Admission to Graduate Study

[1] The Admission Process

For students wishing to pursue a specific graduate program, the admission process involves a mutual decision between the Graduate Dean and the appropriate department. Application information may be obtained by visiting the Graduate School website at Transmission of these forms, the required application fee, official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, and other program-specific admission requirements to the Graduate Office will normally complete an application for admission. Application materials are shared with the department for a recommendation about whether to admit a student to graduate studies and under which type of admission. For students not planning to seek a graduate degree at UCA or who are undecided (i.e., visiting or non-degree), the Graduate Dean will admit them to Graduate Studies if they meet Graduate School requirements for regular admission. Prospective students who do not meet the qualifications for admission and are not seeking a degree may be admitted on a conditional basis after review by the Graduate Dean.

Applications are retained on students who are admitted but do not enroll for three years. After three years, these credentials are discarded, making it necessary to reapply for admission and furnish all credentials again for evaluation. The credentials of applicants who were denied admission are also retained for three years.

All materials submitted for admission become the property of the university.

Falsification of any record, including the Application for Admission, is cause for immediate dismissal.

[2] Preferred Dates for Applications

Some programs with competitive admission (Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Psychology and Counseling, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Creative Writing, Leadership Studies) have application deadlines and admit a limited number of students only certain times of the year. Contact the department for specific dates and separate departmental application information. For other programs, the preferred application date is March 1 for summer and fall admission and October 1 for spring admission.

To ensure time for processing, applications must be completed (including official transcripts and other program-specific admission requirements) at least one month prior to the beginning of the term for which the student wishes to enroll. Although every effort will be made to accommodate late applicants, there is no guarantee that a late applicant will be allowed to enroll.

[3] Preference Given to Self-Managed Applications

After submission of the online application, students should verify receipt by the Graduate School of official transcripts from all institutions where undergraduate or graduate course work has been completed, as well as receipt of other program-specific admission requirements. This type of self-managed application will be given priority in processing by the Graduate Office and will reach the department of choice more quickly for review.

[4] Other Program-Specific Admission Requirements

To supplement other evidence of preparation for graduate work, the Graduate School requires departments to use a program-specific admission requirement. The program-specific admission-requirement may be a standardized admission test such as the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). These examinations will not replace other records of achievement as a basis for admission to graduate studies, but they will offer additional evidence concerning the qualifications of students desiring to undertake graduate work. Alternatively, departments may elect not to use a standardized admission test. In these instances, the department must require additional application materials that provide evidence of the student’s qualifications for undertaking graduate work. Information regarding other program-specific admission requirements is provided in the UCA Graduate Bulletin within each program’s description of admission requirements.

If tests such as the GRE or GMAT are required, all applicants are encouraged to complete these tests early in their senior year of undergraduate work or before filing an application for admission to graduate studies. For further information on these examinations and places where they may be taken, applicants should contact the Graduate School (450-3124), the department in which they want to pursue a graduate degree, or University Testing Services (450-3209); information about testing is also available on the web at GRE or GMAT.

[5] Types of Admission

[5.1] Regular

To be granted regular admission to graduate school, students must have

  1. Obtained a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution.
  2. Achieved a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.70 on a scale of 4.00 or at least a 3.00 in the last 60 hours of undergraduate study.
  3. Achieved a minimum 3.00 GPA on any graduate course work previously taken at another accredited institution or previously completed at UCA.
  4. Met the additional program-specific admission requirements (e.g. minimum test scores, interview, statement of purpose) specified by the department/program. (See program requirements in this Graduate Bulletin.)

Note: Students who plan to attend UCA must provide proof of immunizations. In order to register for classes, these immunizations must be in compliance with Arkansas Department of Health Rules and Regulations. The only exception to this policy is for a student who will enter a 100% online program AND will not visit campus at any time during his/her program. Without an approved immunization record, the student cannot make library visits, attend sports events, make in-person advising visits, use the HPER facility, attend graduation ceremonies, or participate in any other on-campus events and activities. An applicant must provide an official copy of his/her immunization record or proper exemption to the Graduate School or Student Health.

[5.2] Conditional

Conditional admission may be granted when recommended by a department and approved by the Graduate Dean. For each conditionally admitted student, the Graduate School and/or appropriate department will specify on the admission review form the conditions for obtaining regular admission status, including a specified deadline, if applicable, for meeting these conditions. Conditionally admitted students are ineligible to receive financial aid, including graduate assistantships.

With good justification, this classification can be used when students

  1. Have not met the minimum GPA requirement for regular admission; [Note 1]
  2. Have not submitted all required program-specific admission materials prior to initial enrollment; [Note 2]
  3. Have not met the more stringent admission requirements specified by programs; or
  4. Need to complete prerequisites specified by the department offering the graduate program of interest. [Note 3]

Notes on Conditional Admission

Note 1

In the case of failing to meet minimum GPA requirements for regular admission, the student must obtain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 after the first nine semester hours of graduate course work taken at the University of Central Arkansas. The graduate courses taken during this probationary period must apply toward a degree program and be approved by the appropriate departmental chair and the Graduate Dean. If the cumulative 3.00 GPA is achieved, the student is reclassified to regular admission status. If a 3.00 GPA is not achieved, the student will be denied further graduate enrollment at the University of Central Arkansas.

Note 2

In the case of failing to submit the required program-specific admission materials, the student must submit the materials no later than the end of the first semester of graduate enrollment. The student will not be allowed to register for additional graduate course credits until all materials are received by the Graduate School. Students should review program-specific admission requirements in this bulletin for additional information.

Note 3

If prerequisites or other non-GPA departmental requirements are specified by a department as conditions for admission, the student may be admitted to the university as a post-baccalaureate student or to the Graduate School as a non-classified/non-degree student until the specified prerequisites and any other requirements are completed. Admission under this classification, however, does not guarantee admission to the requested departmental program.

[5.3] Enrollment Statuses for Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students may apply to take graduate-level courses concurrent with the completion of their undergraduate studies. Two enrollment statuses have been created to meet this need and are detailed below. Applications for either status must be filed with the Graduate School at least six weeks prior to the start of registration. Undergraduate students may apply for either enrollment status as is appropriate to their qualification and semester of undergraduate study. However, any student may benefit from either the concurrent or the dual-enrollment status during their studies—not both. The total number of graduate-level hours available to complete under either status option is eight (two three-hour courses with, if applicable, associated one-hour lab components), and all courses must be associated with a single graduate program.

Approval of either enrollment status does not admit a student to graduate study at the university and is subject to approval by the program coordinator, the department chair, and the Graduate Dean. The student’s total credit load (graduate and undergraduate courses) will not exceed 15 credit hours during any semester of concurrent or dual-enrollment status.

[5.3.1] Concurrent

If a senior is in the last term of enrollment before receiving a baccalaureate degree from the University of Central Arkansas and is otherwise fully qualified to enter graduate study, that student may be admitted to concurrent status. This status allows the undergraduate student to enroll in graduate courses; however, the graduate course credits are not applied to the baccalaureate degree. The student’s entire program is subject to the regulations and requirements for graduate study. Concurrent enrollment is not available for education, nursing, occupational therapy, or computer science students.

[5.3.2] Dual Enrollment

If a senior is in good standing and has either a minimum of 3.0 overall undergraduate GPA or 3.0 GPA on the last 60 hours, the student may be admitted to dual-enrollment status and receive undergraduate degree credit for the graduate course(s). Courses for dual enrollment are limited to cross-listed courses at the 4000/5000-level. Hours for completed graduate coursework with a grade of C or better may count toward the student’s undergraduate degree. Hours for completed graduate coursework with a grade of B or better may also count toward a graduate degree. Students interested in dual enrollment should contact their department’s Graduate Program Coordinator prior to the semester(s) in which they wish to be dual enrolled. Not all programs allow students to participate in dual enrollment.

[5.4] Non-degree

Students who possess the minimum GPA for regular admission may choose to be admitted as a non-degree student. This classification is reserved for students who are undecided about their major field of emphasis, who choose to take work for upgrading their professional skills, or who wish to enroll in work for transferring to another graduate school. Any work taken by a non-degree student may subsequently be applied to fulfilling degree requirements when the student applies and is admitted to a degree program if the hours taken are applicable to the program. Certain limitations may apply.

Non-degree students are limited to taking at most nine graduate-level credits. The credits may be taken simultaneously or in sequence. Students must meet the same course prerequisites as degree-seeking students. The credits may be from 5000- to 9000-level courses; however, the student must meet with an advisor prior to registering for courses and develop a plan of study.

Enrolling in the courses requires the authorization of the Graduate Program Coordinator and relevant faculty for the program in which the courses are offered. The chair of the department in which the courses are being offered shall be informed of the authorization for the non-degree student to enroll in courses. Students must maintain a 3.0 or better in their courses to sustain their ability to enroll in additional courses as a non-degree student. In certain situations, a student may be permitted to complete more than nine hours of graduate coursework as a non-degree student. The Graduate Program Coordinator must submit the request for this exception to the Graduate Dean for approval.

[5.5] Visiting

Students pursuing a graduate degree from another institution and wishing to take a graduate course at the University of Central Arkansas may be admitted as visiting students. A letter of good standing from the Graduate Dean of the college or university where the student is attending will allow admission for one semester only.

[6] Admission of International Students

Application materials for international applicants may be obtained from the Center for Global Learning and Engagement or online at the Web address below. The completed application form, all supporting documents, and the application fee must be submitted to the Center for Global Learning and Engagement, which then forwards completed application files to the Graduate Office. Incomplete application files are not reviewed by the Graduate Office.

International applicants to the Graduate School whose first language is not English must demonstrate a satisfactory level of English proficiency. Students need a strong command of the English language to perform at the graduate level, especially in interactive programs which emphasize teamwork and effective oral and written communication.

The Center for Global Learning and Engagement maintains a list of English proficiency requirement exempt countries. Applicants from those countries whose first language is English and who graduated from a university where English was the language of instruction are not required to submit proof of English proficiency.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be considered proficient in English if they have completed a four-year baccalaureate degree or graduate degree (excluding graduate certificates) at an educational institution where English was the language of instruction.

Applicants whose first language is not English and who have not earned bachelor’s degrees or graduate degrees (excluding graduate certificates) at an educational institution where English was the language of instruction will demonstrate English proficiency by submitting one of the following:

  1. TOEFL PBT score of 550 or higher
  2. TOEFL iBT score of 79 or higher
  3. IELTS score of 6.5 or higher

Individual departmental graduate programs may set higher minimum scores, either for the overall score or any individual subscores, or both.

The English proficiency requirement may be waived at the discretion of the academic department chair if the last four semesters of full-time academic coursework have been completed at an accredited institution in the United States with an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher.

In addition to demonstrating a satisfactory level of English proficiency, international applicants to the Graduate School must submit transcripts to the University of Central Arkansas. Foreign transcripts must be accompanied by a UCA-recognized third-party credential evaluation. The Center for Global Learning and Engagement maintains a list of UCA-recognized third-party credential evaluators.

Applicants needing immigration document issuance necessary for applying for student visas, must also submit documentation of financial support, accompanied by a Confirmation of Financial Resources Form. Students must demonstrate the financial capacity as required per immigration regulations and as per any Exchange Agreement or other agreements which may exist and apply to the students’ situation. Such applicants must also submit a copy of the biographical page of their passport.

Detailed information for international students is available from

UCA Center for Global Learning and Engagement
McCastlain Hall, Suite 109
201 Donaghey Avenue
Conway, AR 72035-0001 USA
Phone: (501) 450-3445 (voice)

[7] Admission of Transfer Students and Transfer Credit

No student who has attended another graduate institution and earned less than a cumulative 3.00 GPA on a 4.00 scale will be admitted to a UCA graduate program.

Subject to the approval of the Graduate Dean and the appropriate department chair, a maximum of six hours of transfer graduate credit of grade B or above from another accredited institution may be accepted in UCA graduate degree programs requiring only the minimum 30 hours. In programs requiring 39 or more hours, a maximum of 15 hours of graduate credit of grade B or above may be transferred from another accredited institution, subject to the approval of the Graduate Dean and the appropriate department chair. If graduate credit earned at an accredited institution is equivalent to and constitutes a logical part of the student’s program, transfer of credit above the established policy may be allowed when recommended by the student’s major professor/advisor, advisory committee, and department chair, and when approved by the dean of the Graduate School.

All transfer hours must be in courses for which an equivalent UCA course exists, and no transfer hours may be in extension or correspondence work. A minimum of 24 hours credit in residence at the University of Central Arkansas is required.

[8] Admission to Graduate School Does Not Imply Candidacy for a Degree

A student becomes a candidate for an advanced degree only by demonstrating the requisite preparation and ability through study at UCA. Requirements specified for admission to graduate school and for any advanced degree are minimum requirements. Additional requirements may be specified by departments depending upon the student’s undergraduate preparation and the particular field of graduate work chosen.