Quick Guide for Graduate Policies and Procedures - Coastal Carolina University
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QuickGuide

Graduate Policies and Proceedures for Faculty, Staff and Students

For all of our Graduate Program Policies and Proceedures, please see: QuickGuide to policies and procedures

Topics:

GRADUATE ADMISSIONS

  • General Graduate Admissions Guidelines (Graduate Catalog links)
  • Program-specific Admissions Requirements
    • Note: the general admission requirements above represent minimum standards.  Individual graduate programs may have more stringent requirements.
    • Specific admissions and degree requirements are unique for each program. Select the desired program from the Graduate Programs by College list in the Graduate Catalog to view admission and degree requirements for each program.
    • The requirements listed in the catalog are the official standards for admission. The University reserves the right to waive select requirements in an equitable manner in extenuating circumstances, and/or to reduce or eliminate program admissions for any given semester, as needed.                                                                                                        
  • Application Deadlines for each graduate program. 
  • Graduate Tuition and fees
    • Application Fee: Unless specifically waived, application fees are required for all initial graduate applications. 
    • They are a one-time fee for non-degree seeking students (who may apply again in subsequent semesters)
    • They are not required for readmission applications by degree-seeking students who are still within the time limit for their degree.
    • Program-specific Tuition Rates in select Education programs: Several education programs have reduced program-specific tuition rates for certified teachers and employees of local and/or state school districts.  For continuing students, their employment status is verified each summer, prior to the fall semester, by the Office of Graduate Studies.                           
  • Customer Relations Management (CRM) for Prospective Students
    • Prospective students who have not already done so should be directed to fill out the online program interest form. Students can reach this form by clicking on the “Request Information” link on the Graduate Studies website or on the website for any graduate program.  The information on this form will populate the CRM database (Customer Relations Management), which will generate several automated emails over the following weeks with additional information about the program, graduate admissions, and program contacts.         
  • The Admissions and Acceptance Process
    • Applicants apply online. Separate procedures are defined for:  (1) degree seeking applicants, (2) non-degree seeking applicants, (3) international Students, and (4) Readmission students.
    • Application materials are collected by the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) until the file is complete in Colleague.
    • Once complete, the file is forwarded to the Admissions Committee for the relevant graduate program.  If the student is an international, the file is also reviewed by the international admissions personnel in the Office of Global Engagement before being forwarded to committee. 
    • The program committee makes a decision – reject, accept or provisionally accept – and informs OGS.
    • OGS will move the student to “AC” (Accept) in Colleague and inform the program.
    • Program administrator mails/emails an acceptance letter to the student and copies OGS
    • Included in the decision letter is a form for the student to confirm they will be attending and what semester.
    • When the form is returned to the program, a copy must be forwarded to OGS, at which point the applicant will be moved to student (MS) in Colleague.                                                     
  • Deferrals and Early Arrivals
    • Applications are good for one year (if the applicant wants to be reconsidered in a subsequent semester or summer).
    • Acceptances can be deferred for up to one year.
    • APPROVED CHANGES TO THE START DATE MUST BE REPORTED to the Office of Graduate Studies, including:
      • Early arrivals (most commonly, arriving the summer before to take an early class or begin work as a researcher or graduate assistant).
      • Deferrals to a later semester.

ACCELERATED GRADUATE PROGRAMS/TRANSITIONAL STUDIES

  • Select CCU undergraduate students can take a limited number of graduate courses as an undergraduate, under two different programs (described in the Academic Regulations section of the Graduate Catalog):
    • Transitional Studies
    • Accelerated Graduate Programs
  • What is the difference between the two programs?
    • Transitional studies allows students with a 3.0 GPA or above to take up to 12 credits of graduate courses, but each course must be counted either toward the undergraduate degree or toward a graduate transcript (the student may choose), but not both. Students must fill out a Transitional Studies form.
    • Accelerated Graduate Programs allow students with a sufficient number of credits and a 3.4 GPA or above to take up to 9 credits of graduate courses which may be double-counted for both their undergraduate degree and a master’s degree if they continue with a CCU graduate degree.  Students must meet with their advisor, the graduate program director, and fill out the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Program Plan form, which involves a detailed plan.
    • Students may take some courses under Transitional Studies and some under the Accelerated Program, up to a maximum of 12 credits of graduate coursework combined.

 

  • Students should choose the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Program if…
    • They plan to complete both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at CCU. Because the dual credit courses will be listed on their undergraduate transcript, it is not guaranteed that other universities will accept them for graduate credit.
    • They have at least a 3.4 cumulative GPA and 90 earned credits.
    • Their anticipated total combined undergraduate and graduate credits for both degrees, including up to 9 credits of dual degree courses, is at least 150 credits. For example, if they plan to graduate as an undergraduate with 120 earned credits and pursue a 36-credit graduate program, the combined total is 156 and you can double count 6 credits.  But if they pursue a 30-credit graduate program, they will need more than 120 earned credits as an undergraduate in order to double count any of those credits.  Such additional credits are common for many undergraduate students due to extra classes from minors, double majors, AP credits, changes in majors, etc.  Note:  credits from any retaken courses can only be counted once.
  • Students should choose the Transitional Studies Program if…
    • They do not plan to attend graduate school at CCU but either (1) want to take and apply graduate credits toward their undergraduate degree requirements, or (2) already have the credits they need to graduate and would like to take additional graduate courses that could potentially transfer to a non-CCU graduate program. Remember, Transitional Study does not allow dual credit – courses must be designated for either undergraduate or graduate credit only.
    • Or, they do want to attend graduate school at CCU, but (1) they do not meet the 3.4 GPA requirement for the Accelerated Program, or (2) their anticipated total combined undergraduate and graduate credits for both degrees would be less than 150 credits if they applied dual credits (example: they anticipate graduating as an undergraduate with exactly 120 total credits, including 6 graduate credits, and they plan to take a 30-credit CCU master’s program; if they try to double count those 6 credits for both programs, their total is 144, which is less than the required 150, so they cannot double count the graduate credits, and must instead count them only toward their undergraduate degree through Transitional Study).
    • They have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and 90 earned credits. 

 GRADUATE ASSISTANTSHIPS and OTHER FINANCIAL AID CONSIDERATIONS

  • Types of Graduate Assistantships (GAs) (see full summary)
    • University-funded program-specific GAs
      • Awarded by specific graduate programs for students in their program.
      • Students apply by indicating interest on their application or informing their program director.
    • Grant- or contract-funded GAs
      • Typically research-based with specific duties stipulated by a grant or contract.
      • Typically awarded by the Principle Investigator for the grant/contract.
    • Administrative/professional support for various University offices
      • Offices may have a candidate in mind or may contract the Office of Graduate Studies to review applications on file and schedule interviews.
      • Interested students should fill out a GA application and submit to the Office of Graduate Studies.
    • Number of GA Appointments Allowed
      • Graduate students in master’s and specialist programs are eligible to receive the equivalent of four (4) semester-long, university-funded Graduate Assistantships for that degree. Graduate students in doctoral programs are eligible to receive ten (10) such assistantships.  A full summer assistantship is equivalent to one (1) semester-long assistantship. 
      • There is no limit to the number of externally-funded Graduate Assistantships (e.g. funded from grants or contracts) that a student can receive, as long as the student is enrolled and in good standing. 
  • Hiring the GA
    • Once a GA candidate has been selected, the hiring office should complete the Request for Graduate Assistantship form and submit it to the Office of Graduate Studies. After approval by the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, it must be approved by the Provost and HR completes the hiring process.
    • Target deadlines for form submission (dates are before student bills are posted):
      • Fall Semester: July 1
      • Spring Semester: November 20
      • Summer: April 5
    • Out of state students with a GA will be billed at the in-state tuition rate for their program (GA Waiver). The waiver can only be applied once the GA has been hired and has enrolled in classes.
    • To prevent billing issues and meet eligibility requirements, students should pre-register for courses PRIOR to the submission of the hiring form. Graduate students are always charged by the credit, and if they enroll after the initial bills go out, their bills must be recalculated, as well as the GA Waiver for out-of-state GAs. 
    • Students enrolled in less than 6 credits during fall/spring must request an exemption using the Graduate Student Application for Full Time Status form (see “Full Time Status” below). In all cases, students must be enrolled during their GA and cannot go below one credit.
  • Start and End Dates:
    • Typical fall and spring dates are the Monday of the first week of classes to the Saturday after exams.
    • Summer dates can be variable but are typically the Sunday before Maymester to the Saturday before the first day of the fall semester. 
  • Hours/week:
    • Graduate Assistants can work a maximum of 20 hr/wk. Most GA’s are appointed for 20 hr/wk (half-time appointment), but some are for 10 hr/wk (quarter time appointment).  In some cases, GA’s are appointed for an intermediate number of hours, between 10 and 20 per week.  In those cases, supervisors should review their proposed plans with the Office of Graduate Studies. 
    • Because a graduate assistantship includes automatic in-state tuition, GA’s cannot work less than 10 hr/wk.
  • Hourly Rates and Total Amount:
    • Fall/Spring Semesters:
      • A standard, half time (20 hr/wk) GA for a single fall or spring semester is $6500 for the Master’s level and $10,000 for the Doctoral level. These values are the Total Amount entered in the first table.  Hourly Rates are based on 15 weeks at 20 hrs/wk, which totals 300 hours for the semester.  This is the maximum number of hours per semester.  Thus, the standard rates are $21.67/hr x 15 wk x 20 hr/wk = $6500, and $33.33/hr x 15 wk x 20 hr/wk = $10,000.  A quarter time appointment would be half the hours (10 hr/wk or 150 total, resulting in half the total amount.  All GA’s funded by 10 accounts should follow these guidelines. 
      • GA’s funded by grants and other non-10 accounts are encouraged to follow these guidelines, but they are allowed additional flexibility, depending on their approved budgets and account guidelines (i.e rates may be more or slightly less, if approved by the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Services [OSPRS] and/or the Office of Graduate Studies). If they start from a different total amount, they should back-calculate the hourly rate based on the same calculations described above.
      • Important: Note that fall/spring pay rates are based on 15 weeks, but there are approximately 17 weeks in the semester if student holidays and all of exam week are included.  The assumption is that GA’s will take some days off during the semester.  Since GA’s are limited by both the Graduate Catalog and the Office of Human Resources to a maximum of 20 hr/wk, they cannot work additional hours during the week to make up for missed hours.  An advantage of the 15 week work calendar, therefore, is that if GA’s take off days for legitimate activities during the semester, there are extra days in the calendar to make up hours without going over 20 hours on any given week.  On the other hand, because GA’s can potentially submit 20 hr/wk for more than 15 weeks, there is the potential to mistakenly claim too many hours, which is inappropriate and can overspend budgets.  Thus, the oversight of hourly reporting, particularly toward the end of each semester, requires vigilance by GA’s and their supervisors. 
    • Summer sessions:
      • The maximum summer session is 14 weeks, one week shorter than the fall/spring semesters. A typical half time (20 hr/wk) GA in summer pays the typical hourly rates, but the total amount is slightly less, due to the 14 week duration. A quarter-time GA in summer is typically set up to complete the full 150 total hours in 14 weeks and therefore averages about 11 hours/wk.  However, summer is composed of three academic sessions, variable student schedules, and a larger proportion of grant-supported GA’s, so variable start/end dates and unique hourly rates are more common than during fall/spring. 
      • Students on grant-funded GA’s supporting their thesis/dissertation projects, who are enrolled in one credit of thesis/dissertation research, may potentially work more than 20 hours/wk and should get approval from OSPRS and the Office of Graduate Studies. Hourly rates should not be reduced in order to generate additional total hours or hours/wk.
  • Full Time Status
    • GAs must be in good academic standing and take a minimum of six (6) hours during the semester (Fall, Spring) of the assistantship. A minimum of one (1) credit hour is required during the Summer of an assistantship. Some programs may require that their Graduate Assistants be enrolled in additional hours during a semester or summer period.
    • Students may be exempt from the minimum hour requirement with approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research if they are in the last semester of completing their degree, if they have completed all course requirements for their degree but are still working on their thesis or dissertation, or if they have other extenuating circumstances.  Approval is granted via the Application for Full Time Status.  The form is required for GAs who do not meet the minimum hours for fall or spring semester, but non-GAs may also fill out the form.  The form does not guarantee recognition of full time status by all forms of financial aid, but it does continue to delay the start of repayment of student loans.
  • Tuition Payment by Grant or Contract
    • Often, grant-supported GA’s may also have all or a portion of their tuition and/or fees paid by the grant.
    • The amount of payment and funding account number should be reported in the appropriate section of the Request for Graduate Assistantship form, including an approval signature by the P.I. Thus, the GA can be hired and the tuition paid by the grant all in one step.  If the student is not a GA, the form can still be submitted with just the tuition payment section and the Office of Graduate Studies will coordinate with Grants Accounting to make sure it is paid.
  • Graduate Student Workers and Graduate Work-Study
    • In addition to Graduate Assistantships, graduate students can also be hired as graduate student workers through the Datatel Student Workflow process.
    • Typically, these students are paid a lower hourly rate than GAs. For students paid from a 10-account the maximum rate is $11/hr.  For students paid from external grants or contracts, the rates can be as high as the standard hourly rates for GAs.
    • Unlike GAs, student workers in thesummer do not have to enroll in a class if they were enrolled the previous spring and are pre-registered for the following fall semester. 

ACADEMIC REGULATIONS/PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

  • Degree requirements for each graduate program can be viewed by selecting the relevant program from the Graduate Programs by College list in the Graduate Catalog.
  • General Academic Regulations for graduate programs are also found in the Graduate Catalog. Below are brief answers to common questions regarding Academic Regulations (consult Catalog for full explanation and/or potential exceptions).
    • Period of Admission and Time Period Allowed for degree
      • Graduate students in certificate, specialist, and master’s programs have a period of six (6) years, inclusive and continuous, in which to complete degree requirements and claim the curricular rights of a specific catalog.
      • Graduate students in doctoral programs have a similar period of ten (10) years. 
      • If continuing or returning students exceed their maximum time period, they must apply for re-admission and adopt the requirements set forth in the new catalog at the time they are readmitted to the degree program.  Readmission is not guaranteed for students who exceed their maximum time period and is at the discretion of the admissions committee for each graduate program.
      • Within the maximum time limit, a graduate student who is absent from the University for no longer than three (3) years and who returns to complete the program of study shall have the right to continue under the catalog in effect at the time of the student’s original enrollment in the degree-seeking program. Alternatively, the student may elect the degree requirements under the catalog in effect at the time of return. If the period of absence is longer than three years, the student will be subject to the curricular requirements of the catalog in effect at the time return. 
    • Course Load
      • For graduate students, a full-time academic course load is defined as nine (9) hours in major semesters (Fall and Spring), and half-time is defined as five (5) hours. During the Summer, full-time is defined as five (5) hours, while half-time is defined as three (3) hours.   No student may take over 12 credits without the permission of the program Coordinator/Director and the Dean of the College.
      • For certain graduate students, typically those completing thesis or dissertation work, or those in their final semester with few remaining courses in their program, the number of credits to be considered full-time and half-time may be reduced.  In such cases, students who must demonstrate full-time status for major semesters (Fall or Spring) for financial reporting purposes should indicate their intent on the Application for Full-time Status form.
      • All graduate international students on F-1 student visas must maintain a full-time academic course load (9 credits) each Fall and each Spring semester.  Exceptions to this requirement can be made for international students in their final semester who have less than 9 credits remaining in their program (students should submit the Reduced Course Load Request form), or who have completed all formal coursework with only their thesis/dissertation remaining (students should submit the Full-time Enrollment Verification for F-1 and J-1 Graduate Students form).  These forms are available from the CCU Center for Global Engagement.
    • Petitions and Waivers
      • Anything in the catalog can be petitioned: be sure to use the GRADUATE Academic Petition Form for petitions.
      • Which should I use for a curriculum change:  a petition or a waiver?
        • Course substitutions for coursework meeting similar educational or programmatic goals can be submitted using the Course Substitutions within a Graduate Program form.  
        • More substantial deviations from degree requirements, such as waivers (without a specific substitute) for required courses based on previous coursework/experience, as well as waivers for other substantial changes to degree requirements, must be petitioned using the Graduate Academic Petitions form.
      • Transfer Credit
        • Students may transfer graduate credit from regionally accredited colleges and universities for academic courses completed with grades of Bor better, but the University reserves the right to determine what credit, if any, for graduate courses taken elsewhere will be counted toward its degrees. 
        • Up to 12 semester credit hours with grades of Bor better (or equivalent grades if a different system is used) from other institutions of approved graduate standing may be used in the fulfillment of a master’s degree requirements. Similarly, up to 30 credits may be transferred into a Ph.D. program.
        • Some programs allow fewer transfer credits for their degrees. 
      • Probation/Suspension
        • Graduate students may earn degree credit completed at a grade level of Cor above. However, students who receive grades below B on 12 credits of degree-required graduate coursework at the University within a 6 year period are suspended from degree candidacy status and are not permitted to enroll for further courses even as non-degree students. 
        • In addition, the student’s average on all courses attempted for graduate credit which are to be applied to degree completion must be at least a (3.0 on a 4-point system).
        • The Office of Graduate Studies will review all graduate student grades after each fall, spring, and summer term and will notify programs of all students who earn grades below a B.  It is then up to each program to review the student’s record to determine if they are in good standing, and to schedule a conversation with the student’s advisor.
        •  If a student is to be dismissed from the program, the program coordinator should inform the Office of Graduate Studies for confirmation.  The program coordinator will then send the student a written letter and/or email of termination and will copy the Office of Graduate Studies.  The letter should explain the reason for dismissal (suspension) and explain the petition policy.  Graduate Studies will then remove the student from the program and any classes they are pre-registered for, and place a hold on their record so they cannot re-apply without approval from the program.
        • If a student is dismissed from a graduate program, appeals for reinstatement to degree candidacy should be submitted through the college’s appeals process. 
    • Senior Citizen Enrollment: course pre-registration procedure (approved by Graduate Council, Spring 2019)
      • By state law, senior citizens (60 years of age and older) who are legal residents of South Carolina may be eligible to attend classes on a space available basis without the payment of tuition (excludes required fees and books– those must still be paid). Senior citizens who are degree-seeking students in a graduate program, therefore, would not retain their library privileges between semesters or summer sessions, which may be a hardship for students with thesis or other required project activities that transcend the normal semester dates.  In such cases, a graduate program director/coordinator can sign a special permission form to register a senior citizen for a class ahead of time IF the following criteria are met:
        • Current information and reasonable expectations for the coming semester indicate that the course will not fill, such that the senior citizen would not displace the enrollment of a paying student.
        • The senior citizen is either: (1) a degree-seeking student in a program with a thesis or other required project that may require early course enrollment or access to library services outside of the normal semester dates, or (2) a degree-seeking student registering for their last semester of the program.

GRADUATE FACULTY

  • Faculty involved in teaching graduate courses or mentoring graduate students must be designated as members of the Graduate Faculty.
  • The three categories of Graduate Faculty are Member, Affiliate Member, and External Graduate Committee Member.
  • A full description of these categories, as well as the procedures for application, approval, and renewal of graduate faculty status, can be found in section 6.11 of the Faculty Manual.
  • Initial appointments can be initiated (1) by the department at the time of initial hire, (2) by the faculty member at any time, but no more than once per year, or (3) in the case of External Graduate Committee Members, by the faculty chair of a student’s thesis or dissertation committee.