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 required test scores to the Graduate Office normally will 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., transient or non-degree), the Graduate Dean will admit them to Graduate Studies if they meet Graduate School requirements for regular admission. Students enrolled through Outreach and Community Engagement 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.

[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 standardized test scores) 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 GRE or GMAT scores. 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] Graduate Admissions Examinations

To supplement other evidence of preparation for graduate work, the Graduate School requires departments to use 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. Accountancy (MAcc) and the MBA program require either the GMAT or the GRE. College of Education Programs require either Praxis I, GRE, or a valid standard educator license. All other programs require the GRE.

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;
  4. Submitted required test scores (GMAT, GRE, Praxis I) or hold a valid standard educator license for College of Education applicants; and
  5. Met any additional program admission requirements (e.g. minimum test scores, interview, statement of purpose) specified by the department/program. (See program requirements in this Bulletin.)

[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; *
  2. Have not submitted all required admission materials prior to initial enrollment (e.g. GRE, GMAT, Praxis I, or valid standard educator license); **
  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. ***
Notes on Conditional Admission

* 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 may then request reclassification to regular admission status and petition for candidacy in a graduate degree program. If a 3.00 GPA is not achieved, the student will be denied further graduate enrollment at the University of Central Arkansas.
** In the case of failing to submit the required standardized test score or educator license, the student must present appropriate test scores 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 scores are received by the Graduate School.
*** 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] Concurrent

If a senior is in the last term of enrollment before receiving a baccalaureate degree and is otherwise fully qualified to enter graduate study, that student may be admitted to concurrent status. An Application for Admission to Graduate Study and an Application for Concurrent Status must be filed with the Graduate School at least six weeks prior to registration. The student’s entire program is subject to the regulations and requirements for graduate study. Graduate credit will be received only if the student completes the requirements of the bachelor’s degree during the term in which the graduate courses are taken. Concurrent enrollment is not available for education, nursing, occupational therapy, or computer science students.

[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 petitions for and is accepted to candidacy in a degree program if the hours taken are applicable to the program. (Certain limitations may apply. See Petition for Degree Candidacy and Program of Study.) Students pursuing certification/licensure and not a degree will be assigned an advisor in the certification area. Some departments limit enrollment in courses to students admitted to specific degree programs.

[5.5] Transient

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 transient 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 Office of International Engagement or on-line at the Web address below. The completed application form, all supporting documents, and the application fee must be submitted to the Office of International 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 Office of International Engagement maintains a list of English proficiency requirement exempt countries. Applicants from those countries, who also speak English as a first language, will be considered proficient in English. Applicants whose first language is not English will be considered proficient in English if they have completed a four-year baccalaureate degree at an accredited educational institution in the United States. Applicants whose first language is not English and who have not earned bachelor’s degrees from U.S. institutions will demonstrate English proficiency by submitting one of the following:

  1. TOEFL PBT score of 550 or higher
  2. TOEFL CBT score of 213 or higher
  3. TOEFL iBT score of 79 or higher
  4. 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 Office of International 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 Office of International Engagement
360 Farris Road
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 graduate study at the University of Central Arkansas.

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.