Jun 18, 2024  
2019-2020 Shepherd University Catalog 
2019-2020 Shepherd University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Policies

Policies Governing Student Status


Academic Advising

The first point of contact for graduate studies advising is the graduate coordinator. Each graduate program may have specific graduate faculty advisors as well for specific content areas. At any time a student believes he/she needs additional advising and the graduate faculty advisor or graduate coordinator is not available, the student can contact the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education for advising.

Academic Probation

When a graduate student’s cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0, the student will be placed on probation. Students on probation must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 during the first six credit hours of their probationary status and must return their cumulative graduate GPA to 3.0 during the first 12 hours of their probationary status. Students who do not meet these criteria will be dismissed.


All graduate students are expected to complete their degrees in an appropriate time and manner. All incompletes must be completed by the next respective fall or spring semester (i.e., incompletes in fall must be complete the following spring semester, incompletes in spring must be complete in the following fall semester. Incompletes in the summer must be complete by the following fall semester). 

Graduate students in good academic standing who must discontinue their studies for a brief time will be considered eligible to re-enroll in future semesters, as long as they return after an absence of no more than two consecutive regular semesters (not including summer sessions). Graduate students who are suspended (see suspension/dismissal policy,) or who are absent from studies for more than two consecutive regular semesters (not including summer sessions) must re-apply through the Office of Admissions. Graduate students wishing to return after a brief absence, and who do not need to re-apply through the Office of Admissions, should contact their program coordinator for advisement.

Sunset Clause

Students enrolled in graduate studies at Shepherd University must complete the program within seven years, based on the date of admission to the degree program. Students may apply for renewal by submitting a letter to the Graduate Council with justification for continued studies in the program. Note: The D.N.P. program has other stipulations for currency of knowledge related to transfer of credit and completion of the program. Please consult the D.N.P. handbook for more information.


A student on probation will be dismissed when

  • The student’s GPA in the first six credit hours of probation falls below 3.0
  • The student fails to achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 after 12 credit hours of probation

Once a student is dismissed from a graduate program, the student may not enroll in any other graduate program at Shepherd University without explicit permission from the Graduate Council.

Appeals of Student Status

Students placed on provisional status, probation, or suspension may appeal that status to the Graduate Council by writing a letter to the dean of graduate studies and continuing education outlining the rationale for the appeal. Appeals denied by the Graduate Council may be appealed to the provost. The provost will only consider appeals that deal with substantial procedural errors in the decision of the Graduate Council.

Transfer of Credit

Graduate courses from other institutions or other Shepherd University graduate programs will be evaluated, at the time of admission, by the dean and/or the coordinator of the program to which the applicant is applying, or the department chair in which the course is offered.

  • Up to nine credit hours may be transferred to a Shepherd graduate program from another institution or program, either prior to starting the program or during the program, at the discretion of the program coordinator in consultation with the department chair and the dean. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis by the dean if it would inappropriately prolong the graduation of a student.
  • Courses transferred to a Shepherd graduate program must have a minimum grade of “B,” and must have been taken within seven years based on the date of admission to the degree program (see sunset clause). Note: The D.N.P. program has other stipulations for currency of knowledge related to transfer of credit and completion of the program.  Please consult the D.N.P. handbook for more information

Graduate Student Status and Academic Load

Full-Time Students 

Graduate students registered for 9 or more credits are classified as full-time students. Students holding assistantship appointments must register for a minimum of 6 credits each semester to qualify for financial aid.

Maximum Load

The maximum graduate load allowed is 16 credits during the fall or spring semester. Only under unusual circumstances will a student be allowed to exceed these limits, and then only with the recommendation of the student’s advisor and graduate program coordinator and the approval of the graduate dean.

Maximum Load, Summer Session

The maximum graduate load allowed is 10 credits for the entire summer session. A student will be allowed to exceed this limit only by petition with the recommendation of the student’s adviser, graduate program coordinator, and the approval of the dean of the graduate school.

Dropping and Adding Courses

Graduate students may add or drop courses in accordance with the procedures and deadlines published by the Registrar’s Office at www.shepherd.edu/registrar.


Leave of Absence

Students who, because of extenuating circumstances, are unable to pursue their graduate program may request a leave of absence for a maximum of one calendar year. Such circumstances may include medical reasons, military obligation, family emergencies, or hardship. Students should send a letter to the graduate dean, advisor and the graduate program coordinator requesting a leave of absence. The graduate dean, upon recommendation of the student’s advisor and graduate program coordinator, will review the request. If the request for a leave is granted, the time limit for completion of the student’s program will be extended appropriately.  

Withdrawal from the University

A student may withdraw from their graduate program during any semester by obtaining a withdrawal form found on the Office of the Registrar’s web page https://www.shepherd.edu/registrar/registrar-forms. This form should be signed by the student’s advisor. Students who formally withdraw are required to apply for readmission if they subsequently desire to resume their academic program. Students are not guaranteed readmission and may be evaluated in competition with current applicants to the program.


Students who withdraw, take a leave of absence or do not enroll for a full academic year or more, and desire to resume their academic program, are required to apply for readmission. Readmission forms are available at www.shepherd.edu/graduate-studies/apply-graduate.

Students are not guaranteed readmission and may be evaluated in competition with current applicants to the program. Students in the D.N.P. program must complete a letter addressed to the GSCE dean and D.N.P. program director outlining a case for readmission to the program.

Change in Degree: Transferring from one graduate program to another

Students who wish to pursue a degree program other than the one for which admission was originally granted must meet the admissions criteria and complete the appropriate application for the new degree program. The Academic Change form is available at www.shepherd.edu/graduate-studies/graduate-studies-forms. The graduate dean and Office of the Registrar will notify the student of the decision after consulting with the appropriate graduate program coordinator.

*Note: Students in the D.N.P. program must complete a letter addressed to the GSCE dean and D.N.P. program director outlining a case for a change of track or concentration.

Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty in all its forms, including plagiarism on written or visual work, is considered an academic matter to be controlled and acted upon by the individual faculty member.

Students guilty of academic dishonesty on examinations in any course shall receive, as a minimum penalty, a grade of F in that course. Such action shall be taken by the instructor, with written notification to the provost. Repeated offenses shall subject the student to suspension or dismissal from the university. Students involved in facilitating academic dishonesty among others, such as by the unauthorized dissemination of examination materials, will be subject to disciplinary action beyond that called for by their own academic dishonesty in a course.

Plagiarism is “the act of stealing and using as one’s own the ideas or the expression of the ideas of another.” Whether that other is another student or a published author, plagiarism is cheating.

Guidelines and policies affecting dishonesty and most other aspects of student life may be found in the Shepherd University Student Handbook www.shepherd.edu/student-handbook.

Grading System

Summary of Grading System

Grade    Explanation Point Value per
Semester Hour
A   Superior 4
B   Acceptable 3
C   Minimum grade accepted for credit in graduate programs 2
D   Unacceptable; credit not accepted toward graduation 1
F   Failure; credit not accepted toward graduation 0
IF   Irregular withdrawal 0
I   Incomplete*, must be completed by date specified on the grade of incomplete form** -
W   Withdraw without grade point penalty* -

*Not used in computation of grade point average
* Incomplete grades must be made up within one semester or the grade of I becomes a grade of F.

Summary of Withdrawal Dates


Action: Dropping a class.
Form required: None–drop course on RAIL
Date: First five class days.
Resulting Grade: Dropped course does not appear on the transcript.

Action: Withdrawing from a class.
Form required: Course Withdrawal Slip–obtain from advisor
Date: Sixth class day through Friday of the 12th week of classes.
Resulting Grade: W.

Action: Complete withdrawal from the university.
Form required: Semester Withdrawal Form–obtain from Registrar
Date: From the sixth class day through the last class day of the semester.
Resulting Grade: W

The withdrawal procedure is incomplete until all necessary signatures have been secured and the appropriate forms returned to the Office of the Registrar  and the Office of Graduate Studies by the specified time stated in the current academic year calendar.

Any counseling provided to a student from any employee of the university that is at a variance with established university policies must be confirmed by the provost. Although a student may receive advice from any agent of the university, the final responsibility for a decision concerning withdrawal rests with the student, in consultation with the course instructor, and in accordance with university policies.

Graduate Student Code of Conduct

The student code of conduct was enacted primarily to set forth in a clear and concise manner the rules and regulations expected of those who join the university campus and/or participate in any university-sponsored activity. Keeping the core missions of the university in mind, the code is

  • to foster the scholarly and civic development of the university’s students in a safe and secure learning environment,
  • to protect the people, properties, and processes that support the university and its missions, and
  • to preserve academic freedom and free and open exchange of ideas and opinions for all members of the university.

All graduate students are subject to the provisions of the Shepherd University Guidelines and Policies as outlined in the Shepherd University Student Handbook. The handbook includes sections on academic code of conduct, community expectations, and the judicial process. Guidelines and policies are also available www.shepherd.edu/student-handbook.