Course Levels, Credits and Grading

Course Levels, Credits and Grading


The “Additional Work” Requirement to Receive Graduate Credit in Courses Offered as 55xx

Semester Credit Limits
Time Limits
Master’s and Educational Specialist Degrees
Out-of-Date Credits
Credit Time Limits for Doctoral Degrees
Auditing Graduate Courses
Full Time Graduate Status

Incomplete Grades

Course Levels

Courses numbered 66xx and 77xx are for students admitted into Graduate School only. Courses numbered 55xx also provide graduate credit (except 5597 and 5598P, see the sections entitled "Admission Requirements for Professional Development Students"). However, undergraduate students may be enrolled in these courses; the undergraduate counterpart will be designated as 44xx. Extra work is required of graduate students enrolled in 55xx courses (see next section). Applicability of 55xx courses to degree requirements is determined by the department offering the degree. Credit by examination (course challenge) is not permitted in graduate programs. Credit is not generally granted toward a graduate degree for 55xx courses when the corresponding 44xx course was taken at the undergraduate level.

The “Additional Work” Requirement to Receive Graduate Credit in Courses Offered as 55xx:

The Graduate School expects instructors to require specific work to be done in a graduate level course to justify graduate credit being given. For students to receive graduate credit in those courses designated at the 55xx level, specific and evaluated activities and performances must be identified in the course syllabus. Below is a suggested list of activities that an instructor might use to meet this requirement.

  1. An additional scholarly activity such as:
    1. integrative term paper(s);
    2. substantive report(s) that may be one of the following: survey, analysis and report; laboratory investigation and report; library research and report;
    3. participation in a significant regional or national meeting (e.g., poster session, panel discussion, paper presentation).
  2. Classroom activities that are beyond those required of undergraduates and are evaluated:
    1. special presentation of some subject;
    2. provision of leadership on discussion of some significant topic in the classroom;
    3. classroom activity that is evaluated and not required of undergraduates.
  3. Examinations: Special examinations that are different from those given to undergraduates and are more demanding than those given to undergraduates. Such exams should be those that require greater performance at a higher cognitive level, such as interpretation, synthesis, and evaluation.

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For a master’s degree, a minimum of 30 credits in approved course work, including thesis credits if required, must be completed. Except in the cases of the M.N.S., M.A.M.S.T., and M.P.A. degrees, a master’s degree student must complete at least fifteen 6600 -level credits. Credit requirements for doctoral degrees vary by program.

A credit hour in graduate courses requires:

The credit, sometimes referred to as semester credit or semester hour, is a unit of academic work. One credit is defined to require fifty minutes in a class each week for one semester (or the equivalent).

One semester credit hour in academic courses requires (1) fifty minutes in class each week for one semester (which assumes approximately twice this amount of time in study and preparation outside the classroom), or (2) approximately two and one-half hours in laboratory each week for a semester, or (3) equivalent combinations of (1) and (2). For purposes of equivalency calculations, a semester is assumed to be sixteen weeks. Short term courses of one week (five days) or more require time in class, laboratory, and preparation equivalent to the above for a total of 45 clock hours per credit.

Semester Credit Limits

The maximum number of credits obtainable in a semester is 16, including courses taken at the undergraduate level. In a summer semester, a student may earn a number of credits equal to the number of weeks enrolled plus two, and the total number of summer semester credits may not exceed 12 (e.g., a student taking classes for eight weeks may earn up to 10 credits). Graduate Assistants may register for no more than 12 credits per semester.

Students who, because of exceptional circumstances, want to take more than the maximum number of credits, must request permission in writing from the Dean of the Graduate School. They must also have support in writing from their advisor, and the graduate program director or chairperson of their department.

Thesis or dissertation credits are not awarded to the student until after completion and final approval by the examining committee. At this time, the advisor reports a grade of S or U for all previous thesis/dissertation registrations. The student may register for thesis/dissertation credits any semester she/he is enrolled as a degree-seeking student, subject to the approval of the student’s advisor and department chair or program director, but the letters IP (in progress) are recorded on the transcript in place of a grade for all such registrants until final approval is obtained. Usually, thesis credits are limited to 6 that can count toward a degree on a Master's level program of study.

Time Limits

Master’s and Educational Specialist Degrees

All requirements for a master’s degree (except the MAcc degree) or educational specialist degree, must be completed within 8 years preceding the student’s graduation. An extension of time may be obtained for good cause with the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.

The time limit for the MAcc degree is 5 years. Please refer to the College of Business section of this catalog.

Out-of-Date Credits

All credits applied to a master’s degree or to an educational specialist degree must have been taken within 8 years immediately prior to granting of the degree unless it can be shown that the course work taken more than 8 years earlier covers material that has not changed substantially during the intervening time, or that the student has been able to remain current in the topics covered in the course. Evidence that the older coursework is still appropriate must be supported and approved in writing by the student's advisor and department chair, and submitted with a petition to the Dean of the Graduate School.

Credit Time Limits for Doctoral Degrees

The doctorate is a research and/or performance degree and signifies that the holder has the competence to function independently at the highest level of endeavor in the chosen profession. Hence, the number of years involved in attaining or retaining competency cannot be readily specified. Rather, it is important that the doctoral student’s competency be assessed and verified in a reasonable period of time prior to conferral of the degree.

The comprehensive examination is the method of assessing whether the student has attained sufficient knowledge of the discipline and supporting fields in order to undertake independent research or practice. It is expected that the examination will occur after all course work has been completed and language or other requirements satisfied, and that it consists of a series of examinations covering all areas specified in the program of study.

Because the comprehensive examination attests to the academic competence of the student who is about to become an independent researcher or practitioner, the examination should not precede the awarding of the degree by too long a period of time. Consequently, doctoral candidates are allowed 5 years in which to complete remaining degree requirements. In the event a student fails to complete the doctorate within 5 years after passing the comprehensive examination, an extension of time can be obtained by:

  1. The student getting a specified set of requirements from the student’s committee that states in writing what must be done to make the candidate up-to-date in the discipline. These new requirements for obtaining an extension may include the necessity to repeat parts or all of the comprehensive examination;
  2. The student must then submit a petition to the Dean of the Graduate School for the extension and provide the written documents showing the additional requirements established by the student’s committee justifying the requested extension.

Auditing Graduate Courses

The Graduate School does not endorse the auditing of courses at the graduate level due to the expectations of the rigors of graduate study. At the graduate level, students need to be substantially engaged with the material, so that they can master the intricacies and be able to evidence knowledge about the topic. The professor provides information, guidance, mentoring, and critique of the material so that the student is experienced with the totality of the material. Auditing a graduate course does not provide the opportunity for engagement of the material and the instructor's focus to the level necessary to facilitate the depth of learning required in graduate education.

Full Time Graduate Status

Nine Graduate Level Credits constitutes full time graduate status.

Continuing Registration for Graduate Students

Graduate students who have registered for one or more credits of master's project, master's paper, master's thesis, or doctoral thesis or dissertation (usually, courses numbered 6650, 6651, 6699, 7750, or 8850) must be registered for at least one graduate credit during subsequent semesters, including each summer semester, until they have completed their degrees. Students who, for compelling reasons, wish to interrupt their work on projects, theses, or dissertations may request, in writing, a leave of absence from the Graduate School. Academic clock does not stop during the violation of the continuous enrollment policy. 
Graduate students who fail to meet the continuing registration requirement will be judged to have dropped out of their programs and will no longer enjoy access to university resources, including the library and computer facilities. In order to regain access to university resources, students will be required to reapply to the Graduate School and be readmitted.  A corollary of this requirement is that a graduate student must be registered for at least one graduate credit in order to take a final oral examination or be processed for graduation. Any student who registers for the required credit and then subsequently drops the credit, will be considered in violation of this policy.

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A 3.0 GPA for the courses listed on the program of study is required for any graduate degree or certification at Idaho State University. A grade of C+ or lower indicates questionable performance at the graduate level. However, some departments may accept a C+ grade in one or two courses as long as the minimum overall 3.0 GPA is maintained. C+ or lower grades may cause departments/colleges/divisions to dismiss students from a graduate degree program. A GPA lower than a 3.0 can also result in dismissal.

Idaho State University uses a graduated letter grading system to indicate the instructor's evaluation of a student's performance in a course. These letter grades are converted to a numerical value for computing a student's semester and cumulative grade point averages. At the beginning of each course, an instructor should inform students of the criteria to be used in evaluating their performance through the class syllabus or other written means.

The grade of A is the highest possible grade; grades of D+ or lower will not be allowed for graduate work. Plus (+) or minus (-) symbols are used to indicate grades that fall above or below the letter grades. The grades of A+, F+, and F- are not used. For purposes of calculating grade points and averages, the plus (+) increases the grade’s point value by .3, and minus (-) decreases the grade’s point value by .3 (e.g., a grade of B+ is equivalent to 3.3, and A– is 3.7). A student's work is rated in accordance with the following scale:



excellent performance



excellent performance



good performance



good performance



good performance



inadequate performance



inadequate performance



inadequate performance



unacceptable performance



unacceptable performance



unacceptable performance



unacceptable performance

Courses in which A, A-, B+, B, or B- grades are earned are acceptable toward a graduate program and graduation requirements, unless specifically excluded for a particular requirement, course, program, or degree. Courses in which C+, C, or C- grades are earned might be used toward program and graduation requirements in some programs; two such grades will place the student on semester-by-semester review. Grades of D+, D, D-, or F may not be used to satisfy graduation requirements. No credits are awarded for any course in which an F grade is earned.

All thesis and dissertation credits and some research courses are graded on a satisfactory (S) or unsatisfactory (U) basis. Departments/colleges/divisions may grade additional graduate courses with the S/U system with approval of the Graduate Council. IP (in progress) grades are given for those students who have initiated but not completed their thesis, dissertation, or research work. No graduate courses will be offered on a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) basis.

For “IP” (in progress) courses, instructors are responsible for processing a Change of Grade after the completion of all relevant course work. In the case of thesis and dissertation work, there may be multiple IP credits to be changed once the thesis/dissertation has been completed and fully approved.

As noted elsewhere in the Catalog, “I” (incomplete) grades must be completed and the Change of Grade processed by the instructor within 1 calendar year of the awarding of the "I" grade. Failure to change the “I” grade within this time period will result in the “I” grade becoming permanent.

For letter graded courses, prefixes, titles, and level (e.g., 4400/5500) are transcripted as originally registered once the semester is closed (i.e., the end of the semester within which the course was first registered for by the student). As an example: A graduate student mistakenly registers for course ABC4400 for the Fall 2020 semester. During that semester a petition request to change the ABC4400 registration to ABC5500 (i.e., drop ABC 4400 and add ABC5500) may be submitted for consideration. However, once the Fall 2020 semester has concluded, the ABC4400 course can not be changed.

With permission of the relevant department, students may repeat a course in which they received a grade lower than an A. In such cases, the last grade received shall be the grade used in the calculation of the program of study GPA.

Incomplete Grades

An Incomplete grade (I) may be awarded at midterm or semester end. At midterm, an Incomplete indicates the student, through illness or other excusable absence, has missed so much work the instructor cannot assign a regular grade. An Incomplete grade at midterm is not a final grade. An Incomplete grade may, at the option of the instructor, be given at the end of the semester only when a student has satisfactory performance within three weeks of the end-of-semester examination period.

The instructor must submit a Course Completion Contract along with the grade report for that class. The Course Completion Contract must be signed by the student and the instructor stipulating the assignment(s) required to finish the course within the allowable time period. A copy of the Contract is to be given to the student, a copy retained by the instructor, a copy sent to the Graduate School, and the original sent to the Registrar’s Office.

Incomplete work must be completed within one (1) calendar year from the date such grade is given, but an instructor could specify a shorter time period. A change of grade must be submitted by the faculty member or the Incomplete will become permanent.

To receive credit for a course in which an Incomplete grade has become permanent, the entire course must be repeated.

Petitions to deviate from the incomplete grade policy will not be allowed except under extraordinary circumstances (e.g., serious, long-term illness).

Academic Warning/Probation

Graduate students are placed on academic warning when their grades and/or GPA are unsatisfactory. Graduate students are required to have a minimum overall 3.0 GPA. Anything below a 3.0 GPA will place graduate students on academic warning and can also result in dismissal. One or more Cs grades or below can also place graduate students on academic warning and can also result in dismissal. Students who are on Academic Warning or Probation are limited in the number of credits they are allowed to take (13 for Graduate Students). These credit limits are absolute and are not petitionable.

Academic Probation at ISU has three levels, each with a corresponding credit limit: Academic Warning (13 credits maximum), Probation One (9 credits maximum), and Probation Two (6 credits maximum). Students on Probation Two can be dismissed from the university.

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