Semester at SDSU: FAQs

Semester at SDSU

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What is SDSU ID?  SDSU ID is an email address that enables you to get access to everything you need at SDSU.  It’s very important.  You should have received an email from with instructions for activating this email address.  If you don’t remember receiving this, please look for it now, and follow the instructions in the email.  If you don’t have the email, please notify a staff member today!

What is (SDSU) Red ID?  Your Red ID is a nine-digit number starting with 82.  So, for example, 824995362.  It is on the temporary ID card you were given when you came in.  It will appear on your permanent ID card once you get it.  You use it for various logins and to identify yourself.  You must present your SDSU ID card to any SDSU official upon request.

What is ALI?  ALI is the American Language Institute. It is the department that runs the Semester at SDSU Program.  I know, it’s a little weird, because you may or may not be studying languages.  Most SDSU staff and professors will refer to you as “ALI students.”

What is CES?  CES stands for the College of Extended Studies.  The College of Extended Studies was one of the eight Colleges that make up San Diego State University.  CES has recently changed its name to World Campus.  We are still in a transition period, so sometimes, you will see CES and sometimes you will see World Campus.  ALI is a part of CES/World Campus.

What is World Campus?  World Campus is the new name of College of Extended Studies.  ALI is a part of World Campus.

What is my World Campus Portal?  Your World Campus Portal is where you log in to pay your tuition and on-campus housing fees.  You can also view any World Campus classes (NOT main campus classes) that you are enrolled in.  The vast majority of you will not enroll in a World Campus class, only in main campus classes.  If you are enrolled in the special session of MGT 475, you can view that enrollment on your World Campus Portal.

What is main campus?  Main campus is SDSU’s 7 academic colleges.  You will enroll in your classes via main campus.  Main campus develops and delivers the curriculum for your courses, awards you credit for your courses, and provides the transcript of your grades.

What is Open U?  Open U is a mechanism by which students can enroll in SDSU classes without being fully admitted to a degree program.  You will add your SDSU classes by using your Open U Portal.

What is my Open U Portal?  Your Open Un Portal is the mechanism by which you will enroll yourself into SDSU classes.  We will demonstrate the Open U portal and you will log into your Open U portal today during orientation.

What is WebPortal?  Webportal is SDSU’s main communication tool for fully admitted, degree seeking students.  You will not use it very much, but you do need to activate it so that you can use blackboard, and you will need it to order your transcript (record of classes taken and grades earned) at the end of the semester.

What is Blackboard?  Blackboard is SDSU’s Learning Management System.  Most professors use Blackboard to teach their classes.  You will read documents posted on Blackboard, submit assignments, tests, and quizzes on blackboard, and communicate with your professor and classmates via Blackboard.  Most professors keep your progress posted on Blackboard so that you can see how you’re doing in the class.  Please note:  not all professors use Blackboard, just most.

New Students

What do I need before I arrive?
Students should pay tuition and submit health insurance information at least one month prior to arrival.

Where can I find housing Information?
ALI Housing Website

When can I turn in my BafoG or Learning Agreement?
Starting the day after the add/drop deadline at the ALI Office. Students are able to make schedule changes until the add/drop deadline, so schedules can change and we must wait until all enrollments and charges are final before we can sign/stamp any documents.

Can I get a tuition waiver?
Students are not able to receive a tuition waiver. On the BaFoG, there is a check box that asks about applying for a tuition waiver. We will complete this section and this is sufficient evidence for the tuition waiver request.

Should I receive any immunizations?
Students are not required to receive any immunizations, but it is recommended to receive: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, Hepatitis B, & Meningococcal Disease. Click here for information

Is it possible to continue as a student in Semester @ SDSU program for another semester?
Yes, you will receive an e-mail during your semester here that will ask if you would like to apply as a continuing student for the following semester. Academic performance in your first semester will greatly influence your ability to continue to a second semester.

Can I smoke on campus?
No, SDSU is a Smoke and Tobacco Free Campus. Smoking and using other tobacco products on campus is not allowed, and there are no smoking areas. Please do not smoke while you are anywhere on the SDSU campus.

Can I play sports at SDSU?

Yes, you can play intramural sports at SDSU.  You can also use the Aztec Recreation Center, or gym, at SDSU that has a lot of sports and exercise opportunities.  However, non-matriculated students are not eligible to play club sports or SDSU team sports.

Payment Information

How do I pay tuition, housing, or other fees?
Students may choose from many payment options: wire transfer, credit card, cashier’s check, or money order.

When do I pay tuition?
Students must pay in advance. Information will be sent approximately 2 months before the semester begins.

How can I get a receipt for proof of payment?
The cashier’s office will email a receipt once tuition payment is received and confirmed. Students will receive an itemized invoice regarding all payments after the add/drop deadline for the semester. This is because students may be charged for additional units.


Where is the Semester at SDSU Advising? Do I need an appointment for advising?
The Semester at SDSU Advising location and hours will be announced on the main page. Assistance is based on first come, first served basis.

What should I bring with me if I have a question?
All students must have their RED ID card, transcript in English, details of their exact class schedule, and list of course preferences. Business students must also have their class worksheet (document with Special Sessions).


I need certain classes for my degree back in my country. Can you guarantee that I will get these classes?
No, we cannot. Semester at SDSU students add classes on a space-available basis, after SDSU matriculated students have enrolled. It is very important that all students are flexible in their class choices.

Can I contact the professor months before classes begin to secure a spot in that course?
No, students are not permitted to contact, email, call, or visit the professor or department. Reasons include: the professor for that course may change; and SDSU students have priority for enrollment, so professors may not have an estimate regarding space for ALI students.

Will I have classes with American students?
In most departments, you will add regular SDSU classes and these classes will have American students enrolled in them. However, some classes within the business department are in very high demand, and as a result, the ALI opens Special Sessions of some of these classes. The Special Session classes have ALI students only.

How can I see which courses will be offered in the upcoming semester?
Currently, courses are posted on the SDSU class schedule months prior to the semester.

Adding/Dropping Classes

Semester at SDSU students will add and drop courses through an online enrollment system. Details will be provided at Orientation.

Business Courses program students will add additional Special Sessions through a different procedure, which will also be explained at Orientation.


Special Sessions

Are Special Sessions the same as ALI classes?
No, ALI classes are English-language classes that are taken by students who wish to improve their English skills and do not count for university credit. Special Session classes are university classes set up for Semester at SDSU and ALI students who wish to receive university credit.

Will Special Session grades be on my SDSU transcript?

Are Special Sessions designed to be easier for the international students?
No, the material, content, and grading are the same as the on-campus course.

How do I add a Special Session?
You must visit advising during the enrollment period.

Do the Special Session courses appear on Webportal?

Do the Special Session courses appear on Blackboard?
Yes, if the professor is using Blackboard.

Graduate vs. Undergraduate

How do I know if a class is at the graduate or undergraduate level?
The course number determines the level of the class.

  • Level 100 is 1st year, 200 is 2nd year, 300 is 3rd year, 400 is 4th year.
  • Level 100 – 299 = lower division, Level 300-499 = upper division, 100-499 are undergraduate level
  • Level 500-599 can be graduate or upper division undergraduate: Extra work assigned by the professor can be done to earn graduate credit for the class.
  • Level 600-799 are graduate classes for Master’s students only.
  • Level 800+ are not open to ALI students

How do you determine if a student is a graduate student and only needs nine units?
To be considered a graduate student per your F-1 visa, you must be taking at least six units of classes level 600 and above.

Will my SDSU transcript say that I am a graduate student?
No, SDSU transcripts will only say “graduate” if you are enrolled in an SDSU graduate program. ALI students will get a standard transcript, but the classes will still be transferable since the course number will indicate that the class was graduate level. If you university needs proof of course numbering, they may view the Graduate Bulletin.

Can graduate students take more than nine units? If so, how many?
Graduate students may take more than 9 units at an additional per unit fee. Students taking 6 or more units of classes level 600 and above may take 9 units without paying an extra fee.

Can students take a combination of graduate and undergraduate classes?
Yes, graduate students are able to take a combination of graduate and undergraduate classes. Please visit advising regarding your academic plan and to clarify the policies.

What does a student need to show the professor in order to take an upper-division or graduate class?
A copy of the student’s university transcript with proof of equivalent prerequisites and Bachelor’s diploma, if applicable. The decision on whether a student may or may not join a class is determined by class availability and academic coursework.

Where can I find the conversion rate of U.S. units to my university’s graduate credit system?
Look at the Graduate Bulletin to look at the specifics for your courses. We can also supply a letter stating that 9 units is considered full-time graduate work load.

Extra Units

Can students take more than 12 units?
Yes. You may enroll in up to 18 units without extra permission, and drop extra units by the add/drop deadline. If you need to officially enroll in over 15 units, you must receive permission from the Semester at SDSU Director. We verify the reason and if you are academically qualified to enroll in over 15 units.

How much do extra units cost?
The Spring 2020 rates will be approximately $282 for undergraduate units (levels 100-599) and approximately $342 for graduate units (levels 600-799) (Subject to change).

Do students have to pay for extra units if the extra units are in Special Sessions?

When do students need to pay for extra units?
Students can pay for extra units wherever they like by visiting the SDSU World Campus Cashier Windows.  After the add/drop deadline, students will be invoiced for extra units if they have not paid.

WebPortal and Blackboard

What are WebPortal and Blackboard?
WebPortal is the online student information system. Blackboard is an online system for your courses and course materials.

How can I learn how to use Blackboard?
See the SDSU Blackboard Help & Support Site for a list of tutorials. We will also have an information session at orientation.

When can I sign up for WebPortal/Blackboard?
You must first enroll in at least one SDSU course or Special Session. After you are officially enrolled in at least one course, you may then sign-up for WebPortal , using your RED ID and birth date (mm/dd/yy). After creating a WebPortal account, you will be emailed a temporary password, with a link to create a permanent one.

What should I do if I am having Blackboard problems?
Check these Blackboard Support FAQs. Call, visit, or email the Blackboard Support help desk.

I created a WebPortal account but it sent the confirmation email to the wrong email address.
Please visit the Registration Windows to have your email address corrected. You may also change it in the online enrollment system (after orientation).

All my courses are showing in Blackboard except one. Can you fix it?
The Semester at SDSU staff is not able to fix this. Please check with your professor to make sure Blackboard will be used for the class, and that you are properly enrolled in the course.

ALI Classes

Can Semester at SDSU students take ALI classes?
Yes, but only in special circumstances. Semester at SDSU students should not be enrolling in ALI English classes as they are not university credit.

How do I sign up for ALI classes?
For more information about ALI classes, please speak to a Semester at SDSU staff member.

Will the ALI classes be on my SDSU transcript?
No, ALI classes are on a separate grade report and are not transferable as university credit.