Mar 22, 2023  
2009-2010 Graduate Catalog 
2009-2010 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Graduate School Policies

All on the information is available online under the Graduate School section of the myU.portal.

Because variation exist in the requirements for the degree programs, it is important for students to become well acquainted with the specific requirements of their program. The following description covers University requirements and serves as a general guide.

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 an eight-week summer session is nine credit hours of course work; however, 12 credit hours may be allowed in exceptional cases or when registration includes thesis/dissertation research. The Graduate Dean may certify that a student enrolled for less than 9 credit hours is to be considered full time for purposes such as financial aid, insurance, etc. Students on graduate assistantships must enroll for at least 9 credit hours during the academic year, and at least one credit hour during the summer term.

To be considered a full-time student, a student must be enrolled in a minimum of nine credit hours of graduate course work during each academic semester, at least five credit hours of graduate course work during a 10-week summer session, or at least three hours of graduate course work during a 5-week summer session. Again, students receiving compensation from graduate assistantships during the summer must register for at least one credit hour.

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

Residence Requirements


Residence refers to fulltime registration in graduate studies. Ph.D. students must generally complete a minimum of two academic years of residence or full-time graduate study in select programs. Executive programs and off-campus programs designed for working adults are exempt. Departmental requirements concerning residency may vary for Master’s students. To ensure residency requirements are met, graduate students should check with individual departments.

Transfer Credit


A maximum of nine 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. More than nine credits may be transferred toward Educational Specialist and doctoral degrees. Check with the academic department for information on the number of credits that may be approved for transfer and the time limits on these credits. Typically, no more than 30 credit hours from a Master’s degree may be transferred to an Education Specialist or doctoral program.

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. (Note, only three credit hours of “N”, “P”, or “S” may be on the program of study, whether these are from transferred or USD courses).
  3. The institution is accredited by a recognized, regional accrediting body. 

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.

Time Limit and Validation of Credits


The entire work for the Master’s, Specialist in Education, Clinical Doctorate, and Doctorate in Education must be completed within a period of seven calendar years from the date of the first registration regardless of enrollment. For the Ph.D., all requirements must be completed within five calendar years following the date of admission to Ph.D. candidacy. By special permission of the Graduate Dean, the time may be extended.

Graduate credits earned more than seven years prior to the date of intended graduation must be validated. The method of validation is to be decided upon by the student’s advisory committee and sent to the Graduate Dean for final approval. Normally, validation may include repeating of the course, satisfactorily completing a final examination for the course, demonstration of relevant professional experience, or specific additional questions on the comprehensive examination.

Leave of Absence


A Leave of Absence may be requested by students who are officially accepted to and enrolled in a graduate program at The University of South Dakota who wish to temporarily stop out of that program. The Graduate School Registration Officer will enroll students who are approved for a Leave of Absence in a program sustaining course for each term the student is on leave up to the seven year limit to attain a graduate degree from The University of South Dakota. Program Sustaining courses are zero credit courses that are free of charge; they provide Leave of Absence students University library and e-mail privileges.

If the student does not re-enter the semester following a Leave of Absence approval, the Graduate School Registration Officer will continue to enroll the student in program sustaining courses until the student reaches the seven year limit for degree attainment. Students enrolled in program sustaining courses will not be required to reapply to re-enter the University. However, students must re-enter through the Graduate School. Students not approved for a Leave of Absence will be inactivated and will need to reapply to re-enter the Graduate School.

Please note that a Leave of Absence does not stop the time frame for degree completion. Students will be expected to complete their degree within seven years from their first registration or other departmental indicator, regardless of the number of terms the student is on leave from the University.

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. 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. No USD course work numbered 400 or below may be used on a program of study to fulfill graduate degree requirements. The 700 series is clearly and solely graduate material at Master’s or Specialist level. The 800 series indicates Doctoral levels of study.

Adding and Dropping Courses


Students may use WebAdvisor to drop and/or add courses after initial registration until the end of the Drop/Add period if they are not completely withdrawing from all courses. After the Drop/Add period, which is also the 100% refund deadline and is typically the first week to ten days of the semester, the student must obtain a Drop/Add form or withdrawal form from the Registrar’s Office located in the Belbas Center or online in the Registrar’s section of myU.portal. 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

Change of Degree Program


Students wishing to change their degree programs must apply for the new degree and meet the admission criteria for the new degree program. An application fee may be required again dependent upon the program to which the candidate is applying. 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. The new graduate program may require graduate admission tests or prerequisite course work. If changing a degree within the same department, the student may complete the Change of Degree Program form available through The Graduate School. The student should complete the top portion of the form, present it to the current department chairperson or graduate director for approval and then present it to the intended degree program for approval. The Graduate School will request that the student’s records be sent to the intended degree program. The intended program will review the student’s file and will notify The Graduate School regarding approval or denial of the change of degree program request. The student is then notified by The Graduate School regarding the approval of their request for a Change of Degree Program. When changing a degree outside of the department, the candidate must complete a Graduate School application for admission. However, the application fee will not be required for those students who have already been accepted to the Graduate School and remained active or on hiatus in good standing. The Graduate School will follow the same admission processes for the new application using previous materials if reasonable.

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 nine 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. Application to the additional program and approval is required following standard processes.

Confidentiality of Information


The University of South Dakota recognizes the importance of confidentiality of student information and complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 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 Portal. Login to myU.portal > Academics > Academic Policies & Forms > Graduate.

Other sources of Information about Graduate Programs and Opportunities for Graduate Students


The Graduate School website, Graduate School section of the Portal and e-mailed list serve are valuable sources of information for new and continuing students.

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. 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 department chair and the Graduate Dean.


In addition to overall satisfactory performance, graduate students must maintain a “B” average in all work included in the program of study submitted for their degrees, with no more than one-third of the credit hours with grades of “C”. No grade below a “C” is acceptable for graduate credit. 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. 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 one course, not to exceed three credit hours, to be taken at the graduate level for a grade designation of S (satisfactory).

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. Participation in class as an auditor is at the discretion of the instructors. 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 Portal: Login to:  myU.portal > Academics > Academic Policies & Forms > Academic (Registrar) Forms. Regular tuition and fees are charged for audited courses. An auditor wishing to change registration from audit to credit must do so during the regular drop/add period. The auditing fee is non-refundable.

Academic Standing, Probation, and Dismissal


If a student has more than one course of unsatisfactory work and/or has not maintained a 3.0 graduate GPA, The Graduate School may place the student on probation and/or dismiss him/her. Degree programs review academic standing of all their graduate students each term, notifying students directly of academic probation or dismissal. The Graduate Dean is copied on all student communication. A graduate student may be recommended for dismissal from the program at any time for failure to meet the degree program’s or The Graduate School’s standards of academic performance and progress.

It is the policy of The Graduate School that any department, through due process, may deny a graduate student continued enrollment in a program. 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 (see below). In addition, general campus rules and policies relating to student conduct are found in the Student Handbook available in the Portal: login to myU.portal > Academics > Academic Policies & Forms > Academic Policies-Graduate. For further information, call The Graduate School (605) 677-6240.

Graduate Academic Appeal 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 A student pursuing an academic appeal may confer with the Graduate Dean before initiating the process. For other grievance proceedings, the student should contact the Director of Student Rights & Responsibilities ( or the Affirmative Action Director (

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 on 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 their initial admission. The change of status form is available in the Portal: log into myU.portal > Academics > Where Do I Go For Help? – Graduate School > Graduate School Forms.
  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, Higher Education Center - West River in Rapid City, and the CUC in Pierre). This policy also applies to special students. Once a student has been admitted, The University of South Dakota’s Student Health Department will send the required form to the student’s residence to be completed immediately. 

  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 and registers for classes. Discuss program of study and overall plan for the program.
  5. Program of Study: A Program of Study must be filed with The Graduate School as soon as 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% of the course work at the 700-course level or above. Any substitutions or exceptions to the catalog requirements must be noted on the program of study. No more than two workshop courses may be included on a Program of Study without permission of the Graduate Dean. 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 nine credit hours may be transferred from other institutions as part of a Program of Study. Forms are available electronically in the Portal: login to myU.portal>Academics>Where Do I Go For Help-Graduate School>Graduate School Forms. The Graduate School cannot accept the Program of Study until the student’s advisor has approved.
  6. Ph.D. Candidacy: A student is formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. upon successful completion of the 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.
  7. Application for Degree: An Application for Degree must be made no later than the designated deadline for the semester in which the student expects to graduate. The deadlines and forms are available in the Portal: login to myU.portal>Academics>Where Do I Go For Help? - Graduate School>Graduate School Forms. Failure to file an Application for Degree at the appropriate time may delay graduation.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 Graduation Approval is submitted to the Graduate School. The deadline for the approval is approximately three weeks prior to graduation. The approved form should be signed by the Chair of the Advisory Committee.
  10. Thesis/Dissertation Submission: The final thesis or dissertation must be submitted to The Graduate School, for Master’s degree students under Plan A and 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 is available on the Portal: login to myU.portal > Academics > Where Do I Go For Help? – Graduate School > Thesis and Dissertation Guide.
  11. Commencement: Candidates are urged to attend the commencement exercises for the degree that is being sought. 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. PLEASE NOTE: If a student fails the written or oral examinations, The Graduate School must be notified in writing immediately by the Chair of the Committee/Student Advisor so that the student’s name can be removed from the commencement program. The memo should also indicate if the student is to be allowed re-examinations and under what conditions. Permission to repeat a failed examination is at the discretion of the committee, which normally requires an intervening period of additional study.