Preferred Name FAQs

1. What is a preferred name?

2. Where can I find SJSU Preferred Name Policy?

3. How do I set or update my preferred name?

4. May I set or change my preferred name to whatever I want?

5. Will my preferred name be used for everything at the university?

6. Where my preferred name will be used by the university?

7. Can I change my email address to better match my preferred name?

8. May I request a Tower card(SJSU ID card) with my preferred name?

9. Will I be able to use my preferred name on the Course Learning Management System(CANVAS)?

10. May I specify a preferred middle or last name?

11. Do I have to provide and set a preferred name?

12. How long will it take for my preferred name to appear and be used by the university?

13. I have more questions about my preferred name and/or the Preferred Name Policy, who can I contact? 


1. What is a preferred name?

A preferred name is a name the student wishes to be commonly known as, if different from his or her legal first name. Current students can establish a “preferred name” by changing first and/or middle names on MySJSU - see Tutorials(PDF). Students who are in the process of updating their gender and/or marital status may also change their last names. The student's preferred name will only be seen on Class Rosters and Grade Rosters.

2. Where can I find SJSU Preferred Name Policy?

The Preferred Name Policy link is currently available on Registrar website.

3. How do I set or update my preferred name?

You may set or update your preferred name by logging in MySJSU. Please see Preferred Name Tutorial(PDF).

4. May I set or change my preferred name to whatever I want?

Students may determine and set a preferred name that they want to be known by in university systems. The University reserves the right to remove a preferred name if it is being used for misrepresentation or evading legal obligations. However, inappropriate use of the preferred name policy may result in a violation of the Student Conduct Code and be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development.

5. Will my preferred name be used for everything at the university?

No. The “primary” name will continue to be the student's legal name and will continue to appear on the diploma, official and unofficial transcript, the TowerCard, and any documentation involving financial aid or student accounts. Students must continue to use their primary names when conducting official University business. In addition, setting a preferred name will not change the SJSU's e-mail address that was given, used and appeared in the student’s record(see question 7) for details.  

6. Where my preferred name will be used by the university?

The student's preferred name will only be seen on Class Rosters and Grade Rosters.  

7. Can I change my email address to better match my preferred name?

No, setting a preferred name will not change the SJSU's e-mail address that was given, used and appeared in the student’s record. First & last name on SJSU e-mail address will be set based on your primary(legal) name. The format of the e-mail address is FirstName.LastName@sjsu.edu.  

8. May I request a Tower card(SJSU ID card) with my preferred name?

No. The “primary” name will continue to be the student's legal name and will continue to appear on your Tower card(SJSU ID card).

9. Will I be able to use my preferred name on the Course Learning Management System(CANVAS)?

Yes, but you have to follow the process on CANVAS to be able to “display” your preferred name.

10. May I specify a preferred middle or last name?

Yes. Students who are in the process of updating their gender and/or marital status may also change their preferred last names on MySJSU. However, it would not change their primary or legal name unless you file a Name Change request(PDF) with the Registrar’s office.  

11. Do I have to provide and set a preferred name?

No. Using a preferred name is entirely optional.

12. How long will it take for my preferred name to appear and be used by the university?

Once you logon MySJSU and set your preferred name, it will automatically appear and be used, however, only on the class and grade roster. Please review question 5 about the usage of primary(legal name) for any other campus official businesses.

13. I have more questions about my preferred name and/or the Preferred Name Policy, who can I contact?

You may contact Office of the Registrar at registrar@sjsu.edu.