Download the PDF version
Paperwork: Advancement to Candidacy and Graduation
This handbook was developed by the Graduate Council to help graduate students at Humboldt State University (HSU) successfully navigate their way through a master’s program. This handbook includes information reproduced from various sources including the HSU catalog, faculty handbook and from numerous policy documents. Effort has been taken to avoid conflicts between various sources; however conflicts over interpretation or language may occur. When conflicts transpire, Title 5 of the California Administrative Code of Regulations and the HSU catalog take precedence over this handbook. This handbook stipulates the minimum HSU requirements for completion of a master’s degree, though some graduate programs have additional requirement beyond those covered herein.
If at any time you have questions regarding policies, procedures, requirements, or any other matters related to your academic program you should seek advice in the following order: 1) your major advisor, 2) your graduate committee members, 3) the graduate administrative assistant and graduate coordinator of your program, and finally Graduate Studies, particularly on questions relating to university-wide policies, procedures, and requirements.
The purpose of the council is to discuss and approve such things as graduate program policy, program review, and the strategic plan for graduate education.
The Graduate Council consists of the Vice Provost, Academic Programs (Chair) and a faculty member (graduate coordinator) from each master’s program. One student from each college may attend as a representative for all students within the college. If you are interested in being a representative please contact your program’s graduate coordinator. Appointments are for one year and student representatives should be available to attend each meeting.
Meetings are held during the academic year on the first Monday of the Month from 3:00 to 4:30 pm.
Conditionally Classified ~ A conditionally classified graduate student has been admitted to the university, but has not yet satisfied all program admission requirements.
Classified Graduate Standing ~ A classified graduate student has been admitted to the university and fulfilled all program admission requirements.
Your graduate committee should be formed during the second semester of your program. The number of committee members varies by program. You will select committee members in consultation with your major advisor, who serves as chair. You should strive to select committee members that will be the most help as you design and complete your thesis or project.
- With rare exceptions, your major advisor/chair will be a tenured or probationary faculty member. If your major advisor/chair is an adjunct faculty or in the faculty early retirement program (FERP), at least one committee member must be a tenured or probationary faculty member in your primary discipline.
- At least one committee member, in addition to your advisor/chair, must be HSU faculty or adjunct faculty who hold a Ph.D. or other terminal degree. You may select a faculty member with a required terminal degree from outside your discipline as appropriate. All theses, projects, and comprehensive examination responses must be evaluated by at least two HSU faculty members.
- Persons with expertise or experience in your research area who are not affiliated with HSU and/or who do not hold a terminal degree can serve as an additional committee member.Makeup of the graduate committee is reviewed by the graduate coordinator and graduate dean at advancement to candidacy.Questions about this section? Contact us at hsugrad [at] humboldt [dot] edu (subject: Graduate%20Handbook%20Questions)
Advancement to Candidacy
Once your advancement to candidacy is approved, you are officially a candidate for your master’s degree. The advancement to candidacy document is a contract between you and Humboldt State University that details the requirements of your degree.
You must have "classified" standing, a GPA of 3.0 or better, completed 12 to 15 units of approved coursework for the master's program, the approval of your advisor, committee and graduate coordinator, and approval of plan to use humans or animals as subjects for research, if applicable. (See Use of Human Subject in Research or Use of Animals in Research for more information).
Paperwork: Application for Advancement to Candidacy and Graduation
Make an appointment with your major professor to discuss your coursework and culminating experience. It may be helpful to bring a copy of your transcript to your meeting. Consult the university catalog for the degree requirements of your Master’s Program. List only those courses constituting your program. Degree requirements are those that are in effect at the time you were admitted into the Master’s program.
The graduation fee may be paid online through your student center or on campus at Student Financial Services, SBS 285. Deliver your application and proof of fee payment to the Academic Programs office, SH 217A.
There is no official deadline to advance to candidacy. It is recommended that students pursuing master’s degrees apply for graduation by the census date of at least one semester before finishing all degree requirements. Please refer to the Calendar of Activities and Deadlines for specific dates. An additional fee will be assessed after the published date.
Early application ensures that you will receive your degree check in time for adequate planning for your final semester(s) of enrollment.
Once your Application for Graduation is received, a degree check is prepared and sent to you and your advisor. The degree check summarizes how degree requirements have been satisfied and lists any remaining requirements. You are encouraged to contact the Office of the Registrar if you have any questions about your degree check or need an update on your progress towards your degree objective. If graduation needs to be postponed, a Graduation Date Change Request form must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar. If the graduation date has already passed, a reapplication fee is charged.
A change of your advisor, a committee member, or any coursework listed on your program contract must be proposed with a Request for Program Variation or Waiver. A change to your type of culminating experience must be requested with an Addendum to Advancement to Candidacy form. Forms are available on the Graduate Programs website. The changes must be approved by your major professor, committee members, graduate coordinator and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
Please refer to the university catalog for the specific requirements of your program. General requirements for the master’s degree programs as specified by Title 5 below.
- Complete a minimum of 30 semester units of approved coursework within a maximum of seven years. (See seven-year limit.)
- 21 or greater semester units at Humboldt (residency requirement) unless an exception is made; courses taken through HSU Extended Education cannot be used for resident credit;
- at least half the units required for the degree are graduate level (500-600 courses);
- lower division courses (100-200 level) cannot be counted toward the degree;
- no more than six thesis or project units will apply toward the degree with a maximum of nine total units for independent study, field work, and thesis/project courses;
- B- or better in all courses taken to satisfy the requirements for the degree and maintain a grade point average of 3.0 (B) or better. A higher grade standard than the campus minimum (B-) may be specified by a graduate degree program.
Complete an approved thesis, project, or comprehensive examination as defined by Title 5. It is the student’s responsibility to determine from his/her advisor the departmental policy on theses, projects, or comprehensive exams.
All culminating experiences for the Master’s degree, regardless of specific form or discipline, must document the student’s achievement of the program learning outcomes at an appropriate level. All theses, projects, and comprehensive examination responses must be evaluated by at least two faculty members.
A thesis is the written product of a systematic study of a significant problem. It identifies the problem, states major assumptions, explains the significance of the undertaking, sets forth sources for and methods of gathering information, analyzes the data, and offers a conclusion or recommendation. The finished product evidences originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate organization and format, and thorough documentation. Normally, an oral defense of the thesis is required.
A project is a significant undertaking appropriate to the fine and applied arts or to professional fields. It evidences originality and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. It is described and summarized in a written document that includes the project's significance, objectives, methodology and a conclusion or recommendation. An oral defense of the project may be required.
A comprehensive examination assesses a student’s ability to integrate knowledge of the area, show independent and critical thinking, and demonstrate mastery of the subject matter. The results evidence independent thinking, appropriate organization, critical analysis, and accuracy of documentation. Examination questions and responses are kept according to the CSU records retention policy.
Deadlines for Culminating Experience Submission
To meet the submission deadline for a specific term, all culminating experiences, including thesis, oral defense, projects, and comprehensive examinations must be completed prior to the deadline as listed below. Forms documenting satisfactory completion of comprehensive examinations are due in the Academic Programs/Graduate Studies office by 5 p.m. on the relevant deadline, as are master's theses and projects, in final format and accompanied by an approval form signed by all committee members.
- Spring graduation: May 10th
- Summer graduation: July 25th
- Fall graduation: December 10thNote: (If the date falls on a weekend, the deadline will be extended to the following Monday)Your degree will post to your transcript for the following graduation date if your culminating experience is received in Academic Programs after the deadline.
A digital copy of the thesis or project must be archived with the University Library. If required by a publisher a one- to two-year embargo may be requested when appropriate. For example, a publisher may allow deposit of published articles into an institutional repository, but may place an embargo of one year before the article may be made publicly accessible. Such a postprint may be deposited into HDS as required for the degree, but no access to the item would be allowed for a period of one year.
Note: Check your final document carefully. Any requests for editorial changes to a thesis/project after archival with Humboldt Digital Scholar will be denied. Editorial changes include errors in punctuation and spelling, minor changes, or major changes to interpretation of data or content.
Graduate Writing Requirement
All graduate students must demonstrate competency in writing by completing either a designated course that contains a significant writing component (at least 30% of the course grade), a 50th percentile score or better on a verbal component of a standardized entrance exam (GRE or GMAT), a thesis/project proposal approved prior to advancement to candidacy, or an approved thesis/project manuscript. The graduate writing requirement is built in to each program. For more information, please check with your committee chair or graduate coordinator.
There is no special sign-up for commencement ceremonies. You may participate in commencement if you received a degree from Humboldt State during the past summer or fall semesters, or if you have applied for graduation and expect to be awarded your degree at the end of the spring, summer or fall semesters. Details regarding the May commencement ceremony are available online at the http://www.humboldt.edu/commencement/.
Your name, title of your thesis/project and major professor are listed in the commencement program if your application for graduation was submitted by the deadline set by the Office of the Registrar. The deadline is posted in the Calendar of Activities & Deadlines.
Please contact the Office of the Registrar if you do not want to be included in the printed program.
The Patricia O. McConkey Awards recognize the outstanding students graduating with a master’s degree from each program. Each program may select a recipient based on academic performance, academic citizenship and the quality of the student’s thesis, project, or comprehensive exam. Students who receive the award will “graduate with distinction.” This title will appear on the official HSU transcripts. Recipients will be invited to attend the Outstanding Students Award Ceremony and Reception (Recognizing Students Who Make a Difference) held in the spring at HSU and will receive a certificate of award. Recipients are also allowed to purchase a gold stole for commencement that identifies them as graduating with distinction.
Posting Degree and Receiving Diploma
You will receive a diploma cover during the commencement ceremony. After semester grades are processed, degree checks are reviewed for all candidates for graduation for that term in the Office of the Registrar. After all degree requirements are satisfied, your degree will be posted to your academic record. Diplomas are printed and sent out to graduated students approximately three to four months after the end of the term they graduated.
Graduate students taking nine or more semester units, or post-baccalaureate students taking twelve or more semester unites are enrolled full-time for student verification purposes.
Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations limits the maximum time for completing a master’s degree program to seven years. The seven years is calculated from the time of completion of the oldest course listed on your approved graduate course list. An extension may be granted, if warranted by individual circumstances and if the outdated coursework is validated by examination. You may petition for an extension with a Request for Program Variation or Waiver form and a completed Documentation of Examination for Currency for Extension of the Seven-Year Limit form for each course older than seven years.
Grading symbols are interpreted the same for graduate students as for undergraduate student (Please see Catalog for details) with the following exceptions.
Credit/No Credit Grading
A grade of Credit (CR) indicates satisfactory achievement of course requirements and is equivalent to a B- or higher grade. It is not used in grade point calculation.
A grade of No Credit (NC) indicates unsatisfactory achievement for course requirements. This grade is not used to in grade point calculation, however, some universities and many graduate and professional schools interpret an NC grade as F. NC is equivalent to a C+ or lower grade.
Some graduate courses have a mandatory grade mode of CR/NC; no more than a third of the CR/NC courses may count toward your degree. You may choose the CR/NC option for courses not required by your program. Students may take only one optional CR/NC course per semester at Humboldt State.
Report in Progress
A grade of Report in Progress (RP) is used in conjunction with thesis, project, and other courses where work assigned extends beyond one academic term. The RP indicates that work is in progress but that assignment of a final grade must await completion of additional work. RP is not included in your grade point average. Work is to be completed in one year except for master’s thesis courses. Master’s thesis courses with an RP grade must be completed within seven years for the end of the term in which it was assigned. If you do not complete your additional work within one year (or seven years for thesis/project courses), the RP grade will be administratively changed to a grade of F (Failure) or NC (No Credit) depending on the grade mode of the course.
You must maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 (B) or better in all courses taken to satisfy your degree requirements. Courses in which no letter grade is assigned are not used in computing GPA.
Graduate students whose Humboldt State cumulative GPA and overall GPA are 3.0 or above are considered in good academic standing.
Academic Probation and Disqualification
Graduate students, including those who are classified or conditionally classified, and credential seeking students will be placed on academic probation if their Humboldt State cumulative grade point average falls below a 3.0 (B grade average). A graduate coordinator may also notify a student of academic probation or disqualification for failure to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better in all courses taken to satisfy the requirements of the degree. Graduate students may be placed on probation and/or disqualified for failure to make adequate progress in the program, as defined by the requirements and policies of individual programs, by recommendation of the program faculty and graduate coordinator, and action of the graduate dean. While on academic probation if a graduate student or a credential student’s cumulative GPA at Humboldt State is below a 3.0 for a second consecutive term, the student will be academically disqualified.
Graduate students may be placed on probation and/or disqualified for failure to make adequate progress in the program, as defined by the requirements and policies of individual programs, by recommendation of the program faculty and graduate coordinator, and action of the graduate dean.
Disqualified graduate students will not be allowed to register unless they are formally reinstated and/or readmitted to the university. Regularly enrolled students who are academically disqualified from HSU are not eligible to enroll in coursework through Extended EducationFirst DQ: Students may be immediately reinstated to the university given a positive recommendation from the graduate program including an agreement by a graduate faculty member to serve as the student’s advisor submitted to the Graduate Studies Office.Second DQ: Student must take a minimum of one semester off before reapplying. Students may be required to take additional time off. Students may be readmitted to the university given a positive recommendation from the graduate program including an agreement by a graduate faculty member to serve as the student’s advisor. Students will be required to provide a letter with a statement describing the reasons for the academic probation and a plan to address the underlying problems in order to increase the likelihood of success. Both documents will be forwarded to the Graduate Studies Office for processing. After the absence period, an admission application is required for reinstatement consideration. Humboldt State reserves the right to accept applications for disqualified students during specified application terms only. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.
Third DQ: No option to reapply to HSU. May complete coursework elsewhere and reapply to a different CSU campus.
Your catalog rights are based on when and where you began college and how long you have been “continuously enrolled.” If you have been enrolled either at a California Community College or a CSU campus for at least one semester or two quarters of consecutive calendar years are considered to be “in continuous attendance.” If you maintain continuous enrollment, you may choose to meet the requirements for graduation specified in the Humboldt State University catalog which was/is in effect, when you first enrolled in any CSU or California community college, first enrolled at Humboldt, or at the time you graduate.
You are required to enroll for a minimum of one unit per term for at least two terms per academic year (fall, spring, summer) until your degree requirements are completed. Master’s degree students who do not maintain continuous enrollment (two terms each academic year), and who have not been granted a leave of absence are required to reapply for admission to the university and to the graduate program. If readmitted, you will be subject to any new admission or degree requirements that have been approved since your first admission to the program.
If you have “substantial work” to do to complete your project/thesis you will register as a regularly enrolled student. The number of units registered for would be estimated based on the amount of work required and the extent of faculty involvement.
Graduate Continuous Enrollment (GCE) through Extended Education
The minimum requirements to be eligible to enroll through extended education are that you have advanced to candidacy, completed all the coursework required for your degree and have a current graduation date on file with the Office of the Registrar. Some departments allow graduate students to register for one unit of a discipline-specific x693 course through the College of eLearning & Extended Education. Enrollment in the discipline-specific x693 course allows you to maintain continuous enrollment and to maintain your status in the master’s degree program. Please check with your graduate coordinator; additional requirements for registering through extended education vary by department. For example, in the Biological Sciences department graduate students must have completed all the requirements above and in addition have their thesis approved by their committee and graduate coordinator. They may register in one unit of BIOL x693 to return to campus the following semester to deliver their thesis presentation. For another example, Natural Resources allows graduate students to register through extended education after they have produced a complete first draft thesis and met the minimum requirements above.
Please refer to the College of eLearning & Extended Education website for information about campus privileges associated with enrollment through Extended Education.
Educational Leave of Absence
An educational leave of absence must be requested if you will not be attending HSU each semester. You must attend at least one term prior to requesting a leave of absence. Submit your request to the Office of Academic Programs by the published deadline. Please refer to the Calendar of Activities and Deadlines for last day to file Educational Leave. You must keep your HSU Preferred Email Address up-to-date. HSU will contact you via email with important registration information after your leave has ended. Please see the “Email Policy’ in the university catalog.
The maximum duration of a single leave is one academic year; the total duration of combined leaves may not exceed 2 years. A leave of absence does not extend the seven-year time limit. If the leave changes your date of graduation, a Graduation Date Change Request must be submitted. If you are registered in any course work in the semester for which you are requesting leave you must officially drop the course using Student Center. The instructor will not drop the class for you.
A leave of absence maintains continuing student status. This allows you to maintain catalog rights and eligibility to enroll for the term immediately after the expiration of the leave without reapplying to the university. You are not eligible for any university resources or services (computers, laboratories, the library, faculty supervision, etc.) while on leave. Therefore students must be currently enrolled in order to present findings, submit final thesis/project, and graduate. Enrollment through Extended Education may be possible (please refer to Continuous Enrollment).
Cost of Attendance
For estimates of current tuition and fees see Student Financial Services: Tuition & Fees at http://www.humboldt.edu/studentfinancial/tuition_fees.html
Placement in one or another of the post baccalaureate admission categories has an effect on student eligibility for financial aid. Contact the Financial Aid office, 707-826-4321, for clarification of eligibility.
Graduate Student Support
In addition to financial aid, other forms of support are available for graduate students. For example, employment as student assistant, teaching associate, graduate assistant, and research technician or assistant are available in some programs. These positions are awarded on a competitive basis. Please check with the administrative assistant or graduate coordinator for each program.
Two types of tuition waivers are available for graduate students; nonresident tuition waivers and fee waiver for graduate assistants or teaching associates.
Tuition Fee Waivers for Nonresident Students
The university may waive nonresident tuition fees for individual students who display exceptional scholastic ability and prior scholastic achievement. To be eligible Students must enroll in a minimum of 10 units. Individual programs decide who receives the fee waiver allocation.
Tuition Fee Waivers for Graduate Assistants and Teaching Associates
To be considered for a GA/TA fee waiver, you must apply for a State University Grant (SUG) by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) no later than March 2. Only students who do not receive a SUG or other fee coverage will be eligible to receive a GA/TA waiver. You must be appointed at a minimum of 15 hours/week as a graduate assistant or minimum of two WTU’s as a teaching associate and be enrolled for at least two units related to your academic program to receive a fee waiver. The amount of the fee waiver will vary; students who enroll for six or fewer units will receive funding for half-time enrollment, and those that enroll in more than six units will receive support for full-time enrollment. You must enroll for at least seven academically relevant units to be eligible for a full-time waiver.
Effective 2014-15 AY GA/TA waiversare limited to 2 years (4 semesters) maximum, available only for eligible students who have completed no more than 125% of the published minimum units of the Masters' program..
Use of Human Subjects in Research
Humboldt State University is committed to promote, encourage, and facilitate academic and clinical research. The purpose of HSU's Policy for Protection of Human Subjects in Research is both to protect the rights and well being of human subjects of research and to support the research efforts of Humboldt State University faculty and students. This policy encourages recognition of the basic ethical principles for the use of human subjects, respect for persons, beneficence, and justice.
If you have a research project that includes humans or data on humans in any way, you must submit a proposal to the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research, also known as the Institutional Review Board (IRB). This will ensure that your project will not only comply with Federal regulations, it will also protect the rights and well beings of your subjects. Please refer to the HSU Institutional Review Board (IRB) web site for more information.
Use of Animals in Research
Our Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) strive to facilitate the efforts by our faculty and students to produce quality research and teaching experiences. At the same time, we have been appointed by the University President to monitor and share the responsibility of ensuring that individuals associated with HSU who work with vertebrate animals do so in compliance with relevant state and federal laws.
Prior to initiating a research project involving animals or incorporating animals in a teaching program, you and your advisor should review the laws that may regulate your work (note that individual students and their faculty advisors are held legally responsible for complying with these laws). The next stage of the process involves obtaining approval, and permits when necessary, from the appropriate governing bodies. Finally, the faculty member or student must submit a completed Section 5 protocol to the IACUC for in-house review. It is illegal to use animals for any purpose without first obtaining the necessary permits from federal and state agencies and without obtaining approval from the IACUC.
The protocol application form used by HSU is relatively short and, if sufficient time has been spent planning the research, takes only a short time to complete. The form is updated at irregular intervals. Please refer to the HSU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee website for more information.
Change to an Option within the Program
Students enrolled in the English, Environmental Systems, Natural Resources, and Psychology master’s programs may switch to another option within the program by completing a “Request for Program Variation or Waiver” form available in the Graduate Studies office, SH 217A.
Change to Another Master’s Program
Students who want to change from one master’s program to another will need to completely reapply. This includes completing the CSU application and paying the $55 application fee. In addition, they will need to submit supplemental application materials required by the program to which they are applying. Only one application per term can be submitted.