The following policies apply to all degrees offered in the Graduate Programs in Religion. Such policies govern the student’s relationship to the University and to other students, and are intended to protect students against arbitrary or unfair treatment.
If at any time a graduate student should disagree with a policy decision ( or believe it is unfair, unclear or inaccurate), he or she is encouraged to express it to the Office of Graduate Programs in Religion. Every effort will be made to resolve the discrepancy. If the student is not satisfied, any formal decision of the OGPR may be appealed to the Provost. The decision of the Provost is final.
A full-time academic load at the graduate level is nine (9) units or more per semester. Exceptional students may enroll for up to twelve (12) units upon the counsel of the OGPR. Students may not enroll for more than sixteen (16) units in a regular semester without the approval of the Director. Students may petition the action of the Director to the Provost.
Program Grade Requirements
— In order to graduate, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least “B” (3.0 on a 4.0 scale). Students should therefore enroll for a reasonable course load for each semester since graduate courses generally require more time than undergraduate courses. Any grade below “B-” is below minimal performance in the M.A. program and indicates that improvement is required in order to complete the M.A. degree. Students who receive a second grade, which is below a “B-”, will be required to meet with their academic advisor and the Director to determine whether or not they should continue as degree students. A third course grade that is below a “B-” may result in dismissal from the program at the discretion of the Graduate Academic Affairs Committee (GAAC). No more than two (2) course grades of “C+”, or “C” may count toward the Master’s degree. Grades of “C-” and below cannot be used for credit toward the Master of Arts degree except by repeating the course with a satisfactory grade. Grades of “C-” and below will remain on the student’s permanent record.
— In order to graduate, students must achieve a minimum grade point average of B- (2.67 on a 4.0 scale). Students should therefore enroll for a reasonable course load for each semester since graduate courses generally require more time than undergraduate courses. Any grade below a “C+” is considered below minimal performance in the M.T.S. program and indicates that improvement is required if students expect to complete the M.T.S. degree. If students receive a second grade below a “C+”, they will be required to meet with their academic advisor and the Director to determine whether or not students should continue as degree students. If students receive a third grade below a “C+”, they could be dismissed from the program at the discretion of the GAAC. No more than two (2) course grades of “C” or “C-” may count toward the Master’s degree. Grades of “D” and below cannot be used for credit toward the M.T.S. degree except by repeating the course with a satisfactory grade. Grades of “D” and below will remain on the student’s permanent record.
An “Incomplete” grade is the way the institution agrees to respond to a student who has been prevented from completing some or all of the requirements in one or more courses due to circumstances which were beyond the student’s ability to prevent or foresee, and who has requested additional time to complete the course requirements. It is the responsibility of the student to obtain a “Petition for Incomplete Grade in a Graduate Course” form from the OGPR and to meet with the course professor(s) as early in the semester as possible. The professor will then decide if the circumstances warrant an Incomplete, what course work is necessary, and penalties (if any) for submitting work late. A professor is under no obligation to assign an incomplete grade or to administer a make-up examination.
Examples of acceptable grounds for granting an incomplete grade include: personal or family illness of more than brief duration, serious personal or family crisis, or an unplanned increase in job responsibilities. Unacceptable grounds include heavy or difficult class load, heavy work schedule, or computer problems.
All incomplete work is due 90 days from the last day of that semester. (i.e., Fall semester must be submitted by the 2nd Friday of the following March, and all incomplete work from the Spring semester must be submitted by the 1st Friday of August.) Failure to complete and submit on time the required work will result in a permanent grade commensurate with the completed work at that point.
Incompletes resulting in RELG coursework will carry an alternate grade of “CE” (continued enrollment) and no credit will be earned until all course requirements are satisfied, and the professor submits a grade change to CR (credit). Exceptions or extensions to this policy are made only with the approval of the Director and the course professor(s).
Some professors may choose to work with a student’s incomplete coursework by initially assigning an unsatisfactory grade (i.e., “D”), and then submitting to the Records Office a Change of Grade form upon receipt and evaluation of all necessary coursework.
If a student has provisional standing due to coursework deficiencies, he/she may still enroll in graduate classes. However, all deficiencies must be removed before completing twenty-four (24) units of graduate work, and before making application for Advancement to Candidacy.
Program Time Limits
All work for the Master’s degrees will be completed within six (6) years for the M.A. degree and eight (8) years for the M.T.S. degree from the date of entrance as degree-seeking students.
If additional time is needed to complete the requirements, approval from the Director must be obtained by filing a General Petition. Extensions may be granted up to two (2) years for all programs. Students who exceed both extension deadlines must repeat any credit-bearing courses (or appropriate alternative course work) that were completed eight (8) (M.A. program) or ten (10) (M.T.S. program) years earlier.
Adding or Dropping Courses
If one or more courses are added or dropped during a semester, a Request for Add/Drop form (available in the Records Office and OGPR) must be submitted to the Records Office after signatures are obtained from the course professor(s).
Withdrawal From a Semester
Complete withdrawal from the program during a regular academic term requires two forms (available in the Records Office): 1. “Request for Add/Drop” form with professors’ signatures; and 2. Official Withdrawal form for withdrawal approval from the academic advisor. Students who do not officially withdraw from classes will automatically be given a grade of “F” (failure) by the professor(s). Failure to withdraw officially could lead to future problems in transferring credit to other graduate institutions or when applying for readmission. Students who follow the proper withdrawal procedures, due to justifiable personal circumstances submitted to the OGPR in writing, will be classified as “withdrawn in good standing.” The tuition refund policy will be observed in cases of official withdrawal from the GPR.
Leave of Absence
Should personal matters prevent the student from taking any courses for one or two semesters, he or she will complete a Leave of Absence to maintain active status in the program, and to avoid the inconvenience of readmission. Leave of Absence forms are available in the OGPR. When returning from a leave of absence, the student will need to apply for re-entry to the program. A fee will be charged for re-entry.
Note: Even with one or more semesters on leave of absence, the limits (six years for the M.A., eight years for the M.T.S. degrees) still apply.
Re-admission to the Program
If the student has been absent from the GPR for one or more semesters and does not have a current Leave of Absence form on file, he or she must submit an “Application for Re-admission” with the OGPR. There is a fee for re-admission. Students must meet any new graduation requirements that have come into effect at the time of their re-admission. Students must also submit transcripts (if any) from other institutions while absent from VU.
Students may transfer a maximum of nine (9) units of coursework from an accredited graduate program when the coursework directly applies to their program design. Requests for transfer credit are to be submitted to the Registrar no later than the deadline for advancement to candidacy. Final decisions regarding transfer credit rests with the Registrar upon receipt of the recommendation of the Director. No courses with a grade lower than “B” (3.0) will be transferred toward the M.A. degree. No transfer credit can be granted for coursework used for a degree awarded by another institution. A minimum of 27 units at VUSC is required of all students in the M.A. degree program, or 30 units if the directed reading exit option is chosen. All core courses must be taken at VUSC.
Students may transfer a maximum of twelve (12) units of coursework from an accredited graduate program when the coursework applies directly to their program design. Requests for transfer credit are to be submitted to the Registrar no later than the deadline for advancement to candidacy. Final decisions on matters of transfer credit rests with the Registrar upon receipt of the recommendation of the Director. No course with a grade lower than “B-” (2.67) will be considered in transfer toward the M.T.S. degree. No transfer credit can be granted for coursework used for a degree awarded by another institution. A minimum of 36 units at VUSC is required of all students in the M.T.S. degree program.