree followed by a post-graduate diploma may be admissible to graduate programs at SFSU.

Required Educational Documents. Applicants educated outside of the U.S. must submit official or university-attested copies of all original academic documents in the original language of issue. Copies must be certified by the appropriate university official. Required documents include: the complete official academic record showing all courses or subjects, dates of enrollment and grades/marks received; official degree(s), diploma(s), or certificate(s) awarded. Official word-for-word English translations must be submitted in addition to the original language documents.

English Language Proficiency Requirement (TOEFL or IELTS). All graduate, credential and graduate certificate applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose native language is not English and whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English must demonstrate competence in English. According to Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations (Section 41040), “To be admitted to a campus as a post-baccalaureate or graduate student, an applicant who does not possess a baccalaureate degree from a postsecondary institution where English is the principal language of instruction must receive a minimum score of 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (213 on the computer-based test or 80 on the internet-based test-- iBT).” Students who have taken the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as an alternative must obtain a score of 6.0 or higher. Note that several graduate departments have higher English language proficiency requirements. Applicants who have earned degrees outside of the U.S., even if they have completed course work in English, should contact Graduate Studies to determine if they are required to take TOEFL or IELTS. TOEFL score reports should be sent to SFSU Division of Graduate Studies, Institution Code: 4684.

International students who do not meet SFSU TOEFL or IELTS standards are encouraged to apply to the American Language Institute at SFSU to prepare for full admission to SFSU graduate programs. Contact the American Language Institute for information,


Graduate Conditionally Classified: Most students who are admitted to the University are admitted to conditionally classified standing. Departments admit students in this category to evaluate progress toward degree completion. Students admitted in this category will be moved to classified status after submitting an approved Graduate Approved Program (GAP)/Advancement to Candidacy Form.

Graduate Classified: Students advance to this status after submitting an approved Graduate Approved Program (Gap)/Advancement to Candidacy Form. Very few students are admitted directly to this category.

Post-baccalaureate Classified: Students admitted to a credential or graduate certificate program will be admitted as post-baccalaureate classified. Admission in this status does not constitute admission to, or assurance of consideration for admission to, any graduate degree program. Contact the Credential Services/Teacher Preparation Center for further information. Students seeking admission for administrative or special education credentials should contact the departments directly.


If a student is admitted to the university before the final award of the baccalaureate degree or if a student has post-baccalaureate work in progress at the time of admission, an official transcript showing completion of all coursework and/or the degree awarded must be submitted before the end of the fourth week of the first semester of enrollment. Students who are admitted to a graduate program in this category must maintain a 3.0 GPA in all work completed before the degree is earned or admission status may be rescinded. Any student who does not submit documentation of completion of an undergraduate degree or other coursework completed is subject to one or more of the following actions: admission and registration cancellation, automatic reversion to undergraduate status, loss of all units taken for post-baccalaureate credit, disciplinary action as may be appropriate.

University Right to Select Students

The university, in its sole discretion, determines admissions based on an applicant’s suitability for graduate study which is based on a student’s application materials, fit with department mission and goals and faculty scholarship focus. Admission to graduate programs is selective and more students apply than can be accepted. Meeting minimal university requirements for admission does not ensure acceptance into a graduate program. The university and the programs have the right to verify all information and documents submitted in and with the application. The university reserves the right to select its students and deny admission to the university or any of its programs.


After review of all application materials, academic departments or program admission committees may notify students that they have been recommended for admission to the program. Students are formally admitted to the university and to the department or program only upon receipt of an official SFSU Graduate Admission Notification Letter issued by the SFSU Division of Graduate Studies.

Students who are denied by either the university or the academic department or program will receive written notification of denial from the Division of Graduate Studies.

Expiration of Admission Offer

Admission will be cancelled automatically if an applicant is accepted by San Francisco State University for a given semester and does not enroll in that semester. Applicants who let their admission offer expire must file a new application, pay a new application fee, and meet the requirements for admission in effect for the new term to which they are applying.


A graduate student must meet the department curriculum requirements published in the university Bulletin in the semester the student was admitted. Students who are notified by the department of changes in degree requirements at the time of enrollment must meet those requirements. Updates in requirements may be published in the online Bulletin, the student handbook or program advising materials. Students readmitted to a graduate program after an absence of more than one consecutive regular semester must meet the requirements of the program under their new admission year.


Graduate courses taken at another university are not automatically transferable to a SFSU program. A maximum of 6 semester units, which may include any combination of transfer units, extension work or credit by examination (under very limited conditions, see policy on Credit by Examination), may be used in meeting the requirements of a 30-unit program (a maximum of 12 semester units of the above may be used in meeting the requirements of a 60 or greater-unit program). Students requesting transfer of units should confer with the department chair or graduate coordinator and the Division of Graduate Studies during the admission process or immediately after notification of admission. Under no circumstance will more non-SFSU units than indicated above be accepted for a degree, credential or certificate.

Departments/programs have the authority to determine which transfer courses will be accepted for admission and be used on a Graduate Approved Program (GAP). (See section on Graduate Approved Program for more complete information.) Courses accepted for transfer credit by the department must meet the following minimum requirements, but higher requirements may be stipulated by the department:

It is the obligation of the student, the student’s advisor and the graduate coordinator to determine that the proposed transfer course meets all of the conditions for eligibility. A student wishing to have a course taken at another institution included as part of his/her graduate program should do the following:

Highly qualified students with special skills and expertise may be allowed to earn credit by examination. This option is seldom granted because a student must show a high level of prior competence and pass all course requirements through examination.


Courses taken prior to the award of the baccalaureate degree at SFSU are considered undergraduate courses. However, students who have completed all courses toward the undergraduate degree and who have applied formally for admission to an SFSU graduate program, may request on the Application for Award of Baccalaureate degree that up to 12 units of undergraduate or graduate work taken in the final semester before the award of the undergraduate degree be granted provisional post-baccalaureate status. Units to be applied toward a graduate degree may not be counted toward the undergraduate degree. Inclusion of units on a Graduate Approved Program taken as an undergraduate must have approval of the department/program admission committee or graduate coordinator.

If the baccalaureate degree is not completed at the end of the term in question, all the work taken with the intent to apply toward a graduate program will be counted as undergraduate work and the provisional post-baccalaureate status for specified courses will be voided.


Students entering SFSU in second baccalaureate status to prepare for a graduate program, must formally apply and be admitted to the graduate program before completing 9 units of graduate work. Students in second baccalaureate status may apply no more than 9 units toward the graduate degree, if the units are accepted by the program. Students should check with the advisor of the graduate program to determine if any units taken in second baccalaureate status can be applied toward the graduate degree. Units applied toward an earned second baccalaureate degree may not also be used for the graduate degree.


Courses applied to a graduate degree taken through Open University may not exceed 6 units in a 30-unit program or proportionally more for programs that exceed 30 units unless cooperative agreements have been made with the department and Graduate Studies.

Courses taken to improve the GPA prior to admission to a graduate program or following disqualification should be selected to improve academic preparation for graduate coursework. Students who enroll through Open University to improve their GPA may not apply those courses toward their graduate degree.


Students considering studying for two master’s degrees must work directly with the Director of Graduate Admissions to facilitate this process. Students seeking admission for concurrent enrollment in a second graduate degree must be in good standing in the first degree and should have completed at least 21 units of the coursework for the first degree. Students applying for concurrent enrollment in a second graduate degree must formally apply through CSU Mentor and pay the application fee. Students must also apply to the new program and meet all program requirements. Application for the second degree must include written support from both department/program chairs. Students admitted to a second master's degree program must meet all expectations and timelines for concurrent program completion (See Time Limit to Complete Requirements for Graduate Degrees.) Students studying for concurrent masters degrees may not use the same coursework nor complete the same culminating experience for both programs. For concurrent degrees with a common core, faculty of the programs must determine alternative core courses for the second degree.


Beginning in fall 2008, all credential students must apply to a master’s degree program via CSU Mentor. Contact the College of Education, Credential Services/Teacher Preparation Center for information on current admission policies for entry into a credential program. Students intending to secure both a master’s degree and a California basic teaching credential may in some programs pursue these objectives concurrently, although some departments do not allow the same courses to be used for both objectives. Check with the department for its policy


Former SFSU graduate students must apply for readmission if: (1) they have been absent for more than one consecutive regular semester as a matriculated student (excluding summer or winter sessions); or (2) they have attended another college in any interval of their absence. If a student has attended any other educational institution following attendance as a matriculated student at SFSU, transcripts must be submitted for all academic work in which the student was since last attending SFSU.

In order to be considered “in attendance” for any semester, the student must be enrolled in at least one class through the end of the twentieth day of instruction. Applications for readmission and all supporting materials must be filed in the Division of Graduate Studies in accordance with current requirements and procedures.

To be eligible for readmission, graduate students must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all course work attempted at SFSU in graduate status and all course work attempted at other colleges during their absence and must be in “good standing” at SFSU or any other educational institution attended for application materials to be forwarded to the program of interest.

Graduate Approved Programs (GAPs)/Advancement to Candidacy forms filed before leaving the university are automatically voided after more than one consecutive regular semester of absence has occurred and where no formal Planned Educational Leave of Absence has been granted. Planned Educational Leave can only be taken prior to enrolling in the Culminating Experience. (See Planned Educational Leave of Absence information.) Upon readmission, a new GAP that meets current curricular requirements must be completed and filed (see specific academic program information).

See also sections: Continuous Enrollment Requirements and Time Limit to Complete Requirements for Graduate Degrees.

More graduate and post-baccalaureate application information and regulations can be found at Graduate Registration.

Follow this link to read about Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures.

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Last modified July 06, 2012 by