Jul 17, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Graduate School Policies and Procedures

Because variation exists in the requirements for the degree programs, it is important for students to also become well acquainted with the specific requirements of their program. The following description covers University requirements.

Full Time Status & Normal Course Load


A full-time graduate-student course load is 9-12 credit hours. During the regular academic year, the normal maximum registration for a graduate student is 12 credit hours per semester. The normal registration during the summer session is 9-12 credit hours of course work. Students on graduate assistantships must enroll for at least 9 credit hours during the fall and spring terms, and at least 1 credit hour during the summer term.

To be eligible for overload status (more than 12 credits), a student must have approval by the Graduate Dean.

For graduate programs that require more than 12 credits per semester as part of the approved curriculum, the program must have pre-approved overload by the Graduate Dean. Approved programs include Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor in Physical Therapy, Transitional Doctorate of Physical Therapy, Doctor in Physician Assistant Studies, Doctor of Audiology, Master of Arts in Speech Language-Pathology, and Master of Social Work. To ensure requirements are met, graduate students should check with individual programs.

Transfer Credit


Up to 12 graduate credit hours from other regionally accredited institutions may be transferred toward a master’s degree program. These transfer credits must have been completed no more than seven years prior to conferment of the USD graduate degree. The transfer credit approval form must be signed by the student’s advisor, department chairperson, and approved by the Graduate Dean. Check with the academic department for information on the number of credits that may be approved for transfer and the time limitations on transfer credits. Typically 30 credit hours from a conferred master’s degree may be applied to a specialist in education or doctoral program. The Ed.D. requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the master’s degree or 30 credit hours beyond the specialist’s degree.

An official transcript must be sent directly to the Graduate School to verify all requests for approval of transfer credit, unless such transcript is on file with the Graduate School. Requests for approval of transfer credit should be made during the first semester of study in order to avoid any misunderstanding regarding acceptance of such credit. Final approval of all transfer credit rests with the Graduate Dean and any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Graduate Dean. The following conditions must be met before credit can be accepted:

  1. The student must have been in good standing in the institution from where the credit is transferred.
  2. The grades in courses transferred are “B” or better; “N”, “P”, “S” or similar designations are acceptable for up to three credit hours with approval on the program of study.
  3. The institution is accredited by a recognized, regional accrediting body.
  4. Transfer credits must have been completed no more than seven (7) years prior to conferment of the USD graduate degree.

    Transfer credit from another institution will be recorded on a USD transcript only if the transfer work is accepted as part of a USD graduate degree.

Admission Appeal


If a prospective graduate student is denied admission into the University of South Dakota’s Graduate School, he/she may request reconsideration through an appeal process if he/she can provide appropriate justification. Admission appeals may only be considered for applicants who met established admission standards. The denied applicant must appeal in writing to the Graduate Dean within 30 days of the admission denial citing reasons why he/she should be reconsidered for admission. Admission appeals must address if an admission denial resulted from administrative error, some factual errors in the record, or violation of policies or procedures.

Admission Deferral


Students who have been accepted to the University of South Dakota Graduate School, but are unable to attend during the term originally intended, may request their entrance into their graduate program be deferred. Admission deferments will be considered only for one calendar year (three terms) and must be approved by the Academic Program Advisor, Graduate Director, and the Graduate Dean. The Academic Program must approve an Admission Deferment to save a place for the student in a future term. An Admission Deferment means the students may begin the academic program in a designated future term without reapplying. The Admission Deferment form can be found in the myU.portal (available to current students) at link.usd.edu/3367.

Express Readmission


To be considered for readmission under the express readmission process, the student must have met the following terms at the time the student’s graduate program is inactivated:

  1. Student must be in good standing within the program of study.
  2. Student must have a minimum graduate GPA of 3.0.
  3. Student must be within three years of taking a credit-bearing course at the University of South Dakota.
  4. Student must have a minimum of 12 graduate-level credit hours completed within a degree-seeking program of study or have completed at least 1/3 of a graduate certificate program of study.

If readmitted through this express readmission process, the student will be readmitted to the original catalog year. The readmission process does not guarantee admission and, if all criteria are not met, the student must reapply through the standard process.

Time Limit and Validation of Credits


The entire University of South Dakota coursework applicable to the current master’s, specialist in education, and clinical doctorate must be completed within a period of seven calendar years from the date of the first matriculation to the current degree being pursued. For the doctor of education and doctor of philosophy, all requirements must be completed within ten calendar years from the date of first matriculation to the current degree being pursued. The student, with support from the program, may petition the Graduate Dean to extend the time due to extenuating circumstances. 

Graduate credits earned (for master’s, specialists, or clinical doctorate degrees) more than seven years prior to the date of intended graduation or ten years (for doctor of education or doctor of philosophy) must be validated. The method of validation is to be recommended by the student’s advisory committee and approved by the Graduate Dean. Normally, validation may include repeating of the course, satisfactorily completing a final examination for the course, demonstrating relevant professional experience, or successfully answering specific additional questions on the comprehensive examination.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)


The Graduate School adheres to the policies and procedures of the University of South Dakota Office of Human Subjects Protection and Institutional Review Board (IRB).  All research must be performed in full compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations regarding research.  This includes, but is not limited to, research involving human subjects, laboratory animals, and select chemicals and infectious agents.  The committee chairperson’s signature on the Graduation Approval form certifies that the study followed all necessary policies and procedures.

Evidence of Dissertation and Thesis Progress


Progress on the dissertation or thesis must be evident to retain active status and to allow future enrollment in dissertation and thesis sustaining courses. The student is responsible for submitting, in writing, such evidence to his/her committee chairperson each term and the committee chairperson will determine whether sufficient progress has been made to permit continued active status and continued enrollment in dissertation and thesis sustaining courses. If sufficient student progress has not been made, the committee chairperson will consult with the graduate program director. In turn, the graduate program will formally notify the student of his/her pending inactivation due to lack of progress; the graduate program will provide the student an opportunity to meet with the program director by a given date to state his/her case to continue in the program. After the meeting with the student or if the student does not respond by the response deadline, the graduate program director must make a decision. If the director’s decision is to inactivate the student due to lack of progress, the action is managed like a dismissal. The program director sends the student a letter of dismissal and provides the student his/her appeal rights under SDBOR policy 2.9. The Graduate School is copied on all formal communication with the student. If the student, once dismissed, wishes to return to the program, he/she would need to reapply.

Non-Thesis, Thesis, and Dissertation Committee Requirements


On behalf of the advisory committee, the student’s advisor will approve the student’s program of study, administer the written and/or oral examinations, approve the thesis or dissertation where applicable, and certify to the Graduate School that the candidate has satisfactorily met all requirements for an advanced degree. The student works closely with his/her advisor in determining who will serve on their advisory committee. While students may request committee members, such choices are subject to approval by their program head and the Graduate Dean. All committee members must have graduate faculty status and must be identified on the student’s Program of Study form. In order for a student to be eligible for graduation, all committee members must sign the student’s Graduation Approval form. See Timelines from Admission to Graduation for more information regarding the submission of these forms.

In unusual situations, the Graduate Dean and the Chair of the Department may concur that there is a need and adequate justification for an alternate committee. The Department Chair and the Graduate Dean will also concur on the selection of committee members. A content expert, whether external or internal to the University, must be involved in the evaluation of the thesis or dissertation. The content expert may or may not serve as a member of the committee. All degree requirements remain intact when an alternate committee is invoked.

Non-Thesis Committee Requirements
Non-thesis committees are comprised of at least three graduate faculty members and must include the student’s major advisor.

Thesis Committee Requirements
Thesis committees are comprised of at least three graduate faculty members and must include the thesis advisor, at least one additional faculty member from within the department, and one faculty member from outside of the department. The thesis advisor must have regular, tenure/tenure-track, graduate faculty status within the department offering the student’s degree program.

Dissertation Committee Requirements
For most doctoral committees, the committees are comprised of at least five graduate faculty members, including one faculty member from outside of the department housing the program. For doctoral committees in the School of Education, the advisory committees are comprised of four or five members including the outside member. The dissertation advisor must have regular, tenure/tenure-track, graduate faculty status within the department offering the student’s degree program.  Committee members from outside the university may serve on a student’s committee for their specific expertise if they are nominated for and receive graduate faculty status.

Continuous Enrollment and Leave of Absence


A leave of absence may be requested by students who are officially accepted to and have enrolled in a graduate program at the University of South Dakota and wish to temporarily take an absence from that program.  A student may request a leave of absence for up to three consecutive terms (one calendar year).  The student’s leave of absence request will be reviewed by their graduate program and the Graduate School.  If approved, the Graduate School will place the student on leave; the student will maintain their active status and is not required to reapply to resume enrollment at the University.  Students not approved for a leave of absence or those who are not continually enrolled and do not apply for a leave of absence will be inactivated and will need to reapply to re-enter the Graduate School.  A leave of absence does not stop the time frame for degree completion and students will be subject to the time limits discussed previously.

Course Numbering System


Course numbers are coded by a prefix to indicate disciplines or significant sub-discipline, and a three-digit number. The 500 series indicates beginning level graduate courses.

Where appropriate, graduate lectures may be given in conjunction with an undergraduate course of the same title as a dual-listed 400/500 level course. SDBOR policy 2:8.2D requires that each syllabus document the difference in the quality and depth of work appropriate to graduate education. Dual-listed course syllabi must outline the student learning outcomes, goals or objectives specific to academic level. In all such cases, it is the instructor’s responsibility to maintain a documented difference in the quality and depth of work appropriate to graduate education. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure they enroll in the graduate level course (500-level) to use the course as part of their graduate program of study. No coursework numbered 400 or below may be used on a program of study to fulfill graduate degree requirements.

Adding and Dropping Courses


Students may use Self-Service to drop and/or add courses after initial registration until the end of the Add/Drop period if they are not completely withdrawing from all courses. After the Add/Drop period, which is also the 100% refund deadline, students may drop a class with a “W” grade until the last day to drop a class with a “W”. The Add/Drop or Withdrawal form must be properly completed and signed by the student’s advisor and the Graduate Dean. The deadline and procedures for adding and dropping classes are available on the Registrar’s section of the myU.portal at link.usd.edu/194.

Change of Degree Program


Students wishing to change their degree programs must apply for admission to the new degree and meet the admission criteria for the new degree program. Specific health science programs using a third party admission service as well as the Law School and the Medical School will require additional application fees. Students who wish to change to a higher degree or change to a degree outside of the department/division must complete a Graduate School application for admission. The Graduate School will follow the same admission processes for the new application using previous materials if reasonable. If changing to a lesser degree or to request a change of specialization within the same department, the student must complete the Change of Degree Program form available through the Graduate School. The student should submit the form to the current program head for approval.

Additional Master’s Degrees


Additional master’s degrees may be earned by a student at the University of South Dakota with the following restrictions: no more than 12 credit hours from a previous master’s degree may be applied toward another degree, provided the course work does not exceed the seven-year time limit. Certain approved curricular designs may permit additional credit hours. Application to the additional program and approval is required following standard processes.

While pursuing a specific degree program, a student may pursue more than one specialization(s) under a single degree if granted permission by the department(s) and the Graduate Dean or designee.

A student may pursue two unique graduate programs at the same time and share credits between the two programs if granted permission by the department and the Graduate Dean or designee (nine credits recommended). If the student applies to a new program, the Graduate School will assure the two programs are aware that the student is working on the degrees simultaneously.

A student may come back at a later date after the initial degree was conferred to pursue an additional specialization if granted permission by the department and the Graduate Dean or designee. This additional specialization will not be transcribed. The Graduate School will provide documentation that the student completed the coursework for the specialization if requested by the student.

Confidentiality of Information-FERPA


The University of South Dakota recognizes the importance of confidentiality of student information and complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. The current policies of USD regarding the release of information and the rights of students with respect to information maintained on their records are included in the Student Handbook available in the myU.Portal at www.usd.edu/~/media/files/student-life/usdstudenthandbook.

Academic Integrity Philosophy


Academic integrity is a fundamental concept underlying the educational enterprise of the University. As such, the idea of academic integrity must be embraced by all who are members of the university community and must be a guiding principle in all actions of the University. Academic integrity encompasses the values of Honesty, Trust, Fairness, Respect, and Responsibility and is the foundation for the standards of acceptable behavior that apply to all within the university community.

To this end, the University of South Dakota seeks to embrace, promote, and maintain an atmosphere of honesty and integrity that can be summed up in the following simple statement:

We are committed to honesty, fairness, trust, respect, and taking responsibility for our actions.

The University should:

  1. Promote a well-defined philosophy of academic integrity pertaining to all members of the university community and addressing the five cardinal values of Honesty, Trust, Fairness, Respect, and Responsibility.
  2. Promulgate clear procedures for dealing with transgression of the established policies protecting academic integrity. These procedures should be congruent with applicable laws, Board of Regents policy and existing university policy, including the Student Code of Conduct and the Academic Appeals process, so as to protect the rights of all involved. The Colleges and Schools within the University should be allowed latitude in establishing appropriate procedures that take into account not only the values and ideals promoted by the University but also those which are congruent with expectations of acceptable conduct in professional settings. An innate feature of the university community is an emphasis on dialogue and learning; thus, consultation and mediation should be emphasized as the primary means of resolution in instances where academic integrity has been lacking. This emphasis does not preclude stringent application of appropriate university policy when necessary. Similarly, commitment to academic integrity should enhance, not stifle, honest disagreement, debate, and differences of opinion among the members of the university community.
  3. Use all appropriate avenues to disseminate and underscore the core values of academic integrity at the University. Applicants, parents, enrolled students, visitors, faculty, staff, and administrators should be aware of the university’s philosophy and policies on academic integrity. Commitment to academic integrity should be prominent in all actions of the constituents of the university community. All students, faculty, and staff entering the university community for the first time shall be apprised of the academic integrity policies and should agree to the philosophy that underlies them. The University should take opportunities to reinforce the academic integrity philosophy at appropriate times throughout the academic year.
  4. Revisit the academic integrity philosophy and policies in a timely manner.

Grading System


Graduate grades will be assigned to the Graduate Academic Level and to all courses and sections with course numbers of 500 or greater. Plus and minus grades are not used.

  Grade Definition Grade Points
  A Exceptional 4.00 grade points per semester hour
  B Good 3.00 grade points per semester hour
  C Average 2.00 grade points per semester hour
  D Unsatisfactory 1.00 grade points per semester hour
  F Failure 0.00 grade points per semester hour
  S Satisfactory Does not calculate into any gpa
  U Unsatisfactory Does not calculate into any gpa
  W Withdrawal Does not calculate into any gpa, no credit granted
  AU Audit Does not calculate into any gpa
  I Incomplete Does not calculate into any gpa
  IP In Progress Does not calculate into any gpa
  NG No Grade 0 credit tracking course
  NP Normal Progress Does not calculate into any gpa
  NR Grade not Reported by instructor Does not calculate into any gpa
  EX Credit by Exam Does not calculate into any gpa
  CR Credit Does not calculate into any gpa
  LR Lab grade linked to Recitation Grade 0 credit course

An in progress (IP) grade may be granted only when all of the following conditions apply:

  1. The requirements for the course (for every student enrolled in the course) extend beyond the current term.
  2. The extension beyond the current term must be defined before the class begins.
  3. The instructor must request permission to award IP grades for a course from the department head and Graduate Dean, and then approval must be obtained from the Vice President for Academic Affairs.
  4. A definite date for completion of the course must be established in the course syllabus.

A normal progress (NP) grade may be granted by an instructor when the instructor determines that a graduate student is making normal progress in a graduate Thesis/Dissertation course. If a graduate student does not enroll for a period of one calendar year, the NP grade may change to I (Incomplete) upon approval by the Graduate Dean. The NP grade calculates into attempted credits but does not calculate into completed credits or grade point averages.

A Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grade may be granted only when the entire course requires the S/U grade or the student has elected the S/U option on or prior to the census date of the term.

Grade Point Average (GPA) Hours/Hours Earned

The number of GPA hours is the total number of hours for which students have enrolled and received a grade of A, B, C, D, or F, except as provided for by repeated courses. The grade point average is determined by dividing the number of grade points earned by the number of GPA hours.

The following types of grade point averages are calculated within the South Dakota regental system:

Institutional GPA - based on credits earned at the degree-granting institution.

System Term GPA - based on credits earned at any of the six South Dakota regental universities within a given academic term (fall, spring, summer).

Transfer GPA - based on credits earned and officially transferred from an accredited college or university outside the South Dakota regental system. When a letter grade that normally calculates into the grade point average exists for a non-academic course (e.g., credit earned by examination), it will be included in the GPA calculation.

Cumulative GPA - based on all credits earned by the student. Used to determine minimum progression status and if degree requirements have been met. When a course is repeated for credit, all attempts are entered on the transcript but the last grade earned is used in the calculation of the cumulative GPA.

Incomplete Grades

An instructor may assign a grade of incomplete when a student encounters extenuating circumstances that preclude completion of a course. An incomplete provides the student with a limited amount of time to fulfill the course requirements without having to repeat the course. The student must be earning a passing grade at the time the circumstances necessitating the incomplete occur. Anticipated course failure is not an acceptable justification for an incomplete.

The assignment of an incomplete grade is at the instructor’s discretion. Once the instructor agrees to grant an incomplete grade, the instructor and student must agree on a plan to complete the coursework which does not require repeating the course. The coursework must be completed within one calendar year from the last day of the semester in which the course was taken; extensions may be granted by the Graduate Dean upon petition. If the student completes the coursework within the specified time, grades of A, B, C, D, F, S, or U may be assigned. If the student fails to complete the coursework within the specified time, the incomplete grade will remain on the student’s transcripts and the student will need to repeat the course to meet degree requirements.


Academic Standards and Progress


The graduate student admitted to a graduate program must make satisfactory academic progress each term toward completion of the graduate degree being sought. Students who fail to make satisfactory progress are subject to academic probation and possible dismissal. If the cumulative GPA of graduate students receiving assistantships falls below a 3.0, the student will not continue to receive the assistantship without the expressed approval of the program head and the Graduate Dean.


In addition to overall satisfactory performance, graduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA average of 3.0 or above in all work included in the program of study submitted for their degree. Furthermore, no more than one-third of the credit hours with grades of “C” are permitted. Many programs further restrict grades of C. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher is required to progress in the Graduate School. All grades of “Incomplete” on the program of study must be removed prior to graduation. Grades of “D”, “F”, or other unsatisfactory designations are not acceptable for graduate credit. This does not mean that grades of “D” and “F” may not be assigned to graduate students but that credit for courses in which such grades have been earned will not be counted toward a graduate degree although they are included in GPA calculations. For repeated courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, only the last grade is used in computing the grade point average. For the Law School, only the first grade is used in computing the grade point average. For the Medical School, all grades are averaged in the grade point average. Repeated courses are marked with an “R” or “Repeated.”

The candidate’s graduate committee, with approval of the Graduate Dean, may approve up to three credit hours, to be taken at the graduate level for a grade designation of “S” (satisfactory). Graduate programs approved by the SDBOR to offer more than three credit hours within their degree program are exempt from this rule.

Students at the University of South Dakota who wish to audit a course may do so with the approval of the instructor and the dean of the school/college in which the course is offered, providing that there is space in the classroom after all registered students for credit have been accommodated. No USD credit is granted for courses that are audited. All auditors must submit a “Request for Audit” form to the Registrar’s Office found in the myU.Portal at link.usd.edu/194. Regular tuition and fees are charged for audited courses. An auditor wishing to change registration from audit to credit must do so during the 100% refund/last day to add deadline. The auditing fee is non-refundable after the 100% refund period.

Academic Standing, Probation, and Dismissal


If a student has more than one course of unsatisfactory work and/or has not maintained a 3.0 term or cumulative graduate GPA, the academic program places the student on warning, probation, or dismisses him/her from the program in keeping with department and Graduate School policies. Degree programs and the Graduate School review the academic standing of all graduate students each term, and program leaders notify students directly of academic warning, probation or dismissal. The Graduate School is copied on all student communication. A graduate student may be dismissed from the program at any time for failure to meet the academic performance and progress standards of the degree program’s or Graduate School. The department is required to provide students a written notice of the issues and an opportunity to meet with the program head (face-to-face, teleconference, virtually) before dismissal action.

It is the policy of the Graduate School that any academic graduate department, through due process, may deny a graduate student continued enrollment in a program in accordance with department policies. The reasons for dismissal include: (1) academic performance that does not meet the standards of the department and the Graduate School, or (2) conduct in violation or unfavorable of the ethical or professional standards of the degree program or discipline involved. Academic appeals are handled through the Graduate Academic Appeal Policy (SDBOR Policy 2:9, see below) and/or the Student Code of Conduct Policy in the event of an allegation of misconduct (SDBOR 3:4; see below). In addition, general campus rules and policies relating to student conduct are found in the Student Handbook available in the myU.Portal at www.usd.edu/~/media/files/student-life/usdstudenthandbook.  For further information, call the Graduate School 605-658-6173.

Graduate Academic Appeal and Grievance Procedures


A procedure has been established for impartial review and hearing of any academic grievance. The University’s graduate academic appeal procedures can be found at www.usd.edu/graduate-school/student-resources.cfm. For other grievance proceedings, the student should contact the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities (srr@usd.edu) or the Director, Equal Opportunity & Chief Title IX Coordinator (equalopp@usd.edu).

Grievance Processes

SDBOR 1:18 Human Rights Complaint Procedures. This policy governs the process through which human rights complaints such as discrimination occurring in the delivery of or access to education services are to be resolved.  Students may initiate a complaint by contacting the Director Of Equal Opportunity & Title IX Coordinator. Students may also be called upon to respond to a complaint under this policy. Should the basis of a student’s academic grievance under SDBOR 2:9 suggest sexual harassment or another form of discrimination, the matter will be investigated under this policy prior to any action under SDBOR 2:9.

SDBOR 2:33 Student Academic Misconduct. Faculty suspecting academic misconduct shall begin the resolution process under this policy. Allegations of academic misconduct, both when disposition is achieved and not achieved under SDBOR 2:33, will then move to SDBOR Policy 3:4. Graduate students can expect communication from the Director of Student Rights & Responsibilities regarding the final disposition of allegations of academic misconduct; referring faculty and the Graduate Dean will be notified of disposition as well.

The Academic Misconduct Disposition Form utilized by faculty is accessible on the portal.

SDBOR 3:4 Student Code of Conduct. Policy obliging students and student organizations to minimum standards of behavior within which, prohibited conduct, process regarding allegations of misconduct, possible outcomes, and appeal rights are treated. Students may be called upon to respond to allegations of misconduct in the form of notification from the Director of Student Rights & Responsibilities (or another designee). Students, too, may initiate a conduct complaint against another student, students, or student group under this policy.

SDBOR 2:9 Student Appeals for Academic Affairs guides disputes for academic decisions with a significant degree of finality such as a course grade or removal from a program.

The Academic Appeals by Students form is located on the portal.

Timelines from Admission to Graduation


The student is responsible for ensuring that the following requirements have been completed and should stay in close contact with his or her advisor throughout the graduate program. Students can obtain a list of deadline dates for the semester in the Portal.

  1. Admittance: Student is admitted to the Graduate School either fully or provisionally.  Any student admitted provisionally must attain full admission status prior to being considered as a candidate for a graduate degree. To change status from provisional to full, the student must meet all provisions of the initial admission.
  2. Immunization verification: An Immunization Form must be completed for all on-campus and center-based students before the student may register for classes (both Vermillion Main Campus and University Center in Sioux Falls, Black Hills State University - Rapid City, and Capital University Center in Pierre). This policy also applies to special students.
  3. Advisor assignment: An initial advisor is assigned at the time of admission. Committees are assigned by the department.
  4. Meet with advisor: The student meets in person or virtually with advisor to register for classes, discuss program of study, and overall plan for the program.
  5. Program of Study Form: A Program of Study must be filed with the Graduate School as soon as is feasible. The Program of Study is determined after a student has consulted with his/her advisor. The Program of Study presented for fulfillment of degree requirements must be comprised of all graduate work and at least 50 percent of the coursework at the 700-course level or above, unless the coursework leading to the degree has been otherwise approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents. Any substitutions or exceptions to the catalog requirements must be noted on the program of study and require pre-approval of the program head. Substitutions should not be taken lightly as degree program has been approved by the Board of Regents, and a substitution is essentially a change to the program.  If more than one substitution is proposed, Graduate Dean approval is required. No more than 3 credit hours of workshop courses may be included on a Program of Study. Approved transfer credits should be indicated on the Program of Study. The transfer approval and official transcript must accompany the Program of Study, if not already on file in the Graduate School. Only 12 credit hours may be transferred from other institutions as part of a Program of Study. Forms are available electronically in the myU.Portal at link.usd.edu/3367.  The Graduate School cannot accept the Program of Study until the student’s advisor has approved the plan.
  6. Ph.D. Candidacy: In some programs, a student is formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. upon successful completion of a Comprehensive Exam. The structure, expectations, and timing of comprehensive examinations vary among Ph.D. granting departments. Consult specific degree programs for more information about the Comprehensive Exam.  Other Ph.D. programs consider acceptance to the program and first registration admittance to candidacy. Ph.D. candidacy does not change the timeline to degree completion.
  7. Application for Degree/Program of Study: Students enrolled in a degree program must submit an Application for Degree no later than the designated deadline for the semester in which the student expects to graduate. The deadlines and forms are available in the myU.Portal at link.usd.edu/3367.  Failure to file an Application for Degree at the appropriate time may delay graduation.
  8. Application for Certificate: Students enrolled in a graduate certificate program must submit an Application for Certificate no later than the designated deadline for the semester in which the student expects to have the certificate awarded. The deadlines and forms are available in the myU.Portal at link.usd.edu/3367. Failure to file an Application for Certificate/Program of Study at the appropriate time may delay the awarding of the certificate. A student receiving financial aid under Title IV regulations (federally subsidized loan, loan deferrals, etc.) may not stop being degree-pursuant to be certificate-pursuant in the same program without financial aid sanctions.
  9. Final Evaluation of a Graduate Student: The method of evaluation of graduate students is at the discretion of the degree program. It may be a written and/or verbal evaluation, or any other method that requires the student to demonstrate their depth and scope of knowledge. More information on the final evaluation of a graduate student is explained in each program section. Students writing a thesis or dissertation will be required to complete a verbal defense of their research. Devotion to the demands of advanced learning while utilizing a variety of intellectual skills is expected of the graduate student. While progress toward a graduate degree is continually assessed, every department is required to evaluate and assess the quality of the learning experience of each student at the end of the program of study. The final examination for master’s, specialist, and doctoral level candidates will be open to all members of the graduate faculty. Participation in this examination, however, is only with the prior consent of the chairperson of the committee.
  10. Graduation Approval: The Graduation Approval form contains the results of the oral and/or written final evaluation of the graduate student, and thesis or dissertation grades and accepted credit hours. The form is to be retained by the chairperson of the advisory committee until degree requirements are completed, at which time the student’s committee members sign and submit the Graduation Approval form to the Graduate School. The deadline for the approval is approximately one week prior to graduation.
  11. Thesis/Dissertation Submission: The final thesis or dissertation must be submitted to ProQuest at www.etdadmin.com/sdakota by master’s degree students under Plan A and by all doctorate students. Failure to submit the thesis or dissertation at the appropriate time may delay graduation. A Guide to Preparing the Dissertation or Thesis and  ProQuest Process documents are available in the myU.Portal at link.usd.edu/3369.
  12. Commencement: Candidates are strongly encouraged to attend the commencement exercises for the degree that is being sought. Students have the option to request to attend a commencement prior to the one at which they will earn their degree or to “walk early.” In order to seek approval to walk early, graduate students must be within nine credit hours from actual completion of degree. Students must submit their Application for Degree/Program of Study with their Request to Walk Early. The Graduate School will review the request against the student’s Program of Study ensuring students will be graduating the following semester. The Graduate School will notify the student on the status of the request. Students who choose to walk early will not be listed in the commencement program or press release. Degrees are conferred at the end of the summer semester, fall semester, and spring semester; however, there will only be one commencement ceremony for each academic year held at the end of the spring semester. All candidates for graduation from the preceding summer and fall are invited to spring commencement. All summer and fall candidates will be listed in the following spring commencement program.  A combined press release will be issued for all candidates for degree during the spring commencement term.
  13. Clearing Students for Graduation: With the exception of the Law School and Medical School, the Graduate School audits programs of study against required curriculum and clears students for graduation each term. Students who have completed all requirements for a degree, but whose formal graduation is delayed, may obtain a Letter of Certification of Completion of Degree Requirements from the Graduate Dean. Auditing and posting of degrees occurs during the timeline below.
  • Spring Graduation: Week after finals until the end of June (Diplomas mailed end of July)
  • Summer Graduation: Week after finals of Session Three until the end of September (Diplomas mailed end of October)
  • Fall Graduation: Week after finals until the end of January (Diplomas mailed mid-March)

Program Availability


Students in degree programs that are discontinued will be provided a reasonable time to complete degree requirements. The plan will follow the format required by the Higher Learning Commission in its June 2017 publication, “Commission Approval of Institutional Teach-Out Arrangements”.

Click to view: Teach Out Arrangements