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Graduate Student Information

Please visit the Graduate Education website for detailed information, procedures, and policies.


Graduate Credit Taken as an Undergraduate

Undergraduates are not permitted to take courses in the 400–500 series until they are within 12 quarter units of baccalaureate graduation (NOTE: Requirement does not apply to Blended program applicants). Students who subsequently enter a graduate program at Cal Poly may petition to receive graduate credit for up to twelve units of 400/500-level coursework, provided the courses were not used toward the completion of the baccalaureate degree. Students should verify the applicability of such credit toward their graduate objective.


Working Formal Study Plan & Advancement to Candidacy

Students shall file a Working Formal Study Plan & Advancement to Candidacy before the end of the first term of their master's program. The formal study plan is an agreement between the student and the university outlining the specific requirements to be completed in order to receive a master's degree. The student must demonstrate completion of the Graduation Writing Requirement (GWR) before submission.

As students progress in their graduate programs, it is understood that changes may occur to the Working Formal Study Plan. Revisions to the Working Formal Study Plan are not required, but students must submit a Final Formal Study Plan within the first three weeks of the quarter in which they expect to graduate (see Final Formal Study Plan below).

NOTE: The total units listed in the plan should match the total units required for the degree. For example, if the degree is a 45-unit program, 45 total units should be reflected in the plan. Students should work directly with their Graduate Coordinator to ensure accuracy.


Application for Graduation

Students shall file an Application for Graduation one quarter prior to the quarter they intend to complete all degree requirements and graduate. For example, if the student plans to graduate in the spring term, they must submit their application by the end of the previous winter term. The term listed on the Application for Graduation is recorded as the student's expected graduation term.

Completing the Application for Graduation initiates the student's eligibility to participate in the Commencement Ceremony and prompts the Evaluations Unit of the Office of the Registrar to review the student's record for degree completion at the end of the term indicated. For these reasons, the Application for Graduation can only be submitted once. Should a graduate student need to change their expected graduation term, they must complete a Change of Degree Completion Term Request (instructions are outlined on the Graduation Process webpage).


Final Formal Study Plan

Students shall file a Final Formal Study Plan within the first three weeks of the quarter in which they expect to complete all degree requirements and graduate. The Final Formal Study Plan must accurately reflect the courses that have been completed and will satisfy all degree requirements. The student's final grade point average (GPA) is calculated using the courses listed on the Final Formal Study Plan.

Only degree-applicable 400-level and 500-level courses should appear on the Final Formal Study Plan.

NOTE: The total units listed in the plan should match the total units required for the degree. For example, if the degree is a 45-unit program, 45 total units should be reflected in the plan. Students should work directly with their Graduate Coordinator to ensure accuracy.


Culminating Experience

All graduate students must successfully complete a culminating experience (thesis, project, and/or comprehensive examination). Requirements for each individual graduate program's culminating experience are detailed in the Cal Poly Catalog.

All graduate students must be enrolled in the quarter in which they complete their degree requirements (including their culminating experience), and the time allowed to successfully complete all master's requirements is seven years.

Please visit the Graduate Education website for more information about culminating experience policies, requirements, and term deadlines.


Graduation with Distinction

Those candidates for master's degrees who attain a grade point average which is in the upper ten percent of those graduating in their major in that academic year, and whose grade point average is 3.75 or better, may upon the recommendation of the college dean be designated as "Graduating with Distinction".

The designation will appear on a student's final transcript and diploma; the designation will not be awarded at the December or June Commencement Ceremonies.


Blended Programs

Blended programs provide an accelerated route to a graduate professional degree with simultaneous conferring of both bachelor's and master's degrees upon completion of all degree requirements. Most blended programs allow for the possibility of student's applying some units toward the completion of both the bachelor's degree and the master's degree, effectively decreasing the summed unit requirements for both degrees (known as "double-counting"). Blended programs provide a seamless process whereby students can progress from undergraduate to graduate status without having to apply through the Admissions Office (thus eliminating the need to pay an application fee). For more information, visit the Graduate Education web site.


Repeating a Course

Students may enroll in a course for credit more than once only if the catalog course description states that the course may be repeated for credit. An exception to this policy allows repeating of a course in cases where a grade of D or F was received. However, for graduate students, both grades will be reflected in the calculation of the grade point average. Graduate students are not eligible to repeat courses and remove the lower grade points from calculation of the GPA.

However, graduate students can explore the possibility of replacing a class on their formal study plan. Should a student want to remove a course from their study plan, they must find a suitable alternative course that will fulfill the degree requirement. Students should work directly with their Graduate Coordinator to determine if replacing a course is appropriate.

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