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 includes the specific requirements (e.g., courses, examinations, culminating experience) 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 and/or UACUC.


If a student does not complete the GAP with the required 3.0 GPA, 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 course. Students expecting to complete a culminating experience must register for the appropriate course. Prior to registering, a student must have received approval of the Graduate Approved Program and Proposal for Culminating Experience Requirement forms 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 RP (Report in 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 must be filed in the Library. Students must pay a fee to cover the costs of preparing the Library copy. 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 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.

Extension of the Seven-year Limit. In unusual circumstances, a candidate may file a petition with the dean of the Graduate Division for a one-time extension to complete the requirements for the degree. The outdated course work must be validated by examination or other demonstration of competency in the relevant course or subject field as determined by the major department. The department must provide the student with a statement of support to be submitted with the petition, providing proof of competency in the subject matter or establishing requirements for additional course work or validating examination as appropriate. This statement must also set a final deadline for completion of the degree.

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 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

Fall 2002

August 2009

Spring 2003

January 2010

Summer 2003

June 2010


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.