Csun Essay Questions

Sample Essay Topic -- Sparkling Water is the New Soda

Sparkling Water is the New Soda

The hottest drink in America is water with bubbles.

Long a kitchen table staple in European households, sparkling water is making inroads in the U.S. thanks largely to Americans’ waning interest in soda. Between 2009 and 2014, the volume of carbonated bottled water sold in the U.S. has increased by 56.4 percent, according to data from Euromonitor International, a market research firm. Soda drinking declined sharply during the same period.

Still, sparkling water sales are a fraction of soda sales. The U.S. soda market is worth about $39 billion, according to Euromonitor. The market for unflavored sparkling water, flavored sparkling water and "functional" water -- a category that includes flavored still water and enhanced still water like Smartwater -- is just $4 billion.

It has a way to go before it catches up to soda, but sparkling water is indeed having a moment.

The growth in millions of liters of sparkling water sold in the U.S.

 According to Euromonitor International, Sparkling Water sales grew from 400 million liters per year to 667 million liters per year in 2015, and are projected to grow to almost 800 million liters per year in 2019.

The decline in millions of liters of soda sold in the U.S. (Note that the scale is very different from the chart above, with soda sales still dwarfing sparkling water sales.)

 According to Euromonitor International, soda sales fell from 40 billion liters per year to about 32 billion liters per year in 2015, and are projected to fall to just over 30 billion liters per year in 2019.

Americans’ growing obsession with health is the biggest reason for the shift, according to Jonas Feliciano, a global beverage analyst at Euromonitor. Coke and Pepsi have resorted to hawking products like energy drinks and even milk to boost sales as Americans become increasingly wary of the high levels of sugar in soda.

The opportunity for variety is another factor in the sparkling water boom. These beverages are available in a range of flavors, from orange-pineapple to kiwi-strawberry. Feliciano noted that most mainstream soda comes in just cola and lemon-lime flavors. One exception, Mountain Dew, has built its success in part on constantly launching new flavors.

“[Americans] are turning away from things that identify with soda and instead are turning toward things that identify with water,” Feliciano said. “If I’m looking for health and I’m looking for variety, sparkling water with different flavors seems to provide that.”

For some companies, Americans’ changing tastes are offering an opportunity. The growth in sales at Washington-based Talking Rain Beverage Company, which makes flavored sparkling water, has pretty much directly mirrored the rise of the beverage's popularity. The company brought in more than $384 million in sales in 2014 compared to just $2.7 million in 2009. Sparkling Ice, a Talking Rain line of zero-calorie sparkling water in flavors like pink grapefruit and peach nectarine, is responsible for most of that growth.

Kevin Klock, Talking Rain’s CEO, says the company doesn’t try to make health claims about its drinks because shoppers recognize on their own that sparkling water is probably healthier than soda.

“It’s great that it’s zero calories, but it’s probably not the number one thing the consumer is looking for,” Klock said. “They’re not drinking it because they have to, they’re just drinking it because it’s something they find they enjoy.”

Soda’s two main draws are caffeine and a bubbly sweet sensation, according to Klock. As concerns about soda’s health consequences mount, drinkers are turning to coffee and energy drinks for their caffeine fix, and flavored sparkling waters for that throat-tickling combination of bubbles and sweetness.

“I don’t see it as a fad,” Klock said of flavored sparkling water, noting that the trend in all beverages, including liquor and beer, is toward more variety and flavor.

SodaStream is betting big that interest in sparkling water continues to grow. The at-home carbonation machine company has shifted its marketing in recent months to focus more on the product's ability to make sparkling water and less on its ability to make soda. SodaStream rebranded its devices as sparkling-water makers instead of soda makers, and it has changed its slogan from “set the bubbles free” to “water made exciting.”

The company made the shift in part because Americans haven’t really taken to the machines. In the U.S., SodaStream is probably better known for its Scarlett Johansson commercials than for its carbonation device. So far, just 1.5 percent of households in the U.S. have a SodaStream, compared to about 20 percent of households in Finland or Sweden, according to Daniel Birnbaum, SodaStream’s CEO.

Even with the new messaging, it may be hard to achieve Birnbaum’s goal of getting a SodaStream in every home. Feliciano notes that low-income shoppers aren’t likely to make the switch from soda to sparkling water anytime soon. Even those who don't shell out for a SodaStream machine -- the cheapest option on the company's website is $79.99 -- will probably find better deals on soda than sparkling water.

While there's not that much difference in the average price per liter ($1.10 per liter for soda versus $1.30 per liter for sparkling water, according to Euromonitor), the supermarkets, discount outlets and convenience stores where most low-income Americans shop offer promotional deals on soda that often make it much cheaper than sparkling water, according to Feliciano.

“This is still not for the masses,” Feliciano said.

But Birnbaum is confident that Americans' shift away from soda is more than just a whim.

“We feel like we are now at the early stages of a revolution in the beverage industry in America,” Birnbaum said, noting that about 70 percent of SodaStream’s customers globally use the machine only for carbonating water.

“The death of soda comes with the life of something else,” Birnbaum said.

PROMPT: Sparkling Water is the New Soda

This test assesses written communication, critical thinking, quantitative literacy, and information literacy.

Write a purposeful and well-developed essay in which you address and evaluate the reading’s topic and conclusions, and whether you think they are supported by the evidence presented. Using your own knowledge, observations, and experience, be sure to:

1.     consider any cultural or social issues, including any biases of the author;

2.     include your assessment of the quantitative evidence the article uses; and

3.     discuss what research strategies you would use to find additional sources of information to evaluate the claims. 

UDWPE Scoring Guide

Each essay is read and evaluated by at least two faculty members in a carefully planned and supervised reading. Each reader scores an essay on a scale of 1 to 6, and the two scores are combined. 12 is the highest possible total score. A score of 8 or above is passing. (See sample scoring guide and sample essays below.)

It is the intention of CSUN to report test results that accurately reflect each student's performance. Test administration and test security standards are designed to assure that all test takers are given the same opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and to prevent anyone from having an unfair advantage over others because of testing irregularities. With this in mind, in rare cases in which there is a question about the validity of a student's essay, the UDWPE Advisory Board reserves the right to request that a student take a retest at no cost to the student. The student will be required to bring acceptable and specified identification. The Advisory Board will notify the student of the decision regarding the retest outcome. 

UDWPE - Scoring Guide

Each essay is read and evaluated by at least two faculty members in a carefully planned and supervised reading.

High Pass (6) - Superior

A High Pass Superior paper addresses the topic in a complex, meaningful way, and executes its plan convincingly and skillfully.

Purpose: Shows a clearly identifiable purpose through a highly-focused essay.

Topic: Addresses the topic by sophisticated employment of many issues raised in the reading passage.

Critical Thinking and Logic:  Evaluates the validity of the reading’s conclusions, and synthesizes information pertinent to the topic, and/or offers an alternative interpretation of the topic.

Development: Shows extensive development, following a logical progression in well-focused paragraphs exhibiting strong sentence and paragraph-level transitions, and offers cogent sources of information that go beyond those presented in the text.

Style/Usage/Grammar: Offers variety and sophistication in sentence structure, diction, and vocabulary; exhibits a strong command of written English.

High Pass (5) - Strong

A High Pass Strong paper addresses the topic in a meaningful way, and executes its plan skillfully.

Purpose: Shows a clearly identifiable purpose.

Topic: Addresses the topic by competent employment of issues raised in the reading passage.

Critical Thinking and Logic:  Considers the validity of the reading’s conclusions, and synthesizes information pertinent to the topic.

Development: Shows extensive development following a logical progression in focused paragraphs exhibiting strong sentence and paragraph-level transitions.

Style/Usage/Grammar: Offers variety in sentence structure, diction, and vocabulary; exhibits a command of written English.

Pass (4) - Adequate

A Pass paper takes a satisfactory approach.

Purpose: Shows an identifiable purpose.

Topic: Has engaged the primary issue raised by the reading passage.

Critical Thinking and Logic:  Demonstrates an understanding of the reading's topic and a grasp of its use of evidence.

Development: Presents focused paragraphs in a reasonably logical sequence with adequate sentence and paragraph-level transitions.

Style/Usage/Grammar: Employs adequate use of sentence structure and vocabulary; exhibits control of written English, and while the essay may contain some grammatical flaws, they do not detract from the overall effect or clarity of the writing.

No Pass (3) - Inadequate

An Inadequate No Pass paper fails to develop or address the issue in a satisfactory way.

Purpose: Shows little purpose.

Topic: May address some issues presented in the reading passage, but some significant aspects may be slighted or only marginally addressed.

Critical Thinking and Logic:  Fails to adequately address the reading and develops no relevant points of its own.

Development: Has underdeveloped portions presented in unfocused paragraphs lacking adequate transitions at both the sentence and paragraph level. 

Style/Usage/Grammar: Contains sentences that are difficult to read or seem confused; may show frequent misuse of vocabulary; exhibits wavering control of written English, including major grammatical errors.

No Pass (2) - Incompetent

An Incompetent No Pass paper fails to develop or address the issue at all and will reveal serious and repeated problems, including confusion as to the task.

Purpose: Lacks apparent purpose.

Topic: Fails to address the issues presented in the reading passage.

Critical Thinking and Logic:  Fails to understand the reading.

Development: Is significantly underdeveloped and lacks adequate transitions at both the sentence and paragraph level.

Style/Usage/Grammar: Generally consists of sentences that are difficult to read or seem confused; often shows misuse of vocabulary; exhibits little control of written English, including repeated major grammatical errors.

No Pass (1) - Incomplete

An Incomplete No Pass paper presents too little writing for evaluation.  It may be a blank exam or one containing only a few sentences.

Sample UDWPE "6" Paper

Student Response - Score: 6

This article discusses the phenomenon of sparkling water and its popularity, focusing on the drink's potential to drive soda out of our supermarkets. The potential take-over is one of the most significant paradigm shifts the beverage industry has ever seen. Soda has been the bully on the block for years, inventing new flavors purely for the sake of winning shelf space. Now, for the first time, soda consumption has declined by nearly twenty-five percent, while sparkling water consumption has gone up to balance the change. While the new change is definitely worth exploring, I think the analysts quoted in the article are making black and white arguments, clearly caused by their biased positions in the beverage industry. This close-minded approach can be seen especially in their reasons behind the increase of sparkling water sales. They argue that the change is being caused by health concerns, the public's desire for variety, and economic factors like low income. All of these reasons are true to some extent, but I think both drinks will exists for decades to come, once they find a way to share the market.

Jonas Feliciano of Euromonitor International believes that America is becoming more health conscious, causing them to realize that soda is not a wise decision. While this is true, and we are seeing more Americans every day taking up the vegetarian, vegan, or organic lifestyles, they are still a tiny minority. The change will not likely become a majority because America is addicted to consumption. It is part of a national mentality of excess from fast food to caffeine addiction, and no addiction is easy to kick. The world saw a similar phenomenon when cigarettes were invented. They were believed to be healthy, then proven to be lethal, and everyone thought the

cigarette industry would die as a result. Look around. Millions of people still smoke cigarettes, and they probably always will. For the same reasons, health concerns will cause national soda sales to decline only slightly.

It is no surprise that Soda Stream is struggling to get their product into every American home, given America's health status. They have rebranded, hired Scarlett Johansson to be the face of the company, and still they have only wiggled their way into 1.5 percent of American households. This is because we are one of the unhealthiest countries. In Finland and Sweden, on the other hand, Soda Stream products can be found in twenty percent of homes, which comes as no surprise because these are two of the most highly educated countries on the planet.

Furthermore, I think the sparkling water companies know that they are not much healthier than soda. Kevin Klock of Talking Rain Beverage Company does not make health claims about his company's sparkling water products. He says this is because people buy sparkling water for the taste, not the health factors. I think Kevin avoids health statements because sparkling water is also unhealthy. The flavoring comes from sugar, just like soda. Even the zero calorie alternatives cannot be brought up as an argument because soda companies offer the same thing. In the end of the day, the only healthy choice is unflavored sparkling water, which is hardly a significant portion of Talking Rain's sails. Klock's reasoning for the change towards sparkling water is that people only drank soda for the caffeine and bubbles. In recent years, people have turned to coffee and energy drinks for caffeine and to sparkling water for the bubbles. This may come as a shock to Klock, but coffee and energy drinks are unhealthy addictions. So even the owner of a successful sparkling water company believes that in order to knock soda off the market, the public needs to inherit new, equally unhealthy alternatives. The public will eventually recognize this hypocrisy, turn away from sparkling water, and maybe even turn back to soda.

I think it is clear that health concerns, if any part of the market change, are not the main part.

Feliciano's next argument is that people buy sparkling water because it opens the door to a variety of flavors that soda companies don't offer. He claims that most sodas come in cola or lemon-lime flavors. Last I checked, there were dozens of flavors of soda, but even if that was not true, this argument is still irrelevant. Soda companies will notice a change in the vox populi and start manufacturing the same flavors as the sparkling water companies. Long before their shelf space is overtaken, the soda companies will find a way to capitalize on the pioneer work of the sparkling water companies.

Finally, there is the issue of income. Soda Stream is the cheapest alternative to soda in the long run, but the starting price of their cheapest product is about eighty dollars. This is not a price low-income households are willing to pay. Feliciano points out that in addition to the slight difference in production costs, soda has an advantage because of promotional deals that are rarely offered for sparkling water in supermarkets and convenience stores. Again, this is a very true statement, but it is only temporary. If sparkling water sales continue to increase at the rates we are currently witnessing, stores will offer the same promotions for sparkling water as they do for soda. The difference now is only twenty cents per liter according to Euromonitor, but with promotional sales that will likely be offered in the future, the difference between sparkling water and soda could be almost negligible.

In the end of the day, all of these arguments hold some truth. Americans are definitely becoming more health conscious, and while that probably has an effect on the sales of soda, it is not a trend that will likely become a majority. Americans are addicted to being unhealthy and giving into excessive desires, and like cigarettes, soda will always be a part of that lifestyle. Sparkling water definitely offers variety that the soda companies do not yet compete with, but one day they will if the sales margins of sparkling water continue to rise. Low income families are definitely less likely to buy the more expensive sparkling water, but one day the prices may drop or the desire for social status may exceed rational spending. The future of the beverage industry is not so black and white. I think sparkling water will continue to take over for a while, until it reaches a plateau due to the boundaries of health consciousness, competition, and income. Still, if sparkling water manages to make a significant impact on the sales of soda - and industry that has been poisoning Americans for generations - then it will go down in history as one of the most significant events in the legacy of the beverage industry.

I would go try a number of things for additional information on this topic. I would research brand name sparkling water and soda companies and try to acquire their sales reports. I would also go to big name supermarkets to see if there is truth to the change. Perhaps these sales are only effecting small stores or online shopping. Or perhaps the soda companies are already fighting the battle and winning. Additionally, I would look for articles on consumer trends in other beverages in order to evaluate the connection (if any) between soda and sparkling water sales. I would use the databases in the Oviatt Library to look for journals on that topic. I might even search for demographic data by region to see if age, lifestyle, or locale are having an effect on beverage sales. Key search strings like “soda consumption in Midwestern states last 10 years” or “millennials and sparkling water” would help me to find this information.

Sample UDWPE "5" paper

Student Response - Score: 5

Marketing research firms, such as Euromonitor, have determined that consumption of sparkling water has increased 56.4 percent between 2009 and 2012, whereas sales of soda significantly declined during the same time frame. Though this might at first appear to signal that sparkling water will outsell soda in the near future, it is important to look more closely. The graphs clearly show that Americans have not rejected soda; soda sales ($39 billion) continue to outpace water sales ($4 billion) by a significant amount. Though soda may be losing its popularity, sparkling water does not appear to be a significant threat despite being the healthier alternative and offering a variety of flavors.

Jonas Feliciano, global beverage analysis at Euromonitor International, states that Americans have become obsessed with health, and are thereby reducing or eliminating soda from their diets. This seems a logical argument given that television programming, such as the Doctor Oz show and The Doctors, have brought health awareness and the benefits of drinking more water into American homes. The mantra “Hydrate! Hydrate!” is now something many Americans adhere to diligently. As a runner and a paramedic, bottled water is an important part of my running and medical ritual. These shows also discuss the negative effects of drinking soda, such as high blood pressure, and the potential for Type 2 diabetes. Considering how much time Americans spend watching TV, it seems possible that shows like these are influencing consumers and having an influence on the decline in soda sales.

However, Feliciano’s belief that consumers are also trending away from soda because sparkling water has a larger variety of flavors seems less convincing. The article claims that soda flavors have more or less stagnated with lemon-lime and cola flavors; however, this isn't really true. Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Sprite all come in flavor variations such as Cherry and Vanilla, and stores like Rocket Fizz carry an infinite number of soda flavors. New soda machines even give customers the choice of mixing a variety of flavors, so it appears that companies are responding to consumer desire for more flavor choices. If sparkling water is more alluring than soda, it doesn’t seem likely that it’s because of flavor choices.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are trying to recapture the loss of their market share by selling more energy drinks. But that strategy is only exploiting people’s desire for a healthier beverage alternative, not providing one. Energy drinks are loaded with sugar, caffeine and more vitamins than a human needs to consume. Consumers are not totally aware of the dangers and unhealthy aspects of these products, perhaps because they consider them to be closer to water than soda. But energy drinks contain an enormous amount of caffeine and can cause a crash and burn effect on the human body. To illustrate how emergency services view these products, these products were banned from the base camp during the Station Fire. The marketing of these products is in many instances deceptive. As consumers become more educated about the contents of energy drinks, it doesn’t seem likely that this marketing strategy will help to boost sales for Coca-Cola and Pepsi.,

Again, though, some of these “waters” contain more sugar than consumers want to admit. Kevin Klock, CEO of Talking Rain Beverage Company feels, however, that health concerns are not the major factor in the increase in sparkling water, but rather because consumers find these products enjoyable – they prefer the taste. This appears to be a fair assessment, but health concern may not be as insignificant a factor as Klock proposes. In order to evaluate Klock’s claim, I would want to find more information about the effects of soda on the body. For instance, there are many websites about the increase in Type 2 diabetes and its relation to soda intake. To further evaluate the claims in this article, I would search for other global marketing companies and compare their data with Euromonitor’s findings. Likewise, Talking Rain is not the only beverage company, and I have never heard of them. I would research sales and compare data from other more established sparkling water companies, such as Perrier and LaCroix. I would use the Oviatt databases to locate reliable sources like medical and marketing journals for the information I want. Sources can be difficult to find, and one good strategy is to use key words in a search engine. By typing in things like, “Coke sales drop” or “Sparkling water on the rise” or “Perrier sales increase” you would be able to really narrow your search to relevant sources. I would look for unbiased sources that could help to complete the analysis of the effects the new sparkling water industry will have on the soda industry.

In conclusion, is sparkling water the new soda? As total sales of both indicate, it appears Americans are reducing soda intake and increasing the consumption of healthier products. Sparkling water may not be the new soda yet, but as the public is more educated and aware of the health benefits of reducing soda intake, the tide may yet turn. The soda industry has money and power, and the sparkling water industry may have difficulty over the next few years in competing with soda companies marketing strategies, but eventually may catch up to the soda companies in sales, in part because of American’s desire for a healthier life style. Sparkling water will be the new soda someday.

Sample UDWPE "4" paper

Student Response - Score: 4

Is sparkling water the new soda? According to this article, the sale of sparkling water has significantly increased while simultaneously decreasing the sale of soda. The article states that “Sparkling water sales grew from 400 million liters per year to 667 million liters per year” and “Soda sales fell from 40 billion liters per year to about 32 billion liter liters per year.” Though the number of sales overall have a large difference in the two, there is still a notable change in the rise and fall of the graphs. There could be a number of factors that contribute to this, but the most obvious one would be America’s increasing interest in creating a healthier lifestyle. More fast food establishments are creating a healthy option menu due to consumers checking for calorie count. Gyms are now busier than ever, and not just after New Year’s Day. Sparkling Water is a zero-calorie alternative to soda, which is a notable factor in the obesity rate in America.

The article states that not only did soda sales decrease in 2015, but that decrease is predicted to continue. Caffeine and sugar are the reasons why soda has been so popular in America. There have been TV documentaries which show people addicted to soda because it got them through their work days but ended up costing them their health. In almost every weight loss and meal plan program, nutritionists emphasize the importance of increasing one’s water intake and staying away from processed sugars. Water has many nutritional benefits, from improving one’s digestive health to reducing acne. Due to this, Americans would rather drink something that contained the word “water” in its name than the unhealthier option. Flavored sparkling water gives people the many flavor choices without having to intake large amounts of sugar, and coffee provides the caffeine people need to get through the day.

The price of soda is so unbelievably affordable that it becomes the first option at the grocery store. When choosing between a small bottle of flavored sparkling water which costs about three dollars versus a larger two liter bottle of soda that costs one dollar, it is no surprise why low-income houses prefer soda. Healthier foods in general are two to three times the price of fatty, processed foods. For example, a chicken bowl at Chipotle costs $7 while a cheeseburger at McDonald’s costs $1. A smoothie at Jamba Juice costs $6 while a bottle of soda is $1.50 at a convenience store.

Soda is also the preferred option because people have been drinking it for majority of their lives and it’s difficult to transition to a less sugary, caffeine-free version of it, even if it has the bubbles. My idea is supported by the article’s claim that low-income homes are not investing in Soda Stream machines, even though the cost of soda bought throughout the year would surpass the cost of a Soda Stream machine. Soda companies make the product appealing by keeping it in our vision. Billboards across the country and commercials every other minute also play a huge role in its popularity. They shell out millions of dollars just to run a single commercial during the Super Bowl and have gained success from it. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are two companies that have benefited the most from these advertisements. It is important to emphasize the importance of doing research in what we are consuming rather than believing what is told from those who are selling the product on TV.

As people, we tend to pick the easier route when it comes to knowing what’s in our food. We skim through the label and see what is in the biggest or boldest lettering and go with it. It may be surprising but what’s on the front of the bottle may not be true and it is important to research what we are ingesting. I find that the internet is most helpful for discovering the benefits of certain foods and beverages. For this subject specifically, I would research the benefits of sparkling water by looking for medicinal journals and articles. Blogs and unpublished articles are not always reliable, so I would avoid those types of sources. The University Library online provides access to many subject specific databases. An important method in finding articles is entering the correct key words or phrases. For this, I would try “health benefits of water” “are energy drinks healthy?” It is crucial to make sure the source is reliable and specific to the question that is to be answered.

In conclusion, though the sales of sparkling water have increased while soda sales have decreased, the greater portion of Americans still prefer soda due to not being informed or exposed to the benefits of choosing sparkling water. That, and the price differences between the two. Though there is a significant price difference, the graph in this article still shows that that consumption of soda has significantly decreased due to the rise in sales of sparkling water. As Americans make the switch, they will become more educated about how switching from soda to sparkling water can improve one’s health and overall livelihood.

  • Q: What is required for application to the EPC master’s programs?

    A: All applicants to programs in the EPC department must submit a completed university application through Cal State Apply, as well as submit both parts of the departmental application completed, including the Web-based Application and the supplemental paper application packet.

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  • Q: Do I have to submit both a paper and electronic application?

    A: Yes, you do have to submit both applications.

    The web-based portion of the departmental application includes: Basic information, Prerequisite Information, and Test Score(s) Information. The portions submitted in paper form are: (1) a completed Application Checklist, (2) a copy of the confirmation page from your university (Cal State Apply) application or Change of Objective form, (3) printed copy of your responses to the departmental web-based application, (4) Personal Statement, (5) Resume, (6) prerequisite completion information and course substitution forms (if necessary), two completed recommendation forms (written letters of recommendation are preferred by the School Psychology program), and (7) Photocopies of all transcripts and any applicable test scores.

    In addition, please be sure you have completed and submitted either the CSUN graduate application through Cal State ApplyOR, if you are a student currently enrolled in another CSUN Master’s program, the Change of Objective form through Admissions and Records before submitting the departmental application.

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  • Q: Do I need to submit both electronic and paper applications by the departmental application deadline?

    A: Yes, you must submit all application materials - electronic and paper – on or before the application deadline. All parts of the paper-based application packet should be submitted together in one envelope. Please be aware that postmark dates will not be accepted.

    In addition to both parts of the departmental application, please also be sure you have completed and submitted either the CSUN graduate application through Cal State ApplyOR, if you are a student currently enrolled in another CSUN Master’s program, the Change of Objective form through Admissions and Records. This should be done before submitting the departmental application.

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  • Q: Can I submit more than one electronic application?

    A: No, do not submit more than one copy of the departmental electronic application. If you realize that you have made an error on one of your responses, please fix the error manually by writing in the correct response on the printed copy of your electronic responses before submitting your supplemental application packet.

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  • Q: Who can I contact if I have questions about the electronic application?

    A: You may contact our Graduate Advisor, Shannon Sexton, at (818) 677-5719 and via email at epcdept@csun.edu. You may also contact the main EPC Department office at (818) 677-2599.

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  • Q: Do I have to complete all of my prerequisites before applying to your program?

    A: No. Coursework can be in progress at the time you submit your application but must be completed by the start of the program for which you are applying. However, it is to your advantage to complete as many prerequisites as possible before submitting your application since admission to our programs are very competitive. Remember that you will be competing against other applicants who may have some or all of the prerequisites completed, so it behooves you to have as many completed or in-progress at the time of application as possible. If you are admitted before all required prerequisites have been completed, your acceptance is conditional based on successful completion of all prerequisite courses before the start of the program.

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  • Q: Do I have to complete all of my prerequisites to be admitted to the program?

    A: All prerequisite courses must be completed before beginning a graduate program; however, prerequisite courses can be in-progress at the time you submit your application.

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  • Q: What are the prerequisite courses required?

    A: Each of our programs has its own prerequisite courses. Course descriptions for each class can be found in the CSUN catalog. The prerequisites for each program are:

    Career CounselingEPC 430, EPC 451, EPC 600, & PSY 310
    College Counseling/ Student ServicesEPC 430, EPC 451, EPC 600, & PSY 310
    Marriage & Family TherapyEPC 430, 451, 600, & PSY 310
    School CounselingEPC 451, EPC 600, & EPC 430 or 314
    School PsychologyEPC 314, EPC 430, EPC 451, & EPC 600
    Development, Learning & InstructionEPC 314 & EPC 600
    Early Childhood EducationEPC 600 & EPC 430 or 314

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  • Q: How can I take prerequisite classes at CSUN before I'm admitted to the graduate program if I am not a current CSUN student?

    A: Non-CSUN students may take prerequisite courses through Tseng College at CSUN during the summer only. Non-CSUN students cannot take classes during the Fall and Spring semesters. 

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  • Q: May I substitute courses offered by other colleges for the prerequisites courses at CSUN?

    A: Possibly. You may be able to use courses you have previously completed or courses offered elsewhere to complete the prerequisite requirements. First, review our list of pre-approved prerequisite course substitutions. This list includes all UC and CSU campuses, as well as a large number of community college options, some of which can be completed online. All of the courses listed here have been approved and may be used as substitutes for CSUN prerequisite courses. Next, if you find a course at an accredited institution that is not on our list but that you believe, based on a comparison of the course descriptions, could serve as a substitute, you can request this. Submit your request to our Graduate Advisor, Shannon Sexton, via email at epcdept@csun.edu. If your request is approved, complete the Request for Prerequisite Course Substitution form and submit with your department application packet.

    Please remember that courses used as substitutions for CSUN prerequisites must have been completed within 7 years of the semester for which you are applying and with a grade of 'B-' or better.

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  • Q: Is it enough simply to have completed the prerequisites for the program?

    A: No. Prerequisites must be completed within 7 years of the semester for which you are applying and with a grade of 'B-' or to be accepted.

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  • Q: May I take my prerequisites concurrently with the first term of my Masters' program?

    A: No. All prerequisites must be completed prior to beginning a master’s program in the EPC department.

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  • Q: Must I have a Psychology degree to apply to a Master’s Program in this department?

    A: No. All undergraduate majors are considered. However, if you have a psychology or social science degree, you are more likely to have completed some of the prerequisites as a part of your undergraduate program.

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  • Q: Do the recommendation forms have to be completed by professors?

    A: Not necessarily. A suitable person would be someone who can meaningfully address the questions on the recommendation form. This could include a professional contact, such as a work or volunteer supervisor or a faculty member. Personal character references (e.g., from friends or family members) are not appropriate.

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  • Q: May I submit only letters of recommendation without the form included in the department application?

    A: No. With the exception of the School Psychology program, the included forms should be used in addition to letters if the recommender wishes to write a separate letter.

    Applicants to the School Psychology program must submit letters of recommendation. Completed recommendation forms may be included as a supplement to these letters if desired.

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  • Q: My undergraduate university has a service for submitting recommendations; I won’t be communicating directly with my former professor. What should I do?

    A: If the service allows you to submit information for use in writing recommendations, submit either our form or the information contained in our form. If not, have the letters from the service sent directly to our Department Office: EPC Department, 18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330-8265

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  • Q: May recommendations be sent directly to the department by the person writing the recommendation?

    A: No, unless being sent by a university recommendation service (see previous answer) recommendations should be included in the same envelope with your department application. Ask the person writing your recommendation to place it in a sealed envelope with his/her signature across the flap, and then give it to you for inclusion with your departmental application packet.

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  • Q: May I include more than two recommendations with my application?

    A: Yes, however, no more than 3 letters of recommendation may be submitted.

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  • Q: Are there any differences between programs for the recommendation requirement?

    A: Yes. The School Psychology program prefers recommendations to be in letter format, rather than on our department form. A completed recommendation form may also be attached as a supplement if desired.

    All other programs prefer that the recommendation form be completed and submitted. For these programs, a letter may also be submitted as a supplement to the completed form if desired.

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  • Q: Do I have to take the GRE? Can I still be admitted if I don't “pass” it?

    A: If you are applying for the School Psychology program, you must take the GRE. For applicants to all other programs, if your Cumulative Undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0, you must take the exam. It is possible to be admitted if your score is below the 50th percentile on the test.

    CSUN’s GRE test score reporting code: 4707

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  • Q: Do I have to take the CBEST?

    A: If you are applying to either School Counseling or School Psychology, you must take the CBEST. For School Counseling applicants, test scores should be included with your departmental application packet; for School Psychology applicants, the test may be taken before or during the first year in the program.

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  • Q: Do I have to submit my test scores with my application or can I turn them in later?

    A: Any required test scores must be submitted with your departmental application packet by the application deadline.

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  • Q: What is the UDWPE and do I need to take it?

    A: The Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam, or UDWPE, is required for all students interested to applying to a CSUN Master’s level program. Information on test dates and registration can be found on the UDWPE website.

    There are some circumstances under which the UDWPE requirement can be waived. First, if you graduated from CSUN as an undergraduate, you have already met this requirement and will not need to retake the test. Similarly, if you satisfied the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) during your time as a student at another CSU campus, we will accept an official verification of your passing score from that campus. Finally, if you have taken the GRE and earned a score of 3 or higher on the Analytical section, the UDWPE requirement can also be waived.

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  • Q: Where should I have my official transcripts sent to complete my university application completed through Cal State Apply?

    A: Official transcripts should be sent directly from all colleges and universities through which you completed coursework to CSUN’s Office of Admissions and Records: CSUN - Office of Admissions and Records, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8207

    Remember that copies of all transcripts, including CSUN transcripts, must also be submitted as part of your Departmental Application Packet. Unofficial copies are accepted by the department.

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  • Q: I already submitted transcripts with my University application; do I need to submit them again with my departmental application?

    A: Yes, the department also needs a copy of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, including CSUN. The department will accept either official or unofficial transcripts. Degree Progress Reports will not be accepted.

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  • Q: If I received my bachelor's degree from CSUN, do I have to include transcripts with my departmental application?

    A: Yes. The department will need copies of all transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, including CSUN.

    However, applicants who received their bachelor’s degrees from CSUN are NOT required to submit official transcripts to CSUN’s Office of Admissions and Records unless additional coursework was completed after graduating. As well, if you already submitted transcripts to CSUN as an undergraduate, you do not need to re-submit them to the university.

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  • Q: How can I obtain a copy of the departmental application?

    A: The departmental application is available through the Prospective Students page on the EPC department website. The web-based application is made available during the Fall semester and Winter term prior to application. Information regarding the Departmental Application Packet is available year-round on our Departmental Application Checklist, also on the Prospective Students page.

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  • Q: Can I apply to more than one of your Master's programs at the same time?

    A: No.

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  • Q: May I apply for a Certificate program at the same time I apply for a Master's program in counseling from this department?

    A: No. However, EPC students enrolled in a counseling master's degree program in another specialization may apply for either the Career Counseling or College Counseling/Student Services certificate programs after their first year.

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  • Q: Can I submit transcripts, test scores, or recommendations separately from my departmental application packet or after the application deadline?

    A: No. Due to the volume of applications we receive and the short period of time between the application deadline and admission interviews, we require that all materials listed on the Application Checklist be submitted together in one envelope, which must arrive complete by the application deadline. Postmark dates are not accepted.

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  • Q: Can I submit my department application in person?

    A: Yes, applications may be submitted directly to our Department Office in the Education building, Room 1218 during the established application window.

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  • Q: What is the mailing address for the departmental application packet?

    A: CSUN – EPC Department 18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330-8265

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  • Q: What is the application deadline?

    A: The application deadline is subject to change from year to year. The deadline for the current application period can be found on the Prospective Students page of the EPC website.

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  • Q: Are there any exceptions to the deadline?

    A: No, there are no exceptions to the application deadline. Complete applications must arrive in the department office by the application deadline. Applications that are submitted late or incomplete will not be reviewed.

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  • Q: If my application package is postmarked by the application deadline but arrives later, will it be accepted?

    A: No. Applicants must ensure that the package is mailed early enough to arrive in the EPC office by the application deadline. Applications may also be submitted in person to our department office in the Education Building, Room 1218.

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  • Q: What happens after I apply?

    A: On campus group interviews of selected applicants will be conducted in February and early March. You can find the current interview schedule on our website. Admission notifications will be sent approximately four to six weeks after the interview date.

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  • Q: If I already have a Master's degree in Counseling, may I take courses to obtain a School Counseling or School Psychology Credential without completing the entire program?

    A: We do offer this possibility on a limited, case-by-case basis for the School Counseling credential, but not for School Psychology. This program is called the 'Advanced School Counseling' Program. You must still apply through the regular department application procedure. The Advanced program requires at least one year of full-time evening coursework as well as fieldwork and internship during daytime hours in a school setting. Before applying, please contact the program advisor to determine whether you are eligible to apply as an advanced student.

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  • Q: How long should my personal statement be and what format is required?

    A: Your personal statement should be no longer than two sides of single or double spaced typing. There is no required format; it should be clear and easy to read. There is an outline of the information that should be addressed on the Departmental Application Checklist.

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  • Q: Do you admit students for the Spring Semester?

    A: We admit students in the fall and spring semesters for the ECE and DLI&E master’s programs and the Program Evaluation Certificate program only. All other programs admit for the Fall semester only. Please be aware that the CC/SS and School Counseling programs have a summer start date.

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  • Q: If I am admitted, when will I start taking classes?

    A: The School Counseling and College Counseling/Student Services programs each have required course(s) in the summer term. For that reason, it is particularly important for to complete prerequisites by the spring term or sooner to be prepared for the summer courses if accepted to School Counseling or the CC/SS master's program. For all other programs, coursework begins in the fall term unless you have been admitted to the ECE or DLI&E programs for the spring term.

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  • Q: May I attend as a part-time student?

    A: Our Master’s in Counseling degree programs only admit students on a full-time basis. However, students typically attend the M.A. (either DLI&E or ECE) and certificate programs part-time.

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  • Q: Can I take fewer than 12.0 units in any given semester?

    A: Most of our Master’s in Counseling programs require students to attend full-time. However, exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis if extenuating circumstances arise. Counseling students in their first year must minimally enroll in at least 6.0 units in the first two semesters of any of the counseling programs. This would require students to attend classes a minimum of one evening a week from 4-7 and 7-10 p.m. Note: Students in the CC/SS program are required to attend full-time (12 units/semester minimally) during the first year.

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  • Q: Is it possible to keep working while I’m in one of the programs?

    A: While our classes are scheduled from 4-7 p.m. or 7-10 p.m., an important consideration to keep in mind is that the counseling programs will require fieldwork and/or internship hours outside of class hours, and generally during daytime hours (other than the MFT program which may have more flexibility). It is also important to consider that attending graduate school is more time-consuming than most undergraduate programs. Counseling students are required to complete group projects, individual supervision, videotaping, and other activities as a part of the program. Remember that graduate school is an opportunity to develop into a professional. For that to optimally occur, you need time to reflect and consider.

    Depending on the program you are applying to, the general recommendation is that those working 20 or fewer hours are the most likely to succeed with the required 12 units. Faculty advisors for each program can provide you with the specific guidelines for students in each program.

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  • Q: How long will the program take?

    A: Most of the M.S. programs take about two and a half years to complete. It is possible to complete the School Counseling and College Counseling programs in two calendar years, which includes summer session(s). MFT and School Psychology are three-year, year-round (fall, spring, summer) programs. Career Counseling is a three year programs that does not require summer courses (other than continuing fieldwork if accruing hours post-fieldwork).

    The M.A. programs require one and a half to two years minimally to complete.

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  • Q: Who can I speak with if I have further questions?

    A: Shannon Sexton is our graduate advisor. Call (818) 677-5719 for her current office hours or e-mail her at epcdept@csun.edu

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