Blended Degree Programs
Cal Poly offers several blended programs, which are approved at the campus level and are meant to provide an accelerated pathway from a bachelor’s to a master’s degree and to enhance the undergraduate learning experience. A blended program allows the student to transition directly from undergraduate (bachelor’s) to graduate standing (master’s) without having to apply to the graduate program through Cal State Apply. Once the student has completed all degree requirements for both the undergraduate degree and the graduate degree, both degrees are then conferred at the same time.
California Code of Regulations Title 5 § 40510 includes the following minimum requirements for earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees via a blended program:
- Bachelor’s: 120 semester units (180 quarter units)
- Master’s: 30 semester units (45 quarter units)
A maximum of 12 semester units (18 quarter units) may be double-counted for both the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree so that the total number of units may be 138 semester units (207 quarter units), provided that:
(1) none of the required graduate courses is replaced by an undergraduate course, and
(2) the graduate courses that are counted toward the bachelor’s degree either
(a) assume the more rudimentary knowledge taught at the undergraduate level, or
(b) cover the content of the undergraduate courses that they replace.
Admission to Blended Program
- Admission requirements are set by the program with approval by the Office of Graduate Education and the Office of the Registrar.
- Students are not required to apply for admission to blended programs via Cal State Apply. Admission process and recommendation is made at the program level with final approval from the Dean of Graduate Education.
- Undergraduate students may be admitted to a blended program up to two years before their expected graduation date, during their third or fourth year of study.
- Admitted students may take graduate-level courses towards master’s degree requirements provided they have met the course prerequisites.
Transition to Graduate Standing
- Students are eligible to, and should, transition from undergraduate to graduate standing when they have earned 120 semester units (180 quarter units), or the number of units required for the specific degree program, whichever is greater, as long as all required lower-division units (including General Education) have been completed and the "Graduation Writing Requirement" has been met. Both undergraduate or graduate units count toward meeting this status threshold, and shall include only those units that count toward satisfying either the bachelor’s or master’s requirements in the blended program.
- Students must file a Blended Pathway Postbaccalaureate Change of Objective form to transition to graduate status, which will then incur the appropriate adjustment in tuition and fees. For more information and access to student forms, please consult the "Graduate Education Blended Programs" page.
- If the bachelor’s degree program is state-supported and the master’s degree program is self-supported, self-support tuition and fees will be collected only for those graduate units that do not count towards the state-supported bachelor’s degree.
- When an international student (i.e., holding an F-1 visa) in a blended program transitions to a graduate status, the university will issue a change of educational level (i.e., I-20 status) according to visa regulations. This change will shift the minimum unit requirement for undergraduate student status to that for graduate student status.
- Students in a blended program should complete the FAFSA or California Dream Act application annually with the correct status listed (i.e., undergraduate or graduate).
- Students must have graduate standing for a minimum of two quarters before degree completion. (This will change to a minimum of two semesters in Fall 2026.)
Provision for Completing the Baccalaureate Portion (Bachelor’s Degree) Only
- If a student in a blended program opts not to complete the master’s program but does complete the undergraduate degree requirements, undergraduate matriculation shall be reopened in order to grant the baccalaureate degree. There shall be no related cost to the student nor refund of previous graduate fees paid.
- Such a student must submit a Postbaccalaureate Change of Objective and change their degree objective back to their undergraduate program. Every effort must be made by the program to enable students to satisfy their undergraduate requirements if they choose not to complete their master’s degree.
- If such a student decides to return to pursue their master’s program in the future, they shall formally apply for graduate admission. With the approval of their academic department, students may count up to 12 semester units (18 quarter units) of graduate courses completed during their blended program towards their master’s degree. This credit cannot be awarded across a period of more than seven years, unless approved for validation by both the academic program and Graduate Education.
Awarding of Degrees
- When all requirements have been met, the bachelor’s and master’s degrees are both awarded at the same time and recognized at a graduation ceremony. If a student fails to complete their master’s requirements but completes all of their bachelor’s degree requirements, then the undergraduate matriculation can be re-opened in order to grant the bachelor’s degree.
Capstone and Culminating Experience Requirements
- Students in a blended program must complete all undergraduate requirements, including senior project requirements as detailed in the Cal Poly Catalog, along with the culminating experience required by the individual graduate program. In cases where the graduate culminating experience is a thesis or project, a student can align the objectives for this culminating experience with those of their senior project. The graduate thesis or project and the senior project must have separate course numbers, each with their own learning objectives and final deliverables.
Academic Senate Resolution: AS-877-19 "Resolution on Graduate Blended Program Policies" (PDF). Adopted 21 May 2019.
Cal Poly Graduate Education: "Blended Programs".
Cal Poly Graduate Education: "Graduate Education Handbook".
CSU Coded Memorandum: AA 2012-01 "Policy on "Blended" Bachelor's and Master's Degree Programs". Revised 3 December 2022.
California Code of Regulations: Title 5, Section 40510 "The Master's Degree". Revised August 2022.
Last updated: 9/6/23