Graduate Paired Courses Policy - Superseded

Reference Number: S16-126
Senate Approval Date: Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Presidential Approval Date: 
Friday, April 22, 2016
Archival Information: 

Supersedes: S90-126


SF State programs offering graduate degrees must commit the resources needed for graduate education.  To provide a quality academic experience for graduate students, at least 70% of the degree-required units leading to the graduate degree should be designed for graduate students as per Academic Senate Policy S06-238.  Under limited circumstances, chairs and college deans may offer paired listed courses.  A paired course is a graduate course paired with an undergraduate course covering similar content.  The paired course is taught by the same instructor, on the same days and times, and in the same class environment.

All paired courses will be reviewed through the Academic Program Review process.  It is expected that all existing paired courses will be in compliance with this policy by fall 2019. To ensure integrity of the graduate degree, approval to offer a paired course is subject to the following conditions:

  • Faculty teaching the paired course must be eligible to teach in the graduate program, as defined in the Bulletin (tenure line or tenured faculty members who hold doctoral or other terminal degrees in their field).  Departments may petition for an alternative faculty member to teach the course with the approval of the College Dean or designee and the Graduate Dean.
  • Graduate core courses may not be paired.
  • The undergraduate course in the pair must be an upper division course.  General education and GWAR courses may not be paired with graduate level courses.  Undergraduate students must have upper division status, and have a GPA of at least 3.0 or consent of instructor.
  • Paired course must be offered within the same department. 
  • To facilitate graduate-level discourse, graduate student enrollments in the graduate paired courses would ideally exceed undergraduate enrollments.
  • Thesis, creative work, internship, special project, topic, directed reading, research, and special study courses may not be used as part of a paired arrangement.
  • Credit earned in the undergraduate level of a pair and used for the undergraduate degree may not be counted toward a subsequent graduate degree.

As part of the Academic Program Review process, graduate paired courses may be continued for reasons such as:

  • The university budget prevents programs from offering a full complement of graduate elective courses that lead to the degree.
  • The programs requesting to offer the course are strategically maintained by the college dean at low admission and enrollment levels.
  • The program is new and in the development stage of generating enrollment. 
  • Electives are taught in paired format to address emerging information in the discipline, but the graduate course does not meet the course enrollment expectations set by the university.

All proposals for the pairing of courses, as well as any exceptions to the provisions of this policy, shall be reviewed by the Graduate and Undergraduate Deans and the Graduate Council.  As with all courses of the University, the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs and/or designees shall have the responsibility for final approval.

It shall be the shared responsibility of the Graduate Dean, Undergraduate Dean, Graduate Council, and the departments offering the paired courses to ensure that the above-stated conditions are satisfied and that, in all instances, use of paired courses preserves or enhances the quality of both graduate and undergraduate programs of the University. 


The Class Schedule must make clear that both courses of a pair of courses meet at the same time and location, and with the same instructor, but that the two courses have differential requirements reflecting the different course levels.

Course proposals must be submitted and approved separately for each of the courses in the proposed pairs.  All proposals for the pairing of courses, as well as any exceptions to the provisions of this policy, shall be reviewed by the Graduate Council. 

The course proposals must address the following:

  1. Both course proposal forms must specify that the courses will be paired and that credit may not be earned in the other course of the pair at a later time;
  2. In order to assist everyone in identifying courses that are paired, departments are expected to assign to paired courses numbers that have the same last two digits;
  3. Justification for the pairing must be attached to each of the proposals;
  4. While course descriptions and course syllabi for any pair of courses should include the same topics, requirements for the graduate course must exceed those for the undergraduate course.  Syllabi must clearly delineate the requirements for graduate students that might include graduate-level reading, writing, and oral presentations, research, leadership roles within the class, and/or the demonstration of graduate-level laboratory or studio skills;

Policy will be reviewed every five years by Academic Senate

Signed Memo: