Graduate Degree Information

Admissions » Policies and Regulations »

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

As a requirement for advancement to candidacy, all graduate students must demonstrate upper-division competency in academic writing in English by fulfilling the GWAR. A new GWAR policy was adopted in Spring 2012. However, the new policy has not yet been fully implemented. Currently, graduate students are required to fulfill the following requirements.

Graduate students are required to take the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE), except that students who have previously (1) received degrees from accredited colleges and universities in the United States; or (2) received degrees from an accredited non-US institution located in a country where English is a primary language of communication; or (3) attained an appropriate score on the analytical writing component of an approved test are exempt from the Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE).

Beginning Fall 2013, these exemptions are automatically noted on students' records at the time of admission. All other graduate students will either self-place into a low- or mid-range pathway in consultation with a GWAR advisor or take the WPE in their first semester of enrollment. Students admitted prior to Fall 2013 who believe they may be eligible for one of the exemptions listed above may submit a Graduate Student Petition to Satisfy the CSULB GWAR to Testing, Evaluation & Assessment, BH-216. The petition form is available at BH-216 or at www.csulb.edu/testing.

Students are permitted to take the WPE only once unless they are approved to take it a second time by a GWAR advisor.

Graduate students who are not exempt from the WPE must fulfill the GWAR by one of the following pathways based on their score on the WPE:

Students receiving scores of 11 or higher have satisfied the GWAR and may proceed to advance to candidacy.

Students receiving scores of 8, 9 or 10 must complete a GWAR portfolio course, including submission of a portfolio that receives a passing score. Students following this pathway are expected to fulfill the GWAR within two semesters of enrollment following their WPE attempt.

Students receiving a score of 7 or lower must complete English 301A with a C or better in the following semester of enrollment and must complete a GWAR portfolio course, including submission of a portfolio that receives a passing score, in the subsequent semester of enrollment. Students following this pathway are expected to enroll in an appropriate GWAR course in each semester following their WPE attempt.

Students who have questions about their next step or who need help selecting an appropriate GWAR portfolio course should schedule an appointment with a GWAR advisor in the University Center for Undergraduate Advising, Horn Center, 103 (562-985-4837). Information about the GWAR is available at www.csulb.edu/gwar.

Students who attempted the WPE once prior to Fall 2010 may attempt the WPE a second time or enroll in an appropriate GWAR course and submit a portfolio for assessment. Students are not permitted to take the WPE more than two times.

Graduate students must satisfy the GWAR before they will be advanced to candidacy. (Advancement to candidacy requires satisfying the GWAR and satisfactorily completing six or more semester units in residence while earning a 3.0 GPA or greater.) Graduate students must also visit their graduate faculty advisors in their first semester to determine if additional departmental or program writing requirements apply to their advancement to candidacy.

Students can register for the WPE online at www.csulb.edu/testing. Students must pay a fee each time they take the test to cover the costs of test administration and scoring. Testing, Evaluation & Assessment offers three-hour workshops one to two weeks prior to each WPE date. Information about these workshops, the WPE workbook, and related services is available at BH-216 or at www.csulb.edu/testing.

The GWAR and Registration Holds

If graduate students neglect to attempt the WPE in their first semester of residency, CSULB will place a hold on their privilege to register for classes. Students must register for and take the WPE to release these registration holds.

Students with compelling reasons can request deferrals at Testing, Evaluation & Assessment, BH-216. In certain circumstances, students, with help from their faculty or staff advisors, may submit an appeal or contract to release a registration hold temporarily.

If students fail to comply with requirements to enroll in a GWAR course, CSULB will place a hold on their privilege to register for classes. Students must meet with a GWAR advisor to release these registration holds.

Future GWAR Policy

It is anticipated that the new GWAR policy will be fully implemented in Fall 2015. At that time, the following changes in the requirements to complete the GWAR will go into effect:

Graduate students will be required to take the GWAR Placement Exam (GPE), except that students who have previously (1) received degrees from accredited colleges and universities in the United States; or (2) received degrees from an accredited non-US institution located in a country where English is a primary language of communication; or (3) attained an appropriate score on the analytical writing component of an approved test are exempt from the GPE. All other students will either self-place into a low or mid-range pathway in the consultation with their graduate advisor or take the GPE in their first semester of enrollment.

Students who are exempt from the GPE and students with an upper-range score on the GPE will be required to successfully meet any writing requirements specified by the student's department.

Students who receive a mid-range score on the GPE will be required to complete a GWAR portfolio course, including submission of a portfolio that earns a passing score, and successfully meet any writing requirements specified by the student's department.

Students with a low-range score on the GPE will be required to successfully complete English 301A with a C or better; subsequently complete a GWAR portfolio course, including the submission of a portfolio that earns a passing score; and meet any writing requirements specified by the student's department.

Students with a low- or mid-range score on the GPE will be required to begin their pathway no later than the semester after taking the GPE. These students must enroll in an appropriate GWAR course each semester until they are deemed ready to attempt any writing requirements specified by the student's department. Registration may be prevented for students not complying with timely completion of the GWAR requirement.

Students will be permitted to appeal to complete requirements concurrently if required for timely advancement to candidacy. Appeals will be reviewed by the Dean of Graduate Studies or designee.


University Course Listings
PDFPrint (PDF) Versions of the Catalog