Master’s Advising FAQ
The following is a list of commonly asked questions and answers about the Geography Master’s program at SDSU and completing the degree:
Professor Piotr Jankowski
Department of Geography
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182-4493.
Program of Study and Course Requirements
If you filed for concurrent graduate credit while in your last semester as an undergraduate then the course would be footnoted in your undergraduate record and it will also be carried over into your graduate record. The course would be listed twice on the transcript; once under your undergraduate record and once under your graduate record.
If you did not file for concurrent graduate credit then you would need to make up the 3 units associated with the POS requirements in order to achieve the 30-unit total. The Graduate Advisor (Biggs) determines whether to 1) waive to content and have you take another course towards your POS requirements or 2) recommend that you retake it based on the grade earned or if you need to take it as a graduate student and be required to perform at the graduate level, since some courses require additional tasks/homework/papers for graduate students.
Before you take a class that is not on your POS:
- Fill out a new Departmental POS form (select the appropriate form for your Degree), and have it signed by both your Thesis Advisor and the Master’s Program Advisor. Clearly indicate which course will be removed by crossing it out using Track Changes or a pen, and adding the new course in a line below the dropped course. Note that if you take a new course without checking with the Thesis and Program Advisors to make sure it meets program requirements, you may not meet the requirements to graduate.
- Once the form is approved by the Master’s Program Advisor, submit a Petition for Adjustment of Academic Requirements Leave geography site form, which you initiate online and is then signed by the Departmental Graduate Advisor.
Student are eligible to take courses through Open University as long as they are not matriculated into the University and have those courses count towards their POS requirements or possible pre-reqs should the student be admitted at a later point. Any course that is taken through Open University appears on the SDSU transcript so, if the student does poorly while taking Open University courses the SDSU cumulative GPA will be impacted. Students are limited to a maximum of 9 Open University or other university units for a 30 unit POS; this total includes a combined total of courses coming from another institution and Open University. Should the student include an Open University course on the POS, the 7-year deadline by when they must complete their degree requirements begins with the Open University course that is on their POS and not when they were admitted to the MA/MS program.
Open University courses count towards the GPA requirements, program requirements, unit requirements, and time to graduate as they basically are SDSU courses but are being paid through SDSU World Campus should the student have missed admission deadlines, are trying to bring their GPA up prior to being considered for admission, or have pre-reqs and are not wanting to wait until the next admission cycle.
Job experience or current employment does not merit academic credit. However, if an employer along with faculty supervisor allow a student to perform a project at work outside of work hours, that could be considered. The student would have to propose a project and the content and contact hours would need to be approved by the department. The project would need to be a separate project/work with substantial time to work on the project outside of the student’s work hours and duties. The project cannot include a student’s current work duties and cannot be performed during work hours. The project would have to be evaluated by the supervising faculty, who would determine if it merits academic credit and the number of credit hours that would be allocated. Depending on the project, the supervising faculty member would determine if the department would count it as a 596, 797 or 798 course. Lastly, there would need to be some sort of contract with the supervising faculty member that outlines the objectives, learning outcomes, and assessment, which will be used to determine credit/grade, time spent on project and meeting with supervising faculty, and assignments.
Advancing to Candidacy and Thesis Proposal Defense
Defending your thesis and graduation: Deadlines
Note that for spring and summer graduation, the deadline for application to graduate can be as early as January.
Defending the thesis: Forms and procedures
Covid update: Committee members may print out and sign the signature page form, with each member having a separate page. There is no need for all signatures to be on a single page. See Montezuma Publishing - Thesis and Dissertation Services Leave geography site for more information.
- If your committee requested revisions to the thesis document, you must complete those revisions to the satisfaction of your advisor and/or thesis committee, depending on what was agreed upon at the defense.
- Once your revisions are complete and the final format of your thesis PDF document is approved by your committee, have your main thesis advisor sign the “Completion of Thesis in an Approved Format” form.
Covid update: A wet signature is not needed on the “Completion...” form; instead, the student fills out the form digitally as a pdf, and forwards it to their thesis advisor. The thesis advisor then forwards it to the Master’s Advisor, with a statement in the email that they “Approve the thesis in its final format.” The Master’s Advisor then files the Thesis Defense form with Graduate Division online; the student does not need to initiate the Thesis Defense form process.
- Submit the signed “Completion of Thesis in an Approved Format” to the Master’s Advisor.
- Submit a hardcopy of your signature page to Montezuma Publishing.
- Email a PDF of your thesis to Montezuma Publishing (firstname.lastname@example.org). See Montezuma Publishing for details Leave geography site.
Graduation delay and Leave of Absence
You will have to enroll in at least one unit of 799B during the summer, and reapply to graduate in summer. To do so, go back into your WebPortal account and “transfer” your application for Spring to Summer (August) and repay the $55 fee.
If you don’t finish and graduate in the spring semester of your second year, you must register in 799B the semester you plan to graduate and reapply to graduate (see previous question). Students who have completed all of the coursework on their POS and only have to complete their thesis are eligible to enroll in 799B through the SDSU World Campus, and so do not need to file for leave of absence and do not have to enroll in 799B continuously, only in the semester they plan to graduate. Students would only need to apply for the leave of absence if they planned on enrolling for 799B through main campus. As long as you plan on registering through Extended Studies, you do not need to file for a leave of absence.
The Handbook for New Graduate Students Leave geography site PDF file has information regarding leave of absences policies.
A leave of absence occurs when a student needs to take a semester off of their graduate program and has not completed all of the courses on their Program of Study. Students may request no more than four semesters of leave of absence during their time at SDSU. If a student needs more than four leaves or if they do not file for a leave of absence, they will either have to remain continuously enrolled e.g. in 799B, or reapply for admission to the program. See the previous FAQ and the Graduate Handbook for details on how to apply. Note that starting in Spring 2019, application for leave of absence is done online through their webportal account.