Graduate Studies Policies

Program of Study

All graduate students are required to have a written program of study on file at the College of Graduate Studies within the first term after acceptance. The program of study must be approved and signed by the student, his or her advisor, and the associate vice president for the College of Graduate Studies. The program of study specifies each course comprising a graduate program concentration and the term or year in which the course is likely to be taken. Changes to the program of study may be made only with the advisor’s and the associate vice president’s approval. Program of study forms are available from the advisor and the College of Graduate Studies. The associate vice president for the College of Graduate Studies oversees all programs of study.

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 approved program of study. 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 program of study, 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 Master of Science and athletic training 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–June 30

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 the College of 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 in writing 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 with two or more incompletes will be prevented from registering for additional classes until all incompletes are 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 College of Graduate Studies associate registrar. 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 the College of Graduate Studies

    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 and submit a Graduate Continuation Fee. 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 and the Graduate Continuation Fee. 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 College of Graduate Studies 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.

    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 (e.g., Blackboard), 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.

    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.

    Students have the right to challenge evaluations of their work, and hence instructors are accountable with regard to providing and explaining all relevant grades and grading criteria. Grading challenges are of two kinds. Those that question the accuracy of grades are resolved by means described under Grade Appeals. Questions related to the policy or process of making assignments and determining the final grade are addressed by Standards for Fair Grading.

    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 graduate studies 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 semester’s academic record for a period of one year from the end of the semester 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 graduate studies, 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 graduate studies for approval. Grades of Incomplete (IC) are submitted to the registrar in accordance with the university’s Incompletes policy. Change of IC grades to letter grades are subsequently submitted through a course grade change form to the associate vice president for graduate studies.

    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 reserved for courses that are designed with requirements that may extend beyond one term. The course must be completed by the date specified by the instructor which cannot exceed two years 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.

    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 accredited institutions may be accepted in transfer. Courses cannot be transferred for credit if used in earning another degree. MBA 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 College of 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.

    Transferability of Credit

    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 a 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.

    TERM HALF-TIME FULL-TIME
    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 the College of Graduate Studies is required for overload registration.


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    Course Add, Drop, and Withdrawal Policy

    Course changes are not official until processed by the College of Graduate Studies. Forms can be faxed, mailed, or delivered in person to the College of Graduate Studies. A $30 registration fee will be assessed each term when registering for courses.

    Course Adds

    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.

    It is the student’s responsibility to initiate the add process. Attendance in a class does not constitute an official add.

    Dropping or Withdrawing from a Course

    Students are able to drop courses online through my.plymouth.edu for a full tuition refund and without incurring a drop fee, up until the start of the term.

    After the term has started, please refer to the Course Drop/Withdrawal schedule to determine drop or withdrawal eligibility. A drop or withdrawal form must be received at the College of Graduate Studies by the indicated deadline in order to be eligible for the specific drop or withdrawal. A $25 drop fee will be assessed for each drop or withdrawal. Students who drop or withdraw from multiple courses simultaneously do not incur additional charges. 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 College of Graduate Studies.

    It is the student’s responsibility to initiate the drop or withdrawal process. Failure to attend class, complete coursework, notify the instructor, or make complete payment does not constitute an official drop or withdrawal. Courses withdrawn will remain on the academic transcript with a withdrawn code of W for the grade. Grades of W do not impact grade point average.

    Course Drop/Withdrawal Schedule

    10–16 week face-to-face courses, fully online courses, or blended/hybrid courses with three or fewer face-to-face-meetings

    DROP PERIOD WITHDRAWAL PERIOD NO WITHDRAWAL PERMITTED
    Last business day of week two of the course First business day of week three of the course through last business day of week seven of the course After last business day of week seven of the course

    Blended/hybrid courses with four or more face-to-face meetings, or block and intensive courses

    DROP PERIOD WITHDRAWAL PERIOD NO WITHDRAWAL PERMITTED
    Prior to second class meeting On second class meeting but before fourth class meeting Fourth class meeting or later

    Weekend/Weeklong Residential and Commuter Package Courses

    DROP PERIOD WITHDRAWAL PERIOD NO WITHDRAWAL PERMITTED
    Before the first class meeting Any part of course is attended (but not entire course) After residential/commuter portion of course

    Late Withdrawal

    After the appropriate withdrawal period has ended, students may appeal for withdrawal from a course only under extenuating circumstances. The appeal should be presented to the associate vice president for the College of Graduate Studies on a graduate student request form, and must include a letter explaining the extenuating circumstances, any requested documentation, and a course withdrawal form signed by the instructor.


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    Course Refund Schedule

    10–16 week face-to-face courses, fully online courses, or blended/hybrid courses with three or fewer face-to-face meetings.

    FULL TUITION REFUND 75% TUITION REFUND 50% TUITION REFUND NO TUITION REFUND
    Last business day of week two of the course Last business day of week three of the course Last business day of week four of the course After last business day of week four of the course

    Blended/hybrid courses with four or more face-to-face meetings or block and intensive courses

    FULL TUITION REFUND 75% TUITION REFUND 50% TUITION REFUND NO TUITION REFUND
    Prior to second class meeting On or after second class meeting but prior to third meeting On or after third class meeting but prior to fourth meeting Fourth class meeting or later

    Silver Fox Inn, Waterville Valley, NH
    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. Typically, students spend 40 hours per credit hour during a capstone experience, depending on the discipline. Graduate students may participate in a variety of learning experiences arranged in conjunction with their program of study and with the approval of the associate vice president for the College of Graduate Studies and 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.


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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. This experience culminates in an intensive internship or practicum for candidates fully employed in the area of certification. 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. Students must submit the Intent to Complete Internship/Practicum form two terms prior to the internship or practicum experience.

    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 coordinator of Teacher Certification and Clinical Experiences.


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    Graduate Program Completion and Degree Conferral

    Degree programs are typically completed 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, 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.

    There are specific time frames assigned for processing completions and degree conferrals. Diplomas are issued five times per year: August 31, December 1, March 1, May Commencement, and June 30. All students who expect to graduate are required to submit a Petition for Degree Conferral along with a $100 processing fee. Students must submit a completed petition and fee prior to the corresponding conferral deadline in order to have a 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

    Educator and specialist certification candidates must also submit a Petition for Certification or Specialist Credential Eligibility form with a $100 processing fee. 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.

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