General Requirements for Graduate Study

[1] Minimum Semester Hours

The candidate must earn a minimum of 30 semester hours in courses for which graduate credit is given. Graduate credit will be given for 5000-, 6000-, 7000- and 8000-numbered courses. A minimum of 15 semester hours of 6000-level courses are required for the master’s degree. No course below the 5000-level may apply toward a graduate degree.

Undergraduate courses may not be repeated at the graduate level with the expectation of credit. Any student taking a graduate course which is double listed with an undergraduate course must do work of graduate caliber to receive graduate credit. No credit may apply toward a graduate degree unless it is included in the student’s approved program of study.

[2] Residence Credit

The candidate must take a minimum of 24 credit hours at UCA. Acceptance of transfer credit does not reduce the minimum residence requirement of 24 hours.

[3] Grades and Quality Points

Grades are expressed as letters, with equivalents as follows:

XDeferred Credit/IncompleteN/A**
PRProgress - CreditN/A**
NCNo CreditN/A**

*QP: Quality Points (sometimes referred to as “Grade Value” or “Grade Points”)
**N/A: Hours attempted where W, X, PR, CR, NC, or AU are involved are not used in computing the grade point average.

Note: Beginning with the fall 2017 term, the grades of WP and WF are no longer used. Consult an earlier issue of the Graduate Bulletin for their use and meaning.

Grades of A, B, and C will allow students to receive graduate credit representing 4, 3, and 2 quality points, respectively. Grades below C are recorded and are considered in determining the quality-point ratio but are not accepted toward completion of the graduate program.

All grades, once reported, remain a matter of permanent record and are used in calculating the cumulative GPA. Any appeal or question concerning an assigned grade must be made within one calendar year from the time the grade was awarded.

Calculation of the graduate grade point average includes all residence course work attempted. No transfer credit grades are used to calculate the cumulative GPA.

A graduate student is expected to maintain a cumulative 3.00 average. A student whose cumulative grade point average is less than 3.00 is on academic probation. In the next semester or summer term in attendance, the student should achieve a cumulative 3.00 or at least show meaningful improvement towards a 3.00 GPA. If the cumulative 3.00 is not met or meaningful improvement shown, the student is ineligible to continue graduate studies at UCA.

A GPA of 3.00 or above is required for graduation. Up to six hours beyond the degree requirements can be used to meet this GPA, but all such hours must be approved by the student’s advisor.

The grade of PR is used for certain kinds of courses (typically thesis, dissertation, or other multi-term courses) where continuous enrollment across two or more terms is required. A PR grade indicates that a student has made satisfactory progress in the course/project; a CR grade is used in this context to indicate that the course/project has been successfully completed. Both PR and CR result in earned credit hours but do not carry “quality points” (and thus are not included in GPA calculations); an NC grade indicates “no credit,” and signifies in this context unsatisfactory progress or failure to complete the course/project. Note that this grade mode is not intended to be used as a substitute for “deferred credit” (an incomplete grade) in a course not requiring continuous enrollment for more than one term.

The grade of X (incomplete) is given only if satisfactory completion of the remaining course requirements can result in a passing grade for that semester’s work. An X grade is not computed in the GPA. One calendar year is the maximum time limit for removal of an X grade except in independent study courses and theses. If one year passes and the X has not been removed, the grade is changed automatically to an F. An individual instructor may specify a shorter time period for removal of an X. The instructor is required to state, in writing, the requirements for removing the grade of X at the time it is assigned. One copy of the requirement is to be given to the registrar, one to the student, and one to the department chair; one copy is retained by the instructor. Failure of the student to meet these requirements may result in the X becoming an F. A student may not re-enroll in a course for which an X is in effect. No student may be cleared for conferral of a graduate degree until all incomplete (X) grades have been removed.

To obtain the qualitative index of a student’s scholarship, the total number of quality points (QP) accumulated is divided by the total number of semester credit hours (SCH) attempted to give the ratio known as the grade point average (GPA):


For example, if a student has earned 96 quality points on 30 semester hours attempted, the GPA is 3.20 (96 ÷ 30 = 3.20). The following list shows quality points earned for each letter grade:

A = 4 quality points per credit hour (12 for a 3-hour course)
B = 3 quality points per credit hour (9 for a 3-hour course)
C = 2 quality points per credit hour (6 for a 3-hour course)
D = 1 quality points per credit hour (3 for a 3-hour course)
F = 0 quality points per credit hour (0 for a 3-hour course)

[4] Attendance

Attendance and tardiness are primarily a student-teacher-class issue, but the university has an interest in the proper fulfillment of such obligations by the student. Absences that indicate negligence about class attendance may lead to cancellation of registration and a withdrawal grade (W) in the course. In flagrant cases, the student may be suspended from the university. Individual instructors may assign a withdrawal grade (W) for non-attendance to any student but must do so by the deadline date for a student to officially withdraw specified in the academic calendar for the semester.

[5] Full-Time and Maximum Course Loads

A student who carries 9 or more graduate hours in any semester is considered a full-time graduate student. A student who is enrolled in 3 or more semester hours in a 10-week summer session is considered a full-time graduate student. The maximum course load for a student shall be 15 hours for each semester and 6 semester hours for each summer term. Permission to take more than a maximum credit load requires written approval of the student’s advisor, the department chair, and the graduate dean.

[6] Enrollment Requirements for International Students

International students on F-1 or J-1 visas pursuing a graduate degree must enroll in 9 credit hours each semester. At least 6 of the 9 credit hours must be traditional and/or hybrid courses. For example, a student may enroll in 3 credits traditional, 3 credits hybrid, and 3 credits online to meet this requirement.

Students beginning their program in Summer session must take 6 credits of traditional and/or hybrid courses.

Students may enroll in fewer credits in their final semester with proper authorization.

International students may enroll in completely online degree programs but must remain outside of the United States during their course of study.

[7] Advisement

At the time of admission to graduate study, the student is assigned to an advisor who is a regular faculty member in a department offering graduate work in the student’s field of specialization. The graduate advisor will be responsible for

  1. Helping the student plan a unified and balanced program of study adapted to the student’s particular interests, needs, and abilities and directed toward the student’s field of specialization;
  2. Recommending the student for degree candidacy; and
  3. Assisting the student’s progress toward satisfactory completion of the program of study.

Graduate students are encouraged to make appointments with their advisors each semester of enrollment.

[8] Thesis/Dissertation

Departments determine whether they require, or provide an option for, master’s students to submit a thesis. All PhD candidates will complete a dissertation. The Thesis and Dissertation Preparation Guide outlines the general timeline, policies, and procedures for producing a thesis or dissertation at the University of Central Arkansas. It is important to read and understand fully the contents of the manual, which is available from the Graduate School web site at The student must allow sufficient time for conducting the research and writing the thesis or dissertation.

Students and faculty will comply with all university policies regarding research and the use of human subjects and animals in research.

Continuous Enrollment: Students submitting a master’s thesis must register for at least one hour of graduate thesis credit each semester (Fall, Spring and Summer) after enrolling in their first thesis course. Doctoral students must register for at least one hour of dissertation credit each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer) following approval of dissertation proposal until the work is completed, whether the student is in residence or away from the campus.

[9] Appeal Procedures

Appeal procedures for graduate students related to grades, student educational records, academic policy/requirements, and professional program selection are outlined in the Student Handbook.

[10] Academic Integrity

Integrity in scholarship and research is an essential characteristic of our academic life and structure in the university. Any activity that compromises the pursuit of truth and the advancement of knowledge besmirches the intellectual effort and may undermine confidence in the academic enterprise. The Graduate School expects students to conduct their academic endeavors with honesty and integrity. The definition of academic misconduct and appeal procedures for graduate students who are accused of academic misconduct are specified in the Student Handbook. UCA’s Policy for responding to allegations of research misconduct is linked from this page:

[11] Policy on Research with Human Subjects

Graduate or undergraduate student research projects may involve the use of human subjects. “Human subject” is defined as an individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual or (2) identifiable, confidential information about the individual. Both federal and university regulations require that all proposed research projects involving human subjects be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board prior to the initiation of such studies.

Specific information regarding procedures for obtaining appropriate review of proposed research projects involving human subjects is available from the office of the dean of the student’s college, the Graduate School, the Office of Sponsored Programs, or Sponsored Program’s web site at

[12] Policy on Intellectual Property

University policy on intellectual property applies to all graduate students. An invention or discovery resulting from projects supported in whole or in part by funds, personnel, or facilities provided by or administered by the Board of Trustees of the University of Central Arkansas is the property of the university. The university has a policy of sharing with the inventor any income derived from such discoveries. Information on UCA’s Intellectual Property Policy is available on the web at

[13] Deadlines for Graduate Program Completion

All requirements for a master’s degree, specialist’s degree, graduate certificate, or post-master’s certificate must be satisfied within six years from the initial semester of matriculation. All requirements for a doctoral degree must be completed within ten years from the initial semester of matriculation.

[14] Application of Coursework from Previous Graduate Degrees

Subject to review by the department and Graduate School, students holding valid master’s degrees or graduate certificates from accredited graduate institutions, including UCA, may apply no more than six hours of approved coursework completed as a part of the previous degree/certificate toward a second master’s degree or educational specialist degree. A maximum of three hours from a previous degree/certificate may be applied toward a graduate certificate. Transferring these hours for specific courses in the program for the second master’s degree, educational specialist degree, or certificate will be indicated in writing, approved by the program coordinator, and submitted to the Graduate School. All remaining courses applied to satisfy the requirements for the second master’s degree, educational specialist degree, or certificate must be taken in residence at the University of Central Arkansas. If graduate credit earned for a prior graduate degree is equivalent to and constitutes a logical part of the student’s program, application of previously earned credit above the established policy may be allowed when recommended by the student’s program coordinator and department chair, and when approved by the dean of the Graduate School. Acceptance of transfer credit does not reduce the minimum residence requirement of 24 hours.

The second master’s degree, educational specialist degree, or certificate will be subject to the general regulations governing master’s degrees, educational specialist degrees, or certificates except as stated above.

[15] Maintenance of Standards

The university reserves the right to deny further attendance to a student who lacks the personal qualities, professional characteristics, or scholastic attainments essential for success. Such a student desiring to re-enroll will supply the university with evidence that the difficulties have been corrected.

[16] Withdrawal Policy

A student may officially withdraw from a course or the university so long as the withdrawal is within the dates specified in the academic calendar for the semester. If a student withdraws from a course or the university during the change-of-course period, no grade will be recorded.

After the change-of-course period, a withdrawal grade (W) will be recorded according to the deadlines specified in the academic calendar for the semester.

If a student discontinues attendance without officially withdrawing, an instructor may drop the student for non-attendance and report a withdrawal grade (W), but must do so by the deadline date for a student to officially withdraw specified in the academic calendar for the semester.