Academic Policies and Procedures for Graduate Students

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Graduate Information

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Determination of Requirements

Academic requirements for graduate programs are listed in the individual sections of the Bulletin. Matriculated students follow the requirements for graduation listed in the Bulletin current at the time they are admitted (or readmitted). With the departmental advisor’s consent and approval from their graduate program, students may elect a later Bulletin under which to fulfill the degree requirements; they may not elect an earlier Bulletin, nor use a combination of requirements from different Bulletins.

Previously non-matriculated students who then matriculate are governed by the requirements of the Bulletin in effect at the time of their matriculation.

When courses required in older Bulletins are no longer offered, or in other special cases, course substitutions may be made with the approval of the appropriate graduate program.

Changes in regulations concerning grading systems, withdrawals, academic actions, etc., may be made by appropriate University governing bodies; they become effective on the date specified in the legislation. The University reserves the right at any time to make changes deemed necessary in the regulations, fees, courses or programs described in the Bulletin, and to cancel any course if registration does not justify its continuance or if qualified faculty members are no longer available.

It is the responsibility of the student and supervising professors to know the rules and procedures leading to completion of the degree pursued, but it is always wise for each student to take primary responsibility for meeting deadlines and ensuring his or her own progress.

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The general grading system of the Graduate School applies to all graduate-level courses offered in Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA), School of Management (SOM), Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science and the Graduate School. Grades are on a letter scale: A through C– and F. The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) uses a slightly different letter scale: A through C-, D and F.

Grades of S (satisfactory) and U (unsatisfactory) may be used in a limited number of cases, described below, for which no greater precision in grading is required. The grades of S and U are not assigned numerical value and thus are not averaged in with other grades in computing grade-point averages. A grade of S denotes a minimum level of academic performance equivalent to at least a B.

For the purpose of computing semester or cumulative averages, each letter grade is assigned a quality point value as follows:

A = 4.0
A– = 3.7
B+ = 3.3
B = 3.0
B– = 2.7
C+ = 2.3
C = 2.0
C– = 1.7
D = 1.0 (D is used only in SOPPS)
F = 0.0

These grade values are combined with course credit hours to produce a grade-point average. A cumulative grade-point average of B (3.0) is required for graduation. A cumulative grade-point average of 2.50 is required for graduation for PharmD students. Courses for which a student has received a D or an F do not count toward the number of courses required for a graduate degree or certificate.

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Course Credits

Most courses, unless otherwise noted, are assigned three or four credit hours.

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Graduate School Transcripts

The official transcript of record for all students enrolled in advanced degree programs or as continuing education graduate students of Binghamton University is the Graduate School transcript, which provides a complete record of all academic work attempted. Undergraduate work is indicated on a separate undergraduate transcript. Graduate students with both undergraduate and graduate academic records at Binghamton have the option of requesting release only of the Graduate School transcript.

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Interpretation of Transcript Symbols

In addition to the letter grades and corresponding quality point values described earlier, the following symbols may appear on official transcripts for the Graduate School:

X — audit; no numerical credit given for the course.

I — incomplete; course not completed for reasons acceptable to the instructor. A grade of I gives no grade points.

NC — no credit; no grade issued.

W — withdrawn; the student withdrew from the course following the second week of the semester. A grade of W is not counted in computing grade-point averages, nor does the course earn credit hours.

R — registered; the student maintained required matriculated status during the semester through continuous registration (700, GRD 750) or registration in a research skills (707) course. Courses assigned R grades are not applied toward degree progression.

0 (zero plus letter grade) — course was repeated for a higher grade, or undergraduate courses taken as graduate students (will not calculate in graduate grade-point average or earn credit hours).

S/U — satisfactory/unsatisfactory (a grade of S is equivalent to a B or better). The following limitations apply to the use of S/U grading:

500-589 — master’s-level courses: at the option of the instructor (not the student), either S/U or regular letter grading may be used.

590, 592-596 and 598 — internship or practicum courses: at the option of the instructor (not the student), either S/U or regular letter grading may be used.

591 — supervised college teaching of the discipline: only S/U grading may be used.

597 — independent study: at the option of the instructor (not the student), either S/U or regular letter grading may be used.

599 — thesis: only S/U grading may be used.*

600-696 — doctoral research seminars: at the option of the instructor (not the student), either S/U or regular letter grading may be used.

697 — independent study at the doctoral level: at the option of the instructor (not the student), either S/U or regular letter grading may be used.

698 — pre-dissertation research: only S/U grading may be used.*

699 — dissertation: only S/U grading may be used.*

*Registration for one credit in 599, 698, 699 or related courses may be considered full-time whenever the principal supervisor confirms that the student is spending appropriate time and effort in research, equal to at least 32 hours per semester week. This is done by the completion of a Full-Time Working Toward Degree Status Certification Form.

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Full-Time Working Toward Degree Status

Students in the final stages of degree work may be certified as full-time for loan or visa purposes if the student's supervisor and program director certify that the student is making a full-time investment in work toward their degree.

In order to qualify, students must have completed 24 or more graduate credits in residency and be classified as a G2, G3 or G4 student. Students must also meet additional criteria, depending on their student status:

  • Domestic doctoral students must have ABD status OR be within one academic year of ABD status. 
  • International doctoral students must be officially course complete AND registered in thesis, final project, pre-dissertation research or dissertation.
  • Domestic master’s students must be officially course complete OR within one academic semester of degree completion.
  • International master's students must be officially course complete AND registered in thesis or final project.

To be certified full-time, students must make a formal request to their academic department by completing the Full-Time Working Toward Degree Status Certification FormIn order to receive full-time working toward degree status for the semester, this certification form must be approved before the first day of classes for the semester.

Qualifying students must be registered for billable credits, often including comprehensive exams, non-thesis projects, thesis (599), pre-dissertation research (698) or dissertation (699). After the full-time working toward degree status is approved, students can be registered for additional credits of GRD 700 (self-funded) or GRD 701 (funded) to establish a full-time status. Fees are not assessed for GRD 700 or 701. They are not courses; they are non-billable place-holders in Banner, used only to certify full-time status. GRD 700 or 701 may not be used in conjunction with any continuous registration credits or winter registration.

Graduate students receiving University support (a tuition scholarship, stipend or other support) and all international students are required to maintain full-time registration. Full-time registration status is defined as 12 credits per semester for G1 students (who have completed less than 24 graduate credits) and 9 credits for G2, G3 and G4 students (who have completed 24 or more graduate credits).

Domestic students being certified as full-time for loan purposes must be registered for a minimum of six credits.

Certification of status is the responsibility of the student and the graduate program. It is important that the student request certification in a timely manner and that the graduate program carefully review the student's records to make sure that they meet the requirements for the given status.

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Determination of Academic Standing

A cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0 is required for a graduate degree. To maintain satisfactory academic progress, students are required to earn a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 in all courses that the Graduate School counts toward a degree. Students in the PharmD program in the SOPPS must earn a minimum grade-point average of 2.50. The Graduate School may sever a student, when in the estimation of the dean of the Graduate School (or the dean's designee), the student is not maintaining a satisfactory grade-point average, as required for graduation.

Graduate students may also be severed from the Graduate School for not meeting other academic requirements, such as not passing required exams or not meeting required program deadlines. In this case, graduate students may be severed by action of the dean of the Graduate School (or the dean's designee) on recommendation of the departmental graduate committee with endorsement by the department chair, or by the school/college graduate committee with endorsement by the dean of the school/college, if it appears that the student is not making satisfactory progress toward the degree and it is unlikely that requirements for the degree will be satisfactorily completed.

Course Repeat Policy

Students are permitted to repeat for credit a graduate course in which they earned a grade of B– (2.7) or lower. This option is contingent on approval by the graduate program director and review by the Graduate School. A course may be repeated only once. In those cases in which students are on financial support, the repeated course is considered as part of the academic workload.

When a course is repeated, the grade received in the second attempt is substituted for the first in the computation of the grade-point average and in the award of credit at the time of degree finalization. However, the first grade remains on the student transcript.

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Graduate programs in consultation with the Graduate School should determine whether they will allow a student whose cumulative GPA is below 3.0 to continue in the program.

The most semesters that a student can be on "academic probation" due to a cumulative GPA below 3.0 are as follows:

A graduate student whose cumulative grade-point average falls below 3.0 may be enrolled subsequently only on a probationary status, with the graduate program's written approval. While on probation, the student must meet at the outset of the semester with the director of graduate studies to review academic performance and progress toward a return to satisfactory standing. A graduate program may only continue a student with a cumulative GPA below 3.0 on probation for a maximum of three semesters (excluding summer sessions) except in extraordinary circumstances.

Their continued enrollment will require the specific written endorsement of the director of graduate studies and approval by the Associate Dean of the Graduate School. The graduate program is not required to continue a student with a cumulative GPA below 3.0 on a second or third probation semester, and any continuance requires the Graduate School's approval. For continuance, it is expected that there will be clear evidence that the student will be able to achieve the required 3.0 GPA to graduate in a timely way.

A graduate student whose cumulative grade-point average falls below 2.6 will be considered in academic jeopardy as well as on academic probation. Students may be in academic jeopardy for only one semester.

Graduate programs may have stricter policies, in which case these must be described in the program handbook, but may not have more lenient policies than described above.

Students with a cumulative GPA below B average (3.0) are officially on "academic probation," and they are expected to seek counseling in a timely way from their faculty advisors in order to improve their performance to a satisfactory level. Students with a cumulative GPA below 2.6 are officially on "academic jeopardy" as well, and they are expected to check in with their advisors and Graduate Director regularly during their jeopardy semester. 

Students in the PharmD program in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) will be assessed for academic probation/academic jeopardy status according to the policies and procedures described in the SOPPS section of the Binghamton University Bulletin. PharmD students must maintain a 2.50 average to avoid academic probation/academic jeopardy.

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Satisfactory Progress

Graduate students may be severed from the Graduate School by action of the vice provost and dean or on recommendation of the departmental or school/college graduate committee, if it appears that they are not making satisfactory progress toward their degrees and that it is unlikely that requirements for the degree will be satisfactorily completed in a timely manner. The Graduate School’s minimum requirement for continuing status is the maintenance of a B (3.0) average. Students in the PharmD program in the SOPPS must maintain a 2.50 average.

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Policy on Graduate Student Severance or Removal of Support

Graduate students who do not meet academic standards may be severed from their graduate programs according to the process described above. Normally this process entails detailed warning letters to students, who then work with their faculty advisors to improve their grade-point averages to satisfactory levels of B (3.0) or above — or 2.50 or above for PharmD students — or to meet other specified program requirements (such as the passing of comprehensive exams or the completion of theses). If the necessary requirements are not attained within a specified period, the program’s director of graduate studies recommends to the vice provost and dean of the Graduate School that the student be severed.

Graduate students who do not make satisfactory progress toward the degree based on the progression to candidacy guidelines outlined below, as well as graduate students who do not maintain continuous registration, put themselves at risk of being severed from their graduate program.

Graduate students are subject to the rules governing academic life listed elsewhere in this publication. Accusations that students have committed acts of academic dishonesty may be brought before the academic honesty committee of the program or school, which issues a finding and a recommendation to the vice provost and dean of the Graduate School. The student receives a copy. A graduate student who is found to have violated the rules of academic integrity or who plagiarizes, cheats or falsifies research data is subject to suspension or expulsion. Students have the right to appeal such recommendations to the vice provost and dean of the Graduate School.

Graduate students may be involuntarily withdrawn from the University for medical or psychological reasons, following the policies outlined in this publication under the "Involuntary Withdrawal of Students" section of the "Academic Policies and Procedures for All Students" section.

All other recommendations to sever a student from the Graduate School or one of its programs, to break a student’s assistantship contract or to revoke a fellowship, tuition scholarship or another source of financial support are made to the vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, accompanied by appropriate documentation. The student must be informed of the basis for any such decision and may appeal it, using first the grievance procedure of the student’s program and then, if needed, the appeals procedures of the Graduate Council Grievance Committee. Action on a recommendation to remove support from or sever a student in good academic standing will await the outcome of the grievance procedure.

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Incomplete Grades

An instructor may assign an Incomplete (I) when a student has done most of the coursework satisfactorily, but due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the student's control has not completed the coursework. The Incomplete is not for the purpose of converting a failing grade, or unsatisfactory work, to a passing grade. The Incomplete grade option is not for the purpose of extending a project that has grown such that it cannot be completed within the course time frame. Completion of projects that require more than the course time frame can be done in other ways, such as "independent study." It is not a grading option for entire classes or courses. If an instructor assigns an Incomplete, then according to University policy, the instructor is implicitly indicating availability and a commitment to assist that student with completion of the course beyond the usual time frame within the University's six-month grace period (or sooner if the instructor establishes an earlier deadline).

The student must request the Incomplete option from the instructor, but it is the instructor's decision as to whether it is appropriate or not. Students should be aware that a grade of Incomplete is automatically assigned in any course for which an instructor has not submitted a grade. Graduate students who are given an Incomplete may be given up to six months from the last day of classes to make up the incomplete work, which includes having the new grade submitted to the Office of Financial Aid and Student Records. This is the maximum allowed; the instructor and student should have a written contract that indicates the timeline and requirements for completion. The instructor may set a deadline sooner than the University maximum, reflecting the instructor's availability to extend his/her commitment beyond the course, but the instructor cannot extend the University period of six months. It is expected that, upon submission of the remaining work, faculty will take no longer than one month to file a final letter grade for the course. Therefore, students are advised to submit the remaining work at least one month before the agreed upon deadline or the University six-month deadline, whichever comes first. Unless the student completes the coursework (which includes the instructor submitting a final letter grade within six months), the Incomplete changes to a grade of No Credit (NC). Once an Incomplete has changed to a No Credit, the student has no further opportunity to complete the course and the course will appear on the final transcript as No Credit. Under exceptional circumstances only, the six-month grace period for Incomplete grades may be extended for up to another six months. Requests for extensions of incomplete grades require the approval of the course instructor and the vice provost or dean of the Graduate School (or the dean's designee). Requests must be made at least one month before the six-month deadline. It is the student's responsibility to submit this request to the Graduate School.

Students enrolled in online programs that receive a grade of I will be required to complete the coursework by the end of the next module. If not completed by the end of the next module the grade will convert to NC requiring the student to re-register for the course.

To ensure that the University's tuition allocation is used appropriately, the University's Office of the Internal Auditor periodically audits use of tuition scholarships and student compliance with the terms and conditions for acceptance of tuition scholarship. Incompletes, No Credit and Withdrawals may be in violation of the terms and conditions. The Graduate School's policy on Incompletes, No Credits and Withdrawals reflects the need for compliance with the University's Office of the Internal Auditor.

An Incomplete means that the work required for the course, which has a set end, was not completed, even though the tuition was paid. Depending on why the Incomplete was assigned, the contract (or lack thereof) to finish the work, and/or the progress on the contract or Incomplete, there may be a violation of the terms and conditions for acceptance of tuition scholarship.

If a student is receiving a tuition scholarship, then the Graduate School expects the department to monitor the Incomplete situation. If the Incomplete becomes a No Credit and, as a consequence, the student's registration drops below full-time, then the student is in violation of the terms and conditions for acceptance of the tuition scholarship and the tuition for the semester that course was taken is owed to the University. Students in that situation cannot be funded further by the University until that situation is rectified by payment.

Therefore, departments should not offer funding to unfunded students who have an Incomplete or further funding to funded students who have an Incomplete. In most cases, funding appointments will not be approved by the Graduate School if the student has any Incomplete grades. That is, funded students who receive an Incomplete for a spring course must resolve the Incomplete before funding offers for fall semester will be approved by the Graduate School. Only exceptional cases with compelling justification will be approved. In the rare instances when approval is granted, funding can only be offered for one semester, and no additional funding will be approved until all incomplete grades are converted to grades. This policy helps students avoid an extra load on top of a regular load of courses, teaching and research required for their degree.

All courses taken by graduate students are subject to the above policy. Incomplete and missing grades must be resolved before students can receive a graduate degree. Because students are using University resources and services, students must be registered in the term for which the Incomplete grade is converted to a grade.

Some departments and programs may have more restrictive policies regarding Incomplete grades and students should make it a point to learn about their department's rules and expectations. Because of the financial issues involved, directors of graduate studies should make sure that faculty and graduate students understand the Incomplete policy. The Incomplete grading option should only be used for unusual situations — when circumstances beyond the student's control prevent the student from completing coursework.

The Incomplete policy has specific implications for students receiving tuition scholarships and other kinds of financial aid and for international students holding visas.

Tuition scholarships:

When a student receives a tuition scholarship, the University pays tuition for the courses taken by that student. In the case where an Incomplete converts to a No Credit, the University has paid for tuition for a course that was not completed. Furthermore, when the student drops below the required number of registered courses, the student has violated the conditions outlined in the terms and conditions for acceptance of tuition scholarship (which is signed by the student). Students receiving tuition scholarships should be aware that the University will seek repayment of tuition for the semester for which Incomplete courses turned into No Credit courses. Students in that situation cannot be funded further by the University until that situation is rectified by repayment. Students with a No Credit or Withdraw that did not occur for a course paid for by a tuition scholarship may qualify for consideration for University funding.

Although a student may be given up to six months to convert an Incomplete to a regular grade, that does not obligate the Graduate School to fund the student. For example, a student given an Incomplete for the spring semester must convert that to a grade before an offer of funding can be made for the following fall semester.

Financial aid:

Graduate students who receive federal or state aid may lose these benefits if they take Incompletes. See the Graduate Academic Progress Charts for information on the required number of completed credits per graduate level per semester.

International students:

Student visas require that students are registered as full-time, so Withdrawn courses usually signal registration that fell below full-time status.

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Missing Grades

In instances where graduate students are not assigned a grade for a graduate-level course at the end of the University’s grade submission deadline, the students in these courses will be automatically assigned an Incomplete (I) grade. In accordance with the Incomplete Grades policy above, Incomplete grades that are unresolved or not extended will then convert to a No Credit grade after one semester.

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Residence Requirement

Regardless of any previous graduate experience, the minimum university residence requirement for any graduate degree is 24 credit hours. Residence is defined as successful completion of 24 credit hours of Binghamton University graduate online or onsite coursework. The residence requirement refers to the University’s administrative requirement for residence, not New York state residency. See specific program requirements for courses that must be taken in residence. 

For pre-master's students (i.e., entering the University with a bachelor's degree), credit hours earned under any of the following rubrics normally may not be counted toward the Graduate School's minimum residence requirement: College Teaching of the Discipline (591); Thesis (599); Pre-Dissertation Research (698); Dissertation (699) and Continuous Registration (700-level).

*Students enrolled in accelerated or 4+1 master's degree programs (as defined by the Graduate School) have a reduced residence requirement, where a minimum of 18 credit hours must be completed at the graduate level in order to satisfy the residence requirement. Students are advised to carefully review their plans and consult with their advisors before confirming their course schedule each semester. Taking less than 12 credits during the graduate-level year of study may adversely impact financial aid, immigration status and graduation requirements.

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New and Revised Courses

Courses of instruction proposed by academic units as regular offerings within the curriculum of the Graduate School must be approved in advance by the Graduate Council. New course proposals must follow the information format established by the Graduate Council and must be formally approved by program graduate committees prior to their forwarding to the vice provost and dean for consideration by the Graduate Council.

In practice, the Graduate Council has delegated primary authority for action on new course proposals to its Curriculum Committee. Approval of a new course by the Curriculum Committee is formally noted on each agenda for regular meetings of the Graduate Council, with the committee’s approval standing as final unless two or more council members request that formal review and action be taken by the Graduate Council.

The descriptions of courses as initially approved by the Curriculum Committee or Graduate Council remain official unless and until formal revisions are made and approved. Revisions of existing course numbers, titles, descriptions or credit-hour assignments may be proposed at any time by program graduate committees to the vice provost and dean. In cases in which the vice provost and dean believe the revision of an existing course or courses of instruction implies substantive changes in the academic scope or general requirements of an advanced degree program, review by the Graduate Council’s Curriculum Committee is required.

Program graduate committees may propose new courses as experimental, or “X,” offerings. Experimental graduate courses require the approval of the vice provost and dean and may be formally offered only once. Courses offered on an experimental basis may not be offered a second time unless they are formally approved as regular offerings according to the procedure given above. Proposals for experimental course offerings must follow the information format prescribed by the Graduate Council for regular course proposals.

The curriculum of the Graduate School is reviewed annually. Approved courses of instruction that have not been offered within the previous four semesters may be dropped from the curriculum by the vice provost and dean, following formal notice to and consultation with program directors of graduate studies.

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Research Skills (707) Courses

The policies of the Graduate School allow students to register each semester for one to four credit hours of Research Skills (707) courses. Students may enroll in Research Skills (707) courses only when the faculty of the program have determined that there are specific research skills essential to the student’s degree work, and that such skills are not remedial — that is, are not normal admission requirements in that degree program. Research Skills (707) courses taken by graduate students may not be used to satisfy course requirements in any graduate degree program and may not be used in determining G2 enrollment status.

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Graduate Students in Undergraduate Courses

Courses numbered 400 through 499 are advanced undergraduate courses for which graduate credit may be assigned only when the graduate student obtains permission from the professor and enrolls in a graduate-level independent study course numbered 597. The name of the independent study will be the name of the course at the undergraduate level. The student must do additional work beyond that required for undergraduate students in the course. Within six weeks after the start of the semester, the instructor files with the Graduate School a statement as to the nature of additional work the student is doing in the advanced undergraduate course. In general, approval of graduate credit for advanced undergraduate courses is limited to unique program circumstances usually involving interdisciplinary work. Graduate students should not expect to receive graduate credit for more than two 400-level courses.

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Undergraduate Students in Graduate Courses

Courses numbered 500 and above are graduate courses, ordinarily open only to graduate students, primarily at the master’s level; 600-level courses are research seminars primarily for doctoral students. Undergraduate students who are within eight credits of graduation may register for up to two graduate-level courses and receive graduate credit, provided the graduate courses are not used to meet the undergraduate degree requirements. When graduate courses are not taken with the intent of fulfilling undergraduate requirements, such graduate hours do not count toward full-time status for financial aid purposes; thus, undergraduates taking graduate courses may not be eligible for certain types of financial aid.

To receive graduate credit for such courses, the undergraduate student must complete the Undergraduate Receiving Graduate Credit: Transcript Notation Petition Form. The form is then filed with the Office of Financial Aid and Student Records and the Student Accounts Office before the beginning of the semester.

Undergraduate students using this mechanism and also enrolled in 4+1 (or combined) Bachelors/Master’s degree programs (as defined by The Graduate School) may apply at most two courses (6-8 credits) toward the 18 credit residence requirement.

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4+1 (Combined) Bachelor's/Master's Degree Programs

4+1 or combined degree programs are opportunities for qualified and motivated students who wish to meet all undergraduate requirements and complete a focused master's-level program in approximately five years. Students must meet eligibility criteria as undergraduates. This normally occurs during the sophomore or junior year, at which time students must request, through their undergraduate advising office, that their major be changed to the 4+1 bachelor’s/master’s program. By the middle of the senior year, the student formally applies to the Graduate School. If the student is admitted to graduate study by the academic program and completes the undergraduate degree, all requirements for the master’s program are completed in the fifth year. Students who decide to not pursue the graduate degree may change majors back to a regular undergraduate program at any time.

For undergraduate students admitted to a 4+1 degree program, all graduate courses count toward the undergraduate degree up to the maximum number of graduate credits allowed for the particular program, as specified elsewhere in this publication. Such students will still be considered undergraduates for purposes of tuition calculation, financial aid status and other administrative purposes through the end of their senior (fourth) year. After receiving the bachelor's degree and enrolling in graduate school, the student’s status code will be changed from undergraduate to graduate, and all financial and academic policies for graduate students will then take precedence.

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Enrollment and Registration

Registration periods are controlled and maintained by the Office of Financial Aid and Student Records, which includes Registrar Services. Permission to register on days other than those designated must be obtained from the vice provost and dean. Students registering later than the regular registration dates are charged a late registration fee. Students ordinarily are not admitted to any regular classes after the first two weeks of class.

Payment of all outstanding charges, tuition and fees is a part of the registration process, and a student’s registration is not complete until full payment is made. Payment or arrangement for payment must be made with the Office of Student Accounts by the due dates established or, in the case of late enrollment, by the time of enrollment. Failure to conclude appropriate financial arrangements will result in the cancellation of the student’s enrollment in classes.

All delinquencies and enrollment blocks (e.g., compliance with New York State Department of Health requirements) must also be resolved before students may register.

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Registration Changes

Students may add a course, change course sections or drop a course without a grade being recorded only during the University’s advertised add/drop period. Online programs may advertise different add/drop deadlines. Deadlines are published by the Office of Financial Aid and Student Records. Students making changes in course enrollments (registrations) after the add/drop deadlines are assessed a late fee for each transaction.

  • To add, drop or change a course after the deadline, students must obtain the written approval of the instructor and the department chair or the director of graduate studies. Signed request forms must be submitted to the vice provost and dean of the Graduate School (or the dean's designee) and then processed by the Office of Financial Aid and Student Records.
  • Students may add or substitute courses, change credit hours for courses carrying variable credit or change the course grading option without penalty within the University’s advertised add/drop period. After that date, in addition to the normally required signatures, students must secure the approval of the vice provost and dean (or the dean's designee).
  • Students may drop a course without restriction through the add/drop period without a grade being recorded. If it is necessary for a student to drop a course after this period, submission of a Withdrawn (W) grade is determined by the instructor. See section on “Grades” above.
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Dissertation Registration

All doctoral candidates must register for dissertation (699) to maintain registration after admission to candidacy.

Doctoral students are not permitted to register for dissertation (699) credits before they have been formally admitted to candidacy by the Graduate School for the doctoral degree. Admission to candidacy for any doctoral degree occurs when the student has completed all coursework and research skill requirements and has successfully passed the required comprehensive examinations. Doctoral students who have completed all coursework for the degree, but who have not yet satisfied research skill requirements or have not yet passed the comprehensive examinations, must register each semester for an appropriate number of credit hours under the rubric pre-dissertation research (698).

Because work on the dissertation may be interrupted from time to time for a variety of reasons, students may register for continuous registration (700) if they are not actively engaged in research and writing during a particular semester. When students declare inactive status, it is assumed that only a minimum amount of faculty supervision is required for them to maintain matriculation. Students are limited to a maximum of two years (four semesters) of continuous registration (700) during the five-year period following the successful completion of the doctoral comprehensive examinations.

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See the "Withdrawal" section of the "Academic Policies and Procedures for All Students" section of the Bulletin.

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Continuous Registration and Leaves of Absence

All graduate students who have been admitted into a degree-granting program must maintain continuous registration each semester for a minimum number of credit hours or must apply for a formal leave of absence. Students who do not register and who have not been granted a leave of absence are severed from the Graduate School and are ineligible to return until readmitted. Onsite graduate students are not required to maintain matriculation during the summer sessions unless they intend to complete their final degree requirements during this period. Students must be registered during the semester their degree requirements are completed. Students admitted to an online program must refer to their department’s program’s plan of study, which may include the need to register for summer sessions.

Students who do not maintain registration are severed and may not return. They must reapply and pay a new application fee. Readmission is not automatic. Students who are readmitted are required to register and pay for one credit for each semester they have not registered, up to a maximum of four credits.

Graduate students in a degree program who wish to absent themselves from their studies for a semester or two should register for one credit of continuous registration (700).

A leave of absence is granted only in exceptional circumstances, such as hospitalization or other unusual personal hardship, and requires detailed justification. Leaves of absence are not granted to students working toward a graduate degree who are absenting themselves from campus to undertake thesis or dissertation research elsewhere; such students must maintain continuous registration. Students going off campus to fulfill an internship related to degree requirements must similarly register for at least one credit of continuous registration (700), unless the department or school specifies a course rubric and a minimum credit-hour registration to encompass such internship experience.

Leaves of absence, since they are given for personal hardship reasons, may be granted for a maximum of one year. Requests for leaves of absence should be submitted one month prior to the semester for which leave is requested. On a case-by-case basis, typically for medical reasons, a leave of absence may be granted once the semester has started. In these cases, once the leave is approved, the student will be administratively withdrawn from all current coursework. When a leave of absence is granted, the period of leave is not counted against the time limitation for completing the degree. Students with loans or funding of any kind are strongly advised to understand the impact a leave may have on repayment schedules, loan eligibility, assistantships, fellowships, scholarships and other awards, and to consult with a financial aid counselor in advance of requesting a leave of absence.

Students called to active military duty must provide written documentation of their deployment orders and may then apply for a leave of absence. Students on leave are excused from the registration requirement during the period of the leave. Leaves are normally granted for a period not exceeding 12 months, however, students beginning active military duty may be eligible for an exception to these time limits. 


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Auditing of Courses

Students may satisfy their interest in a subject area or explore a new area of study through a course audit. By auditing, they participate in but do not receive credit for the course. Course Audit Petitions are available in the Office of Financial Aid and Student Records or the undergraduate advising offices. Students may register for audits within the course add period only. Credit-bearing courses may not be changed to audit courses after the course add deadline, nor may audited courses be changed to credit courses after this deadline. Audited courses do not satisfy degree requirements.

Prospective auditors are advised of the following:

  • Students who audit courses must pay full tuition.
  • Audit students are expected to attend class regularly and to fulfill course requirements. Successful completion is listed on the transcript with a notation of X in place of the grade; the course is expunged from the record if the student fails to meet the requirements.
  • A course taken on an audit basis will not be counted in determining full-time status for financial aid eligibility, student loan deferments, NCAA eligibility, assistantship or fellowship eligibility, on-campus housing, immigration status or for some health insurance coverage.
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Credit by Examination

No provision exists within the Graduate School for students to receive course credit by demonstrating proficiency through examinations. However, demonstration of proficiency in the subject matter of a course, in a manner acceptable to the program graduate committee, may permit the student to receive a waiver of the requirement of that particular course. In such cases, the normal procedure is to substitute an approved elective course carrying an equivalent number of credit hours toward the degree pursued. With the approval of the program graduate committee, it is also possible for a student to satisfy degree requirements with fewer than the minimum number of credit hours normally established for the program, provided that the Graduate School’s minimum residence requirements are met, and that the total number of graduate credit hours satisfactorily completed for any master's-level degree is not fewer than 30.

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Transfer of Graduate Credits from Other Universities

Students matriculated in advanced degree programs may petition to have relevant graduate credits transferred toward their Binghamton University master’s degrees. Transfer credits are not normally considered for doctoral degrees. Students seeking transfer credit for a master’s degree should submit a petition to the appropriate department or school/college graduate committee, using the form established for this purpose by the Graduate School. The petition must include a copy of the official transcript. Credits petitioned for transfer must not have been used to satisfy the requirements of another degree. Petitions must be forwarded to the vice provost and dean of the Graduate School for final approval. If the vice provost and dean approve, the transferred credits are included on the student’s official Graduate School transcript. When courses are approved for transfer by the Graduate School, the letter grades are not reflected in the Binghamton University transcript nor are they considered in determination of the student’s grade-point average.

Requests to accept transfer credits must be evaluated for equivalency and currency. Normally, the student provides information to the director of graduate studies on the course description, credit hours, syllabi, work output including papers and exams and other relevant content. Consideration must be given to learning competencies the student has achieved and demonstrated.

Credits for which transfer is sought must have been earned in graduate-level courses passed with grades of at least B. Courses for which the student did not receive letter credit are not transferable. Courses taken more than five years prior to matriculation in the Graduate School are accepted only when the graduate program director attaches a statement justifying the transfer. Credits earned through correspondence courses, or through courses or experiences offered under the auspices of proprietary schools, business or industrial training programs, or schools conducted by federal agencies such as the Department of Defense, are normally not considered for transfer.

Limitations on the number of credit hours that may be approved for transfer are set by the Graduate School’s minimum residence requirement of 24 credit hours for any advanced degree. Credits approved for transfer may not be applied toward this minimum residence requirement. For master’s programs requiring a minimum of 30 credit hours, therefore, a maximum of six transfer credits may be applied toward the degree. When master’s programs require more than 30 credit hours, the vice provost and dean may accept a correspondingly larger number of transfer credits in individual cases.

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Double-Degree Counting

Students admitted to a graduate program may use a course to fulfill the requirements of two degrees, within certain guidelines. A candidate for two degrees of the same rank (e.g., master’s degrees) in separate disciplines may be allowed to do so in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • For students working toward two MA or two MS degrees, all credits must be unique and count toward only one degree.
  • For a student working toward an MA and an MS degree simultaneously, a maximum of three courses (12 credit hours) may be used to fulfill the requirements of both programs. The same is permissible for combinations of MA or MS degrees with the MBA or MPA degrees.
  • For doctoral degrees, decisions about using credits toward more than one degree are made on an ad hoc basis.
  • It is normally considered inappropriate to use thesis (599) or dissertation (699) credit hours to fulfill requirements of more than one degree.

Using credits to fulfill the requirements of more than one degree requires endorsement by both program graduate committees and approval by the vice provost and dean.

A candidate for two degrees of the same rank in the same discipline may be allowed to take advantage of double-degree counting in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • An MAT candidate who wishes to pursue, concurrently or subsequently, an MA degree in the same discipline may use up to 5 courses to fulfill the requirements of both programs, if the department regularly lists them as common to both its MAT and MA programs.
  • It is normally considered inappropriate to use MSEd coursework for more than one degree.

Special policies apply to approved dual-degree programs (MPA/MS Nursing, MPA/MSW, MPA/MS Student Affairs Administration and MSW/MA Spanish).

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Policy Prohibiting Award of a Second Degree in the Same Field

State University of New York policy states that a second degree at the same level (e.g., master’s or doctorate) may be awarded only when a significant amount of additional coursework in a very different field is completed. Normally when a student has already earned a master’s or doctorate in a given discipline (e.g., economics, history, etc.) at either a foreign or a U.S. institution, a second degree at the same level in that discipline may not be earned at Binghamton University.

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Master’s Degree

At their discretion, departmental or school/college graduate committees recommend for the master’s degree those candidates who have:

  • completed at least 24 credit hours of graduate coursework, exclusive of a thesis, in residence at Binghamton University;
  • completed the required coursework presented for the degree (minimum total is 30 credit hours). A maximum of six hours of transfer credit is allowed for degree programs requiring 30 credit hours; a maximum of eight hours of transfer credit is allowed for degree programs requiring 32 credit hours.
  • maintained at least a B (3.0) average in courses approved by the departmental or school/college graduate committee and presented for the degree;
  • fulfilled all departmental or school/college course requirements, with no credit for graduate courses in which a grade lower than C– (1.7) has been received;
  • given evidence satisfactory to their examination committees, by means of a master’s examination (written and/or oral) and required papers or a thesis, that they are familiar with basic hypotheses and techniques of their disciplines and are competent in applying them.

Candidates for the master’s degree must complete all requirements for the degree, including thesis if required by the program, within five years after matriculating in the Graduate School.

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Admission to Doctoral Candidacy

Matriculated students are admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree by the vice provost and dean (or the dean's designee), on recommendation of the appropriate academic unit, when they have passed required comprehensive examinations and met all research skills and coursework requirements, as certified by program submission of the Admission to Candidacy for Doctoral Degree Form. Within six months of admission to candidacy, a copy of the dissertation prospectus approved by the dissertation committee must be submitted to the department or school/college office.

A student in a doctoral program must be admitted to candidacy within five years of admission to the Graduate School if entering directly into a doctoral program at Binghamton University, or within five years after award of a master’s degree at Binghamton University.

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Dissertation Defense

The dissertation committee has direct charge of all matters pertaining to the dissertation. The dissertation must have the unanimous approval of the committee before arrangements are made for the final examination for the degree.

Members of the dissertation committee serve on the examination committee, and the dissertation chair normally serves as examination chair. The list of examiners may include one or more faculty members outside a program, if they were members of the dissertation committee.

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Outside Examiner

The vice provost and dean (or the dean's designee), upon recommendation from the department, adds to the examination committee membership an outside examiner as the representative of the faculty of the Graduate School. The outside examiner’s function on the examination committee is to render an independent judgment and to ensure that the dissertation satisfies Graduate School standards. The outside examiner must be approved and appointed before the dissertation defense may be scheduled. The outside examiner is either a Binghamton University faculty member from a related area outside the major department or division, or someone from a related discipline outside the University. The outside examiner should have no involvement in the supervision of a dissertation and no other conflict of interest. The outside examiner should be requested using the Outside Examiner Request Form.

If the nominee is not a tenured Binghamton University graduate faculty member, the program officer should forward an Outside Examiner Request Form, a curriculum vitae and a brief statement that gives the title and focus of the student’s dissertation, along with a brief commentary on how the outside examiner’s credentials relate to the student’s work. The vice provost and dean (or the dean's designee) evaluates the outside examiner’s credentials and then invites the nominee or another faculty member to serve as outside examiner.

Because of the time required to give adequate consideration to the student’s research, the student is expected to submit the dissertation to the dissertation committee — including the outside examiner — well in advance of the final oral defense. Normally, two months is recommended; however, this falls under the purview of the committee. In all cases, the dissertation defense may be scheduled only after the outside examiner is appointed.

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Doctoral Degree

At their discretion, departmental or school/college graduate committees recommend for the doctoral degree those candidates who have:

  • fulfilled the University residence requirement for course credits;
  • maintained at least a B (3.0) average in courses approved by the departmental or school/college graduate committee and presented for the degree;
    • Note: Students in the PharmD program in the SOPPS must maintain a 2.50 average. 
  • fulfilled all departmental or school/college course requirements, with no credit for graduate courses in which a grade lower than C– (1.7) has been received;
  • given evidence satisfactory to their examination committees by means of a comprehensive examination (written and/or oral) that they are familiar with basic hypotheses and techniques of their discipline and are competent in applying them;
  • satisfactorily fulfilled the departmental or school/college research skills requirement;
  • submitted a dissertation, on a topic approved by the department, that embodies the results of original research and gives evidence of high scholarship.
    • Note: This requirement does not apply to students in the PharmD program in the SOPPS or in the DNP program in the DSON, who instead complete capstone projects. 

Candidates for the doctoral degree must complete all requirements for the degree, including the dissertation, within five years after admission to doctoral candidacy.

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Thesis and Dissertation Preparation and Completion

For specific instructions regarding the preparation and submission of master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, students should consult the Graduate School Manual.

The absolute deadline for fulfilling thesis and dissertation requirements is approximately ten working days prior to Commencement. The recommended submission dates and absolute submission deadlines are published on the Graduate School website.

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Awarding of Graduate Degrees

Students who have completed their program requirements and wish to graduate must submit a Graduate Application For Degree (GAFD) to the Graduate School. The GAFD is an electronic application found on the Graduate School website. Simultaneously, when all requirements have been completed (including program-required final exam/paper/project submissions or thesis/dissertation defenses, etc.) departmental or school/college graduate committees will certify and recommend to the Graduate School that the appropriate degree be awarded. Following verification by the Graduate School that all degree requirements prescribed by the departmental graduate faculty have been met, the Graduate School will officially approve the award of a graduate degree.
Degrees are conferred three times each year: December, May and August. Students who complete degree requirements in the fall semester are awarded degrees in December; students who complete degree requirements in the spring semester are awarded degrees in May; students who complete degree requirements in the summer term are awarded degrees in August. Formal investiture of all degrees occurs at the University's annual spring Commencement ceremonies. All students who have completed their graduate degree requirements are invited to participate in Commencement, and eligible students will be notified by the Graduate School of all deadlines, as well as all charges and responsibilities that must be fulfilled prior to Commencement and final conferral.
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Waiver of Regulations and Requirements

Specified Graduate School regulations and/or program degree requirements may be waived by the vice provost and dean in individual instances. A petition for such a waiver must be endorsed by the appropriate program graduate committee and graduate program director, who append their reasons for believing that the requested waiver would not result in a breach of the spirit of the specified regulation or requirement.

The University reserves the right to alter these regulations and requirements without notice, pending the publication of the next scheduled issue of this publication.