Presidential Directive Guideline FAQs


Do these guidelines apply to me?

PD 2009-05 is concerned with making sure that “ high unit seniors” can graduate in a timely manner. Formerly called “ super seniors,” these are students who have earned more than 15 units beyond what their declared major requires. Most majors on campus require the CSU minimum 120 units; a few technical and professional majors require as many as 135 units.

Determine how many units your major requires; then check your unofficial transcript to determine how many units you have earned. Remember that only 70 community college lower division transfer units can be counted in this total, no matter how many lower division units you transferred. Thus, if your major requires 120 units and you have more units, advisors will begin to pay attention to the progress you are making. If you reach 135 units (150 units for a 135 unit major), certain restrictions begin to apply.

Applying for Graduation

  1. When do I need to apply for graduation?

    All students must apply for graduation when they reach 90 units, no matter how many units are required for their degree. If you are already a “high unit senior” (and you have not applied) you have received a message from AARS setting a deadline for you to apply.

  2. I will have 95 units by the end of this term. When do I have to apply for graduation?

    All students must apply for graduation (Downloadable application form [pdf]) by the time they reach 90 units. It is best to visit your major advisor during this semester to discuss graduation and complete the appropriate forms.
  3. I already have 125 units and have not yet applied for graduation. I actually don't know when I will be able to graduate, so I have not applied. What do I do?

    You must apply for graduation by February 1, 2010. Talk with your major advisor to make a plan to graduate. It doesn't matter whether you are attending SJSU part time or full time. You can still work out a plan. If you don't apply for graduation by the deadline, (February 1) you will be placed “on contract” (see #13 above).
  4. I have not applied for graduation and already have 145 units. I'm not sure if I have all the requirements to graduate.What should I do?

    The first thing you must do is apply for graduation (Downloadable application form [pdf]) by December 1, 2009. Meet with your major advisor to finalize the application and then take it to AARS. AARS will review it with the Office of Graduation Evaluations. If we determine that you are already able to graduate, we will notify you and your degree will be conferred at the end of December 2009 or at the next available graduation date.
  5. What if I have already completed all requirements for graduation but I have already registered and paid for classes forthe Spring 2009?

    That is no problem. We will work with the Registrar and Bursar to drop your classes, return your fees and allow you to graduate.

Choosing and adding a major

  1. I will have 58 units by the end of fall 2009. Do I have to choose a major by the end of this term?

    No. You will, however, need to choose and declare a major by the end of Spring 2010 if you are enrolled.
  2. I will have completed 60 units by the end of this term. I am in the process of declaring a major and would like to declare a double major. Is that possible?

    Yes, you may declare a double major at 60 units. You may even add a second major up until 90 units. The expectation, however, is that you will work on both of these majors at the same time. (If you get to 120 units and have not made adequate progress in both majors, you may lose the opportunity to complete one of them.)
  3. I have 78 units and have not yet declared a major. I can't decide and want to take a few more courses next term before I make that decision. Can I do that?

    No. If you have not declared a major by December 10, 2009, you will have a hold placed on your registration and, if you have already registered, your courses will by dropped shortly after December 21. (AARS will notify you of the drop.) Please visit the Career Center and/or advisors in the majors you are contemplating in order choose a major and declare it by December 10.
  4. By the end of fall term I will have 60 units. I would like to declare a major in business (or any impacted major). How do I do that?

    You must go to the College of Business Advising Center (BSAC) and apply for the major you are interested in by November 1, 2009, if you would like to be accepted into that major by Spring 2010. (The same rule applies to any impacted major. You must go to that department and apply by November 1 to be allowed entrance for spring.) If you miss the November 1 deadline, you will be considered for the fall. All students applying for an impacted major must meet the same academic requirements as the new students applying for that major.If you are not accepted into the impacted major, you will be allowed to apply a second time to an impacted major only if you don't take more than 12 units while re-applying.

    You will be allowed to apply a second time to an impacted major only if you don't take more than 12 units while re-applying.
  5. I have 110 units and just discovered that I love chemistry. I am an English major. What do I do now?

    If you are over 90 units you will not be allowed to change your major except under special circumstances. We will look at the difference in number of units to completion between your newly requested major and your old major. We will also look at your academic record in both requested and current majors. The general rule, however, is that the more units you have already completed, and the more units required to complete the requested major, the less likely you will be able to change your major. If you have only completed a course or two in Chemistry by the time you have earned 110 units, chances are that you will not have the new major approved.
  6. I have been working toward a double major in business management and creative writing. I only declared the creative writing major, though. I already have 125 units. Can I still declare the business management major?

    All Business majors are impacted. You will need to apply to business management (described in #4 above) by November 1. If you are accepted, and if you have been taking the business courses all along as you describe, then chances are that your double major will be approved.
  7. I have over 120 units and would like to graduate in Mechanical Engineering. I have failed one of the required courses twice so have been unable to graduate. What do I do now? Can I change my major?

    Our goal is to allow you to graduate in your chosen major if at all possible. See your advisor and discuss alternatives (such as substitutions or alternative means for demonstrating competency). If there are none in that major, visit the Engineering Student Success Center to explore changing to another of the Engineering major. If no alternatives exist, visit AARS. An advisor there will discuss alternatives and potential referrals, which might include a new major or a “special major”.
  8. Since applicants have different options for declaring majors depending on where they live, do I have to pay any attention to local/non-local?

    No, since you are already here on campus, you can change to any major without concerning yourself with your local/non-local status at the time you applied and were admitted to SJSU. You do, however, have to meet all of the other requirements for any impacted major. See the SJSU Impaction Information website for details of those requirements.

High Unit Seniors

  1. I have 125 units and have reacently decided to go to graduate school. I have almost completed my major but to get into grad school, I need minimally another 15 units, but optimally, another major. What can I do?

    We will work with you to finish your major in a timely fashion. If you can do so during the next semester, you will be required to do so. If you can take one or two courses to complement your major while doing so, you will be allowed to add those courses. Your degree will be conferred at the end of that semester.
  2. I have 135 units. Will I have a hold on my registration and if so, what do I do?

    Yes, you will have a hold on your registration. You will be required to visit your major (and minor, if necessary) advisor to review your remaining requirements to graduate. Together, you will complete a “ requirements form”. Your advisor will attach your major form to it, give you a copy and keep a copy. This form is your “flight plan” or “exit strategy” as we guide you toward graduation. The courses as listed are the only courses you will be permitted to take (along with any approved alternatives). The form also lists any additional requirements necessary for you to graduate (e.g. completing GE courses, passing the WST, maintaining a 2.0 GPA). As long as you follow the requirements, you will have a hold on your registration and a required visit to your advisor, every semester until you graduate.
  3. What if I can't get into one of the courses on my form so instead decide to take an interesting course that might help me be more employable and will allow me to reach 12 units?

    If you can't get into a course on your requirements sheet and there are no other available courses listed on your form, 1) bring your form to your department chair. He/she might be able to help you get in one of the courses; 2) visit AARS advisors who will attempt to help you find a substitute; and/or 3) visit your major/minor advisor to get permission to alter your form. Depending on your circumstances, you may be allowed to add the “extra” course. However, if you take that course without permission, you will be in violation of your “requirements” and will be placed on contract for the following semester.
  4. What if I can't get into the one course I need to graduate?

    You must first go to your department chair to see if you may be added to the course. If that route is unsuccessful, visit an AARS advisor who will work with you to find an alternative.
  5. What does it mean to be placed on contract?

    All students with greater than 150 units and those between 120 and 149 units who violate the terms of their “requirements” will be placed on contract. The elements of the “requirements” and the “contract” are the same: each specifies the courses and requirements that you will be allowed to complete. The differences are: 1) those students on contract have a restrictive hold, meaning that they must visit AARS after visiting their advisor in order to register--only AARS advisors will be able to register them; 2) students will not be allowed to drop or add except through AARS; 3) violating the contract terms will result in Administrative Academic Probation and ultimately, if continued, Administrative Academic Disqualification from the university.
  6. How do I actually register for my courses with AARS?

    When you meet with your advisor (major and minor) and complete a plan for courses for the semester, you will take that plan -- the contract [pdf] with your graduation plan attached -- to AARS. You notify AARS of your preferred schedule within five (5) days of the posting of the class schedule for the next semester. AARS will then register you before all the other seniors, giving you a strong likelihood of getting the courses that you require.
  7. What if I have a course that I must repeat in order to complete my graduation requirements?

    When AARS registers you, they will include your “repeat” course with the other courses required for you to graduate.
  8. What if I fail that course again?

    We will register you for your course the first time you repeat it. If after the second attempt you have still not passed the course at the level required for your major, you must go elsewhere to complete the course (or discuss an alternative with your advisor). You will not be allowed to take any courses at SJSU until you can demonstrate your ability to pass the course in question. This policy is in effect for students with over 120 units only.The principle is that if you have over 120 units, you may not stay at SJSU and continue to take courses you don't need (not on your approved plan) while attempting to repeat a required course that you have failed more than once time.
  9. What if I have taken the WST three times and have no more courses to take? What do I do now?

    You will be required to work elsewhere (or on your own) to gain the required writing competence to pass the test. You will be given up to a one-year leave of absence to return and demonstrate your writing competence. If upon your return, you pass the WST on the fourth attempt, you will be able to re-enroll. If not, you will be placed on Administrative Academic Disqualification and you must reapply for admission to the university. If a student has failed the WST more than four (4) times prior to Spring 2010, the student will be allowed two more chances to pass the test, under the conditions described here. Contact the Office of Undergraduate Studies for further information.


  1. I really want to change my major and I have been told that I cannot. Is there an appeal process?

    Yes, you may appeal the decision. You may find the appeal petition online. You will be required to show evidence of extenuating circumstances justifying your appeal. You will file the appeal petition at the Office of Undergraduate Studies (ADM 159). Appeal decisions will be made within three weeks of filing.
  2. I have met all of the requirements for my bachelor's degree and have been told that I must graduate this term and can no longer take courses. I have a very good reason to continue taking courses. Can I appeal the decision that I have to graduate this term?

    Yes, you can appeal your graduation if you are told that you must graduate this term. You must complete a petition and be able to demonstrate the additional value that you will receive if allowed to continue taking courses. Since you will be taking units from the fixed university total (meaning that other students will be limited by the number of units you are taking), the appeals committee will want to know why should be allowed to do this.

Other Issues

  1. To what extent will PD 2009-05 become a permanent mode of operation at SJSU? That is, when we get past our current financial disaster, will we ever go back to a more relaxed set of rules for students taking more units, changing majors,etc.?

    The Presidential Directive was issued in response to emergency financial conditions in California. The severe underfunding of the CSU means that under present conditions, the CSU cannot afford to educate all of the students who are eligible to enroll. This has led to a principled rationing of units and the limitations on many student choices that were previously affordable. The Directive is intended to remain in force until such time as the conditions change and the President lifts the Directive, or until the SJSU Academic Senate replaces it with a new set of procedures for moving forward. We all hope that the state will restore full funding to the CSU as soon as possible and we continue to send this message to our elected leaders.
  2. My department's website doesn't talk about any of these rules. If fact, some of the information is not even consistent with these rules. Which are the “real” rules?

    Because the budget cuts to CSU happened over the summer at the last minute, we have been compelled to develop new rules and procedures quickly in order to keep us within our assigned budget and enrollment limits. Many departments have not had a chance to modify their websites yet to be in compliance with the new rules. The importance of the special Presidential Directive (2009-05) is that it declares an emergency condition and sets guidelines that all students must follow during this emergency. PD 2009-05 supersedes other rules and procedures that were in place. Therefore, you must follow the implementation guidelines established under PD 2009-05. These FAQs are provided to help you understand these new rules.
  3. Where should I go if my questions still are not answered?

    If you are not sure how these rules apply to your major, contact your major advisor first. If you have questions about how the university will apply the rules in your particular case, contact AARS. To appeal a decision made under theses rules, follow the procedures set forth in Guideline 7 of the Implementation Guidelines. You can read more about the Directive, the Implementation Guidelines and other supportive information may be found at the Presidential Directive webpage.

Version: October 12, 2009