International Student Handbook


Words from the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Dr. William Watkins

WELCOME to Cal State Northridge! We are pleased that you have decided to become a CSUN Matador. I look forward to greeting you now, supporting you along the way and congratulating you when you receive your degree a few short years from now.

Choosing to attend Cal State Northridge was a great decision, and by reading this handbook you’ll be off to a great start with the support of CSUN faculty and staff who are here to help you achieve your academic and personal goals.

Like most students, you will face many more decisions as you enter CSUN. For example, you will need to decide how best to balance the academic, social and personal aspects of your life. We want you to continue the pattern of good decision making that helped you gain admission to CSUN, but we realize that some decisions will be difficult to make on your own. That is why we provide a wide array of caring and concerned individuals to help you make choices that contribute to your success. I encourage you to reach out when help is needed.

Attending college and seeking higher education is a wonderful journey full of exciting opportunities and challenges that contribute to one’s learning and development. I hope you will find your journey as a Matador rewarding and memorable. On behalf of the faculty and staff, and as a CSUN alum, I thank you for selecting California State University, Northridge as your academic home. We look forward to assisting you as you work toward and achieve your goals.

Dr. William Watkins
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Meet the International Student Services Team

International & Exchange Student Center (IESC)

Ph.: 1 (818) 677-3053
IESC Website

International Admissions

Ph.: 1 (818) 677-3760
International Admissions Website

UGS-International Academic Advisement

Ph.: 1 (818) 677-6968

Arriving to the U.S.



  1. Review your I-20 or DS-2019. If a correction is needed, contact your International Admissions Advisor from the International Admission Office immediately at 1 (818) 677-3760 or International Admissions Website.
  2. Pay the I-901 Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fee at Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security.
  3. Contact the nearest U.S. Consular office and schedule a visa appointment. A list of consulates is available at
  4. Collect all documents needed for your visa interview. We suggest that you read Frequently Asked Questions on Student Visas at U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs Website in preparation for your interview.
  5. Make travel and living arrangements after you receive your visa. Visit the Housing section of this handbook for more information.
  6. Sign-up for the New Student Check-in appointment at IESC website. We recommend that you arrive to the U.S. no later than a week prior to the program start date noted on your I-20 to make sure you take care of all your activities prior to the beginning of your classes. Note: J-1 students will receive an email from the J-1 advisor regarding their check-in information.
  7. All international students are required to have Health Insurance coverage during their period of enrollment at CSUN. Please visit the Health Insurance Requirement section on our website to purchase health insurance policy offered. This policy meets the health insurance requirements as mandated by the California State University Chancellor's Office.
  8. In the plane, carry with you: F-1: your I-20, valid passport, F-1 visa, admission letter, and financial documents. J-1: your DS-2019, valid passport, F-1 visa, admission letter, and financial documents. You will need to present these documents to a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officer at the Port of Entry to the U.S.


Temporary Accommodations

Northridge and nearby cities have numerous temporary accommodation options. Make sure to contact hotels in advance to confirm rates, availability, and amenities. Make your reservations early. Here are some options:

Extended Stay America LA-Northridge
19325 Londelius St.
Reseda, CA 91335
Tel.: 1 (818) 734-1787
Distance: 27 miles from LAX, 2 miles from CSUN

Radisson Hotel-Chatsworth
9777 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Tel.: 1 (818) 721-8107
Distance: 32 miles from LAX, 5 miles from CSUN

Howard Johnson Inn and Suites Reseda
7432 Reseda Blvd.
Northridge, CA 91324
Tel.: 1 (818) 344-0324
Distance: 24 miles from LAX, 2.4 mile from CSUN

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Chatsworth
21340 Devonshire St.
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Tel.: 1 (818) 998-5289
Distance: 34 miles from LAX, 5.5 miles from CSUN

Transportation from LAX to CSUN

Here we have some options for you!

  1. The FLYAWAY bus, which can be boarded outside each terminal at LAX. It departs every half-hour (24hrs) and goes non-stop to the Flyway Bus Terminal at Van Nuys, California. Travel time is 50 minutes and there is a small fee for each way. Take a taxi from the Van Nuys Terminal to the CSUN campus. Please visit the LAX FlyAway Bus webpage for more information.
  2. Taxis are available from LAX to CSUN and cost about $100 to $140. You may contact Authorized Taxicab Supervision (ATS) at 1 (323) 776-5324 or L.A. Taxi at 1 (213) 627-7000 or United Checker Cab at 1 (877) 201-8294. You may also visit Los Angeles Yellow Cab for services and other information.
  3. A shuttle van is also available outside each terminal at LAX. These vans carry several passengers and make several stops. Board the San Fernando Valley shuttle. The estimated cost is approximately $90-$150 and the estimated travel time is 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours. Advance reservations can be made at the Super Shuttle website.
  4. Uber and Lyft are ride-share technologies that are used by downloading the appropriate app on your phone to locate available drivers in your area. Please see Life in Northridge section for more information.

New Student Check-In Process

All new F-1 students need to complete all steps in the Six-Step Immigration Requirements as soon as they are admitted to the university AND report to IESC upon arrival to the U.S. Please visit IESC website to select the semester of your admission and complete the online steps. Note: J-1 students will receive an email from the J-1 advisor regarding their check-in information.

International Student Orientation

As part of the New Student Check-in Process, all new CSUN international students need to attend the International Student Orientation. Please make sure to mark your calendar with the date and time. Go to NSO website to register and for more information.

On-Campus Housing

CSUN housing is conveniently located near the library and other university premises. The early move-in date is generally the Friday before classes begin. Should you choose to arrive earlier, please fill out the online Request for Check-In Extension form located in your Student Housing Portal. For any further information, please contact Housing at 1 (818) 677-2160. Please see a virtual tour of CSUN Student Housing and the Photo Gallery.

How to Apply

The Student Housing application begins with an online process. Please go to How to Apply for the Steps to Apply for Student Housing. Students not able to access a computer to complete the application should contact the Student Housing office for assistance at or 1 (818) 677-2160.


Safety is a top priority for Student Housing and California State University, Northridge. We have multiple security programs in place for the protection and peace of mind of our residents including a Community Policing Team that provides police patrol and crime prevention activities within Student Housing. More details can be found on the Student Housing website.

Off-Campus Housing

There are many options for off-campus housing near the CSUN campus. The CSUN Student Housing office maintains an off-campus housing database. You can search for off-campus housing options at CSUN Student Housing. In addition, searching the internet for housing near CSUN will provide additional rental information.

Safety Tips When Living Off-Campus:

  1. Keep your doors locked at all times – even when you are at home during the day
  2. Keep the blinds or drapes closed when you are gone
  3. Use a peephole to determine who is knocking before you open the door. If you are still not sure, question the stranger through the door
  4. Have someone check on your place when you are out of town
  5. Get to know your neighbors in case of an emergency
  6. Never leave your key outside under a mat or in a place accessible to a stranger
  7. Never leave notes on your door that indicate you are away

Legal Rights & Responsibilities

Landlords and tenants have specific legal rights and responsibilities.

Tenant Responsibilities

  1. Pay your rent on the date it is due
  2. Keep the premises sanitary and undamaged
  3. Dispose of garbage and trash properly
  4. Use all appliances appropriately
  5. Don’t cause any intentional or careless damage to the premises
  6. Upon moving out, restore the premises to the same condition as when you moved in

Landlord Responsibilities

  1. Provide a safe dwelling
  2. Make all repairs to keep the premises in a livable condition
  3. Refrain from unlawful evictions, harassment, discrimination and retaliation. This includes turning off utilities and/or locking you out of your unit.
  4. Prior notification before entering your unit

Tips for Finding and Moving into Off-Campus Housing Units

  1. Bring up special needs, such as pets or smoking, at the beginning of the conversation.
  2. Be prepared to pay an application fee, deposit and rent prior to moving in. If you pay by cash, don’t forget to ask for a receipt. Some landlords ask for a holding deposit; if so, clarify that the deposit will count towards your first month’s rent.
  3. Landlord may ask for a holding deposit if you want to secure the place until you pay the first month’s rent and security deposit. Confirm with the landlord if the holding deposit will be counted towards first month’s rent.
  4. Inspect the unit and let your landlord know if any part of the property is in poor condition.

Setting-Up Utilities

Many off-campus housing properties require tenants to set up their own utilities, such as electric, gas, water, internet, television cable/satellite, and phone service. Request contact information for applicable utility services upon signing the lease agreement with your landlord.

Utility companies often require a deposit for turning on services. Confirm with the utility company that the deposit will be returned to you at the end of your service.

Health Insurance & Wellness

Healthcare and health insurance are important aspects of your life while attending CSUN and require careful thought and planning. International Students are required to have adequate health insurance throughout the duration of their F-1 or J-1 student status as mandated by the California State University Chancellor's office and the U.S. Department of State respectively.

Due to the high cost of health care in the U.S., International students’ dependents are also strongly urged to have adequate medical insurance. Please note that J2 (dependents of J-1 exchange students) are required to have valid health insurance as mandated by the U.S. Department of State.

Please visit the Health Insurance Requirement webpage to purchase the health insurance policy. This policy meets the Health Insurance Requirements as mandated by the California State University Chancellor's office. Proof of Health Insurance will clear your Foreign Hold

All international students will have a foreign registration hold placed on their account at the beginning of each registration appointment period. This hold prevents them from registering for classes.

Once you purchase your insurance policy online on our website, the IESC will automatically receive proof of coverage directly from the health insurance provider, and your foreign hold will be removed.

Please note: if you are a government sponsored student, please scan and email your Financial Guarantee as proof of health insurance coverage to Your Financial Guarantee must be valid for the entire semester/s that you are planning to attend. Please include your first name, last name and CSUN ID number in the subject line of the email.

*If you are enrolled in an academic program that includes MANDATORY summer enrollment, it is a requirement to have valid health insurance coverage for the mandatory summer session(s) that you are enrolled in. You may purchase coverage from JCB Insurance Solutions. Type CSUN in the search bar and select your plan year and student category (i.e. International Students).

For J-1 students ONLY, please email your proof of health insurance to .

Managing Your Health

Healthy Eating on Campus

Healthy Eating 101 Guide

The University Corporation's food services division provides convenient, reasonably-priced meals at various locations throughout campus. Food units include such popular franchises as Burger King, Subway, Juice It Up, Panda Express, and El Pollo Loco. Recent additions to dining facilities on campus include Pan-Asian restaurant, Bamboo Terrace, Freudian Sip at Student Housing, and Shake Smart at the University Student Union. For more information and to learn about healthy options from several eateries through out campus, see Matador Eats. In the Matador Eats website you will be able to see symbols that indicate whether an item would serve as a great snack, is gluten free, kosher or vegan.

Nutrition Counselors

Nutrition counseling is available at the Klotz Center and the Oasis. Nutrition services are provided by a registered dietitian. Private appointments are available for dietary analyses and to discuss weight loss or gain, healthy eating, sports nutrition, healthy recipes, cultural dietary issues and medically related dietary needs. Services are free to currently enrolled students. Call the Klotz Center to schedule an appointment. The Oasis offers a series of workshops is focused on nutritional eating. Students can learn how to be cost efficient when buying healthy food, safe and effective methods to lose weight, tips on breaking bad nutritional habits and more.

Smoke- and Tobacco-Free Campus

To promote a healthier environment in which students, faculty and staff can learn, work and live, CSUN has adopted a smoke- and tobacco-free policy across its campus. Klotz Student Health Center physicians can engage in smoking cessation counseling and treatment. For more information, go to Clear The Air Website.


Immunization Requirements

All students attending CSU campuses are required to show documentation for certain immunizations. International students must provide documentation either readable in English or professionally translated when fulfilling this requirement. Go to Klotz Student Health Center Website for more information on these requirements and how to fulfill them.

Health Care Service On-Campus and Off-Campus

Klotz Student Health Center (SHC)

Klotz Student Health Center services are provided at little or no cost to currently enrolled students. CSUN student fees include a health fee that pays for the services provided by the health center. Confidential services are provided by doctors, nurse practitioners, health educators, and specialists. Also, there is a pharmacy at SHC. Go to Klotz Student Health Center Website for more information or to schedule an appointment.

After-Hours Care

Fonemed is a free telephone nurse service that currently enrolled CSUN students can use on evenings, weekends, and university holidays and after Klotz Student Health Center regular operating hours. Please call 1 (877) 678-3999; your current student ID number is required.

Klotz Student Health Center
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8270
1 (818) 677-3666
Appointment and Primary Care Hours
Monday-Wednesday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Check out the Campus Resources section from this handbook for more information on Health and Wellness resources!

Emergency Services

In a life-threatening emergency, call 911 and/or go to the nearest hospital Emergency Room. A medical emergency is generally defined as a sudden, serious, and unexpected illness, injury or condition, including severe pain, requiring immediate medical attention.

The injured person will be taken to the nearest hospital emergency room. Services are available every day of the week, 24 hours a day. If you use it for non-emergency treatment, you will have extra charges to pay for including the ambulance fee.

The following are the Emergency Room Hospitals closest to CSUN:

Dignity Health - Northridge Hospital Medical Center
18300 Roscoe Boulevard
Northridge, CA
1 (818) 885-8500

Olive View Medical Center
14445 Olive View Drive #2B101
Sylmar, CA
1 (818) 364-1555


A pharmacy is the only place that sells doctor-prescribed medicines. If your doctor prescribes a medication, you may fill it using any pharmacy, including CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Walmart. You will have to pay for prescription in full at the time of pickup. Then, you will submit your claim and all receipts to your student health insurance company. Make sure to keep copies of all receipts for your records. Ascension Student Health Insurance will reimburse 50% of the cost after deductible.

Non-prescription drugs, often called “over-the-counter” medications – aspirin, cold tablets, vitamins, etc., are in plain view on drug store shelves.

Klotz Student Health Center Pharmacy
Located on-campus
1 (818) 677-3671

CVS Pharmacy
8530 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324
1 (818) 341-7104

CVS Pharmacy
8999 Balboa Blvd, Northridge, CA 91325
1 (818) 924-9002

Rite Aid
18444 Plummer St. Northridge, CA 91325
1 (818) 349-6267

Academic Advisement & Student Success

New Undergraduate Students Academic Advisement

New F-1 Students Are Pre-Enrolled by an Advisor

After students are admitted to CSUN, the office of International Academic Advisement will contact students to complete the necessary steps for enrollment.

Enrollment Is NOT Automatic. What Must Students Do To Be Enrolled?

All newly admitted undergraduate F-1 international students (freshmen & transfers) must complete the following items to be enrolled. This tells CSUN that you plan to attend, and International Academic Advisors will begin to work on your file and place you in classes based on the indicated preferences on your Response Questionnaire.

  1. Activate your CSUN Account & Complete the “Not Anymore” Training.
  2. Complete the Online Pre-Enrollment Workshop.
  3. Complete the Response Questionnaire.

First Semester Schedule Change Request

Schedule change requests are allowed by the Friday of the first week of class.

After the first week of class, students must get approval from an International Academic Advisor. Approval for schedule change will only be made for extenuating circumstances. Having permission numbers or approval from instructors does not guarantee approval for schedule change.

For first time freshmen enrolled in 15 units or more, you may be approved to withdraw up to 3 units during week 5-11 through the Matador Academic Challenge. For rules & conditions, please see: Matador Academic Challenge. Refund Policy.

Freshman, Transfer, and Continuing Student Advisement

Freshman international students are advised by the office of International Academic Advisement for both 1st and 2nd semester. For the 1st semester, students will be enrolled into classes by advisors through the Pre-Enrollment Process. 2nd semester advisement is mandatory, and students will be required to attend in-person advisement workshops. At these in-person workshops, advisors will teach you about enrollment, major requirements, and advise you on what classes to take. You will be enrolling yourself into classes once your holds have been removed. Check your CSUN email often, read announcements carefully, and plan to attend required workshops.

For 3rd semester advisement, you will be seen by your college’s Student Services Center depending on your major.

Transfer students going into their 2nd semester and onward will be advised by their college’s Student Services Center or major department. Each college has its own advisement process, and students should contact their college’s Student Services Center to make an appointment to see their major advisor. Plan to meet with your major advisor after the 5th week in the semester and before your registration date. Don’t leave the U.S. until you have seen your major advisor! The complete list of advising centers is on the next section.

Continuing students and freshman going into their 3rd semester and onward should also see their Student Services Center or major department for advisement. Please be sure to get advisement as needed and in a timely manner.

*Graduate Students should contact their Graduate Coordinator for Academic Advisement

Academic Advisement & Student Services Center

*Graduate students should contact their Graduate Coordinator for academic advisement.

Colleges & Advising Centers

Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication
Nordhoff Hall (NH) 135
1 (818) 677-2024

Communication Studies

David Nazarian College of Business and Economics
Juniper Hall (JH) 2113
1 (818) 677-3537 

Information Systems
Business Administration (with options in Business Law, Real Estate, Global Supply Chain Management, or Systems and Operations Management)

Michael D. Eisner College of Education
Education (ED) 1107
1 (818) 677-5116

Deaf Studies

College of Engineering and Computer Science
Jacaranda (JD) 1501
1 (818) 677-2191

Civil Engineering
Computer Engineering
Computer Science
Construction Management
Electrical Engineering
Engineering Management
Manufacturing Systems Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

College of Health and Human Development
Sequoia Hall (SQ) 111
1 (818) 677-2883

Athletic Training
Child Development
Communicative Disorders
Family & Consumer Sciences
Health Administration
Health Sciences
Public Health
Radiologic Sciences
Recreation & Tourism Management
Recreation Therapy

College of Humanities
Jerome Richfield (JR) 240
1 (818) 677-4784

Asian-American Studies
Central American Studies
Chicano/a Studies
Gender & Women Studies
Liberal Studies
Modern Jewish Studies
Religious Studies

College of Science and Mathematics
Eucalyptus Hall (EH) 2126
1 (818) 677-4558

Biomedical Physics
Earth Science

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Sierra Hall (SH) 204
1 (818) 677-2658

Africana Studies
Political Science
Urban Studies & Planning

Do It Yourself Registration in Five Easy Steps

  1. Know your Registration-by-Appointment date and other deadlines. Classes fill up quickly, so registering as soon as you’re permitted can ensure getting the classes you want! Your Registration-by-appointment date is located under “MyChecklist” in the student portal.
  2. Register for your most important classes first. These should be your major and general education classes recommended by your advisor. Please visit the How To Guides for a step-by-step guide on registration help.
  3. Waitlist a class if it’s closed/full. You cannot waitlist classes that have required labs. Waitlists also have a separate schedule for enrollment.
  4. Make sure you are enrolled in 12 units. Even if you have courses waitlisted, there is no guarantee you’ll get them. So, enroll in 12 units first, and have your waitlisted courses as backups. You can swap courses later when waitlisted courses become open to you.
  5. Pay your fees on time! You can be dropped from classes if fees are paid late or if you don’t have a financial letter of support from your Cultural Center.

Graduate Students Academic Advisement

For New and Continuing Graduate Students

For each of the graduate programs, there is a designated faculty advisor (the Graduate Coordinator) who can advise and assist you in constructing a graduate program. The Graduate Coordinators have program brochures which address specific degree requirements for particular programs. Detailed requirements for each graduate program are also outlined in the University Catalog. To find out the course requirements and advisement process, please use the following link to find your specific program: Graduate Studies Website.

J-1 Students Academic Advisement

J-1 international students participating in an exchange program sponsored by the CSU Chancellor’s Office should have already received information about course selections. For additional information, J-1 students may contact the Department Chair of their major.

Common Advisement or Registration Holds

Holds are system indicators on your account that prevent you from registering for classes or changing your schedule. Take care of your holds before you register for classes. See your holds under “MyChecklist” in your CSUN Student Portal.

Title IX (9) Training or Refresher Required Hold

The “Not Anymore” online training or refresher course is required before enrolling in classes, and it is intended to educate all members of CSUN community about staying safe and preventing sexual violence, domestic/dating violence, and stalking. This training is required once a year.

International Advisement Holds

This hold will stay on all new undergraduate international students’ (freshmen and transfer) account for the first semester only and will be removed before students register for their 2nd semester. Enrollment and changes to schedule are done by an academic advisor.

2nd Semester Freshman & Major Advisement Holds

2nd semester freshman will be advised by the office of International Academic Advisement. You will be required to attend an advisement workshop during the middle of your first semester to clear this hold. All other students (transfer and continuing) should see their college’s Student Services Center for advisement.

Foreign Hold

The International and Exchange Student Center (IESC) is responsible for monitoring and lifting the foreign registration hold. All international students will have a foreign registration hold placed on their account at the beginning of each registration appointment period that prevents them from registering for classes. To remove the foreign hold, students must submit their proof of health insurance to Go to IESC’s website for more information.

Rubella/Rubeola Hold

All students must submit proof of immunization (vaccination) to the Klotz Student Health Center in order for this hold to be lifted. Other immunization holds include: Hepatitis B, Measles, and/or Meningococcal.

Library Hold

Indicates that you have fees or materials (books, media, or equipment) that need to be returned to the library. Visit the library to resolve your hold.

Financial Hold

Indicates you have a balance due with University Cash Services. This could be unpaid tuition and fees. Please visit Bayramian Hall Lobby to resolve this hold.

Missing Transcript Hold

Indicates you have not submitted either high school or college transcripts to CSUN International Admissions. Please contact your International Admissions Advisor or go to Bayramian Hall, Room 160 for more information.

Student Portal & Useful Sites/Links

The CSUN Portal is one of your most important tools for success while at CSUN. The portal is where you can find your student schedule, course contents, unofficial transcript, register for classes, update and access personal and academic records. You are encouraged to become familiar with all the functions of your student portal. You are also expected to use your student portal regularly at CSUN.

Use the How-to-Guides to learn about the different resources in your student portal:

To get started, go to CSUN Website and login using your student ID and password. Through the CSUN Portal, you’ll have access to:

Email: Email is the main form of communication at CSUN. Your official CSUN email account is served through Gmail. All official communications with professors and CSUN staff must be done with your CSUN email account. No personal email address will be accepted as this is to protect your online privacy and security. Do not share your username/password with anyone.

Canvas: Canvas is the online classroom management system used at CSUN. Many of your classes will also have a Canvas class where professors will post readings, handouts, grades, assignments, quizzes. It is also where you can submit your assignments and papers electronically if required to do so.

Class Search: This search allows students to view courses offered in the current, past, and future terms at CSUN. The class search provides times, locations, and course requirements such as co-requisites, prerequisites, and departmental restrictions.

Degree Planning Tools: These tools include the Degree Road Map, Degree Progress Report/Planner (DPR), and Registration Planner. The Degree Road Map provides recommended semester-by-semester sequence of classes for your major. The Degree Progress Report (DPR) lists all courses you have taken and need to take in general education and major requirements in order to graduate. It is a useful tool for all students to reach their graduation goal on time. The Registration Planner allows you to generate preferred schedules each semester.

Tutoring & Academic Help

The Learning Resource Center (LRC) is a great resource for students seeking help in all subjects as well as improving study skills. Learning Resource Center (LRC) is located on the 3rd floor of the library. The LRC includes a SMART Lab for science and math subjects, Writing Labs, & Conversation Swap.

For major specific tutoring, see the full list of tutoring resources here: Tutoring Resources

Academic Success Skills

Below are some recommended academic success skills keeping international student in mind. Review them to help you adjust to U.S. academic settings.

What Is Expected from Students?

Being an international student is challenging. Expectations are different, and classroom and cultural practices can be confusing. However, the university still holds you accountable to meeting these expectations. Below is a helpful guide for you to successfully carry out your role as a university student.

  1. attend all classes, stay motivated, and participate
  2. communicate and ask for help when needed
  3. take responsibility for your learning and decisions

How to Read a Syllabus

In each class, you will receive a syllabus. A syllabus is a document that outlines the course, rules and policies, and your responsibilities in the class. It is a teaching/learning contract between you and the professor. It is your responsibility to read it carefully and pay attention to the course schedule for assignment deadlines and due dates.

A syllabus has the following components:

  1. Class Information: meeting times, location, and dates.
  2. Instructor’s Information: contacts & office hours.
  3. Course Description: outlines the content of the class.
  4. Methodology: how the class will be conducted.
  5. Class Assignments: types and details of assignments & exams.
  6. Text & Materials: required textbooks and materials for class.
  7. Course/Grading Policies: rules for the class & how students will be graded.
  8. Schedule: detailed outline of instructions, assignments, and exam dates.

Note-taking Skills

There are many methods and strategies to note-taking. It is important that students develop their own note-taking skills that best fit their learning styles. However, the Five Rs to note-taking below is a good and general start.

Record main ideas & meaningful facts.

Reduce notes by summarizing ideas and concepts, clarifying meanings and relationships between ideas, lectures, and readings.

Recite facts and ideas to commit them to memory. It’s helpful to discuss ideas with others.

Reflect by connecting lectures with readings, real world events, past and personal experiences.

Review your notes for short periods every week to retain information better. Don’t wait to only review notes before tests.

Credit: Walter Pauk

Test-Taking Skills

There are different types of exams: multiple choice, short answers, essays, online quizzes, midterms and final exams. Different exam formats and expectations can be confusing and anxiety inducing. Here are some tips to prepare for exams:

  1. Find out in advance the format of your exams.
  2. Prepare in advance! Use your syllabus and plan ahead to review materials.
  3. Learn to make connections, analyze, think critically, and develop writing skills for short answers and essays.

The LRC has writing workshops that can help you improve your writing skills.

  1. Pace yourself when taking a test. Preview the test first and develop a strategy.
  2. If you have test-anxiety, consult with the University Counseling Services for ways to manage your anxiety and improve test-taking skills.

How to Read a Textbook

College textbooks are great learning resources, but with long reading assignments, it’s difficult to read everything word-for-word. Developing reading strategies allow you to read faster and understand and grasp concepts better when you read.

Consider the P2R Reading Strategy below.


  1. Determine what you intend to read, then break up large reading into smaller segments.
  2. Preview the chapter and focus on: headings, introductions, section and paragraph headings, bold prints, pictures, tables, graphs, chapter summaries, and questions at the end of the section/chapter.


  1. Actively & strategically read what you think is important based on your preview of the text.
  2. Question what you are reading while you are reading. What are the important points? What are the supporting details?
  3. Mark your text when you come across idea you don't understand. Make notations and write questions in the margin so you can discuss in class.


  1. After reading, summarize the main points in your own words.
  2. Make a list of key terms, definition, concepts, and ideas.
  3. Make a review sheet for each chapter or major concept to help you study for exams. Include your chapter summaries, concept maps, key words, and your answers to end-of-chapter questions.
  4. Review what you have read by discussing the reading with a classmate to confirm understanding, challenge ideas, fill-in gaps, and improve overall retention of learning.

Credit: Van Blerkom

Group Work

Group work is an important element of learning in U.S. schools. While group work can be challenging, it teaches innovation through collaboration, problem solving, and leadership skills that are important to both academic and career development. In group work, remember to work together, communicate, have clear expectations, be fair and helpful, commit to the work, and share group responsibilities.

Academic Writing

Writing is important for all majors at CSUN! Academic writing; however, has different formats and expectations that you might not be familiar with. It is important to be serious and spend time in your first year to improve your English and writing skills through your GE writing classes.

Academic writing goes beyond reporting what you have read and know. It requires you to analyze information, develop a thesis, make arguments, support your arguments with evidence, and cite your evidence using standard formats such as MLA or APA, etc.

Work with your instructors, major department, and utilize the University Writing Center at the LRC to get help and feedback on your writing. The University Writing Center also provides workshops and tutoring to familiarize you with academic writing.

Communication Etiquette

Emails are the most common form of communication in the U.S. Emails should not be treated like text messages, and don’t expect an immediate response. Emails are formal communication. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to write professional emails. Email etiquettes will be useful even after graduating from CSUN!

Some Important Reminders:

  1. Always use your CSUN email account with professors and staff.
  2. Subject Line: always include a short and clear subject line.
  3. Personal Information: include your full name and student ID number.
  4. Salutations: start and end your email with a greeting. It’s good formality.
  5. Body: keep it short and to the point while always keeping a polite tone.
  6. End your email with your full name as your signature.
  7. Wait. Give recipients up to 48 hours to respond before following up.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is important to the maintenance of standards and quality of education at CSUN. Acceptable practices in your home country might not be acceptable in the U.S. It is your responsibility to know and avoid academic dishonesty at CSUN, as discipline for dishonesty is strictly enforced. Not knowing does not excuse a student from academic dishonesty offenses. For the complete policy, see Academic Dishonesty below. You can generally avoid academic dishonesty by doing the following:

Do your own work - Don’t buy essays or have others do your work

Don’t copy - Don’t falsify (make up) information

Don’t cheat - Remember to give credit/cite your sources

Don’t help others cheat - Don’t do work together unless authorized

Academic Dishonesty Policy

The maintenance of academic integrity and quality education is the responsibility of each student within this university. Cheating or plagiarism in connection with an academic program at a CSU campus is listed in Section 41301, Title 5, and California Code of Regulations as an offense for which a student may be expelled, suspended or given a less severe disciplinary sanction. Academic dishonesty is an especially serious offense and diminishes the quality of scholarship and defrauds those who depend on the integrity of the University’s programs.

Academic dishonesty might be treated differently in other countries; however, discipline is fully enforced in the U.S. and at CSUN. Such dishonesty includes:

Cheating: Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise.

Fabrication: Intentional falsification or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise.

Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: Intentionally or knowingly helping or attempting to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty.

Plagiarism: Intentionally or knowingly representing the words, ideas or work of another as one’s own in any academic exercise.

For examples and complete details on Academic Dishonesty Policy, see: CSUN Academic Dishonesty.

Academic Policies & Links

Executive Order 1100:

Effective Fall 2016, all entering undergraduate students are required to complete their General Education Basic Skills requirements (Freshman Writing, Critical Thinking, Math, and Oral Communication) with a grade of “C-” or higher in order to graduate. Students will be required to repeat Basic Skills courses if they obtain grades lower than “C-.”

All continuing students who have any remaining Basic Skills requirements must also pass their Basic Skills courses with grade of “C-” or higher starting Fall 2016.

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) for Undergraduate Students

All CSU undergraduate students with catalog years 2023 and beyond must demonstrate competency in writing skills as a requirement for graduation. At CSUN, students who have met the lower division writing requirement, completed 56 units or more, and intend to graduate with a baccalaureate degree are required to demonstrate their writing proficiency in one of two ways.

  1. Students may meet the GWAR by receiving a grade of “C” or better in a minimum of 6 units of coursework in designated Writing Intensive* upper division curriculum; or
  2. Students may meet the GWAR by receiving a grade of “C” or better in ENGL 345 Recursive Writing.

Undergraduate students are required to meet the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement no later than the semester in which they complete 90 units. Students who have not met this requirement by the completion of 90 units may have a registration hold placed on their subsequent registration.

*All students are required to complete 9 units of Writing Intensive courses, normally satisfied by Upper Division General Education courses or approved pattern modifications.

GWAR for Graduate Students

All CSUN graduate students earning a degree are required by the CSU to satisfy the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) prior to full classification. There are three paths to satisfy the GWAR requirement.

Students can complete this requirement in one of the following ways:

  1. Demonstrate that they earned an undergraduate degree at a CSU since 1982.
  2. Take the UDWPE and earn a score of 8 or higher.
  3. Take the GRE-Analytical and earn a score of 3 or higher.

Part-Time & Concurrent Enrollment

Part-time: Under special extenuating circumstances, F-1 international students may be approved to take less than 12 units for undergraduate students or less than 8 units for graduate students during their program of study at CSUN. Approval for part-time enrollment must be under one of these conditions: health/medical, academic difficulty, or final semester. Please visit the IESC to discuss your case with an International student advisor.

Concurrent Enrollment: Students may be approved to take a class or classes at another school while enrolled at CSUN. To be eligible for concurrent enrollment, undergraduate students must be enrolled in minimum 6 units at CSUN and the combined units from concurrent enrollment must be at least 12 units each semester. Graduate students must be enrolled in minimum 4 units at CSUN and the combined units from concurrent enrollment must be at least 8 units each semester.

Part-time and Concurrent Enrollment are not available to all students. Students must visit IESC for more information and prior authorization.

Late Add/Drop Deadlines & Procedures

For F-1 international students, your first semester class add/drop deadline is outlined under “First Semester Change of Schedule Request.” Additionally, the “Late Add-Drop Classes policy” is university-wide and applies to all new and continuing students. Please see the Late Add-Drop Classes site for add/drop/grade change dates, instructions, and forms needed for late changes to your schedule.

Withdrawals, Refunds, & Visa Issues

Before the start of the first semester, if you decide to withdraw or defer enrollment, please inform an International Academic Advisor or International Admissions. Once the semester has started, if students need to completely withdraw from CSUN, make sure to follow withdrawals Undergraduate Policy or Graduate Policy.

Depending on when students withdraw from classes, their refund will vary. For refund information visit the Student Finance website.

F-1 international students are required to enroll full time each semester. Withdrawing from classes will affect F-1/J-1 visa status. If students withdraw completely without prior authorization from IESC, their SEVIS record will be terminated and students will no longer be eligible to stay in the U.S. Please consult with an International Student Advisor at the IESC before making complete withdrawals from CSUN.

Withdrawing from classes that results in less than full time enrollment can also negatively affect a student’s legal F-1/J-1 status. See “Part-Time & Concurrent Enrollment” above.

Student Conduct

The university is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy living and learning environment for students, faculty, and staff. Students are expected to be good members and to engage in responsible behaviors that reflect well upon their university, to be civil to one another in the campus community, and to contribute positively to student and university life. For more information go to Student Conduct Code.

English, Math, and Other Placement Exams

New students are typically required to take a writing placement and Math Selection Assessment (MSA) to be placed into the proper Writing and Math classes. Other placement tests might apply depending on your major. See your major advisor for details, and see the Testing Center for all the placement tests offered.

Academic Records

Unofficial Transcript

Current CSUN students and alumni who have access to the CSUN Portal will find their unofficial transcript online. They are free of charge.

Go to the CSUN Portal login page and sign in with your CSUN user ID and password. Then, on your portal home screen in the top navigation, select the Academics tab. In the Academics drop-down menu, select Advising & Degree Planning. On the Advising & Degree Planning page, select View Unofficial Transcripts.

Official Transcript

Official Transcript can be ordered online, by mail, or in person. Official transcripts must be ordered and paid for. Please see Admissions & Records - order transcripts for more information.

For other services provided by the office of Admissions & Records, such as course description request, MataCard (Digital CSUN ID Card), transfer course information, updating your personal information, enrollment verification, please go to Admissions & Records website.

Letter Request

If you require any letter of verification from CSUN to your embassy, cultural offices, or scholarship, please complete and submit the Letter Request Form to International Admissions.

Adjusting to a New Culture

Moving to a new country is a life-changing experience. When you first arrive in the U.S. you will probably feel excited about all the new things happening around you. This period of your life can also feel overwhelming and will require a period of adjustment to adapt to the many changes taking place. The period of adjustment is commonly referred to as “culture shock.”

It includes the shock of a new environment, language, education and political system, meeting lots of new people, and learning the ways of a different country. Culture shock is entirely normal, and it usually affects everyone who moves to a new country for the first time. Actually, there are benefits to experiencing culture shock. It can be a significant learning experience because it increases your awareness of your own culture while also giving you a better understanding of the new culture. Experiencing a new culture will give you valuable skills such as cultural awareness and sensitivity among others, which will serve you in many ways in your personal and professional future.

Understanding Culture Shock and the Stages of Adjustment

Being able to adjust to the new environment and culture is perhaps one of the most important [ways] of your experience abroad. Nearly everybody goes through an adjustment when starting a new job or moving to new city, so in some ways, adjusting to the host country is like other transitions. Except that when you start your life in a foreign country for the first time you can encounter many cultural and language differences that you didn't need to contend with when you started a new school or job.

Many people who have been abroad discuss their experience in terms of stages. Take a minute to learn about the four stages of culture shock.

Stage 1: Cultural Euphoria

At the start of your [experience] there is an initial excitement about being in a new culture. This is often called the "honeymoon stage." Everything is new and wonderful, and you are eager to explore it all. This phase seems pleasant enough, but there are some drawbacks involved. You tend to see the culture through rose-colored glasses, and your interpretations aren't necessarily realistic.

Stage 2: Cultural Confrontation

In the next stage, the initial excitement you felt when you arrived diminishes and the process of cultural adjustment begins. This stage is typically characterized by confusion and frustration and, as such, is the most difficult stage. Your feelings can shift from very positive to extremely negative. You may view both the home and host Cultures in unrealistic terms; one is superior while the other is lacking. This is because everything that you used to do with relative ease in your home country appears much more difficult due to the culture and/or the language. Homesickness may also contribute to your feelings of discomfort. You feel discouraged and begin to doubt whether you can learn the language or adjust to the culture. Despite these feelings, you are making critical progress in expanding your cross-cultural awareness and, whether or not you are aware of it, you are developing your own strategies for coping with cultural differences.

Stage 3: Cultural Adjustment

This stage represents the transition out of culture shock into significant cultural adjustment. You feel increasingly comfortable and competent in the culture, and these feelings prevail over the times you have felt frustrated or out of place. Homesickness may still be an issue for you, but you are interacting more effectively with host nationals, leading to an increase in self-confidence.

Stage 4: Cultural Adaptation

In this stage, you have reached a point at which you have a great deal of confidence in your ability to communicate and interact effectively. You have a deeper understanding of the influence culture has in peoples' lives. You have acquired considerable cultural knowledge, but you also recognize that there is much you still don't know or understand.

Our advice? Go get a bit of culture shock. Explore and challenge yourself to really learn about the cultures surrounding you.

Credit: Maximizing Study Abroad by Paige, Cohen, Kappler, Chi, and Lassrgard

Tips to Help You Adjust

Keep an Open Mind and Be Patient

Try not to make judgments about the way people in the U.S. do things, instead try to remain positive and accept people for who they are. Don’t try to understand everything immediately. The process of adjusting to a new culture requires time. It may also require a different amount of time for different areas of adjustment. Try to remind yourself to be patient with this experience and not be overly critical of yourself.

Utilize On-Campus Resources at CSUN

The IESC staff consists of former international students and people from the U.S. who have studied abroad. We understand cultural adjustment because we have experienced it ourselves. If you are having a difficult time, please stop by the IESC office and speak with an advisor. You can also make an appointment with the counselors at University Counseling Services to discuss cultural adjustment. Remember that you are not alone and we are always here to help!

Talk to Other Students and Do Not Isolate Yourself

The more people you know and activities you take part in, the more you will feel part of your new environment. In general, Californians are very accepting of people from other cultures and will be helpful if you approach them. Join clubs on campus, attend campus talks, meet as many people as you can, and really make yourself part of the community. Also, talk to other international students and share your experiences with them. It is most likely that they are having similar experiences and could offer advice on how to adjust. The IESC also hosts coffee hours every Friday from 2pm – 4pm during the spring and fall semesters. These are great opportunities to meet and talk with your fellow students.

Stay Active and Eat Healthy

Physical and mental health are fundamentally linked. Be mindful of keeping a healthy diet and getting enough exercise and rest. Try to find an activity that you enjoy and make it part of your routine. Being physically active can help reduce your stress level and make it easier to cope with the difficulties of adjusting to a new culture.

Keep in Contact with Friends and Family Back Home

Technology like video chats, phone and email are great resources for keeping in contact with your friends and family back home. Your friends and family understand you, and will be able to provide you with encouragement and support to help you through difficult times. They’ll also be there to help you celebrate the good times.

Campus Resources & Support Services

CSUN as One website

CSUN as One

Career Center

The Career Center helps students explore majors and careers, clarify life and career goals, and prepare for the transition from graduation to employment or graduate school. They assist students in finding a direction for their studies by connecting academic and career plans. They are also a resource for employment and work-based learning opportunities.

Go to Career Center Website to learn more.

1 (818) 677-2878
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.


You will find valuable information that will connect you to various resources regarding the basic needs of students in the CSUN campus community. The website is a component of the CSU Basic Needs Initiative, which is to strengthen the welfare of all students inside and outside the classroom. For more details, please visit the webpage CSUN with A HEART.

Department of Police Services

The Department of Police Services provides law enforcement services to the University community, and is open 24 hours a day/seven days a week. The department is staffed with sworn peace officers that have full police powers and are trained and equipped to handle emergencies on campus and all state laws, codes and regulations are enforced. In addition, the department is the answering point for the 911 system on campus. Dialing 911 on any campus phone connects you to the police department, which has the capability of summoning the appropriate aid to help you.

Go to CSUN Department of Police Services Website to learn more.

General Information/Receptionist: 1 (818) 677-2266
Administration Office: 1 (818) 677-2201

Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES)

Each semester, Disability Resources and Educational Services serves more than 750 students with disabilities enrolled at CSUN. DRES staff consists of professionals and specialists who work collaboratively with individual students diagnosed with learning, mobility, visual, communication, psychological and other functional disabilities.Go to Disability Resources and Educational Services Website to learn more.

1 (818) 677-2684
Hours: Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-4:45 p.m.

Learning Resource Center (LRC)

Students may visit the LRC to improve their academic performance through a variety of learning programs including workshops, one-on-one and group tutoring, and supplemental instruction classes. Go to Learning Resource Center Website to learn more.

1 (818) 677-2033
Hours: Please check the LRC website for hours information.


The Oviatt Library (OV) is located in the center of campus. Librarians and other library personnel are dedicated to helping students achieve their educational goals. The Library has extensive collections and services, both in-house and online. Reading, study, and collaborative areas, as well as computers, are located throughout the building.

Go to Oviatt Library Website to learn more.

1 (818) 677-2285
Hours: Library hours change throughout the academic year. Please check their website for Library Hours information.

Matador Involvement Center (MIC)

The MIC is the place to learn more about getting involved on campus and meeting people with similar interests. Whether you are a new or returning student, make your mark at CSUN by discovering clubs and organizations, volunteer projects, fraternities and sororities, and resources for leadership development. Go to Matador Involvement Center Website to learn more.

1 (818) 677-5111
Hours: Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

National Center on Deafness (NCOD)

NCOD has long been recognized as a pioneer in the provision of services to students who are deaf or hard of hearing in a mainstream environment. NCOD provides students with communication access to all of the university's programs and services through interpreting, note-taking and captioning services. Go to National Center on Deafness Website to learn more.

1 (818) 677-2054
Hours: Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Oasis Wellness Center

 The Oasis is a welcoming destination where CSUN students can find serenity and relaxation amid the rush and activity of campus life. It offers nutrition counseling, meditation, massages, acupuncture, nap pods and workshops focused on wellness and managing stress — all intended to promote student academic success. Go to Oasis Wellness Center Website to learn more.

1 (818) 677-7373
Fall and Spring Hours: Monday –Thursday: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Friday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Summer Hours: Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Friday: 9 a.m. -2 p.m.

Pride Center

The Pride Center supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQIA+) students, faculty and staff through programming and educational outreach to improve the campus climate for LGBTQIA+ individuals as well as advocate for the respect and safety of all members of the campus community. Go to the Pride Center website to learn more.

1 (818) 677-4355
Fall and Spring Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m-7 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Summer and Winter Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m-5 p.m., Friday 10 a.m-3 p.m.

Student Recreation Center (SRC)

The Student Recreation Center is a 138,000 square-foot facility for exercise and leisure activity that promotes lifelong health and wellness. The eco-friendly facility has the most up-to-date equipment, a friendly and welcoming staff and tons of school spirit! Please visit the Student Recreation Center webpage to learn more.

1 (818) 677-5434
Fall and Spring Building Hours:
Monday–Friday: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Summer Building Hours:
Monday– Friday: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

University Counseling Services (UCS)

University Counseling Services (UCS) wants you to fulfill your personal and professional dreams and get the most out of your experience at CSUN. We have a remarkable team of psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, psychiatrists, doctoral interns, postdoctoral fellows, psychiatric residents and administrative staff. Each team member promises you ethical, respectful and professional care. Go to University Counseling Services Website to learn more.

1 (818) 677-2366, Option 1
Hours: Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

After Hours Care

Students who are in crisis or have an urgent concern after regular business hours, can call 1 (818) 677-2366 and select option “3” to be immediately transferred to a live crisis counselor with whom you can discuss your concerns. Go to University Counseling Services urgent-care to learn more.

Immigration and Travel

Important Immigration Documents: Know the Difference!


You must maintain a valid passport at all times. Make sure to renew your passport at least six months prior to the expiration date. Your passport can be renewed within the United States at your country's consulate or embassy. Please contact your country's consulate or embassy at U.S. Embassy Website.

U.S. Visa

A visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside the U.S. You must make sure that your visa is valid for your re-entry. An expired visa must be renewed at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside of the U.S. prior to re-entry. This visa is only a permit to enter the United States. Canadian citizens do not need to obtain a U.S. F-1 or J-1 visa.

I-20 for F-1 Students and DS-2019 for J-1 Students

Once a student is admitted to California State University, Northridge (CSUN), an I-20 Form (for F-1 students)/DS-2019 Form (for J-1 students) is created in SEVIS, Student and Exchange Visitor Information System--an online database that allows United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to track all F-1 and J-1 students. The I-20/DS-2019 is the official admission document that students will need for their visa interview at the U.S. Embassy. Once you are in the U.S., your I-20/DS-2019 becomes the relevant document that keeps you in status. Your I-20/DS-2019 form expires on the date you complete your studies. This cannot be extended once you have graduated. If you lose your I-20/DS-2019 or it gets stolen or damaged, you must inform the International and Exchange Student Center (IESC) immediately and request a replacement. Students must submit a completed Request for New I-20/DS-2019 to the

Automatic Form I-94 Arrival/Departure-Record

Form I-94 is the Department of Homeland Security’s arrival and departure record. The immigration officer at the port of entry enters your arrival/departure information in their database.

The Port of Entry Officer will place an admission stamp in your passport marked with the visa status (F-1, J-1, etc.) and the letters “D/S” to indicate you have properly entered the U.S. D/S stands for “Duration of Status.” It covers the period of time for the completion of your course of study plus any periods of authorized practical training, plus 60 days for your preparation to exit the United States. J-1 students will have only 30 days to exit the U.S. upon completion of their study program. Your arrival and departure information will be recorded electronically in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s database. If you are traveling by land, you will be issued a paper Form I-94.

International students may access their electronic Form I-94 at U.S. Customs and Border Protection within approximately 24 hours of their arrival to the U.S. All students should keep a printed Form I-94 with their passport in case they apply for future benefits such as work authorizations, social security numbers, or driver’s licenses.

Maintaining Your Student Status

As an F-1/J-1 student, you must comply with certain immigration laws governing your stay in this country. If you do not abide by these laws, the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider you "out-of-status" and therefore in violation of the conditions of your immigration status.

F-1 Students

  1. Maintain a valid U.S address at all times and update your CSUN Student Portal account. It is important that you update your personal information (such as U.S address, email, phone number etc.) via the CSUN portal within 10 days of the change. The U.S. address is required to keep your SEVIS immigration record in good standing.
  2. Maintain a full course of study during each semester (12 credit hours for undergraduate students; 8 credit hours for graduate students) at the school listed on the currently valid I-20 Form.
  3. Attend classes regularly and make satisfactory progress toward completion of your degree program.
  4. Enroll in no more than the equivalent of one online class or three online credits per semester to count towards your full-time enrollment. Note that if you have one class left to take to graduate, this class must be an in-class traditional course to be in compliance with legal guidelines governing your F-1 status.
  5. Make sure that any changes are appropriately listed on your I-20 (name, major, educational level, sources of funding).
  6. Do not transfer schools without authorization. If you do transfer schools, make sure that your International Student Advisor transfers your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System record prior to the start of classes at your current school.
  7. Complete transfer-in process when you change institutions. This process must be completed within 15 days of starting classes at your new school. The transfer is not complete until you have registered for classes at the new school and received an I-20 confirming the completion of your transfer.
  8. Do not accept unauthorized employment. All off-campus employment must be pre-authorized by the USCIS or an International Student Advisor in the International and Exchange Student Center (IESC).
  9. If you work on campus, you may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session (fall and spring), and 21 hours or more during all breaks (summer and winter). USCIS considers every employment under 20 hours as part time and every employment over 20 hours as full time.
  10. Maintain a valid passport at all times. Make sure to renew your passport six months prior to the expiration date.
  11. Never travel outside the United States without the proper documents. Remember to obtain a travel signature on your I-20 from the IESC.
  12. Apply for an extension of your program if you cannot complete the degree requirements by the 'end date' listed on your I-20.
  13. Always maintain medical, repatriation and medical evacuation insurance.

J-1 Students

As soon as you arrive in the United States, you must attend a mandatory J-1 orientation meeting. This meeting will be held at the International and Exchange Student Center (IESC).

At this appointment, you will be meeting your advisor, who will review your immigration documents, give you important information on how to maintain legal student status in the U.S., help you become acquainted with the structure of your new campus, and make you aware of the campus offices and services you can use and answer any questions regarding the registration process. Please note that you are expected to be enrolled in full course of study before attending this meeting.

Please report to the IESC within 30 days of arrival and provide required documents in order to avoid automatic termination of your SEVIS record by immigration.

Travel and Re-Entry

Please plan ahead if you are planning to travel outside the U.S. during your studies. Students will need to obtain a travel signature on their I-20/DS2019 from the IESC when traveling outside the borders of the U.S. Travel signatures are granted to students who meet all eligibility requirements. Travel signatures for continuing students will be valid for one year provided the student continues to maintain correct student status. Students who need to travel during the semester will have to demonstrate eligibility in addition to obtaining permission from all professors to miss classes.

Students who have applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT) must show the I-797 Notice of Action Receipt from USCIS to request a travel signature.

Students who have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or approval for OPT must submit a copy of the EAD in order to request a travel signature. USCIS recommends that students on OPT show a letter from their employer at the port of entry when returning to the U.S. All students who have either applied for or are currently on OPT should communicate with their International Student Advisor for current information on appropriate documents and immigration regulations.

Traveling Inside the United States

If you are traveling inside the U.S., you do not need to have a valid visa or travel signature on your I-20. It is recommended that you carry your passport and I-20 with you.

Required Documents When Traveling Outside the United States

  1. Valid Passport with at least six months into the future.
  2. Valid U.S. F-1 or J-1 Visa for your re-entry.
  3. Form I-20/DS-2019with travel signature valid for your re-entry. The travel signature is valid for one year. Those on OPT must have travel signature, and it will be valid for 6 months.
  4. I-94 (Arrival and Departure Record). When you return to the U.S., you will access your electronic form I-94 at U.S. Customs and Border Protection Website within approximately 24 hours of your arrival to the U.S. Keep a copy for your records and submit a copy to the IESC by email to

Transfer Process

Transferring In

The Office of International Admissions will issue an I-20 to students transferring in to CSUN. Students who change their minds about attending CSUN and intend to transfer out to another school must request and process their transfer out no later than the first day of classes of their first semester at CSUN.

Transferring Out

All students planning to transfer to another school need to submit a completed Transfer Release Form and an Acceptance Letter from the new school. Please contact your International Student Advisor at the International and Exchange Student Center (IESC) of your intent to transfer out so that you learn about applicable timelines.


Always consult with an International Student Advisor before starting any employment or paid practical training. It is extremely important to keep in mind that it is your responsibility to engage only in employment or practical training authorized as permissible for F-1 or J-1 students. Any unauthorized employment or paid practical training, even if it is for a few hours and/or you did not know it was unauthorized, places you out of status and possibly terminates your status in the United States. All references to employment in this document refer to paid employment.

Working in the U.S.

  1. Employment
    1. On Campus
    2. Off Campus(Economic Hardship)
  2. Practical Training
    1. CPT
    2. OPT
  • PRE
  • POST
  • STEM Extension

F-1 Student Employment

Employment and practical training are benefits of the F-1 student status, but are not guaranteed.


On-Campus Employment generally includes student assistant positions, and teaching and graduate assistantships. International students are eligible to work on-campus on a part-time basis, which is 20 hours or less per week when school is in session (Fall/Spring). During vacation periods (summer and winter), continuing students may work on-campus up to 40 hours per week, which is defined as full-time employment. To work on campus, you will need an International Student Verification Form and a Social Security number (SSN).

Off-Campus Employment (Economic Hardship)- An eligible F-1 or J-1 student may request off-campus employment based upon severe economic hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances beyond his or her control. F-1 students must have been in student status for at least one academic year and must be able to clearly document the circumstances causing economic need. Approval is subject to adjudication by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). J-1 students may request employment authorization from the Responsible Official (RO).

Practical Training

F-1 students must have been in legal F-1 status for a minimum of one academic year (two semesters). Your F-1 status begins on your first date of entry into the United States. Always consult with an International Student Advisor before starting any practical training.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) refers to required paid internship, cooperative education, or practicum which is related to an F-1 student's field of study. The student must be registered for a course where the student will receive unit credit for the CPT training towards his/her degree. CPT approval will be granted for one semester at a time and for the semester the student is registered. Unpaid internships do not require CPT approval.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in your program of study to a job in your major field.

  1. Pre-Completion OPT is Optional Practical Training authorized before the completion of a student’s program of study. It permits F-1 students to gain work experience in their major field of study while pursuing their academic program.
  2. Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT )is a type of work authorization for F-1 students. It provides F-1 students with the opportunity to gain work experience in their major field of study upon completion of their program. An F-1 student is eligible for a maximum of 12 months of OPT per educational level. OPT is a benefit of an F-1 student status. It is NOT a type of visa. Please note that students with certain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees may be eligible for a 24-month extension of their OPT.
  3. 24 Month STEM OPT Extension is a type of work authorization for F-1 students who receive certain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees, and who meet other specified requirements applicable to a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT.

J-1 Student Employment

On-Campus Employment

International students seeking on-campus employment are responsible for securing employment on their own merit. Students are advised to visit campus departments, service areas, such as food courts, and apply in person. On-campus employment generally includes student assistant positions and teaching and graduate assistantships. On-campus employment must either be performed on the school's premises (including on-location commercial firms which provide services for students on campus, such as the school bookstore or cafeteria), or at an off-campus location that is educationally affiliated with the school. Employment with on-site commercial firms, such as a construction company working on a school building, without providing direct student services, is not deemed on-campus employment.

International students are eligible to work on-campus on a part-time basis, which is 20 hours or less per week when school is in session. During vacation periods (summer and winter), if you are eligible and intend to register for the next semester, you may work on-campus for 21 or more hours, which is defined as full-time employment. To work on campus, you will need an International Student Verification Form and a Social Security number (SSN).

How to Apply for Your Social Security Number (SSN)

Students are advised to wait a minimum of 10 days after arrival in the United States before applying for a SSN. This gives USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security sufficient time to record your arrival and status in their databases.

In order to apply for a SSN, you must have the following documents:

  1. Employment offer letter
  2. Letter from IESC verifying enrollment and job offer
  3. Letter from IESC/ARO authorizing employment (for J-1 students only)
  4. A valid passport
  5. Current I-20 form
  6. I-94 form
  7. EAD card (for OPT & Economic Hardship ONLY)

You must present these documents to the Social Security Administration together with your SSN application.


Students in F-1 status are generally subject to federal and state income taxes. Students must file a tax return on or before April 15 each year for both California State Income Tax and Federal Income Tax. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with a tax professional to ensure compliance with IRS regulations. Please visit our Tax Information and Reporting Requirements for International Students webpage.

For more information regarding Federal incoming taxes, please visit the Internal Revenue Service website and the Franchise Tax Board website for California State taxes.


It is very important that you carefully plan your budget to meet all your anticipated educational and living expenses. Please keep in mind that during your first few weeks, your expenses may be higher due to new purchases and one-time deposits at the start of the academic year.

Tuition Payment and Deadlines

International students pay non-resident fees in addition to their total tuition and fees which is $396 for each unit. Your payment deadline depends on your registration date. Registration alerts are posted on the web portal. Please make sure to mark your calendar with your payment deadline and refer to University Cash Services for more information on current costs. They are located in: Bayramian Hall, Lobby.

Their contact information is as follows:

Phone: 1 (818) 677-8000, Option 1
Fax: 1 (818) 677-4911


If you need to obtain financial aid or an international scholarship, the best place is to look in your home country. Student loans and scholarships may be available from your government, local businesses, organizations and foundations. Please visit our Scholarships webpage for additional opportunities.


Most CSUN colleges and departments offer scholarships to students in their program. Go to Financial Aid and Scholarship Department Website for a list of available scholarships by department.

  • CSUN Associated Students International Matador Scholarship will be awarded to 5 continuing international students at CSUN. The recipients will be chosen on the basis of academic ability, financial need and willingness to promote international student involvement at CSUN.
  • CSUN Alumni Graduate Scholarship recognizes and assist alumni who are loyal to the university and choose to continue their education at CSUN beyond the undergraduate level.
  • CSUN Presidential Scholarship The prestigious honor is reserved for Cal State Northridge undergraduate students who have earned at least 60 units with a 3.5 grade point average or transfer students who have earned at least 24 Northridge units by the end of the spring semester.
  • University Scholarship encourages the scholarly development of current Cal State Northridge students and students transferring to the university in the prior spring term.


The U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission offer tips and resources to protect students from dishonest organizations. The following scholarships are sponsored by outside agencies and are not affiliated with California State University, Northridge. Please exercise caution in your search as CSUN will not be held liable for the contents of the below websites and does not endorse scholarship search engines for which there is a fee. Below are some links for websites that may provide some additional information:

  1. Abroad Planet Scholarship Resources is an online community of international students studying in the United States.
  2. College Board is free online financial aid source for scholarships, grants, and loans for all college-bound students, including permanent residents and international students wishing to study in the United States.
  3. Education USA is an online database of scholarships and awards.
  4. eduPASS is The Smart Student Guide to Studying in the USA- provides excellent articles, charts and links about financing college.
  5. Funding for U.S. Study is a database of scholarships, fellowships and grants organized and maintained by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
  6. is an online financial aid resource for international students wishing to study in a foreign country.
  7. Mobility International USA is free online scholarship resource for non–U.S. citizens with disabilities.
  8. Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation administer a broad range of humanitarian and educational programs designed to improve the human condition, world understanding and peace. Learn more about Rotary's Ambassadorial Scholarships, Grants for University teachers and World Peace Scholarships for study at their Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution.
  9. The Foundation Center is an online resource devoted to foundations that fund individuals. The site also features a section for international grant seekers!
  10. The International Education Financial Aid Website features a searchable list of grants, scholarships and loan programs for international students.
  11. The Open Society Foundation supports the development of an open society through funding specific educational opportunities around the world.

Scholarships are very competitive, so start the search early!

Get Involved

The International and Exchange Student Center (IESC) organizes and supports programming and special events for international students and scholars. The IESC offers a wide variety of unique and entertaining social, academic and cultural activities throughout the year. It also offers social support through programming to aid international students and scholars as they settle into the Northridge community and adjust to living in the United States.

If you would like to participate in any of these programs or activities, please visit the IESC.

Student Panels for an International Curriculum and Education (SPICE)

SPICE is a program sponsored by the International and Exchange Student Center (IESC) at CSUN. The SPICE Program consists of a diverse group of international students who are available to present information on the topics that professors teach in their classes. For each panel presentation, there are typically three international students, each representing a different country. Panelists present information from the perspective of their home country and culture.

SPICE provides international students with the opportunity to present information and share experiences from their home country in CSUN classrooms. Students will need to apply and be accepted to the program as a presenter.

Do you want to SPICE up your academic experience by helping students learn about different cultural points of view? Apply to be a SPICE panelist! If you are interested in becoming a panelist, please visit the IESC.

Phi Beta Delta

PBD is an academic and professional International Honor Society. Membership includes international students, local students with international experience, faculty and staff involved in international activities.

For more information, please visit: Phi Beta Delta Website.

International Education Week

International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This is a joint initiative by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education as a part of their efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences in the United States. To be a part of the celebrations and activities, please visit the IESC.

International Students Community (ISC)

The International Students Community (ISC) is a registered student organization at CSUN. The main aim of ISC is to provide International students with the opportunity to experience and appreciate different cultures and promote international friendship. They encourage everyone, including American students interested in world culture, to join.

They organize a number of cultural, social and recreational events that give students the opportunity to interact with a variety of cultures, further enriching their college experience. The events include international movie nights, dance nights, soccer, barbecues and more.

If you're interested in joining the International Students Community, please contact the International and Exchange Student Center.

Coffee Hour

The IESC believes that cross-cultural understanding is an important part of being a citizen of the world. Coffee Hour is a time to learn about different cultures from around the world. It is one of the opportunities where international, local and exchange students gather to highlight and share their cultures. Join us for Coffee Hours every Friday: IESC.

Life in Northridge

Local Transportation


CSUN operates several complimentary shuttles to assist the campus community. Among them are the Housing Shuttle, the Metrolink Shuttle, and the special shuttle that operates for selected events at the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC).

CSUN Housing Shuttle

The Housing Shuttle Bus operates Monday through Thursday from 7:00am to 10:00pm, and on Friday from 7:00am to 4:30pm. The Housing Shuttle does not operate holidays or during the summer, winter, or spring break periods.

Location of Stops

For convenience, the Daytime Housing Shuttle stops are located at the following places:

  1. On the south side of Redwood Hall
  2. At the F8 parking lot on Lindley Avenue (at the shelter) --NORTHBOUND ONLY
  3. Inside the F10 parking lot on Lindley at Lassen

The Housing Shuttle Map indicates where the shuttle stops are located.

Metrolink Shuttle

There is a Free Shuttle between the CSUN Campus and the Northridge Metrolink Station. There are no other shuttle services operating between any Metrolink Train Station and the CSUN campus.

Shuttle Stops

In the morning, the CSUN Metrolink Shuttle will bring passengers to the CSUN Transit Station (located on Vincennes just north of University Hall). In the afternoon, the CSUN Metrolink Shuttle will return to the CSUN Transit Station to pick-up passengers and take them back to the Northridge Metrolink Station.

Which Trains Are Served by the Free Shuttle?

In the morning, the CSUN Metrolink Shuttle picks up passengers from all trains that are scheduled to arrive at the Northridge Metrolink Station between the hours of 7:00am and 9:00am.

In the afternoon, the CSUN Metrolink Shuttle will return passengers to trains that are scheduled to depart from the Northridge Metrolink Station between the hours of 2:50pm and 5:30pm.

The current train schedule is available on the Metrolink website. CSUN is served by the Ventura County Line. The closest Metrolink station to CSUN is the Northridge Metrolink Station.

Local Buses

The three bus lines that use the CSUN Transit Station offer easy travel solutions from 4 directions (north, south, east, and west). The bus lines that serve the CSUN Transit Station are:

  1. Metro Bus Line 167 (accessing Plummer Street)
  2. Metro Bus Line 744 (Rapid) (accessing Reseda, Ventura, and Sepulveda Boulevards)
  3. AVTA Express Line 787 (accessing Palmdale/Lancaster)
  4. CSUN Metrolink Shuttle (accessing the Northridge Metrolink Station)

All bus services operating at the CSUN Transit Station run Monday through Friday, except Metro Line 167). The CSUN Transit Station is not open on weekends. Metro Line 167 stops at Reseda/Plummer, 7 days a week.

Use Metro's “Next Trip to Determine Bus Arrival Time” to find out when the next Metro bus is arriving at the CSUN Transit Station. It's very easy to use Metro's Next Trip feature, and it can be found here: Metro Website

  1. 30018 is the CSUN Transit Station stop number
  2. Select the route number (167 for the east- westbound bus; or 744 for the north- southbound bus)
  3. Select the direction of travel you need for the bus line you have selected
  4. The Next Trip feature will display the number of minutes until the next arrival of the bus, and show a few subsequent arrival intervals so that you can plan your trip as efficiently as possible.

Uber or Lyft

Uber and Lyft are new ride-share technologies that are used by downloading the appropriate app on your phone to locate available drivers in your area. Many students at CSUN use these companies for transportation. As always, when using either of these apps please exercise caution. Do not get into any vehicle that makes you feel uneasy and if a driver makes you feel uncomfortable, ask to stop and get out of the car. It is always best to have friends with you when using Uber or Lyft.


While Northridge is considered a very safe area, it is important to take proper precautions to make sure that your safety is maintained while studying in Northridge. Use the following tips to make sure you stay safe:


  1. Don’t leave laptops, books, and bags unattended while on campus. CSUN is a public campus which means that anyone can walk through the area.
  2. Utilize the Matador Patrol. The Matador Patrol is a student-operated public service organization that provides free personal safety escorts for students, faculty, staff, and visitors on campus. Remember, you don’t have to walk alone!
  3. If you encounter a situation where you need help from the police, look for one of the many Blue Light Phones on campus. These phones will put you directly in contact with police or medical personnel that can assist you.
  4. If you ride a bike or skateboard to school, make sure you lock it to one of the bike/skateboard racks on campus. Do not leave these items unattended for any reason.
  5. CSUN Campus Police contact information: 1 (818) 677-2111 Non-Emergency (24 hrs.)
  6. Use common sense. If a person or situation does not feel right or comfortable to you, it is usually best to leave.
  7. Don’t open your door for strangers, let unknown people in your home, or let unknown people into your apartment/condo community. If you encounter a situation where you feel uncomfortable, you can always call 911 and ask for police assistance.
  8. Keep your doors and windows locked when you leave your house/apartment, and always make sure your car doors are locked when you park your car. Do not keep valuable items out in your car because they will attract unwanted attention.
  9. When going out at night, it is best to travel with at least one friend. Let people know where you will be and what time you expect to be home. Also, let trusted friends and family members know who you will be spending your time with when you go out.
  10. Be extremely cautious about using craigslist or other online marketplaces to buy and sell items. Criminals use ads on these websites to lure people into dangerous situations, steal from people, and even hurt them physically. Check with locals, your advisors, and friends for advice before entering into any type of business transaction that originated on these websites.
  11. Be aware of your surroundings. If you look lost, you could become a target of unwanted attention. Know where you are going and remain vigilant along the way.
  12. The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. If you are caught drinking underage, you could be arrested by the police.


Driving in the U.S.

To apply for a California Driver’s License, please visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website to set up an appointment. Showing up at the DMV without an appointment is not a good idea, and will require you to possibly spend hours of wait time. International students seeking a California driver’s license will need to present their immigration documents, including their passport, I-94, and Form I-20 or DS-2019. You may also need a social security number to apply. It is advisable to contact the DMV before you go because you may find that each office has different operating procedures and may require additional documentation from international students applying for a driver’s license. Please note that the State of California does not recognize an International Driving Permit (IDP) as a valid driver license.

The closest DMV locations to Northridge are:

Winnetka DMV Office
20725 Sherman Way
 Winnetka, CA 91306

Pacoima Driver License Processing Center DMV Office (Driver’s License Only)
11623 Glenoaks Blvd.
Pacoima, CA 91331

Arleta DMV Office
1440 Van Nuys Blvd.
Arleta, CA 91331


We recommend that you open an account in a local bank. Speak with a bank representative about your banking needs, and they will assist you in selecting the best bank account option for you. Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are located on campus and throughout the community. You may also be able to use your own bank card from your home country in these ATMs, but we recommend that you check with your home bank, and ask if additional charges will apply.

The banks nearest to CSUN are:

Premier America Credit Union – CSUN Branch Located in the Campus Store Complex
18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330
1 (747) 206-5580

Matadors Community Credit Union
20045 Prairie St. Chatsworth, CA 91311
1 (818) 993-6328

Chase Bank
9055 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324
1 (818) 773-5265

Bank of America
10200 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324
1 (818) 366-0214

Wells Fargo Bank
9036 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324
1 (818) 407-3850


Pita Pockets
(Shawarma, kabobs, gyros, and other Middle Eastern cuisine)
9127 Reseda Blvd.

Kickin KAsian
(Cajun-style seafood with an Asian twist)
9545 Reseda Blvd. #20

Senõr Sol
9233 Reseda Blvd.

California Chicken Café
18445 Nordhoff St

8910 Reseda Blvd

Porto’s Bakery and Cafe
19467 Nordhoff St


Super King
(Affordable groceries with many international options)
19500 Plummer St.

(Standard U.S. grocery store)
9119 Reseda Blvd.

(Standard U.S. grocery store)
9022 Balboa Blvd.

Galleria Market
(Grocery store specializing in Korean and Asian foods)
10201 Reseda Blvd

Whole Foods Market
(Upscale market featuring organic and high-quality groceries)
20209 Rinaldi St.

Sprouts Farmers Market
(Market focusing on organic products)
10821 Zelzah Ave.

Trader Joe’s
(Standard U.S. grocery store)
11114 Balboa Blvd.

(Standard U.S. grocery store)
18010 Chatsworth St.


Northridge Fashion Center
(Large shopping mall)
9301 Tampa Ave

8999 Balboa Blvd.

8800 Corbin Ave.

CVS Pharmacy
8840 Corbin Ave.

Ross Dress for Less
19330 Plummer St

Attractions in Southern California

CSUN is centrally located between three major freeways, making it easy to get wherever you need to go in Los Angeles. Because of Southern California's diverse geography, you can travel between urban cityscape, beaches, parks and mountains in a matter of minutes, allowing for a bounty of indoor activities and outdoor excursions.

Remember to stop by the Associated Students Ticket Office located in the University Student Union to find out information about available student discounted Theme Park tickets. Go to Associated Students Ticket Office Website to learn more.

Movie Theaters

AMC Theatres Promenade 9

20059 Rinaldi St, Porter Ranch, CA 91326

Regency Granada Hills 9
16830 Devonshire St., Granada Hills, CA 91344

Day Trips

The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90049

The Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Griffith Park and Observatory
4400 Crystal Springs Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90027

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
900 Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90027

Universal CityWalk
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608

Theme Parks

Universal Studios Hollywood
1000 Universal Center Dr., Universal City, CA 91608

Six Flags Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia, CA 91355

Disneyland Park and Resort
1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92802

Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, CA 90620