Mar 01, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Programs Progression to Degree

Catalog of Record

The catalog of record is the one in effect during the semester the student is admitted into a graduate program, even if the initial admission is conditional or provisional. The policies and procedures published in that catalog are the ones the student will follow during their graduate career. If progress toward a degree is interrupted for four or more academic years from the last time the student was regularly enrolled, the catalog in effect upon re-entry into the university will govern. The initial catalog of record (the one in effect when originally enrolled) will no longer be applicable and will be superseded by the new one. The catalog of record follows any changes made in area of concentration or specialization. If a student wants to change their area of concentration or the catalog under which they are governed, they may complete a form to do so. The Change of Area of Concentration/Change of Catalog of Record form is on the Office of Graduate Education website.

With the permission of the graduate program director, a student may request that their catalog of record be moved forward. Students cannot have a catalog of record that was extant prior to admission into their program of study.

Appeals to these regulations can be made to the Office of Graduate Education.

Credit Applied to Degree

Most of the credit applied towards the degree will be earned after the student has been admitted into the program; however, students may have taken courses outside of the degree program that they would like applied to the degree.

Non-degree Credit

There is no limit on the number of hours a student may take as a non-degree seeking student; however, only nine hours of coursework taken in the graduate non-degree status may be applied to a graduate degree program at NKU. Some graduate programs may allow fewer; students should check the guidelines of each specific program.

Students will be allowed to apply additional courses taken in non-degree status if those courses were taken in fulfillment of an NKU graduate certificate program and they are not older than eight years upon completion of the graduate degree.

Transfer Credit

A maximum of 40% of a degree program may consist of transfer work. All such work must be from a regionally accredited institution or an accrediting body which accredits an existing NKU program. In all cases, the graduate program director may document and petition the Graduate Council for inclusion of transfer course/credits for students. All work requested for transfer must be taken for graduate credit and posted to a graduate transcript, and completed with a B or better.

Students may take courses for transfer credit through the Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities (GCCCU). The limit on transfer credit does not include any hours taken through the Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities (GCCCU) which will be considered NKU courses. The grades in transferred courses will not be factored into the NKU GPA unless taken as a part of the GCCCU. For more information refer to the GCCCU section listed in Academic Support and Policies.

First Professional (e.g., law school and medical school) courses may be transferred into a graduate program only if: they fit into the program of study; a grade of B or better was earned; they were earned at a regionally accredited institution; and the student’s graduate program director approves the courses for transfer credit.

Transfer work taken at schools on other than a semester system will not be given one-to-one credit hour equivalency. For example, a four quarter hour course transfers into NKU as 2.66 hours. A student may have to take an additional one credit hour course to meet the required minimum 30 credit hours required for a graduate degree. Further, students cannot receive more credit for a transfer course than is offered for the NKU course for which it will substitute. A course taken elsewhere for four semester hours will be transferred into NKU as three hours of credit if that is the maximum number of hours for the NKU course in the catalog.

Submission and Processing of Transfer Credit

Students must request transfer credit for work taken prior to matriculation into NKU during the first semester of enrollment in a program. Graduate program directors will determine the approval status generally within four weeks. If the request is denied, the student will be so notified in writing at that time.

After initial approval by the graduate program director, transfer course requests will be sent to the Office of Graduate Education where the director of graduate education will determine if the requested credit meets with university standards for transfer of graduate courses (see above for guidelines). The vice provost for graduate education, research & outreach will be the final arbiter where differences exist between the graduate program director and the director of graduate education.

Students will be notified by the Office of Graduate Education of the final decision and advised as to when the courses expire as credit toward the degree.

No transfer work will be noted on a transcript until a student formally enrolls for NKU classes. Transfer request forms can be found on the Office of Graduate Education website.

Transfer Credit from Previously Earned Graduate Degrees

With the approval of the graduate program director, a student may transfer up to nine hours of coursework taken as part of a previously earned graduate degree.

Course Policies

Independent Study/Readings Courses

Number of Hours Allowed

NKU offers graduate students the opportunity to engage in independent scholarship guided by individual graduate faculty. These courses take the form of readings and independent study. Students are encouraged to undertake research into topics that are not part of the regular curriculum, provided that:

  • No more than 20% of the minimum number of hours counted toward degree completion may be taken through courses listed as readings and independent study with the exception of studio work, labs, research, practica, and internships.
  • Consent of the graduate faculty member and the director for the graduate program in which the student is enrolled is obtained prior to the student’s registration for the course.
  • The content of an independent study course is not the same as that covered in a regularly offered course; exceptions to this requirement must be approved by the graduate program director and vice provost for graduate education, research & outreach before the course may be offered.
  • There must be a sufficient number of contact hours, albeit scheduled on an arranged basis, between the student and the instructor throughout the duration of the course to ensure consistency with the amount of graduate credit earned in regular course offerings; this contact hour number is specified by the program/department contract or program requirements.
  • Any exceptions should be approved by the graduate program director and vice provost for graduate education, research & outreach.

Special Topics Courses

Special topics courses may be repeated with the approval of the graduate program director. A topics course for a change of grade may be repeated only when the same topic is offered again.

Numbering for Independent Study/Readings Courses

All graduate courses in which only one student is enrolled or a faculty member works with a student one-on-one are considered independent study or readings courses. The course numbering assigned for independent work is X99 and should be used instead of the regular or seminar course number. This applies even if the content of the coursework is identical to that of a regular, existing course.

Where an independent study course is used in lieu of a required course, the change must be noted on the student’s program plan when submitted to the Office of the Graduate Education as certification for graduation.

Degree Time Limits & Course Age

Graduate students are expected to complete their master’s degrees and certificates within six years, doctoral students within eight years. All coursework that is applied to degrees and certificates must be no older than eight years by the time the program is completed. The allowed time frame does not include circumstances involving changed programs or the pursuit of multiple degree programs; however, students may appeal if they have experienced unusual or mitigating circumstances that have prohibited them from meeting those standards.

Exceptions & Course Age Reinstatement

Exceptions to the rule may be granted by reinstating courses older eight years.

  • The student and the graduate program director must prepare a reinstatement plan that is reviewed and approved by the vice provost for graduate education, research & outreach.
  • This plan must include a special examination, portfolio presentation or other measurable demonstration of knowledge consistent with current course content.
  • Once the student successfully complies with all of the elements in the reinstatement plan, the course is considered valid for an additional two years.
  • No more than 25% of the courses required for a degree may be reinstated.
  • Only courses in which a grade of B or higher is earned can be reinstated.
  • Individual programs may set more stringent standards.

Certificate Guidelines

The policies presented below are the minimum university guidelines for students in graduate certificate programs. Students should always check the requirements of their particular program which may be more restrictive.

  • A graduate certificate consists of 18 credits of coursework.
  • A post-master’s certificate consists of 24 credits; at least 75% of which must be at the 600-level or above.
  • No more than 33% of the credits required on a graduate certificate may be transfer credits. All such work must be from a regionally accredited institution, taken for graduate credit and posted to a graduate transcript; and completed with a grade of B or better. The graduate program director approves all courses to be allowed as transfer credit. The limit on transfer credit does not include any hours taken through the Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities (GCCCU) which will be considered NKU courses. Students should be aware the grade earned in courses taken the GCCCU will become part of their NKU GPA.
  • One may earn both a certificate and a degree, but it is not necessary to earn one in order to be awarded the other.
  • Credits used in fulfillment of certificate requirements may be used in partial fulfillment of degree requirements as well. Check with your graduate program director for specific information.
  • One must be admitted to the certificate program prior to completion of all certificate requirements, or prior to completion of all requirements for the concurrent master’s degree.
  • All credits for a certificate program must be earned within the eight years prior to the award of the certificate.
  • Students enrolled in a certificate program must meet the same course prerequisites as any other student.
  • Up to 33% of credits earned in one certificate program can be counted toward a different certificate, providing that both certificates are issued by NKU.
  • Up to 33% or nine credits (whichever is less) of the credits for a certificate program may have been completed as part of a previously earned master’s degree issued by another regionally accredited university, providing that the credits are not out-of-date.

Grading Policies

Types of Grading and Academic Probation

Grades Allowed

Grades that can be assigned by faculty for graduate courses are: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, F, P, I, and X. An F is considered an unacceptable grade for graduate students.


An I grade may be assigned when part of the work in a course remains incomplete. It is given only at the student’s request and where there is a reasonable possibility that a passing grade will result from completion of the work. If the coursework is not completed by the last of day of the following semester (excluding summer and winter terms); a grade of F will automatically be assigned. The appropriate dean may grant a semester extension of an I grade due to unforeseen family or medical circumstances and will notify the university registrar of such action. Under no circumstances will more than one extension be granted for an I grade.


Grades of X are reserved for continuing work on dissertations/theses/capstone projects. They remain unchanged on a student’s transcript as an X until the dissertation/thesis/capstone project has been completed. All X grades on a transcript will convert to the final grade received on the dissertation/thesis/capstone project once completed.


Courses may not be taken as pass/fail unless so designated by the individual programs. A request that the course be designated pass/fail must be requested of Graduate Council as part of the curriculum process. Students enrolled in a course that has been designated as pass/fail will not have the option of requesting a grade. Grades assigned for pass/fail courses are P (pass) and F (fail).

Good Standing

Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average and/or earn no more than two grades of C or below to remain in good standing. (A C+ is considered above a C grade.) Should students fall below a 3.0 GPA, they will be placed on academic probation. (See below for specifics of probationary status). No student will be allowed to graduate with more than two C grades or below in course work that contributes to the degree program. Students who have more than two C grades or below will need to repeat some course work to be in compliance with this policy (See below for specifics of the course repeat option).

Students should be aware that even though a transcript may state that the student is in “good standing” because the overall GPA is not below 3.0, they are in fact considered by the university not to be in “good standing” when they have more than two grades of C or below.

Academic Probation and Dismissal

Students are placed on academic probation when their GPA falls below a 3.0 on the 4.0 scale. Once on academic probation, students will have up to nine semester hours to achieve a GPA of at least 3.0 to remove their probationary status. The nine semester hours must be taken at NKU. If after nine semester hours on probation a student’s graduate GPA has not increased to at least a 3.0, he/she will be dismissed from their program. A student will not be placed on probationary status more than once. If a student successfully removes him/herself from probationary status and subsequently has a GPA that falls below a 3.0 on the 4.0 scale, the student will be dismissed from the program by their graduate program director. Individual programs may have more stringent requirements. Students should check program guidelines for complete information as individual program requirements may vary.

Students may be considered for readmission after one semester has elapsed if the student was dismissed from a program for academic reasons. When applying for readmission, the student will need to document their preparedness for re-entry into the program.

If a student wishes to be considered for readmission into the program, they must submit a new application for admission to the Office of Graduate Education with a letter attached explaining why they are now prepared to continue in their program. A student will not be admitted without approval from their graduate program director. A letter of support from the graduate program director signed by the dean of the college the program is housed in for readmission must be sent to the vice provost of graduate education, research & outreach who will make the final decision. If readmitted, the student will be granted an additional nine semester hours to remove their probationary status. During this period, any grade earned below a B will result in dismissal from the program.

Course Repeat Option

Graduate students are permitted to repeat two courses for grade replacement. The grade earned for the repeated course will be the one used to count the number of C and below grades as well as being the grade factored into the GPA even if it is below the original grade. A specific course may be repeated only once. All courses taken for the repeat option must be taken from NKU. They cannot be taken from another university and transferred to NKU without the permission of the graduate program director. The only courses taken outside NKU where grades may be factored with the GPA are those taken through the Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities (GCCCU).

Academic Bankruptcy

Students who have not been successful in previous graduate work from NKU but want to start over in the same or a different graduate program, may apply for academic bankruptcy. Students cannot have been enrolled in the University for at least six years if they want to start over in the same graduate program; a student may apply at any time if they are pursuing an academic field that is unrelated to the one for which they request bankruptcy. Students will need to make requests for bankruptcy to the Office of the University Registrar at the time of admission into a program or no later than the first semester they are enrolled in the program. All courses taken prior to the time of academic bankruptcy will be omitted from the graduate GPA (with the exception of work taken as part of a previously earned degree/certificate) but not from the transcript. No coursework earned prior to bankruptcy may be applied toward a graduate degree at NKU.

Grade Changes

If a grade change is required due to an error, it must be accomplished by midterm of the next full semester after the issuance of the incorrect grade. Changes become official when received and recorded by the Office of the University Registrar.

If the time limitation has been exceeded, the instructor must attach a written explanation of the causes for the delay and deliver the change to the department chair, who will forward any approved changes to the appropriate dean’s office.

For I (incomplete) grades being changed to letter grades, the instructor and department chair must approve the change; for letter grade changes to another letter grade, the instructor, the department chair, and the appropriate dean must approve.

For information on grade appeals where there is a difference of opinion between the student and the instructor, refer to the catalog section titled, Grade/Academic Appeals.

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites


A prerequisite is a requirement that must be satisfied before enrolling for a specific course. Students may not enroll in courses in which they lack the stated prerequisites. Without the appropriate prerequisite(s), students will be withdrawn from the course at the request of either the instructor or the graduate program director.


A corequisite is a course that must be taken in conjunction with another course. Students must enroll in corequisites during the same semester or summer session. If a student is enrolled in one course but not its corequisite, the student will be withdrawn from that course upon request of the instructor and/or graduate program director.

Course Substitutions and Audits

Substitution for Course Requirement

Only graduate program directors may approve substitute courses for program requirements. Recognition of professional certifications for course credit is subject to approval by the graduate program director and department chair or dean of the college. No more than 40% of the program may be comprised of course substitutes.


To audit a graduate course, students will need to get prior approval from the graduate program director in which the course is offered. Audited courses may be repeated for credit that in turn can be counted towards the degree.

Coursework Taken as an NKU Undergraduate

A 500-level course cannot count toward a graduate degree if the student took that course, or any course cross-listed with it, as an undergraduate at NKU.

Course Loads

Full-time Status

Graduate students who are enrolled in seven hours in the fall and spring terms and five hours during the summer term are considered full-time students.  Full time status for internation students is nine hours in the fall and spring terms.

Course Overloads

Students may take up to 12 graduate hours of coursework during each of the fall and spring semesters and nine hours throughout the combined summer terms. To enroll in more than 12 credits in fall or spring or more than nine hours in the summer, students should seek the approval of their graduate program director.

Student Appeals

Appeals may related to one of more of the following: grades, graduation requirements, graduate student honor code, etc.

Waiver of Graduate Policies

There are two regulations where no exception will be made:

  1. No one will receive a master’s degree with fewer than 30 hours of coursework;
  2. No one will be awarded a graduate degree or certificate with a cumulative graduate GPA below 3.0.

Appeals of Graduate Regulations

A graduate student wishing to appeal the application of other university rules or regulations relating to graduate students (e.g., time limits for graduation, limits on transfer credits, limits on hours taken as a non-degree student that may apply to a graduate degree) should write a letter to his/her graduate program director requesting a waiver. Exceptions to graduate policies must be approved by the graduate program director, department chair, dean of the college, and Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Research and Outreach. Once the waiver has been reviewed, the Director of Graduate Education will notify the student of the decision. A copy of this policy can be obtained from the Office of Graduate Education or can be found in the Graduate Catalog at

Appeals Relating to Violation of the Graduate Student Honor Code

A student sanctioned for violating the Graduate Student Honor Code, including plagiarism and other academic misconduct, may appeal the decision that a violation has occurred and/or the sanction. Students must follow the appeal procedures set forth in the Graduate Student Honor Code which can be found at

Grade/Academic Appeals

When a student believes that an instructor has violated his or her rights in the classroom - for example, failure to follow stated grading policy as outlined in the course syllabus, discrimination in evaluating individual achievement, illegal discrimination or harassment - the student should follow the procedures listed in Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, section 5.G (

Grade Appeals, Other Academic and Non-Academic Matters

Appeals relating to other academic and non-academic matters are governed by the university’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, which can be found at This includes grade appeals that do not relate to consequences for violations of the Graduate Student Honor Code.