Advancement to Candidacy & Culminating Experience

It is the policy of the University, the Graduate Division, and the Department of Special Education  to have students submit their Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) and Culminating Experience (CE) Proposals the semester prior to undertaking their culminating experience. The ATC is essentially a course roadmap on how students complete their 30 units for the MA degree. The CE indicates how students intend to complete the degree through a thesis, field-study, creative work, or comprehensive exam. This process is completed in advance in order for the Graduate Division to evaluate student graduation applications and to ascertain that students have met all the coursework requirements, as well as successfully completed the Culminating Experience.

  • Students need to meet with their faculty advisors to complete and submit the ATC/CE. Consult the department or an advisor for semester deadlines.

A brief description is provided below for the ATC & CE Forms, or consult the SFSU Bulletin for complete details:

The Advancement to Candidacy (ATC)

The plan of study that must be completed prior to award of the degree is documented on the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) form. The form must be submitted to Graduate Studies after completion of 18 units toward the degree and no later than the semester prior to beginning the Culminating Experience. The Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) form must be approved by the graduate major advisor and the graduate coordinator/department chair of the student’s department. The form is submitted to the dean of Graduate Studies for evaluation and approval. On approval of the ATC, the student is advanced to candidacy or classified status. Students who have submitted their ATC forms can check on their status by accessing the SF State Gateway link from the SF State main page or Graduate Studies website.

Culminating Experience Requirements

In accordance with Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, the Culminating Experience must be met by the satisfactory completion of a thesis, special project, comprehensive examination, or a combination of more than one of these. An oral defense of the work is normally required. 

Students must file a Proposal for Culminating Experience that has been approved by program faculty. This form must be submitted subsequent to or simultaneous with the ATC. Students are not permitted to enroll in a Culminating Experience course (SPED 894, 895, 896, 898) until both of these forms have been approved by Graduate Studies. A Report of Completion of the Culminating Experience and/or Receipt for Thesis or Written Creative Work Project must be submitted or amended by the deadline date in order for the student to graduate in the semester of submission. Consult the deadline calendar for graduate students.