Jul 21, 2024  
2021-2022 Catalog 
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements for Baccalaureate Degrees and Academic Certificate Programs

Cal State San Marcos will make every effort to preserve the following graduation requirements for students subject to this catalog.

Degree Characteristics

California State University San Marcos offers two baccalaureate, or bachelor’s, degrees:

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree is designed to provide a balanced liberal arts education and general knowledge in a recognized discipline, interdisciplinary field, or in areas of professional study.

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree is designed to provide a balanced liberal arts education and a scientific, technical, or professional entry level of competence.

Degree Requirements

To earn a bachelor’s degree, a student must:

Unit Requirement

Every baccalaureate degree (i.e., Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science) requires completion of a minimum of 120 semester units. Some choices of majors will require more than 120 semester units; the descriptions of each major specify how many units are required. Regardless of the major requirements, a student must complete at least forty (40) units of upper-division coursework to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

No more than seventy (70) units may be transferred from a community college.

Major Requirements

Every baccalaureate degree must include an approved major; see Degrees and Program Requirements  for a list of majors and whether they lead to a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. A major for a Bachelor of Arts degree must include at least twenty-four (24) units exclusive of units used to meet the General Education requirement and a major for a Bachelor of Science degree must include at least thirty-six (36) units exclusive of units used to meet the General Education requirement. For a Bachelor of Arts degree, at least twelve (12) units required in the major shall be upper-division courses, and for a Bachelor of Science degree, at least eighteen (18) units required for the major shall be upper-division. Most majors require more than these minima. Please refer to the descriptions of the majors in this catalog for specific major requirements.

Multiple Majors

It is possible for a student to complete more than one major within one degree (for example, a B.A.). Each major after the first major must consist of at least 24 semester units that are not counted toward any other major’s requirements. To be recognized as graduating with multiple majors, a student must declare the additional major(s) with the appropriate discipline or program no later than the beginning of the student’s final year of study. The completion of additional majors within one degree will be noted at the time of graduation by appropriate entries on the student’s transcript and on the diploma. Majors appear on the diploma in the order in which the student has designated them to be the first major, second major, etc.

It is also possible for a student to complete a major (or majors) in one degree concurrently with additional majors from a different degree (for example, a major in a B.S. concurrently with another major from a B.A.). Each major after the first major must consist of at least 24 semester units that are not counted toward any other major’s requirements. By declaring which major is the first major, second major, etc., the student also declares the order in which the degrees, and the majors leading to these degrees, appear on the diploma and transcript. Students must make this declaration no later than the beginning of the student’s final year of study.

Graduation Requirements for Second Bachelor’s Degree

Students who hold a bachelor’s degree from regionally accredited institutions of higher education; or students who have completed equivalent academic preparation, as determined by the appropriate campus authority, are exempt from all general education requirements (including U.S. History, Constitution and American Ideals requirement). In order to receive a second bachelor’s degree, students must complete the following:

  1. A minimum of thirty (30) units in residence at CSU San Marcos beyond the first bachelor’s degree.
  2. The major requirements for the second degree. Units from the first degree may be counted, but a minimum of twenty-four (24) upper-division units in residence in the major for the second bachelor’s degree must be earned subsequent to earning the first bachelor’s degree.
  3. All other CSU San Marcos graduation requirements other than general education and U.S. History, Constitution and American Ideals requirement in effect at the time of catalog selection. Exception: Second bachelor’s candidates returning for a degree in Nursing are exempt from any other CSU San Marcos requirements that are not specifically required for the Nursing major.

Second bachelor’s degree candidates are required to achieve a 2.0 grade point average each semester to maintain good academic standing.

Breadth Requirement 

For majors in the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences (CHABSS), the Breadth Requirement will only be required for the first major, not the second major, as long as both majors are in CHABSS.  All degrees in CHABSS contain a 3-unit Breadth Requirement with the exception of Liberal Studies and Music.  If the first major is in another College, and the second major is in CHABSS, the Breadth Requirement will be required in the second major. 


An undergraduate student may elect to complete one or more minors; this is not a degree requirement. Unless the description of the major(s) and minor contain additional stated restrictions, there is no restriction on double-counting units in the major(s) and the first minor that a student declares. After the first minor, each subsequent minor must contain twelve units beyond those used for major requirements and other minors. Students may not declare or receive a minor in the same subject or title as the major. Minors are awarded as part of a baccalaureate degree. The completion of a minor will be noted on the student transcript, but not on the diploma.

Academic Certificates and Certificate Programs

Cal State San Marcos grants certificates to individuals who complete certificate programs that enhance major requirements or credential programs. A certificate is issued upon the successful completion of an academic certificate program. The university acknowledges the completion of a certificate by recording it on the student transcript, but not on the diploma.

Residence Requirements

A minimum of thirty (30) units must be completed in residence at Cal State San Marcos, of which twenty-four (24) units must be upper-division and twelve (12) of these must be in the major. Credit by examination and transfer credit do not fulfill the residency requirement.

Grade Point Average Requirements

The following three grade point averages, each 2.0 (C average) or higher, are required for graduation:

  1. A cumulative grade point average, which includes both transferred and Cal State San Marcos coursework;
  2. A Cal State San Marcos grade point average;
  3. A grade point average in the major, at Cal State San Marcos and in coursework accepted as transfer credit for the major from other institutions.

U.S. History, Constitution, and American Ideals Requirement (GV)

California law (Section 40404 of Title 5, Education, of the California Code of Regulations) establishes as a graduation requirement that students demonstrate competence in the fields of American history and government, the Constitution of the United States, and the processes of state and local government as established in California. This requirement is embedded in the General Education Area, Area D requirement (See Area D: Social Sciences  ).

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement - Undergraduate Level (GWARBL)

All CSU undergraduate students must demonstrate competency in writing skills as a requirement for graduation. At Cal State San Marcos, undergraduate students complete the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement: Baccalaureate Level (GWARBL) through their coursework, as all CSUSM undergraduate courses must meet the All-University Writing Requirement. 

Graduation Writing Assessment and All-University Writing Requirements

With limited exceptions, every course carrying degree credit at CSUSM must have a writing component that can be achieved in a variety of ways depending on the course. The writing requirement for each individual student will vary by course units, as follows:

•  3 units and up = 2,500 words (approximately 10 pages)
•  2 units = 1,700 words
•  1 unit = 850 words

Thus, each student will write a minimum of 850 words for a one-unit course, a minimum of 1,700 words for a two-unit course, or a minimum of 2,500 words for courses of three units or more.  All writing will be in English or a written language. 

The Dean of Graduate Studies may exempt certain graduate courses from this requirement.

General Education Requirement

The General Education requirement is composed of forty-eight (48) units distributed in six (6) six areas of study. The required disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses reflect the values embodied in the University’s Mission Statement. The primary purpose of General Education courses will be to explore, to understand, and to respond to skill development, technological and ecological continuity and change, global issues and perspectives, multiculturalism, gender construction and difference, and human diversity, and ethical and moral questions affecting the present and shaping the future.

Within this framework, the objectives of the CSUSM General Education program are to:

  • develop analytical skills and reasoning powers;
  • develop and increase the ability to communicate ideas and to locate and share information;
  • develop abilities to address complex issues and problems using disciplined analytic skills and creative techniques;
  • develop a coherent and broad-based understanding of the fundamental principles governing the natural world;
  • create, to use and to understand modem technology, and to adapt to the pace of technological change;
  • apply scientific principles and modern technology to problems in everyday life;
  • understand and to experience the different forms of creativity as they exist and have existed across cultures in varying genres and media;
  • promote global citizenship through knowledge of the forces that shape and have shaped the individual and modem society;
  • recognize and to explore the linkages among nations and among peoples of diverse cultures and cultural backgrounds and to understand differences between cultures while recognizing the common bonds that unite humanity;
  • acknowledge the interdisciplinary and interdependent nature of successful dispute resolution associated with the complex problems confronting both our increasingly diverse society and the global community;
  • understand ethical responsibility and accountability in regard to individual and collective action; and
  • explore questions of justice and human rights as fundamental issues that link individuals to others in our society and across cultures.

Minimum Grade Requirement for Area A (Basic Skills) and Mathematics

A grade of C- or higher is required in each CSUSM or transfer course in written communication in the English language (A2), oral communication in the English language (A1), critical thinking (A3), and mathematics/quantitative reasoning (B4).

Notice to Transfer Students

Students admitted to CSUSM with full General Education certification shall not be held to any additional lower-division General Education requirements. In addition, students admitted to a CSUSM with subject-area certification may not be held to any additional lower-division GE coursework in the subject areas certified.

Subject-area certification for the lower-division CSU General Education-Breadth Requirement does not include the Upper-Division General Education requirements. The Upper-Division General Education requirement must still be completed at a California State University.


Area A: Basic Skills   
Area B: Mathematics and Natural Sciences  
Area C: Arts and Humanities  
Area D: Social Sciences  
Area E: Lifelong Learning and Information Literacy  
Area F: Ethnic Studies  

Note: Courses with multiple GE certifications can be used to satisfy only one GE Area.


Area BB: Upper-Division Mathematics or Science   
Area CC: Upper-Division Arts or Humanities 
Area DD: Upper-Division Social Sciences  

The nine (9) required units of Upper-Division General Education courses assume satisfaction of lower-division General Education requirements and develop upper-division skills. Designed for non-majors, these courses make explicit the basic assumptions, principles and methods of the disciplinary or interdisciplinary area of study. These courses help students understand how disciplines, ideas, issues and knowledge are often interrelated, intersecting and interconnected. They also provide students with a classroom environment that fosters independent, active, engaged learning and a genuine curiosity about the subject matter.

The nine (9) UDGE units are designed to be completed after upper-division status; therefore, students are encouraged to enroll in this coursework after completing sixty (60) units. At a minimum, students must have completed required lower-division GE courses in oral communication (A1), written communication (A2), critical thinking (A3), and mathematics/quantitative reasoning (B4) prior to completing an UDGE course.

*Check the Class Schedule or Degree Planner for the most up-to-date list of courses satisfying this requirement.

Diversity and Equity Requirement

Students whose majors lead to a baccalaureate degree must satisfy two Diversity and Equity requirements. Students must pass one (1) course certified to focus on Diversity and Equity in the United States, and one (1) course certified to focus on Diversity and Equity in Global contexts. The development of knowledge, disposition, and skills related to diversity and equity are the foundations of the requirements. The Diversity and Equity Requirements are consistent with the University’s Mission, Vision, and Values.



Diversity and Equity courses can “double count” with other current General Education required courses (such as BB, CC, or DD courses) as well as major and/or minor course requirements or electives, and therefore should not involve students taking additional units to graduate.

*Check the Class Schedule or Degree Planner for the most up-to-date list of courses satisfying this requirement.