PPM 11-1, Graduate Programs

Responsible Office: Academic Affairs


This policy provides information and rules regarding graduation admissions and standards.


2.1  PPM 1-13, Faculty Senate Constitution and Bylaws

2.2 PPM 4-1, Graduation Standards

2.3 PPM 6-1, Residency

2.4 PPM 6-2, Admissions

2.5 PPM 6-22, Student Code

2.6 Utah Board of Higher Education Policy R401

2.7 Utah Board of Higher Education Policy R512


3.1  Application Procedures

To apply to a graduate program, all individuals must contact the graduate program for specific admissions requirements. The following items must be provided to the specific graduate program office:

3.1.1 A completed online application accompanied by the nonrefundable application fee (as designated by the Graduate Council).

3.1.2 A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university is required for admission as a graduate student at the University (with the exception of Accelerated Graduate Programs - see section 3.2.3). An official transcript from each previously attended college and/or university (except the University) must be sent directly from each institution to the graduate program. Transcripts must be submitted for all coursework above the high-school level and all prior degrees. For international students, transcripts must be accompanied by a professional degree and transcript evaluation, which must be sent directly to the graduate program by a University-approved foreign credentials evaluation service. (See International Student & Scholar Center (ISSC) website for further details.) Transcripts submitted as application credentials become the property of the University and will not be returned to the applicant. 

3.1.3 Admissions tests may be required by the specific graduate program (GRE, GMAT, Miller’s Analogies Test, etc.), as well as proof of English language competency for international applicants. Applicants should request that their test score reports be sent directly to the graduate program to which they are applying, or to the University if a specific institutional code is not available for the graduate program.

3.2 Admission Requirements

3.2.1  Admission to a graduate program at the University is based on the applicant’s academic ability, past performance and evidence of a reasonable chance of success within that program. All admission policies shall apply without regard to race, color, ethnic background, national origin, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation or preference, or gender, consistent with applicable law and policy. (See PPM 3-32).

3.2.2  Admission is competitive and solely at the discretion of the graduate program to which the applicant has applied: meeting minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission.

3.2.3  Minimum requirements for admission to a University graduate program are as follows:

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university that will be completed before matriculation into the graduate program (see the U.S. Department of Education website for a list of recognized regional accreditation agencies).
  • Students admitted to an Accelerated Graduate Program (see section 3.9) may be admitted to and begin coursework in that program prior to earning a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. These students must complete at least 90 undergraduate semester credits prior to matriculation into the graduate program. Accelerated Graduate Programs will establish admissions criteria and procedures that meet or exceed the admissions criteria for the equivalent unaccelerated graduate program, assuming one exists.
  • Admission to a graduate program requires an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. If the undergraduate GPA is below 3.0, consideration may be based on GPA calculated on the last 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of undergraduate work. 
  • Admission to an Accelerated Graduate Program (such as a 3+2 program) requires an overall OR last 45-credit GPA of at least 3.2.
  • For applicants for whom English is not their first language, a minimum English language proficiency score is required.  (TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) = 75 overall, with a minimum of 17 in each category: OR IELTS (International English Language Testing System) 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each category). Students with a bachelor's degree or higher from a regionally-accredited (or equivalent) university in which the language of instruction was English may be exempt from English-language proficiency testing.
  • All exceptions to the minimum GPA requirement and TOEFL/IELTS scores in admissions decisions, along with a rationale for each, will be reported by all graduate programs annually to the Graduate Council.
  • Appropriate admissions test scores if required. (Contact graduate program for specific admissions test requirements.)
  • A completed application, along with the submission of all required supporting materials (contact graduate program office for specific requirements).

Note:  Individual graduate programs may have additional requirements.

3.2.4  Undergraduate Preparation Requirements

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, students may be required to complete additional undergraduate work prior to acceptance into a graduate program to ensure proper preparation for study at the graduate level. Each degree program may designate specific undergraduate requirements and/or graduate-level leveling classes, and all prospective students should consult with the appropriate graduate program. Graduate departments may impose an age limit on undergraduate leveling credits completed prior to entry into a graduate program.

3.2.5 International Student Admission. International applicants must satisfy all program requirements that apply to U.S. citizens in addition to the following:  Provide a professional transcript evaluation of course work completed outside the United States. See the International Student & Scholar webpage for a list of accepted foreign credential evaluation services.  Provide evidence of English language proficiency.  WSU graduate programs may require a minimum TOEFL, IELTS score, or successful completion of English as a Second Language courses at a level specified by the graduate program. Contact the graduate program for English language competency requirements.  Complete the Graduate Financial Guarantee Form. Every international student must complete a confidential financial statement that shows the student has sufficient funds to comply with the United States Department of State regulations. This form must be submitted before a student can receive the appropriate form that enables application for a student visa for entry into the U.S.  Any additional documentation required by the ISSC.

3.3 Appeals Procedures

Appeals of decisions on all issues of an administrative nature, such as admission to the University, residency, tuition, course waivers, credit adjustment, graduation, program eligibility, participation in specific activities, financial aid, parking and traffic, and residence halls, will be resolved based on the procedures outlined in PPM 6-22, Student Code.

3.4  Degree Requirements

3.4.1 Credit hour requirement

A minimum of 30 graduate credit hours is required for any University master's degree, 18 or more of which must be taken after a bachelor's degree has been awarded. Professional practice doctoral degrees provide knowledge and skills for credentials or licenses required for professional practice. Pre-professional and professional preparation for professional practice doctoral degrees requires at least six years of cumulative full-time study.

Additional course work or projects may be required due to graduate program accreditation standards, or for specialized professional graduate degrees. At least two-thirds of the credits in any graduate degree program (including thesis or project) must be received from the University.

3.4.2 GPA Requirement

A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 is required for successful completion of a graduate degree. Individual course grade requirements are determined by the sponsoring department.

3.4.3 Time Limit for Degree Completion

All degree requirements must be completed within six years from the semester of entry into a University graduate program. A graduate student's catalog will be the catalog in effect the Fall Semester of the academic year when the student enrolls in the graduate program following formal admission into that program. Graduate programs may impose an age limit on graduate credits completed prior to entry into a program. Any exceptions to the above requirements must be approved by the graduate program.

3.4.4 Thesis / Non-Thesis Degree Options

Master's degree programs may include a "thesis option" and/or a "non-thesis option." The Master's thesis should be evidence of the graduate student's ability to carry out independent investigation and to present the results in clear and systemic form.
The overall level of achievement for the Master's degree should be the same, whether the option chosen requires completion of a thesis or not.

The thesis option should include at least 6 semester credits of thesis research. The semesters during which a student registers for thesis credit should correspond as closely as possible to the semesters in which the thesis work is done and faculty supervision is provided.

The non-thesis option will instead include a major project, paper, presentation, and/or a comprehensive examination.

3.4.5 Last Semester Requirements

Matriculated graduate students must be registered for at least 1 graduate credit during the semester of the final thesis/dissertation defense or, in a non-thesis degree program, the last semester of coursework required on the student’s program of study.

3.4.6 Second WSU Graduate Degree Requirements

More than one master degree may be earned at WSU.  Students should contact the graduate program for details.  Additional master degrees will require additional graduate credit hours beyond the previously-earned graduate degree, comprising a minimum of 20 credit hours required for the additional degree.  Students may pursue two different graduate degrees simultaneously by applying to and being accepted to each program.  Graduate program approval is required. 

3.4.7 Dual WSU Graduate Degree Requirements

Some graduate programs at WSU  may offer dual or concurrent degrees. Students may either work simultaneously in two areas of study and receive one graduate degree representing both fields, OR  may earn two separate degrees concurrently, with a specified amount of overlapping course credits that are counted toward both degree requirements. Overlapping graduate course credits must be 6000-level courses, with a minimum of 20 credit hours in either unique degree. Graduation applications do not have to be filed in the same semester for both graduate degrees: overlapping graduate credit hours that have been applied toward one University graduate degree may later be applied to the second graduate degree requirements as specified by the graduate department. For further information, contact the specific graduate program.

3.5  Graduate Student Classification

Please note that the following graduate student classifications do NOT determine eligibility for financial aid.  See the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office for the enrollment levels relevant to financial aid. All of the classifications below also apply to students enrolled in Accelerated Graduate Programs.

3.5.1  Full-Time Matriculated Graduate Student (Degree Seeking)

To be classified as full-time matriculated or full-time degree seeking; a student must be registered for 9 or more graduate credit hours per semester (excluding summer) and be formally admitted to a University graduate program. Full-time matriculated graduate students must be registered for at least 1-3 graduate credit hours during the semester of the final thesis defense or, in a graduate program without a thesis requirement, the last semester of coursework required in the student’s program of study.

3.5.2  Part-Time Matriculated Graduate Student (Degree-Seeking)

To be classified as part-time matriculated or part-time degree seeking; a student must be registered for 5-8 graduate credit hours per semester (excluding summer) and be formally admitted to a University graduate program. Part-time matriculated graduate students must be registered for at least 1-3 graduate credit hours during the semester of the final thesis defense or, in a graduate program without a thesis requirement, the last semester of coursework required in the student’s program of study. 

3.5.3  Matriculated-Probationary Student

A student is considered matriculated-probationary when the student is placed on probation because of inadequate progress in the student's degree program. Probationary status is defined by the specific  graduate program. The conditions to be met in order to restore good standing and the time limit for meeting them must be specified to the student in writing at the time the student is placed on probation. If the conditions are not met as specified, the student’s participation in the program may be terminated.

3.5.4  Conditionally-Admitted Graduate Student (Degree-Seeking)

Conditional admission as a graduate student at the University is granted solely at the discretion of the specific graduate program to which the student seeks admission. Contact the specific graduate program for more information regarding procedures and conditions for conditional admission. Advancement from conditionally-admitted to full- or part-time matriculated graduate student status will be determined by the graduate program, based on conditions which may include the following:

  • completion of outstanding requirements for the baccalaureate degree;
  • performance in 5000- and/or 6000-level classes specified by the graduate program;
  • performance on a standardized graduate admission and/or English language competency test.

Conditionally-admitted students may enroll no more than three full semesters (excluding summer), after which the conditionally-admitted student  must be either changed to full-or part-time matriculated student status by the graduate program office, or denied admission.

3.5.5 Non-Degree Seeking Graduate Student

Students who are taking graduate courses at the University but have not been formally admitted to a University graduate program are classified as non-degree seeking.  (See regulations governing non-matriculated graduate credit hours in section 3.6.2).  Not all graduate programs allow non-degree seeking students to enroll in their graduate courses.

3.5.6  International Students

Applicants who are not U.S. citizens and have not received immigrant status from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service are considered International Students. International Students who are present in the United States on visitor, student, or other visas which authorize only temporary presence in this country, do not have the capacity to intend to reside in Utah for an indefinite period and therefore must be classified as nonresident. (See PPM 6-1; Board of Higher Education Policy R512.) (See specific International Student Admission Requirements.)

3.6  Transfer Credits and Graduate Program Residency Requirements

3.6.1 At least two-thirds of the total credit hours of a student’s master degree must be earned from an approved, University graduate program. Depending on individual program requirements, a maximum of one-third of the total semester graduate credits earned at another, regionally-accredited institution may be approved by a student’s department. Transfer credits cannot replace required residency credits. All transfer credits must be approved by the graduate program, which may impose minimum grade requirements and / or age limits on such credits. Transfer credits will be considered as taken in the semester of transfer for purposes of timely degree completion. At least two-thirds of a graduate degree must be earned from a University graduate program. 

Graduate certificate minimum residency requirements will follow PPM 4-1. requiring a minimum of 10 semester hours in residency. Individual graduate programs have discretion to assign courses to students to complete the minimum residency requirement.

Graduate transfer and experiential learning credits should follow state and regional accreditation (NWCCU) policies for the granting of such credit.

3.6.2 Non-Matriculated Credits. Graduate credit hours earned while a student is classified as a non-degree seeking graduate student at the University may be applied toward a University graduate degree with the permission of the specific graduate program. Graduate programs may at their discretion stipulate age limits on credits, appropriateness, and a maximum number of such credit hours which may be applied towards their degree. (See Non-Degree Seeking Student classification, section 3.5.5.)

3.7  Course Level Numbering

5000-level courses are advanced, upper-division undergraduate courses, prerequisite or leveling graduate courses, or graduate courses. 5000-5999 level undergraduate courses may be applied toward a University graduate degree with program approval.  5000-level credit used to earn the undergraduate degree may not be counted toward a graduate degree, although students may petition a graduate program for retroactive graduate credit for courses taken as an undergraduate under certain circumstances: permission may be granted only if a grade of B or better was earned in the specified courses and if the courses were taken no more than three years prior to the petition. Such graduate credit is limited to six semester hours or two courses.

6000-level courses are considered graduate level courses. 6000-level courses are typically not available to undergraduates, and may only be cross-listed with undergraduate courses when there are substantially different course requirements for graduate students, reflecting a degree of academic rigor appropriate to graduate-level study. 6000-level graduate course credit for prior professional experience cannot be granted. However, 6000-level graduate course credit for certifications may be granted with approval by the graduate program. Prerequisite or leveling requirements for 6000-level courses may be waived by the graduate program.

3.8  Faculty Qualifications

While respecting accreditation requirements in each program area, faculty teaching graduate coursework will have at least one degree beyond the level at which they are teaching or a terminal degree in a related field, except in programs for terminal degrees or when equivalent experience is established.  In terminal degree programs, faculty members will have the same level of degree. Department Chairs and Deans, in consultation with the Provost, may grant exceptions for extensive professional experience.

3.9 Accelerated Graduate Programs

3.9.1 Accelerated Graduate Programs (such as 3+2 programs) may admit students to the graduate program prior to the completion of a bachelor’s degree (see section 3.2.3). These students may complete requirements for their undergraduate and graduate programs concurrently. Graduate coursework completed to fulfill the requirements of an Accelerated Graduate Program may also be used to meet upper-division course requirements in undergraduate programs. Graduate programs, with the approval of the related undergraduate program, will determine which graduate courses will fulfill the requirements of both programs through a written Memorandum of Understanding. See PPM 4-21a, 3.3 for further guidance regarding awarding experiential credit.

3.9.2  The Accelerated Graduate Program of Study must include clear expectations regarding when the student will be awarded a bachelor’s degree.

3.10  Graduate Certificates

A graduate certificate program is a related cluster of credit-bearing graduate courses that constitutes a coherent body of study within a discipline or set of related disciplines. The purpose of graduate certificate programs is to serve the needs of both matriculated and non-degree students interested in developing specific skills and knowledge for personal and/or professional development. Graduate certificate programs are credit-based, taught by regular or associate members of the graduate program’s faculty, and normally aligned with existing graduate education curricula. While certificate programs may be chosen by students who do not wish to pursue a master’s degree (i.e. non-matriculated graduate students), courses completed during a certificate program may be applied toward graduate degree requirements upon the approval of the appropriate graduate program office as noted below. 

The number of graduate certificate credits must consist of a minimum of 10 credit hours of 6000-level courses, although 5000-level courses may be applied toward certificate requirements per graduate program policy.  Proposals for new Graduate Certificates should use the WSU New Program Proposal Form. (See Utah Board of Higher Education Policy R401.)

Students must apply and be accepted into the graduate certificate area of study to be eligible to receive a certificate. The requirements and general criteria of eligibility for admission to any graduate certificate area of study include:

3.10.1    An earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally-accredited college or university, or enrollment in a WSU graduate academic degree program. The requirements for admission are set by each graduate area of study, which may include minimum grade point average, standardized test scores, and other similar criteria as part of the application.

3.10.2    Students who wish to pursue approved graduate certificates must be admitted to that certificate program. Students may pursue more than one certificate but must be admitted separately to each certificate program.

3.10.3    Certificate-seeking students not currently enrolled in a master degree program will be admitted as degree seeking graduate students, and their major code will reflect the graduate certificate program to which they have been admitted.  Successful completion of a graduate certificate will be noted on the student's academic transcript.

3.10.4    Students pursuing a graduate certificate will be required to meet the same academic requirements as those defined for degree-seeking students to remain in "good standing."

3.10.5    All graduate certificate students must meet all prerequisites for courses in which they wish to enroll.

Should a non-degree seeking student earn a graduate certificate and subsequently apply and be accepted to a degree-granting WSU graduate program, credit hours earned as part of the graduate certificate may be applied toward a WSU graduate degree with the permission of the specific graduate program. Graduate programs may stipulate at their discretion age limits on credits, appropriateness, and a maximum number of such credit hours which may be applied towards their degree.

3.11  Financial Aid

The process for applying for financial aid is the same for graduate students as for undergraduate students. Graduate loans are available for those participating in a graduate program. Please visit the Financial Aid website for more information.

3.12  Scholarships

Scholarships may be available for both Utah residents and non-residents. To qualify, students should contact the individual graduate programs for more information.

3.13  Non-Resident Tuition Waivers

A non-resident student may be eligible for a full or partial waiver of non-resident portion of tuition. This waiver is awarded on an individual basis to academically qualified students.  For more information, contact the sponsoring graduate program.

3.14  Graduate Assistantship/Work Study/Internship/Practicum

When available, graduate assistantships, work study opportunities, internship or practicum programs are offered and administered by the graduate program/ department  in which the student is pursuing a graduate degree or graduate certificate. Any academic credit for internships or practica must be granted through a designated, credit bearing 5000- or 6000-level course.

4.0  Office of Graduate Studies

The Office of Graduate Studies serves as the administrative body within Academic Affairs that promotes, supports, and reviews graduate education at the University. The Office of Graduate Studies, in conjunction with the Graduate Council, works collaboratively with university administration, colleges, and academic departments to ensure consistency and excellence in all graduate degree programs.

4.1  Director of Graduate Studies

The Office of Graduate Studies consists of a half-time Director, who receives release time and a stipend, and support staff, and is housed in an accessible campus location.

4.1.1  Selection
The Director of Graduate Studies shall be a faculty or exempt staff (minimum half-time release or equivalent), with a terminal degree, appointment made by the Provost for a renewable 3-year term. The Director reports to the Provost, and receives an annual stipend.

4.1.2  Procedure for selection.

The Graduate Council will provide the Provost with a list of eligible members (per section 4.1.3) who would be willing to serve as Director. The Provost will choose the candidate for Director from the list of candidates.

4.1.3  Eligibility

The Director of Graduate Studies may be a full-time, tenured faculty member with teaching or administrative responsibilities within a WSU graduate program at the time of appointment.

4.1.4  Responsibilities  Chair the Graduate Council - schedule meetings, set agenda, define charges for GC subcommittees.  Curriculum - guide all curriculum-related activities of the Graduate Council (see section 4.2 below) through the chain of appropriate university approval processes.  Program Review - the Director of Graduate Studies will serve as ex officio chair of the Graduate Program Review Subcommittee, and will guide all graduate program reviews through the chain of appropriate university approval processes. Budgetary responsibility for the Office of Graduate Studies.  Liaison with other university administrative units.  Responsibility for efforts to promote graduate education at the University.  Disseminate information about best practices in graduate education.

4.2  Graduate Council

4.2.1  Mission

The mission of the Graduate Council is to work in conjunction with the Office of Graduate Studies to further graduate education at the University, and collaborate with university administration, colleges, and academic departments to ensure consistency and excellence in all graduate degree programs. The Director of Graduate Studies serves as Chair of the Graduate Council and is responsible for scheduling meetings, setting the agenda, and defining charges for the Graduate Council subcommittees.

4.2.2  Members and Voting  Members of the Graduate Council include the Directors of all WSU graduate programs, designated graduate program support staff, representatives of critical administrative support services (including the Office of the Provost), and a graduate student representative. The full membership of the Graduate Council will meet during the academic year to facilitate information exchange, promote best practices, mentor faculty and departments in developing new graduate degrees, and consult with non-academic departments regarding the needs and purposes of graduate programs at the University.  For purposes of curriculum-related approvals, changes to PPM, and graduate program reviews, voting members will consist of members of the Graduate Council who are full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty with teaching or administrative responsibilities within a University graduate program. Each graduate program shall have one faculty member associated with the program designated to serve as a voting member of Graduate Council.

4.2.3  Responsibilities  Policy / PPM and catalog changes - The Graduate Council establishes policies and procedures for graduate programs, including the drafting or amending of sections of the PPM and University catalog relevant to all graduate programs. Such policies and procedures are subject to review by the Faculty Senate as specified in the PPM 1-13, Article C-II, Section 2.1 and subject to PPM 1-20. Curriculum

  • Formal approval of all new graduate program proposals.
  • Formal approval of all substantive and non-substantive graduate program change proposals, including changes in program delivery format deemed substantive. Review of Graduate Program Reviews - Graduate Program Review, which for graduate program reviews shall consist of a subcommittee of the Graduate Council, comprised of faculty serving as graduate program directors, with the Graduate Council Chair and a representative of the office of the provost as ex officio members. Graduate Admissions

  • The Graduate Council sets / revises general graduate admissions standards and policies common to all graduate programs. 
  • Individual graduate programs may admit new students as admissions exceptions who do not meet the criteria for admission as stated in section 3.2. Data of those admitted under this policy and the criteria used to justify admissibility by the individual program will be gathered and reported to the full Graduate Council annually. The Graduate Council reserves the right to respond to any individual programs who consistently (more than three (3) consecutive semesters) admit an excess (greater than five percent) of candidates who do not meet the common graduate admissions standards. Marketing / Recruitment - The Graduate Council will work collaboratively with the Director of Graduate Studies and Marketing & Communications to develop and execute cooperative strategies for recruitment, promotion and marketing of graduate education at the University.


Revision History

Creation Date: 10/11/2011

Amended: 06/09/2020; 3/22/22 (ed update 10.4.22; 9.26.23)