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Division of Research and Graduate Studies

Graduate Coordinator Handbook


The graduate coordinator/director works with the department chair and program faculty to

  • direct and coordinate the graduate program;
  • lead marketing and program recruitment efforts;
  • coordinate procedures for admission or denial of graduate program applicants;
  • provide initial graduate student advising;
  • maintain departmental graduate student records and track all students in the program;
  • handle graduate student petitions and appeals, lead graduate program planning and curriculum development, and coordinate program review and assessment; and 
  • coordinate paperwork required for graduate students as they progress through their program.

Graduate program coordinators are frequently invited to participate in recruitment activities such as the following:

  • Graduate info events for your own undergraduate students
  • Alumni events or newsletters
  • Community organizations
  • Career Fairs
  • Programs
  • Program open houses
  • Local/state chapters of professional organizations
  • Other institutions with undergraduate programs, but no graduate programs
  • Graduate fairs

Required Applicant Paperwork

QUICK GUIDE: Graduate Admission Process 

• Application to the university submitted online through CalStateApply

• A $70.00, nonrefundable application processing fee

• Official transcripts from each external college or university previously attended and/or currently attending

• Standardized test scores (if required by program)

Note: Applications will not be sent to the graduate program for consideration until the application fee, all transcripts, and residency data (if required) are received. 

External transcripts are sent to the Graduate Admissions Office in Joyal Administration, 5150 N. Maple Ave., MS JA57, Fresno, CA. 93740-8026, or, school code 4312.

Required test scores are to be delivered electronically to the university by the respective testing service.

All program application materials required for your program (letters of intent, letters of recommendation and/or program application) should be submitted directly to the department office. 

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must meet the following university requirements for admission:

  • have completed a four-year college course of study and hold an acceptable baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting association, or shall have completed equivalent academic preparation as determined by appropriate campus authorities;
  • be in good academic standing at the last college or university attended;
  • have earned a grade point average of at least 2.5 on the last degree completed or have attained a grade point average of at least 2.5 (A=4.0) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted (Note: Individual program criteria may be different, check with graduate program); and
  • satisfactorily meet the professional, personal, scholastic, and other standards for graduate study, including qualifying examinations, as appropriate campus authorities may prescribe.

QUICK GUIDE: Graduate Admission Process 

  • International applicants should apply online at CalStateApply and choose the “International” application.
  • Nonrefundable application processing fee of $70.00.
  • Official records: transcripts or mark sheets and degree certificates or diplomas. Unofficial copies are acceptable for initial admission processing.
  • Official copies of test scores (GRE, GMAT, MAT), must be sent to Fresno State directly from Educational Testing Services. Students should check with their desired department to find out which test(s) are required. Some programs do not require tests for admission. 
  • Financial guarantee/bank statement from the sponsor, showing amount and source of support. (If the sponsor is a government agency, organization, or other group, a separate letter that includes the terms of sponsorship, in English, must be attached.)
  • Transcripts sent to International Admissions, 5150 N. Maple Ave., MS JA56, Fresno, CA 93740-8026. Scanned or faxed copies will be considered unofficial.
  • All program application materials required for your program (letters of intent, letters of recommendation, and/or program application) should be submitted directly to the department office. Applicants will receive department application information as part of the “one-step” application process.
  • Applicants must have completed the equivalent of a recognized U.S. bachelor’s degree.


The university defines full-time study as 12 units; however, while undergraduate course units are counted at face value, graduate course units (those numbered in the 200 series) are weighted at 1.5 units per each course unit. Therefore, 8 units of 200-level courses constitute an equivalent full-time study load of 12 units.


For the purpose of reporting enrollment for graduate students, regardless of status:

  • Full-time = 9 or more units
  • Part-time = less than 9 units

For the purpose of financial aid (loans, etc.):

  • Part-time:
    • 1/2 time 6-8 1/2 equivalent units
    • 3/4 time 9-11 1/2 equivalent units
  • Full-time:
    • 8 units of 200-level courses; or
    • 12 equivalent units from combined 200 and 100 level

Note: “Equivalent units” are calculated at 1.5 units for each 200-level unit, and at face value for each 100-level unit.

Retention is as important as recruiting in maintaining a critical mass of students in the graduate program. Commitment of the entire graduate program faculty to student advising and mentoring is essential to ensuring that all students are successful in the timely completion of the program. Some specific suggestions for helping students to complete their graduate degree include:

  • Develop a strong support system, including faculty mentoring and student support groups.
  • Develop handbooks and orientation sessions to help students understand the critical steps leading to a graduate degree and the many campus facilities and services (e.g., the Graduate Writing/Statistics Studios, Disabled Student Services) available to meet their needs.
  • Encourage students to select an adviser early and meet with that person regularly.
  • Create opportunities for new graduate students to meet the program faculty and other fellow graduate students.
  • Encourage graduate student participation in student chapters of discipline-related professional organizations.
  • Develop and maintain a list of all funding opportunities for students within the department, school/college, university, community, and professional organizations.
  • Seek special opportunities to establish scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships through grants and private funds. (Your school/college development officer can assist with this.)

Required Paperwork

  • “Petition of Advancement to Candidacy”
  • If transfer work is listed on the petition: Course description and graduate degree program description demonstrating that the course could have been used toward a graduate degree at the other institution; the course numbering and grading systems; information clarifying whether the institution used the semester or quarter system; and one official transcript of the transfer work in a sealed envelope.

Eligibility Criteria

The student must have

  • achieved Classified Standing;
  • fulfilled the graduate writing skills requirement;
  • passed the GRE Subject Test (if required);
  • passed the Department Qualifying Examination (if required);
  • completed at least 9 units at Fresno State toward the proposed program;
  • attained a minimum program GPA of 3.0 in coursework listed on the advancement petition; and
  • completed the foreign language requirement (if required).


Consult the “Graduate Degree Deadlines” section of the DRGS website for exact deadlines.

Credit/No Credit Grading (CR/NC)

A limited number of CR-graded courses may be used toward a graduate degree program. To apply a CR-graded course toward a graduate degree program, the course must be CR/NC graded only.

  • A maximum of 6 CR-graded units may be included on a 30-unit program.
  • A maximum of 12 CR-graded units may be included on a 60-unit program.
  • Some programs do not allow any CR-graded coursework to be counted toward the degree.


  • All courses must be completed prior to the final day of the semester or term when a student expects to graduate.
  • “I’s,” “RP’s,” and “RD’s” are types of incomplete grades.
  • A student with an “I” (Incomplete grade) in a course cannot re-enroll in that course. The student must either earn a grade or wait a year for the grade to convert to an “IC.” An “IC” is a failing grade.

Repetition of Courses/Grade Substitution

Students pursuing a graduate degree program may repeat a course; however, grade substitution is not allowed.

Administrative Academic Probation will be automatically recorded to a student’s transcript if GPA falls below 3.0. Once students have advanced to candidacy, they must maintain a minimum 3.0 program GPA, which includes only coursework listed on the Petition for Advancement to Candidacy.

Graduate programs may also place a graduate student on AAP for the following reasons:

  • withdrawal from a substantial portion of a program in two successive terms or in any three terms,
  • repeated failure to make progress toward the graduate degree, or
  • failure to comply with an academic requirement or regulation that is routine for all students or for a defined group of students.


  • Graduate programs electing to place a student on AAP for reasons unrelated to the GPA must send a letter to the student outlining reasons for AAP with a copy to the DRGS office.
  • DRGS will update PeopleSoft system to AAP.
  • "Administrative Academic Probation" is placed on student’s transcript.

Effective Fall 2007, students who are placed on AAP for any two semesters will be disqualified from the university.

Graduate students are automatically disqualified by the university system when their postbaccalaureate GPA falls below 2.00 or if they are placed on AAP for any two semesters

Graduate students who are academically disqualified after the posting of semester grades will not be given automatic readmission to the university for the following semester.

Coordinators should be prepared for students who may want support in their effort for readmission. Please keep in mind that even with extenuating circumstances, it may not be realistic for academically disqualified students to raise their GPA to the required 3.0.

The disqualification process automatically places the notation “Academic Disqualification” on the student’s transcript. Before this, there is an internal checking process by campus staff to determine that the notation is placed on academic records that truly warrant the entry.

At the end of each term, automated emails are sent to students through the Fresno State Messaging Center informing them of their academic disqualification with a link to the “Petition for Readmission of Disqualified Graduate or Advanced Certificate Student

Programs need to establish a graduate program faculty committee and have a written internal appeals process.

Timing and deadline dates are to be determined by graduate program faculty and the graduate program coordinator. Note: The graduate program faculty could decide that the timing and availability of faculty will mean that the student will have to wait a semester before the appeal process and decision can be made. If this occurs, the student will need to reapply to Fresno State.

The maximum allowable load is 16 units for full-time graduate degree students, when one or more courses in the 200 series are included. Requests for exceptions to this policy must be addressed to the Graduate Division on a “Graduate Student Petition for Academic Overload” (available from DRGS and online via the “Forms and Policies” link on the DRGS website) during the registration period.

Course validation determines the student’s current knowledge in outdated (older than five years) coursework. A maximum of one-third of the courses listed on the student’s approved “Petition of Advancement to Candidacy” may be validated. Validation methods are determined individually for each course by the instructor of record. Students must file a“Recommendation for Course Validation” form.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Student must have an approved “Petition of Advancement to Candidacy” form on file in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.
  • Coursework can only be validated when both the instructor of the course and the graduate coordinator/director have approved the validation method.


The final day of the term in which the student applies to graduate.


Students must complete the “Recommendation for Course Validation” form; meet with the instructor of the outdated course, or if no longer present, meet with the current instructor to determine the method of validation; obtain the instructor’s and graduate coordinator’s signatures after validation has been completed; and return the form to the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.

  • Only courses taken at California State University, Fresno may be validated.
  • Course validation may be allowed only when courses fall out of date after the Petition of Advancement to Candidacy has already been approved. Courses older than five years may not be listed in the advancement petition at the time approval of the petition is granted.
  • If a “C” has been obtained in a course, then validation is not an option

Graduate students may, for justifiable and appropriate reasons, petition to waive department, program, or Division of Research and Graduate Studies regulations regarding acceptable academic standards of performance (e.g., curricula, program coursework, grading, timelines, degree progress). Students may also petition for an exception or waiver of university-wide policies under special circumstances, including those pertaining to registration matters, grades, student conduct, or interpretation of established regulations. Decisions on individual cases shall be made in accordance with the procedures detailed in the Academic Policy Manual.

Appeal Process

  • Students who choose to petition will need to complete the “Petition for Readmission of Disqualified Graduate or Advanced Certificate Student” and attach a one-page typed appeal explaining the circumstances of their GPA, with supporting documentation if there were extenuating circumstances.
  • Students should make an appointment to discuss their situation with the graduate program coordinator.

    Note: In some cases, there may be extenuating circumstances to warrant a request for retroactive withdrawal. If it is evident that a student failed an entire semester and there were extenuating circumstances, with appropriate and strong supporting documentation and justification, the student should be advised to submit a “Record Adjustment Petition.” A university committee meets every Tuesday to review requests and make decisions. If approved, the adjustment may place the student back into good standing.

  • The graduate program faculty committee is responsible for making the recommendation on whether the student will be approved or denied readmission. The committee should meet, review the student’s petition, and make a recommendation (with conditions, if approved) to the graduate program coordinator. (It is recommended that students not continue to enroll in “new” 200-level courses until they retain the required GPA. It may be possible to allow the repeat of a failed 200-level course with program coordinator approval, but grade substitution is not allowed.)
  • The decision (including conditions, if approved) is recorded on the “Petition for Readmission of Disqualified Graduate or Advanced Certificate Student” and the student is notified by the graduate program coordinator. Graduate program coordinators will need to follow-up with disqualified, readmitted students and the conditions they are expected to meet.
  • Graduate students who have been readmitted to their program after being disqualified will be allowed to continue in probationary status as long as their term GPA is 3.5 or higher. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher will place the student back into good standing.
  • It is important that graduate coordinators meet with graduate students who are on AAP to ensure that they understand the seriousness of their position and the importance of completing the term with a 3.0 GPA.

  • A student currently enrolled in a fully matriculated session may be considered for a leave of absence.
  • Leave of absences are granted for two to four consecutive semesters only.
  • International students must be recommended by the Director of International Student Services and Programs; Educational Opportunity Program students by an EOP counselor.
  • Petitions for leave of absence must be filed (with the appropriate recommendation) at the Registrar's Office before the first day of classes for the semester during which the leave is to begin.
  • Leaves are not approved for students in disqualified status or on contract to remove academic deficiencies.
  • A leave is not approved if the student plans to attend another institution, unless the coursework the student seeks is not available at California State University, Fresno. Any academic credit earned while on a planned educational leave is accredited by California State University, Fresno only if permission is granted for that credit in advance.
  • Students who do not return to the university at the conclusion of their planned educational leave and those who enroll elsewhere will be considered to have withdrawn from the university at the end of their last semester of regular enrollment at California State University, Fresno and will have to reapply for admission upon their return. 

Students wishing to apply for a leave of absence can find the appropriate form on the University Registrar's Office Forms Page.

Certain advising tips apply equally to all forms of the culminating experience, and as such, deserve your special attention as graduate coordinator:

  • Once enrolled in a particular culminating experience and having earned an RP grade, students may not switch to an alternative.
  • The total number of units assigned for the thesis or the project may not exceed 6, or be less than 2.
  • Advisers should counsel students that they are expected to be enrolled each semester while working on their project, examination, or thesis.
  • Advisers should assure that the culminating experience selected by the student is appropriate to that student’s particular program emphasis and career goals.
  • It is imperative that programs and individual committee advisers set early dates for completion of the exam, thesis, or project.

Additionally, for both the thesis and project:

  • Grades must be submitted on the “Graduate Degree Clearance” form. This is the only acceptable method for submitting these grades. Faculty should not enter thesis or project grades online as they do for other courses.
  • It is important that faculty members meet regularly with the student to analyze progress toward completion of the thesis/project.
  • No academic distinction is made between a thesis and a project. Either one is acceptable as a means of fulfilling the requirements of the graduate degree.

Eligibility Criteria

  • A previously approved “Petition of Advancement to Candidacy” on file in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.
  • A minimum program grade point average of 3.0.
  • Permission from the graduate coordinator to apply for graduation. This permission is granted online. The graduate coordinator will receive emails alerting them of the graduation applications awaiting their approval. Upon receipt of the emails, coordinators must click on the “Master’s Grad Applicant Search” link at their Faculty Self Service page to find their applicants. This link takes them to a PeopleSoft screen where they may select their graduation applicants and approve or deny.


  • The application filing period occurs approximately the first two weeks of the fall and spring semesters, or the first three weeks of the summer term; consult the “Graduate Degree Deadlines” for exact dates.
  • For the “Graduate Degree Clearance” form, the last day of the semester or final summer term.


  • Students must apply for graduation online at their Student Center and pay a non-refundable graduation application fee. The graduate coordinator must approve the application online in order for students to complete the process.
  • Coordinators should schedule a meeting with graduating students to determine how final requirements (e.g., culminating experience, clearance of incomplete coursework, appropriate paperwork) are to be met.
  • Graduate Degree Clearance” forms must be submitted to the Division of Research and Graduate Studies by the graduate program coordinator. The coordinator's signature is required. Students are not permitted to submit clearance forms.
  • Graduation in the summer is optional, based on the availability of the student’s faculty, and appropriate class required for continuous enrollment. Coordinators should not sign the graduation application unless they are assured of the presence of critical program faculty during this period.
  • The graduate degree specialists will review applicants’ files to determine completion of all requirements and clear all degrees. Transcripts showing conferred degrees are available after this point only.

This page is housed under the regulations section of the on University Catalog.

Regulations - Catalog Page