Liberal Arts Master's Program
Degree Requirements and Procedures

Degree Requirements

The First Semester

The Matriculation Process

Catalog Rights

Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts requires completion of 30 units of coursework with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Graduate student progress is monitored by the Program Coordinator on a semesterly basis. Students who fail to maintain a 3.0 GPA or who receive grades below B- in the core seminars may be placed on academic probation by the program or declassified for failure to make satisfactory progress toward completing the degree requirements.

A. Required Courses (9 units)

LIBA 200A Culture and Expression: Prehistory to Late Antiquity
LIBA 200B Culture and Expression: Middle Ages and Renaissance
LIBA 200C Culture and Expression: The Modern Period

B. Electives (18 units)

At least nine units must be earned through Liberal Arts courses. For the remaining nine units, students are encouraged to take some courses from other departments (see "Courses for Liberal Arts Students" above), but such courses must be approved by the Program Coordinator. Up to six of these remaining twelve units may be earned through upper-division undergraduate courses, also with the approval of the Program Coordinator.

C. Culminating Requirement (3 units)

LIBA 500 Culminating Experience

Note: Before advancing to candidacy, the student must have an approved prospectus on file in the Program office.

The First Semester

Normally the first semester will include LIBA 200A, which will provide considerable focus on advising issues. In addition, students are always welcomed to consult with the Program Coordinator regarding course selection and other issues. Remember that courses aside from Liberal Arts seminars must be approved by the Program Coordinator. If you were conditionally admitted, you should plan to complete the courses required to clear the conditions during your first semester.

The Matriculation Process


Upon completion of five courses (15 units), the student must form a Thesis/Examination/Project Committee by filing Petition for Approval of M.A. Thesis/Examination/Project Committee with the Program Coordinator. It is the student's responsibility to discuss his/her academic interests and Culminating Requirement options with various faculty during the first semesters of study and to file the petition on time. It is preferable for the form to be filed as early as possible (and well before completion of five courses).

The Thesis/Examination/Project Committee for theses and examinations consists of at least two full-time faculty members. The committee chair is usually the student's primary mentor and serves as first reader of the thesis/exam. A project requires supervision by only one faculty member.

It is the responsibility of the Thesis/Examination/Project Committee to provide the student general academic guidance as well as direction in every stage of the Thesis/Examination/Project process.


Students must file for advancement to candidacy after completing five courses. Prior to filing an Application for Advancement to Candidacy, each student must:

  1. have filed Petition for Approval of M.A. Thesis/Examination/Project Committee;
  2. have completed at least twelve units of his/her approved program, with a minimum 3.0 GPA;
  3. have achieved a passing score on the CSUS Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE) or have been granted a waiver; at least one of the following standards needs to be met in order to attain a waiver:
    • Have M.A./M.S., Ph.D., or J.D. from an Accredited American University
    • Published a paper or report
    • Achieved a grade of B- or better in a Junior-level advanced English composition course that required a minimum of 5000 words of writing
    • Graduated from an Accredited American University with honors or above
    • English instructor of record or tutor of college level English course
    • Passed a writing proficiency exam at a CSU or passed an upper-division writing exam at another University other than a CSU
    • Received 3.5 or higher on the GRE/GMAT writing assessment portion of the general exam
Advancement to candidacy worksheets and forms are available in the Graduate Center (River Front Center 206). All completed and projected coursework to be applied to the degree is listed. After appropriate signatures are obtained, the completed form is submitted to the Liberal Arts Program, which forwards the form to the Graduate Center for approval and the assignment of the final completion date. The Application for Advancement to Candidacy must be filed no later than four weeks prior to the opening of the semester during which the thesis will be submitted.

Upon advancement to candidacy, the student is allowed to enroll in Liberal Arts 500, Culminating Experience. When you have been advanced to candidacy, you are entitled to special library privileges, including extended time for borrowing library materials, interlibrary loan privileges, and assignment of a student locker. You must have also paid fees for units through the University or for "continuous enrollment" (599) through Regional and Continuing Education to be eligible for the special library privileges. Your special stamped library card (thesis card) may be obtained in the Graduate Center.


The master's thesis, examination or project must be completed within three semesters following the semester of enrollment in Liberal Arts 500. During this time, the student must remain continuously enrolled in order to preserve his/her catalog rights.* An "SP" (satisfactory progress) or "NC" (no credit) grade is assigned the semester of enrollment in Liberal Arts 500. If satisfactory progress is made and the student completes the culminating requirement within three semesters following enrollment in Liberal Arts 500, the "SP" grade is changed to a "CR" (credit) grade. An "NC" grade is assigned if inadequate progress is made toward completion of the culminating requirement, or if the culminating requirement is not completed within the specified time. After receiving an "NC" grade, the student must then reapply for advancement to candidacy and enroll again for "599 units."

* Continuous enrollment status may be maintained without having to pay additional regular university registration fees by enrolling in the course "Graduate Continuing Enrollment" offered each semester through Concurrent Enrollment (Open University). There are no units associated with this enrollment, but an enrollment fee is required. Provided no other courses are being taken through regular enrollment, the student must enroll in Graduate Continuing Enrollment during each semester of culminating requirement work beyond the initial enrollment in Liberal Arts 500.


A thesis is a written, systematic and analytical study of a significant problem. There is no set requirement for the length of a thesis, although normally it would be a minimum of 50 to 75 pages. General university thesis guidelines are available through the Office of Graduate Studies.


Relative to theses, projects tend to emphasize creativity. They may be written (e.g., a play, collection of short stories, or translation of or commentary on some significant work) or presented in some other medium (e.g., sculpture, painting or performance). In every case a project must be clearly described and summarized in a paper of no less than 20 pages that describes its significance and the methods/procedures employed and presents a conclusion or recommendation. Projects require only one faculty reader.


An M.A. comprehensive examination assesses a student's knowledge of a subject and skill in independent and critical thinking. Students who elect to satisfy the Culminating Requirement by examination must secure the agreement of two professors from whom they have taken graduate-level courses to serve as an examination committee. In consultation with the student, the committee will determine the number and nature of the examination questions, but these must cover the content of 60% of the coursework completed by the student and constitute an examination given in a single 3-hour session. In most cases, the examination option will not be suitable for students who have taken courses in a wide variety of liberal arts disciplines in order to satisfy the degree requirement.

Catalog Rights

Graduate students may elect to meet the degree requirements in effect at the point of classification in the Liberal Arts Master's Program or those in effect at the point of advancement to candidacy. Students who interrupt their programs without an approved leave of absence and students who have exceeded the university time limit do not have this option; they must fulfill the requirements current at the time they reapply for admission and/or for advancement to candidacy.

Leaves of absence to retain active status and preserve catalog rights may be granted for military, medical, and justified educational reasons. Students who fail to register for two consecutive semesters without taking a formal leave of absence lose their status and must reapply for admission.

A student enrolled in Liberal Arts 500 may preserve catalog rights by enrolling in the course "Graduate Continuing Enrollment" offered each semester through Concurrent Enrollment (Open University).


While the university places a seven-year time limit for the completion of graduate degree programs, all students admitted to the M.A. program in Liberal Arts are expected to complete the degree within five years, starting with the semester during which the first course applied toward the degree is taken.

Once coursework has been completed and you have enrolled in Thesis/Examination/Project units, you have two years to complete your Culminating Requirement. After initially enrolling in 500 units, you are required to be continuously enrolled for the three subsequent semesters. You may accomplish this by either (1) enrolling in regular University units or (2) by paying a "continuous enrollment" fee ($140) through Regional and Continuing Education for "599." Note: After enrolling in 500 units, you must be continuously enrolled each semester either by paying regular university fees or the RCE fee. If the culminating requirement is not finished at the end of four semesters, you must re-register in 500 and pay regular University fees, but you will not have to re-apply to the University because you will have been "continuously enrolled." You must contact Graduate Center staff if you need to re-register in 500 so your record can be "opened" allowing you to pay fees and register. If you need further clarification, please contact the Program Coordinator, or Graduate Center staff (278-6470).

As you near graduation, be sure to obtain an Application for Graduation from the Graduate Center and refer to the Schedule of Classes for deadlines.

Final copies of all master's theses and projects must be submitted to the Graduate Center by the legal last day of the semester in which you are graduating. No extensions of time will be granted for corrections. Deadline dates are published each semester in the Schedule of Classes.

Prior to turning in the final copy of your master's thesis or project, be sure to obtain the Microfilming and Binding Receipt form and the Thesis/Project Submission Form. These two forms must accompany your thesis or project. They are also available in the Graduate Center.

If your plans change and you cannot graduate on the date for which you applied, please notify the Graduate Center of your new date as soon as possible to avoid paying a new diploma fee.

If you move, please send in a Data Change form with your new address. This is especially important when you are working on your culminating requirement and may be out of the area or do not come on campus on a regular basis. We need your current mailing address when mailing your diploma or if questions arise regarding your program.

These steps lead to graduation checkout. Your degree and title of your project or thesis will be posted to your transcript 4-6 weeks after the end of the semester. Approximate diploma mailing dates are: Fall graduation - March diploma; Spring Graduation - August diploma; Summer graduation - August diploma.