“The fine print”: Information for

Incoming CDS Graduate Students



Topics include: graduate student status and classification, the 12-unit rule, ASHA coursework, and course substitutions



1.  What is involved in post-admission processing, academic advisement and getting my first classes?


Once a student accepts the Department's offer of admission to the graduate program in speech-language pathology, there are several additional administrative steps necessary to complete preparation for the first semester of instruction.  One of these steps is that the Department makes a decision whether the student is qualified for CLASSIFIED status or CONDITIONALLY CLASSIFIED status.  This decision is made on an individual basis after the Department reviews all of each new student's existing coursework and compares it to the Department's, University's, and ASHA's requirements.  Requirements such as a missing course in basic biological science, the CSU Writing Proficiency Examination, need to take a clinic, or a low GRE score are reasons for determination of CONDITIONALLY CLASSIFIED status (these become priorities for the first or second semester at CSUN).  


Once that decision is made, a form is sent by the Department to the Office of Admission and Records (A&R) to place the incoming graduate student into the proper category.  When A&R receives and processes the classification document from the Department, the student can contact the University's Office of Financial Aid for assistance.


During June and July, incoming graduate students should contact the Department for academic advisement.  This is necessary in order to receive "permission numbers" for registering in classes for Fall 2008.  A permission number reserves a specific seat in a specific class.  Since nearly all of the Department's classes have enrollment restricted to permission numbers only, enrollment is tightly controlled for the benefit of eligible students.  Emphasis in academic advisement for the first semester is on fulfillment of any conditions so that advancement to CLASSIFIED status can occur as soon as possible.



2.  What is the 12-unit rule and how does it affect me?


The 12-unit rule applies to CONDITIONALLY CLASSIFIED graduate students.  It states that a student must complete all conditions by the time that 12 units of coursework are completed for the Master's degree contract are completed.  Note that only the final 30 units (these are 500 and 600-level lecture classes) of the academic program count for the 12-unit rule.


For example:  If you take 6 units at the 500-level in the first semester and 6 units at the 500 and 600-level in the second term (because you also are taking 5 to 8 units of 400-level classes at the same time each semester), you must have completed all conditions before any more 500 and 600-level classes receive final grades in the third term.


The purpose of this common-sense rule is to focus the attention of the students and the Department upon completion of all outstanding pre-requisities and conditions early in a student's academic career in graduate school.  Ordinarily, you can expect to complete any conditions you may have by the end of your second semester, if not sooner.


In late May 2008, an email letter was sent to each incoming graduate student describing the critieria for advancing to CLASSIFIED status.  A portion of that letter, detailing the criteria for CLASSIFIED status is found in the answer to the next question.



3.  What are the criteria for CLASSIFIED status?


Classified Status:


If you enter with “Classified” status, it is because you already have met all six of the following requirements:


1.  You graduated from Cal State Northridge; or have graduated from another California State University campus and have already provided us with a copy of a passing score on the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Examination (WPE); and,


2.  You previously took and passed (with a grade of B or better) a clinical practicum in which you accrued client contact hours; and,


3.  You have taken and passed all of our department’s 400-level lecture courses, or the equivalent from another university; and,


4.  You have taken and passed all four of the required basic science subjects necessary for ASHA certification.  These are one course each in biological science, physical science, mathematics, and social science.


5.  You had at least one subtest on the GRE or an MAT score that exceeded the 50th percentile.


6.  You received a baccalaureate degree prior to Spring 2008.


Conditionally Classified Status:


If you begin your graduate program as “Conditionally Classified”, your first task is to satisfy the specific conditions.  As soon as those conditions are met, you and your academic advisor will fill out a request form for you to advance to “Classified” status.  Once you are in “Classified” status, you and your advisor will complete a form, called the “Program of Study”, that specifies the final 30 semester units for the Master of Science degree.  When the “Program of Study” is accepted by the Graduate School, your status will change to “Candidacy”.  As a degree candidate, you complete these final classes and pass the comprehensive examination to receive the M.S. degree.  This sounds complicated at first, but the process is similar to passing from freshman, to sophomore, to junior, and finally, senior status in college.


The conditions necessary to achieve “Classified” status are divided into three groups.


The first group of conditions consists of University requirements.  These are:


1.  Pass the writing examination, abbreviated as “the WPE”.  If you graduated from Cal State Northridge, you already have evidence of passing this test on your CSUN transcript.  If you graduated from another California State University campus, you must provide us with a copy of the passing score.  If you graduated from any other public or private university, you must take and pass the WPE in the Fall 2008 or Spring 2009 term.


2.  Appeal a low score on the GRE or MAT by petition, if needed.  The appeal is required if you did not have at least one subtest on the GRE or an MAT score exceeding the 50th percentile.  Your advisor will let you know if this will be necessary.


3.  Graduate from college.  A final, official transcript must be provided to the University Office of Admissions and Records if you are graduating from college in either the Spring 2008 or Summer 2008 terms.  An informal copy of this transcript must be provided to our department office at the same time.


The second group of conditions consists of certain course requirements for ASHA professional certification.  You probably fulfilled these requirements with the general education courses in your baccalaureate degree.  Your academic advisor will review your transcript to see if you have met these.  ASHA certification and CAA-ASHA program accreditation standards require that these subjects are completed by students at the beginning of graduate studies, if not part of undergraduate preparation.  These courses may be lower or upper division courses (they may be from a community college or four-year college).  They must qualify for credit toward a college degree (i.e., college extension classes do not count), but may be taken after graduating from college.  There is no minimum or maximum number of semester or quarter units for any course.  The four required courses are:


1.  One course in biological science.  If not taken in the Biology Department at CSUN, this must be a course that is transferable to CSUN in the discipline of biology.


2.  One course in physical science.  Applicable subjects are physics, chemistry, geology, and astronomy.


3.  One course in mathematics.  If not taken in the Department of Mathematics at CSUN, this must be a course taken elsewhere in a mathematics department and transferable to CSUN as a math course.  A developmental mathematics course will not count.  A course in statistics, taken in a mathematics department, will qualify.  A course in statistics, taken in any other discipline, will not.  Educational methods classes in mathematics will not qualify (e.g., Mathematics for Elementary Teachers).


4.  One course in social sciences.  Again, if not taken at CSUN, it must be a course that is transferable to CSUN.  The disciplines for this category include psychology, sociology, gender studies, family and child studies, political science and economics.


As an alternative, if you have taken an Advanced Placement course in high school, and taken the AP examination with a score of 3, 4, or 5, in any of the four areas, as described above, and received college credit (it must be shown on your college transcript) toward a college degree, it can satisfy any of the ASHA requirements.  Taking a high school AP course alone will not fulfill the requirements.  If your college did not recognize the AP class for credit on your transcript, it will not count.


The third group of conditions comprise the 400-level courses in the department’s curriculum for speech-language pathology.  Even if you have an undergraduate degree in communication disorders from CSUN or elsewhere, you must have either all of these courses or the equivalent courses in order to fulfill the pre-requisite requirements of the ASHA Knowledge and Skills Acquisition (KASA).  Anything missing from the list below will be identified as part of the conditions for assignment to “Classified” standing:


1.  Basic block courses:  CD 405 Phonetics; CD 410 Hearing Science; CD 415 Speech and Language Development; CD 442 Speech Science


2.  Disorders in speech and language:  CD 450 Fluency and Voice Disorders; CD 451 Articulatory and Phonological Disorders; CD 462 Language Disorders I; CD 469A Diagnostics; also CD 480 Early Intervention and CD 485 Computer Applications in Communication Disorders can be counted for Classified status (both are also needed to meet ASHA KASA requirements).


3.  Audiology:  CD 445 Audiometry or Hearing Conservation or CD 446 Auditory Habilitation (one is needed for Classified status, both are needed to meet ASHA KASA requirements).


4.  Clinical practica:  CD 469O Clinical Observation; then, CD 469B Diagnostics Practicum or CD 465 Clinical Practicum in Speech-Language Pathology (one is needed for Classified status; both are needed to meet ASHA KASA requirements).


In your first year of study, you also may take 500 and 600-level classes for which you are qualified in the department.  Remember, however, that the 500 and 600-level courses are the ones that count toward the “12-unit rule” (you must achieve “Classified” status before you complete 12 units of the final 30 units of the graduate degree).



4.  How do I apply for CLASSIFIED status?


As soon as you believe that you have met the criteria for CLASSIFIED status, contact your academic advisor.  The formal petition for advancement to CLASSIFIED status is initiated by your advisor, who submits the form to the Department office.  In the Department office, certain documents (such as evidence of completion of the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam) are attached to this petition and it is reviewed and signed by the Department Chair.  The signed petition and accompanying documents are forwarded to the Office of Graduate Studies for their review and approval.  Once approved by the Office of Graduate Studies, the student will receive a confirmation in the mail, sent by the Office of Graduate Studies.


You can apply for CLASSIFIED status at any time during the calendar year.  You do not have to wait until the end of a semester or the beginning of an academic year.


Your first regular opportunity to meet with your faculty advisor will be at mid-term in the Fall 2008 semester in order to plan for Spring 2009 classes and beyond.  That will be a good time to review the conditions for CLASSIFIED status and start the petition if you already qualify.



5.  I'm in the wrong category...I should be CLASSIFIED now...what do I do?


When you meet with your academic advisor at mid-term in the Fall 2008 semester, review your status and request the initiation of the petition for CLASSIFIED status.  Being CONDITIONALLY CLASSIFIED for the Fall 2008 semester does not affect your financial aid, good academic standing, eligibility for classes in the Fall 2008 term or progress toward your M.S. degree.  It is possible that the Department office had not yet received a final college transcript, a transcript from a community college for one of the basic science classes that are required by ASHA, a report on the passing of the Upper Division Writing Test, or other documentation at the time that the preliminary review of status was made during late May through early July 2008.  It's also possible that the initial classification was just wrong.  Submission of the petition for CLASSIFIED status by the end of the first semester in the case of mis-classification easily rectifies this situation.





PBU means "Post-Baccalaureate Undeclared Major".  This is a student admitted to the Graduate School, but not as yet admitted to a specific degree-granting graduate program.


CONDITIONALLY CLASSIFIED means that a student has been admitted both to the Graduate School and to a degree-granting graduate program, but has specific conditions to fulfill before advancing any further toward the degree.


CLASSIFIED means that the student has fulfilled any conditions specified at the beginning of the course of study toward the graduate degree.


CANDIDACY or DEGREE CANDIDATE means that the student has submitted and received approval of the final plan of study toward the graduate degree.  In the M.S. program in speech-language pathology, the final course of study consists of 30 semester units of specific coursework at the 500 and 600-level of classes.  In the final semester of this course of study, the student must take and pass the University's requirement of a culminating experience, the comprehensive examination.



7.  I took some of the graduate courses while I was in college that are similar subjects to what you teach in the graduate program at CSUN.  Why won't you count them?


The curriculum for the graduate program in speech-language pathology at CSUN consists entirely of required courses.  There are no elective classes.  The curriculum addresses the requirements of the University for a graduate degree, as well as the requirements for state licensure, state education credential and ASHA's Certificate of Clinical Competence.


One or more previously taken courses might be credited as meeting a graduate required course(s), but there are quite a few possible explanations of why they won't be used for credit.


There is a difference between using a previous course for credit toward the requirements of ASHA's Certificate of Clinical Competence, California state licensure, and California state education credential (or the license or credential of any other state) and using a previous course as a transfer for credit toward a CSUN graduate degree.  First, let's address the issue of transferring a previous course for credit toward a graduate degree.  Transferring a course means that CSUN accepts a course taken at another institution for degree-granting purposes.  CSUN has a number of restrictions on transferring units toward a graduate degree.  Among these are:  a) Any course taken in college, whether listed as an undergraduate or as a graduate course, that was used for credit toward a baccalaureate degree cannot be used again for credit toward a graduate degree.  b) CSUN does not allow any course taken in an undergraduate term prior to the final term of college to be counted toward a graduate degree at CSUN.  c) A previous course in college that was taken as credit-no credit, even if taken in the last semester of college and not used for the baccalaureate degree, may not meet the University's requirement that courses for the M.S. degree must have a letter grade.  d) A limit of 9 units toward a graduate degree may be taken from outside the graduate program of one's own Department, but only with specific permission of the Department.


If a CSUN undergraduate has taken a 500-level course in Communication Disorders and Sciences in the final semester of study for the BA degree, and the course was not counted toward the BA degree, that course may be petitioned for transfer for credit toward the M.S. degree.  This is the most likely circumstance for transfer of a course for credit toward the M.S. degree, since it is exactly the course to be taken in the graduate program.  In this case, the student should request credit by petition to the Graduate School.  This petition can be discussed with the academic advisor during the first advisement session in Fall 2008.  The petition itself cannot be submitted until the student has attained CANDIDACY status, but the petition form can be completed and retained in the student's folder until the appropriate time for submission to the Graduate School.


The second consideration is the possibility of waiving a CSUN course, that ordinarily would be taken as a graduate student, in order to substitute another graduate course to reach enough units for the degree.  This might happen if the student had taken coursework on a subject, at a sufficient level of study, that completely overlapped a similar graduate course in the Department's program.  The question in this case is not whether the student receives credit toward the degree, but whether the student already has demonstrated competency in the subject matter at the level of CSUN's graduate course so that another graduate course can be substituted.  In recent years, some universities have started offering such subjects as neuroanatomy/neurophysiology, research methods, and pediatric audiology as undergraduate courses.  In nearly all cases, simply taking an undergraduate course in one of these subjects does not qualify as competency at a graduate level of study and does not qualify for waiver consideration.


If a CSUN graduate course is waived, the Department must approve a substitute course.  The substitute course must be approved for use on the M.S. Course of Study (the so-called "Master's Contract") by submitting a petition to the Graduate School once the student has reached the status of CANDIDACY.