Graduate Student FAQs

READ! Read about being a graduate student. Particularly, read Part Three and Four of the Graduate Bulletin. These pages inform you about fees, admissions, residency, regulations and the requirements for doctoral and masters degrees. Refer to the Graduate Bulletin often. Communicating with your program adviser or director will be important to your success as well.
The Red ID Number (a 9-digit number, beginning with the number "8," shown on your admission letter) is the reference number used to identify you and your student record. If you do not have this number, or have misplaced it, contact the Registrar's Office (619-594-6871). You will also need to pick up your ID card as well. Please see the Card Office website for more information.

Students admitted with classified standing have met all university and department requirements for admission. Classified students are fully eligible to proceed with courses for their graduate program of study, and should not be required to take any prerequisites or meet any additional requirements beyond those listed in the Graduate Bulletin for all students.

Students admitted conditionally have not met all university or department requirements for admission. Conditionally admitted students are typically required to take prerequisite courses or maintain a minimum GPA during their first several semesters of attendance. The specific conditions, and the allotted time period for completing them, are set by the student's department. If you have been admitted conditionally, please contact your graduate advisor for specific information regarding your conditions.

Adequate completion of a student's conditions is determined by the department. If you believe that you have satisfied your conditions, or would like to request more time to meet them, submit the Change of Status form online. Once this form has been approved by the Graduate Advisor, it will be submitted to Graduate Affairs for final evaluation.

Graduate Student E-forms

Registration for classes is completed online through Web Portal. However, prior to registration, required fees must be paid. Payment may be made either (1) by check made payable to SDSU; (2) online ( using personal checking account information or with a credit card through CASHNET SmartPay ( Once fees are paid, you may access registration through your Web Portal account.
The Program of Study (POS) is a contract between the student, the department, and the university. The POS consists of the complete list of courses a student will take in order to satisfy the requirements for the degree. It includes both required coursework and electives. The POS can only be submitted by students with classified graduate standing. The graduate advisor and student consult about the Program of Study. Once an agreement is reached, the advisor submits the POS to the Graduate Division electronically for review. If the POS meets all university requirements it is given final approval by the Graduate Dean and becomes binding.

If you wish to alter an approved POS, a Petition for Adjustment of Academic Requirements must be supported by the graduate advisor and approved by Graduate Affairs. You must complete the petition, obtain approval of the graduate advisor, and it will be submitted to Graduate Affairs. You will receive an email confirmation once the petition has been reviewed.

Graduate Student E-forms

In most graduate programs the maximum transfer credit allowed is 9 units. This includes coursework taken through SDSU Global Campus. (Refer to the University Policies section of the Graduate Bulletin for specific exceptions.) All transfer credit must have been taken at an appropriately accredited university, and approved by the graduate advisor and the Graduate Dean.

A student who has been advanced to candidacy has been officially recognized by the university as a candidate for the degree. In order to be advanced to candidacy a student must complete a minimum number of POS units, have a minimum POS GPA of 3.00, and complete any departmental requirements. Students are typically nominated for advancement by their department, and reviewed for advancement by Graduate Affairs at the time the request is submitted. If approved for advancement to candidacy, the student becomes eligible to file the Appointment of Thesis/Project Committee form in preparation for enrollment in thesis (Plan A), or to sit for the comprehensive examination (Plan B). For a list of advancement requirements, and for exceptions to the rules listed above, please refer to the Graduate Bulletin.
It is never too early to start thinking about the thesis. Preparing a dissertation or thesis (from the proposal development stage to the final manuscript) requires advance planning. As you progress through the Program of Study, a topic of interest will develop. Seek out the advice and counsel of faculty members within your academic department and determine their willingness to chair your thesis committee. Two additional members (one within your department, one from outside your department) must also be secured in order to complete the thesis committee. If the research involves human or animal subjects, prior approval must be obtained from the appropriate university office, i.e., the Institutional Review Board or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Once a student has been advanced to candidacy, the Appointment of Thesis/Project Committee paperwork may be filed, and the final step in the culminating experience (writing and publication of the thesis) can officially begin.
Diplomas are ordered once degrees have been awarded. You can read more about the process on our Graduation Information page.