Frequently Asked Questions by Students

Student ambasador Naomi Martinez answering questions about Semester Conversion

FAQ Impact on Students

Will I still be able to graduate on time?

   Yes, provided you work closely with your academic advisor, beginning now, to develop an academic plan toward timely graduation. Do not wait until the semester is upon us. Your academic advisor will have access to a transition plan for your major. Getting an early start in the preparation for the semester conversion is your key to keeping on track and on time.

 

How many semester units must I enroll in to be considered full-time?

   An undergraduate student must enroll in 12 or more semester units to be considered full time. Full-time graduate students are those who are admitted to a master or Ph.D. degree program and carry at least 8 semester units of 500 or 600 level courses.
 

How will the units I have earned under quarters be combined with the units I will earn under semesters?

   Each college and department will be working individually on plans for transitioning its courses from quarters to semesters to make the move go smoothly for students.

   Your Academic Advisor will be the best source of guidance of what your completed quarter classes mean to your academic career under the semester system.
 

What if I change my major before the semester conversion happens?

   Nearly all decisions regarding major requirements, credit transfers, etc., will be handled at the college or department level. Consult with your academic advisor on how changing your major will affect what courses you will need and the time to graduation.

All of my credits have been converted to semester units, and I need 0.5 or fewer semester units to graduate.  Do I need to take a 1 unit course in order to graduate?

For undergraduate students, a minimum of 120 semester units are required to graduate. If a student is short of the 120 units by only 0.5 or fewer units after unit conversion, they will be granted 0.5 units in order to meet their graduation unit requirement. Students will not be required to take an additional 1 unit course in this situation.

For graduate students, a minimum of 30 semester units are required to graduate. If a student is short of the 30 units by only 0.5 or fewer units after unit conversion, they will be granted 0.5 units in order to meet their graduation unit requirement. Students will not be required to take an additional 1 unit course in this situation.

FAQ Tuition and Financial Aid

How will Semester Conversion affect my tuition and Financial Aid?

   It may seem at first more expensive if you look at it as a per term cost. Fall Semester 2016 will be more costly than Fall Quarter 2015. This is because you are attending two sessions a year vs. the three under a quarter calendar. If you compare the costs of paying for a year in a quarter system and the costs for paying for a year in a semester system you will see the costs are pretty much equal. Yes, Fall 2016 will be more expensive than Fall 2015 but Academic Year 2016-2017 should be the same as Academic Year 2015-2016 provided there are no state mandated increases to tuition or associated costs.

   Financial aid recipients will see an adjustment in their award packages to accommodate this difference. Consult with the Student Financial Aid Office to see what changes are in store for your aid packages.

Fall Semester 2016 Tuition and Fees Estimates

Currently under the quarter system basic student tuition per quarter is the same for 1-6 units (as part-time students), and a higher rate for more than 6 quarter units. Will this be the same for semester units? That is, is it true that a student will pay the same basic tuition per semester for 1-6 semester units, and a higher rate for more than 6 semester units?

   Yes, under the semester system this same fee structure will apply. See CSU Fee Schedules.

FAQ Impact on Degree Programs

May matriculated, native students and California Community College (CCC) transfer students change degree requirements during or after semester conversion?
(Student Catalog Rights)

Yes.

  • Graduation requirements, including required courses, will be maintained for continuously enrolled matriculated CSU students, even after semester conversion.

  • University requirements, including general education requirements, will be maintained for continuously enrolled matriculated CCC transfer students, even after semester conversion.

  • Major requirements for CCC transfer students will be determined upon matriculation at Cal State LA.

  • When required courses in a catalog are no longer available, students will take a substitution course with academic adviser approval.

  • In keeping with Title 5 section 40401, continuously enrolled, matriculated CSU students and CCC transfer students in the major may elect to meet the degree requirements as specified in Title V (see below), but they cannot be required to change their catalog year or degree requirements.

  • A new general education curriculum will be in effect fall semester 2016.  Freshmen who entered in the fall quarter 2015 will be required to enroll in fewer GE units if they have a fall 2016 GE catalog date.  However, students may elect to remain with a fall 2015 GE catalog date.

  • In the midst of the conversion, we will ensure that campus publications as well as academic department websites do not require or expect students to follow catalog requirements for periods other than those stipulated below.

  • Catalog rights are provided for in Title 5 as follows:

Title 5 § 40401. Election of Regulations.

An undergraduate student remaining in attendance in regular sessions at any California State University campus, at any California community college, or any combination of California community colleges and campuses of The California State University may for purposes of meeting graduation requirements elect to meet the requirements in effect at the campus from which the student will graduate either

  1. at the time the student began such attendance or
  2. at the time of entrance to the campus, or
  3. at the time of graduation.

Campus authorities may authorize or require substitutions for discontinued courses. A campus may require a student changing his or her major or any minor field of study to complete the major or minor requirements in effect at the time of the change.

For purposes of this section “attendance” means attendance in at least one semester or two quarters each calendar year. Absence due to an approved educational leave or for attendance at another accredited institution of higher learning shall not be considered an interruption in attendance, if the absence does not exceed two years.

A campus may prescribe that particular requirements be met within as few as seven years of the date of award of the degree.

11 February 2016

What is a student's catalog year? Will it change due to semester conversion?

   A student’s catalog year determines the degree requirements a student must fulfill in order to graduate.  This so-called “contract year” between student and university governs all requirements-major, general education, university-for a student’s graduation.  To find your catalog year, check your CAAR Report or consult with your academic advisor.  Your catalog year will not change due to semester conversion.  However, a student’s department may need to offer semester course substitutions for some former quarter courses as a result of conversion.

Will the Transition to Cal State LA (the 301 courses) be required courses for academic credit and if so, how many semester units will they be?

   Given that Cal State LA does not have current policy on the Transition to Cal State LA course and given that faculty governance is considering a policy that would move away from offering the transition tools through classes for academic credit, departments should plan for not requiring a 301 course. We will need input from the Executive Committee before stating anything more definitive.

All of my credits have been converted to semester units, and I need 0.5 or fewer semester units to graduate.  Do I need to take a 1 unit course in order to graduate?

For undergraduate students, a minimum of 120 semester units are required to graduate. If a student is short of the 120 units by only 0.5 or fewer units after unit conversion, they will be granted 0.5 units in order to meet their graduation unit requirement. Students will not be required to take an additional 1 unit course in this situation.

For graduate students, a minimum of 30 semester units are required to graduate. If a student is short of the 30 units by only 0.5 or fewer units after unit conversion, they will be granted 0.5 units in order to meet their graduation unit requirement. Students will not be required to take an additional 1 unit course in this situation.

FAQ Semesters vs Quarters

Why are we switching to semesters?

   Cal State LA is switching to Semesters because of the tremendous benefits:

   For Students

      It is easier to transfer credits from or to a community college, or another university. More than 90% of American higher education institutions use a semester calendar.
      A 15-week semester gives students more time to learn course material.
      Cal State L.A. students will be able to enter the summer job market at the same time as those attending other universities. You will no longer be disadvantaged with fewer summer job opportunities by a quarter schedule that ends in mid-June.
      It creates more opportunities for studying abroad and taking part in other learning opportunities outside the campus.
      There is more time for summer internships, and the dates match better with school, industry, clinical, and business schedules.
      Students only need to register for classes, pay fees, and complete other administrative tasks twice a year rather than three times a year.

    For the Campus

      It reduces the logistical demand on campus operation having to only prepare for and fully support two terms instead of three.
      Assessing transcripts for students transferring from the more numerous semester institutions will be easier which will expedite enrollment processes.
      It makes the campus more marketable for industrial, clinical, and business partners looking to add us into existing internship program opportunities without having to make special accommodation for our quarter calendar students.

   Semesters systems are a win, win solution to higher education.

What is the difference between a quarter system and a semester system?

   An academic quarter system divides the academic year into four (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer) each with 10 weeks of instruction. The semester system divides the year into fall and spring semesters, each with 15 weeks of instruction. In addition, there is a summer session with 10 weeks of instruction and a 3 week winter intersession.
   Fall semester will start in late August and end in early December. Spring semester will begin in late January and end in late May. Summer session will begin in early June and end in early August. Winter intersession will begin in early January and ends in late January.

When will Semesters begin and what will the Semester Calendar look like?

   The Fall Semesters 2016 begins Monday, August 22, 2016. Academic Calendar for 2016 - 2017

How will semesters affect Commencement?

   Conversion to semesters will not affect the commencement ceremony itself. Cal State LA will continue to hold these time honored ceremonies at the end of the spring term. The benefit to a semester calendar is that the ceremonies will be held earlier in the year. This will give you, the future grad a chance to enter the job market at the same time as others who are also on the semester system.

 

How will the semester system affect the summer?

   Cal State LA will continue to offer a summer session through either state-support or self-support (CESIP). The summer session would start at the beginning of June and end the first week of August.

What will the Summer Session preceding Fall 2016 conversion to semesters look like?

   The summer session preceding the conversion to semesters in Fall 2016, will be an accelerated quarter.

FAQ Impact on Teaching Assistants

What will be the maximum number of units that Teaching Assistants (TAs) can teach under the semester system?

   TAs normally teach up to 20 hours per week (0.5 FTE, or 7.5 units). Under unusual circumstances TAs may teach a higher load. This will not change under semesters.

Will there be any flexibility for teaching assistant (TAs) and part-time instructors groups, as with tenure-track faculty, to teach a few extra units one semester and fewer in the next semester?

   TAs may teach beyond 0.5 FTE under unusual circumstances, but in no case may they exceed full time employment in a given semester. Part-time instructors may not exceed the 16 unit limit in a given semester.