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Baccalaureate and Graduate Degree Information

Baccalaureate Degree Information

Overhead view of CSULB Commencement

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

In order to obtain a degree or certificate from CSULB, all students must demonstrate upper-division competence in academic writing in English. For the purposes of fulfilling the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR), students are responsible for developing the skills necessary (which should include analysis and support with one or more of the following: synthesis, critique, inquiry, argument, and exemplification).

Undergraduate students fulfill the GWAR by one of the following:

  • 1. Passing the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE);
  • 2. Passing another approved CSULB assessment of writing competence;
  • 3. Having already passed an assessment of writing competence GWAR at another CSU campus, prior to transfer to CSULB;
  • 4. Earning a CSULB-approved passing score on the writing portion of an approved standardized graduate admissions test, such as the Graduate Record Examination or the Graduate Management Aptitude Test.
  • 5. Enrolling in a GWAR course and submitting a portfolio for assessment after attempting the WPE once.

Assessments of writing competence from non-CSU campuses are evaluated by the GWAR Coordinator for their equivalence before they are accepted to fulfill the GWAR.

Students needing to fulfill the GWAR must take the WPE at least once. If unsuccessful, they may take it a second time or may enroll in a GWAR course and submit a portfolio for assessment.

All continuing CSULB and transfer students who have not fulfilled the GWAR must register for and take the WPE by the end of the semester in which they earn 65 units. Upper-division transfer students who enter CSULB with 65 or more units must take the WPE within their first semester of residency at CSULB. (PS 04-06)

Students with degrees from non-CSU campuses must either provide proof of meeting the requirement with adequate scores on a CSULB-approved standardized graduate admissions test or attempt to satisfy the GWAR by the end of their first semester of matriculation at CSULB.

Students can register for the WPE at the Office of Testing and Evaluation Services, BH-216 (562) 985-4007, www.csulb.edu/centers/tests. Students must pay a fee each time they take the test to cover the costs of test administration and scoring. The Testing Office offers three-hour workshops one to two weeks prior to each WPE date indicated in the online Testing and Evaluation webpage; information about these workshops, the WPE workbook, and related services can be obtained from the Testing Office.

Students who need assistance to prepare for the WPE should contact GWAR faculty advisors in the Learning Assistance Center, Horn Center Room 104, (562) 985-5350 to determine if tutoring, WPE Preparatory Classes, or a special course like ENGL 301A would be helpful. Students who fail any two approved assessments of writing competence must meet with a GWAR faculty advisor located in the Learning Assistance Center in the Horn Center, Room 104 (562) 985-5350. Such students are required to present evidence that they have followed the advisor’s recommendations regarding course work, tutoring, or other services connected to developing the requisite skills before they will be allowed to register for a third attempt.

Effective Fall 2010, continuing students who have earned 65 units and upper-division transfer students in their first semester of residency at CSULB who are taking the WPE for the first time will be required to satisfy the GWAR within two semesters of enrollment following their first WPE attempt. To ensure that the GWAR is satisfied within the specified time, students in this group must comply with the following requirements determined by their WPE score:

1. Students receiving scores of 11 or higher have satisfied the GWAR and may proceed with completion of other degree requirements.

2. Students receiving scores of 9 or 10 must complete a GWAR course in the following semester of enrollment and must satisfy the GWAR within the following two semesters of enrollment. Students receiving scores of 9 or 10 who wish to attempt the WPE for a second time must meet with a GWAR advisor who will determine whether the student will be permitted to retake the WPE. Students who are unsuccessful in their second WPE attempt must complete a GWAR course in the following semester of enrollment and must satisfy the GWAR within two semesters of enrollment following their initial WPE attempt.

3. Students receiving scores of 8 or lower must complete English 301A in the following semester of enrollment, must complete a GWAR course in the subsequent semester of enrollment, and must satisfy the GWAR within two semesters of enrollment following their initial WPE attempt.

Information about these requirements is available on the Testing & Evaluation Services website at www.csulb.edu/testing. Information about GWAR courses and alternative GWAR assessments is available on the GWAR website at www.csulb.edu/gwar.

The GWAR, Registration Holds, and Application to Graduate

If undergraduate students neglect to attempt the WPE by the time they earn 65 units, CSULB will place a hold on their privilege to register for classes. Students must sign up for and take the WPE to release these registration holds.
Students with compelling reasons can request deferrals at the Office of Testing and Evaluation Services. In certain circumstances, students, with help from their faculty or staff advisors, may submit an appeal or contract to release a registration hold temporarily. All students must attempt to fulfill the GWAR before filing a graduation application.
Effective Fall 2010, students attempting the WPE for the first time and receiving a score of less than 11 must comply with requirements to enroll in English 301A, enroll in a GWAR course, or meet with GWAR advisor during the semester following their initial WPE attempt. Failure to comply will result in a hold on their privilege to register for classes. Students must meet with a GWAR advisor to release these registration holds.