Resources for Graduate Advisors and Faculty

Graduate student advising is decentralized at Cal State LA, meaning that departmental faculty primarily serve as advisors to graduate students throughout their time in their graduate programs. The Office of Graduate Studies provides advising services to graduate students on institutional graduate requirements but does not provide any program-specific advising. This webpage is designed as a resource to help graduate advisors and departments streamline their departmental advising practices to align more closely with advising practices at the institutional level. Through closer collaboration with faculty, the Office of Graduate Studies hopes that advising in the Graduate Resource Center and in the academic departments can complement each other to maximize graduate student success.

Graduate Student Advisement Webinars and Slides (Fall 2020)

Best Practices for Advising Graduate Students

In this session, the Coordinator of the Graduate Resource Center will cover the major advising milestones for graduate students and the campus resources available to support their academic and professional development.

Webinar Recording (September 3, 2020)

Webinar Slides

Thesis Committee Member Information Session

In this session, the Coordinator of the Graduate Resource Center will cover the University's requirements for thesis/project/dissertation formatting and submission, including important information on processes, deadlines, and forms.

Webinar Recording (September 21, 2020)

Webinar Slides

Graduate Student Requirements

For graduate students to make timely progress toward their degrees, it is essential that they understand the graduation requirements of the university and of their programs. It is also important for students to understand their program learning outcomes, the skills and competencies which they will master by the time they complete their degrees, so that they are prepared to describe those skills as they transition from their academic to professional careers. Curricula are developed around program learning outcomes and students should know which courses provide an opportunity to practice any individual outcome so that they can make informed decisions on which courses, particularly in the electives, that would best facilitate their development. 

Below are a set of links that outline this information. Consider linking to these pages in your course syllabi and consider discussing these requirements and outcomes with your students in your advising appointments. This will help to ensure that graduate expectations are clear and that the student is choosing the curriculum pathway that best supports their academic and career goals. 

University Requirements for Master's Degrees (Unit requirement; GPA requirement; Advancement to Candidacy Requirement, etc.)

Additional Graduate Student Policies (Full-Time Unit Load for Graduate Students, Credit by Examination, etc.)

Departmental/Program Requirements

Program Learning Outcomes

Advising Milestones and Discussion Points

During the Initial Advising Appointment:

  • Establish the student’s program plan
  • Discuss enrollment options for the current term and course offerings for future terms
  • Discuss Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (if applicable; requirement suspended for Fall 2020)

For conditionally classified students*, also review qualifying course requirements:

  • The courses that must be completed
  • The grade that the student must earn in such courses
  • The timeframe by which the student must complete their qualifying courses

*Once conditions are met, change a conditionally classified student’s status to classified standing by completing a GS-8 form.


Advancement to Candidacy 

Advancement to Candidacy is the University prerequisite for undertaking the culminating experience (thesis/dissertation, project report, or comprehensive exam). Students are advanced to candidacy through the completion of the GS-10 form. During the Advancement to Candidacy appointment:

  • Discuss how the culminating experience relates to the student’s professional goals (especially if they are given a choice)
    • Example: Students wanting to pursue a doctoral program may want to consider a thesis over a comp. exam to demonstrate to an admissions committee their ability to conduct an original research study. 
  • Discuss what the culminating experience is designed to assess and the metrics by which it will be evaluated
  • Share best practices for preparing for and/or progressing through the culminating experience

Students completing a thesis or project report involving data collection from human or animal subjects (surveys, interviews, biospecimen collection, etc.) will need Institional Review Board (IRB) approval prior to starting data collection. During the Advancement to Candidacy appointment, the Graduate Advisor should inform such students about this requirement and let them know that they will work closely with their PI (faculty supervisor of research) to submit the application. 


Grad Check Appointment

Students apply for graduation the term prior to their anticipated graduation term. Before signing off on a graduation application, log into GET and review the student’s CAAR to check the following*:

  • Is the student listed in the correct option (if applicable)?
  • Is the student’s catalog date correct?
  • Is the student advanced to candidacy?
  • Have all the course substitutions been entered on CAAR?
  • Has the student completed all or almost all of his/her coursework for their program?
  • Will the courses the student is planning to enroll in for his/her last semester here fulfill any missing requirements that are listed on CAAR?
  • Is the student’s program GPA a 3.0 or above?
  • Are the program units that the student has completed listed correctly on GET? It is always good to hand count the units the student has completed for his/her program and compare those units with CAAR.

*Checklist developed by NSS Associate Dean’s Office

Resources to Support Writing and Research Skill Development

Writing and research skill development are central to many of Cal State LA's graduate programs. Sometimes, there is an assumption that graduate students possess an advanced level of competency in these areas but we frequently find that this isn't always true. Below are a few resources to which graduate advisors can refer students to receive writing and research support. 

  • GRC Writing Consultants are graduate student employees who provide writing support to other graduate students on a variety of writing assignments and projects in 50-minute consultation appointments. Writing Consultants do not act as proofreaders or editors, instead, they help graduate students reflect on their own writing processes to ensure that they are communicating effectively through their writing. Students can make appointments with a Writing Consultant online.
  • Grammarly, a powerful digital writing tool using artificial intelligence and natural language processing that offers grammar checking, spell checking, and plagiarism detection services along with suggestions about writing clarity, concision, vocabulary, delivery style, and tone.  

The University Library provides research and writing support to graduate students by giving students access to:

  • Databases with scholarly sources from all disciplines
  • Library Faculty assigned to each department who teach special Library classes, facilitate database workshops, and provide one-on-one research consultation sessions for students.
  • Resources that support citation skill development

Templates and Forms

Graduate Studies Forms and Petitions

Office of Graduate Studies Syllabus Description Template

Feel free to copy, edit, and paste the following description into your course syllabi.

The Office of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Resource Center (GRC), a unit within the Office of Graduate Studies, provide service and academic and professional development opportunities to graduate students. The Office of Graduate Studies oversees some of the administrative procedures related to graduate study and provides funding opportunities to graduate students while the GRC hosts workshops and webinars, provides writing support to graduate students, and provides advising services on institutional graduate requirements and policies. Please enroll in the GRC Canvas Course to sign up to receive announcements from the Office of Graduate Studies, which often include information about important deadlines, events in the GRC and in other campus departments, and information about opportunities for funding and professional development. Visit the Office of Graduate Studies website for a full description of resources and services.

Coming Soon: 

New Graduate Student Orientation Guidelines for Departments

Best Practices for Adminstering the Comprehensive Exam 

Graduate Student Recognition Submission Box