Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Students Frequently Asked Questions

Can international students study part-time?

No. Per U.S. immigration laws, F-1 and J-1 students are required to be full-time. Graduate ECST students are considered full-time with 8 units of graduate courses. If you enroll in less units than full-time, you will need to request for reduced course load at the International Student Office. Without prior approval, you jeopardize your status.

What if I am finishing a thesis and I don’t have any more classes?

You will still need to request for reduced course load at the international student office. Enroll in UNIV 9000, and fill out the form correctly. Please contact the international student office for more information.

What if I need more time studying for my comprehensive exam?

If you have completed all your classes and need more time to study or comp exam, you will need to enroll in at least one unit to maintain continued student status.

What if I need to drop a class?

Prior approval by the international student office is needed. You will have to submit a reduced course load form by the third Friday in the same term as when you drop the class.

I need more time to finish courses/thesis/comp exam/project. What do I need to do?

Make sure that your I-20 is valid at all times. If you need more time pass the expiration date of your I-20, you will need to extend the I-20. Please contact the International Student Office on details of how to extend the I-20. You will also need a letter from your academic advisor that details why you need more time.

Is the Writing Proficiency Exam (UNIV 4000) required?

Yes, the WPE is required of all graduate student prior to enrolling in the thesis, comprehensive, or project courses. Graduate students will be required to pass the WPE (or UNIV 4010, the course alternative to the exam) in your first quarter at CSULA. Visit the University Writing Center for more information about registering for the exam (or course alternative) and about scheduled workshops to prepare for the exam.

What is the minimum GPA?

Achievement of a minimum B (3.0) grade point average in all courses on the approved Study Plan. A grade of C is allowed on the Study Plan; however, any grade below C, including C-, requires that the course be repeated with both grades computed in the grade point average.

Is ME 4090 (formally ME 409) required?

ME 4090 is required of all graduate mechanical engineering students. There are no substitutes for this course starting Fall 2016.

I have an internship during school. What do I need to do to get work authorization?

You will need to apply to CPT at the international student office, with your job offer letter. Please refer to the International student office for more information. Since this type of training is not integral to your obtaining the Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, you will need to enroll in a course that gives you credit for the degree. Meet with your advisor to discuss which courses can be used to obtain the CPT. During the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarter, you will need to receive 2 units for part-time employment. During the summer, you are allowed to work full-time and need to receive 4 units. The academic advisor has to write a detailed letter as to how this internship will benefit the student, and which course the student will take to receive credit.

When do I need to apply for graduation?

Grad check deadlines are posted on Please note that the deadlines for graduate students are different from undergraduate students.

How do I apply for graduation?

Visit the Graduation Office website to obtain a graduate application form. Take the completed and signed application to the Cashier's Office (ADM 128) and pay the application ($20) and diploma ($10) fees. Your academic advisor will need to check if you have finished all your courses and what other courses are required in the next term. They will sit down with you to fill out a worksheet with your courses, grades, and status of these courses. 

How many units do I need for the Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering?

Completion of at least 30 semester units in approved courses, of which at least half (15) must be graduate (5000-level) courses. Master’s degree programs whose minimum total units are established at more than 30 semester units must include at least half of those units in courses at the graduate (5000) level.

One of my classes have prerequisites. I have taken these prerequisites at my country’s university as part of my bachelor’s degree work. How can I obtain permission to add this course?

You will need to bring your previous university’s official transcript to your advisor, who will determine whether the coursework is enough to allow you to enroll in the graduate course.

A class that I need in order to graduate is full. How can I still enroll?

There are no permits available to guarantee you a spot in the class. Your best option is to keep trying to add the class before the term starts by continually looking on GET and see if a spot opens up. Otherwise, attend the first day of class in order to see if the professor is willing to add you to the course. Remember that you need to maintain full-time load as an international student.

I am interested in taking a graduate course in a different engineering department at CSULA. How can I get credit for it towards my degree?

You will need to discuss with your academic advisor first before enrolling in the course. Your advisor will check whether this course can be counted towards your degree in lieu of a mechanical engineering graduate course.