Jun 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Graduate Programs Application and Admission Requirements


The purpose of administrative rules and regulations is to ensure that academic standards for admission are maintained and that procedures are in place to allow students to know what is expected of them throughout their graduate career. These rules and regulations also help students to know what is expected by the University. The policies and procedures presented in this catalog apply to all graduate students of NKU.

Admissions Requirements

Presented in this section are the minimum standards required for admission to NKU’s graduate programs. These standards exist to admit applicants who have a reasonable chance of successfully completing their graduate work. Individual programs may have more stringent admission standards. Recognizing that some applicants may be successful graduate students even though they do not meet the minimum standards, there are admission categories (provisional admission) that may be used to give students a chance to prove themselves. These admission categories are used sparingly and only with the approval of the graduate program director. Please recognize that meeting these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission into the University in general or into a specific degree program.

Notification of admission decisions will be sent via the email address supplied by the applicant at the time the application was submitted. Students who do not have an email address should notify the Office of Graduate Education of the need for an alternative method of delivery.

Applying for Admission


Applications must be submitted online. The website for access to the application is http://apply.nku.edu.

Application Fee

An application processing fee will be assessed at the time the application is submitted. Applicants who have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree or graduate certificate from NKU, as well as current faculty and eligible staff, and active duty military and veterans are not assessed an application fee. Faculty and staff must submit a copy of their All Card for an application fee waiver.

The application fee is non-refundable regardless of circumstance.


Application deadlines vary by program. Please consult the program of interest for more information.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

The minimum undergraduate GPA to be considered for non-degree admission (not pursuing a certificate or degree) is 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Each degree and certificate program sets its own minimum GPA standard. Students should look at the admission requirements for their program of study for complete information.


To be admitted into NKU as a graduate student, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants must submit official transcripts for all work taken (undergraduate and graduate) before being awarded full admission into the University. An unofficial transcript showing that a bachelor’s degree has been awarded may be used for admission for one semester only upon approval by the graduate program director. Once official transcripts have been received, and presuming they have been evaluated favorably in relation to the University’s standards, the student will be allowed to enroll for additional semesters. If applicants are not able to produce an official transcript, they should contact the graduate program director directly. Official transcripts are defined as those submitted directly to the Office of Graduate Education from the issuing institution or given to the applicant by the issuing institution in an envelope sealed/stamped by the issuing institution. NKU reserves the right to evaluate all transcripts and course credits individually to determine eligibility for admission or transfer of credit to NKU. International students should refer to the International Graduate Students section.

Standardized Tests

Although standardized tests such as the GRE and GMAT are not a university requirement, they are required by some NKU graduate programs. Applicants should check with the graduate program director for specifics.

Change of Degree Program

A new application is necessary to change from one degree program to another. An additional application fee may be assessed. Students will be under the catalog in effect at the time of admission into the new program.

Admission Categories

Full or Regular Admission

Applicants are eligible for this category if they meet all admission requirements and have submitted all required documents prior to beginning graduate study.

Provisional Admission

Students who fail to meet one or more admission requirements may be granted provisional admission for one semester to demonstrate an ability to succeed in the program by receiving acceptable grades in program coursework, meet required pre-requisites and/or submit required admission documents. Admission documents are program specific; applicants should check their individual program’s specifications. The missing documents may include, but are not limited to, official transcripts, official standardized test results, or letters of recommendation. 

Provisional admission is valid for one semester only during which time the necessary conditions must be met or missing documents must be submitted. Students can be dismissed from the program if the conditions are not met or newly submitted documents do not meet the appropriate admission requirements. Provisional admission may not be available in all graduate programs. Applicants should consult the graduate program director for more information.

Students who are awarded provisional admission may receive a federal loan only during the first semester. The student must be fully admitted by October 1 for fall admission, March 1 for spring admission, or July 1 for summer admission. Students who become fully admitted by the deadline dates remain eligible for financial aid for future semesters. In some cases students admitted provisionally will not be eligible for federal aid for even one term. Check with the Office of Financial Assistance to determine specific eligibility.

Non-degree Students

Non-degree status is appropriate for applicants who wish to take graduate courses without obtaining a degree or if applicants want to demonstrate their academic abilities before applying to a degree program. In order to be admitted as a non-degree student, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with an overall minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Non-degree students may take as many courses as they like; however, if they decide later to pursue a degree, only a maximum of nine hours of coursework taken as a non-degree student may be counted toward the degree.

Visiting Students

Students enrolled in a graduate program at another regionally accredited institution who want to take a course to transfer into that program may do so as a visiting student. There are no transcript or GPA requirements (except for the Haile/US Bank College of Business); however, students must have permission from their home institution. To apply for visiting student status, complete the graduate application, submit the visiting student form, and pay the NKU application fee.

Undergraduates Taking Graduate Credit

Undergraduate students who have no more than six credits remaining to complete a bachelor’s degree may be dually enrolled as a graduate student, provided the student has the approval of their undergraduate academic advisor and the relevant graduate program director has awarded provisional admission into the graduate program. Dual-enrolled students may take a maximum of 12 credits, graduate and undergraduate combined, in a single semester. Graduate credit for these courses will not be granted unless all work for the undergraduate degree is completed during the semester in which the student is enrolled for graduate credit. The graduate courses taken will count only toward the graduate degree and cannot be part of the coursework required for the bachelor’s degree. 

Graduate Students Taking Undergraduate Courses

Graduate students are allowed to take undergraduate courses as long as a separate undergraduate application has been submitted.  Students should refer to the Matriculated Student Tuition policy (located in the Tuition and Fees section) for billing information.

Time Limits for Application/Readmission

Once admitted as a graduate student, students have one year to enroll; otherwise, a new application will be required to ensure that all student information is up to date. The Office of Graduate Education will keep the documents submitted with the initial application for one year if the student does not enroll. If the student has the need to delay enrolling for an additional period of time, the Office of Graduate Education will keep the documents on file via a written request to the office requesting that the date of enrollment be moved to a new semester. Some programs may require new admission documents. Check with the graduate program director for specific information. An application is valid for one year and may be updated to a different term if no decision has been made.

Students who have enrolled at NKU but interrupted their enrollment for four or more years, will need to submit a new application for admission and meet current admission requirements. Students are required to submit official transcripts for additional coursework taken elsewhere since their last attendance at NKU. The standard application fee will be assessed. The student’s catalog of record will be the one in effect upon readmission.

International Graduate Students

Application Deadline

The application deadline for the fall semester is June 1 and the deadline for the spring semester is October 1. Applications should be sent well in advance of the start of a semester in order to make certain the University will have time to receive all required documentation, make an admission decision, and issue an I-20 or DS-2019 (F-1 and J-1).  International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will not issue an I-20 until it has received documentation that the applicant has: acceptable academic credentials; competency in English; and access to funds sufficient to meet the costs of completing your studies (see specific financial documentation requirements below). If a tuition deposit is required, the student will be notified. International students should contact ISSS for information and guidelines regarding online courses.

Financial Documentation (F1 and J1 students only)

All international applicants must submit a declaration and certification of finances from their sponsors. This includes the Financial Statement from Sponsor. This form must be accompanied by the sponsor’s current bank statement, a letter from the bank on official stationery, other liquid assets to prove that sufficient finances are immediately available to cover the costs of educational and living expenses at NKU. The form is available at http://isss.nku.edu.

International Transcripts

Applicants who have international transcripts are required to submit an evaluation by an accredited foreign education evaluation service that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (https://www.naces.org) before sending their transcripts to NKU. Graduate programs require a course-by-course, GPA and degree analysis, so be certain to check the requirements of each program. A list of the acceptable agencies where applicants can send transcripts may be obtained from the ISSS in University Center 305, at http://nku.edu/international or at (859) 572-6517.

Applicants with international transcripts will need documentation of completion of undergraduate studies culminating in a degree equivalent to a four-year U.S. bachelor degree. Official or certified copies of transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework are required. These must be translated into English, if applicable. The undergraduate grade point average (GPA), based on all undergraduate course work must be at least a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Individual programs may have higher GPA requirements.

English Proficiency

Applicants must demonstrate English proficiency by submitting the exam results on either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) exam. TOEFL scores must meet a minimum standard score of 550 on the paper version, 213 of the computer-based version, or 79 on the internet based (iBT) version. Applicants submitting the IELTS must achieve a 6.5 on the general band portion. Particular graduate programs may require higher minimum scores on either of these tests or specific minimum scores on the individual sections of the TOEFL.

Provisional admission may be offered to international students on a case-by-case basis with approval from the graduate program director. Please check requirements for your program of interest. Official test results should be sent to ISSS at the time of application. International students may substitute the Institutional TOEFL Exam only if it is taken at NKU through the American English Language Program (AELP) and by approval of the graduate program director. Applicants must score at least a 550. Contact ISSS for complete information. (Exception: International students whose native language is English or who have graduated from an American university in which the language of instruction is English may be eligible for a waiver of this requirement. Contact ISSS for more details.) It may be possible for permanent residents and H1-B visa holders to apply for an English proficiency waiver at the discretion of the graduate program director, with final approval from the Office of Graduate Education and International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

A graduate program director may require students to take additional English remediation such as a course in English as a Second Language if in his/her judgment it is needed to improve English language skills. This decision will be based upon admission materials and an interview with the program director. The applicant will be notified at the time of admission by the graduate program director if the course will be necessary.

College of Education Specifics

International students are subject to all requirements for admission to NKU’s graduate programs. The only exception is for international students applying to a graduate program in education may be admitted without a teaching certificate. If the applicant is a graduate of an institution outside the United States and is not a certified teacher in the United States, they may be admitted to the Master of Education program, but will not earn teacher certification upon completion. As a rule, admission into the Master of Arts in Teaching is not open to applicants holding foreign transcripts. Applicants seeking an exception to this policy may appeal to the graduate program director for the degree they are seeking an exception.