Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

The CSU Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) states that all students must demonstrate competency in writing skills as a requirement for graduation.

Prior to Fall 2020 Semester

Graduate students enrolled in their program prior prior to the Fall 2020 semester may meet their GWAR requirement in one of four ways following rescinded University Policy S94-7 : 

  • Satisfactory completion of a baccalaureate degree at a CSU campus;
  • Satisfactory completion of a GWAR course. Each graduate program has a designated GWAR course embedded within the degree requirements. Students should refer to their program’s degree requirements - see a list of graduate programs on the College of Graduate Studies section of the catalog;
  • Approval by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies of a well-written, professional (peer-reviewed) publication, graduate thesis or dissertation 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 are required to submit to their graduate advisors a transcript (unofficial acceptable) showing completion of the substituting course and the grade received (a “B” or better is required); the syllabus of the substituting 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 College of Graduate Studies directly.

Fall 2020 Semester or Later

Graduate students enrolling in the Fall 2020 semester or later must follow University Policy S19-3 which requires that all graduate students demonstrate competency in written English for advancement to candidacy within a master’s program. Graduate students may satisfy the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) in one of three ways:

  • Satisfactory completion of a GWAR course. Each graduate program has a designated GWAR course embedded within the degree requirements. Students should refer to their program’s degree requirements - see a list of graduate programs on the College of Graduate Studies section of the catalog;
  • Approval by the College of Graduate Studies of a professional publication written in English for which the candidate was a primary author.
  • Completion of a master’s or doctoral program with a substantive writing requirement at an accredited university in which the primary language of instruction is English unless a department requires additional documentation of writing proficiency.

Candidates should be aware that each department may establish its own criteria within these policy guidelines, and candidates must abide by the department decision. Thus even if a student has satisfied one of the criteria above, the department must approve the waiver and can require that its GWAR-satisfying course still be taken. Waiving the program GWAR requirement will require the addition of an elective selected in consultation with the graduate advisor. Graduate courses cannot be taken for credit by examination.


University Studies 1290R and Departmental 1290R ("RP Policy" Continuous Enrollment Guidelines)

Per S17-5, graduate students with an RP grade in a thesis (299) or project (often 298) course in the Spring 2012 or later semester are required to enroll in the 1-unit course 1290R, in each semester until degree completion for the purpose of continuous enrollment.  The exception is cases in which the department requires repeated enrollment in these classes each semester until completion.  Effective with the Fall 2018 semester, S17-5 will be implemented for graduate students in courses-only and other programs without an RP course. 

See: S17-5, University Policy, Required Enrollment for Culminating Graduate Students

Per S17-5, University Policy, Required Enrollment for Culminating Graduate Students, graduate students who have completed all degree program requirements except the culminating experience must enroll in the 1-unit UNVS or departmental 1290R for the purpose of continuing enrollment.  Students of whom all of the following are true are subject to the policy: 

  • Graduate student
  • RP issued in Spring 2012 or thereafter for thesis or project course
  • Enrollment in no other courses
  • Completion of all degree requirements other than thesis, dissertation, project, comprehensive examination, or other program culminating experience
  • Effective Fall 2018, S17-5 will be implemented in courses-only programs
  • Note: Appointments for the 1290R require a filed graduation date set in the current or future semester

See: Continuous Enrollment Guidelines in Outline Format

In accordance with Academic Senate policy S17-5 (Required Enrollment for Report-in-Progress Units), the Fall 2012 semester marked the start of enforcement of the policy in each fall and spring semester (summer and intersession semesters are exempt). Graduate students with an RP grade in a thesis (299) or project (often 298) course in the Spring 2012 or later semester are required to enroll in a 1-unit supervisory course, either UNVS 1290R or the 1290R course in the student’s own department if available. Enrollment must be repeated in each semester until degree completion except in cases in which the department requires repeated enrollment in the original project or thesis course. There are no class meetings for the course as it is supervisory in nature; however, there will be a fee associated with it of approximately $280. “Stopping out,” or voluntary absence from the university, will not be permitted in the sense that registration will be compulsory for this unit each semester. Failure to register will result in a hold being put on graduation until the unit is retroactively added; a late fee will be associated with the retroactive action. 

The policy applies only to students who are taking no other courses. All degree requirements must have been completed, as once students are converted to “special session eligibility” status, they will not be able to return to regular session status. Should any requirements other than the thesis or project remain, special permission will have to be obtained from the Associate Vice President or Associate Dean of Graduate Studies to return to “non-RP status.” The basis of this stipulation is that, whereas it is conceivable that students are working on theses or projects before completing the remainder of their degree requirements, they should continue to take units in those subjects each semester. Students who have RPs on their records only prior to Spring 2012 are not subject to this policy unless they earn another RP in subsequent semesters. In addition, students on university-approved, formal leaves of absence will be exempt from this policy.

The policy includes language that allows for a waiver of UNVS 1290R or Departmental 1290R enrollment if the student can document a lack of reasonable attention or guidance by the thesis or project supervisor. If the student has been prevented from making satisfactory progress toward completion of the culminating experience by the advisor, the case can be presented in writing to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

Registration Process

Because enrolling in the 1290R requires converting the student record from regular to special session, Registration for the 1-unit UNVS 1290R or Departmental 1290R course must be delayed until students are given the opportunity to enroll in other courses. For this reason, appointments open shortly after the last day to add classes. If students have the RP, a filed graduation date in the current or future semester, and do not enroll in other courses, they will be eligible for enrollment in UNVS 1290R or Departmental 1290R. The Registrar’s Office determines the students who are eligible and will notify the students via a MySJSU message. The students may then register online through an appointment opened in their MySJSU account. No permission or add code is needed. They will have until the end of course instruction that semester to register for the course if they are domestic or nonresident (non-international) students. To maintain their immigration status, international students are urged to register for the course within one week after the Add Deadline. In each subsequent fall and spring semester, students completing their culminating experiences will have to register for this course and will be precluded from registering for any other. The "RP" grade in the project or thesis course remains on the official record until a culminating memo is submitted by the graduate advisor to the Office of Graduate Admissions & Program Evaluations (GAPE), the course instructor in which the RP was received has petitioned for a grade change, and the student has submitted the online Graduation Application through the MySJSU account.

Academic Standing

After being admitted to candidacy, students must maintain certain academic requirements to remain in good standing. These include:

  • Completing all courses in your candidacy program with grades of A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, or CR. Grades of C-, D+, D, D-, and F remain on the program and will continue to be computed in your grade point average. You must petition through your graduate advisor to add another course to your program with unit value equivalent to that course in which you received the unsatisfactory grade.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of a 3.0 ("B") in completing the requirements for the master's degree listed on the candidacy form. If you fail to maintain this GPA, you may be put on academic probation by the university. Failure to raise your GPA to a 3.0 or above after being placed on academic probation may then result in being academically disqualified from SJSU. If you are disqualified from the university please contact your graduate advisor as there will be several procedures you need to complete if you plan on applying for reinstatement.

Leaves of Absence

San Jose State University allows for several options if you need to take some time off from pursuing your graduate degree. The following are options that some graduate students may use if they plan on being away from SJSU.

Missing One Semester

Students who have attended one semester as a graduate student may choose to be voluntarily absent from the university (not enroll) for one semester (Fall or Spring) without applying for an official leave of absence. Students must return in the semester following the one semester leave or they will have to re-apply for admission. Summer and Winter registration is not required nor do they count as being in a matriculation status.

Official Leave of Absence

For information about leaves longer than one semester, see the policies for graduate students in the university catalog: Graduate Student Leave of Absence

Leave of Absence For International Students

International students may not take a leave of absence and must remain in the United States except for documented medical reasons. International students must be enrolled in a full course of study (9 units) for two semesters annually. Winter and Summer registration is not required. If you have further questions please contact the International Programs and Services Office.

Seven-Year Time Limit For Completing Degree

All coursework on your approved candidacy must be completed within seven years preceding the award of your degree. If courses become outdated a student has the following options:

  • Repeat the outdated course without credit.
  • Revalidate the outdated coursework by examination. This petition must be initiated by your graduate advisor.

More information on the seven-year time limit can be found in theSJSU catalog.

Related Form

Request for Revalidation (pdf) (Seven-Year Time Limit)