Progression Guidelines

These guidelines do not make new policy but systematize and clarify existing policy. The overall goal is to enforce the policies consistently, firmly, and fairly. The guidelines encourage:

  • Monitoring graduate students' registration and progression every semester and when approving such actions as independent study, assistantships, overloads, or program continuation. Nothing substitutes for early discussion and planning with the student.
  • Enforcing quality and progress requirements firmly and structuring them so as to give students timely warning while improvement can still be made.
  • Promptly notifying graduate students who are academically at risk and working with them on appropriate interventions, and dismissing students who have failed to meet the requirements.
  • Monitoring firmly graduate students' use of Program/Thesis Continuation, especially full-time program continuation status.
  • Monitoring international graduate students, who must comply with enrollment and progression requirements for their visas.

1) Monitoring Students' Progress and Achievement

Graduate advisors and Graduate Program Directors should monitor graduate students' registration and progression by checking COIN frequently. Please consult COIN when approving a student for such actions as independent study, assistantship, credit/course overload, or a semester of program continuation. Please regularly check for progression and meeting of GPA expectations; nothing substitutes for early discussion and planning with the student.

2) The Dismissal Process

Graduate advisors and Graduate Program Directors should review graduate students' transcripts every semester for early signs of academic difficulty.

2a) In collaboration with the Registrar's Office, the Office of Graduate Studies will review transcripts of graduate students who, based on approved criteria, are subject to dismissal and will make dismissal decisions.

2b) The Associate Provost for Graduate Studies will communicate dismissal decisions to the affected graduate student, the Graduate Program Director, the Department Chairperson and the College or School Dean.  

2c) Formal notice of dismissal must occur seven calendar days before the next semester starts.

2d) Graduate students may appeal dismissal decisions in writing to the relevant Graduate Program Director or Department Chairperson. Program representatives who support reinstatement for the student will forward a written recommendation, stipulating the terms for successful continuation in the program, to the College or School Dean who adds his/her endorsement (or not) and additional terms (if any) by which the student must abide.  These recommendations are then forwarded to the Associate Provost for Graduate Studies who makes a final determination as to whether to rescind the dismissal.  In addition, the Associate Provost may add further stipulations to the reinstatement.   All students for whom the dismissal is rescinded are automatically placed on academic probation and failure to meet any terms identified within the probationary letter sent to them results in automatic dismissal without recourse to appeal.

3) Quality Expectations

Graduate dismissal decisions are based on hte criteria stated in the Graduate Catalog. Individual graduate programs may establish more stringent quality standards, which should be stated in the program section of the Graduate Catalog and enforced for all students in that particular program.

4) Progress Expectations

Criteria stated in the Graduate Catalog indicate that graduate students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward completion of their degrees. The rule is stated in the Catalog in only general terms to allow flexibility for the nature of different programs. Programs wishing to use specific progression standards should state them in the their sections of the Catalog and enforce them consistently for all students. Programs that allow part-time study should distinguish progression expectations for their full-time and part-time populations.

4a) The policies permit programs to enforce progression steps that include passing core courses, satisfying intermediate reviews, passing mid-point or comprehensive examinations, etc., which should be stated in the program's Catalog section. The graduate regulations allow dismissal of students who do not make progress. As with other dismissal considerations, programs should be consistent and give warning and advisement. In advising students who are having difficulties in progressing, programs should please consider as options a leave of absence; withdrawal, perhaps with later re-admission; or changing to part-time status. (Please note the severe restrictions on these choices for F-1 visa students.)

4b) A graduate student may request of the relevant Graduate Program Director a leave of absence for a period no longer than one calendar year, subject to specific limitations as may exist for that graduate program.  The approval of the Gradate Program Director should be forwarded to the Graduate Studies Office through the relevant College or School Dean.  A second year of leave may be granted in exceptional circumstances.  Students on leaves who exceed their stipulated time on leave will be considered to have withdrawn and so will be subject to re-admission procedures. Likewise, students who discontinue study without an approved leave of absence will be subject to applying for re-admission.

4c) Program Continuation status permits a student to maintain his/her matriculation and remain active while not taking courses. Clear conditions and limits must be established for the student to be considered full-time during such a "continuation" period (full-time status is of special concern to F-1 visa students).

5) Progression and the Completion of the Project, Thesis, or Dissertation

These aspects of degree completion require special consideration. As stated in the Graduate Catalog, graduate students may extend their registration beyond the completion of coursework through Program Continuation registration and paying the required fee.

5a) Part-time students may remain in Program Continuation status for a relatively long time, subject to the limits of credit longevity.

5b) Graduate students who must be (or wish to be) deemed full-time must demonstrate that they are in fact engaged full-time on their project, thesis, or dissertation. These considerations are of special concern to F-1 visa students. The following guidelines can be used for such demonstration:

(i) The department must verify each semester to the Registrar that such a student is engaged full-time on the project, thesis, or dissertation. The Registrar has a general form for this purpose; international students must also submit a Reduced Course Load form to the International Student & Scholar Center.

(ii) It is assumed that one semester in full-time continuation status should suffice for degree completion. If full-time continuation status is to extend beyond one semester, the department's verification must be based on a formal petition from the student that explains the circumstances and demonstrates in detail that engagement will in fact be full-time. This documentation should be forwarded for the student's file in the Registrar's Office.

5c) Some programs require six, nine, or more credits of registration in courses such as thesis, internship, project, or dissertation. Programs may enforce the spreading out of such registrations by limiting the number of such credits that the student can register for in one semester or term, as stated in official course descriptions.