The Catholic University of America

Graduate Studies Policies and Guidelines

Students can also consult the Graduate Announcements or Graduate Students Frequently Asked Questions to see if a specific question not listed here is discussed and answered there.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Graduate Studies at The Catholic University of America

  1. Definition
  2. Coursework
  3. Transfer of Credit
  4. Language Requirements

Definitions of Enrollment

  1. Full-Time Study
  2. Part-Time Study
  3. Graduate Students on Academic Leave

Enrollment Policies

  1. Continuous Enrollment
  2. Academic Leave and Withdrawal
  3. Residence and Extended Residence

Master's and Licentiate Degrees

  1. Comprehensive Examination
  2. Thesis
  3. Guidelines on Preparation and Timing of Thesis
  4. Option of Degree without Thesis
  5. Completion of Requirements
  6. Admission to Doctoral Program

Doctorate Degrees

  1. Comprehensive Examination
  2. Admission to Candidacy
  3. Dissertation
  4. Criteria for Dissertations
  5. Oral Examination
  6. Deposition and Publication of Dissertation
  7. Copyright
  8. Completion of Requirements and Requests for Extension

 Introduction to Graduate Studies at The Catholic University of America

Graduate programs at The Catholic University of America have as their objectives the discovery, understanding and dissemination of knowledge. These programs are designed to prepare students as research scholars, as teachers and as professional practitioners of an applied discipline. All graduate curricula are organized to lead students to an in-depth understanding of the principles, problems, and historical development of the disciplines with which they are concerned.

The President and the Academic Senate share the immediate responsibility for the academic governing of the university. Under the supervision of the President, the Provost and the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, jurisdiction in the graduate programs of the university is exercised by the respective deans and faculties. Reviews of the various graduate programs begin at the level of the department or, in the schools that do not have a departmental structure, of the school. Policies developed by departments in the School of Arts and Sciences are reviewed by its Academic Council, in the School of Engineering by its Executive Committee, and in the School of Theology and Religious Studies by its Executive Council. All school policies are in turn reviewed by the Graduate Board, established by the Academic Senate "to exercise general supervision over matters relating to graduate study." The chair of the Graduate Board is the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies and the members are appointed by the Academic Senate.

In addition to these general requirements, each school and department may, with the permission of the Graduate Board, promulgate specific requirements applicable to its programs. Students are advised to consult pertinent sections of the Graduate Announcements and their school dean or department chair.

Definition

Courses carrying graduate credit will normally be scheduled for three (3) credit hours per semester. The semester is considered to be comprised of fifteen (15) weeks which includes one (1) week for examinations.

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Coursework

The program of studies to be pursued by the candidate for the master's degree shall include a minimum of thirty (30) credit hours of graduate work, of which six (6) hours may be in thesis guidance. The thirty (30) credit hours may be applied to the doctoral degree if admission to the higher degree is approved.

The program of studies to be pursued by the candidate for the doctoral degree must include a minimum of fifty-three (53) credit hours of graduate course work, of which at least thirty-five (35) credit hours must be in the major subject. The remainder must be completed in a program that has been approved by the school dean and the department chair (where applicable).

Individual schools or departments may prescribe additional requirements, and the student should consult the appropriate school for information on coursework and requirements specific to the degree program of interest.

Continuing education courses are not acceptable in meeting the requirements for master’s, licentiate, or doctoral degree programs.

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Transfer of Credit

Up to six (6) credit hours of graduate work earned at another accredited institution, in which a student received grades of B or above, may be applied toward course requirements for the master's degree, upon recommendation of the appropriate department and with the approval of the school dean. Academic work completed more than ten (10) years prior to application cannot be considered for transfer.

Students in master's degree programs that require a minimum of two (2) years of full-time residence may be permitted to transfer up to the maximum number of credits earned during one year of residence in an accredited program at another University.

Up to twenty-four (24) credit hours of graduate work earned at another accredited institution in which the student received a grade of B or above may be applied toward course requirements for the doctoral degree, upon recommendation of the appropriate department and with the approval of the school dean. Academic work completed more than ten (10) years prior to application cannot be considered for transfer. All transfer of credit must be approved before permission is given to take the doctoral comprehensive examination.

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Language Requirements

Language requirements are determined by the various departments and schools. Students should consult the school or the chair of the department for information on the language requirements applicable to their degree program. All language requirements must be satisfied before a student will be permitted to take the comprehensive examination.

Although additional requirements may be specified by individual departments or schools, the generally accepted methods of satisfying modern language requirements are the following:

  1. Present a minimum score of 450 on the Graduate School Foreign Language Test. See Bulletin of Information issued by the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, NJ. Information is also available at the Counseling Center, 127 O'Boyle Hall.
  2. Pass the noncredit intensive language course offered by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.
  3. A student whose native language is not English, but a language recognized as a medium for scholarly work relevant to the student's career, shall be considered to have fulfilled the language requirement without examination. Satisfying the language requirement through this method is permissible provided the student's adviser states, in writing, to the academic dean that the language is a language of scholarship for the student's discipline.

Any registered student is eligible for language examinations.

In some cases, it may be possible to substitute a research skill or computer proficiency for the language requirement. The student should consult the individual program for information. Research skill or computer courses will not be counted as part of the 30 credits required for the M.A. degree.

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Definitions of Enrollment

Full-Time Study

The University definition of full-time enrollment for master’s, licentiate, and doctoral students is determined on a semester basis as provided below. The University registrar will certify those students as full-time who meet the criteria listed below. Failure to maintain continuous enrollment can significantly affect a student’s academic progress, financial obligations and, in the case of international students, their immigration status.

PLEASE NOTE: The criteria for certification as a full-time student listed below will be effective with the Fall 2015 semester.

Masters Students

To be certified as a full-time master's student, at least one (1) of the following criteria must be met:

  • Enrollment in a minimum of eight (8) semester credit hours.
  • Enrollment in a minimum of six (6) semester credit hours and hold a half-time appointment as a teaching or research assistant (ten [10] hours per week).
  • Enrollment in a minimum of 3 semester credit hours and hold a full-time appointment as a teaching or research assistant (nineteen [19] hours per week).
  • Enrollment for the comprehensive examination.
  • Enrollment for master's thesis research.
  • Enrollment in a distance learning course for pastoral supervision.
  • For the School of Music, enrollment for master's graduate recital and at least one (1) semester credit of private instruction.

Doctoral Students

To be certified as a full-time doctoral student, at least one (1) of the following criteria must be met:

  • Enrollment in a minimum of eight (8) semester credit hours.
  • Enrollment in a minimum of six (6) semester credit hours and hold a half-time appointment as a teaching or research assistant (ten [10] hours per week).
  • Enrollment in a minimum of three (3) semester credit hours and hold a full-time appointment as a teaching or research assistant (nineteen [19] hours per week).
  • Enrollment for the doctoral comprehensive examination.
  • Following admission to candidacy, enrollment:
    • For doctoral dissertation research;
    • For the School of Music, enrollment for doctoral recitals, doctoral compositions, or completion of repertoire list;
    • For required internship.

Note: The time limits of candidacy are set forth in the Graduate Announcements under the heading "Admission to Candidacy".

Certification of Full-Time Enrollment Status

Certification for full-time study is the responsibility of the University registrar. The school or department must notify the University registrar by memorandum or e-mail of teaching or research assistantships, and of the number of hours per week the student is employed in that position.

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Part-Time Study

All students who do not satisfy the criteria for full-time study are part-time students and, except as noted below, must pay tuition in the amount charged per semester credit hour.

A graduate student who is pursuing a program of ministerial studies in any neighboring institution (religious house of studies, theologate, and the like) will not be permitted to register for more than six (6) semester credit hours of graduate study per semester.

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Graduate Students on Academic Leave

Graduate students on academic ;eave cannot be certified as full or part time. The period of academic leave is not counted as part of the time allowed for the completion of residence or other degree requirements. Any incomplete (“I”) grades that are outstanding must be changed in accordance with the policy on incomplete grades by the date published in the Academic Calendar.

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Enrollment Policies

Continuous Enrollment

In order to qualify for a graduate degree from The Catholic University of America, a graduate student must maintain continuous enrollment. Graduate students should be aware of many important factors that affect continuous enrollment, including registration, drop/add and withdrawal dates on the Academic Calendar.

There are minimum academic standards one must uphold in order to maintain scholarships. Furthermore, academic leaves and term withdrawals from The University not only affect the graduate student’s status as a continuously-enrolled student, but also negatively affect the student’s loan eligibility. It cannot be over-emphasized that failure to be enrolled continuously has significant consequences that may hinder the progress toward one’s graduate degree.

Finally, failure to maintain requirements for Satisfactory Academic Progress will affect one’s government loans. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to define successful completion of coursework to maintain eligibility for financial aid. The Catholic University of America is required by federal, state and District of Columbia regulations, as well as institutional policy, to determine whether a student is meeting SAP requirements. SAP evaluation for graduate students occurs once a year at the conclusion of spring semester.

The student’s entire academic career history must be considered when determining SAP status, regardless of whether or not the student has received financial aid during each period of enrollment.

The qualitative component measures the quality of the student’s SAP by conducting a review of the student’s cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA). To meet the qualitative requirement, the student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.

Specific federal, state, and institutional scholarships and grants may require a higher GPA for continued eligibility. This is a separate and distinct factor in renewing or continuing eligibility for these specific financial aid funds. The GPA for specific scholarships and grants supersedes the GPA requirements referenced above. Information about the terms and conditions of specific student aid programs that have GPA requirements are provided to the student at the time the award is offered.

The quantitative component measures the pace at which the student must progress through his or her program of study to ensure completion within the maximum timeframe permitted and provides for the measurement of the student’s progress at the time of the evaluation. To meet the quantitative requirement, the student must complete at least 67% of the classes that he/she attempts.

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Academic Leave and Withdrawal

1. Academic Leave

Because The Catholic University of America is a term-based credit-hour institution, it cannot offer a federally approved leave of absence (LOA) option. However, students may request to be place on academic leave for a future semester.

A student in good standing who must interrupt his/her studies for adequate reason, such as prolonged ill health or military service, may be granted an academic leave for a stated period, usually not to exceed two (2) semesters or one (1) year.

To request an academic leave, a student must first discuss the issues surrounding academic leave with their adviser, department chair (where applicable), and school dean. Following these discussions, the student must make a formal online application prior to the first day of the semester in which the leave would be taken. Final approval of the request for an academic leave is made by the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies.

An academic leave, if granted, will be effective as of the last day of the semester in which the student was most recently enrolled. The period of academic leave is not counted as part of the time allowed for the completion of residence or other degree requirements. Any incomplete (“I”) grades that are outstanding must be changed in accordance with the policy on incomplete grades by the date published in the Academic Calendar, whether a student is registered for the current semester or not.

Students on academic leave are expected to return to The University when their stated duration of leave has expired, unless they have applied for and have been given an extension. Students who do not return from an academic leave when scheduled will be subject to permanent withdrawal during the semester in which they failed to return. If the student thereby withdrawn from The University desires to return to graduate studies at The Catholic University of America, he/she must apply for readmission and satisfy current degree requirements to be reinstated.

2. Term Withdrawal

Students who wish to temporarily leave The University during a semester in which they are enrolled in classes will receive a term withdrawal for that term.

During Registration Drop/Add Period - Students enrolled in classes who subsequently drop all their classes within the Registration Drop/Add Period will be considered to be on a term withdrawal, effective as of the date they notify The University or, if they do not notify The University, on the date they drop the last class in which they are enrolled. They will receive a notation on their transcript that they dropped every class in which they were enrolled, and are subject to the tuition refund schedule policy.

If the separation from The University is intended to be for the duration of the current semester only, no further action is required, and the student will be eligible to enroll for the next semester. If the separation is expected to go beyond the start of the next semester, they must apply for an academic leave (see above).

After End of Registration Drop/Add Period - Students who are currently enrolled in classes and who decide to withdraw from all their classes after the last day of the Registration Drop/Add Period will be considered to be on a term withdrawal, effective as of the date they notify The University or the date they withdraw from the last class in which they are enrolled if they do not notify The University. They will receive a grade of “W” in every class in which they were enrolled, and are subject to the tuition refund schedule policy.

Students are encouraged to discuss issues surrounding a term withdrawal with their adviser, department chair (where applicable), and school dean prior to submitting a term withdrawal application. The formal application for a Term Withdrawal is submitted online to the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, who gives final approval to the request.

PLEASE NOTE: As required by Federal law and United States Department of Education guidelines, The Catholic University of America must notify the National Student Clearinghouse of all students who fail to maintain continuous enrollment. Recipients of Federal student loans will then enter their loan grace period, and is they have previously used up their loan grace period, will immediately enter into loan repayment.

3. Permanent Withdrawal

Graduate students who no longer wish to continue their studies at The Catholic University of America must submit an application for permanent withdrawal. This application is submitted online to the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies.

Permission for permanent withdrawal from The University is not required. It is necessary, however, to inform the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies in writing of the decision to withdraw permanently from The University. This letter is in addition to the online application for permanent withdrawal. Furthermore, it is suggested that the student contact their adviser, school dean and department chair (where applicable) to determine if there are additional requirements for withdrawal, such as a letter of resignation and/or an exit interview.

Students who make the decision to leave before finishing the semester in which they are enrolled will be withdrawn as of the date they submit the application for permanent withdrawal. For those students who inform The University of their intent to withdraw for a future semester, the withdrawal date will be the last day of the semester in which they are currently enrolled.

Students who withdraw from The University during a semester in which they are enrolled are subject to the tuition refund schedule policy, regardless of the reasons for their withdrawal. Exceptions to the refund schedule will be considered by the Withdrawal Committee. Students who withdraw during a semester will receive a “W” grade in each class in which they were registered.

Students who do not enroll in The University for a given semester and do not inform The University of their intention to leave on a temporary or permanent basis will be administratively withdrawn from The University as of the last date to enroll in any class offered for that semester.

If a student who has withdrawn from The University subsequently decides to return to The Catholic University of America, he/she must submit an application for re-admission to the Office of Admissions. If a student who has withdrawn from The University without receiving a degree applies for re-admission to a degree program, no credits earned by the student more than seven (7) years before the time of re-admittance will be applied toward a degree unless they have been evaluated and approved by the school to which the student is applying.

PLEASE NOTE: As required by Federal law and United States Department of Education guidelines, The Catholic University of America must notify the National Student Clearinghouse of all students who fail to maintain continuous enrollment. Recipients of Federal student loans will then enter their loan grace period, and is they have previously used up their loan grace period, will immediately enter into loan repayment.

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Residence and Extended Residence

Residence - The term "residence" denotes enrollment leading to a graduate degree that is done under the direction of the faculty of a school. Such residence, as is usually the case in the United States, entails enrollment for specified course hours and credits for which corresponding tuition and fees are charged. The minimum period of residence for the master's degree is one (1) year in full-time enrollment or the equivalent; the minimum period of residence for the doctorate is three (3) years of full-time enrollment (including time spent on the master's degree and in dissertation guidance) or the equivalent. A school or department (where applicable) may, with the approval of the Graduate Board and the Academic Senate, require longer periods of residence than those stated here. Students are advised to consult their school and department (where applicable) for special regulations.

The normal maximum course load for a full-time graduate student during the period of required residence is nine (9) semester hours per semester or the equivalent. With the permission of the department chair (where applicable) and the school dean, a student may be permitted to register for a maximum of fifteen (15) semester hours.

Teaching or research assistants must be full-time students and may not enroll in more than nine (9) semester hours, depending upon the number of hours of teaching or research per week required by their appointments.

Extended Residence - Students who have completed both the minimum residence requirements and all academic requirements for a degree with the exception of the dissertation and defense must continue in extended residence each semester until all the requirements for the degree are fulfilled. Extended residence is a form of continuous enrollment that requires registration for research or dissertation guidance, for which tuition is charged at the rate of one (1) credit hour per semester, unless a student is granted an Academic Leave. Students in extended residence have full privileges of consultation with their professors and use of University facilities; they also may take courses upon payment of the usual tuition charge.

Students registering in extended residence will be required to observe the deadlines for registration as found in the Academic Calendar.

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Master's and Licentiate Degrees

The general requirements for the master's degree are given below. The student, however, should consult the appropriate sections of this publication and the school dean and department chair for specific information and requirements.

Comprehensive Examination
 

A student in most master's programs must pass a written comprehensive xxamination in the major field. The dates for this examination are listed in the Academic Calendar. This examination is taken in the semester during which the student is completing the course work. Language/research tool requirements as specified for the program of studies must be completed prior to the examination.

Candidates for the comprehensive examination are required to register for this examination. A review of completed and pending degree requirements is conducted in the department (where applicable) and the school at the beginning of the semester in order to secure the school dean's permission to take the examination.

The comprehensive examination is marked pass or fail. The transcript will note if the student has passed the examination with distinction. A student who did not pass may retake the entire examination or the failed portion once, according to school (or department, where applicable) policy. A student who incurs two (2) failures in the comprehensive examination is no longer considered eligible to receive the master's degree. The second failure is recorded on the student's permanent record.

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Thesis
 

The candidate for a master's degree with a thesis requirement must submit the thesis topic to the chair of the department and the school dean for their approval. The student must register for a total of six (6) credit hours of thesis guidance. Information on requirements for the preparation and submission of the thesis are available in the individual departments and schools, and formatting requirements for the final deposit are explained in the Master’s/Licentiate Degree Handbook.

The master's thesis should give evidence of training in research by means of a contribution to knowledge involving a modest problem of investigation. It must prove the candidate's familiarity with the basic methods and techniques of research and also the ability to apply them.

After the thesis has been approved and signed by the director and the reader, one (1) unbound copy must be deposited, by appointment, with The University not later than the date designated in the Academic Calendar, and in accordance with the Master’s/Licentiate Degree Handbook. A fee is charged to cover the cost of the binding of the typescript. A check or money order for the fee must accompany the thesis when it is presented. The amount for such fees and expenses can be found at the Enrollment Services website.

On deposit of the approved thesis, the six (6) credit hours of guidance will be posted to the student's academic record.

A graduate who wishes to publish the thesis must include in the publication a statement of acknowledgement that the thesis was written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master's degree from The Catholic University of America. For further copyright information, please see the section entitled “The Copyright” in the Master’s/Licentiate Degree Handbook.

Candidates for the master's degree in certain fields such as music, drama, and architecture may satisfy the thesis requirement by a production of a creative type. Students should consult school and departmental regulations for these requirements.

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Guidelines on Preparation and Timing of Thesis
 

Master's degree candidates must complete all degree requirements within three (3) years (or six [6] summer sessions) after the date of completion of course work. An extension of up to one year may be granted upon petition to the dean. An approved academic leave is not counted in determining the calendar deadlines.

The date for submission of the master's thesis is established by the University and indicated in the class schedule for the spring semester. By this date a copy of your thesis should be given to your major professor. This will give your committee adequate time to read it and make suggestions, and give you time to make any revisions. If the submission deadline is not met, the thesis committee is not obligated to evaluate the thesis that semester. Students should realize that several drafts of the thesis will probably be necessary and thus allow sufficient time for writing. The document must be written in a lucid, concise manner. The completed draft, which is first given to the major professor should be corrected for misspelling, grammatical errors and inconsistencies. The major professor is not responsible for editing the document.

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Option of Degree without Thesis
 

The master's degree without thesis is available in many departments and schools. The student should consult the listings of the department or school concerning such an option. Such degrees require at least thirty (30) credit hours of graduate work, of which no less than six (6) will be in courses that require significant written reports of a research or professional nature.

Students admitted by their schools to proceed directly to the doctorate may be awarded a master's degree. An application for this degree must be filed in the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies indicating that:

A. A minimum number of credits for degree have been completed,
B. Two (2) research papers have been completed, and
C. The Comprehensive Examination for the doctorate has been passed.

The transcripts of students in all master's programs carry the appropriate notation of "thesis" or "no thesis."

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Completion of Requirements
 

Students who do not complete all the requirements for a master's degree within three (3) years (or six [6] summer sessions) from the date of completion of coursework must submit requests in writing to the dean of their school for an extension of time. An extension of time will normally be granted for one (1) year or one (1) summer session.

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Admission to a Doctoral Program
 

Students in the master's program who wish to pursue a doctorate must submit an application for admission to the Ph.D. program. The completed application should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

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Doctorate Degrees

The degrees conferred after the successful completion of approved doctoral programs are listed under Schools of the University section. The doctoral degree is conferred upon students who have completed satisfactorily at least three years of graduate study and have met the other conditions prescribed for the degree.

Last reviewed: July 14, 2015
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