2019-2020 Catalog 
    Jul 18, 2024  
2019-2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Student Regulations

All graduate students are urged to read these general regulations carefully. Failure to be familiar with this section does not excuse a student from the obligation to comply with all the described regulations.

Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this Catalog, students are advised that the information contained in it is subject to change. They should therefore consult the appropriate academic dean for current information and the Schedule of Classes for any term-related regulations. The academic deans may grant reasonable exceptions from academic regulations to students within their colleges/schools. Each college or school may have specific requirements over and above those set forth in this section.

The University reserves the right to revise its regulations and programs in accord with sound academic standards and requirements. Although reasonable efforts will be made to expedite students’ completion of graduate programs, the University does not obligate  itself to offer courses every semester to enable graduate students to complete their program within a minimal specified time limit. These regulations do not apply to students in the School of Law. Please consult the School of Law catalog for Law regulations.

Student Categories

A Regular Graduate Student is a student admitted by the University to work towards a graduate degree.

A Graduate Student with Conditional Status is one whose application to become a regular student is pending, but who has obtained the permission of the dean of his or her college to enroll in course work for that college, or a student whose prior academic preparation does not include courses which are prerequisite for admission to regular graduate status, or a student whose prior academic work is not sufficiently strong to merit full acceptance as a regular graduate student, but who has obtained the permission of the dean of his or her college to enroll for a specific set of courses. A graduate student with conditional status must meet the specific conditions set by the dean of his or her college before he or she is eligible for regular graduate student status. If specifically approved by the dean, courses taken by a student with conditional status will count towards the completion of regular graduate degree requirements.

A Graduate Student with Special Status is a student admitted by the University for course work only, or a modified program of studies, but is not admitted to work towards a degree. Special Student status is approved by the academic dean and faculty on a form provided by the Office of Graduate Admission or Office of the Dean and must be renewed each semester. Conditions for obtaining Special Student status and for the renewal of this status are set by each school or college.

Graduate students with Special Student status may register for classes only if space is available. A special graduate student who wishes to change to regular status must apply for this status at the Office of the Dean, must meet all regular graduate admission standards, and, if accepted, will be expected to complete all requirements for the degree. Upon acceptance as a regular student, courses taken while on Special Student status may count towards graduate degree requirements upon recommendation by the graduate advisor and approval of the dean.

A Student Classified as a Visitor is a student who is not formally admitted to the University but who is permitted to attend classes. A student in this category must register for not more than 8 credit hours per semester on a space-available basis starting the first day of classes. A visitor is not aligned with a college and is not seeking a USF degree. A visitor is required to seek permission to enroll through the Office of Admission. To renew this status, the student must reapply through the Office of Admission each subsequent semester. Completed course work taken by students with visitor status may not count toward a USF degree without formal acceptance to the University.

A Enrolled student is one who is registered in classes for the current semester. 

In a semester in which a student is actively working to complete postponed requirements for a course or courses for which he or she received an Incomplete (“I”) grade, the student will be considered a regular graduate student even if he or she is not enrolled for any other courses. According to University policy a student must complete the postponed requirements by the end of the semester following that within which the incomplete grade was given.

Please see “Standards of Scholarship and Grade System” for further information on Incomplete grades.

Likewise, in a semester in which a student is actively working to complete a thesis, dissertation or other graduate research project, the student will be considered a regular graduate student even if he or she is not enrolled for any other courses.


A degree represents an award conferred by the university signifying that the recipient has satisfactorily completed an academic program of study. All students receiving degrees from USF must satisfy the requirements of the college/school from which they received their degrees. Students may not work towards two degrees concurrently, including graduate and undergraduate degrees except for any specific joint degree program such as the dual degree programs in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education. Degrees are considered official when all grades are received and all requirements for degree fulfillment are met.

Credit Hour Load

Education Credential:

Full Time: 12+ credit hours
3/4 Time: 9-11 credit hours
1/2 Time: 6-8 credit hours
Less Than 1/2 Time: 1-5 credit hours


Full Time: 6+ credit hours
3/4 Time: 4-5 credit hours
1/2 Time: 3 credit hours
Less Than 1/2 Time: 1-2 credit hours


Full Time: 6+ credit hours
3/4 Time: 4-5 credit hours
1/2 Time: 3 credit hours
Less Than Half Time: 1-2 credit hours

Summer Non-Standard Term


Full Time: 6+ credit hours
1/2 Time: 3-5 credit hours


Full Time: 4+ credit hours
<1/2 Time: 2-3 credit hours


Full Time: 4+ credit hours
1/2 Time: 2-3 credit hours

Full-time, part-time, etc., is based solely on the number of credit hours registered for in any term, not on course material. Credit hour load does not include challenge examinations, transfer credit, or similar credit situations.

Graduate Advisors

The dean or faculty designate of each department which offers graduate work will assign a specific advisor for each student. The advisor will analyze the student’s past record and assist him or her in planning a graduate program.

Study Load and Residency Requirement

Students in master’s programs are required to register for a minimum of three (3) credit hours each semester, unless their only remaining academic work is their thesis or other major creative work. In the latter case they must register for at least one (1) credit hour every semester until the thesis has been completed, and at least three (3) credit hours total for the thesis or other creative work.

In order to meet the academic residence requirement for the doctoral degree, students in doctoral programs must register for two consecutive semesters with a minimum course load of at least six (6) credit hours per semester. This course work is exclusive of dissertation course credit hours. The minimal full-time load is six (6) credit hours.

Master’s Degree students in the School of Management follow the guidelines set forth by the school.

Leave of Absence

Graduate students who choose to absent themselves from the university without filing a Leave of Absence form will be withdrawn for lack of attendance during the first semester of absence (not including summer and intersession, except for programs in which these terms are required) When a student returns and wishes to re-enroll in courses, he or she must reapply for the school or college by contacting the appropriate Dean’s Office. The exception to this process is for graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences who must reapply directly to the appropriate program director.

Leave of Absence and Financial Aid Awards

Students receiving federal financial aid in the semester that they take a leave of absence will be considered to have withdrawn from the university. The enrollment change will be reported to the federal Department of Education and can affect the start of federal loan repayment. Additional information is available on the Financial Aid website.

Transfer of Credit Policy

In exceptional cases, graduate course work taken at other colleges or post-baccalaureate courses completed at USF may be accepted in partial fulfillment of the graduate program. The student must petition the dean through his/her faculty advisor and the program chairperson, if applicable. The petition must contain justification and explicit approval of the advisor and the chairperson if applicable. Credit is typically limited to six (6) credit hours to eight (8) credit hours or two courses. Doctoral students may transfer up to 12 credit hours. (General Education core requirements may not be satisfied by transfer of credit for School of Education students.)

To be acceptable for transfer for credit, courses must:

be regular graduate or post-baccalaureate level courses;

be taken at an accredited institution of higher learning, or an institution which is a candidate for accreditation, within the last seven (7) years;

not be supervised field work, directed study or field practice; and have an earned minimum grade of “B”.

The School of Education does not accept transfer of credit for Extended and/or Continuing Education courses. An official transcript record of the course work and course descriptions must accompany the approved transfer petition and should be sent to the Office of the Registrar.

Double Credit

The same course may not fulfill requirements in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Students may not work towards two degrees concurrently, including undergraduate and graduate degrees, except for the joint degree programs.

Probation and Disqualification

Any graduate student whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation. Students on academic probation who fail to raise their cumulative grade point average to 3.0 by the time they have completed the next six (6) semester hours of graduate work are subject to disqualification from the program.  Students whose cumulative average falls below 2.5 in any one semester are also subject to disqualification unless otherwise noted by the specific school or college.

Courses Taken at Other Institutions

A student who is working toward a graduate degree at the University of San Francisco but who wants to take a course or courses at another college or university, must obtain the written approval of the dean of his/her college or professional school at USF prior to enrolling in such courses. The student must abide by all the rules and regulations specified by the particular college or professional school.

School of Education students only: during the course of your Credential/MA/Doctoral program, it is possible to take courses at another accredited institution, providing that all of the following conditions are met:

the course is one that is vital to your program of study and is not similar to a course offered by the School of Education; the course is at the appropriate graduate level; permission has been received in writing (see PEAI form); you receive a course grade of “B” or its equivalent, or better; and units taken may not exceed the maximum units of transfer credit allowed.

Courses taken without prior approval will not be counted toward the degree.

Standards of Scholarship and Grade System

The work of graduate students is evaluated and reported in terms of the following grade types:

A - Outstanding
B - Satisfactory; student meets all major course competencies
C - Student meets minimum standards for obtaining credit*
*All graduate students are required to maintain an overall cumulative grade point average of B (3.0). The grade of “C,” including a “+” or “-“, may be awarded by faculty in the School of Education. Scholarship standards for students in the School of Education require that a “B” average (3.0 GPA) be maintained and a lower cumulative GPA may result in probation or academic disqualification.
F - Failure; student does not meet minimum standards for obtaining credit.

The grades A, B, and C may be modified by (+) or (-).

In addition, the following notations are sometimes used:

P - “Passing,” at least at the lowest passing level (C-); not counted in computing the grade point average. In some graduate programs P/F is used to evaluate those courses associated with research or a field project dissertation proposal, or a dissertation. A Pass-Fail option is irrevocable, if chosen by a student.
S, U - “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” notations are given in certain courses. For an “S” grade, the units will count toward the total units required for graduation, but not in the grade point average computation. In some graduate programs, S/U is used to evaluate courses associated with a thesis.
I - “Incomplete” denotes an examination or required assignment which has been postponed for a serious reason after consultation with the instructor. Students who have not contacted a faculty member regarding completion of course requirements are subject to a failing grade. Students given approval to postpone course requirements must complete them on the date specified by the faculty member. If the notation is still incomplete at the close of the following semester, it is converted to a failing grade (F).
IP - Work “In Progress”; final grade to be assigned upon completion of the entire course sequence in courses predetermined by the dean. “In Progress” (IP) notations on graduate student transcripts, if not cleared, will revert to an “F” upon expiration of the time limit set by the department.
W - “Withdrawal”; a notation used by the Office of the Registrar when a student drops a course after University census date but before the withdrawal deadline in any given semester.
NR - Grade “Not Reported” by instructor within 10 days after the examination period; a notation used by the Office of the Registrar. To correct the transcript, the instructor must file a change of grade form. “NR” carries no connotation of student performance and no grade point value is given. “NR” notations that are not reconciled by the end of the following semester will be converted to a failing grade (F).
AU - “Auditor”; course not taken for credit. Regular tuition is charged for audited courses.

Grade Points

Grade points per semester credit are assigned as follows:
A+ = 4.0
A = 4.0
A- = 3.7
B+ = 3.3
B = 3.0
B- = 2.7
C+ = 2.3
C = 2.0
C- = 1.7
F = 0.0

See specific college sections for additional scholarship standards.

Minimum Academic Requirements at Graduation

To be eligible for the conferment of a graduate degree, a student must attain at least a B (3.0) cumulative grade point average in all courses counted towards that degree.

Time Limitations for Degree Completion

Time limitations for completing all requirements for the master’s degree (including the thesis) and doctoral degree (including dissertation) are as follows:

Master’s degree in the School of Education: 4 years;
Master’s degree in the Masagung Graduate School of Management and the School of Nursing and Health Professions: 5 years;
Master’s degree in the College of Arts and Sciences: 4 years.
Doctoral degree: 7 years.

Time is counted from the beginning of a student’s graduate program, regardless of any leave of absence taken. All requirements leading to the Ed.D., D.N.P. and Psy.D. degrees must be completed within seven years from the date of admission and within three years from the date of advancement to candidacy, regardless of any leave of absence taken.

Advancement to Candidacy

Admission to regular graduate student status does not automatically include advancement to candidacy for the degree.

Advancement to candidacy requires a formal, written application distinct from registration. A student may not obtain a graduate degree without being advanced to candidacy. (Contact the School of Education for information on programs that do not require this application.) The minimum requirements for advancement to candidacy differ from program to program. For further information, consult the dean or program chairperson or see the specific program sections in this catalog. Application forms for advancement to candidacy may be obtained from the dean or program chairperson. Graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Management are exempt from this requirement.

Filing for Graduation, Diplomas and Commencement

Candidates applying for the conferral of a graduate degree should file the online Graduation Application form in the term preceding the final semester of registration for degree requirements and within the time limitation for degree completion.

The Application for Graduation form is available online at myusf.usfca.edu/onestop/graduation and is valid for three consecutive semesters, beginning with that listed on the application; after this period, a new application must be submitted.

Graduation dates posted on the academic transcript and on the diploma coincide with the last month of the three semesters of instruction: Fall - December; Spring - May; Summer - August. The date for degree conferral for the Spring and Fall semesters is the last day of exams and for the Summer semester, the last day of class. School of Education students should note that Ed.D. graduation dates are Fall and Spring only. The official graduation date will reflect the completion of all academic requirements for the degree, and not the last term of enrollment, and will take into account all waivers and substitutions approved by the student’s academic dean.

Graduate student diplomas list the degree, the primary major, and the school or college of the University awarding the degree. The official academic transcript will list the degree and major, and, if applicable, an area of concentration or minor.

Students must complete the program requirements indicated in the catalog in force at the time of their most recent matriculation. Those in the M.B.A. program and masters programs in the School of Education are evaluated for completion of degree requirements by the Office of the Registrar. All other graduate students are evaluated by the college offering the degree for which they are candidates. That college will notify the Office of the Registrar of degree completion. Degrees are in turn posted to transcripts and diplomas ordered by the Office of the Registrar.

Diplomas are mailed to students approximately six weeks after degree posting. Diplomas will not be issued to students who have not met their financial obligations to the University, including payment of outstanding fines.

Commencement ceremonies are held twice a year in St. Ignatius Church, located at 650 Parker Avenue in San Francisco. Ceremonies are approximately one hour long and guest tickets are required for admission to all Commencement ceremonies.

Waivers and substitutions submitted by the dean of the school or college in relation to the University Catalog in effect at the time of graduation shall be considered as altering graduation requirements for the student.

Candidates will be invited to participate in only one commencement ceremony. Those who complete their degree requirements in Fall or Intersession will be invited to the December Commencement Exercises. School of Education Doctoral students who complete their degree requirements in August will be invited to the December Commencement Exercises. All other students who complete their degree requirements in Spring or Summer semesters will be invited to the May Commencement Exercises. Students who must take courses in the Fall term to complete their degree requirements will not be allowed to participate in the preceding May ceremonies. Likewise, students who must take courses in the Spring term to complete their degree requirements will not be allowed to participate in the preceding December ceremonies.

Changes to Academic Records After Students Graduate

A student’s academic record is sealed when his or her degree is posted. With the exception of errors, omissions, or documented discrepancies, changes to a student’s major, minor, concentration, or academic honors, or the removal and/or change of incompletes, grades, or other components of the academic record are not permitted.

Thesis/Research Project

All candidates whose degree programs require a thesis, or who have chosen an available research option, must complete a thesis/research approval form in addition to the application for advancement to candidacy. These approval forms, which can be obtained from the program director or dean, are to be completed under the guidance of the director of the thesis/research project and at least a second reader, and in some cases, depending on the nature of the topic, a research project third reader. After the director, the reader(s), and the chairperson of the department have signed the approval form, the student must forward it to the dean or program director of the degree program.

For specific information on thesis requirements in the School of Education, and School of Nursing and Health Professions students, please consult with the appropriate office.


The thesis or major project, including all pages preceding and following the main text, must meet the format requirements stipulated by Gleeson Library as well as the requirements, if any, of the student’s Department, Program, College, or School. After the thesis or major project has been approved and signed by the committee in charge and by the student’s Dean, the Department Chair or Program Director will file the original and one copy with Gleeson Library to be bound and shelved. Students preparing a thesis for the graduate program in Nursing must follow the Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Submission to Readers

The student must arrange regular interviews with the director and the other reader(s) of the thesis and personally submit the preliminary and final draft to them. Failure to present the entire preliminary copy of the thesis to these faculty members well in advance of the deadline for filing the finished product may result in a postponement of graduation.

Submission to the Dean

When the thesis has been approved and signed by the readers, the student must file the original and one copy with the appropriate dean no later than the final day of classes for a given semester. Please see the Academic Calendar.

The student should also submit an abbreviated title for the spine of the thesis.

After a culminating academic project (dissertation, theses, major project, comprehensive examination, etc.) has been approved and signed by the appropriate University personnel (committee in charge, faculty, Dean, etc.) the Department Chairperson or Program Director will file a copy in a suitable electronic repository and/or file the original and one copy with the Gleeson Library to be bound and shelved and/or file a copy in the office of the Department Chairperson, Committee Chairperson and/or Program Director.

Comprehensive Examinations

information on comprehensive examinations, see individual graduate program descriptions.