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Planning a Course of Study

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Guidelines to Completion of Your Program of Study

Resident Requirements

Candidates for the master's degree, specialist degree, or sixth-year program must earn a minimum of 20 semester credits in on-campus classes.

  • For the fifth-year program, a minimum of 10 credits must be earned in residence at SCSU.
  • For doctoral programs, a minimum of 45 credits must be earned in residence at SCSU.
  • Courses offered at graduate study centers or through cohort groups established by the University are considered on-campus credit.
  • Established ITV and web-based programs are also considered on-campus credit.
  • Individual departments may establish residence policies requiring a period of full-time study. Students should consult with their adviser to determine specific departmental requirements.

Prerequisite Courses

Courses designated as deficiencies or prerequisites at the time of admission cannot be used on a Program of Study.

Transfer Credits

A maximum of 10 semester credits of graduate work completed at other accredited universities or extension credits earned from this university may be considered for application to the master's degree, specialist degree, or sixth-year program. Doctoral students should consult the policy of their graduate program for the number of credits that can be accepted in transfer.

Acceptable as a Transfer Credit: To be accepted as transfer credit and applied towards a SCSU graduate degree, the following conditions must be met:

  • Credit must be from a regionally accredited educational institution that is approved to offer graduate degree programs in the major field where the credit was earned at the time the credit was earned.
  • Credit must be appropriate to the student's program.
  • Course evaluation and approval by the student's major adviser and the School of Graduate Studies is required.
  • At time of transfer, credit must be officially recorded on the approved program form.

Not Acceptable as a Transfer Credit: The following will not be accepted as transfer credit:

  • Correspondence, individual or similar study.
  • Credit earned at a location in Minnesota through a university headquartered in another state or country.
  • Credit for courses conducted by proprietary groups.
  • Credit applied towards another degree.
  • Extended campus credit from a university that does not accept that credit for its own on-campus graduate programs.
  • Workshops, continuing education courses and in-service training credits.

Additional Transfer Guidelines:

  • The grade recorded for these credits must be a B or above, or an S or P in S/U or P/F grading systems.
  • No transfer credit can be accepted that was earned more than seven years prior to completion of the degree.
  • For the fifth-year program, a maximum of 10 semester credits of graduate and advanced undergraduate work earned after the awarding of a bachelor's degree may be accepted. A grade of C or better must have been achieved in the courses.
  • With the prior approval of the graduate adviser and the graduate dean, a maximum of 16 semester credits of appropriate graduate credit may be transferred from other universities of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System and applied to a program at St. Cloud State University.
  • When transferring credit to a specialist degree program, a minimum of 20 of the last 30 credits must be taken at this institution.
  • After the student's program of study has been approved, no additional transfer credits will be accepted unless the student has received prior approval via the petition process.
  • Any questions or concerns about the transferability of credit earned at other institutions should be directed to the School of Graduate Studies before a student enrolls for that credit.
  • The student must request that an official transcript be sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies by the institution awarding the credit. Official transcripts submitted from other institutions are for use in the applicant's admission process and pursuit of the degree at SCSU. These transcripts, or copies of them, cannot be issued to the student or other institutions.

Credits Earned Before Program Admittance

Only six graduate credits earned at SCSU prior to formal acceptance by the department to a graduate program, or the credits completed in the first semester of registration (whichever is greater), will be permitted to apply toward completion of a student's graduate program.

  • In unusual circumstances credit earned in excess of these figures may be considered for approval by the graduate dean through the petition procedure.

Upper Division Undergraduate Courses for Graduate Credit

Under certain circumstances, upper division (300- or 400-level) undergraduate courses may be applied to master's degree requirements through the 501 Credit by Arrangement Process. To obtain approval, the student must submit a petition approved by the adviser to the graduate dean prior to registering for the course if the course has not been approved on the proposed program of study.

  • An arranged/independent study course form approved by the instructor, the department chairperson, and the graduate dean is needed to register for the course. The student also must make arrangements to complete the special graduate requirements of the course.
  • Students who receive approval must register for [name of department or program] 501 [title of course].
  • A maximum of six credits earned under the 501 course number may be applied to a master's degree program.
  • This procedure is open only to students admitted to a graduate degree program.

Credit by Correspondence or Examination

Credits earned through correspondence or by examination are not accepted toward a graduate degree. SCSU does not provide an option whereby graduate credits can be earned by examination or correspondence.

Independent Study

Independent Study is available for advanced students wishing to work out a special problem in the major area of concentration. These courses carry the designation: [name of department or program] 600, Special Problems.

Creative Work

Students whose culminating experience is a creative work will use the course number 698 and their department's abbreviation (example: MUS) to register. May be registered for in one to six credit blocks with approval of adviser. S/U grading is required.


Students whose culminating experience is a thesis will use the course number 699 and their department's abbreviation (example: HIST, IM) to register. May be registered for in one to six credit blocks with approval of adviser. S/U grading is required.

SatisFactory Academic ProGress Requirements

Graduate students are considered to be making satisfactory academic progress if they maintain at least a 3.00 cumulative GPA. (A 3.25 grade point average is required for the Specialist degree in Education Administration.)  Students who have not achieved the required grade point average are not eligible to take either the oral or written final examinations, and continuation in the program of study may be denied at any time during the program by not maintaining the standard of scholarship of the University.

Grades Considered Unsuccessfully Completed

Courses in which a letter grade of I (Incomplete), IP (In progress), N (No grade reported), W (Withdrawal), F (Failure), FN (Failure for Nonattendance), or U (Unsatisfactory) is received will be treated as credits attempted but not successfully completed.

Grades Not Accepted Toward Graduate Program Completion

Courses in which a mark of C-, D+, D or D-  is earned will count as credits completed but will not be accepted toward graduate program completion.

Registering for Additional Courses if Standard of Scholarship Has Not Been Maintained

Graduate students, accepted as candidates for the master's degree, specialist degree, sixth-year program, and doctoral degree whose records show less than a 3.00 average (3.25 for the Specialist in Educational Administration) at the completion of the approved program of courses may be permitted to register for a maximum of eight additional semester credits to be earned in courses approved by the petition procedure.

  • The eight additional credits will be designed with the adviser and may include both repeated and new courses.
  • If, after the completion of these eight additional credits, the average is still less than a 3.00 (3.25 for the Specialist in Educational Administration), the student will be dismissed from his/her program of study.

Receiving an Incomplete

All incompletes must be completed and grades submitted by the instructor. Remind your professor to submit a grade change for all incompletes or IP grades. This includes field studies, theses, creative works, and starred papers.

Completion of Attempted Credits

Graduate students must complete at least 66.67 percent of all credits attempted at the University. Students whose completion rate falls below 66.67 percent will be placed on probationary status. To register for classes, these students will be required to present plans, approved by their advisors, to improve completion rates or to demonstrate progress toward completion of their programs.

Repeating a Course for Improvement of a Grade

Graduate students may not repeat a course for graduate credit without the written permission of their adviser and the approval of the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. 

  • If a course is repeated, both marks are used in determining the total grade point average. The resulting grade from the first repetition of the course is averaged with the original grade in the computation of grade point average. 
  • A student who fails in the first course of a sequence cannot take the following courses in that sequence until the course has been completed with a passing grade.
  • The original grade will appear on the student’s transcript with a mark of R indicating that the course was repeated. 
  • Graduate students should note that a “U” is figured in the grade point average as an “F”.
  • The repetition of a course in which a “U” was earned will also be marked with an “R” on the transcript. 
  • Courses in which the mark of “S” is given are not included in the computation of the grade point average. 

Repeating a Course for Additional Credits

Students may only receive credit once for the completion of a course unless otherwise stated in the course description. The maximum number of credits allowed is stated in the course description.  For each enrollment the student receives credit hours and a grade.

Time Allowed for Program of Study Completion

All of the courses on your approved Program Form must be completed within the seven-year time limit for completion of the program.

Program of Study Course Changes

Complete all courses on your approved program form. All course changes must be approved by petition. Verbal approval by your adviser is not sufficient. Forms are available on the Graduate Student forms page or in the School of Graduate Studies, room AS-121.

Checking the Accuracy of your Program of Study

Students should secure copies of transcripts to be sure that information recorded on the Program of Study is accurate.

  • An unofficial transcript may be obtained online by visiting There is no fee for an unofficial transcript.
  • An official copy of the student academic transcript may be obtained by submitting a request in writing to the Office of Records and Registration. The student's complete name, current address, social security number or student tech ID, dates of attendance, and written signature are needed when requesting a transcript. Further information is available at There is a $5 fee for each transcript. Fees are subject to change.

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