On this page:
Grading System
Appeal of Dismissal from Graduate School
Expectations for Satisfactory Graduate-Level Student Performance
Grade Appeals
Auditing Classes
Withdrawal from Courses Policies
Graduate Course Numbering
Determination of Credit Hours
Cross-Disciplinary Courses
Maximum Course Loads and Other Restrictions
General Requirements for Graduate Degrees
Request for Extension of Seven-Year Rule
Transfer Credit
Comprehensive Examinations
Theses and Dissertations
Second Master's Degree Program of Study
Application for Graduation
Graduate Assistantships
Academic Dishonesty
Plagiarism
Student E-mail Responsibilities

Grading System

The semester hour is the basic unit of work, in which each course offered has credit value in terms of a certain number of semester hours normally conforming to the number of contact class hours per week. For example, courses meeting three hours a week carry three hours credit. A typical exception occurs in laboratory work, in which two or three hours of class contact time would have a one-credit-hour value.

Grades and quality points represent the instructor’s final estimate of the student’s performance in a course. All grades assigned remain on the student’s permanent record and transcript. The following letters denote grades that are included in the computation of the grade point average:

A = Excellent 4 per hour
B = Good 3 per hour
C = Satisfactory 2 per hour
D = Passing 1 per hour
F = Failing 0
WF = Withdrew failing 0

Graduate students may calculate their graduate grade point average by dividing the number of graduate semester credit hours taken into the total number of quality points earned.

The following letters denote cases in which the grade is not included in the computation of the grade point average:

I = Incomplete

IP = In progress (course scheduled for more than one semester)

K = Credit by examination

NR = Not reported by instructor or course ending date is after the scheduled end of the semester

S = Satisfactory

U = Unsatisfactory

V = Audit

W = Withdrew without penalty

Cumulative grade point averages are calculated at the close of every semester in which course work is taken. This calculation appears on the permanent record of each student. Students may review this grade record and grade point average by viewing their transcript located inside BannerWeb. To view their transcripts, students should log in and follow prompts to “Student Services and Financial Aid.” Matters requiring interpretation of a graduate record should normally be referred to the student’s advisor or the Graduate School. Undergraduate grades will not be calculated as part of the graduate student’s semester or cumulative average.

A report of “I” (incomplete) indicates that a student was doing satisfactory work at the end of the term but, for non-academic reasons, was unable to complete all requirements for the course. A report of “I” requires the subsequent completion of all course requirements within a time limit specified by the instructor, not to exceed one calendar year from the end of the term in which a grade of incomplete is assigned, regardless of the student’s enrollment status during the period specified for completion. It is the student’s responsibility to request that a grade of “I” be assigned for a class. To request a grade of incomplete, students should go to the website and read the procedures and download the Request for Assigning a Grade of Incomplete form. Students should remember that they should keep attending class, if possible, until the paperwork for the “I” is submitted. Additionally, their graduation dates will be adjusted if their incompletes are not resolved by their projected graduation date.

A grade of “IP” indicates that credit has not been given in courses that require a continuation of work beyond the semester for which the students signed up for the course. The use of the symbol is approved for dissertation and thesis hours and project courses. It cannot be substituted for an “I.”

The computation of the overall grade point average treats “WF” and “F” grades identically: both are failing grades. Grades of “W” do not enter into the computation. Earning grades below “B” in graduate courses will result in the following consequences:

  • Students will be dismissed from the Graduate School if they accumulate three or more academic deficiency points unless otherwise indicated by individual program policy. A grade of “C” (although it may be credited toward a degree) equals one deficiency point. A grade of “D,” “WF” or “F,” or “U” (none of which will be credited toward a degree) equals two deficiency points.

  • Warning letters will be issued to students for each earned deficiency point until enough points are accumulated to warrant dismissal.

For additional policies related to retention, dismissals, and readmission, click here

Students should work with their advisors and professors to avoid earning deficiency points (e.g., withdrawing from school before receiving failing grades). To view withdrawal polices, click here.

Appeal of Dismissal from Graduate School

For the appeal form for dismissal from the Graduate School, click here

Graduate students who wish to appeal a dismissal must first discuss the issue with their advisor. Further appeals are then directed, in order, to their professor’s Department Head, College Dean, and Dean of the Graduate School.

Expectations for Satisfactory Graduate-Level Student Performance

Graduate students are expected to earn grades of at least “B” in most of their course work for their degree. For graduation, a graduate student must have earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in all graduate course work at Valdosta State University. Throughout their program, students’ performance must be acceptable on a continuing basis. If their GPA falls below a 3.0, students must maintain an overall GPA of not less than 2.5. No grade below “C” will be credited toward a graduate degree. All grades received for graduate courses taken at or transferred to VSU, after admission to the Graduate School, will be used to calculate the graduate cumulative grade point average. Courses may be retaken, if desired or required, but all graduate grades received will affect this average.

Grade Appeals

Grade appeals are handled at the departmental and college levels. Students should contact their advisor or department head for information about the appeals process and forms.

Auditing Classes

Students may be permitted to audit selected courses, provided regular enrollment in the course is permitted and provided such arrangement is agreeable to the instructor. Fees for auditing are the same as for regular registration. Students are not permitted to change from audit to credit or from credit to audit after the last day for course changes as specified in the official calendar.

Withdrawal from Courses Policies

These policies apply to all students (undergraduate and graduate) at Valdosta State University for all classes offered by VSU, whether delivered face-to-face or online. However, some VSU students may be enrolled in classes offered through collaborative partnerships with other institutions or eCore (eMajor, GOML, WebMBA, etc.). In these programs, some policies and process may differ slightly. Students taking classes in those programs should visit the appropriate program links for further information. 

Before the Designated Withdrawal Date

Students may withdraw from courses following the drop/add period until approximately one week after midterm by completing the online withdrawal process on BANNER. A grade of "W" will appear in the student's official records. 

However, a student may not exercise this right to withdraw to avoid sanction for academic dishonesty. Instructors may assign a “W” on the proof roll for students not attending class. It is the responsibility of the student to complete the withdrawal process. A withdrawal is official when it is received and processed by the Office of the Registrar.

After the Designated Withdrawal Date

Students will not be allowed to withdraw after the designated withdrawal date as published in the school calendar as required by Board of Regents’ policy; however, students may petition an exception to the Board of Regents’ withdrawal deadline for cases of hardship by completing a petition for withdrawal form available in the Office of Centralized Advising. The petition will become a permanent part of the student’s file. If the petition is approved, the instructor may assign a grade of “W” or “WF” after mid-term. Note that “WF” is calculated in the grade point average the same as “F.” Any student who discontinues class attendance after midterm and does not officially withdraw may be assigned a grade of “F.” No fee adjustment will be made for withdrawals except as outlined in the Tuition, Fees, and Costs section of this catalog. The Office of Student Financial Services will receive a copy of the withdrawal form for refunding if applicable. Students receiving financial aid or graduate assistantships should be aware that withdrawal from courses may affect continued financial aid and assistantship eligibility.

To petition for withdrawal after the designated date, students must document either a medical or hardship situation and follow the process below:

Medical Withdrawals from the University

A student who has an injury or illness that prevents the completion of all classes for that term may request a Medical Withdrawal through the Office of Centralized Advising. The Medical Withdrawal process is outlined below. It should be noted that a Medical Withdrawal can be requested only after the designated withdrawal date. A student wanting to withdraw before the designated withdrawal date must follow the Withdrawal from Course Policy outlined in the undergraduate and graduate catalogs. If a student has to withdraw from a class before the designated withdrawal date for a documented medical reason, that student may use this process to appeal to change a regular withdrawal to a medical withdrawal. Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Office of the Registrar (229-333-5727). Questions regarding the late withdrawal process should be directed to the Office of Centralized Advising (229-245-4378). It is the student’s responsibility to withdraw officially in accordance with university regulations. Only in very rare instances will a partial withdrawal be considered, such as in cases in which a student may not be able to complete a specific class because of a medical condition or injury that prohibits class participation. For more detailed information on the Medical Withdrawal policy and procedures, click here

Hardship Withdrawals from the University

A student who has an emergency that prevents the completion of all classes for that term may request a Hardship Withdrawal through the Office of Centralized Advising. The Hardship Withdrawal process is outlined below. It should be noted that a Hardship Withdrawal can be requested only after the designated withdrawal date. A student wanting to withdraw before the designated withdrawal date must follow the Withdrawal from Course Policy outlined in the undergraduate and graduate catalogs. If a student has to withdraw from a class before the designated withdrawal date for a documented hardship reason, that student may use this process to appeal to change a regular withdrawal to a hardship withdrawal. Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Office of the Registrar (229-333-5727). Questions regarding the late withdrawal process should be directed to the Office of Centralized Advising (229-245-4378). It is the student’s responsibility to withdraw officially in accordance with university regulations. Only in very rare instances will a partial withdrawal be considered, such as in cases in which a student may not be able to complete a specific class because of a hardship that prohibits class participation. For more detailed information on the Hardship Withdrawal policy and procedures, click here

Mental Health Withdrawals from the University

To ensure that its students receive due process rights, Valdosta State University has initiated the following Mental Health Withdrawal Procedure. Before a student may be withdrawn for mental health reasons, there must first be the following chain of events:

  1. The student displays behavioral indicators, which are determined by a mental health professional to be of danger to the student or others.
  2. When a mental health professional recommends that a student needs to be withdrawn from school for mental health reasons, an informal hearing will then be set up to determine whether or not the student should be withdrawn.
  3. In this informal hearing conducted by the Office of the Dean of Students, the student or his or her representative may present any pertinent information that he or she believes will have a bearing on the particular case.

This procedure is enacted to ensure that the student’s legal rights are not violated and that the University has the right to remove any student who it feels, based on professional evaluation, may present a danger to himself or herself or to others. No fee adjustment will be made for withdrawals except as outlined in the Tuition, Fees, and Costs section of this catalog. The Office of Student Financial Services will receive a copy of the withdrawal form for refunding if applicable.

Graduate Course Numbering

At Valdosta State University, courses numbered 1000-4999 are for undergraduate students only. Some courses numbered 3000-3999 are open to graduate students; such courses carry dual numbers, with the graduate version of the course numbered between 5000 and 5999. Similarly, courses numbered 4000-4999 are dual numbered 6000-6999 for graduate credit.

Courses numbered 7000-8999 are open to graduate students only. Courses numbered 9000-9999 are open to doctoral students only.

Graduate students should be sure that they are registered for graduate courses. This information appears on the official class roll and on the student’s schedule. While a graduate student may be permitted to take an undergraduate course, this course will not fulfill graduate degree requirements. Only courses numbered 5000 or above are graduate-level courses.

In programs with thesis requirements, a minimum of 30 semester hours of academic course work is required. Of these 30 semester hours, at least 9 semester hours must be in courses numbered 7000 or above, with a minimum of 6 hours of thesis. In programs without thesis requirements, a minimum of 30 semester hours of academic course work is required. Of these 30 semester hours, at least 15 semester hours must be in courses numbered 7000 or above. The remainder must be completed in courses numbered 5000 or above.

Determination of Credit Hours

Valdosta State University utilizes the federal definition of the credit hour as a basis for determining the amount of credit assigned for student work, complying with Federal Regulation Program Integrity Rules, University System of Georgia (USG) Policy 3.4, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Federal Requirement 4.9 and Policy Statement on Credit Hours. The Academic Committee of the VSU Faculty Senate is responsible for ensuring that credit hours awarded for course work are appropriate, and the VSU Registrar’s Office ensures that credit hours are accurately attached to courses in the student information system. The Registrar’s Office ensures that the number of class minutes for lecture- and laboratory-based courses have been accounted for in the scheduling of courses. The full policy statement is available upon request from the Office of Academic Affairs or the Registrar’s Office.

Cross-Disciplinary Courses

Certain courses, because of their scope and focus, are identified by different designations, that is, cross-listed, such as MLIS 7270 / PADM 7110 Students may decide which designation they wish to register for, depending on their needs, but such a dual listed or cross-listed course can count only once and cannot be taken a second time for credit under a different designation. Cross-disciplinary courses are clearly identified in the “Courses of Instruction” section by the phrase “Also offered as ....”

Maximum Course Loads and Other Restrictions

The normal full load for a graduate student is 9-15 hours of graduate-level work per semester.

Course loads in excess of these limits may be allowed by permission of the major professor or the department head and the Dean of the Graduate School.

Graduate assistants must register for a minimum of 6 hours per semester. The normal full load for a student with a graduate assistantship is 9 semester hours (fall/spring) and 6 semester hours in summer.

For all financial aid programs, 9 semester hours is considered full time, and 5 semester hours is considered half-time enrollment for graduate students. At least half-time enrollment, 5 semester hours, is required for eligibility under all federal loan programs.

Undergraduate courses will not be calculated when determining a graduate student’s full-time or part-time status or assistantship eligibility. However, these hours will be included in determining a student’s maximum load, as stated above.

General Requirements for Graduate Degrees

To determine specific program requirements, including those for degree completion and graduation, visit our Programs page and click on the program in which they are interested.    

Request for Extension of Seven-Year Rule (Course Age Extension)

Courses taken more than seven years prior to the semester of degree completion cannot be used to meet graduate degree requirements. Under extenuating circumstances, however, the student’s advisor may appeal in writing for a onetime extension of this limitation. A student’s advisor must send a memo to the Dean of the Graduate School requesting an extension. The memo must include a brief justification and the student’s ID number. The student’s transcript will be reviewed; the Dean will then approve or deny the request in a memo to the advisor and will send a copy to the Registrar’s Office. The maximum extension for completion of the program cannot exceed one additional calendar year.

Transfer Credit

The academic advisor reviews official transcripts to determine course equivalence/similarity. If the advisor determines the course is an appropriate transfer course, he/she sends a course substitution form or a transfer credit memo to the Graduate School for approval. The course substitution form or memo specifies the course, hours, institution of origin, and how the course should be applied (e.g., general elective or a course substitution for an existing course in the curriculum). Courses considered for transfer credit must: (1) be no more than 7 years of age, or more specifically, may not be over 7 years of age when the student completes the degree at VSU; (2) be earned at an institution that is regionally accredited; (3) be graduate-level courses; and (4) not exceed specific program limitations on total number of hours. All transfer requests are subject to approval by the Dean of the Graduate School, and grades transferred fall under the current deficiency point system.

Comprehensive Examinations

All graduate programs require a Comprehensive Examination or an acceptable substitute. Successful completion of this exam indicates that students have nearly completed their work toward the degree. The Comprehensive Examination may not be taken until all required course work has been completed or is in the process of being completed, and the language requirements have been fulfilled. The Dean of the Graduate School shall be notified upon the student’s successful completion of this requirement.

Theses and Dissertations

The thesis or dissertation represents the culmination of students’ academic programs. It is a major achievement, reflecting their development as professionals in their chosen fields. Students have an opportunity to demonstrate their intellectual capabilities through the production of an original piece of research. While students will have the assistance of many others in completing this project, including faculty and fellow graduate students, the finished thesis or dissertation reflects their work, their effort, and their intellectual development.

Students should review the sections below pertaining to their thesis or dissertation project. Also, students using human or animal subjects in their research should consult the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration’s webpage on Research Ethics for necessary forms and approvals. 

Thesis

All students must register for thesis credit each semester in which they are actively working on their thesis. The total number of thesis credit hours required for the degree will be determined by the individual departments. Students must enroll in the thesis course in the semester in which they graduate. All thesis courses will be graded on a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” basis. For general thesis regulations, click here

When a thesis is required, the defended thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School not less than 21 days before the scheduled date of graduation. The Thesis Committee shall certify in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School that the student has successfully defended the thesis at a scheduled defense. The student must submit the final, defended thesis to gradreviewer@valdosta.edu. After the Graduate School’s review, students are required to submit a copy in Word to the University Archives for its online repository (V-text).

Optional: After review and approval, students may submit copies to the Library to be bound. A completed Binding Fee form must accompany copies to be bound. The Binding Fee form and V-text instructions are included on the Thesis and Dissertation Information web pages.

Signature on the thesis by the Dean of the Graduate School indicates final acceptance of the student’s thesis and marks the completion of requirements for the master’s degree. The Dean of the Graduate School will notify the Registrar’s Office to authorize the student’s graduation.

Dissertation

Students enrolled in a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program or the Doctor of Speech Language Pathology (S.L.P.D.) program must complete a dissertation. Students enrolled in a Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.A.) program must complete a dissertation-quality final project. All three programs follow the dissertation guidelines referenced below.

All students must register for dissertation credit each semester in which they are actively working on this project. A minimum of 9 semester hours of dissertation credit is required for the degree. Students must be enrolled in dissertation hours in the semester in which they graduate. All dissertation courses must be graded on a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” basis. For general dissertation regulations, click here

The defended dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School no fewer than 21 days before the scheduled date of graduation. The student must submit the final, defended dissertation to gradreviewer@valdosta.edu. The Dissertation Committee shall certify in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School that the student has successfully defended the dissertation at an announced open meeting. After the Graduate School’s review and approval, After the Graduate School’s review and approval, students are required to submit a copy in Word to the University Archives for its online repository (V-text). A completed Binding Fee form must accompany copies to be bound. The Binding Fee form and V-text instructions are included on the Thesis and Dissertation Information page.

Signature of the Dean of the Graduate School on the dissertation indicates final acceptance of the student’s dissertation and marks the completion of requirements for the Ed.D. degree, the S.L.P.D. degree, or the D.P.A. degree. The Dean of the Graduate School will notify the Registrar’s Office to authorize the student’s graduation.

Second Master's Degree Program of Study

Students seeking a second master’s degree must submit a Program of Study that is approved by their program and faculty advisor, department head, and the Dean of the Graduate School. The Program of Study should list all courses to be taken for the second graduate degree. Transfer courses cannot be older than 7 years at the time of the completion of the second degree. Courses may be drawn from a completed graduate degree or from a concurrent VSU degree upon the approval of the program, faculty advisor, department head, and the Dean of the Graduate School. No graduate course in either category may be used in which the grade was below a “B.”

Application for Graduation

Students must apply for graduation at least one semester in advance.

Procedures for Graduation Application

  1. Download the online Application for Degree and Instructions.
  2. Complete section A of the Application for Degree.
  3. Complete the New Alumni section.
  4. Pay the $25 Application for Graduation Fee online
  5. Send the Application for Degree Form, copy of receipt for payment of fees, and the alumni form to your advisor, who will submit the form and supporting documents to the Registrar. A special graduate-student-only commencement ceremony is held for graduate students, their families, and friends. For commencement information, click here.

Students planning to attend graduation should make arrangements with the VSU Bookstore for purchase of cap, gown, and hood. The Registrar’s Office should be consulted early in the program (at least one semester before graduation) for procedures and deadlines. For more details, consult the VSU Commencement webpage.

The Application for Graduation fee is valid for one year beyond the initial term selected for completing degree requirements. A 3.0 cumulative GPA on all graduate courses completed at VSU after acceptance to the Graduate School is required for graduation. All financial obligations to the University must be cleared before an official diploma will be issued.

Graduate Assistantships

Valdosta State University’s graduate assistantships are designed to promote the research, teaching, and service responsibilities of the University and to provide students with valuable professional development opportunities while earning graduate degrees. Therefore, the graduate assistantship involves the dual responsibilities of maintaining a satisfactory academic performance and of successfully performing the assigned teaching, research, or other responsibilities. The graduate assistant is expected to enroll and earn credit for a minimum of 6 graduate semester hours each term in which the assistantship is held. Graduate students work a minimum of 14 hours and a maximum of 20 hours per week. Graduate students may not have another job on campus while serving in an assistantship position.

Eligibility Requirements

Valdosta State University offers a limited number of graduate assistantships. The student must be accepted as either “Regular” or “Probationary” in an approved graduate degree or post-master’s program at VSU. Students classified as either “Irregular” or “Non-Degree” are not eligible for assistantships. To apply, please visit the Graduate Assistantship website.

Tuition Rates and Other Financial Obligations

The graduate assistantship program allows graduate assistants to pay a flat, per-semester tuition rate of $38.00, applicable to both in-state and out-of-state residents. Tuition is reduced in the following manner for both in-state and out-of-state students:

Fall and spring: A GA will receive a tuition waiver after payment of the first $38 of tuition each semester for a total of up to 15 credit hours in the fall and 15 credit hours in the spring. Any additional credits taken will be charged to the GA at the in-state rate.

Summer: A GA will receive a tuition waiver after payment of the first $38 of tuition for a total of up to 9 semester credit hours in the summer (semester I, II, III, IV). Any additional credits taken will be charged to the GA at the in-state rate.

Students are also required to pay the student-related fees. These fees include but are not limited to the Health, Athletic, Student Activity, Transportation, Technology, Access Card, and other fees. In addition, students are required to maintain health insurance, either through the VSU United Healthcare Plan or their own plan. Students are also responsible for their own living expenses and books. Visit the tuition website for a complete list of student-related fees. 

Academic Dishonesty

Academic integrity is the responsibility of all VSU faculty and students. Faculty members should promote academic integrity by including clear instruction on the components of academic integrity and clearly defining the penalties for cheating and plagiarism in their course syllabi. Students are responsible for knowing and abiding by the Academic Integrity Policy as set forth in the Student Code of Conduct and the faculty members’ syllabi. All students are expected to do their own work and to uphold a high standard of academic ethics. The Student Code of Conduct in the VSU Student Handbook outlines academic integrity violations as well as the academic response and disciplinary response to such violations. For more information, click here.

The online VSU Student Handbook reflects the most current policy on academic integrity. Academic integrity violations may result in suspension or expulsion from the university. 

NOTE: Students may withdraw from courses following the drop/add period until the mid-term by completing the withdrawal process on Banner. A withdrawal before mid-term is non-punitive, and a grade of "W" is assigned. However, a student may not exercise this right to withdraw to avoid sanction for academic dishonesty.

In cases of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, in which a graduate student violates Section I after having been warned or sanctioned by one or more professors, he or she may then be referred to the Dean of Students Office where official charge may be drawn up and the student subjected to the established VSU disciplinary process. If an instructor assigns a grade of "F" or "U" for a course due to academic dishonesty, including but not limited to plagiarism, and the student receives a Medical or Hardship withdrawal, the instructor may assign a "WF."

Plagiarism

Cheating and plagiarism are academic integrity violations. These violations are serious and will result in negative consequences. For information on policies and procedures for students committing these academic integrity violations, click here.

Plagiarism is defined as “the copying of the language, structure, programming, computer code, ideas, and/or thoughts of another and passing off the same as one’s own original work, or attempts thereof,” (Article I of the Virginia Tech Honor Code Constitution). The violation, then, consists of both copying and misrepresenting the material in question. When a student places his or her name on any kind of work, he or she claims responsibility for the originality of the contents except for those parts that are specifically attributed to another or that are considered common knowledge. If a student has consulted any outside source, whether published or not, and has incorporated any of its “language, structure, programming, computer code, ideas, and/or thoughts” into his or her work without acknowledging that source, he or she may be guilty of misrepresenting the work’s originality. When paraphrasing material from an outside source, the student must change both the sentence structure and the vocabulary (where possible) in expressing the original material in his or her own words. Any instance in which the “language, structure, programming, computer code, ideas, and/or thoughts” have been borrowed from another’s work, paraphrased or not, without proper reference/citation, the act constitutes plagiarism on the part of the writer. For more information and resources regarding plagiarism, click here.

Course sections may use plagiarism-prevention technology. Students may have the option of submitting their written work online through a plagiarism-prevention service or of allowing the instructor to submit their work. The written work may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

Student E-Mail Responsibilities

All students accepted to VSU receive an e-mail account through the University. It is the students’ responsibility to access this account frequently, as their graduate program and the Graduate School will send important information to that e-mail address. Indeed, the Graduate School will use graduate students’ university-given e-mail address as the official site of notifications to them. For information on university e-mail, click here