Graduate Studies

New Graduate Student FAQ

  • Where can I find information on basics such as what to expect as a first year student, when to develop a course plan, when to register for classes, details on forming a graduate advisory committee, etc.?

    A brief discussion of some of this information appears in “A Guide for New Graduate Students (PDF) (PDF),” so be sure to check there.

    But because each grad program is a bit different, and much of this information will be specific to your grad program, the best place to start is with your program’s graduate coordinator. The graduate coordinator typically assists you in choosing courses, developing a grad advisory committee, developing your culminating activity, and other tasks related to fulfilling graduation requirements. Go to the Graduate Studies “Programs & Coordinators” page and click on the name of the Grad Coordinator for your program to get their contact information.

    Also crucial is “A Guide to Graduate Studies: Policies, Procedures, & Format (PDF) (PDF).” It is recommended that each student read the guide and continue to refer back to it during your graduate career.

    In addition, the Chico State catalog contains an entire section on Graduate Education. Graduate Education Policies and Master’s Degree Requirements are pages packed with critical policies and procedures that you will also want to become familiar with and continue to revisit as you proceed.

    You can also contact your Academic Evaluator in the Office of Graduate Studies if you have questions.

    The Graduate Studies “Guide” webpage also contains links to pages covering Signing Up for Classes, Steps toward Earning a Master’s Degree, and Graduate Degree Progression.

    The most relevant dates and deadlines are in Chico State’s Academic Calendar. The Graduate Studies “Important Dates and Deadlines” page is specific to graduate students.

  • Are there opportunities for grad students to meet with Graduate Studies Staff or other grad students ?

    Yes! Graduate Studies staff is available to meet in-person or via Zoom. Just contact the Office of Graduate Studies at to set up a time to talk.

    And the Council of Graduate Students (COGS) is a great way to meet with other graduate students. Go to the COGS web page for more information, and follow them on social media.

  • Are there any financial aid, scholarships, or grants for graduate students?

    Grad students can get some forms of aid (e.g., State University Grants, Student Loans, and Scholarships). Check the Financial Aid & Scholarship website for more info about what is available to grad students.

    More details on scholarships is available at

    There are often opportunities specific to the program/department. Grad students may also check with their Grad Coordinator or department office to learn more. See also the Departments and Programs page.

    In addition, be sure to check the Office of Graduate Studies website's Fellowships and Awards information for links to programs like the Pre-Doctoral Scholars, Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program, Research and Conference Awards, and more.

    And check in with Chico State Social Media which may advertise opportunities. A great example is the Adelante Postbaccalaureate Pipeline program's Instagram feed (

  • Are you considered for financial aid as long as you've done your FAFSA or is there an additional application?
    You just need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for financial aid.
  • Will tutoring be available pretty widely through Zoom?

    The Student Learning Center (SLC) offers virtual appointments for all their subject tutoring.

    Other departments may have their own tutoring available (e.g., Department of Mathematics and Statistics also has virtual math tutoring available, so don’t hesitate to contact your department.

  • Will the library be open fall semester?

    Yes, however, the library is getting new carpet this summer, and therefore the floors will be closed until August 22, 2022. Prior to that first day of the fall semester, items on floors 2-4 will not be available to patrons but can be requested from other libraries and picked up throughout the summer. Online databases and articles are unaffected.

    Book circulation services are available for pick-up during summer - see the Meriam Library web page.

    Click here for a list of librarians you can contact for information about your discipline.

  • What about students who aren't in Chico to pick up materials from the library in person?
    It may be available through a CSU near you, but if you have any questions about library resources and services, please ask the library staff at Live Chat is available.
  • Are there any printing services available on campus students can use for those that do not have a personal printer?

    The Copy Center in the Meriam Library offers 24-hour turnaround printing for students. For instructions on how to use the service go to

  • Are there any quiet study areas on campus besides the library?
    Check for the most up-to-date information on this in the Student FAQs on the Covid-19 page.
  • Will text books be online?

    It depends on your professors. You can view the required books at: Select the Term under “Get your textbook,” then click continue. Then select your “Department”, “Course”, and “Section” to find the required books. You have the option of renting or buying print or digital books.

    Your professor may also have some materials on reserve or loaner copies for students, so don’t hesitate to email and ask if they have any available alternatives.

  • Does the university offer software like Microsoft Office or Adobe PDF Pro for free?

    Yes! You can get the entire Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Creative Cloud Suite for free. Go to for information on free software and Internet connectivity resources.

    Adobe Creative Cloud includes Acrobat Pro, which allows you to modify or sign PDFs.

  • When will we receive student ID cards?

    ITSS has instructions on how to upload your photograph and request an appointment to get your Wildcat ID Card at this link:

    If you graduated from Chico State, Undergraduate ID cards should still work.

  • What is ITSS?
    ITSS stands for Information Technology Systems and Services. Here is the link to ITSS if you need tech help:
  • Is there any information on health insurance for full time graduate students?
    The WellCat Health Center offers health services to all students, including graduate students (even adjunct enrolled students), with proof that the Health Service fee has been paid before the census date. See their Eligibility & Insurance web page for more information.
  • What if a student needs accommodations for a disability (physical/intellectual) or for virtual testing, etc.?
    Counselors at the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) on campus can help.
  • Is there a comprehensive list of resources in a single spot?

    The Guide for New Grad Students (PDF) (PDF) is the best place to start for resources available to graduate students. 

    But there is another list of resources from Chico State’s “Keep Learning” web page.

  • How would you compare undergrad to grad classes, in terms of workload, grading, etc.?
    It depends on the program, but graduate classes are usually smaller and are usually discussion-based seminars with heavy student participation encouraged. Workload and grades depend on the program, but usually, the workload is heavier in grad school. Most graduate students report that the reading and writing load is noticeably heavier. Because the classes are smaller and participation is considered a hallmark aspect of graduate education, graduate students usually have to prepare more carefully and fully for each class than they might have as undergraduates.
  • What are summer workloads like?
    Few programs require summer enrollment (e.g., the one-year Master’s in Social Work, Math Education, and the MA Education “CLASS” program, formerly known as RiSE). There are a limited number of graduate-level courses offered in summer should the student decide to enroll, but they need to check with their program. It's common for students in the credential program or MA in Education to take summer courses if offered, and the student should check with their respective program. The workload is dependent on what courses a student decides to take, if any.
  • Is there a guideline of what is expected for independent study units? I want to make sure I fulfill all the requirements to do well when it's not structured like a class with assignments.
    Any independent study course will an advisory faculty member, and that is where to go for guidance on what is expected for each particular course.
  • Do students ever pursue two master’s degrees at once? And how do the certificate programs work?

    It is possible to pursue two master’s degrees at once. However, it is not considered advisable. Typically, issues have arisen with program time limits (5 or 7 years) and GPA (any courses taken are part of the Chico cumulative GPA). It is more advisable to finish one master’s before enrolling in the second one (though it is possible to take a class or two at the end of the first program that would count toward the second program, as up to 9 units of pre-admission coursework may be counted toward a program).

    Certificate programs, by contrast, are designed to be completed at the same time as the master’s degree.

  • What if I’m returning for my master’s degree after a long absence?

    All returning students have anxiety about whether they still “know how to do school” even if they have only been out a few years. It is understandable, but rest assured, our “long-gap” reentry students prove year after year that they have the right stuff to succeed in graduate school. Even though our reentry students do often underestimate themselves at first, faculty love having these students in their classes for good reason.

    First, the skills reentry students learned as undergraduates have been honed over the years through work and life experience. Perhaps not many have written formal research papers over the years, but they have done writing and analysis of all sorts over the years that translate well in the academic setting; they developed a breadth and depth of knowledge that strengthens their

    logic and critical thinking skills; and they are usually comfortable with expressing their views in group settings (or quickly become so) and are usually willing to hear and reflect upon diverse ideas and opinions that differ from their own.

    Second, reentry students quickly develop an appreciation for what a unique and special privilege it is to be a student again. To engage in the pursuit of knowledge and personal intellectual growth through intensive reading, research, and seminar discussion is a significantly different enterprise than the work done for most jobs; it offers rewards and satisfactions that are perhaps more easily recognized by those individuals who have been out of the academic setting for a time.

    In addition, reentry students usually have significantly more burdens and responsibilities than they may have had as 19-year-old sophomores. It takes a truly dedicated and committed individual to tackle the challenge of graduate school while balancing all their other life demands. For this reason, faculty know that reentry students are usually very goal-oriented, focused, and determined to succeed, given the sacrifices they and their families are making. And so they do succeed.

    Finally, faculty know that reentry students’ anxieties about their skill sets and preparation for graduate school are not much different than the fears of all new graduate students. For that reason, graduate programs are designed to offer new students opportunities to refresh and develop their skills in research, writing, study, and technology. In addition to the support build into first-year graduate courses, students have access to extracurricular support to help their skills development. For example, our library faculty are assigned to particular departments and programs. They hold special research and information literacy courses just for graduate students, but they also accept individual appointments to work one-on-one with graduate students in sessions tailored to your particular research and information literacy needs.

    In addition, the Office of Graduate Studies and our Council of Graduate Students offer writing and research workshops and collaboratives of all kinds. For example, the Graduate Studies Thesis Editor works with individual students and holds writing workshops to assist students to complete writing projects of all sorts, including the thesis. And the Thesis Editor and the Council of Graduate Students set up and facilitate writing collaboratives to allow graduate students to gather together and support each other in completing the writing projects that are common to all.

    Given how quickly technology changes and how many different programs and processes exist, almost everyone entering graduate school will need some support to advance their technological skills. The campus also offers many trainings and guides to assist students in developing their technological skills. And individual programs have courses, tutors, and training to assist students in developing skills particular to their programs. In addition, your own graduate peers are excellent resources. Those who are up-to-date or experienced are often the first and best sources for students to quickly get up to speed.

    In short, we have seen over and over evidence of the success of our reentry students. We know that even if they start out with shaky confidence in their own “rusty” abilities, they quickly find their footing and move successfully toward the completion of their degrees.

  • What if I'll be doing research with human subjects?

    Chico State has an Institutional Review Board (IRB) responsible for ensuring the ethical conduct of human subjects research conducted by university faculty, staff, and students. The IRB is also charged with ensuring that activities involving vertebrate animals, including educational instruction and research, are conducted humanely, do not expose animals to unnecessary risk, and use the fewest number of animals possible to obtain valid results. The IRB ensures compliance with university policy and federal regulations governing the ethical and responsible conduct of research. 

    The IRB has transitioned to using the Cayuse Research Suite for all IRB applications (completely online protocol submission and management).

    All students who would like access to Cayuse are required to complete the online request form. The request form is located on the right side of this page under the blue button: “Request to Add Personnel to Cayuse”. Please allow 48-72 hours to be added to the system.

    If you have any questions, please contact Sharon Ruggirello at

    Details on steps you will be required to take are available on the web:

    Protection of Human Subjects

    Also note, effective August 18, 2021, all Key Personnel listed on IRB submissions will be required to have completed appropriate (free) CITI online training modules prior to initiation of the review process. Key Personnel is defined as any Principal Investigator, other investigators, and research personnel conducting human subjects or animal subjects research that are:

    1. directly involved in conducting research (i.e., interacting and/or intervening) with human subjects or animal subjects; and/or
    2. directly involved with handling private information and/or personally identifiable data related to human subjects during the course of a research project.

    Please visit the CITI Program website for instructions on how to register and complete the training. All inquiries regarding the protection of human or animal subjects should be directed to Sharon Ruggirello at

  • How confident can a student feel, upon graduating, that they will be able to find a job in their field?

    The fact is, the vast majority of our graduates do get jobs in their fields upon graduation, but the time it takes may differ by degree program. For example, some of our programs have 100% placement in related careers upon graduation, others have a lower placement rate at graduation but find that the majority of their students have a career-related job within a couple of months of graduation. In general, those that are professional degrees such as social work, communication science and disorders, and nursing will have a higher placement rate at graduation than those that are more generalist degrees. This is information that your graduate coordinator and department chair will have, and you should not hesitate to ask them these questions.

    Chico State’s Career Center is also a rich resource for graduate students. Click here to set up a virtual appointment with a career advisor.

    In addition, Wildcat Connect can match you with alumni mentors to advise and coach one-on-one. Also available there are helpful industry and company webinars.