Academic Policies and Regulations

Application for Degree

Students should complete an Application for Graduation online via Gateway, when registering for their final semester. The application is due the semester prior to graduation.

Attendance Policy

Class attendance is related to academic success and class participation contributes to the synergism of the educational process. Students are expected to attend all classes, including laboratories, practica, and attendance at events associated with the course or program.

The professor keeps the roll, may record a zero for any work missed due to an unexcused absence, and may drop a student for missing an equivalent of two weeks of classes. One absence in a laboratory will be the equivalent of two 50-minute absences or one 75-minute absence. "Two weeks" are computed as follows:

Fall and Spring Semesters:
  1. Six unexcused absences in a 50-minute class period (e.g., MWF day class).
  2. Four Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday classes (75 minutes)
  3. Two evening classes which are 165 minutes per meeting
Summer Sessions:
  1. Four day class meetings
  2. Two evening class meetings
Absences for reasons other than University-sanctioned events (which must be approved by the Graduate Dean or the Academic Vice President) will be determined to be "excused" or "not excused" by the professor.

An excessive number of absences, even if they are excused, can severely compromise the quality of the students' learning experience. Therefore, if the professor judges that the student has missed excessive material due to absences (excused, unexcused or a combination of the two), that professor may initiate action for withdrawal of the student from the class. The professor shall notify a student one class prior to initiating action for a student's withdrawal.

Grades assigned for withdrawals initiated by the professor or by the student are "W" (withdrawal) or "WF" (withdrawal with failure). The grades "W" or "WF" will be assigned according to the dates published by the Registrar's Office in the Fall and Spring Schedule of Courses and Academic Calendar. The grade "WF" is calculated in a student's grade point average as an "F."

It is the responsibility of the student to contact the professor before an absence, if possible, or, in the case of an emergency, as soon after the absence as possible. It is also the responsibility of the student to make up any work missed to the satisfaction of the professor on the basis of guidelines stated in that professor's course syllabus.

Appeals from decisions made concerning this attendance policy may be brought to the attention of the Program Director who, in turn, will file the appeal with the department chair. If the results of an appeal are not satisfactory at the department chair level, an appeal may be brought to the attention of the Dean of the Graduate School who will commence the appeal process.

Auditing of Graduate Courses

Auditors may be admitted to graduate courses with the permission of the instructor and the Graduate Program Director for that discipline. No credit is given. Eligibility, the number of courses an individual may audit, and the number of auditors permitted in a class is established by the Graduate Program Director in consultation with the course instructor. Auditor enrollment may not count toward the minimum class enrollment, exceed the class cap, or be of sufficient number as to affect the quality of the instruction. The tuition for an audit is 1/3 of the regular tuition in effect at the time of enrollment, regardless of degree program or status as a base student.

Employees receiving tuition rebate may audit a graduate course.


Students who expect to earn a degree must apply for candidacy for the degree. To qualify, students must have (1) completed 12 graduate hours, (2) maintained a B average in all course work, (3) acceptable GRE, GMAT, LSAT or MAT scores on file in the Graduate Office, (4) satisfied specific program requirements.

Once students have met all requirements, notification will be sent to the student and program director from the Office of the Registrar

Change in Program or Concentration

Students wishing to change their program of study after being admitted must complete a Change of Major/Minor/Concentration form request to the Office of the Registrar. The request form is available on Gateway. Students will be notified by the Graduate Program Director after a decision is reached.

Change of Courses

Adding or dropping courses after registration requires the approval of the Graduate Program Director by means of forms provided for that purpose. The refund of fees for dropped courses is regulated by the general rules of the University.


Based upon its philosophy of education, St. Mary's University is strongly committed to academic excellence, truth, honesty, and person of integrity. The university expects all students to adhere to the following:

St. Mary's University Honor Code

"As a member of the St. Mary's University Community and Marianist Family, I promise not to participate in academic dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or other academic misconduct which deliberately infringes upon university policy. I will not tolerate these activities from my fellow classmates."

Academic dishonesty is clearly outlined in the Honor Code of Student Conduct. Students of St. Mary's University Community who willfully choose to violate the Honor Code understand that the Dean of the Graduate School will adjudicate infractions according to Article V: Judicial Charges and Hearings of the Honor Code Student Conduct. If deemed guilty, the consequences may include removal from St. Mary's University.

Sanctions for a student's academic dishonesty vary according to the seriousness of the offense and its nature. Teachers may require a student to redo a class/laboratory assignment; may record an F grade for the test or assignment in question; or, may record an F grade for the entire course. Any student appeal of a teacher-imposed sanction must be made in writing to the Graduate Dean within fourteen (14) days of the student being notified of the offense by the teacher.

Teachers inform the Graduate Program Director in writing, with a copy to the Graduate Dean, concerning any sanctions imposed upon a student for academic dishonesty. More serious sanctions such as academic suspension or dismissal from the university or other appropriate actions are reserved to the Dean upon appeal. The Dean subsequently will convene a formal inquiry and then make a formal ruling in the matter.

Charges and Hearings for Academic Dishonesty

Hence, any form of academic dishonesty is considered a serious matter.

Any student who is guilty of academic dishonesty is subject to disciplinary sanctions. Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:
  1. Cheating: an act or attempted act of deception by which a student seeks to misrepresent information. Examples include but are not limited to:
    1. Copying from another student's test paper.
    2. Allowing another student to copy from your test paper.
    3. Using textbooks, notes, and other unauthorized materials during a test.
    4. Collaborating with others during a test or on a project where collaboration is not permitted.
    5. Taking a test for someone else or permitting someone else to take a test for you.
  2. Plagiarism: the inclusion of someone else's words, ideas, or data as one's own work. Examples of plagiarism include but are not limited to:
    1. Quoting another person's words, complete sentences or paragraphs, or whole works without acknowledgement of the source.
    2. Using another person's ideas, opinions, or theories without acknowledgement of the source.
    3. Borrowing facts, statistics, or other illustrating material without acknowledgement of the source.
    4. Copying another person's essay test answer.
    5. Copying or allowing another person to copy computer files that contain another student's assignments and submitting it either in part or in full as one's own work.
    6. Working together on an assignment or sharing computer files and submitting that assignment as one's own individual work.
    7. Refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers if further clarification of plagiarism is needed.
  3. Fabrication: the intentional use of invented information or the falsification of research or other findings. Examples of fabrication include but are not limited to:
    1. Citations of information not taken from the source listed.
    2. Listing sources in the bibliography that were not directly used in the exercise.
    3. Submitting a paper, lab report, or research activity that is falsified, invented, or fictitious data or evidence.
    4. Submitting work prepared totally or in part by another and representing it as your own.
  4. Academic Misconduct: the intentional violation of university policies, tampering with grades, or taking part in obtaining and/or distributing any part of an unadministered test. Examples of academic misconduct include but are not limited to:
    1. Stealing, buying, or obtaining all or part of an unadministered test (including answers).
    2. Selling or giving away all or part of an unadministered test (including answers).
    3. Bribing another person to obtain an unadministered test (including answers).
    4. Entering a building or office for the purpose of changing a grade.
    5. Changing, altering, or supporting another student in the changing or altering of grade or other academic records.
    6. Forging signatures or changing information on class authorization forms.
    7. Continuing to work on a test or project after the time allowed has elapsed.
  5. Violation of Federal Copyright Law, i.e., photocopying without authorization, etc.
  6. Misuse of academic computing time and equipment.
A faculty member who finds a student guilty of academic dishonesty may impose the following sanctions:
  1. Require a student to redo a class/laboratory assignment.
  2. Record an F (failure) for a particular test, examination, or class/laboratory assignment that involves dishonesty.
  3. Record an F (failure) for a final course grade.
Faculty members will inform, in writing, the director of their graduate program (Graduate Program Director), with a copy to the Graduate Dean, of any sanctions imposed upon graduate students for academic dishonesty.

In those instances where assignment or grade sanctions are considered insufficient, a faculty member may recommend to the Graduate Dean, in writing, that the student be suspended or permanently dismissed from the University.

Processes to be followed in incidents of a student's alleged academic dishonesty when referred to the Graduate Dean for action are outlined below.
  1. Formal Inquiry by the Dean or his/her designated representative:
    1. Secure from the faculty/staff member alleging the student dishonesty a written statement describing the nature and circumstances of the alleged offense.
    2. Interview the respective faculty/staff member to clarify and to elaborate upon his/her written statement.
    3. Secure from the accused student a written statement describing the incident.
    4. Interview the accused student to clarify and to elaborate upon the student's written statement.
    5. Interview any witness or other person identified as having or claiming firsthand knowledge of the incident.
    6. Secure, examine, and retain any physical evidence related to the incident.
  2. Determination of Validity of the Alleged Academic Dishonesty: In light of written statements, interviews, and available physical evidence, the dean decides the validity of the alleged violation of the academic dishonesty.
  3. Informing the Student and the Accusing Party: No later than 21 days after receiving a referral concerning academic dishonesty, the dean completes the processes listed above, and informs in writing, the accusing faculty/staff member and the student of the judgment concerning the validity or non-validity of the alleged academic violation and of the sanction to be imposed.
  4. Student's Rights to Appeal: If the student wishes to appeal the Dean's decision to the Academic Council, the student exercises this right to request an appeal by writing to the Provost within 14 days of the date the Dean's letter which informs the Student of the Dean's decision and stating the reason the student feels the decision should be changed.
  5. A Hearing Before the Academic Council: The Academic Council is free to accept or reject the student's request for a personal hearing before the Academic Council. Within 14 days of receipt of the student's written request for an appeal, the Academic Council will inform the student, in writing, whether or not the appeal will be heard. Only those matters raised in the official appeal will be considered.
  6. Final Decision and Judgment: Regardless of whether the student receives a personal hearing before the Academic Council, the decision of the Academic Council is final in all academic instances.

Commencement Participation Policy

St. Mary's University offers a Fall and a Spring commencement. Students completing degree requirements and meeting all graduation checklist obligations in the Summer One, Summer Two, or Fall semesters are invited to participate in the Fall Commencement. Students completing degree requirements in the Spring semester are invited to participate in the Spring commencement.

If a student is unable to attend the appropriate commencement due to a medical reason or to participation in a St. Mary's University-sponsored activity, a request to participate in the immediate subsequent ceremony may be granted. The following items must be adhered to:

  1. Students wishing to attend a subsequent commencement ceremony due to a health-related reason or to participation in a St. Mary's University-sponsored activity must provide proper documentation to the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
  2. If approved, students are eligible to participate only in the immediately subsequent commencement ceremony.
  3. The desire to participate in the immediate subsequent commencement must be communicated to the Office of the Registrar at least 30 days in advance of the ceremony.
  4. Students will be listed in the Graduation Program appropriate to the semester in which degree requirements are completed.
  5. Names of those attending subsequent ceremonies will be read on stage, but will not appear on the printed Graduation Program for that graduation.

Communication Skills

Graduate students are expected to demonstrate mastery of verbal and written communications. As communication skills are among the most important that students acquire, instructors are encouraged to evaluate communication as part of the students' course grade. If students demonstrate serious communication deficiencies through written assignments, oral reports, or examinations, the instructor may assign an Incomplete (IC) grade and refer the student to the Graduate Program Director. The Graduate Program Director will assign the student to the Learning Assistance Center for remedial work or enroll the student in one or more writing or verbal communication classes as appropriate. When the remedial assignment is completed, the student may reaccomplish or complete the assignment leading to the referral, enabling the instructor to submit a change of grade for the IP.

Conferring of Degrees

Degrees are conferred during the University Commencement at the end of the Spring and Fall Semesters. Students who have completed all degree requirements at the close of the Summer term receive their diplomas by mail as soon as practical thereafter. Students graduating in the Summer also are invited to participate in December commencement.

A student on suspension may not graduate.

Course Load

Graduate students are categorized as full time or part time based on their credit hour enrollment and length of semester or term. Part time students are considered half time or less than half time.

Length of
Credit Hours Semester or Term Status
8 or more 16 weeks Full Time
6 or more 8 weeks Full Time
3 or more 5 weeks or less Full Time
4 -7 16 weeks Half Time
3-5 8 weeks Half Time
25 weeks Half Time
1-3 16 weeks Less Than Half Time
1-2 8 weeks Less Than Half Time
1 5 weeks Less Than Half Time
Students working for the University may not carry more than nine hours without the specific permission of the Graduate Council. Staff members of the University may enroll in six hours per semester. Upon request, the Registrar will certify students as "full time" during the semester in which they intend to graduate if they are enrolled in the number of hours required to complete the degree, irrespective of the number of hours involved. Students enrolled in 3 hours of dissertation are full time students.

Comprehensive or General Examinations

While certain requirements are stated in terms of credit, the emphasis is always on the acquisition of knowledge and the ability to use it. Mere accumulation of credits is not sufficient to entitle a student to receive a graduate degree.

In addition to the regular course examinations, each candidate must pass a general or comprehensive examination in his/her major field before the degree is conferred. Students are required to demonstrate breadth of knowledge in the discipline, depth in specific areas, and the ability to integrate what has been learned. This examination, however, does not measure simply what is covered in the course work rather it is intended to be "comprehensive" in that it may cover information that is discipline specific. Each program will develop reading lists and study guides to insure that students can adequately prepare for the general examination. Students are responsible for obtaining these study materials from the Graduate Program Director at a date determined by the Director.

To be eligible to take the examination the student must:
  1. be maintaining registration or enrolled during the semester during which the exam is attempted;,
  2. not be on suspension;
  3. have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher;
  4. have completed all prerequisites; and,
  5. have completed all course work, or be enrolled in last semester, exclusive of practica and internships.
  6. be advanced to candidacy.
For programs requiring a thesis or a final degree project, the examination must be partly oral and may be wholly so. Thesis students are examined over the thesis and the course work. Ordinarily one-half of the exam is over the thesis and one-half over the course work. For non-thesis programs the examination must be partly written and may be wholly so.

The examining committee may permit the student who fails the examination to repeat the examination or may deny this permission. Normally the repeat examination will take place at the end of the same or following semester depending upon the program's policies. A student failing the comprehensive examination may be permitted to repeat the examination only once.

Under certain circumstances and on an individual basis, if a student does not pass the second examination, the Graduate Program Director and General Examination Committee may approve remedial work such as taking additional courses or the research and writing of one or more papers, or some combination of academic remedies, as a condition of passing the exam.


Students are evaluated for all work leading to academic credit. High quality performance is expected from all students. Grades assigned will reflect actual performance while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the grading system.

The grade of A is superior, B is good, and C is marginal. Grades D and F are unsatisfactory. Grades of S, satisfactory, or U, unsatisfactory, are given for dissertations, theses, internships, and practica.

Graduate credit at St. Mary's University will be given for grades A through C and S, according to the scale and restrictions listed below. Grades A - F affect grade point average.
GradeGrade Points
Per Semester Hour
Effective Summer 1999
  1. Students must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 for all graduate work in order to graduate.
  2. No more than six semester hours of grades below B- will be accepted toward a degree.
  3. The grade of C will be accepted only if balanced by a grade of A.
  4. All graduate work in the major field must have a B average.
  5. All graduate work in the minor field must have a B average.
  6. A minimum grade of B- is required for all core courses in the following majors: Computer Information Systems.
  7. S or U grades are not calculated in the grade point average.

Change of Grade

Once an instructor has submitted a grade to the Registrar's Office, it may only be changed if there has been a recording or computation error or it is changed as a result of the grade appeal process.


An instructor may submit an IP or IC in lieu of a grade when a student has been unable to complete all of the assignments in a course, providing the student's work was otherwise satisfactory. An IP, given only for theses, practica, and internships, remains in effect until the work is completed. An IC is given for a regular course in which the work has not been completed. An IC which is not completed within six (6) months from the ending date of the semester may be assigned a grade, as appropriate. If no grade is assigned, the incomplete will remain on the transcript permanently as IC. As an exception the Dean of the Graduate School may extend the six-month period upon request of the Program Director. Generally, an extension for completion of an IC will not exceed six months.

Graduate Assistantship

Graduate assistantships are offered each academic year beginning in the Fall semester and ending the following Spring semester. Application for an assistantship is made through the Dean of the Graduate School's office. Students awarded a graduate assistantship must enroll in a minimum of 6 hours each semester. The number of assistantships is limited. The amount of the stipend is announced annually.

Responsibilities include research and/or other departmental activities, with teaching or laboratory assignments considered viable options. Students work approximately an average of 15 hours per week. All appointments carry the possibility of renewal. Individuals may request consideration for a graduate assistantship when they complete the Application for Graduate Studies. Those students who did not request consideration on the Application for Graduate Studies may submit a letter to the Graduate Dean explaining the reason for seeking the position.

To be considered the following criteria must be met:
  1. The request for consideration, indicated on the Application for Graduate Studies or letter, must be on file in the office of Graduate Admissions prior to March 1, preceding the year of the Assistantship.
  2. The Application for Graduate Studies must be complete; i.e., all supporting documents must be included: transcripts, admission test scores (GRE, GMAT, MAT, as applicable), TOEFL scores and financial statement (for international students), and two academic references.
  3. Other materials the applicant deems appropriate.

Graduate Credit

Courses beginning with numerals 1 or 2 are not applicable for graduate credit. Certain courses beginning with 3, 4, or 5, referred to as G courses, may be taken for graduate credit; however, if these courses have been taken for undergraduate credit, they may not be repeated for graduate credit.

Graduate credit is not granted for correspondence courses, CLEP examinations, or Special Examinations.

Grade Appeal Procedures

A student who wishes to appeal a sanction imposed for academic dishonesty should refer to the section in this publication pertaining to Charges and Hearings for Academic Dishonesty.

The following process for appeal shall be followed in the event that a graduate student receives a final course grade that is believed to be inaccurately and/or unfairly awarded other than for grades involving sanctions for academic dishonesty:
  1. The student must meet with the instructor within three weeks after receiving the final course grade in dispute to present substantial proof, and where possible, to justify the appeal. If the instructor does not agree with the student's request, the student may forward the appeal, as presented to the instructor, to the Graduate Program Director of the department through which the course is offered. The student shall inform the instructor of the appeal to the Graduate Program Director and of the basis on which it has been taken. The instructor may inform the student and the Graduate Program Director of the instructor's position.
  2. The Graduate Program Director shall convene a review committee consisting of at least two tenure track department faculty members other than the instructor to whom the original appeal was directed. In the event that the Graduate Program Director is the object of the original appeal, the Graduate Program Director will ask the Department Chair, where possible, to convene the committee. In cases where there are an insufficient number of tenure track department faculty members eligible to review the appeal, tenure track faculty members from associated disciplines within the same school may be appointed to the committee. The faculty committee should complete its review of the appeal within thirty (30) days of the original request to the course instructor.

    The task of the appeal review committee is to consider the basis of the appeal, whether it pertains to:
    1. the intellectual content and requirements of the course,
    2. procedural aspects of the course as described in the course syllabus, other general instructions provided by the instructor to all students in the course, and their conformity to university policy, or
    3. evidence of bias against the appellant. If the committee finds that the student's appeal is without substantial merit, the Graduate Program Director will inform the appellant in writing. No further action will be taken on the appeal.
  3. The review committee may not overrule the decision of the instructor to whom the original appeal was directed. After appropriate consultation with both instructor and appellant, it may suggest reconsideration of the instructor's decision on the appeal. If the instructor is unwilling to change a decision that is in substantial conflict with the committee's findings the committee may then:
    1. refer the appeal to the Dean of the Graduate School with a recommendation; or
    2. refer the appeal to the Dean of the Graduate School as an unresolved matter with no recommendation.
  4. The dean may not ordinarily change a grade decision that is based on the intellectual content of the course, unless the departmental committee has first recommended a change on that basis. The dean may grant relief in cases involving a procedural error in the conduct of the course, flagrant violation of the student appeal process, or evidence of bias against the student.

    The dean's decision is final, and should be rendered within thirty (30) working days of the date of the original notice of appeal to the course instructor. The dean shall inform the student in writing of the decision.

G-Level Courses

No more than 6 hours of G courses may be applied toward a degree. Courses beginning with the numerals 6 or above are open only to graduate students and are all of the same level. In those rare instances where a graduate section numbered 6000 or above is combined with a section numbered 5000 or less, not more than 6 hours of such work may be applied toward the degree.

The syllabus for G-Level courses will indicate how the graduate student's educational experience is characterized by advanced disciplinary content and intellectual rigor. The description will include how the instruction and assignments for the graduate student reflect greater depth, intensity, and specialization than those for undergraduates in the class.

Dean's Honor Roll

Students who meet the following criteria are listed on the Dean's Honor Roll:
  1. cumulative G.P.A. of 3.9 or higher;
  2. completed a minimum of 8 hours, which affect the G.P.A.;
  3. completed a minimum of 6 hours which affect the G.P.A. during the semester of honors; and/or
  4. have no IC at the time of consideration
The Dean's List is published each Summer, Fall, and Spring.

Distinguished Graduates

Students with an exemplary record of scholarship in earning the graduate degree are designated as distinguished graduates. Distinguished graduates are students who:
  1. graduate with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.9 or higher; and,
  2. have not received a grade of U or a grade below B, even if they have repeated the course with a grade of S, B, or A.
The Graduate School sets high standards for graduate study to ensure that graduates are capable of the highest intellectual achievements. All graduate students are honor students because of the requirement to maintain a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0. Within this highly select group are those who gain special distinction for superior scholarship. Students with an exemplary record of scholarship in earning the graduate degree are designated as distinguished graduates. Distinguished graduates are:
  1. students who receive a favorable recommendation from their Graduate Program Director;
  2. students who graduate with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.9 or higher; and,
  3. students who have not received a grade of U or a grade below B, even if they have repeated the course with a grade of S, B, or A.

Independent Studies and Directed Readings

Independent studies and directed readings are available to graduate students on a very limited basis. Students wishing to enroll in an independent study must obtain an application in the Registrar’s Office and must seek the approval of the Instructor, Graduate Program Director, and appropriate Dean. The application for independent study and directed readings must include justification, a syllabus, course assignments, project, or information for which the student is responsible, process of gathering information, scheduled meeting times, and other relevant information.

Students will not be early registered in an independent study course without the Dean's approval.

A student enrolled in an independent study is required to meet with the professor 6 hours weekly or 30 hours total during a Summer Session, or 2 hours weekly or 30 hours total during the Fall or Spring Semesters. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that tutorials achieve the graduate level scope, depth, and intellectual rigor of regular graduate courses. Because of the demands placed on the instructor for tutorial instruction and because tutorials are usually conducted as an overload, enrollments are extremely limited in order to maintain standards of quality.

Information Technology Proficiency

Graduate students must be proficient in information technology. To be proficient, graduate students must know and be able to use the applications, software, and technologies appropriate for the program in which they are enrolled.

Requirements and proficiencies are determined by the Graduate Program Director. It is the responsibility of the graduate student to be proficient in information technology. Students should consult their Graduate Program Director to determine how to meet this requirement.

Maintaining Registration

Any student working on a thesis must register each semester by registering for Thesis Extension until the thesis is approved. All students must be enrolled in course(s) during the semester in which the General Examination is taken or registered by Maintaining Matriculation. A Theology or Pastoral Administration student must be enrolled in courses or Practicum or Project Extension until his/her project, requirement of three major papers, or practicum is approved. The student maintains matriculation by registering for a course numbered 6000GX. The respective department's prefix would be added: e.g., PA6000GX.


  1. Prerequisites for an academic program are listed in the section containing the description and requirements for the program. Prerequisites, for purposes of financial aid, are considered part of a student's degree program. However, prerequisite hours cannot be credited toward or substitute for any graduate degree program course requirements
  2. It is desirable that students complete prerequisites before beginning work on the graduate core.
  3. Full time students must complete prerequisites by the end of the third semester.
  4. Part time students must complete prerequisites by the end of the fourth semester.
  5. Ordinarily, students with deficiencies complete the required undergraduate or graduate prerequisites by taking the courses at St. Mary's University.
  6. Undergraduate prerequisites may also be completed by examination provided the student has not taken the course and received a grade less than C:
    1. An undergraduate prerequisite may be satisfied by CLEP or DANTES administered by the University Testing Center when it is equivalent to the prerequisite course. The Registrar maintains the minimum standard score. A department may set higher standards. An administrative fee is charged by the Testing Center. A record of the test score is maintained in the student's file in the Graduate Admissions Office. If the exam is failed, the student must take the course.
    2. An undergraduate prerequisite may also be satisfied by Special Examination when there is no equivalent CLEP or DANTES. The minimum passing score is 70%. A department may set higher standards. There normally is a fee for these exams unless the student fails the exam. If the exam is failed, the student must take the course. A record of the test and the test score is maintained in the student's file in the Graduate Admissions Office.
  7. If the student takes the graduate course prior to completing the prerequisite, the prerequisite is still required. Prerequisites are required for two reasons:
    1. to ensure that those earning the degree have acquired a certain common body of knowledge; and,
    2. to provide the foundation for optimizing learning in the graduate course
  8. Graduate level prerequisites must be completed with a grade of either A or B. Graduate Level prerequisites may not be counted as core or elective requirements for the degree.
  9. For course work already completed elsewhere:
    1. a. Credit from four year institutions:
      An undergraduate prerequisite may be satisfied by a specific course or its equivalent if completed with a grade of C or better while a graduate level prerequisite must be completed with a grade of B- or better.
    2. b. Credit from two year institutions:
      A prerequisite may be satisfied by a specific course or its equivalent if:
      1) completed with a grade of C or better, and if the St. Mary's prerequisite is a lower division course, i.e. 1000 or 2000 level course. 2) An upper division prerequisite, 3000-5000 level course may be accepted for credit only if validated by an exam over the St. Mary's 3000-5000 level course. The minimum passing score is 70%. A record of the test and the test score is maintained in the student's file in the Graduate Admissions Office.
  10. Prerequisites may be waived by the Dean upon recommendation by the Program Director.

Probation and Suspension

Master's Program Students


If the student fails to achieve at least a B- average for any semester of resident study, the Graduate Program Director concerned will be notified in writing by the Office of the Registrar that the student's work is unsatisfactory and the student is automatically put on probation.

In order to be removed from probation a student must achieve a grade point average of 3.0 or higher during the subsequent semester of matriculation. This can only be achieved by attempting graduate level courses required by the student's degree program.


If a student is on probation and fails to achieve a B- average in the next semester, he/she is automatically dismissed from the Graduate School. In addition any combination of nine hours of grades below B- will result in dismissal. A student may not graduate while under suspension.

Doctoral Students


If the student fails to achieve at least a B average (3.0 GPA) for any semester, the Graduate Program Director for Counseling will be notified in writing by the Office of the Registrar that the student's work is unsatisfactory and the student is automatically put on probation.


Students receiving a grade of D or F or students on probation and failing to achieve a B (3.0 GPA) average in the next semester are automatically dismissed from the Graduate School. In addition, any combination of nine hours of grades below B will result in dismissal. Students who are dismissed are not matriculated, cannot complete degree requirements, and cannot graduate.

Professional Review of Counseling Students

The full time Counseling Faculty evaluates the performance of students throughout their academic program. A formal review is conducted at the end of each semester. However, if, at any time, the full time Counseling Faculty identifies academic or non-academic weaknesses or problems in a student, and it is the judgment of the full time faculty that the student is not capable of or does not have the potential for rendering the desired counseling or therapeutic care to a client, the Chair of the Department of Counseling and Human Services will notify the student and the student's site supervisor that the student's internship or practicum privileges have been revoked. If the student is not enrolled in an internship or practicum, the Chair of the Department will notify the student that internship or practicum assignments have been restricted and that suspension is imminent.

The Chair of the Department will notify the Dean of the Graduate School within two working days of the student's removal from internship or practicum sites or revocation of internship or practicum privileges. The Dean of the Graduate School will review the decision by the faculty within 10 working days. Unless the Dean remands the decision back to the faculty for further consideration the student will be suspended.

Readmission of Suspended Students

If placed on academic suspension a graduate student must petition the Dean for readmission within thirty days of notification. Ordinarily, students are not readmitted unless there are mitigating circumstances and they can show that conditions have changed so that if they are given another opportunity for graduate study, they will succeed. Students who have been dismissed may be readmitted for further graduate study after one or more semesters have elapsed only if the Dean approves the petition for readmission. The Dean will stipulate the conditions for readmission. A student who reenters under these circumstances, but fails to satisfy the conditions stipulated for readmission or fails to maintain the standards for continuing in Graduate Studies, will be permanently dismissed from the University.

Readmission Policy Other Than for Probation and Suspension

All former graduate students who have been absent from St. Mary's for more than one calendar year must file a formal application for readmission through the Registrar’s Office. If students, during their absence from St. Mary's, attended another institution they must submit an official transcript reflecting this attendance. In this case the rules governing transfer credit will apply. Students leaving St. Mary's on academic probation or suspension, if readmitted after filing the requisite application, shall be readmitted on scholastic probation even if they attended another institution during their absence. Students on probation at another university will be admitted under the normal admission standards of the program in question and, if admitted, will enter on probationary status.

Students must also consider that being absent from their graduate studies may also cause them to extend their studies beyond the time limits set for degree completion. If this is the case, then the student (in consultation with their program director) may also wish to request an extension of time to degree. This consultation must also include any implications the extension may have for the contents of the comprehensive examination.

Institutional Review Board - Human Subjects (IRB)

A research proposal involving human subjects must be reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) unless it has been exempt from review. All research conducted at St. Mary's University, including all theses and dissertations, that uses human subjects must be reviewed and approved by the IRB. The purpose of the review is to ensure that risks are minimized, benefits of research outweigh the risks, ethical principles are operative in all facets of the research, anonymity or confidentiality of the subjects is maintained to the extent possible, and subjects consent to participate in a suitably informed and voluntary manner. Procedures for requesting review and for more specific information concerning the review process can be found in the university's Research and Integrity Policy which is attached as Appendix A to these standards.

Concern for protecting the rights of human subjects of research in a systematic way goes back at least to the post-World War II Nuremburg trials and the Nuremburg Code that subsequently emerged. Any member of the University Community whose research may involve human subjects should understand not only the review requirements, but also the evolution of concern into law and regulation. Equally important is an understanding of the role in review deliberations of ethical judgment, community standards, and the code of ethics of the individual's professional field.


At least 24 hours of graduate work must be completed at St. Mary's for a 36 hour degree program and 21 for a 30 hour degree program.

Short Courses and Workshops

Short courses and workshops which may be offered during a graduate student's tenure must be consistent with the mission of the University and meet the criteria for graduate education. The purpose of these offerings is to provide qualified students with the opportunity to develop skills and competence in chosen disciplines. In short courses, academic work is undertaken on an intensive basis for a short duration. A workshop is even more attenuated. It focuses on a narrow subject matter and covers theoretical and applied aspects. The workshop model is conducive to certain kinds of learning in areas such as education, music, computer technology, and foreign language. The workshop focuses on specific issues for a specific clientele and is especially useful for those seeking teacher certification and updating professional skills. Because of the extremely abbreviated duration of the short courses and workshops, care is taken to ensure that these courses achieve graduate level scope, depth, and intellectual rigor. The number of such offerings is limited and identified on transcripts, catalogs, and other descriptive materials.

Students must meet the same criteria for admission as other graduate students, including prerequisites and capability to participate in the specialized work offered in these types of courses.

Graduate education, regardless of the time frame, requires intensive, purposeful effort, which builds upon a strong foundation of undergraduate work. Each short course and workshop must be a part of an integrated plan of study. The level of complexity is the same and as thorough as comparable courses offered during the regular semester. Courses require independent effort such as a term paper, case studies, or other creative activity. Courses are of sufficient duration to allow for reflection, assimilation, and independent effort. Student performance is evaluated, consistent with the integrity of the grading system.

Graduate credit is awarded only for experiences, which meet the standards of course content, student performance, and evaluation applied to all other graduate courses. Courses approved only for undergraduate credit will not count for graduate credit. Undergraduate courses will not be offered simultaneously with courses approved for graduate credit. One hour of credit may be given for each week of course work, provided there is at least 15 contact hours, with 30 hours allotted for preparation time. One hour of credit may be given for a weekend seminar, provided the seminar is conducted over a minimum of two weekends.

A maximum of three hours of short courses, workshops, or weekend seminars may be taken for credit for a St. Mary's University graduate degree.


The technical and grammatical quality of a thesis is an index of the professional abilities of the author, the supervising professor, and committee members. Moreover, it is representative of the quality of graduate education of the University.

For many, the primary reason for a thesis is the research and writing experience prior to entry into a doctoral program. For some, it is a means of acquiring greater depth of knowledge in a subject of interest, or preparation for employment in a specialized field.

Although reasons for writing a thesis vary, the purpose of the research is to discover new knowledge or enhance existing knowledge in the field of interest. A project that helps solve a practical problem may also be acceptable.

Finally, the thesis is a culminating experience, which provides a record of the student's achievement in the program. This record may be consulted for reference and program evaluation.

Appendix B has more detailed instructions on thesis format and submission process.

Student Responsibilities

The thesis is not simply another research project. It should be undertaken with the knowledge that it requires a substantial investment of the student's time and monetary resources. Only students with good writing skills should undertake a thesis. While some writing skill enhancement may be expected, the thesis is not a vehicle for developing writing competency.

The student who wishes to write a thesis obtains approval from the Graduate Program Director. The student confers with the Graduate Program Director concerning the appointment of a supervising professor and other committee members. Working relationships and faculty competence in the specialty are important considerations.

Research involving human subjects must be conducted in accordance with University policy. See the manual for Policies and Procedures for Research Involving Human Subjects. A thesis based upon human subjects' research, which has not been conducted in accordance with university policy, will not be approved.

The student must submit two copies of the thesis to the Graduate Dean in accordance with "Instructions for Master's Theses," April 30, 1997 or latest edition, free of punctuation, spelling, and other grammatical errors by the deadline established for graduation. The thesis grade and degree will not be approved until this requirement is satisfied. The student must register for thesis extension each semester and summer term until the thesis is approved; e.g. PS6000X. Only one registration is required during the summer, regardless of the number of summer terms offered.

Thesis Supervisor

While the student is responsible for all aspects of the thesis, the Thesis Supervisor directs the research design, data gathering, literature search, and writing of the thesis. Thesis supervision also requires a substantial amount of time for editing of grammar and style. The supervising professor will not approve the thesis until it is free of research and grammatical errors and meets the Graduate School standards specified in "Instructions for Master's Theses," April 30, 1997, or latest edition.

Thesis Committee

The Thesis Supervisor and a minimum of two other faculty members comprise the thesis committee. The committee members assist the Supervising Professor with suggestions concerning research design, data collection, literature search, and editing of the manuscript.

Graduate Program Directors

The Graduate Program Director approves the student's thesis enrollment, thesis topic, Supervising Professor and committee members, subject to final disposition by the Graduate Council and Dean. The Graduate Program Director ensures that the thesis meets Graduate School standards concerning quality of research and writing and that it is submitted by the date required for graduation.


The Dean may meet each semester with students electing to write a thesis, as appropriate. These meetings are attended by the Graduate Program Directors and Thesis Supervisors concerned.

The Dean establishes dates for submission of theses. Students are encouraged to submit the thesis to the Dean prior to the final due date. Dates for submission of Theses:
Semester Deadline for Graduation
FallNovember 15
SpringApril 1
SummerJuly 15
The Dean is the final approval authority for appointment of Thesis Supervisors and completion of theses. The thesis grade and degree will not be approved until the thesis meets the standards specified in Instructions for Master's Theses, St. Mary's University Graduate School. Although the Dean makes a final review to ensure that the thesis conforms to Graduate School standards, it is expected that the thesis will be error free after approval by the Thesis Supervisor.

University Librarian

The Director of the Library, or the Director's representative, ensures that the thesis meets the printing quality and paper specifications.

The library pays for binding the two copies, which are retained by the University. One copy is for use by students and is cataloged and kept in the general collections; the other copy is a permanent archival copy and is kept in the library's Special Collections.

Students may submit additional copies for binding. The library will have them bound at the student's expense. Consult the librarian for current price. Binding takes approximately four weeks.

Time Limit

All work for the Master's degree must be completed within five consecutive years from its inception. However, it is in the discretion of the Graduate Council to extend this time limitation upon written request of the student. Students are required to pass a question on the General Examination over any course completed five years before graduation. If the question is failed the course must be repeated.

Master's degree students who are registered as Summer School Students Only have seven years to complete degree requirements.

All work for the doctorate must be completed within seven consecutive years from its inception.

Transfer Credit

Courses with grades higher than B- may be considered for transfer.

Graduate course work accepted for credit must have been completed at an institution accredited, at the time the course work was completed, by a regional accrediting commission. Exceptions are allowed for transfer from foreign institutions, course work completed at an institution accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation, or credit for military education. In the case of exceptions, graduate course work must be relevant to the degree, with appropriate content and level of instruction resulting in student competencies, at least comparable to students in the St. Mary's University Graduate Studies program; faculty for the course work must meet the criteria for teaching at the graduate level. In assessing and documenting comparable learning and qualified faculty, St. Mary's uses recognized guides such as those published by the American Council on Education, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and the National Association of Foreign Student Affairs. Students must complete a minimum of 24 hours (for a 36-hour degree program) or a minimum of 21 semester hours (for a 30-hour degree program) in residence at St. Mary's. For all degree plans, exclusive of prerequisites, students must earn at least two-thirds of the credit hours required in the degree granting program at St. Mary's University.

Students enrolled in classes at recognized satellite locations, in University administered on-line classes and programs, and in classes taught at other Catholic Universities having an inter institutional exchange agreement (Oblate School of Theology, University of the Incarnate Word, and Our Lady of the Lake University) with St. Mary's are considered in residence.

Credit From Previous Graduate Degree

Students pursuing a Master's degree in a field related to their other graduate degree may request recognition of up to 12 semester hours from their other graduate degree.

Credit From United Colleges of San Antonio

St. Mary's University, University of the Incarnate Word, Our Lady of the Lake University, and Oblate School of Theology maintain a cooperative enterprise for undergraduate and graduate learning. The consortium is a confederation composed of the independent colleges of liberal arts and sciences, specialized schools for professional training, libraries, and research endeavors, cooperating with each other. Twelve credits may be taken with the approval of the Graduate Program Director and Dean under the Inter-Institutional Agreement.

Any exceptions to the above stated policy can only be approved by the Dean on the recommendation of the Program Director.

Undergraduate Enrollment

An undergraduate who needs not more than 12 hours in one semester to complete all of the requirements for a bachelor's degree may be allowed to register for graduate work and credit provided all undergraduate work will have been completed during that semester and the total in that semester does not exceed 15 semester hours.