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Posthumous Degrees Presidential Guidelines

Policy Administrator: Office of the President


Effective Date: December 15, 2020

Updated: March 7, 2019, December 3, 2020

Index Cross-References: FS 18/19-74/EX, FS 20/21-52/FPC/EX

Policy File Number: PRS-0112


Policy Statement:
The purpose of the Guidelines is to provide families an opportunity to receive a degree after a student has passed.


Why the Policy is necessary:
As a caring campus, it is appropriate to have a means to honor the students and their families of students who have passed away that are near the completion of their degree.


Who the Policy applies to:
Students, faculty, and staff at Sacramento State.


The Vice President of Student Affairs and the Provost are responsible for making a formal recommendation to the President for the issuance of a Posthumous Degree.  President is responsible for the decision.


Procedures are addressed in the Guidelines.


Approved by Robert S. Nelsen, President

December 15, 2020


The passing of a college student is traumatic to families and friends. It is a loss to the entire Hornet family when we lose a student. To help bring some comfort and closure to family and friends, there are times when a posthumous degree is appropriate to bestow on a student that has come close to completing their degree. In the absence of a formal policy from the California State University system, CSU Sacramento grants the decision on bestowing such degrees to the President in consultation with these guidelines.

There are cases where an official degree may be able to be issued. This would occur when the student has completed all degree requirements (which may include reasonable substitutions of courses for major or other graduation requirements) or when a student is enrolled in their last remaining requirements and were clearly on a trajectory to pass.
In other cases, when a student has made significant progress towards the degree, an honorific posthumous degree may be bestowed and noted on the student’s transcript. To ensure uniformity in issuing such degrees, the following guidelines will be used:

  1. Bachelor Degrees:
    1. Student should have completed at least 90 units towards their degree
    2. Student should have completed at least 50% of their major requirement
    3. Student should have completed at least 30 units in residence or at least 15 units in residence for a recent transfer student
    4. Student should have overall, GE, and major GPA exceeding 2.00
  2. Graduate Degrees:
    1. Student should have advanced to candidacy
    2. Student should have completed 75% of their degree program.
    3. Student must should have a GPA exceeding 3.00

      In all cases, the Division to Student Affairs shall ensure that the student is in good standing academically and with the Student Conduct Code.

      Due to the unique nature of these situations, there may be cases where the President feels that it is appropriate to waive these guidelines.
  3. Procedures:
    A Department Chair, Dean, staff, or other administrator may make a recommendation to issue a posthumous degree. Working with the Division of Student Affairs to verify eligibility, the recommender shall prepare a memorandum to the Provost and VP for Student Affairs with a formal recommendation. The Provost and VP for Student Affairs shall review the recommendation and provide their independent recommendations to the President. The President shall review the recommendations and make a decision on issuing the posthumous degree. If tentatively approved by the President, staff from the Office of the President shall verify that the student’s family is interested in the issuance of a posthumous degree. If the family does desire the degree, a memorandum shall be distributed to the appropriate College, Department, Student Affairs, and Commencement Office to ensure that the student is recognized appropriately at Commencement and the family shall be provided with a posthumous diploma. If the family is not interested, the parties making the original request shall be notified that the family has chosen not to seek the degree and the matter will be closed.