Advancement to Candidacy
The Petition for Advancement to Graduate Candidacy [pdf] (Candidacy Form) is the university contract of your graduate degree program. An approved Candidacy Form allows you to successfully progress towards graduation.
Utilize the following criteria to prepare for your advancement to candidacy.
- Achieve Graduate Classified Status
Your graduate department admitted you either to a conditionally classified or classified status. Students who were admitted conditionally classified have prerequisites that they must complete as outlined in their admission letter from SJSU. These prerequisites must be fulfilled per SJSU's Change in Classification policy prior to Advancement to Graduate Candidacy.
If you have any questions on the prerequisites listed on your admissions letter, please contact your Graduate Advisor.
Once you have fulfilled all prerequisites outlined in your admission letter, make sure you notify your Graduate Advisor and submit all required documentation to your graduate department.
Your Graduate Advisor will notify GAPE that your status should be changed from conditional to classified status via one of two forms:
1. Change in Classification in Master's Program: Graduate Advisors submit the change of classification form to GAPE, indicating that all student admission conditions have been fulfilled, allowing the student's conditional status to be lifted and establishing the classified status.
2. Petition for Advancement to Graduate Candidacy [pdf]: The Graduate Advisor's signature on the candidacy form indicates that the Graduate Advisor has checked that all conditions have been fulfilled, allowing the student's conditional status to be lifted and establishing the classified status. Graduate Advisors do not need to submit the Change in Classification in Master’s Program form to GAPE.
Note: Do not list your pre-requisites on your candidacy form. Submission of a Graduate Advisor approved candidacy form indicates that pre-program requirements have been fulfilled. The candidacy form should only include program requirements.
- Complete a Minimum of 9 units of Letter-Graded Program Courses
- Fulfill the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)
University Policy requires that all graduate students demonstrate competency in written English. Graduate students must satisfy the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) before advancement to candidacy.
Students Admitted Fall 2020 Semester or Later: Graduate students admitted in the Fall 2020 semester or later may satisfy the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) in one of three ways:
1. Satisfactory completion of a GWAR course. Each graduate program has a designated GWAR course embedded within the program degree requirements.
2. Approval by the College of Graduate Studies of a professional publication written in English for which the candidate was a primary author.
3. Completion of a master’s or doctoral program with a substantive writing requirement at an accredited university in which the primary language of instruction is English.
Each department may establish its own criteria within these policy guidelines. Waiving the program GWAR requirement will require the addition of an elective selected in consultation with the graduate advisor.
Student Admitted Prior to Fall 2020 Semester: Graduate students enrolled in their program prior to the Fall 2020 semester may meet their GWAR requirement in one of four ways:
1. Satisfactory completion of a baccalaureate degree at a CSU campus.
2. Satisfactory completion of a GWAR course. Each graduate program has a designated GWAR course embedded within the program's degree requirements.
3. Approval by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies of a well-written, professional (peer-reviewed) publication, graduate thesis or dissertation in which the student was the sole author.
4. Satisfactory completion of a discipline-specific upper-division writing course at another university judged by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies to be equivalent in content and writing requirements to the SJSU 100W.
- Complete all Program Courses with a C or Higher
All graduate students must complete all courses in the graduate degree program (as listed on the candidacy form) with grades between “A” and “C,” or “CR.”
Grades of “C-” or lower, including “NC,” “U,” “IC” and “WU,” are considered to be unsatisfactory and will prevent approval of your candidacy form.
Prior to candidacy approval: Should a core course in the graduate degree program receive an unsatisfactory grade, this unsatisfactory grade must remain on the candidacy form and will be computed into the candidacy grade point average, along with the core course satisfactory grade.
After candidacy approval: Should a course on the approved candidacy form receive an unsatisfactory grade, this unsatisfactory grade must remain on the candidacy form and will be computed into the candidacy grade point average. The course must then be repeated or replaced, depending on whether it is a core or elective course, per SJSU's Repeat Policy.
- Maintain a Minimum 3.0 GPA in Degree Program and Graduate Record
All graduate students must have a cumulative grade point average of a 3.0 in their graduate program (all courses listed on the candidacy form) and a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on their SJSU graduate record (transcript) in order to Advance to Candidacy.
Note: Lower division courses should not be listed on the candidacy form and are not included in this calculation.
- Complete Courses Within Time Limit
Graduate students must complete their degree program requirements within their appropriate time limit.
Doctoral Students: Courses may be no older than 5 years
Master’s Students: Courses may be no older than 7 years
If a course becomes outdated, students have the following options:
- Repeat the outdated course without credit.
- Revalidate the outdated coursework by examination. (A Request for Course Validation form may be submitted, but must be initiated by your Graduate Advisor)
- Meet All Graduate Program Requirements
Program Courses: Assigned Grading
• At least 60% of all units included on the candidacy form must be in letter-graded course work (i.e. A+, A, A-, B+, B, etc.). Therefore, 40% or a maximum of 12 units of a 30-unit program can be Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) courses.
Transfer Credit Limit
• At least 70% of the units included must be in residence at SJSU. Therefore, 30% or a maximum of 9 units may be transferred into a 30-unit program from all sources (i.e. External Institutions, SJSU Open University, and/or SJSU Undergraduate Career).
Catalog Degree Template
• Complete all requirements for the degree as listed in the degree template in the university catalog. Substitutions for core and other required courses in the template must be justified and approved by the graduate program coordinator and department chair by submitting a Request for Course Substitution Petition (Core).
Understand how to submit your candidacy form by selecting the following items.
- Follow Form Instructions
The candidacy form serves as a contract between the following parties:
Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations Office (GAPE)
Approval of the candidacy form indicates that by successfully completing coursework as listed on your form, you will be awarded a graduate degree. Once you have met the Criteria for Candidacy Advancement, you will want to complete each section of your candidacy form as accurately as possible.
The information in this section should reflect what is currently listed in your MySJSU account. Should you need to update any of your personal information, please visit the Registrar’s Office Update Personal Information webpage for instructions.
The information in this section pertains to the degree you are currently seeking and the program you are working on completing. Here you will also indicate your means of satisfying the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) and which Culminating Experience (Plan A, B, or C) you plan to complete.
Proposed Graduate Degree Program
For these sections, you will use the following two resources in consultation with your Graduate Advisor in order to complete your form:
Section A – Courses
To begin, list each course in correspondence with your degree program requirements in the chronological semester order for which you plan to complete them. Then, while referencing your unofficial transcript, list the grade you have earned thus far for the associated course. Refrain from including grades for courses which have not been listed in your unofficial transcript. “In-progress” coursework grades should not be listed.
Section B – Culminating Experience
Indicate which culminating experience you plan to complete in reference with your degree program requirements by utilizing the appropriate “checkbox” on the form. Your selection should mirror what you had previously listed in the Degree Information section of your form. Here you will also indicate the culminating experience course you plan to complete and the anticipated semester you plan to complete it in.
Section C – Transfer Courses/Total Program Units
For students who have not previously received an advanced evaluation of their transfer credits, you may indicate that coursework in this section of the form (if applicable). Please review the Validate Any Eligible Graduate Transfer Credits section of the Academic Planning webpage for information on how many units may be transferred in and which types of units qualify to be transferred in. Do not complete the “Sub. for SJSU course” portion, as it should be completed by your Graduate Advisor, if applicable. This section of the form is also used to summarize the total number of units you will be required to complete in order to earn your degree. Under the portion titled “Unit” to the right-hand side of the document, enter the total number of units associated with sections A, B, and C of the form.
Note: If you do not require review of any transfer coursework, only enter your total program units and then skip to the next section of the form.
Complete one final review of the information you have provided. It is vital that you sign your candidacy form as it certifies the accuracy of the information provided. You will then submit your form to your Graduate Advisor and additionally, if required, your Project/Thesis Advisor for approval. Finally, once the required signatures are acquired, your form will need to be submitted to GAPE for review.
Your form may be submitted to the GAPE Office via one of the following methods for review:
Interoffice mail (extended ZIP 0017)
Emailed directly to the assigned GAPE Program Evaluator
- Meet Submission Deadlines
The deadline to submit your candidacy form for Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations (GAPE) review, will depend on your expected graduation term. Please review the GAPE Deadlines webpage, which outlines the candidacy submission deadline (among other important deadlines), associated with your graduation term.
- Confirm Your Candidacy Status
You can confirm your Candidacy Status within your MySJSU portal. Additionally, a copy of your approved Candidacy form will be emailed to you. Your university-approved Candidacy form is your official document of degree progress.
The GAPE Office will notify students of received and processed graduate forms by means of MySJSU Indicator. Indicators are located on the right navigation panel of the MySJSU Student Center.
The MySJSU portal provides students with two tracking features: MyProgress and MyDegree Tracker. It is important to note that not all graduate programs are fully configured in these tracking features and features may not accurately reflect a graduate student's approved candidacy form.
Explore policies and procedures that govern graduate candidacy below.
- Academic Standing
Graduate students must maintain certain academic requirements in order to remain in “good standing."
Maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (“B”) while completing requirements in your degree program. Failure to maintain the required minimum GPA may result in Academic Probation or subsequently, Academic Disqualification. Should a student be academically disqualified, please consult with your Graduate Advisor regarding the Reinstatement Process.
Complete all courses in the graduate degree program with grades between “A” and “C,” or “CR.” Grades of “C-“or lower, including “NC,” “U,” “IC” and “WU,” are considered to be unsatisfactory. Should courses in the graduate degree program be completed with unsatisfactory grades, these grades must remain in the program and will continue to be computed in the grade point average of the program whether they are repeated or not. Students who earn an unsatisfactory grade must work with their Graduate Advisor to add another course to their proposed program with equivalent unit value to the course in which they received the unsatisfactory grade.
For more information, please review the complete Academic Standing policy in the Academic Catalog.
- Change of Program
Students who are currently enrolled and wish to change their graduate program may do so by submitting a Change of Graduate Program Petition. Students should follow the priority deadlines listed below when making their request:
Priority Filing Deadlines
Start Term of Fall Semester - File petition by July 1st
Start Term of Spring Semester - File petition by December 1st
Prior to submitting the petition, it is recommended that students contact the Graduate Advisor for the new degree program regarding any additional documents which may be needed for consideration into their major. After submission, the petition will be evaluated by the Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations (GAPE) Office for eligibility. Eligible students will have their academic information sent to the Graduate Advisor for the new major.
Submission of this petition alone does not indicate approval. Final approval is decided by the department graduate advisor, who will subsequently inform GAPE of their decision. If the new department admits you into their program, your graduate program will be changed for the next available term.
This process may take several weeks to complete. Once GAPE has been notified of the department decision, students will receive notification via their Other Indicators in their MySJSU account.
- Course Grades
Program Course Grades (Satisfactory): Graduate students must complete all courses in the graduate degree program with grades between “A” and “C,” or “CR.” Visit the University Catalog to review Graduation Requirements.
Program Course Grades (Unsatisfactory): Grades of “C-” or lower, including “NC,” “U,” “IC” and “WU,” are considered to be unsatisfactory. Unsatisfactory grades must remain in the degree program and will continue to be computed in the GPA of the program. The candidacy form will record each program course repeated and the grade earned. Visit the Course Repetition section below or the Repeat Policy in the catalog for more information.
Transcript Course Grades (Grading System): Traditional letter grades are used for all courses taken by graduate students. Field work, thesis, project, individual study and internship courses are usually graded with non-traditional grades (Credit/No Credit). Graduate students do not have the option of choosing between the traditional or non-traditional grading system. Visit the Grading System in Graduate Work in the catalog. Note: The graduate program must include at least 60% of traditional letter-graded courses.
Transcript Course Level (Grading System): Lower division undergraduate courses (01-99) cannot be used for graduate degree credit and are not included in the GPA computation. Note: A master's program must include at least 50% of 200-level courses.
- Course Repetition
University Policy F08-2 [pdf] stipulates that graduate students may repeat a maximum of 9 units in their graduate careers, regardless of the number of units required in a degree program.
Transcript (Graduate Record): Graduate students and 200-level courses are not eligible for grade forgiveness. A graduate student’s transcript will indicate all SJSU courses repeated and the grades earned.
Candidacy Form (Graduate Program): A student's candidacy form will record each program course repeated and the grade earned. Course grades will be effectively averaged in the program's GPA calculation. Grades of an “NC,” “WU” or “IC,” or letter grades below “C” (unsatisfactory grades) are recorded and must be repeated or compensated for in another way.
- Repeated Course: If an unsatisfactory grade is earned in a required or core program course (non-elective course), the course must be repeated. Please note that graduate students may repeat any 100-level or 200-level course in which a grade below a “B,” including an “NC,” “WU” or “IC,” was received in the first attempt.
- Compensated Course: If an unsatisfactory grade is earned in an elective course, the course can be repeated or another course with equivalent unit value can be taken (with advisor consent) as compensation. Graduate students will petition through their graduate advisor to add the new compensated course to their approved Candidacy Form.
This repeat policy is also true of courses in programs that have special grade requirements beyond those of the university standard, e.g., requirement of “B” grades in all core classes.
- Course Revalidation
Section 40510(b)(2), California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Education, requires that courses completed within a graduate program must adhere to a time limit. If a course goes beyond the prescribed time period, it becomes expired or invalid.
Doctoral Program Time Limit: 5 years
Master’s Program Time Limit: 7 years
Graduate students have two options when a course becomes expired in their graduate program.
Option 1: Repeat the outdated course with a passing grade. A graduate student may repeat a maximum of 9 units. Additional units gained by repeating a given course will not contribute to the degree total. Repeated grade will be factored into the GPA for graduation.
Option 2: Revalidate the outdated SJSU course by examination. Graduate Advisors will utilize the Request for Revalidation of Course form to resolve expired courses. A master's student may revalidate a maximum of 9 units of a 30-unit master’s degree program, or 12 units for a program with more than 30 units.
- Course Substitution
The candidacy form, once approved, is an official contract between the student and university.
Elective course substitutions and core course substitutions can be requested by submitting the Request for Course Substitution For the Graduate Degree. A course may not be dropped from the graduate degree program, as indicated by its appearance on a candidacy form, once the course has been completed.
- Disqualification and Reinstatement
Students are strongly advised to review University Disqualification Policy for more information.
Academic disqualification occurs when a graduate student, on probation or continued probation, earns below a 3.0 GPA in a Fall or Spring term. Disqualified students must be successfully reinstated and readmitted in order to resume their graduate study.
Reinstatement is a process separate from readmission.
- Reinstatement is the process where a disqualified student becomes eligible for readmission to the
university. A disqualified student should contact their advisor to initiate the Petition for Reinstatement process.
- Readmission is the process where a student submits a Cal State Apply application to regain admission to the university. To meet application deadlines, students may need to start the readmission process before reinstatement is complete.
- Reinstatement is the process where a disqualified student becomes eligible for readmission to the university. A disqualified student should contact their advisor to initiate the Petition for Reinstatement process.
- Leave of Absence
By University Policy S15-3 [pdf], a formal leave of absence for graduate students for medical, care-giving, military service, personal hardship, or educational reasons may be requested by submission of the fully signed and documented Leave of Absence Petition. For detailed information on the process and restrictions see Leaves of Absence and Withdrawal.
Graduate students are eligible for all leaves of absence except when finished with all degree requirements other than their culminating experience (thesis, project, and/or comprehensive exam plus any other components required of the program). At that point, neither voluntary absence for a semester nor financial leaves are permissible.
- Second Master's Degree
There are two options for acquiring a second master’s degree: sequential or simultaneous.
- Sequential: The student must formally reapply to the university for the second master's degree
program in a term after the first degree is awarded.
- Simultaneous: A student in good standing enrolled in one master’s program may pursue a second master’s degree concurrently. Matriculated students do not need to formally reapply to the university; however, students must secure approval for admission into the second master’s program. Contact the GAPE office for more information on this process. Please note that both simultaneous degree programs must be completed in the same semester to qualify for the double degree award.
View the catalog for more details: Second Master's Degree.
- Sequential: The student must formally reapply to the university for the second master's degree program in a term after the first degree is awarded.