Academic Policies and Procedures

Academic Calendar

The academic year is divided into two semesters and one summer session. The fall semester begins in late August and ends before the Christmas holidays. The spring semester begins in mid-January and ends in May. The summer session begins in mid-May and continues until mid-August. There is a one-week mid-semester break in the fall and spring, short Thanksgiving and Easter recesses, and a vacation of approximately a month between fall and spring semesters.

Most graduate courses taught in the fall and spring semesters are taught for the duration of the 15-week semester. Graduate courses taught in the summer vary in length depending on the program. All courses taught in the summer are compressed.

Academic Standing

Good Academic Standing

A degree-seeking graduate student is in good academic standing if he or she:

  1. meets the standards of quality of his or her academic program;
  2. makes satisfactory progress toward completion of degree requirements within the established time limit;
  3. meets the requirement regarding continuous registration;
  4. meets the minimum required cumulative grade point average of 3.0.

Individual degree programs may have policies in place for satisfactory academic progress. Students are responsible for verifying additional satisfactory progress policies as required by his or her degree program. If a student fails to satisfy the requirements of his or her degree program, the student may be dismissed from his or her program based on the academic unit’s recommendation to the College.

Academic Probationary Status

A graduate student is expected to maintain a B average throughout his or her program of study (3.0/4.0 GPA). The student and his or her advisor will receive written notification of academic probationary status from the Program Director if:

  • The student earns a grade lower than a B- in a course; or
  • The student earns a single semester GPA lower than 3.0.

Written Communication will be directed to the student’s permanent address on file with the College. A second course grade lower than a B- may result in dismissal from the program even if the cumulative GPA is above 3.0. Students may continue on academic probation for no more than two consecutive semesters. No grades below a B- may be counted as fulfilling degree requirements; such grades will be calculated into the grade point average. Grades below B- such as a C or D grade are awarded to graduate students and are used to calculate both semester and cumulative GPA; however, they will not be accepted for completion of graduate course work. Students may be required to repeat courses to complete the degree. See individual program policies for additional detail about courses with grades below B-.

The faculty, staff, and administration of Saint Mary’s College are committed to helping students achieve success in his or her graduate studies. Therefore, the GPA of each graduate student is reviewed at the end of each semester by his or her advisor to determine whether action is necessary.

Completing Degree Requirements in Academic Probationary Status

A student may complete all remaining degree requirements during a semester in which the student was in Probationary Status. If the student’s cumulative GPA at the end of the semester is 3.0 or above, the student’s probationary status will be elevated to Good Academic Standing. If the student’s cumulative GPA is below 3.0, the student remains in Academic Probationary Status.

Add/Drop

Full semester courses offered in the fall or spring semester may be added until the end of the first week of class. Courses meeting less than 16 weeks, including all summer courses, must be added no later than the first day of class.

Assignment of Credit Hours

Saint Mary’s College operates under a semester credit hour system and defines credit hours based on the Carnegie unit. Each semester hour of credit represents one hour per week (15 weeks) of lecture or recitation and 2 to 3 hours of time spent in independent preparation (readings, papers, etc.). The length of a clinical, laboratory, practicum, or internship period depends upon the requirement of the course. Normally, one semester hour of credit is awarded for satisfactory work in two or three hours of clinical, laboratory, practicum, or internship work per week for a 15-week semester.

The assignment of credit policy applies equally to courses offered for less than 15 weeks, such as summer session courses. Such courses contain an equal or greater number of hours of direct instruction and independent preparation as the same course offered in the standard 15-week semester.

The assignment of credit policy applies equally to courses delivered through all modes of instruction including online courses. A course taught online must first be reviewed and approved by the Teaching Learning Technology Roundtable. An online course is approved only once it has been determined that the course covers the same content and achieves the same outcomes as the same course taught on campus.

Attendance

A student is expected to attend every meeting of a class for which he or she is registered. The responsibility for attendance rests with the student. Excused absences may be granted to students who must miss class for serious and documentable reasons of personal health, family concerns (emergency or important event in student’s family).

Auditing a Course

A graduate student may elect to take a graduate or undergraduate course on an audit basis with the approval of the instructor and as long as space is available. Auditors are not permitted in laboratory courses, practicum, internship, or clinical experiences. No credit will be given for the course. Audited courses will be indicated on the student’s transcript with a grade of V. Courses taken for audit do not apply toward any academic degree and do not count as a part of a student’s full-time or part-time course load for purposes of financial aid or for loan deferments. Full time graduate students may audit free of charge. All part time graduate students will be charged full tuition for each course audited. Tuition for an audited course is the same as a credit course. A student wishing to declare an audit must do so in accordance with the Registrar’s posted academic calendar.

Completion of the Master’s Degree

For all master’s degrees, a minimum of 30 credits is required. Consult individual master’s degree programs for the precise requirements as some programs require more than 30 hours. Only courses at the 500-level or above are included in the master’s degree program. A degree is not conferred for a mere collection of credits. A significant culminating or “capstone” experience or other mechanism to demonstrate evidence of analytical ability and synthesis of material is required. The specific form of the culminating experience is determined by the degree program and includes, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:

  • written thesis, essay, or paper.
  • project report
  • internship
  • exhibition
  •  production
  • comprehensive examination
  • capstone course

Students are expected to know the requirements of their program’s culminating experiences. Failure to satisfy the program requirements will result in forfeiture of degree eligibility.

Completion of the Practice Doctor (DNP)

The DNP is a terminal degree in nursing and, as a clinical doctor, emphasizes expert clinical practice. To qualify for the DNP degree, all students must successfully complete the required course work in their program of study:

  • complete a minimum of 77 credits and a minimum of 1,000 supervised practicum hours and should be completed in 12 semesters.
  • complete a faculty-guided scholarly experience completed in the final semesters of the student’s doctoral program (see individual program curriculum plans). This culminating experience provides evidence of the student’s critical thinking and ability to translate evidence into practice through problem identification, proposal development, imple­mentation, and evaluation. The DNP Innovation project encompasses the synthesis of coursework and practice application and results in a deliverable product that is reviewed and evaluated by a faculty advisor and a scholarly project committee.
  • The DNP final project consists of:
    • a scholarly comprehensive paper
    • a public oral defense presentation
    • the submission of an abstract for presentation at a state or national meeting.

Failure to satisfy the program requirements will result in forfeiture of degree eligibility. In rare circumstances, and where a leave of absence is not appropriate, a student may petition the graduate program director and the Provost for one additional semester to complete the requirements for completion of the DNP program.

Continuous Enrollment

Once admitted to a graduate degree program, graduate students must be registered for a minimum of one credit hour (not audit) or a zero credit hour “continuous enrollment” course during all phases of their graduate education. All students, including those who have completed all coursework, must register each semester until all degree requirements are met. Students are responsible for completing the registration process each semester. A student who does not maintain continuous enrollment must communicate with the director of the relevant graduate program prior to applying for reinstatement.

Those students who have completed all coursework and are writing a master’s thesis or preparing for a comprehensive exam should register for the corresponding course in their department of study for the purpose of continuing enrollment. Courses with grades of “V” (audit) are not considered valid registration for continuous enrollment purposes; students completing work for a course in which they received an “X” (incomplete) must maintain continuous enrollment in the following semester while completing all incomplete courses.

A student who does not meet the continuous enrollment requirement unless they have received an approved leave of absence, is considered inactive and not in good academic standing. Continuous enrollment may continue until the student’s length of continuous enrollment reaches the Maximum Time to Degree as determined in the policies of the program into which the student matriculated. If degree requirements are not completely met by the Maximum Time to Degree, the student is considered inactive.

Inactive Status

Students who do not maintain continuous enrollment are considered inactive. Please see the Reinstatement policy for more details.

Course Numbering

Courses appearing in this Bulletin are numbered according to the following guidelines:

  • 400 level courses are assumed to be primarily for undergraduates. If the course material is described as sufficiently advanced, graduate credit may be granted upon approval of the Graduate Program Committee. Requests for graduate credit for 400 level courses must provide information to verify that the course material is at the graduate level for all students or that graduate students are required to do additional work beyond the level required of undergraduates in the course.
  • 500 level courses are assumed to be primarily for first-year graduate students; senior majors or other students may also take them or others by special permission. These students are limited to six credit hours of graduate work.
  • 600 level courses are assumed to be for master’s and doctoral students. Only rarely are exceptional undergraduate students allowed to take these courses and they are limited to six credit hours of graduate work.
  • 700 level courses are assumed to be for master’s and doctoral students.
  • 800 and 900 level courses are assumed to be primarily for doctoral work, beyond the master’s level.

Degree Requirements

All students will follow the policies for program completion, GPA requirement, and maximum time to degree established by the individual graduate programs at Saint Mary’s College. Students are required to earn at least a B- in each graduate course in order for the course to count toward degree completion; some programs may have more rigorous grade requirements. Individual programs may also require a capstone experience, comprehensive examination, clinical practicum, oral defense, or field experience. Please see specific programs’ sections of the Graduate Bulletin for individual program requirements.

Dismissal from the Program

Saint Mary’s College reserves the right to dismiss a student from a graduate program when the student’s poor academic performance or conduct warrants such action.

Poor Academic Performance

Poor academic performance may be demonstrated by remaining in probationary status for more than two academic terms (see Academic Standing policy). Failure to make satisfactory progress toward program completion may also be considered poor academic performance (see Completion of the Master’s Degree policy and the Completion of the Practice Doctorate (DNP) policy). Individual programs may define additional criteria for poor academic performance. Please review the policies of the relevant graduate program. The Provost will review extreme cases of poor performance (such as a single semester GPA of 2.3 or below) to determine the student’s eligibility to continue.

Misconduct

All students enrolled at Saint Mary’s College are expected to adhere to all College policies and procedures as defined by our Community Standards and Code of Student Conduct. Students are also expected to avoid academic misconduct (see Academic Honesty policy), research misconduct, and other fraudulent, unprofessional, or unethical behaviors as defined in the policies of the relevant graduate program.

Notification and Appeal

Students will be notified in writing within 10 business days of the decision for dismissal. Students who have been dismissed have a right to appeal and are advised to consult the appeal process below.

Appeal Process

A student may complete all remaining degree requirements during a semester in which the student was in Probationary Status. If the student’s cumulative GPA at the end of the semester is 3.0 or above, the student’s probationary status will be elevated to Good Academic Standing. If the student’s cumulative GPA is below 3.0, the student remains in Academic Probationary Status.

Enrollment

All degree seeking graduate students must register each semester during the dates and times posted by the College Registrar. Any admitted student who fails to maintain continuous enrollment (see the Continuous Enrollment policy) must apply for reinstatement to the College’, who will review the student’s case with the Graduate Program Director of the relevant program. Students should consult their programs’ policies for additional requirements regarding full-time enrollment status.

The College defines full-time, half-time, and less-than-half-time in the following manner:

Enrollment Status Fall/Spring Summer
Full-time 8 credit hours 6 credit hours
Half-time 4 to 7.5 credit hours 3 to 5.5 credit hours
Less-than-half-time status 3.5 or fewer credit hours 2.5 fewer credit hours

Please see program policies for additional enrollment requirements for individual programs.

Governmental Requirements for Some Professions

Some professions (e.g. nursing, teaching, social work, speech therapy, accounting, etc.) require specific requirements for licensure and/or hiring (e.g. acceptable criminal background check, sex offender check, drug and alcohol testing, citizenship or permanent resident status documentation, valid immigration status for non-US citizens, valid social security number, etc.). Such requirements may also apply to required clinical and field work, or other out-of-class room experience necessary to complete degree requirements in the majors related to these professions. These requirements are determined by laws and regulations at both the state and federal levels and are subject to change. Saint Mary’s College strongly urges all admitted and current students to research and understand the appropriate requirements for their intended course of study and profession. Compliance with these requirements is the responsibility of the student and the graduate. You should become informed and continue to monitor such requirements as laws and other legal requirements are subject to change.

Privacy of Education Records (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that protects the privacy of education records for all students at Saint Mary’s College. Education records are considered confidential and may not be released to third parties (including parents) without the written consent of the student except in specific circumstances. Additional information about FERPA and student records privacy can be found at www.saintmarys.edu/academics/resources/registrar.

Proctored Exams for Online Courses

Note: Students are responsible for fees that any of the options below may incur.

In-Person Proctoring

Exams are given online through Blackboard. A proctor must be arranged in advance. A student needs to present or email a potential proctor a letter detailing proctoring duties as provided by the course instructor. The course instructor needs an email from the proctor from their official (e.g. employer-provided) email address briefly explaining who they are and how they know the student.

  • Find your own proctor meeting the requirements below:
    • not a family member
    • not a close friend
    • in a position of authority, for example:
      • professor
      • teacher
      • librarian
      • police officer
      • coach
      • clergy (priest, pastor, nun, rabbi, etc. of a generally recognized faith)
      • military officer (not your direct superior)
      • manager (not your direct supervisor)
      • some other trustworthy individual with no conflict of interest.
  • Find a test center through National College Testing Association
    This website contains information on participants both inside and outside the United States: www.ncta-testing.org/cctc/find.php, including test center location, service availability students from other institutions, hours of operation, testing fees, etc.

Online Proctoring

Registration

Graduate students register for courses through PRISM, the online registration system for Saint Mary’s College, via the my.saintmarys.edu portal. Registration dates are published on the graduate program academic calendar. No student shall attend any class unless he or she is registered for the class. Credit will not be awarded to a student who is not officially registered.

Reinstatement

A student who does not maintain continuous enrollment must request reinstatement into the graduate program in which they were matriculated. Any student who wishes to apply for reinstatement into his or her program of study may do so with permission from the Graduate Program Director of the relevant program and the Acting Dean of Graduate Studies.

A readmission application must be submitted to the Graduate Programs office. It must be accompanied by transcripts of any academic work pursued by the student while not at Saint Mary’s College. The program may require the student to complete additional work if the length of the student’s inactivity from the program merits it.

Students who may be reinstated to a graduate program are reinstated with Probationary Academic standing.

Repeating a Course

A graduate student may retake any course at Saint Mary’s College; however, all grades are a part of the student’s permanent academic record and remain on the student’s transcript as well as in all GPA calculations. If a course is repeated, credit will be awarded only on the most recent attempt.

Research Conduct

Research involving human subjects must meet the guidelines of the Saint Mary’s College Institutional Review Board. The student must consult his or her advisor to assure these guidelines are followed. The student must also complete CITI training. The student may not use the name of Saint Mary’s College in connection with personal research without the sponsorship of a member of the student’s program faculty. This permission is freely and generously given, but the College insists upon its right to determine the context in which its name is used.

Other Courses Taken by Graduate Students

Graduate students may elect to take courses for credit outside of their program. All graduate students, full-time and part-time, will be charged the current graduate tuition rate. Undergraduate courses do not affect a graduate student’s grade point average. Students interested in taking a course should contact the Office of the Registrar for assistance.