The Catholic University of America

Graduate Studies Policies

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

Graduate Studies Policies: 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
  4. Enrollment of Undergraduates for Graduate Study

Enrollment Policies

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

Distance Education Policy

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Distance Education Requirements
  4. Institutional Support
  5. Student Requirements
  6. Middle States Policies and Guidelines

 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 school or department (where applicable) and with the approval of the school dean. For programs requiring forty (40) semester hours of more, up to 9 credits may be transferred with the approval of the school dean. In order to qualify for transfer, the credits must have been earned within five (5) years of the request for transfer. This policy conforms to the guidelines as articulated by the Council of Graduate Schools.

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 school or department (where applicable) and with the approval of the school dean. Credits must have been earned within ten (10) years of the request for transfer and approved before permission is given to take the doctoral comprehensive examination.

To address the unique nature of its academic programs, each school within the University may establish, with written approval of the Provost, a different set of limits on the number of transferrable credits. Consequently, prospective and current students should refer to the individual school's policy for specific guidance relating to transfer credits.

For a complete explanation of the University Academic Transfer of Credit policy, students should consult the University Policies website, as well as the website of their school and department (where applicable).

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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 thee (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 the final D.M.A. recital or, for the D.M.A. in Composition, the final recital, research document, and dissertation composition;
    • 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 leave 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.

Enrollment of Undergraduates for Graduate Study

A graduate student may begin graduate work while fulfilling the requirements for an undergraduate degree if, in the opinion of the school dean of the graduate school where enrollment is sought, the student’s academic performance and promise justify such action.

Similarly, undergraduates may be permitted to undertake graduate studies as students in joint degree programs, for example, B.A./M.A. in the same field. In such cases, the student will be enrolled as an undergraduate until the undergraduate program is completed. Graduate courses earning undergraduate and graduate semester credit must be pre-approved by the chair of the department (where applicable).

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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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Distance Education Policy

Introduction

The University recognizes the value of Distance Education as a means of furthering its educational mission and reaching a diverse population of learners with a wide range of needs. Currently, its Distance Education offerings consist of graduate programs and classes offered during the spring, fall, and summer terms, and undergraduate classes offered during the summer.

To maintain the highest quality of Distance Education consistent with that mission and with institutional and accreditation standards, all Distance Education programs and classes offered by the University must be reviewed and approved by the Office of the Provost, and must meet the requirements set forth in this policy. All programs, moreover, must comply with any relevant accreditation standards specific to their academic disciplines regarding Distance Education. In the event of a conflict, such accreditation policies supersede this policy. Additional information about Distance Education is set forth on the University’s Instructional Learning website.

This policy is effective for all Distance Education programs and courses as of August 15, 2015.

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Definitions

A. Distance education

Distance education means education that uses one or more of the technologies listed in paragraphs 1 through 4 of this definition to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor and to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor, either synchronously or asynchronously. The technologies may include:

  1. The internet;
  2. One-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices;
  3. Audio conferencing; or
  4. Video cassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, if the cassettes, DVDs, or CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with any of the technologies listed in paragraphs 1 through 3 of this definition.

B. State Authorization

State authorization means adherence to state requirements to offer Distance Education in a specific state. If an institution of higher education offers postsecondary education through Distance Education to students in a state in which it is not physically located or in which it is otherwise subject to state jurisdiction as determined by that state, then the institution must meet any state requirements for it to legally offer Distance Education in that state. Generally, state Distance Education regulations apply only to degree programs that are fully online. However, some states regulate non-credit courses and certificate programs. There are two types of state authorization which may have to be obtained: 1) “institutional authorization” for all educational activities undertaken by the institution in state; and 2) “licensure authorization” for any professional programs that need approval from a state licensing board.

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Distance Education Requirements

A. Academic Quality

All Distance Education programs or classes must provide academic rigor, quality, and assessment of student learning objectives consistent with face-to-face programs or classes offered by the University. Accordingly, instructors must hold Distance Education students to academic standards consistent with those to which students participating in face-to-face instruction are held, and provide syllabi containing rubrics for assessing student learning expectations.

To maintain consistent academic quality across the institution, course syllabi, scheduled learning outcomes and evaluations of course effectiveness for Distance Education classes will be evaluated by the University according to standards consistent with face-to-face classes.

As noted above, undergraduate Distance Education classes are only offered during the summer. In addition, in order to achieve the appropriate number of instructor-student contact hours and provide ample time for instructor feedback and assessment, undergraduate Distance Education classes that are fully online and that carry 3 credits must run a minimum of eight weeks.

B. Requirements for Instructors

1. Permission and Certification

All Distance Education instructors must have permission from their academic units to teach an online class. Once permission is granted, instructors must achieve certification in methods of distance learning. This requirement can be achieved either through the Methods in Distance Education certification course offered by Technology Services at The Catholic University of America, through an organization or entity approved in advance by the Provost’s office, or upon determination by the instructor’s dean that previous teaching experience is sufficient to ensure instructional quality. If the instructor achieves certification from an outside organization or entity or on the basis of previous experience, the instructor may be required to demonstrate to the Office of the Provost that core competencies have been achieved.

2. Hiring Instructors

University schools, departments or units proposing to hire instructors to teach Distance Education courses who are not current University employees must seek advance approval from the Office of the Provost. No offer to hire an instructor may be extended until such approval is obtained. In addition, instructors who reside outside the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area may not be hired without prior review by the Office of Human Resources, who will determine whether payroll tax withholding and business registration requirements have been met.

C. Method of Delivery

Distance Education programs or classes may not be offered in states where the University has not obtained State Authorization (defined above) to provide such programs or classes.

All Distance Education programs or classes other than those offered through a University-approved, contracted vendor who provides identity verification and disability support must use the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) to deliver content. Other external websites and tools may be employed for a given class at the instructor’s discretion, but the foundation of the class must be accessible (or linked) through the Blackboard LMS. Regardless of the modality used, a reasonable effort must be made to assure that all class content be accessible to persons with disabilities. Contact the Office of Disability Support Services for technological accessibility questions.

All Distance Education instructors must comply with federal law and the University’s Copyright Policy in the preparation and delivery of Distance Education course material.

Instructors and staff must take the same care with Distance Education students’ education records as they do with students in face-to-face settings. See the Student Records Policy for guidance.

D. Student Identity Verification

The University must authenticate the identity of all online students. At a minimum, all Distance Education students must be required to use a unique user name and password, obtained through the University, in order to access Distance Education class materials. User names and passwords are obtained through the normal course of the registration process. Sharing user names and passwords is a violation of this policy and the Information Security and Assurance Policy, and also may constitute a violation of the Student Academic Dishonesty Policy.

Instructors must verify the identity of all students prior to beginning any on-campus examination(s) or participating in any face-to-face class activities, and may require that students present formal identification such as a photo ID issued by federal, state or local government.

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Institutional Support

To promote consistency in academic and learning objectives and support, Distance Education students are eligible for University resources appropriate to the type of delivery, including but not limited to services provided by the following offices:

  • Advising: Students may visit campus to receive face-to-face advising. Students who cannot come to campus can receive advising over the telephone or via e-mail. In such instances students should contact their specific University school or the Office of Student Services to obtain their advisor’s contact information.
  • Center for Academic Success: Students may receive support from the Center for Academic Success in person, by email, or by phone (tel. 202-319-5655).
  • Disability Accommodations: Students who need special services pertaining to a disability must be registered with the Office of Disability Support Services (tel. 202-319-5211).
  • Library Resources: The University Library has a wide array of support systems, including an online chat with the librarian, subject matter librarians, and online tutorials. For further information visit the Mullen Library.
  • Technology Assistance: For technological assistance other than a disability accommodation, contact the Office of Technology Services.

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Student Requirements

Distance Education students will be held to the same academic standards as students participating in face-to-face instruction, and are subject to the Student Academic Dishonesty Policy and other student conduct policies.

Distance Education students also must be aware of other relevant policies and academic regulations, including those pertaining to admission, registration, enrollment, refund of student charges and transfer of credit. All University policies are published at http://policies.cua.edu/default.cfm.

Note that individual schools may limit the extent to which students enrolled in face-to-face instruction at the University are permitted to take Distance Education classes in furtherance of their degree.

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Middle States Policies and Guidelines

Further information on policies and best practices can be found here:

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