See Bulletin section entitled Schedule of Fees.

See Bulletin section entitled Student Financial Aid. Depending on need, graduate students admitted in conditionally classified, classified or credential status are eligible for loans, grants, scholarships, and federal work study. Financial assistance specifically for graduate students is limited. Graduate applicants should check directly with the department/program to determine if Teaching Associate or Graduate Assistant positions are available.


The purpose of San Francisco State University’s Graduate Equity Fellowship program is to increase diversity by encouraging outstanding students from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds to complete master's and doctoral degrees at SF State. Credential-only and certificate students are not eligible. See


The Academic Honors and Fellowships Office assists graduate students applying for nationally competitive fellowships as well as system-wide scholarships offered by CSU. These awards may include funding for graduate studies, as well as research experience and prestigious internships in the U.S. and abroad. Successful applicants have strong records of academic achievement, leadership and public service activities.To explore the possibility of pursuing a nationally competitive fellowship in your field or area of professional interest make an appointment with Dr. Joy Vivoros in the Advising Center, Admin 211 or email


Graduate assistantships are made available to students each semester. Interested students should apply directly to their major department. Graduate assistantships are designed to provide professional experience and financial assistance to qualified graduate students. These positions may involve work with undergraduate students in a classroom, laboratory, or to provide research assistance to faculty. To be eligible, a student must meet the following minimum requirements:


The University, through its major departments, provides graduate students with part-time employment as teaching associates in courses related to their area of advanced study. The appointments usually involve teaching classroom and/or laboratory courses, assessing student performance, and tutoring students. The students assist faculty with field experiences, supervision, and/or research projects. To be eligible, a student must as a minimum:


See Bulletin section General Policies and Procedures: Registration Policies for information on registration for classes, withdrawal policies, and leaves of absence. Graduate Studies does not oversee the registration process or adding or withdrawing from classes. Contact the department graduate coordinator and/or the registrar at One Stop.


Fall and Spring Semesters. Full-time study for graduate students during the fall and spring semesters is defined as follows:

The University reserves the right to limit the number of units a student can register for in the initial registration period. The maximum unit load with permission of designated faculty advisor is 16 units. Students seeking to take more than sixteen units must submit the Request to Exceed Regular Academic Unit Load form to the major adviser, college graduate coordinator, and dean of Graduate Studies. After appropriate signatures have been obtained, the form is forwarded to the Registrar's Office. Under no circumstances will a post-baccalaureate student be given permission to exceed eighteen units in any semester. Students attempting to do so will be administratively dropped from their excess units. Students in some cohort professional programs are excluded from this policy by agreements with the Registrar.

For further information see ACADEMIC LOAD

Summer Semester. Graduate students may enroll in a maximum of six units in a five-week summer session, nine units in the eight-week summer session, and eleven units in any combination of summer sessions (R1, R2, and R3). Some students in twelve month professional programs are excluded from this policy.


Departments with high graduate enrollments have the authority to assign priorities to students wishing to enroll in graduate-level courses. Any use of a priority system must be implemented only for the purpose of allowing majors in the program an opportunity of taking the courses needed to complete the degree program in a timely manner. From a pool of individuals, the department would normally be expected to grant admission to the class in the following rank order: (1) graduate majors of the department/program; (2) classified graduate students from other departments including Special Majors/Interdisciplinary Majors; (3) advanced undergraduate students. It is the student and faculty member’s responsibility to determine that prerequisites for graduate courses have been met.


Graduate students enrolled in upper division courses are expected to complete additional course work and to meet academic standards above the requirements for undergraduate students. The faculty member teaching the course is responsible to prescribe the additional course work and/or academic standards required of graduate students. Graduate students are to be informed of these requirements within the first two weeks of the semester.


Paired courses are offered at a common meeting time and place, but are eligible for either undergraduate or graduate credit, with different requirements delineated for graduate students. Graduate students must enroll in the graduate level of the paired course, numbered (700-889) and complete all graduate level expectations as described in the course syllabus. A paired course taken at the undergraduate level may not be repeated for credit at the graduate level.


Most graduate programs have a Special or Independent Study 899 course. Typically, this is an intensive study of an identified problem or subject which is carefully planned in advance, developed, and completed under the direction of a tenured/tenure track faculty member (see Graduate Faculty). Graduate students may not enroll in a Special Study 699 (undergraduate) course.

While each department may establish its own specific criteria, the following are basic requirements or guidelines:

A petition for a special study form may be obtained from the major department office. Special Study contracts must be filed in the department and are subject to audit by CSU reviewers.


Exemption from a required course through credit by examination is seldom permitted at the graduate level at SF State. In extraordinary cases, graduate students may be exempt from completing a single required course if they enter the program with exceptional experience or skills in the area of study. Such an exemption does not decrease the number of units required for the degree.

To earn credit by examination, a student must obtain approval from the department chair and graduate coordinator. Grading options will be the same as that available for the course being challenged. The examination is to be comprehensive and include whatever activity, test, or demonstration is deemed appropriate for evaluating the skills, understanding, or knowledge required by the objectives of the course. Students must be regularly enrolled during the semester they earn credit by examination. Units earned via credit by examination are counted as part of the total units registered for a given semester and appropriate fees must be paid. Grades received as a result of the examination will be recorded on the student's permanent record and appropriate grade points assigned.


Prior to Enrolling in the Culminating Experience:
Students who leave the University for two or more consecutive semesters (not including winter or summer sessions), or who have attended another college or university during their absence, must reapply for admission to the University through CSU Mentor, pay the application fee and reapply to the program in which they were enrolled. Any student who loses continuing enrollment status in the University must meet curriculum requirements in effect at the time of reentering classified status or the semester in which a new GAP/Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) form is filed. Readmission to the degree program is not guaranteed.

Following Enrollment in the Culminating Experience:
Students who have registered for the Culminating Experience Course through the regular university will not be required to enroll in the University during the following semester in which they are completing their Culminating Experience. After the semester of enrollment in the Culminating Experience and the subsequent semester, all graduate students are required to maintain continuous enrollment through the College of Extended Learning (CEL) until the degree is earned. Students in the CEL course will have access to library and discipline specific laboratories. The seven year “time to degree” is in force. Students in the Culminating Experience continuous enrollment program should maintain frequent contact each semester with their faculty member and meet all timelines set forth in the Culminating Experience proposal document (see policy on Graduate Studies website).


Special Sessions: A limited number of university degree, credential, and certificate programs are offered in Special Sessions through the College of Extended Learning (CEL). Applicants to a Special Sessions program are required to apply to SF State online through CSU Mentor and apply to the program offered by an academic department via the College of Extended Learning. Once admitted to the University and the program, students register and enroll through CEL in the courses for that specific program. Special Sessions students have matriculated status and must meet all university academic performance standards, graduation requirements, and observe all university conduct expectations.

The list of current and anticipated Special Sessions programs, grouped by category (degree, credential, and certificate) appears in the College of Extended Learning section of this Bulletin. The following web site provides additional information:

Open University: Students may apply up to 6 units taken through Open University enrollment toward a 30-unit master’s degree provided they are accepted by the graduate coordinator of the degree program. They may take proportionally more for a program with more than 30 units, but no more than 12 units can be applied to a program with 60 or more units if accepted by the degree program. (See section on Graduate Approved Program/Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) for complete information on how many transfer or Extended Learning units can be used on the GAP/ATC.) Students taking courses through Open University related to a specific degree program should seek advisement from the program and apply for admission.

Winter Session: Courses taken through the SF State winter session may earn residency credit for an advanced degree with approval of the program graduate coordinator if the student has been admitted to a master’s degree program. A maximum of 6 units of course work taken in Winter Session prior to formal admission to a graduate program may be applied toward the degree with permission of the program graduate coordinator. If a matriculated student is enrolled in a graduate program, he/she should check with the department to determine the unit limits.

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Last modified July 06, 2012 by