Graduate Studies Policies

Program Curriculum Requirements

Upon acceptance into a graduate program, students will receive a letter of acceptance indicating the program to which they have been accepted; their advisor and the advisor’s contact information; and the curriculum planning guide outlining the course of study that the student needs to complete to meet graduation requirements. Students are required to notify the Graduate Admissions Office of their acceptance and their anticipated start term. The student’s acceptance indicates the student’s plan to enter the program designated in the acceptance letter; the student’s agreement to follow the curriculum planning guide enclosed with the letter (aligned with the most current catalog); and the student’s agreement to follow through with the required initial advising meeting.

All admitted students are required to meet with their advisor in their first term of study. Advising meetings are available in person, online and by phone. Some programs require students to meet with their advisors before beginning their first course and this requirement will be indicated in the acceptance letter. Students are expected to complete their academic requirements within six years. Students who do not complete requirements within six years of admission must petition the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs using the Student Request form to request a waiver of the six year time limit. If the waiver is granted, students will be required to complete the program requirements outlined in the most recent curriculum planning guide and academic catalog, which may result in additional course or field work requirements. The required curriculum planning guide will be included with the notification letter granting an extension of time to graduation. Students requesting such a waiver must meet with their advisor to review program changes and any additional requirements. Students being granted a waiver will need to submit an Academic Program or Catalog Change Form so their program reflects the current program requirements.

Changing Programs

Students who want to change programs must notify their advisor and submit a request to change programs using the Academic Program or Catalog Change Form. Students will be advised of any additional admission requirements and once these requirements have been completed the student will be notified of an admission decision; issued a current curriculum planning guide; and notified of any required advising meetings. The University reserves the right to add, change, or delete curricular offerings.


Enrolled students at Plymouth State University have access, through myPlymouth, to a computerized assessment of their progress toward completion of degree requirements. DegreeWorks pairs the courses a student has taken (or officially transferred) to the specific requirements of their program. In-progress course work is noted as such. DegreeWorks also notes the area of study, credits earned, and grade point average as well as all courses taken or transferred to PSU. DegreeWorks is an important tool for students as they begin to plan their academic schedule. When students process an audit, they also have the option of choosing different majors and concentrations for assessment against the courses they have taken. This feature is known as the “What-If” Analysis. It provides an opportunity to see the influence that any potential change(s) may have on a projected completion date. For questions concerning DegreeWorks, please refer to the DegreeWorks section of the registrar’s office web page.

Registration for Non-Matriculated Students

Non-matriculated students (those who have not been admitted to a program) must be aware that successful completion of coursework does not guarantee acceptance into a graduate program, and coursework may not be applicable to a particular program. Doctoral coursework is not permitted for non-matriculated students.

Students who have not been admitted into a graduate degree program may take up to 12 graduate credits. Additional coursework cannot be pursued until admission has been granted or the student has declared pursuit of professional development only. Students must notify Graduate Studies of their intent and check individual programs for requirements and restrictions.

Non-matriculated students are not eligible to enroll in independent study or individual enrollment courses.

Independent Study

An independent study is a special, individualized project of one to three graduate credits. The study must cover material not found in regularly offered courses. It requires a contract between the student and instructor specifying the project to be accomplished. The completed Graduate Independent Study form must be submitted with the signed registration form. Independent studies are only available to admitted graduate students.

Individual Enrollment

If extenuating circumstances exist, students may be permitted to register for an individual enrollment. This option only applies to required courses on the student’s curriculum planning guide. To register, an Application for Individual Enrollment must be completed and submitted with the registration form.

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Continuation Fee

In some circumstances, a graduate student will have completed or will have been enrolled in the prescribed courses or credits listed in their curriculum planning guide, but may not have completed their degree requirements, such as final completion of a thesis, dissertation, or project. In such cases, where the student’s faculty advisor determines that it will take more than half of the next enrollment period for the student to complete the final degree requirements, the student will be required to pay a continuation fee equivalent to three credits for that period. This fee would also be required for subsequent enrollment periods, if additional time beyond more than half of the period would still be needed. The student will be charged the current in-state or out-of-state per credit tuition rate based on residency.

Download Continuation Fee form

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Graduate Course Scheduling

All courses are identified by a discipline code and a four-digit course number. Graduate courses are identified by a number 5000 or above, (e.g., ED 5030). Mathematics courses numbered MG 3XXX or MG 4XXX may be taken for graduate credit.

Graduate courses are scheduled on a term structure with the exception of Athletic Training and science courses, which follow the undergraduate semester schedule. Courses are offered during the following terms:

Summer July 1–August 31
Fall September 1–November 30
Winter December 1–February 28 (29)
Spring March 1–May 31

The term structure allows students to register for multiple courses in a year. The majority of graduate courses are scheduled during evenings, weekends, weeklong institutes, or online. Some degree programs, such as counseling and athletic training, and educator certification options, have specific residency and undergraduate course requirements unique to these areas of study.

Course schedules are released online prior to the term start date.

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Grading System

All graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 (B) grade point average. The graduate grade range is A through C- and F. There are no D grades as Graduate Studies recognizes C- as the lowest passing grade.

Letter grades, with pluses and minuses noted, are used to assess the relative extent to which students achieve course objectives. Grade point average is calculated on a term and a cumulative basis that takes into account all grades earned by a student during their academic career at Plymouth State, including those earned prior to starting coursework toward a degree or certification program.

Grade Point Average

The following grade point system is used to determine grade point average:

Grade A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- F
Points per Credit 4.00 3.67 3.33 3.00 2.67 2.33 2.00 1.67 0.00

Administrative Failure

An Administrative Failure (AF) notation is placed on a student’s transcript when an instructor does not have sufficient information to assign a letter grade in a graded course. Frequently, administrative failure stems from failure to formally drop a course. An AF counts as an F grade in grade point average calculation and is not a reason for a course withdrawal.

Academic Standing

An admitted graduate student is in good academic standing when the following conditions are present:

  • The students has a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher
  • The student has no more than one grade of incomplete (IC)

An admitted graduate student is not in good academic standing if either of these conditions is present:

  • The student has a cumulative grade point average (GPA) below 3.0
  • The student has two or more incompletes (IC)

Students are notified if they are not in good academic standing, and must develop a corrective plan with their advisor. Students have three terms to raise their cumulative GPA to at least 3.0. Students may not enroll in more than six credits if they are not in good academic standing. Students with more than one incomplete will be prevented from registering for additional classes until all
but one incomplete is resolved.

If the student does not follow this plan within the time frame, dismissal from the degree program will occur. If the student wishes to appeal the dismissal, he or she should do so by submitting a Student Request form to the associate vice president for academic affairs. After dismissal, should the student want to continue, he or she must reapply and be accepted into the program.

Please note that academic standing may impact financial aid status and veterans’ and eligible dependents’ receipt of GI Bill® benefits.

Inactivity or Withdrawal from Graduate Program

Graduate program applicants have an obligation to show progress toward earning a degree. Students who do not take at least one course during any two-year period will be considered inactive and informed of this status in writing. Once notified of their inactive status, students must request reactivation in writing within 10 business days. The student’s program of study must still be completed within the original six-year program period. An inactive student will lose access to myPlymouth, and his or her student ID will be deactivated.

After three years of inactivity, a student will be automatically withdrawn from the graduate program and will receive written notification of the withdrawal. At that time, the student’s enrollment documents will be destroyed, unless the student immediately submits a written request for continuation. If, at a later date, the student decides to re-enroll in the graduate program, new application materials must be submitted for the admissions review team to evaluate for readmission.

Students who choose to withdraw from the program must notify the Office of the Registrar in writing.

Repeat Policy

Students are allowed to retake any course. Credits and grade points for the first grade will be deleted from the cumulative record, while the grade itself will remain on the transcript and the repeat noted with an “E” (Exclude) next to the grade. The course information will be listed in the usual manner the second time it appears on the transcript. The most recent grade counts, even if lower than an earlier grade. This policy does not apply to courses that are repeatable, such as independent studies or special topics offerings. Federal Financial Aid will not be awarded for any repeated courses.

Attendance Policy

Students are urged to recognize the importance of participation in class activities and to be aware that grades may be affected by absences or lack of participation during online coursework. Instructors shall determine the class attendance policies.

Instructors outline attendance policies and the effect multiple absences have on final grades in the course syllabus. Course syllabi are distributed during the first class meeting, posted online, or can be requested from the instructor in advance. In classes that use online classroom management software (such as Blackboard or Moodle), online student activity is recorded and may be used to determine participation. Instructors maintain records to show the attendance policy is being followed.

Fair Grading Policy

Fair and equitable grading reflects values to which all members of the Plymouth State community commit themselves. Grades are used to assess the relative extent to which students achieve course objectives in all for-credit courses at PSU.

Academic freedom allows instructors to determine course objectives within the bounds of established curricula, and the means by which a student’s mastery of those objectives will be evaluated; and evaluate the quality of work on individual exams or assignments.

Standards for Fair Grading

To achieve fair and equitable grading, instructors shall inform students, in writing, (i.e., via a syllabus) of the course objectives and the means by which student mastery of those objectives will be determined. Instructors are expected to share this information with students during the first class meeting and to provide this information, in writing, no later than the second class meeting. These arrangements cannot be altered after the class has met for one-quarter of its scheduled class meeting time if the changes negatively impact the student. The student’s grade shall be based solely on the criteria known to all students in the class and all such criteria shall apply to mastery of stated course objectives.

Examples of violations of the fair grading policy include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Allowing alternate work to substitute for coursework assignments for a particular student or group of students when that option has not been stated in the syllabus as available to all students
  2. Allowing a student to perform extra work, over and above that described in the syllabus, to influence her or his grade, when that same opportunity has not been made available to all students
  3. Allowing students to perform extra work after final grades have been submitted to improve their grade

Exceptions to the above violations may be allowed in cases related to documented learning disabilities when alternative testing arrangements have been made through Plymouth Academic Support Services (PASS) and in cases where there are documented serious extenuating circumstances.

When a member of the Plymouth State University community believes that fair grading practices are not being followed in a particular course, they must raise the issue in the following way.

I. Raise the issue with the instructor of the course to consider whether the suspected violation of the fair grading policy did occur. If the facts of the matter are disputed, without resolution, the chair of the instructor’s department shall be consulted; if unresolved, the associate vice president for academic affairs shall be consulted; and if unresolved, the Faculty Academic Affairs Committee shall hear the facts and reach findings. If it is determined that a violation of the fair grading policy did occur, either through the above process or through the instructor saying so at the outset, and the instructor can and does make suitable arrangements to come into compliance with the policy, the matter will be considered resolved.

II. If a violation of the fair grading policy is shown to exist via step I, and the instructor cannot or will not take immediate remedial action, he or she shall be guided, by the Academic Affairs Committee, as to how to correct the problem and as to how to ensure that such a situation does not occur in the future. The most extreme case would result in the placing of a letter in the personnel file of the instructor involved, stating the nature of the matter and the conclusion reached by the Academic Affairs Committee. A copy of this letter would then be sent to the appropriate department chair and the vice president for academic affairs.

Barring matters related to the just administration of the fair grading policy above, final grades submitted to the registrar may only be changed due to an error in determining the grade or an error in recording the grade. Students may challenge the accuracy or completeness of their term’s academic record for a period of one year from the end of the term in question. After this period the University shall have no obligation to alter a student’s academic record except to correct an error in transferring grades from the official grade roster to the transcript.

Grade Appeals

Students who challenge a grade should begin by talking with the instructor of the course involved. If the situation cannot be resolved by that means, or if the nature of the problem precludes discussion with the instructor, students may bring the matter to the attention of the chair of the individual’s department. The chair will attempt to resolve the matter either through discussion with the instructor alone or jointly with the student. If these meetings do not provide a solution satisfactory to all parties, the question may be taken to the associate vice president for academic affairs, where the matter will be reviewed. Regardless of the outcome of these discussions, only the instructor of a course, using her/his professional judgment, can change a student’s grade. If the associate vice president is not satisfied with the proceedings, the associate vice president can ask the Academic Affairs Committee to hear the matter as described in I and II under Standards for Fair Grading.

Faculty Grade Change Procedure

All grades are considered final when grade rosters are turned off by the registrar. The circumstances and procedures outlined in the Fair Grading and the Grade Appeal policies described above represent the only means by which a final grade may be changed. When a final grade change is warranted an instructor requests a grade change by submitting a course grade change form to the associate vice president for academic affiars for approval. Grades of Incomplete (IC) are submitted to the registrar in accordance with the university’s Incomplete policy. Change of IC grades to letter grades are subsequently submitted through a course grade change form to the associate vice president for academic affairs.

Incompletes and Extensions

An instructor may decide to enter a grade of incomplete (IC) on a student’s record if unusual circumstances prevent completion of the course on time, and a minimal portion of the total class work needs to be completed. The course must be completed by the date specified by the instructor which cannot exceed one year beyond the original term of course completion. If the course is not completed by this date, the grade specified by the instructor will be recorded. If no grade is specified, a default grade of F will be recorded. The instructor is responsible for documenting and notifying the student of the work to be completed and the deadline. A student may not graduate with an incomplete on his or her transcript.

The extension (E) grade is assigned for approved continuing courses such as internship, thesis, doctoral research or other courses as appropriate. The grade of E is temporary and indicates the student has made satisfactory progress in the course for the term completed. The course must be completed by the date specified by the instructor which cannot exceed one year beyond the original term of course completion. If the course is not completed by this date, a default grade of F will be recorded. A student may not graduate with an E on his or her transcript.

Temporary Grades

An NG stands for for grade submitted. It means the Registrar’s Office did not receive a grade from the instructor by the time the grading period ended. The student is welcome to contact the instructor in this case. When the grade is received by the registrar’s office, student transcripts are updated. NGs must be completed within one year. If NGs are not replaced with a permanent grade by that time, a grade of F will be recorded on the student’s transcript.

Pass/No Pass Courses

Some courses are designated as Pass/No Pass. Credits earned by passing these courses are added to the total credits earned (graded and transfer courses as well as credit-by- exam). Pass/No Pass credits are also included in credits attempted. Credits earned in Pass/No Pass courses do not affect grade point average.

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Transfer Credits

Grades for transfer courses must be a B or higher, and appropriate to the program attempted at PSU. Only credits may be transferred, not grades; therefore, the grade for transfer courses does not count toward the required 3.0 grade point average for program completion. Courses completed more than six years prior to the time of acceptance may not be transferred to a graduate program. Generally, up to 9 graduate level credits from other regionally accredited institutions may be accepted in degree or certification programs, but not certificate programs. Courses cannot be transferred for credit if used in earning another degree. MBA, MS in Accounting, and EdD students should refer to the specific transfer credit policy in the respective catalog sections.

An official transcript must be on file at the Graduate Studies Office before credits can be considered for transfer to a PSU program. Course descriptions or course outlines or both may be requested in order to determine credit consideration.

Students should be aware that decisions about acceptance of credit in transfer are up to the receiving institution. There is no guarantee that credits earned while enrolled at Plymouth State University will be accepted by another educational institution.

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Course Audits

Students who want to take a course for their own interest or development, but not for credit, may register to audit most courses. Auditors are usually not required to complete normal class requirements. No grades will be issued to students who have registered as auditors. An AU will be entered on the transcript for the audited course. Full fees and half tuition are charged for auditing a class, with some exceptions determined by the offering department. Permission of the instructor is required for all course audits. A status of audit must be clearly indicated on the course registration form for accurate processing. Auditing is not permitted in MBA, CAGS, or doctoral-level courses.

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Enrollment Status (Half-Time, Full-Time, Overload)

Students who are registered for at least three (3) credits in Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer term are considered to be enrolled as part-time graduate students. Those who are registered for at least six (6) credits in a term are considered to be enrolled as full-time graduate students.

Summer 3 credits 6 credits
Fall 3 credits 6 credits
Winter 3 credits 6 credits
Spring 3 credits 6 credits

Course Overload

Graduate students are in overload when they register for more than 12 credits in one term. Permission of the associate vice president for academic affairs is required for overload registration.

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Course Add, Drop, and Withdrawal Policy

It is the student’s responsibility to initiate the add, drop, or withdrawl process. Course changes are not official until processed by the Graduate Studies office or accepted in our online registration system. All paper forms must be filled in completely and include the student’s signature to be processed. Forms can be faxed, mailed, or delivered in person to the Graduate Studies office. A $30 non-refundable registration fee will be assessed each term when registering for courses.

Course Adds

Attendance in a class does not constitute an official add. Courses may be added up until the start of the class, pending availability. Students may add a course with the permission of the instructor after the course has started. To add a course, complete the Add/Drop form. All paper forms must be filled in completely and include the student’s signature to be processed.

First Day Drop/Non-Participation

Students who do not appear for the first class meeting of each course and do not notify the course instructor before that class meeting that they will be absent may be dropped from the course by the instructor and their place may be given to another students. For online classes, students who have not logged in to the course within a week of the start date and have not notified the instructor of a delay in their participation may be dropped from the course by the instructor and their place may be given to another student.

Dropping or Withdrawing from a Course

Students are able to drop courses online through for a full tuition refund and without incurring a drop fee, up until the start of the term.  After the term has started, please contact the Registrar’s Office for assistance.



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Weekend/Week-long Residential & Commuter Packaged Courses

Refunds can only be processed up to two business days prior to the start of the course. After that date, no refund (partial or otherwise) will be granted.

Important Refund Information: Withdrawn or dropped courses in any given term that were paid for (all or in part) with federal aid, by a third-party agency via a scholarship or purchase order, or with a tuition waiver, require the following:

  1. Paid by federal financial aid: Federal aid that pays to the student’s account must be earned. Federal regulations require that Plymouth State determine how much of the federal aid has been earned and return all unearned amounts to the lender for withdrawals prior to 60 percent of enrollment period. This may result in a balance owed to Plymouth State. Note: This calculation of unearned aid generally occurs independently from the amount of tuition that is refunded based on the course refund schedule. Exception: Should a 100 percent refund be received for tuition charges, 100 percent of the federal aid will be returned to the lender, and the student will become responsible for paying the initial $30 non-refundable administration fee that was assessed at the time of registration.
  2. Paid by third-party agency: Course drops or withdrawals require that Plymouth State return any funds received from an outside agency to that agency regardless of whether the student receives a full or partial refund of charges based on the course refund schedule. This may result in a balance owed to Plymouth State.
  3. Paid by tuition waiver: In general, if the student is no longer registered for the course(s) for which the waiver was directly applied, the tuition waivers will be removed from the student’s account. This may result in a balance owed to Plymouth State. However, some types of tuition waivers may have different restrictions. Please contact the Student Account Services (Bursar’s Office) for additional information.

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Graduate Capstone

Students may elect to complete a culminating 1- to 12-credit supervised graduate capstone project or practicum experience in a work environment, cooperating institution, or agency. Graduate students may participate in a variety of learning experiences arranged in conjunction with their program of study and with the approval of their advisor. Field and university supervisors work with graduate students to determine specific learning outcomes that will result from this experience, as well as procedures to meet those outcomes. Students will construct a learning portfolio to document specific outcomes of this experience and present this portfolio at the end of the term. A student self-evaluation and curriculum vitae detailing accomplishments to date should be included in the portfolio. Students in the Master of Science degree programs will present their research findings and may have other additional requirements.

Plymouth State has limited funding for honoraria for supervisors, and therefore relies on professional partnerships with the community to assist graduate students in this apprenticeship learning model. Typically, students spend 40 hours per credit during a capstone experience, depending on the discipline.

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Graduate Internship or Practicum

Plymouth State’s teacher education programs are renowned in New Hampshire and throughout New England, and its graduates are actively recruited for teaching positions. Beginning as early as the first year, teacher education candidates have many opportunities to teach and learn in public elementary, middle, and high school settings. The certification program culminates in an intensive internship or practicum. The culminating field experience is typically 12 weeks for a single level endorsement (K–8, 5–9,7–12) and two eight-week experiences (one at the primary level and one at the secondary level) for K–12 certification.

A student is required to have a 3.0 or higher GPA to enter his or her internship, practicum, or field experience. The student must achieve a B or better (or Pass in the case of Pass/No Pass courses) in his or her internship or practicum in order to be endorsed for NH educator or professional certification.

All teacher certification candidates who interact with students in public school settings through course-related field experience are subject to New Hampshire state legislation that requires all persons who regularly come into contact with pupils on a daily basis to undergo a full-disclosure criminal records check which may include fingerprinting. The criminal records check is conducted at the site school before the field experience begins. The fee for this processing is the responsibility of the teacher candidate and is paid directly to the school district. Inquiries should be directed to the Office of Educator Preparation.

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Graduate Program Completion and Degree Conferral

Most PSU students complete a degree program in one to three years; six years is the maximum time to complete a degree. Assuming all undergraduate competencies are met, MBA students can complete their program in four terms. Courses in the Master of Science in Applied Meteorology, Athletic Training, Biology, and Environmental Science and Policy programs are offered along the undergraduate semester schedule. Depending on the student’s choice of thesis and non-thesis options, the time to completion can range from one to two years. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher is required for degree conferral.

There are specific time frames assigned for processing completions and degree conferrals. Diplomas are issued five times per year: May Commencement, June 30, August 31, December 1, and March 1. All students who expect to graduate are required to submit a Petition for Degree Conferral. Students must submit the completed petition before the corresponding conferral deadline in order to have their program audit completed and degree conferral processed for the anticipated completion date.

Anticipated Degree Conferral Date Petition and Fee Submitted by Student No Later than
August 31 June 1
December 1 September 1
March 1 December 1
May Commencement February 1
June 30 March 1

Students who do not meet the above deadlines may be eligible to submit a late petition for completion. The processing fee for a late petition is $150.

Anticipated Degree Conferral Date Petition and Fee Submitted by Student No Later than
August 31 June 30
December 1 September 30
March 1 December 31
May Commencement February 28/29
June 30 March 31

Certification candidates must submit a Petition for Certification or Specialist Credential Eligibility form. Educator and specialist certification candidates can petition for completion at any time, as these certifications and endorsements can be awarded or endorsed outside of the official degree conferral dates.

Specialist certification can also be awarded at any time as long as the candidate already holds a master’s degree. Students seeking specialist certification along with a master’s degree will have their certification endorsed at the same time as their master’s degree is conferred.

Commencement Ceremony

All graduates are encouraged to participate in the Commencement ceremony, which is held annually in May. Students who complete degree requirements in August and petition by April 1 have the option of walking in the May ceremony of that same year. After April 1, all students who petition to graduate for the August conferral date will be eligible to participate in the May ceremony the following year. Students who petition for December or March will be eligible to participate in the May ceremony of the following year. Please contact the graduate degree auditor with questions regarding the completion of a graduate program. Please visit our Commencement webpage for more ceremony information.