Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

The Office of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Studies & Research Committee oversee the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) program on campus via new course certification, periodic course recertification, GWAR policy, and waivers. Note that the students who successfully petition to waive the program GWAR requirement must select an additional elective in consultation with their graduate advisor. Waiving the GWAR requirement does not affect the total number of units required by the degree program itself. 

GWAR Course ListCourses that satisfy the GWAR requirement at the graduate level are listed here.

GWAR Course Certification

To have a course newly certified as satisfying GWAR, please see the Guidelines for New GWAR Courses. Existing courses are recertified under the criteria listed in the GWAR Evaluation Form.

All graduate students are required to demonstrate competency in written English as a requirement for graduation. SJSU policy requires that English competency be a requirement for advancement to graduate candidacy. Students may satisfy GWAR by one of the following means. Note, however, that a program may choose not to allow a waiver of a graduate-level GWAR-satisfying course even if the student has achieved one of the following:

  • Satisfactory completion of the CSU baccalaureate graduation requirement of competency in written English (100W course);
  • Satisfactory completion as a graduate student of the SJSU undergraduate upper-division writing requirement by passing the writing workshop waiver examination with a waiving score or completing satisfactorily a writing workshop (100W). Thus Graduate Studies will honor the course-waiver score, if achieved.  For more information, please review the WST webpage on our Testing Office's webpages;
  • Approval by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies of a well written, professional (peer-reviewed) publication or graduate thesis in which the student was the sole author;
  • 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.

To satisfy the requirement under this category, students will usually be required to submit to their graduate advisor a transcript (unofficial acceptable) showing completion of the substituting course and the grade received (a "B" or better is required), a syllabus of the course, and original, single-authored writing samples from the course, including especially a large term paper from the course with instructor feedback visible.

If the graduate advisor approves of the substitution for an SJSU GWAR course, he or she would then petition the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies on behalf of the student. Students may not petition Graduate Studies directly. Substituting courses will be assessed on the basis of GWAR course-certification criteria (3 units minimum, 3000-word requirement, term paper comprising 30% of course grade, and teaching of professional standards).

Professional standards include the teaching of referencing and literature citation, professional style guidelines, ethics and plagiarism, copyright laws and use of published illustrations and data, IRB and animal-use permission in research, report writing and formatting, proposal writing and formatting, oral communication and presentation, and English writing proficiency.

In the past, a list was made available containing courses from other universities that would automatically receive a waiver. The list is no longer used, and no classes are afforded automatic exemptions from GWAR.

In the absence of one of the substituting measures above, GWAR is met by satisfactory completion of a graduate course authorized by the graduate program and approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies of at least three units in which a major report is required, and that report is at least 30 percent of the course grade. It has been determined that the WST will not be required any longer for graduate students.

As mentioned above, students should be aware that each department may establish its own criteria within these policy guidelines, and students must abide by the department decision. Thus even if a student has satisfied one of the criteria above, the department must approve the waiver by petitioning the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and can require that its GWAR-satisfying course still be taken. Graduate courses cannot be taken for credit by examination.