May 22, 2024  
2021-2022 Academic Catalog 
2021-2022 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Undergraduate University Graduation Requirements

To Qualify for an Undergraduate Degree

The University offers the following undergraduate (or baccalaureate) degrees: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Music (BM), and the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). View the Undergraduate Graduation Requirements Unit Overview . Students must satisfy the specific degree requirements for their undergraduate major  and fulfill the following University degree requirements: 

  1. Academic
  2. General Education (GE)
  3. American Institutions (AI)
  4. Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)
  5. Physical Education (PE)
  6. Units in Residence
  7. Upper Division Units
  8. Undergraduate Policies & Procedures
  9. Apply for Graduation
    Information about the Commencement Ceremony and Conferral of the Degree

University Graduation Requirements earning goals and outcomes are included in the Mission and Institutional Learning Goals  section of the catalog. Exceptions for University Graduation Requirements , including exemptions and waivers, are approved for specific majors and on a case-by-case evaluation only. Students may submit a University Graduation Requirement petitions to the Office of Undergraduate Education.

1. Academic

An “All College” average of “C or better” (2.0), a “C or better” average earned in all units taken at SJSU (as indicated on the transcript by “SJSU Cum”), a “C or better” average in both the requirements for the major and the minor (if applicable), a “C- or better” in each of the four GE basic skills courses (Areas A1, A2, A3, and B4), an aggregate “C or better” average in the nine units of upper division GE (Areas R, S, and V), and a “C or better” in Area Z (100W) (GWAR), are required for graduation with a baccalaureate degree. Upon the completion of their programs, credential candidates must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to be recommended for a credential.

A minimum of 120 semester units of credit must be earned for graduation with the baccalaureate degree. Normally, no more than four units of Individual Studies (180) and/or Directed Reading (184) may count for the baccalaureate degree. Exceptions must have approval from the major department.

All requirements listed here may be met either by passing external examinations (Advanced Placement (AP) Exams College Level Exam Program (CLEP) , or International Baccalaureate (IB) ), waiver examinations, where available, or by individual course challenge exams, or by course work. Students should note that success in a waiver examination satisfies a requirement but does not yield unit credit. For information about the examinations, contact the SJSU Testing Office.

Any additional academic requirements are specified on the undergraduate major  catalog pages.

2. General Education (GE)

A university brings together many separate areas of learning, yet it is more than just a collection of specialized disciplines. The General Education Program  establishes a strong foundation of versatile skills, fosters curiosity about the world, and prepares students to engage and contribute responsibly and cooperatively in a multicultural, information-rich society. General education classes integrate areas of study and encourage progressively more complex and creative analysis, expression, and problem solving. The program aims to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and values they need for a lifetime of intellectual and personal growth. Review the learning goals and outcomes , policies , academic advisement information , and previous requirements .

3. American Institutions (AI)

U.S. History, U.S. Constitution, California State and Local Government. State law requires all students graduating from a CSU campus to demonstrate knowledge of these three areas, also referred to as the American Institutions and Ideals, Title 5, or the “state code” requirement. Students may complete waiver exams or coursework to satisfy the requirements. Consult the Testing Office for information about the waiver examinations. Students should consult an advisor to determine which of the various course combinations are best for their undergraduate major .

Courses in American Institutions should expose students to alternative interpretations of the historical events and political processes that have shaped the social, economic, and political systems in which we live. All three requirements (1) US History, (2) US Constitution, and (3) California Government must be completed from the following coursework.

US123 Requirements (6-12 units)

Courses satisfy General Education Requirements  as specified by the Course Abbreviations  in parentheses. The Writing Skills Test (WST) is only a prerequisite for HIST 170S  and POLS 170V .

U.S. History + U.S. Constitution + California Government (US123)

All of these sequences satisfy General Education Requirements  listed in parentheses. All courses in the sequence must be completed to satisfy the requirement.

American Studies (12 units)

Asian American History (6 units)

Humanities Honors (12 units)

Satisfies eight GE areas, including third Area C, and all of American Institutions completed when completed with grades of “C-” or better.

U.S. History and Government (6 units)

U.S. Constitution + California Government Only (US23)

4. 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 by completing the following:


  1. Pass the Writing Skills Test (WST)
    The WST has been temporarily suspended.The “traditional” (or pre-pandemic) WST was an in-person, timed essay exam that yielded a numeric score (the highest being a 12).  The traditional WST has been suspended since March of 2020. As a replacement, students now complete an online exercise to fulfill their WST requirement, called the WST-DSP (Directed Self-Placement). The online WST-DSP is NOT a test (unlike the traditional WST) and it does NOT yield a numeric score.  It is a placement exercise that helps students place themselves in the writing course appropriate for them (100A or 100W).  It is similar to a questionnaire. There are no waivers being granted for 100W courses at this time.  The WST-DSP does not yield a score and therefore there is no way to waive 100W (unlike the pre-pandemic WST). All transfer students must complete the WST-DSP, regardless of what classes they’ve taken at their previous institutions or what grades they’ve earned. See Temporary WST Policy for more details. 

    All undergraduate SJSU students are required to pass the Writing Skills Test (WST). A satisfactory score on the WST (or completion of ENGL 100A  / LLD 100A  with a grade of “C or better” (C- not accepted) after failing the WST) is required to enroll in the 100W course designated by the major.
  2. Satisfy the GWAR Requirement
    All undergraduate students must satisfy the GWAR by either:
    1. passing a 100W course with a “C or better” (C- not accepted). The 100W Writing Workshop must be passed with a “C or better” (C- not accepted) when satisfying the CSU Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement. View a list of SJSU Studies Area Z Written Communication II - 100W Courses ,
    2. by earning a waiver score on the WST. Some majors  require an Area Z Written Communication II - 100W as part of the major degree program regardless of the WST score. A student may also satisfy the GWAR while matriculated at another CSU campus.

Students should consult with their major advisors, the Testing Office, or Undergraduate Advising and Success Center (UASC) for major appropriate advice to satisfy this requirement. Graduate students should refer to the Graduate Policies - Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)  section.

5. Physical Education (PE)

All undergraduate students who matriculate at SJSU, except those students in majors that are exempt (see Exceptions for University Graduation Requirements ), are required to complete two units of activity courses  that satisfy the Physical Education requirement (University Policy S14-11). Students may satisfy this requirement by either:

  1. taking two distinct 1-unit activity courses  (may include 2 units of Intercollegiate Athletics courses), or
  2. taking one single activity course  of 2-or-more units.

Veterans who have completed at least one year of active duty in the armed services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard or Space Force) have satisfied the physical education requirement (Credit for Military Training in Non-Collegiate Settings  section). Activity courses at SJSU are not repeatable for credit, unless indicated in the course description. KIN 1 - Adapted Physical Activities , specifically designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, is repeatable for credit with instructor consent. To petition a course to satisfy the Physical Education Requirement, students must submit a petition to the the Office of Undergraduate Education, who will consult with the Department of Kinesiology , at least one semester prior to graduation.

6. Units in Residence

For all bachelor’s degrees, including second baccalaureates, a minimum of 30 units shall be earned in residence after matriculation at the campus granting the degree. A minimum of 24 units shall be upper division. Of these upper division units, a minimum of 12 units shall be in the major . Extension credit or credit by evaluation shall not be used to fulfill any of the thirty (30) units. Summer and Winter Session for previously matriculated students earns residence credit; Open University units are not applicable toward the residence requirement.

7. Upper Division Units

minimum of 40 of the total units required for graduation with the bachelor’s degree must be upper division. For the BA, a minimum of 12 units of upper division credit in the major  is required and for the BS, a minimum of 18 units of upper division credit in the major  is required. Upper division credit will be allowed by the university and applied toward the baccalaureate degree only for SJSU courses numbered 100 or above and for courses from other universities clearly designated as junior or senior level courses.

8. Undergraduate Policies

All Undergraduate Policies & Procedures  apply to students seeking to earn a baccalaureate degree.

9. Apply for Graduation

  • You should apply for graduation at least two semesters in advance, after completing at least 85 semester units (must be in good standing). See major  for specific graduation course and unit requirements.
  • File your application no later than the Processing Deadline dates. Submitting your application by the priority processing deadline allows us to review your graduation requirements before Advance Registration ends for your last term of attendance.
  • The graduation application processes for each program are described on the Registrar’s Office web page.
  • For most programs, MyProgress is used to evaluate completion of undergraduate degree requirements. Please work with your advisor to ensure that MyProgress accurately reflects all of your coursework and test credit. For programs that do not use MyProgress, a Major or minor form is needed. Contact your department office  for more information on Major/Minor Forms.
  • All courses and requirements must be completed by the date of graduation and transcripts received within one month after graduation. Any Incomplete (I)  or Report Delayed (RD)  grade must be cleared before your degree can be awarded. Once your degree has been posted, no grade changes will be made to your record.
  • If you are unable to complete the coursework, or if the date of graduation is delayed, a “Graduation Date Change Form” must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office. A $10.00 administrative fee must be paid at the Bursar’s Office.

Apply by the priority processing deadline dates. Applications will continue to be accepted up to the last day to add classes for the term of graduation; however, delays may occur in the initial and final evaluation of your application and names may not appear in the commencement book if application is received after the priority processing deadline. If we receive your application after the final deadline date for the term for which you are applying, your application will automatically be set up for the next available graduation date. Students from specific majors can now apply online for graduation via their MySJSU. See the Graduation page for further guidance.

Graduation Application Process

Candidates for the baccalaureate degree must file an application for graduation at least two semesters prior to the expected graduation date in order to allow time to make up any deficiencies or correct any discrepancies that may delay graduation. At least 85 semester units must be completed before an application for graduation may be submitted. In addition to fulfilling curricular graduation requirements, a student, to be eligible for a bachelor’s degree, must have a grade point average of at least 2.0 (C) in each one of the following categories:

  1. all college work (the overall average),
  2. all units attempted at SJSU,
  3. all units in the major,
  4. all units in the minor (if any), and
  5. all nine units of upper division GE (Areas R, S, and V).

Undergraduate students need to check with their major departments or their college success centers when they are ready to apply for graduation. Students from specific majors can now apply online for graduation via their MySJSU. See this page for guidance: Application for Graduation web page. 

The graduation application for Master’s or doctoral degrees are available to eligible students through their MySJSU account. Eligible students will be messaged once they are eligible to apply online. A tutorial and video instructions for completing the application are available at the linked website under Graduation.

Those planning to attend a college or university other than SJSU during the final semester must notify the Office of the Registrar. Courses must be completed by the date of graduation and transcripts received within one month after graduation.

If a candidate is unable to complete the coursework as expected, or if the date of graduation is to be delayed for any reason, a Change of Graduation Date form must be submitted, accompanied with the fee, prior to the new expected graduation date.

College of Business Graduation Applicants

The College of Business requires that students apply for graduation to the Jack Holland Student Success Center. Graduation deadlines and procedures differ from those established by the University. For further information, check with the Jack Holland Student Success Center, BBC 008, 408-924-3435.

Commencement Ceremony and Conferral of the Degree

Degrees are conferred three times a year - in August, December and May - at the close of summer, fall and spring terms. The date of the diploma reflects the term during which the degree requirements were completed. There are two graduation or commencement ceremonies each academic year, held at the close of the spring and fall semesters. Students who have completed all requirements in the previous summer and fall semester, or expect to complete their degree requirements in the spring semester, are eligible to participate.