2013-2014 Graduate Catalog 
    Jan 18, 2022  
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Academic Policies

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Student Responsibility


Before a degree is granted, the student must meet all the requirements of the Advisory Committee, the Graduate Program and the Graduate School. Students should note that graduate studies represent advanced work and research in a discipline or interdisciplinary area and should be more than a compilation of course work. Students are responsible for conforming to all published academic policies and degree requirements. They are likewise responsible for the regulations concerning the degree they plan to obtain and any special requirements within the program or academic unit. In addition, it is the student’s responsibility to conform to the University’s policies regarding the standard of work necessary to maintain enrollment in the Graduate School. The University makes every effort to provide accurate advising information. However, it is the student’s responsibility to make certain that he/she has fulfilled all graduation requirements.

Graduate Academic Standards


Graduate students are expected to maintain at least a 3.0 (“B”) cumulative grade point average for all courses in the graduate plan of study. If the graduate plan of study has not been approved, the cumulative GPA is used.  Students who encounter academic difficulty will be warned by the Graduate School and may be discontinued from their degree program or from the University when academic standards are not maintained. Students must also maintain academic standards as determined by their program.

Course Restrictions for Master’s and Doctoral Plans of Study


Converted Credits - Courses numbered 300-499 are considered to be advanced undergraduate credits. These credits may be used in graduate programs with the following provisions:

  1. When applied to a graduate program, total credit for these courses will be valued at 80 percent, discarding all fractions.
    After such conversion, these credits are defined as “converted credits,” which may be used as graduate credit in meeting the requirements for the various degrees, provided a grade of at least “B” is obtained in each course in this series. For example, if eight credits are earned in this series, they would be equivalent to six graduate credits.
  2. Courses used for converted credit must be SDSU credits taken during the period the student is enrolled as a graduate (not undergraduate) student at this institution. These must be entered on the graduate transcript to be eligible for converted credit.
  3. For the Master of Arts, Master of Science or Master of Education degrees, a maximum of seven converted credits may be applied to the graduate program.
  4. For the Doctor of Philosophy degree, a maximum of ten converted credits may be applied to the graduate program.
  5. Converted credits may be applied to a graduate program only with the approval of the major advisor or Advisory Committee and Dean of the Graduate School.

Problems Courses - A maximum of four (4) credits in problems courses (special problems, independent study, etc.) may be counted toward the Master of Arts, Master of Science, or Master of Education degree. Only six credits of problems courses may be counted toward the Doctor of Philosophy degree without approval of the Graduate Dean.

Transfer of Credits - Graduate credits earned at other institutions may be applied toward an advanced degree if they were awarded a grade of at least “B” (3.0), and if they are approved by the advisor or Advisory Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School. Transfer credit is limited to Graduate credit as defined by the institution issuing the transcript. In order to be accepted by the Graduate School the offering institution must accept the credits toward their Graduate Program without restriction. Dual-numbered courses offered primarily for upper-level undergraduate credit are (generally) not transferable as graduate credit. Requests for transfer of credits are usually made at the time a plan of study is approved and must be supported by an official transcript filed with the Graduate School. Forty (40) percent of the coursework may be from graduate credits earned at other institutions. Credits from a first degree to a second degree are considered to be transfer credits; they should be limited to ten credits. A minimum of sixty (60) percent of all credits in the program must be earned at SDSU unless the program is part of an approved joint or cooperative degree. Credits earned at another institution as a part of an approved joint or cooperative degree program will not count as transfer credits for the purposes of this policy. 

Transfer credit is not permitted for courses taken by correspondence. Independent Study, Readings, or Problems courses, Continuing Education, Outreach Programs, or Extension courses may be approved for transfer if they are regularly listed in the graduate catalog of an accredited institution and were taught by members of the Graduate Faculty of such institution, and if they carry a grade of “B” or higher. Subtitles or explanatory information will be required for approval of Independent Study and Readings courses.

Workshops - While any number of credits may be earned in workshops, a maximum of two such credits may be applied toward an advanced degree. Workshop notation on transcripts will be used for application of this limitation.

Internet Courses - SDSU will evaluate the transfer of graduate credit for graduate courses delivered and taken over the Internet on the same basis as other transfer courses. The course must be from an accredited institution as recognized by the Board of Regents policy. If credits are to be applied to an accredited SDSU program, the program in which the course was taken at another institution must also be accredited.

Registration and Status


 To maintain active status, students must be registered each semester of the academic year (excluding summer). Students who are not registered will be moved to inactive status and may be required to reapply before continuing their graduate studies. All graduate assistants must register for a minimum of one (1) credit (including summer) in order to receive an assistantship.

Credit Load


Nine credits per semester is considered a full-time graduate load. Domestic students must be enrolled at least half-time (5 credits) to receive Federal Aid. Loan deferment may also require full or part-time status. Eligibility varies with financial aid programs and students should contact their lender for requirements.

International graduate students are required to pursue a full time course of study to maintain non-immigrant status in accordance with the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. International students must register for nine (9) credit hours per semester to pursue a full course of study. Students who fail to maintain a full course of study will be considered out of status and may be terminated. The exceptions to a full course of study are limited but very important. Students must seek the approval of the International Student Affairs office for authorization to drop below nine (9) credits per semester.

Credits needed for full-time/part-time student status (does not apply to Graduate Assistants) Minimum Credits Maximum credits without overload
Full-time status           9                          12
Three-fourths (3/4) time status           7                          12
One-half (1/2) time status           5  
Full-time status, Summer Term           9                          12
Half-time status, Summer Term           5                            9


Credits needed for full-time/part-time students status for graduate assistants:  

Credits to be considered full time

Summer Term

One-fourth (1/4) time assistant, fall or spring term
One-half (1/2) time assistant, fall or spring term
Three-fourths (3/4) time assistant, fall or spring term




Graduate Assistant Responsibilities will be based on an average number of hours of work per week using a 40 hour week as a base. However, this may vary slightly depending on assignment.

One-quarter time GA = minimum of 10-11 hours/week
One-half time GA (.49) = minimum of 20-22 hours/week
Three-quarter time GA (.75) = minimum of 30 hours/week 

During the academic year F-1 international students are ineligible to hold more than half-time (.49) GA positions as they are limited to a maximum 20 hours/week.

In calculating credit loads, audit courses and undergraduate courses are included at full value for student status but are not allowable for loan deferral, full- and part-time certification, or financial aid disbursement. Graduate assistants must be registered for at least one credit each semester during the academic year to hold a graduate assistantship. For financial aid requirements of a full load, contact the Financial Aid Office.

Cancellation of Courses


In general, graduate courses will not be offered to fewer than seven (7) students unless there is some special reason for doing so. Instructors will cancel courses with low enrollment or for other reasons only with the approval of the dean of the academic college concerned.

Final Examinations

Among the tasks of instruction is that of evaluation of a student’s performance.  Each course has its own particular parameters, and the evaluation procedure in any one course is not necessarily the same as that in another course.  However, the most commonly used evaluation technique is that of written examinations or papers periodically due during the course, and a final examination at the end of the course.  The final examination procedure has become so universal and accepted that a final examination period is set aside at the end of the semester in most colleges and universities.  The Carnegie credit hour is calculated by contact hours with 15 contacts hours equating to 1 credit hour.  Finals week is considered an integral part of the 17-week academic semester and critical to the credit hour calculation.    

 It is the policy of South Dakota State University to adhere to the following:

  1. The final examination schedule will be published in the fall or spring course schedules.  Courses offered for 2 or more credits will have an examination time determined by the final examination schedule published in the schedule book.
  2. Multiple section final examinations will be scheduled at 7:00 a.m. as published in the schedule book through a request process from the instructor to the Registrar’s office.
  3. Final exams for evening courses (any course that begins at 5:00 p.m. or later) must be scheduled at the regularly scheduled time (of the course) during finals week.
  4. Courses of 1 credit or laboratory only will have the final examination or alternative learning experience during the last week of regular classes before final examination week.
  5. Every course except as noted in #2, #3, and #4 above is required to follow the final examination schedule.
  6. Five days are to be scheduled for final examinations at the end of each semester, fall and spring.  Due to the variety of summer sessions and other accelerated course formats, the final day of the term will be reserved for the final examination.
  7. A block of 2 hours will be available for administering individual final examinations.  Within the final examination time period, instructors may reduce the time limit of an examination by prior announcement.
  8. Final examinations are an integral part of the instructional program and should be given in all courses except in some cases such as laboratory, studio, capstone courses, seminars, colloquia and other independent learning credits, where a final examination may not be appropriate.  Any instructor wishing to waive the right to a final examination must do so by submitting a request as outlined under Procedures.  The right to waive the final examination does not, however, preclude the requirement to hold class during final examination week for an alternative learning experience.  The discipline is responsible for defining appropriate alternative learning experiences.
  9. Take home final examinations are permissible but the course must still meet during final examination week for alternative learning experience.
  10. Online and hybrid courses must be held to the same standard for final examinations and can only be administered during final examination week.
  11. If a final examination is used, it should not be given early.  The published final examination schedule must be followed and the final examination in a course should be given as scheduled and not at other times, even if the faculty member and all students in a course agree to such a change.  This is true even if the final examination is an alternative learning experience.  It is understood that some culminating learning assessment may be administered during the last week of classes.  This does not preclude the requirement however, for these classes to meet during finals week.
  12. The week of classes preceding the scheduled final examination period should be used primarily for continued instruction and may include the introduction of new material. No final examinations are to be given during the seven days preceding the start of the examination period (excluding 1 credit courses).  However, laboratory practicums, seminar presentations, etc. may be scheduled in that week.
  13. Individual students may petition in writing for a variance from these policies, provided the instructor is satisfied that the exception is based on good and sufficient reasons, and that such an exception for an early or late examination will not prejudice the interests of other students in the course.  Reasons for individual students missing a scheduled examination will be handled by the department.  Each department will decide what will, or will not, be an acceptable excuse and deal with individual hardship cases.  Note that the SDSU Attendance Policy should be consulted for excused absences.  In the event of a department approved excuse, the instructor will decide the procedure necessary to complete the course requirement.  Instructors must have the consent of the department head in excusing the student.  
  14. When students have more than three final examinations on the same day, they are entitled to arrange an alternative examination time for an examination or examinations scheduled on that day.  Such arrangements must be made no later than the end of the 12th week of the semester.  Students are expected to provide evidence to the Registrar’s Office that they have more than three examinations to qualify for exceptions.
  15. This policy applies to all undergraduate and graduate students, including seniors. Graduating seniors are not exempted from final examinations.

Each instructor, Department Head and Dean is responsible for enforcing the above policies.  The SDSU Attendance Policy will be used to establish acceptable excuses for missing and retaking a final examination.  Any instructor wishing to request a waiver from administering a final examination must do so by submitting a request to the department head for approval.  The department head will then forward such requests to the college dean.  A course need only be approved once; however, if substantive modifications are made to a course, it should be resubmitted for approval.



Cumulative 3.0 (B) average - The student must maintain a 3.0 (B) cumulative grade point average for courses in the graduate plan of study. No credit is given toward a graduate degree for any grade below “C” in 500, 600, 700 or 800 level courses, or below 3.0 (B) in 300 or 400 level courses. Grades for transfer courses are not used in calculating these grade point averages. The grade earned the last time the course was taken will be used to determine the grade point average for the Plan of Study.

Dissertation/Thesis/Research or Design Paper Credits - Graduate students usually register for dissertation/thesis/research or design paper credit during several semesters.  A grade of satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) should be assigned during the semester of registration, based on progress made.  Credits receiving “U” will not be credited toward the plan of study.

Seminars - A letter grade or a grade of Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U) may be assigned at the discretion of the instructor.

Incomplete Grades - When a graduate student is given an Incomplete grade (I) for any course in the student’s plan of study, the instructor may indicate in writing to the student what additional work must be completed and may establish a date at which such work must be completed. A copy of this information must be filed with the Graduate School. If the work is not completed in either the manner or time prescribed, the instructor may change the Incomplete grade to whatever grade is justified as an evaluation of the student’s work or may allow the grade to remain Incomplete. Incomplete grades given without this procedure will remain as Incomplete on the student’s record unless changed because of completion of the remaining work in the course.

Repeated Courses - All courses taken appear on the student’s academic record, but when a course is repeated, only the most recent grade is calculated into the cumulative GPA. This policy applies to both undergraduate and graduate coursework. Students should notify the Registrar’s Office, when a course, whether failed or passed, is repeated.

Academic Performance - Graduate students whose plan of study cumulative grade point average drops to less than 3.0 are automatically placed on Academic Warning, and will receive a letter from the Dean. (If a plan of study is not in place, all courses will be counted, and the cumulative GPA will be used.) Should a student on Academic Warning fail to achieve a GPA of at least 3.0 in his/her plan of study the following semester, the student will be placed on Academic Probation, and a hold will be placed on his/her registration for the subsequent semester. This hold can be removed only after the student and his/her advisor submit a letter to the Dean of the Graduate School indicating how the GPA will be brought up to 3.0 or better. The student must then meet with the Dean to review this work improvement plan. In the semester following the hold, the student must have a GPA of 3.0 or better to be retained in the program.


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.

Above Average
Lowest Passing Grade
In Progress
No Grade
Normal Progress
Grade not Reported by Instructor
Credit by Exam
Note for NSE/MEDT
Lab grade linked to Recitation Grade

4.00 grade points per semester hour
3.00 grade points per semester hour
2.00 grade points per semester hour
1.00 grade points per semester hour
0.00 grade points per semester hour
Does not calculate into any GPA
Does not calculate into any GPA
Does not calculate into any GPA, no credit granted
Does not calculate into any GPA, no credit granted
Does not calculate into any GPA
Does not calculate into any GPA
0 credit tracking course
Does not calculate into any GPA
Does not calculate into any GPA
Does not calculate into any GPA
Does not calculate into any GPA
Does not calculate into any GPA, no credit granted
0 credit course

An Incomplete (I) grade may be granted at the graduate level only when all of the following conditions apply:

  1. A student has encountered extenuating circumstances that do not permit him/her to complete the course.
  2. The student must be earning a passing grade at the time the Incomplete is necessitated. Anticipated course failure is not a justification for an Incomplete.
  3. The student does not have to repeat the course to meet the requirements.
  4. The instructor must agree to grant an Incomplete grade.
  5. The instructor and student must agree on a plan to complete the coursework.
  6. The coursework must be completed within one calendar year; extensions may be granted by the Graduate Dean.
  7. If the student completes the course within the specified time, the grades that may be assigned are A, B, C, D, F, S, or U.
  8. If the student does not complete the course within the specified time, the Incomplete grade remains on the transcript.

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 his/her Department Head and 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.

With the exception of an “I” that has not been completed within the specified time, any grade reported to the Registrar may be changed by recommendation of the instructor and college dean with approval of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Any graduating senior or graduating graduate student who receives an Incomplete or In Progress grade in the final semester in a course required for graduation, or who has not removed an outstanding incomplete or in progress from a previous semester in a course required for graduation by the date grades are due for the semester, will not be permitted to graduate that semester. He or she will be required to apply for graduation for a subsequent semester. Emergency situations require the filing of a petition by the student to his/her Academic Dean for approval prior to the final grading deadline for the final semester.

When the student has graduated and the degree has been recorded, the record is considered officially closed, and an instructor can no longer change a grade, including the “I” and “IP” grades.

BOR Policy 2.10

Graduate Credit for Seniors


Seniors within fifteen (15) credits of completing a Bachelor’s degree at South Dakota State University may request permission from the Dean of the Graduate School to take up to six (6) credits of 500 or 600 level courses for graduate credit. Permission requires the student to have a grade point average of at least 2.5, or a junior-senior grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and to enroll for not more than eighteen (18) credits, undergraduate and graduate credits combined (9 credits during Summer Term). Seniors must have completed 105 credits. Senior Permit forms may be obtained from the Graduate School website.

Graduate Study by University Staff


Faculty members with the rank of Assistant Professor or above may not work toward an advanced degree for promotion and tenure purposes at South Dakota State University. Faculty who already hold a terminal degree required for promotion and tenure may work on an additional degree at South Dakota State University, by special approval of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. All faculty may take graduate courses for credit with the required approvals and authorization. The online graduate school application must be completed. An “Authorization For Educational Benefits” form, obtained from the Human Resources Department, should be completed and returned to Human Resources before registration. Staff members below the rank of Assistant Professor who intend to work toward a degree at this institution must follow the regular process for admission to the Graduate School.

Full-time members of the research, instructional, or extension staffs may enroll for a maximum of twelve (12) credits during the calendar year, with a maximum of seven (7) in any one (1) semester and two (2) during the Summer Session. Staff must pay the application fee.

Postdoctoral Study


Postdoctoral students or eminent scholars who desire temporary privileges of the research facilities, staff counsel, library or seminars at the institution and who are not candidates for a degree, must obtain approval of the Department Head, Dean and/or Director concerned.



 Graduation Application - The student must file a graduation application  by the date specified in the University calendar for the term in which completion of the advanced degree is expected. Failure to file this application will result in a delay in graduation.

Commencement Attendance - All students are urged to participate in the Commencement exercises at which their degrees are to be granted. However, attendance is optional. In order to participate, all course work and exams must have been satisfactorily completed.  Students who wish to participate in the commencement ceremony to be held during the semester their degree is awarded need not inform the Graduate School. The names of such students will be added to the commencement roster by default. Students who wish to participate in a commencement ceremony during a semester subsequent to receiving their degree, must complete a Request to Participate in Graduate Ceremony form.  Attendance at Commencement or inclusion in the Commencement Program does not, in itself, constitute completing or receiving a graduate degree.

 Diplomas are mailed approximately three months after the degree is awarded.

Cap, Gown and Hood - Caps, gowns and hoods for Commencement may be rented or purchased from the University Bookstore

Continual Registration for Dissertation, Thesis/Research-Design Paper


All graduate students who have completed the dissertation/thesis/research-design paper credits specified on their Plan of Study are required to follow one of the following each semester during the academic year and Summer term until the degree is awarded:

a.   Students who have completed the required number of dissertation/thesis/research-design paper credits on the Plan of Study, but are still involved in research work as part of the degree requirement, must continue to register for one credit for each succeeding semester including summer.

b.   Students who miss the deadline for graduation in a given semester, but successfully complete their final orals and all other requirements except minor edits of their thesis or dissertation prior to the start of the next semester do not have to enroll for the semester they graduate.

Registration is the student’s responsibility and must be completed and payment made by the appropriate deadline each semester. Failure to register may delay award of the degree and thereby require additional registrations. 

Professional Conduct


South Dakota State University has taken a strong and clear stand regarding academic dishonesty. The consequence of academic dishonesty ranges from disciplinary probation to expulsion.

Academic Performance Not Directly Related to Course Work


Pending review of the Graduate Council, the Graduate Dean may dismiss students for violations of professional integrity, upon recommendation by the department/program. Departments may have policies accepted in their disciplines that determine continuation in programs on factors other than grades. These include any violation of ethical standards such as plagiarism or professional standards as determined by the department. The department or graduate program may request the Graduate School to remove the student.



 Student appeal policies are outlined in the South Dakota State University’s Student Conduct Manual Section 02:01 and BOR Policy 2:9.