2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
    
    May 28, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Degree Requirements


University Learning Goals (revised 2012-2013)

To accomplish the University’s mission to educate students, the general education curriculum and all program curricula provide learning opportunities that assist students in attaining the following University Learning Goals and Objectives:

  1. Effective Communication
    Our graduates can communicate effectively. Effective communication embraces oral, visual, and language arts, including the ability to listen, speak, read, and write. It includes the effective use of various resources and technology for personal and professional communication.
    • Our students can write effectively.
    • Our students can effectively deliver an oral presentation.
  2.  Personal and Social Responsibility
    Our graduates are prepared to be personally and socially responsible citizens, having the ability to apply knowledge and skills that encourage responsible civic engagement for the advancement of society. This includes an understanding of their own and other cultures and societies and the ability to make informed and ethical decisions.
    • Our students demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of their own and other societies and cultures.
    • Our students demonstrate an understanding of the process of making informed and ethical decisions.
    • Our students demonstrate an understanding of facts within historical and cultural contexts.
  3. Critical Thinking
    Our graduates can think critically, solve problems, and make informed decisions. Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information and ideas from multiple perspectives. It includes the accurate use of terminology, information literacy, the application of scholarly and scientific methods, logical argument, and the capability for analysis and problem solving.
    • Our students use appropriate quantitative skills in making decisions.
    • Our students demonstrate an ability to think critically and creatively to analyze and solve problems.
  4. Information Literacy
    Our graduates can use technology effectively in their fields. Information literacy is the ability to determine the nature of required information, to access it effectively and efficiently, and to evaluate it critically. It includes the responsible, legal, and ethical use of information.
     
  5. Content Knowledge
    Our graduates have content knowledge in their chosen fields and the necessary skills to be successful. Content knowledge is discipline and degree specific.

    As one means of attaining the mission of the University and of providing the student with a basic well-rounded education, all candidates for degrees complete prescribed general education courses. The general education curriculum includes courses that introduce and reinforce learning objectives for the following goals: Effective Communication, Personal and Social Responsibility, and Critical Thinking.

    To accomplish the University’s mission to educate students, all candidates for degrees complete the prescribed major and minor requirements of the University’s degree programs. Curricula in all programs reinforce the learning objectives for effective communication, personal and social responsibility, and critical thinking; curricula in all programs also introduce and reinforce learning objectives for the following goals: Information Literacy and Content Knowledge.

    The University measures student learning related to all five University Learning Goals and uses this information to continuously improve the curricula. Assessment reports that describe the ways these goals are integrated into classes are available through the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

Length of Time to Complete a Degree

The University reserves the right to make changes in any individual course or program of study in the curricula leading to degrees or in any other printed catalog requirement.

As changing requirements might continually prevent a student from graduation, the University has an obligation to assure regular and continuous students that they may pursue a required program and graduate without undue imposition of additional requirements.

All courses for the master’s degree, including courses accepted as transfer credit from other universities, must be completed within a six-year period (e.g., for an enrollment date of Fall 2015, degree requirements must be completed by Fall 2021; or for Spring 2015 graduation, courses completed prior to Spring 2009 will not count towards degree completion).

The doctoral degree must be completed within seven academic years from enrollment in the first course. Students anticipating exceeding the time limit because of extenuating circumstances (e.g., military deployments, health issues, etc.) may apply to the Graduate Council for an extension.

Degree Audit

At the completion of 12 hours of graduate coursework, students pursuing a master’s degree are required to review their degree audit, grades earned, and any deviations from the degree plan. When changes to the degree plan are made, the advisor is required to approve the changes. The degree audit is a student’s final degree plan. Any unauthorized changes in the plan may result in the student having to take additional courses to satisfy requirements for the degree.

A student who has an I grade in a graduate course, has failed to complete any specified compensatory course, or has failed to meet any other degree requirements will not be recommended for graduation.

Thesis

The candidate completing a thesis as a component of a master’s degree program must submit an approved thesis to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree. Thesis format guidelines are available in each college dean’s office and may vary by program.

Credit will be given for writing the thesis and for research completed and incorporated into the thesis. No more than six credit hours may be earned for the thesis. A student may register for either three or six credit hours per semester. Thesis enrollment under the University’s supervision must be continuous from the initial enrollment. The thesis must be completed within a maximum of two calendar years from initial thesis enrollment. An I grade will be awarded each semester or term until completion. An I grade received for thesis credit will not become a grade of F unless there is no continuous enrollment or the thesis has not been completed within the two years allotted. The final grade on thesis work will be either CR (credit) or NC (no credit) and will not be figured into the grade point average.

The thesis is to be prepared under the guidance of the student’s thesis advisor and must demonstrate sound methodology and scholarship. If a student elects to write a thesis, the committee will direct the thesis activity and will ultimately give the final pass or fail grade for the project. The degree advisor normally serves as the thesis advisor, but an alternate thesis advisor who is willing to accept that responsibility may be selected from the degree committee. The thesis must be prepared according to an approved publications style manual.

The choice of a thesis program or a non-thesis program should be determined and declared when the degree audit is submitted (upon completion of 12 hours). The student’s graduate degree committee must be selected at that time and the committee members must sign the degree audit.

The student’s committee must approve the topic and outline before the beginning of the semester in which the student expects to enroll for the thesis. Upon receiving the signatures of approval for the final manuscript, the student may proceed with printing the final four required copies. A copy of the Preliminary Approval of Thesis form must accompany each copy. (Note: The student must be certain the committee will be available if work is to be completed in the summer when faculty may not normally be available.)

Final copies must be submitted to the committee chair a minimum of five weeks prior to graduation. The committee must have a minimum of two weeks before it is to submit the final copies to the dean of the college and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies, who must then have a minimum of three weeks before graduation. When the final version of the thesis has been approved by each committee member, the candidate must submit the original and three copies of the thesis, along with the properly signed Approval of Completed Thesis form and a receipt from the Business Office covering binding costs of all copies, to the School of Graduate Studies.

Comprehensive Examinations for Master’s Degree Candidates

Some programs require the completion of a comprehensive examination (other master’s and licensure programs require a portfolio or project; see Portfolios and Projects, below). Students should contact their advisor for the specific requirements applicable to their program of study.

Comprehensive examinations are given during the student’s final semester. December or May graduation candidates will be given exams no later than week 12 of the semester. August graduation candidates will be given exams no later than the third week of second summer session. Students should contact their advisor for specific dates.

Passing 80 percent of the committee’s questions and receiving a majority vote of the committee are required for passing the comprehensive examination. If the student does not pass the examination, the student will meet with his/her advisory committee to determine the course of remediation needed.

Remediation could include further coursework or directed study. A second unsuccessful attempt will result in another meeting and further remediation. If a third attempt is unsuccessful, the student will be dismissed from the graduate program with no degree awarded and/or no recommendation for licensure. There is no appeal if a student fails the comprehensive examination on the third attempt. Final results of comprehensive exams must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies no later than two weeks prior to graduation.

Comprehensive Exams for Doctoral Degree Candidates

Comprehensive exams are given through the course Comprehensive Exams EDFN 7803 . Students may not continue in the program until the course is successfully completed with an A grade earned. If a student does not successfully complete the course the first time, it must be taken again the next consecutive full semester. Scoring below an A the second time will result in termination from the program and the student will be dismissed.

Portfolios and Projects

Some programs require the completion of a portfolio or a project (other master’s programs require comprehensive examinations; see Comprehensive Examinations for Master’s Degree Students, above). Students should contact their advisor for the specific requirements applicable to their program of study.

Portfolios for candidates of December or May graduation should be defended no later than week 12 of the semester in which the candidate plans to graduate. Portfolios for candidates of August graduation should be defended no later than the third week of the second summer semester in which the candidate plans to graduate. Students should schedule their portfolio defense with their advisor during registration of the semester of defense.

A majority vote of the evaluators is required to pass the portfolio requirement. If the student does not pass the portfolio requirement, the student will meet with his/her advisory committee to determine the course of remediation needed. Remediation could include further coursework or directed study. A second unsuccessful attempt will result in another meeting and further remediation. If a third attempt is unsuccessful, the student will be dismissed from the graduate program with no degree awarded and/or no recommendation for licensure. There is no appeal if a student fails the portfolio requirement on the third attempt. Final results of portfolios and projects must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies no later than two weeks prior to graduation.

Dissertation

Doctoral students are required to take a minimum of nine dissertation hours. The dissertation research topic must be approved by the dissertation committee, which is comprised of up to four members, including a) chair, b) methodologist, c) content expert, and d) member-at-large. The dissertation committee chair will guide and supervise the candidate through the dissertation process. To complete the dissertation, candidates will be required to successfully defend the research proposal, receive approval to proceed from the Southern Arkansas University Institutional Review Board (IRB), and successfully defend the dissertation by oral presentation. The oral defense is conducted by the dissertation committee and is open to invited guests of the dissertation committee and the candidate. Procedural direction for the dissertation process is outlined in the Dissertation Manual.

Grade Point Average Required for Graduation

To receive a graduate degree, a candidate must earn a cumulative grade point average of no less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in graduate coursework. For master’s degree candidates, failure to earn such an average in the total number of hours required for the degree will result in the student being permitted to complete up to six additional graduate hours in order to earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher, but in no case shall a student receive a degree if the cumulative grade point average is less than 3.0 after the completion of the six additional hours. In the computation of the grade point average, grades in all courses pursued at SAU for graduate credit (including repeated courses) will be included. Doctoral students must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher.

The grades of D and F, although used in the computation of the student’s cumulative grade point average, are not accepted toward the completion of any degree or licensure program. The grade of C is used in the computation of the cumulative grade point average, and a maximum of two C grades may be accepted toward the completion of any master’s degree program. The courses in which grades of C, D, or F have been earned should be repeated. Only grades of A or B are accepted in the doctoral coursework. Letter grades of C or below cannot be used toward the doctoral requirements.

Graduate students are not included in graduation honors due to the high academic standards required at the graduate level.

Application for Graduation

A student seeking to complete degree requirements must fulfill the following:

  1. Check with the program advisor for exact dates of graduate comprehensive exams, portfolios, and other deadlines.
  2. Complete and file an Application for Graduation through Campus Connect in the MySAU Portal. (see website for exact deadlines)
  3. Pay graduation fee in the Business Office. The Business Office will bill the student for all graduation fees.
  4. Review with the advisor the degree audit and any other conditions or changes needed to meet program requirements that may require additional courses or course substitutions.
  5. Check with the School of Graduate Studies to determine if any deficiencies exist (e.g., course substitution forms).
  6. Successfully complete exit requirement (e.g., comprehensive exam, portfolio, dissertation) if required in the program of study.

To become a candidate for spring graduation, a student should apply for graduation in early November during the prior fall semester. To become a candidate for summer or fall graduation, a student should apply for graduation in early April during the prior spring semester. Check the SAU website for exact deadlines each semester. Failure to meet these deadlines will result in a $50 late fee.

For graduation purposes, students will not be allowed to take courses off-campus the last semester/term of graduation. Any exceptions to the regulation will be recommended by the dean of the student’s major and approved by the registrar. Examples of exceptions to this regulation would be: class cancellations, classes not offered, class conflicts, and any other documented circumstances beyond a student’s control.

It is the student’s responsibility to have official transcripts sent to the Office of the Registrar at SAU for hours earned at other institutions. In order to graduate, an official transcript from the registrar of the off-campus institution verifying a grade of B or higher in each course must be received in the Office of the Registrar no later than one business day after the graduation ceremony.

Failure to meet this deadline will result in requiring the student to reapply for graduation. The student will then graduate at the next date of commencement provided all essential documents are complete and the student has reapplied for graduation.

Lack of knowledge or misinterpretation of policies and regulations on the part of the individual student does not absolve the student from fulfilling the requirements for a program of study. Ultimate responsibility for completion of a program of study rests with the student.

Additional Master’s Degrees

Students holding a valid master’s degree from an accredited institution may be awarded an additional master’s degree upon the completion of a minimum of 30 additional hours of approved coursework. A maximum of nine hours of approved courses taken with the first degree may count toward the second degree as long as the 30 additional graduate hours minimum is met. These courses must have been completed no more than six years prior to enrollment in the second degree (five years for transfer hours) and must be required in both degrees. All requirements for the second degree must be met, including an application. Degrees with options or emphases cannot be awarded more than once.

Exceptions to the 30 unique hours policy may be made for students in the following programs with overlapping curriculum with approval of the program director, college dean, and graduate dean:

  • Educational Leadership Administration and Supervision/Instructional Facilitator/Lead Teacher
  • School Counseling/Mental Health and Clinical Counseling/College Counseling and Student Affairs
  • Master of Public Administration/advisor approved programs.

Obtaining Two Degrees Concurrently

A graduate student may earn two graduate degrees simultaneously, provided that the student:

  1. Satisfies all degree requirements for both degrees
  2. Earns at least 30 hours of coursework unique to each degree
  3. Double counts (i.e., counted in both programs) no more than nine hours for both degrees as approved by the dean(s)
  4. Maintains separate degree plans
  5. Completes and files an online Application for Graduation in the School of Graduate Studies for each degree (see the SAU website for exact dates)

Graduate Certificates

Graduate certificate programs are designed for students who seek a shorter program focused on career development, licensure, or knowledge of a specific discipline.

Requirements for graduate certificate programs:

  • All courses used for a certificate must be graduate level courses.
  • A minimum of 12 credit hours are required to earn a certificate.
  • Students must maintain the same academic standings as a degree-seeking student.
  • To receive a graduate certificate, a student must have a minimum 3.00 grade point average (GPA) on all certificate coursework. All grades for courses taken towards the certificate are included in the GPA.
  • The minimum grade to receive certificate credit is “B.”
  • Transfer credit from other institutions is not allowed for a graduate certificate. All coursework must be registered through Southern Arkansas University.
  • All graduate certificate requirements must be completed within six (6) calendar years, beginning with the date the student commences courses applicable to the certificate, unless a more restrictive time limit has been established by the program or college.
  • A student may obtain more than one certificate. Each certificate must have at least nine unique credit hours.

Course credit from a graduate certificate can be applied toward a master’s degree program. Certificate programs can be included within or added to existing master’s degrees. Students can use the same course to earn both a certificate and a graduate degree as long as the requirements for both have been fulfilled.

If a student has graduated from one of SAU’s approved graduate degree programs and then wishes to apply for a certificate using hours previously earned, the student must apply for admission to SAU as a non-degree seeking graduate student and indicate intent to seek admission into a certificate program.

It is the responsibility of the student to meet with the certificate program advisor during the last semester of certificate coursework in order to determine that all requirements for completion have been met. It is also the responsibility of the student to apply for the certificate by the established deadlines.

Once graduate certificate program requirements are completed, a student can request a certificate. In order to receive a completed certificate, the student must:

  • Complete all admission and course requirements for the certificate. Note: Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average in the graduate certificate coursework to be eligible for completion.
  • Complete the graduate certificate program completion form.
  • Submit the completed form to the program advisor by the following deadlines:
    • September 1st for fall graduation
    • February 1st for spring graduation
    • May 1st for summer graduation

Upon completion of the above steps, the program advisor will:

  • Confirm the satisfactory completion of certificate course requirements
  • Sign the completion form and attach degree audit
  • Send the signed form and degree audit to the Office of Graduate Studies

The Graduate Office will then notify the SAU Office of the Registrar of completion so that the student’s transcript can be updated.