Jul 24, 2024  
2018-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Policies and Procedures

As a graduate student at Shippensburg University, you will need to understand and follow all academic policies and procedures in order to successfully complete your course of study. University officials such as your faculty advisor, department chair, and academic dean can provide assistance, but it is ultimately your responsibility to be aware of policies relating to grading, academic progress, withdrawal from courses, and requirements for graduation. This chapter explains the general academic policies for graduate students. The chapter on University Curricula discusses the specific requirements for individual graduate degree programs.

Applicable Policies

In general, you will be subject to the academic policies and degree requirements that are in effect during the semester you matriculate at Shippensburg University. You matriculate by registering for and starting an academic semester as a degree-seeking student. You do not need to declare a major in order to matriculate. If you begin taking classes in the summer, you will be considered as matriculating in the fall semester.

This catalog is intended to be a description of the policies, academic programs, degree requirements, and course offerings in effect for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years. It should not be construed as a contract between the student and the university. Shippensburg University reserves the right to change any of the policies and procedures contained in this catalog and to apply these changes to any or all of its students as it sees fit. The university may also choose to add or delete course offerings or degree programs at any time.

Time Definition

Many of the policies in this catalog refer to time periods such as the first week of the semester. A week of the semester (or week of classes) is defined as seven calendar days beginning with and including the first day of daytime classes. For example, if daytime classes begin on a Thursday, the first week of the semester ends the following Wednesday at the official closing time of university offices (usually 4:30 p.m.).

Graduate Council

Within the university’s governance structure, the Graduate Council is responsible for recommending the policies that govern the operation of the graduate program. These recommendations include graduate courses and degree programs, admissions procedures and standards, graduate assistant policies, and requirements for good academic standing. Membership in the Graduate Council includes graduate faculty, college deans, the Dean of Graduate Studies, and a representative of the Graduate Student Association Board.

Department Chairs and Deans

Academic decisions concerning individual graduate students are generally made by a recommendation from the student’s department chair to the dean of the college in which the department is located. Such decisions include admission to a degree program, admission to candidacy, recommendations for independent study or individualized instruction, substitution or modification of degree requirements, extension of time for completing a degree, and final approval for graduation. Decisions of the deans are subject to review by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Grading and Point System

The following system of grades is used to indicate the quality of academic work for graduate students:

Regular Letter Grades
A Excellent
B Good
C Fair
F Failure
Special Grades
I Incomplete
Q Deferred grade
P Passed
TR Transfer Credit
N Audit (no credit)
W Withdrawal

Individual faculty members may choose to use single letter grades and not award plus/minus grades.

Quality Point Average (QPA)

Your quality point average or QPA is determined by assigning numerical values to the letter marks and weighing them according to the number of class hours. The values assigned to the letters are:

A 4.0 quality points
A- 3.7 quality points
B+ 3.3 quality points
B 3.0 quality points
B- 2.7 quality points
C 2.0 quality points
F 0.0 quality points

To calculate your QPA, follow these steps:

  1. Compute the number of quality points earned for each course by multiplying the value of your letter grade by the number of credits earned. For example, a grade of B (3 points) in a 3-credit course earned 9 quality points.
  2. Add up the quality points earned in all your classes.
  3. Add up the number of credits attempted in all your classes. This total should include all classes in which you received a regular letter grade (A through F).
  4. Divide the total number of quality points earned by the total number of credits attempted. This is your QPA.

Only courses in which you received a regular letter grade (A through F) are used in calculating your QPA. Courses you have repeated will have an impact on the way your QPA is calculated. See the section on Repeating Graduate Courses for details.

Your semester QPA is the average for one semester or summer term, while your cumulative QPA refers to the average for all courses completed during a graduate degree program. A B average would be the equivalent of a 3.0 QPA.

Temporary Grades (‘Q’ and ‘I’)

The grades ‘Q’ and ‘I’ are temporary grades, which mean you have not completed all the requirements for a particular course. Apply to your college dean if you are unable to complete the requirements of all your courses.

With prior approval of the appropriate dean, the grade of Q (deferred grade) may be awarded for courses such as research, dissertation, thesis, and internship, which are designed to extend over more than one grade period. If you receive a Q grade in a course, you should work closely with the instructor to plan a schedule in order to complete the work within a specified time period (maximum of three years) or the grade will convert to an F.

The grade of I (incomplete) should only be requested if you have successfully completed a majority of the work for the course and due to overwhelming and unavoidable circumstances that are beyond your control (e.g., serious illness, death in the family), you are unable to complete all the requirements of the course. Being awarded an I is a privilege not a right of the student and the decision to grant an incomplete grade rests solely with the course instructor. When permission is granted by a faculty member, the approval signature affirms that the remaining assignments/requirements will be communicated to the student.

Stipulations regarding incomplete grades:

  • Students should rarely request an incomplete grade.
  • You must be passing the course and be able to complete the remaining course assignments without attending additional classes or needing additional instruction from the faculty member. Incomplete grades are typically awarded near the end of the semester when only a small amount of graded materials is required of the student.
  • If you do not complete the work for a course in which you received a grade of I by the last day of classes (before final exam week) of the next full semester, you will receive a grade of F for that course.
  • If the student is failing a course, an I cannot be awarded in place of the failing grade.

Incompletes can be extremely problematic:

  • You cannot graduate from the university with a temporary grade on your record.
  • An incomplete grade does not prevent academic action for dismissal.
  • Incomplete grades affect the number of credits earned in the short term and may have an impact on financial aid eligibility, athletic eligibility, or visa status for international students.

Other Types of Grades

A grade of P is given for courses where you successfully complete the requirements of the course and a letter grade is not appropriate. Examples of such courses include internships and other field experiences. If you register for such a course and do not complete the requirements, a grade of F will be given.

Credits you earn at another institution that are accepted toward your degree at Shippensburg are indicated with a grade of TR. See the Transfer Credit section for further details.

Credits earned with grades of P or TR will be counted toward the total number of credits required for your degree, but they are not used in calculating your QPA.

A grade of N indicates you have audited a class. When you audit, you can attend class and participate in class activities, but you do not receive academic credit. You may audit a course by receiving the written permission of the instructor and approval of your dean on an audit form. This form must be returned to the Registrar’s Office during the first week of the semester. You must schedule and pay the regular fee for any courses you audit, and you may not receive credit or a grade for these courses at a later date.

W grades indicate courses from which you withdrew. Further information may be found in the section Withdrawal from a Class.

Academic Progress and Standing

Your progress in each class is regularly evaluated by the course instructor. Instructors schedule office hours to allow you to confer regarding academic achievements or particular problems with coursework. At the end of each semester a final grade is recorded on your permanent record for each course taken.

Full-Time Status

Nine credit hours per semester is considered a full-time load for a graduate student, with 15 credit hours as the maximum for which a full-time graduate student may register per semester. Students taking less than 9 credit hours are considered part-time.

Issuance of Grades

In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly known as the Buckley Amendment, students are provided with privacy safeguards of their educational records. The university issues reports of progress including grades, written evaluations, and letters of warning directly to the student. You may have access to all information pertaining to your educational records and academic status. At the end of the semester, grades will be posted on the university’s secure student portal.

Grade Appeals

(I) Introduction

A graduate student contemplating filing a grade appeal understands that consistent with the practice of academic freedom, faculty bear responsibility for assigning course grades in accordance with professionally acceptable standards that have previously been communicated to students verbally or in writing. At the same time, students have the right to ensure grades are calculated accurately and consistently, fairly and equitably, and without discrimination.

Note: Any grade appeals or grade change requests initiated on the basis of alleged academic dishonesty shall be handled under the procedures set forth for academic dishonesty discussed later in this chapter.

(II) Basis for Appealing Final Course Grade

Graduate students may appeal a final course grade assigned to them by an instructor based on one of three conditions:

  1. The course instructor miscalculated the final course grade.
  2. The course instructor committed an oversight in calculating the final course grade.
  3. The course instructor acted in an arbitrary and/or capricious manner in assigning grades to the student, including the final course grade to the student. For an instructor to act in an arbitrary, and/or capricious manner in assigning grades is defined as follows:
    1. The instructor assigned a course grade to a student on some basis other than performance in the course.
    2. The instructor assigned a course grade to a student by resorting to unreasonable standards different from those applied to other students in that course.
    3. The instructor assigned a course grade to a student in a manner that represented a substantial, unreasonable, and unannounced departure from the instructor’s previously articulated standards.

(III) Selection and Composition of the Academic Appeals Committee

The Academic Appeals Committee of the department or program shall consist of a minimum of three regular tenure track faculty members in the department or program (excluding the department chairperson or program director) and an equal number of students who are majors in the program, with a faculty member and student serving as co-chairs. In the event a faculty or student member of the Academic Appeals Committee is a party in a grade appeal an alternate previously selected shall serve in his or her place.

Within the first week of the fall semester, each academic department or program shall elect at least three faculty members and one faculty member alternate to serve on the Academic Appeals Committee for the academic year and designate three graduate students and one graduate alternate enrolled in the academic program to serve on the Academic Appeals Committee. Each academic department or program shall develop a standard process for selecting student members for the Academic Appeals Committee. By the end of the first full week of the fall semester, the names of the faculty and student members of the Academic Appeals Committee and alternates selected for each academic year shall then be forwarded to the graduate dean’s office. In the event a program lacks sufficient faculty to staff the Academic Appeals Committee and provide a faculty alternate member it shall notify the dean of the college in which the program is located. The dean’s office shall provide assistance in identifying a suitable pool of faculty from the college to staff the Academic Appeals Committee and provide an alternate member for the committee if the need should arise.

(IV) Timetable and Procedures for the Grade Appeal Process

Compliance with all timelines set forth in this policy is required.

A student may initiate a grade appeal within thirty (30) calendar days following the first day of the next regular (fall or spring) academic semester. However, appeals from the winter term shall be filed within sixty (60) calendar days following the first day of spring semester; appeals from the summer terms shall be filed within thirty (30) calendar days from the first day of fall semester. Should the deadline for completing a step in the grade appeal process set forth below fall on a day the university is not open for business, that deadline shall be moved to the next date the university is open for business.

Note: Non-standard course terms shall have their deadline dates calibrated with the deadline for formal appeals from the semester or term in which they end.

In the event a faculty member, department chairperson, or program director (or chair of the department’s Professional Affairs Committee if necessary) fails to comply with the timelines or procedures set forth in this policy, the student shall have the right to appeal to the dean of the college in which the appeal has arisen. If the dean determines the student’s rights under this policy have been violated he or she shall direct the department to schedule the Formal Grade Appeal Hearing in a timely fashion consistent with the intent of the policy.

  1. Meeting with the Faculty Member Assigning the Final Course Grade - Following notification of a final grade assigned in a course a student disagreeing with a final course grade shall meet informally with the course instructor at a mutually acceptable place in an effort to resolve the matter prior to resorting to the formal appeal process.* Either party may choose to have another person present at this meeting. This informal meeting between the student and the faculty member assigning the disputed grade shall occur no later than thirty (30) calendar days following the onset of the next regular (fall or spring) academic semester.** If the faculty member finds in favor of the student, a grade change will be sent to the Registrar’s Office after the program chair has signed the grade change form. A copy will be sent to the student. However, if the faculty member decides the grade as given was correct, the student will be notified in writing within seven (7) calendar days. Students who are not satisfied with the results may initiate a formal appeal of the final grade assigned in the course, as outlined below.

    *In the event the faculty member assigning the final grade in the course is no longer an employee of Shippensburg University the student desiring to appeal a course grade shall meet with the department chairperson or program director to establish procedures consistent with this policy and past practice for entertaining the desired grade appeal.

    ** Note: Shippensburg University policy permits faculty members to change grades if there has been a miscalculation or oversight in grading, but not on the basis of additional student work or revision of previously accepted work.
  2. Initiating a Formal Grade Appeal - A student wishing to formally appeal a final course grade based on the factors listed in Section II, Basis for Appealing a Final Course Grade, must file a written appeal with the department chairperson or program director of the academic program home to the course whose grade they are seeking to appeal no later than thirty (30) calendar days following the first day of the next regular (fall or spring) academic semester. Appeals from the winter term shall be filed within sixty (60) calendar days following the first day of spring semester; appeals from the summer terms shall be filed within thirty (30) calendar days from the first day of fall semester.

    Formal appeals from the spring semester and summer terms shall be filed no later than thirty (30) calendar days from the first day of the fall semester; formal appeals from the fall semester shall be filed no later than thirty (30) calendar days from the first day of the spring semester; formal appeals from winter term shall be filed no later than sixty (60) days from the first day of spring semester. Failure to meet the deadline for formally filing a grade appeal shall result in the forfeiture of a student’s appeal rights.***A student wishing to pursue a grade appeal shall by this date submit to the department chairperson or program director (or chair of the department’s Professional Affairs Committee in the event that the student is appealing a grade assigned by the department chairperson or program director) the completed grade appeal form, signed and dated, and supporting documentation which sets forth the basis for the appeal and the desired resolution. A graduate grade appeal form may be obtained in the department office of the major/program where the appeal is filed or from the graduate dean’s office. Formal Grade Appeals may not be filed electronically; a fax with a legal signature is acceptable.

***Note: Both the informal attempt at resolving the disputed grade with the faculty member assigning such grade and the formal initiation of the formal grade appeal must be completed no later than thirty (30) calendar days following the first day of the next regular (fall or spring) academic semester. Winter term formal appeals must be initiated no later than sixty (60) days following the first day of the subsequent spring semester.

  1. Meeting with Department Chairperson or Program Director - Within seven (7) calendar days of receiving a completed grade appeal form, the program chairperson (or designee) will notify the faculty member that a formal appeal has been filed and shall meet individually and/or jointly, if useful, with the student and the faculty member to discuss the disputed grade in an effort to mediate an amicable resolution to disagreement over the final grade assigned. Such meeting(s) may occur in person or via conference call if necessary. The mediated result must be given in writing to both the student and faculty.
  2. Formal Program Grade Appeal Hearing - If the student finds the mediated effort fails to address his or her concerns or achieve the desired results, he or she must notify the department chairperson or program director in writing within fourteen (14) calendar days of the meeting with the program chairperson (or designee) of his or her desire to continue on to the formal grade appeal hearing before the Academic Appeals Committee of the program. Failure to meet this fourteen (14) day deadline for proceeding with the formal grade appeal shall result in the forfeiture of a student’s appeal rights.
    1. Scheduling of the Academic Appeals Hearing - Upon notification by the student of his or her desire to continue with the appeal, the Academic Appeals Committee shall have fourteen (14) calendar days to conduct a hearing on the matter and to issue its findings and recommendations.
    2. An equal number of students and faculty, but in no case fewer than four members, shall be present at an Appeals Hearing.
    3. Conduct of the Academic Appeals Hearing - The chairpersons of the Academic Appeals Committee shall have sole responsibility for the conduct of the hearing. Prior to the hearing the student shall submit to the committee a written statement setting forth the issue(s) in the dispute and the desired resolution. Only the student and the faculty member in the dispute have the right to attend the hearing. Both the student and faculty member involved in the grade appeal shall have the right to be present during the grade appeal hearing itself. Both the student and the faculty member have the right to introduce materials into the hearing that are directly relevant to the assignment of the final grade in the course, including such items as:
      • Course syllabi as given to the student
      • Graded assignments such as, but not limited to, journals, research papers, group projects, examinations
      • Other material relevant to the determination of the student’s final course grade
  3. Decision of the Academic Appeals Committee - Only members of the graduate Academic Appeals Committee shall be present during the discussion of and deliberations on the outcome of the student’s grade appeal. The Academic Appeals Committee’s deliberations shall be viewed as confidential and no transcripts, notes, or records shall be made regarding their discussion other than a record of their final decision. The record of the final decision will be maintained in the department office for three years. The committee has the power to decide the outcome of the final grade dispute by simple majority vote taken by secret ballot. A tie vote upholds the faculty member’s decision in the case. If the committee sustains the appeal (i.e., rules in favor of the student) a grade change form will be sent to the Registrar’s Office after being signed by the program chair. With the exception of the grade, no part of these proceedings will become part of the student’s official academic record. In addition, no part of these proceedings will become part of the faculty member’s record or file. The evidence, proceedings, and the final decision of the Academic Appeals Committee shall remain confidential.

(V) Request for Reconsideration

A student whose grade appeal has been denied may file a written request for reconsideration within seven (7) calendar days with the appropriate academic dean of the college in which the academic program is housed upon the following grounds:

  • The student can demonstrate substantial procedural irregularities or inequities in the conduct of the hearing.
  • The student provides substantial new evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing that would have had a bearing on the outcome of the appeal.
  • The student is able to demonstrate that the Academic Appeals Committee’s decision was erroneous or unfair.

In the absence of a written request for reconsideration of the committee’s decision filed with the appropriate academic dean in the college wherein the appeal arose within the specified seven (7) day period, the committee’s initial findings and action on the appeal filed shall be final.

(VI) Reconsideration of the Academic Appeals Committee Determination

Within seven (7) calendar days of the request for reconsideration, the academic dean of the college in which the grade appeal arose shall determine whether a compelling reason has been presented for setting aside the initial decision of the Academic Appeals Committee. If the dean finds a compelling reason exists to take such action he or she may direct the committee to reconsider their findings and determination or take other appropriate action consistent with the guidelines. If the dean does not find a compelling reason to ask the Academic Appeals Committee to reconsider, the dean communicates with the student and this record will be maintained by the dean’s office for three years.

Upon direction from the dean, the Academic Appeals Committee shall have ten (10) calendar days to reconvene and reconsider their initial decision on the grade appeal. The committee in undertaking such review and reconsideration shall examine and take into account the concerns raised by the dean.

The decision of the Grade Appeals Committee, following review and reconsideration shall be final.

Minimum Academic Standards

As a graduate student at Shippensburg University, you are expected to maintain satisfactory academic standing, which requires a cumulative QPA of 3.0 (B) or better in your total program of courses. If your cumulative QPA drops below 3.0 or you earn one C grade in a graduate course, you will be placed on academic probation.

Students on probation must raise their QPA to 3.0 by the end of the next semester (or full summer term) in which they register. An additional probationary semester may be granted at the discretion of the college dean.

If you fail to meet the conditions of academic probation you are subject to dismissal.

Some programs may require undergraduate courses be taken while a student is enrolled in a graduate program. In this event, students must follow the standards for undergraduate courses that have been determined by the department, and the university will follow those standards for dismissal when appropriate.

In addition, some programs may require higher standards than listed above because of limitations imposed by accreditation agencies and societies. Such requirements are provided by departments administering these programs.

Dismissal for C Grades

You may earn only one C grade in any graduate course taken at Shippensburg University. This includes any courses that have been repeated and replaced with a higher grade. If you earn two C grades you will be dismissed from the university.

A C grade earned at Shippensburg University may not be made up at another institution of higher learning for the same course.

Dismissal for F Grades

If you earn an F grade in any graduate course taken at Shippensburg University, you will be dismissed from the university.

An F grade earned at Shippensburg University may not be made up at another institution of higher learning for the same course.

Notice and Appeal

If you are academically dismissed you will be notified in writing by the Registrar’s Office. You may appeal your dismissal by writing a letter to your college dean (with a copy to your department chair) by the date indicated in the dismissal letter. All appeals will be considered by the Academic Review Committee.

Readmission of Dismissed Students

If you are dismissed for academic reasons, you may not apply for readmission to the university for at least one calendar year following your dismissal. Students who are dismissed may not take classes as a non-degree graduate student and may not apply for admission to a different graduate degree program at Shippensburg.

Students who have had their provisional or conditional admission terminated may not apply for readmission to the university for at least one calendar year. Applicants who have been denied admission to a degree program may take classes as a non-degree student with the permission of the academic department offering the course(s) on a course-by-course basis.

To apply for readmission, you must submit the appropriate application form to the Registrar’s Office with the regular application fee. Readmission is never guaranteed following academic dismissal. It may only be granted if you present compelling evidence of some fundamental change that will allow you to perform academically at the level needed to graduate.

Earning Academic Credits

You may earn graduate academic credits at Shippensburg University in several ways: by taking normal coursework at the university, by working on internships, through independent study projects, and by taking courses at other accredited institutions for transfer back to Shippensburg University.

Registering for Classes

The normal semester hour workload for graduate students varies between 9 and 15 credit hours. Students with less than 9 credit hours are classified as part-time.

Current and newly admitted graduate students may register for classes at the university online during the registration period held each semester for the next semester.

If you have an outstanding obligation to the university, a hold may be placed on your account and you will not be permitted to schedule. Reasons for holds include but are not limited to: unpaid tuition or fees, library fines, and final transcripts not submitted. It is your responsibility to satisfy the obligation with the office that placed the hold before you will be allowed to schedule.

Satisfying Your Bill

It is the policy of Shippensburg University that students who fail to make appropriate, acceptable payment arrangements by the published deadline will have their semester schedule canceled.

When a schedule is canceled, the student may attempt to reschedule in the Registrar’s Office, subject to class availability. Payment is required at the time of rescheduling and a late fee will be charged.

Students who have not registered for class(es) by the end of the W grade period will not receive any credit or grades for the course(s). Payment cannot be made and a grade retroactively assigned.

Dual-Level (700) Courses

Some courses with numbers from 700 to 799 are open to master’s and doctoral degree students.

Dual-Level (400) Courses

Some courses with numbers from 400 to 499 are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. In order to earn graduate credit for these courses, students are expected to meet the customary standards appropriate to graduate-level studies. These standards are reflected in the specific requirements found in syllabi for each of the 400-level courses. A maximum of 12 semester hour credits of 400-level courses may be applied to the master’s degree requirements.

Undergraduate Courses

Graduate students may take undergraduate courses to make up deficiencies, fulfill prerequisites, or meet certification requirements. If you take an undergraduate course, it will be recorded on a separate undergraduate transcript along with the grade earned. The credits earned will not be counted toward the graduate degree, and the grades are not used in calculating your graduate-level quality point average.

Withdrawal from a Class

Courses may be added or dropped without penalty or record notation during the official schedule adjustment period held at the beginning of the semester. Dates for this schedule adjustment period will be announced by the Registrar’s Office. The drop/add period will extend to the eighth calendar day excluding holidays and when the university is closed, to provide the student with one full week plus the weekend in a typical semester to obtain any necessary approval for closed courses or pre-requisite overrides.

You may withdraw from a class through the tenth week of the semester. If you have scheduled more than one course, you may withdraw online during this period. Requests for withdrawals from your final course of the term must be initiated through the Registrar’s Office by visiting www.ship.edu/Registrar/Withdrawal_Request_Form/. Following the initial schedule adjustment period, any courses from which you withdraw will remain on your academic record and will be assigned a grade of W. If you withdraw after the beginning of the eleventh week of the semester you will receive an F grade. You may not withdraw from a course in which you have been accused of or found guilty of academic dishonesty and have been assigned the penalty of an F grade for the course, according to the Academic Dishonesty policy.

Should you withdraw from any class, it is your responsibility to do so officially, whether or not you have ever attended that class. If you do not attend and do not withdraw, your name will remain on the class roll until the final grading period and you will receive a grade of F for the course.

You may be allowed to withdraw from all your classes with grades of W after the normal withdrawal period if you provide to your college dean clear medical evidence you are unable to continue your course work. It will be the determination of the dean whether this evidence is substantial enough to merit a medical withdrawal. Notification of a medical withdrawal must be received by the academic dean prior to the end of the current semester. Medical withdrawals are not permitted after the semester ends. If you receive a medical withdrawal, you will be eligible for a refund only if your withdrawal occurs within the time period normally allowed for refunds.

Independent Study

Shippensburg University affords opportunity to deserving and capable graduate students to engage in independent study related to their major field, a supporting area, or specialized interest. This program is highly individualized, related entirely to the student’s preparation and interest and the overall appropriateness of study as judged by the department and college dean.

Independent study must include some new experience of inquiry, evaluation, and/or creative activity. This experience must be one that is not available through an established course, including a course by appointment.

To be selected and approved for an independent study project you should have a cumulative QPA of at least 3.0. Your project must be agreed to by the faculty member you would like to work with and then approved by your department chair and academic dean as well as the faculty member’s chair and dean. Final approval is required from the Dean of Graduate Studies. You must register for the independent study project in the semester for which it is approved.

The acceptance of independent study students shall be voluntary on the part of the faculty member; however, when such students are accepted, at least five hours of faculty time per credit offered shall be made available upon request of each student. This time shall be outside the periods already allocated by the faculty member to classroom and office commitments.

In some unusual cases it is possible for independent study to span several semesters if the department chair(s) and college dean(s) are convinced of the need. A special designation by the dean will indicate approval for continuation of the independent study. A grade will be given during the semester of its completion only. At the time a grade is given, there should be a one-page written record of the completion and the evaluation of the independent study project prepared and signed by both the student and the faculty member. A copy should be placed in the college dean’s office and, if desired, in the department office.

An independent study course may not be used to repeat or replace a course in which a grade of F was earned.

Individualized Instruction

In some cases, you may be able to earn credit for a course during a semester in which the course is not offered. If a faculty member is willing to work with you on an individual basis, you may apply for individualized instruction. These courses are generally restricted to students who have completed a substantial portion of their degree program and who need the particular course to complete their degree requirements.

Application forms for individualized instruction are available in the Registrar’s Office. Your course must be agreed to by the faculty member you would like to work with and then approved by your department chair and college dean as well as the faculty member’s chair and dean. Final approval is required from the Dean of Graduate Studies.


Experiential learning in the form of internships and field experiences is available to graduate students in many areas of study. You should contact your academic advisor or department chair for information regarding these academic opportunities.

To register for an internship at the graduate level, you must be enrolled in a graduate degree program at Shippensburg University and have a cumulative QPA of at least 3.0. The maximum credit for a graduate internship is six credit hours. Internship experiences are graded on a pass-fail basis only.

Internships must have the approval of your advisor, department chair, and college dean. When an internship is approved, you must schedule the appropriate number of credit hours and pay all course fees.

In programs that include clinical components, practicums, and/or internships, each student’s effectiveness and suitability for the program will be given a broad-based evaluation by faculty and/or supervisors. Final decisions regarding continuance of studies will be predicated on a combination of factors such as demonstrated clinical competence, personality factors, and other relevant issues in addition to course grades.

Repeating Graduate Courses

Students may repeat any course taken previously, regardless of letter grade. Permission from the academic department must be obtained before a course may be repeated. Graduate students are limited to a total of two repeats where the most recent grade of the course will be used in the QPA calculation, regardless of whether that grade is higher or lower. A single course repeat for grade improvement is limited to one time.

If you repeat a course, only the most recent grade will be used in calculating your cumulative QPA. If you repeat a passed course and fail, you will lose both the quality points and the credits you had previously earned. After the second repeat instance, any additional course repeats will include both the previous and new grade in the QPA calculation.

A C or F grade earned at Shippensburg University may not be made up at another institution of higher learning for the same course. Independent study or individualized instruction may not be used to repeat a course.

Transfer Credit

In order to meet the needs of individual students who are not transfer students, specialized work at other institutions may be recommended to a maximum of nine credit hours. If you are admitted to Shippensburg’s graduate program and wish to take graduate courses elsewhere for transfer credit after starting your program, you must receive prior approval from your advisor and from the Dean of Graduate Studies in order to insure transfer credit can be granted. A maximum of nine semester hour credits of graduate work earned at another institution will be accepted provided the courses are appropriate for your program at Shippensburg University, and the credits are received on an official transcript with grades of B or higher. Credits transferred to a Shippensburg University graduate degree program from other institutions must not have been applied to a previously earned bachelor’s degree.

Grades earned in courses transferred from other colleges and universities are not included in determining your quality point average in the graduate program at Shippensburg.

Credit earned more than five years prior to the date you begin your graduate program at Shippensburg University does not qualify for transfer credit.

Graduation Requirements

As a fulfillment of its obligation to higher education, Shippensburg University has established high standards of achievement and promise for its students that must be met without question before graduation is approved by the faculty or the administration of the university. Specific requirements relating to individual graduate degree programs may be found in under University Curricula .

General requirements for graduate degree programs include a cumulative QPA of 3.0, the completion of all coursework, the completion of any comprehensive requirement (including thesis), and the resolution of all outstanding judicial and/or academic dishonesty matters. Additional graduation requirements may also be required by academic departments.

Applications for graduation must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office prior to the beginning of your final term.

Commencement ceremonies are generally held on Friday evening at the end of final examination week. A graduate of the university is expected to participate in the commencement ceremonies at the end of the semester in which they complete all requirements for graduation. Students who, at the completion of either the fall or spring semester, are within six (6) credits of completing their degree requirements may petition their academic dean’s office to participate in the preceding semester’s commencement ceremony. Final approval is given by the Provost’s Office. Approval will be granted when there is evidence that the student will be unable to attend the ceremony following completion of all requirements.

Students who complete all graduation requirements in the summer are expected to participate in the commencement ceremony at the end of the spring semester. Students who meet those requirements in the winter are expected to participate in the commencement ceremony at the end of the fall semester. Students who are completing their degree requirements at the end of the summer or winter may petition their academic dean’s office to participate in the commencement ceremony immediately following the completion of their requirements. Final approval is given by the Provost’s Office. Approval will be granted when there is evidence that the student will be unable to attend the ceremony directed preceding the completion of all requirements.

Time Limit

All coursework and research for graduate degree programs must be completed within a seven-year period beginning the semester you matriculate in the degree program. Extensions must be requested through your department chair and approved by your college dean and the Dean of Graduate Studies. The request is to contain an analysis of the previous coursework and how it applies to the current program taking into account if the content of the course has changed significantly and needs to be made up, a list of the coursework yet to be completed, and a deadline for the completion of the degree. If completion of the program includes a project, thesis, or dissertation, milestones with dates for reaching them should be included.

This policy does not apply to students who have been dismissed from their program and have been re-admitted after separation from the university. The policy regarding transfer credits applies in these circumstances.


When you are admitted to graduate study, the chair of your major department (or a designated representative) will assign you a program advisor. It is your responsibility to arrange an appointment with the program advisor as soon as possible to outline your program, taking into consideration previous work and your individual objectives. You should follow the curriculum as outlined for your field of specialization unless an adjustment is approved on the basis of previous work or experience. Although the program advisor will assist you in planning your program, you are responsible for knowing the curriculum requirements and seeing these requirements are met.

Admission to Candidacy

Some academic departments require you to apply for and be admitted to candidacy in order to complete the program of study leading to the master’s or doctoral degree. The candidacy process is used to review your progress and compliance with academic policies.

Departments requiring candidacy may establish their own guidelines. Contact your department for further information.

Research Requirement

All graduate degree programs must require an appropriate research and/or statistics course.

Comprehensive Requirement

The completion of a graduate degree must have an evaluation or a culminating experience to be determined by each academic discipline. This requirement could be in the nature of a comprehensive written examination, an oral examination, an interview, proof of competencies being met in a program, or other similar evaluation activity that demonstrates mastery of subject area.

Double Counting

The concept of “double counting” credits for two different graduate degrees is not encouraged. In certain cases, however, an academic department may recommend a maximum of nine credits earned in one graduate degree program at Shippensburg be transferred to a second graduate degree program at Shippensburg University.

Dual Graduate Degrees

For graduate students completing dual graduate degrees simultaneously, no more than 9 credits can be transferred in from another institution or double counted from another Shippensburg University graduate program. For awarding two dual graduate degrees, at least 12 hours will be required beyond the minimal credit requirements for the degree program with the most required credits.

Second Master’s Degree

Students need to complete an additional 15 credits (regardless of number of earned credits of the first master’s degree) and complete degree requirements in effect at time of matriculation for the second master’s degree.


Before registering for thesis you should confer with the department chair concerning the appointment of your research advisor and the other members of your thesis committee. The names of the approved advisor and committee members must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office at the time you register for the thesis. Registration for the thesis may be completed at the beginning of any semester or summer session. In planning work on your thesis, you should take into consideration faculty members are not always on campus during the summer sessions.

You may register for Thesis I and Thesis II concurrently or in different semesters. A temporary grade of Q will be recorded for a thesis when the work is not completed at the end of the semester. Only when the thesis is completed can a regular letter grade be recorded. Under no conditions may a regular letter grade be submitted unless the thesis is completed and signed by all thesis committee members.

You must submit the thesis to the Registrar’s Office in final approved form within one calendar year from the date you register for Thesis II. Otherwise, you must register again for Thesis II and pay the appropriate course fees. If you do not complete the thesis within the required time and do not re-register for Thesis II, grades of F will be recorded for both Thesis I and Thesis II.

When registering for thesis credit, you must submit the Arrangements for Completing the Thesis Requirement for the Master’s Degree form. For additional information, contact the Registrar’s Office.


Academic Dishonesty

It is the policy of Shippensburg University to expect academic honesty. Students who commit breaches of academic honesty will be subject to the various sanctions outlined in this section. This policy applies to all students enrolled at Shippensburg during and after their time of enrollment.


As used in this policy, the term academic dishonesty means deceit or misrepresentation in attempting (successfully or unsuccessfully) to influence the grading process or to obtain academic credit by a means that is not authorized by the course instructor or university policy. A breach of academic honesty is committed by students who give, as well as receive, unauthorized assistance in course and laboratory work and/or who purposefully evade or assist other students in evading, the university’s policy against academic dishonesty.

  • Academic dishonesty includes but is not limited to:
  • Bribing or attempting to bribe, faculty or staff personnel in order to attain an unfair academic advantage.
  • Possessing course examination materials prior to administration of the examination by the instructor without the instructor’s consent.
  • Using unauthorized materials or devices such as crib notes during an examination.
  • Providing and/or receiving unauthorized assistance during an examination.
  • Using a substitute to take an examination or course.
  • Misusing transcripts, records or identification, such as forgery or alteration of transcripts.
  • Allowing others to conduct research for you or prepare your work without advance authorization from the instructor, including, but not limited to, the services of commercial term paper companies.
  • Plagiarism, as the term is defined in the section Plagiarism.
  • Intentionally and without authorization falsifying or inventing any information or citation in an academic exercise, such as making up data in an experiment or observation.

The preceding list is only for purposes of illustration. Other forms of inappropriate conduct may also be subject to charges of academic dishonesty.

Resolution of Charges

When an instance of academic dishonesty is alleged, the issue should be resolved on an informal basis between the student and faculty member. If an informal resolution cannot be achieved, a formal process of deciding culpability and assessing sanctions will be followed. If the student has committed a previous violation, the formal process must be followed.

Informal Resolution

A faculty member who obtains information a student has been dishonest should act promptly to resolve the issue. The faculty member should first contact the dean of students to determine if this is the first violation for the student. If the suspected incident is not the first violation, the offense must be handled through the formal resolution process.

For a first violation, the faculty member may attempt to resolve the issue informally with the maximum penalty to be a grade of F in the course. If the faculty member feels the offense warrants a more severe penalty, the matter must be resolved through the formal process.

For the matter to be resolved informally, the faculty member must meet with the student and present any evidence of a violation. The student will be given an opportunity to provide an explanation after hearing the evidence. If the faculty member determines a violation has occurred, he/she will complete the Settlement of a Charge of Academic Dishonesty form. This form will include the penalty the faculty member will apply.

The form is then given to the student, who has 72 hours to seek advice and decide whether to sign. If the student agrees to accept the penalty, he/she must sign in the presence of the faculty member. The faculty member will then implement the accepted penalty and forward the settlement form to the dean of students. The form will be kept on record for five years and may be used if the student is accused of another academic dishonesty offense or any other violation of the Student Code of Conduct. The information will only be used for internal purposes and will not be disclosed outside the university.

If the student refuses to sign, the faculty member may pursue the matter through the formal resolution process.

Formal Resolution

An allegation of academic dishonesty must be resolved through a formal process if the student disputes the charges or does not accept the penalty proposed by the faculty member. The formal process must also be followed if the incident is not the student’s first violation.

In the formal process, an allegation of academic dishonesty will be treated as a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. The charges will be resolved through the judicial process administered by the Dean of Students. The faculty member initiates a written complaint by providing details of the incident to the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students and an academic administrator designated by the Provost will consult to determine if sufficient information is present to warrant further action.

If there is sufficient information to proceed with the complaint, the steps outlined in the Student Code of Conduct and Judicial Process section of the student handbook Swataney will be followed. Academic dishonesty cases must be heard by the university judicial hearing board; the judicial officer option is not available for these cases. Appeals of academic dishonesty decisions will be handled by the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Provost.


The Student Code of Conduct contains a list of sanctions that may be imposed for violations. In addition to those in the Code of Conduct, the following two sanctions may be imposed against students found to have committed acts of academic dishonesty:

Grade Reduction. The grade for a particular unit of work or for the entire course may be reduced.

Imposition of a Failing (F) Grade. The student may receive an F grade for the course.

These two penalties may be imposed through the informal settlement process or the formal hearing process. More severe penalties, including suspension or expulsion, may only be imposed through the formal process. Additional stipulations may also be attached to any sanctions.  In the event a student has withdrawn from a course prior to a final settlement, the withdrawal will be reversed and the penalty will be imposed.


Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty. Shippensburg University will not tolerate plagiarism and the faculty will make all reasonable efforts to discourage it.

Plagiarism is your unacknowledged use of another writer’s own words or specific facts or propositions or materials in your own writing. When other writers’ words or materials (even short phrases or specific terminology) are used, you should put these words, phrases, or sentences inside quotation marks (or else indent and single-space more extended quotations) and you should then cite the source of the quotation either in the text of your writing or in footnotes. Failure to do so may be considered plagiarism. When the propositions of another writer are restated in your own words (paraphrased), you should also indicate the source of the paraphrased material in your own text or in footnotes. Comparable citation should be made for borrowings from media other than printed texts, such as lectures, interviews, broadcast information, or computer programs.

The more flagrant form of plagiarism is your submission of an entire paper or computer program or lab report (or a substantial portion of a longer work) written by someone else and presented as your own work. This can include material obtained from a friend, from a fraternity or sorority file, from duplicated student writings used for analysis in other writing courses, from commercial sources, or from published materials. Another common form of plagiarism is the unacknowledged borrowing from other sources (either words or propositions) and the integration of such material in your own work.

Certain situations may cause conscientious students to fear plagiarizing when they are not really plagiarizing. These include:

  • Improper format for documentation. Improper documentation is not plagiarism but a technical academic problem. Different professors, different academic departments, and different academic disciplines have various ways of documenting borrowed materials. Each professor should make clear to you how he/she wants borrowed materials documented for given writing or programming assignments. You should make every effort to understand precisely what your professor expects regarding documentation. As long as you make a clear effort to document all borrowed materials, you are not plagiarizing.
  • Use of supplemental individualized instruction on an assignment. Various tutorial resources are available at the university, including a writing center and assistance from faculty who assist students during the process of composing a paper. When you seek these kinds of legitimate academic assistance, you are not plagiarizing. In fact, you are making an extraordinary attempt to improve your writing and academic performance. In such cases, you should inform your instructor of the fact you have sought assistance from a given source on an assignment. This acknowledgment should be stated on the cover sheet of your paper or program. The prohibition against plagiarism should in no way inhibit or discourage you from seeking legitimate supplemental instruction in developing an assignment.
  • Use of a proofreader. If you are unsure of your ability to produce finished drafts that are virtually error-free, you may use such resources as hired typists, more editorially proficient friends, tutors, or writing center personnel to insure your finished papers are relatively error-free. You should indicate on the title page the fact your paper was typed and/or proofread by someone else. The prohibition against plagiarism should in no way inhibit or discourage you from using available reference and/or human editorial resources in seeking to produce an error-free final copy of a paper.

In summary, plagiarism is the unacknowledged borrowing of another writer’s, speaker’s or programmer’s words and/or propositions. To avoid plagiarism, you should acknowledge assistance received in developing and/or proofreading a paper. If you need or desire such assistance, you should not be discouraged from seeking it because of the university policy on plagiarism.