The Graduate Catalog
The university’s graduate catalogs are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a contractual agreement between a student and East Carolina University. The university reserves the right to make changes in curricula, degree requirements, course offerings, or academic regulations at any time when, in the judgment of the graduate faculty, the chancellor, or the Board of Trustees, such changes are in the best interest of the students and the university.
East Carolina University is committed to equality of educational opportunity and does not discriminate against applicants, students, or employees based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, creed, sexual orientation, or disability. East Carolina University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer that accommodates the needs of individuals with disabilities.
Ordinarily, a student may expect to earn a degree in accordance with the requirements of the curriculum described in the official graduate catalog in effect when he or she first entered the university or in any subsequent catalog published while he or she is a student, but the faculty of the university reserves the right to make changes in curricula and in regulations at any time when in its judgment such changes are for the best interest of the students and of the university. Graduate students should refer to the requirements of their respective college, school, or department for information about their programs of study and confer with their advisors whenever problems arise.
The university maintains approximately one hundred official bulletin boards at key locations on campus and also maintains an official bulletin board on the ECU home page, www.ecu.edu. Important news, events and deadlines for graduate students are posted on the Graduate School’s home page, www.ecu.edu/gradschool.Through consecutively numbered official announcements, academic departments and other divisions of the university communicate essential and timely information to students. It is the responsibility of the student to read and know the contents of those announcements which affect his or her program.
Falsification of Information on the Graduate Admissions Application
In order to judge the viability of an applicant for admission to the Graduate School at East Carolina University, it is necessary to have complete and accurate information about the applicant’s academic and professional background, medical history, criminal/disciplinary record, and other relevant personal details. All applicants are expected to provide complete, accurate information on the admissions application and notify the Graduate School of any changes relevant to information provided. When it is found that an applicant has deliberately lied, misrepresented, or in any fashion included information designed to mislead the application reviewers with respect to any component of the application portfolio, the following actions may take place:
- If the application process has not been completed and an accept/reject admission decision to the Graduate School has not been made, further processing of the application may be discontinued, and if so, no admission offer can be forthcoming.
- If the applicant has been admitted into the Graduate School and not yet enrolled in a graduate degree or certificate program or as a nondegree student prior to the discovery of false, misrepresented, or misleading information in the application portfolio, the offer of admission can be rescinded.
- If the applicant has been admitted into the Graduate School and has enrolled in a graduate degree or certificate program or as a nondegree student prior to the discovery of false, misrepresented, or misleading information in the application portfolio, the student may be administratively withdrawn from all classes and dismissed from the Graduate School. As a consequence of the administrative withdrawal, all forms of financial assistance from the Graduate School will be terminated and any outstanding debts to the university will be the student’s responsibility.
Evidence, suggesting that an applicant has deliberately provided false or misleading information or has intentionally misrepresented any personal information on an application to the Graduate School for admission into a graduate degree or certificate program or as a nondegree student, will be brought to the dean of the Graduate School. After evaluation of the evidence and consultation with any parties involved with the application deemed relevant by the dean, a decision regarding the disposition of the application will be made by the dean.
If the applicant wishes to appeal the decision made by the dean of the Graduate School, the applicant has 10 business days from the date of the decision notification to file an appeal with the Graduate Council Executive Committee (GCEC) through the Graduate School. The GCEC will hear the appeal at the first convenient, regularly-scheduled meeting and evaluate its merits. To reverse the decision made by the dean, a two-thirds majority of a voting quorum must be had.
In all cases where a termination of the application process or dismissal from the Graduate School has occurred, no refund of application fees will be made.
Standard American English is the language of instruction at East Carolina University, except in certain foreign language programs. Adequate knowledge of that language is expected of all students. The various departments generally evaluate students in this regard, and they may require students to secure remedial instruction if necessary. Students whose native language is not English must demonstrate capability through the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE examinations, language academy, or other means. Some departments may require knowledge of one or more foreign languages for advanced degrees. For information, the student should contact the department.
Course Attendance and Participation
Course attendance is expected of all students. Faculty members have the right to establish attendance and participation requirements in each of their courses. Course requirements (e.g., examinations, oral presentations, laboratory experiments, participation in discussion) are in no sense waived due to absence from class. Instructors may establish penalties when excessive absences would seriously hinder achievement in any course. It is the instructor’s discretion as to how absences will be handled.
Disruptive Academic Behavior
East Carolina University is committed to providing each student with a rich, distinctive education experience. To this end, students who do not follow reasonable standards of behavior in the classroom or other academic setting may be removed from the course by the instructor following appropriate notice. Students removed from a course under this policy will receive a grade of “drop” according to university policy and are eligible for tuition refund as specified in the current tuition refund policy.
No more than 15 semester hours of work may be taken in any fall or spring semester without the written permission of the department or college and the dean of the Graduate School. A student is considered to be enrolled full-time when registered for a minimum of 9 semester hours during a regular semester.
Certain graduate courses may be repeated for credit and are identified in the course descriptions in this catalog. Repetition of any graduate course other than these is subject to the approval by the student’s graduate program. Degree credit for repeated courses will be given only once, but the grade assigned for each enrollment shall be permanently recorded. Both the original grade and the grade received in the repetition will be used in calculating the overall GPA.
When granting a time extension (see “Time Limits for Completing Graduate Degrees”) the dean of the Graduate School or his/her designee may specify that out-of-date courses be repeated for credit with written justification by the student’s graduate program director in order to assure the currency of a student’s coursework falling outside the allowed time limit.
The main campus of East Carolina University operates on the semester system. The fall and spring semesters are each approximately fifteen weeks in length, including one week for final examinations. The summer session is divided into two equal terms of approximately five and one-half weeks each. An alternative eleven week summer schedule is available in some areas. The Division of Continuing Studies will supply calendars for the off-campus centers.
The university is in session five and one-half days each week. Classes usually meet for fifty-minute periods, but some of the courses meet for three hours in one evening or on Saturday morning.
Only courses numbered 5000 or higher can be counted toward completion of graduate degrees or CAS programs. At least one-half of the credit for a master’s degree must be earned in courses for graduates only, numbering 6000 or above. During the summer terms, most courses are offered during the daytime. Three semester hour courses meet one and a half hours daily; five semester hour courses meet two and one-half hours daily. Other courses meet for the appropriate times in order to meet the total contact hour requirement. The university offers many graduate courses, workshops, conferences, and short courses during the summer session. Graduate degree credit can be earned only at the standard of a minimum of 750 scheduled minutes of instructional time or the equivalent per credit hours, as stated in the UNC Policy Manual.
Graduate students who seek and obtain permission to take courses at other institutions for subsequent transfer to degree programs at East Carolina University may obtain credit only at the standard of a minimum of 750 scheduled minutes of instructional time or the equivalent per credit hours, as stated in the UNC Policy Manual. Degree or CAS credit cannot be obtained through completion of correspondence courses. The Graduate School does not award credit for experiential learning, advanced placement, or professional certificates.
Credit by Examination
Some colleges, schools, and departments offer graduate course credit by examination according to policies adopted by such colleges, schools, and departments and the regulations described below. Not more than 20 percent of a degree or CAS program may be earned through credit by examination, and credit thus earned will not be counted as residence credit.
Graduate students who are currently enrolled, and who have been accepted in a nondoctoral degree or CAS program, may receive credit by examination for a course in which they have not been enrolled for either credit or audit. This requires approval by the appropriate dean of a college, director of a professional school, or by the chairperson of a department in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences and finally by the dean of the Graduate School. Appropriate forms are available in the Graduate School.
Successful petitioners must pay to the university cashier a nonrefundable fee per semester hour in advance of the examination. The forms, bearing the receipt of the cashier, must be shown to the instructor conducting the examination who, in turn, must report the grade to the registrar and the dean of the Graduate School. The examination must be conducted within one week following approval of the petition by the dean of the Graduate School.
The following departments and schools do not offer credit by examination: English, geography, history, political science, and music.
With the support of the graduate program director, up to one third of the credit hours in a graduate certificate or degree program may be transferred from a regionally accredited college or university. No credit hours completed as part of a previously earned master’s degree can be counted toward a second master’s degree. A maximum of one third of credit from another institution may be counted toward the completion of a certificate program at East Carolina University. Exceptions may be made with the permission of the program director and the dean of the Graduate School, but in all cases students must earn at least one half of the credit hours in a graduate certificate or degree program at East Carolina University. Master’s degree students in business administration, public administration, and social work and doctoral students are governed by statements in degree requirements. Programs may set lower transfer hour limits. Program directors and students should discuss transfer credit options. For more information about degree requirements, view Academic Programs/Colleges, Schools, and Departments .
Graduate-level course work taken elsewhere is not automatically applicable to a graduate degree program at East Carolina University. Applicants for admission must indicate clearly on application forms their attendance at other graduate-level institutions and petition college, school, or departmental advisors to apply such earned credits to their programs. College, school, or departmental petitions for application of transfer credit must be approved by the Graduate School. Ordinarily the Graduate School will approve the application of graduate course transfer credit only if (1) the college, school, or department so recommends; (2) the graduate credit was earned at a regionally accredited institution; (3) the student was admitted to a formal graduate degree program at the time the credit was earned with a minimum final course grade of B; and (4) the credit can be satisfactorily incorporated within the applicable time frame for completion of all degree requirements. Official transcripts which will provide adequate evidence to support such petitions must be supplied.
Students who have been admitted to the Graduate School at East Carolina University may enroll at other regionally accredited graduate-level institutions for course work which is applicable to their programs provided they have obtained advance permission from their college, school, or graduate program director and the dean of the Graduate School. Such transfer work is included in the one third maximum application of such credit to degree programs. Transfer credit for short courses or workshops can be obtained only at the rate of 1 semester hour of credit for each calendar week of course attendance; concurrent enrollment in two or more short courses or workshops is not permitted.
Auditing a course consists of attendance at classes and listening, but taking no part in the class. An auditor is not responsible for any assignments, nor is he or she allowed to take any tests or examinations. However, in order to have the audited course recorded on the official transcript, a student must attend classes regularly. An auditor may not enroll in a participation course (art classes, laboratories, etc.). Under no circumstances will a grade be assigned, evaluations be made, or performance reports be issued on a student auditing a course. Auditing a course or part of a course is contingent upon the approval of the instructor and the appropriate departmental chairperson, school director, or college dean. Students may not register to audit a course until the last day of the course adjustment period. Persons who wish to attend university classes without earning credit must be admitted to the university before seeking approval to audit any course. The applicants shall complete the prescribed procedure for registering through the Office of the Registrar and pay the audit fee to the cashier’s office before attendance in classes is permitted.
Students regularly enrolled in the university wishing to audit course(s) must initiate the approval process with their advisor.
Students who have received a letter of admission from the Graduate School report to the office of the college, school, or department in which they are enrolled to be assigned an advisor who will assist in scheduling classes and completing registration. Each student, new or continuing, has primary responsibility for assuring that he or she is completing degree requirements and is allowed to self-register. To register, a student must complete an online registration schedule, consult an advisor, if necessary, and register via Self Service Banner. To complete the process and be officially registered and entered on the class roll, students must pay fees to the cashier’s office. No person will be admitted to any class unless officially registered either for audit or for credit.
Students are expected to complete registration (including the payment of all required fees) on the dates prescribed in the university calendar. Students who register during the early registration period are required to pay their fees and secure their official schedules during a stipulated period prior to registration day. Students who fail to pay fees by this date will have their schedules canceled.
Early registration is a time designated each semester for currently enrolled, readmitted, or newly admitted students to meet with their advisors, if necessary, to review their records and plan their courses for the upcoming semester. The student will complete an online registration schedule, after consulting an advisor if necessary, register via Self Service Banner, and receive a tuition and fee schedule giving further instructions.
A graduate student may add a course or courses through the last day to register for the semester (fall/spring semesters this is the sixth class day), also called the course adjustment period. The student must secure appropriate approval from the instructor and or department chair and contact the Office of the Registrar to have the add processed.
A graduate nondoctoral student may drop a course and receive no grade according to the date given in the Graduate School calendar. The student must notify their program advisor of the drop and contact the Office of the Registrar to have the drop processed. An e-mail from the advisor or the advisor’s signature on a drop form indicates awareness of the change. Students that experience a medical emergency or other serious emergency that necessitates dropping all courses in a term after the last day to drop should refer to the university’s graduate student withdrawal policy in the Admission and Readmission section of this catalog.
Doctoral students may drop courses only with permission of their department chair or graduate committees.
No course is officially dropped or added until all appropriate approvals are obtained from the advisor and/or the Graduate School and the required procedure is completed with the Office of the Registrar.
Grades and Scholarship
At the first scheduled class meeting, the instructor must state the basic requirements and assignments of the course and indicate his or her method of evaluation.
In the Graduate School, grades consist of A, AU, B, C, F, I, NR, Q, R, S, U, and W.
Change of Grade
A change of grade must be made within one year from the date the original grade was received.
Definition of Grades
- A (Excellent)
- AU (Audit)
- B (Good)
- C (Passed)
- F (Failure)
- I (Incomplete) The grade of “I” is given for a deficiency in the quantity of work done in a course. “I” grades must be resolved within one calendar year or a grade of “F” will be automatically assigned. No exceptions to this policy will be allowed. No student will be allowed to graduate with an incomplete on his or her record.
- NR (Not reported by faculty)
- Q (In progress) A special grade reserved for capstone courses such as professional papers, internships, practica, and similar courses. The “Q” grade is removed when the course is successfully completed and replaced with a grade of “R”. The grades in these courses are not included in meeting the cumulative grade point average of 3.0 required for graduation.
- R (Replacement) A special grade that replaces the grade of “Q” or “S” upon successful completion of thesis, dissertation, and capstone courses. The grades in these courses are not included in the cumulative grade point average.
- S (Satisfactory progress in thesis or dissertation research) A special grade reserved for thesis and dissertation courses. The grades in these courses are not included in meeting the cumulative grade point average of 3.0 required for graduation.
- U (Unsatisfactory progress in thesis or dissertation research) A special grade reserved for thesis and dissertation courses. The grades in these courses are not included in meeting the cumulative grade point average of 3.0 required for graduation.
- W (Withdrawn)
Graduate Student Grade Appeals
The goal of this grade appeal policy is to establish a clear, fair process by which graduate students can contest a course grade that they believe has been awarded in a manner inconsistent with university policies or that has resulted from calculation errors on the part of the instructor. Recognizing, however, that the evaluation of student performance is based upon the professional judgment of instructors, and not withstanding the exceptions noted at the end of this policy, appeals will not be considered unless based upon one or more of the following factors:
- An error was made in grade computation.
- Standards different from those established in written department, school or college policies, if specific policies exist, were used in assigning the grade.
- The instructor departed substantially from his or her previously articulated, written standards, without notifying students, in determining the grade. Only the final course grade may be appealed. The grade assigned by the instructor is assumed to be correct and the student appealing the grade must justify the need for a change of the grade assigned.
- Formal grade appeals must be initiated by the student by the end of the twenty-first calendar day of the semester (not including summer sessions) following the award of the grade.
- The first step to resolve differences between an instructor and student concerning a grade should be a discussion with the instructor. If the instructor of record will not be available within one semester (not including summer sessions), the department chair or designee may act in lieu of the instructor of record for the purpose of grade appeals.
- If the instructor and student cannot resolve the appeal, and the student wishes to pursue the matter further, he or she must present to the chair of the department or designee in which the course is offered, a written appeal that includes the following: a.) a statement addressing how the appeal meets one or more of the three criteria necessary for a formal appeal; b.) any relevant documents the student would like to be reviewed as part of the appeal process; c.) a description of the outcome of the informal discussion process; and d.) a copy of the course syllabus and assignment descriptions.
- The department chair or designee may request additional materials from the student. After receiving a copy of the appeal materials from the department chair or designee, the instructor has fourteen calendar days to respond in writing to the appeal. The department chair or designee will discuss this response with the faculty member and will provide the student with written notification of the outcome of this step within seven calendar days after receiving the instructor’s response.
- If there is no mutually agreed upon resolution between the student and the instructor, and the student wishes to pursue the matter further, he or she has seven calendar days to submit his or her written appeal to the college dean or designee. The college dean or designee will review the appeal, provide copies of all appeal materials to the instructor, and discuss the appeal with both the instructor and the student. The instructor has seven days to review the written appeal the student has presented to the dean and, if desired, prepare an additional written response. The college dean or designee will provide the student with written notification of the result of this step within fourteen calendar days after receipt of the appeal from the student.
- If step 4 does not lead to a mutually agreeable resolution between the student and the instructor, and the student wishes to pursue the matter further, then a Grade Appeal Committee shall be formed by the dean of the school or college in which the program resides within ten calendar days. This committee shall include five graduate faculty members from the college: one selected by the student, one selected by the instructor of record, and one appointed by the dean of the Graduate School, and two appointed by the dean of the school or college in which the program resides. A majority shall prevail in the committee. The Committee shall elect its own chair. The function of the Grade Appeal Committee shall be to evaluate the appeal in terms of the stated grounds for the appeal. The Committee’s decision may be to keep the assigned grade or to raise the assigned grade. The Committee shall provide a written justification to the deans of the academic school or college and the Graduate School for its decision, including minority opinions when they exist, no later than twenty-one calendar days after the Committee’s formation. The college dean shall inform the student and the instructor of the Committee’s decision and provide both parties with copies of the committee report.
- In the case of a change of grade, if the instructor of record does not implement the change of grade decided upon by the Committee within ten calendar days after learning of the Committee’s decision, the dean shall implement the change of grade as determined by the Committee on the student’s official transcript through the change of grade procedure. This shall be the last step in the deliberation of the formal grade appeal.
- The dean of the Graduate School shall forward a written record of the results of all grade appeals to the appropriate vice chancellor within fourteen calendar days. The dean of the Graduate School shall also provide an annual summary to the Graduate School Administrative Board of the number of cases heard and the aggregate result of the process.
Exceptions to the Grade Appeal Policy
The Grade Appeal Policy shall constitute the sole internal administrative remedy for a change in grade, except when the grade being disputed resulted from an alleged academic integrity violation or when a grade dispute involves an Office of Equal Opportunity and Equity discrimination complaint. If a grade dispute arises from an issue that is covered under the university’s Academic Integrity Policy, the process for resolution that has been established for appealing academic integrity violations must be followed. If a grade dispute arises from an issue that is covered under the university’s Equal Opportunity and Equity policies, the process for resolution that the Office of Equal Opportunity and Equity has established must be completed prior to the use of the university’s grade appeal process.
Removal of Incompletes
The grade of “I” is given for a deficiency in the quantity of work done in a course. “I” grades must be resolved within one calendar year or a grade of “F” will be automatically assigned. No exceptions to this policy will be allowed. No student will be allowed to graduate with an incomplete on his or her record.
Academic Eligibility Standards
To meet the requirements for graduation or awarding of a graduate certificate and to remain in good academic standing, a student must demonstrate acceptable performance in course work after being admitted to a graduate degree or certificate program. This requires a cumulative 3.0 GPA in all course work related to the student’s program of study.
For the purpose of meeting the minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 for graduation, students who are readmitted to a different graduate program after a full year’s absence resulting from withdrawal or dismissal from a prior ECU graduate program may request that only the courses taken since readmission to the new graduate program be counted towards the minimum required GPA. The request with written justification must be made by the student’s graduate program director for approval by the dean of the Graduate School or his/her designee. If approved, the student will have nine credit hours attempted to establish a GPA of 3.0 and courses taken prior to readmission will not be counted towards the completion of the new graduate degree. Failure to establish a GPA of 3.0 after nine credits attempted after readmission will result in immediate dismissal from the new graduate program and the university.
Students who are readmitted to a graduate program three years after withdrawal or dismissal from the same graduate program and who agree not to have any prior credit earned count toward their initial degree may request that only the courses taken since readmission to the new graduate program be counted towards the minimum required GPA. The request with written justification must be made by the student’s graduate program director for approval by the dean of the Graduate School or his/her designee. If approved, the student will have nine credit hours attempted to establish a GPA of 3.0 and courses taken prior to readmission will not be counted towards the completion of the new graduate degree. Failure to establish a GPA of 3.0 after nine credits attempted after readmission will result in immediate dismissal from the new graduate program and the university.
In addition to the expectations for successful performance of course work described in the previous paragraph, good academic standing requires satisfactory progress in the overall graduate program. The students’ advisor or graduate advisory committees may render judgments as to whether satisfactory progress is being made toward the degree, taking into account all aspects of academic performance and promise, not necessarily course work alone. A positive judgment is required to remain in good academic standing. For students involved in research-oriented programs, the student’s department and individual advisory committee are responsible for evaluating the student’s skills with respect to performing quality research. Failure to meet programmatic/departmental standards may result in program termination.
Probation and Termination Policy
In order to remain in good academic standing, graduate students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all coursework related to their program of study once they have a total of 9 credit hours attempted* and any additional or higher academic standards established by their program of study. Students who fail to meet their program’s criteria may be placed on probation or dismissed from the program.
Students who fail to remain in good academic standing in accordance with the paragraph above, will be automatically placed on academic probation by the Graduate School, during which time they will have an opportunity to correct their academic deficiencies. The probationary period will last for the term(s) in which the next nine credit hours are attempted. Enrollment in the Graduate School will be automatically terminated for students who fail to correct their academic deficiencies by the end of the probationary period. Graduate students will not be allowed to take classes and are subject to immediate dismissal once it becomes mathematically impossible to achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all coursework related to their program of study by the end of the remaining probationary period.
Students may appeal dismissal decisions by following the process outlined in the Graduate School Appeals Procedure.
*Total credit hours attempted is the sum of credit hours for all graduate courses in which a graduate student is enrolled as of the tenth day of each semester (the Official University Enrollment Report Date or “Census Date”). Courses with a grade of “I” (incomplete) or dropped after census date are included in the calculation of credit hours attempted. Thesis and dissertation courses are not included as they may be repeated multiple times and no grade is assigned until the thesis or dissertation is defended.
Graduate School Appeals Procedure
What is Covered by this Procedure?
Graduate students may appeal adverse academic actions and decisions taken or made by graduate faculty or graduate program directors concerning unsatisfactory performance on comprehensive assessments, imposition of academic probation for reasons other than insufficient grade point average, application of Graduate School or university academic policies, refusal to readmit a student previously enrolled in the graduate program or academic dismissal from the graduate program for reasons other than insufficient grade point average.
What is Not Covered by this Procedure?
This procedure does not apply to actions, decisions complaints, grievances or appeals that are disciplinary in nature or that are covered by other Graduate School or university policies or procedures, including, but not limited to, decisions regarding (a.) course grades, (b.) student disciplinary matters, and (c.) discrimination or harassment. Contact information is provided at the end of this section.
Deadline to Commence Appeal and Requirement to First Attempt Informal Resolution
Informal resolution of appeals is always the most desirable approach, and encouraged whenever possible. Before initiating a formal appeal, the student shall discuss the problem with the person or persons whose actions or decisions are being challenged, henceforth referred to as the “academic officer(s)”, in a face to face meeting, within fourteen calendar days after the student receives notice of the adverse action or decision. Unless they are the “academic officers” whose actions or decisions are being challenged, the student should keep both the head/chair of the department in which the student’s program resides and the student’s advisor apprised of the situation and progress of these informal discussions.
Deadline to Initiate Formal Appeal and Requirements
If the matter is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction through informal means, the student may initiate a formal appeal by submitting the matter in writing to the dean of the Graduate School. The formal written appeal must be received by the dean no more than 4 calendar weeks following the conclusion of the informal discussion between the student and the academic officer(s), or no more than 6 calendar weeks after the student receives notice of the adverse action or decision, whichever deadline occurs first. In the written appeal, the student must clearly address the following important aspects: 1) the action(s) or decision(s) being challenged: 2) the academic officer(s) against whom the complaint is being made: 3) any rules, policies or procedures that were allegedly violated: and 4) the redress sought. In the event that the dean of the Graduate School is an “academic officer” in the case, the provost will appoint another university official to fulfill all the duties of the dean of the Graduate School under this procedure. A decision shall be deemed final on the expiration of the period for filing an appeal, or if an appeal is filed, upon issuance of a dismissal or a final decision in such an appeal, whichever is later. The adverse decision or action being challenged by the student will remain in effect during the appeal process and until such date that a final decision is made. No further graduate enrollment is permitted until a final decision has been reached.
The Review Panel
A review panel comprised of two faculty members and a graduate student will be appointed. One faculty member, from a college other than the one in which the student’s academic department resides, will be appointed by the dean of the Graduate School. The other faculty member, from the college in which the student’s program resides, will be appointed by the dean of the college. However, this representative will not be from the student appellant’s department. In the event that either of the two aforementioned deans is an “academic officer” in the case, the vice chancellor for research and graduate studies will appoint the appropriate substitute faculty member(s). The Graduate Student Council will provide a list of graduate students who expressed a willingness to serve on review panels from which the dean of the Graduate School will appoint a student from a department other than that of the student appellant.
The Review Panel Process
The review panel will consider the case in detail. All its decisions will be by majority vote. Proceedings before the panel are informal and the rules of procedure applicable to courts do not apply. It must review any and all written records of the case. It must afford the student appellant an opportunity to appear in person before it, and consider any relevant written materials the student may wish to bring to its attention. Students appearing before the review panel may have no more than one (1) support person accompany them, which person may be an attorney. If present, the support person/attorney may not address the review panel or participate in the proceedings in any way, except by advising the student. Any student wishing to have a support person/attorney present must notify the dean of the Graduate School of the name of the support person, and whether that person is an attorney, no fewer than five (5) days prior to the student’s scheduled appearance before the panel. When the student’s support person is an attorney, the panel or the dean of the Graduate School may request that a university attorney be present in an identical non-participatory role. If the student fails to so advise the dean of the planned presence of a support person who is an attorney, then, in the discretion of the review panel, the hearing may be adjourned until a university attorney can be present, or, in the alternative, the review panel may require that the hearing proceed in the absence of the student’s attorney, in which case no university attorney shall attend.
The review panel will hear from the academic officer(s) whose action or decision is being appealed and may confer with other involved parties. It shall evaluate any other information it deems relevant to its deliberations. Written records setting forth the dates and times of meetings, meeting participants, persons called before the panel and copies of the documents received by the panel will be kept. In order to prevail, the student appellant must establish any one or more of the following: 1) that the challenged action or decision was based upon matters that are inappropriate or irrelevant to academic performance and that consideration of those matters was the deciding factor in the action or decision; 2) that the academic officer failed to apply appropriate or applicable professional standards, which failure was the deciding factor in the action or decision; or 3) that the action or decision resulted from a clearly erroneous application of Graduate School or University rules, policies or procedures and the misapplication was the deciding factor in the action or decision.
The review panel will concisely set forth in a written report with the following elements: 1) relevant factual findings; 2) whether it found in favor of the student; and 3) the reasons for finding in favor of or against the student, as the case may be. Should the review panel find in favor of the student, its report will also include appropriate recommendations to the dean of the Graduate School, e.g., reassignment to a different advisor and/or graduate committee, administration of another examination, corrected application of a Graduate School or university policy.
Dean of the Graduate School Makes Final Decision
The dean of the Graduate School and the dean of the appellant student’s college shall jointly review the report, giving due consideration to the review panel’s finding(s) and recommendation(s). Following consultation with the provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, the dean of the Graduate School shall make the final written decision of the university. A copy of the decision will be provided to the student, the academic officer(s), the members of the review panel, the dean of the appellant student’s college, the vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, and any other university official who the dean of the Graduate School determines should be aware of the decision in order to properly execute his/her official duties.
Contacts for More Information
(a.) Regarding course grades, see the above Graduate School Grade Appeals Procedure and/or contact the Graduate School at http://www.ecu.edu/gradschool/.
(b.) Regarding student disciplinary matters, contact the ECU Division of Student Affairs at http://www.ecu.edu/studentaffairs/.
(c.) Regarding discrimination or harassment, contact the Office for Equity and Diversity at http://www.ecu.edu/edc/.
All graduate programs require students to successfully complete a comprehensive assessment. The assessment may include a comprehensive examination (written and/or oral), a research project, thesis, capstone course, portfolio, and/or equivalent. The specific requirements may be found in descriptions of degree programs. For more information about degree requirements, view Academic Programs/Colleges, Schools, and Departments .
Advancing to Doctoral Candidacy
Candidacy is defined as that period in a doctoral student’s studies when she or he is deemed ready to undertake independent and original research. Advancing to doctoral candidacy status is a significant milestone with rigorous standards that must be completed within program specific time limits (see Time Limits for Completing Graduate Programs). Students who fail the program’s candidacy exam process or do not achieve candidacy within required time limits are dismissed from the doctoral program and the Graduate School. Subject to any program specific requirements and compliance with applicable Graduate School and university rules, policies, and procedures, the basic requirements for doctoral candidacy are as follows:
- Successful completion of sufficient course work to sit for candidacy exam.
- Successful completion of candidacy exam (written, oral, or combination of this or other requirements appropriate to the discipline).
- Successful selection of a dissertation research advisor and a dissertation committee.
- Successful preparation of a dissertation research plan, approved by the dissertation advisor, graduate program director, and/or dissertation committee.
- Completion and submission of the Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy form and subsequent approval from the Graduate School.
Students are expected to consult with their program director or graduate coordinator to receive copies of the relevant materials and learn the program specific details of the requirements for advancement to candidacy, the nature and format of any comprehensive exams, the committee(s) involved in administering the comprehensive assessments and conferring candidacy status, and the allowable time line for the process of advancement. Final responsibility for successful advancement to candidacy lies with the student.
Thesis/Dissertation: Research, Examination, Preparation, and Delivery
In programs where a thesis or dissertation is prepared, the student must comply with the specific regulations of his or her school or department and the general requirements of the Graduate School. These requirements are specified in the Manual of Basic Requirements for Theses and Dissertations which is approved by the Graduate School and available on the Graduate School’s Web site, www.ecu.edu/gradschool/. The manual contains details on the form, preparation, and electronic submission of theses and dissertations.
Thesis and dissertation topics must be approved by the thesis/dissertation advisory committee and the chairperson of the department. The Thesis/Dissertation Research Approval form, available on the Graduate School Web site, must be completed, appropriate signatures obtained, and submitted to the Graduate School, prior to beginning research. Students whose research involves human subjects, animals, biohazards, or radiation must have their research proposals approved by the appropriate compliance committee BEFORE beginning their research. A copy of the appropriate committee approval must be included in the appendixes of the final thesis or dissertation. Research involving human subjects must be approved by the University and Medical Center Institutional Review Board (UMCIRB). Students whose research involves animals must have their proposals approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Research involving radiation/biohazards must be reviewed by the Office of Prospective Health to insure compliance.
Copies of the thesis/dissertation must be presented by the student to his or her faculty advisor for the use of the examining committee not later than one week prior to the date on which the examining committee will conduct the oral examination and defense of the thesis. At this oral defense of the thesis, the examining committee may ask the student questions regarding the subject matter in the major field. A student may attempt to defend the thesis or dissertation no more than twice.
After the thesis or dissertation has been successfully defended, the student must submit the approved thesis/dissertation electronically via the electronic submission site, www.etdadmin.com/ecu/ according to directions found on the Graduate School Web site. It must be submitted at least ten days prior to the last day of classes of the student’s intended semester of graduation.
Prior to or at the time of electronic submission, the student must complete and sign the ECU ETD Non-Exclusive Distribution Agreement granting ECU a limited, nonexclusive, royalty-free, license to reproduce the thesis or dissertation in electronic form and make available according to the embargo choice/publishing restrictions selected by the student. This form should be delivered to the Graduate School along with the original copy of the signature page bearing signatures of committee chair, department chair and/or dean of the school. Once these are delivered, the student begins electronic submission of the approved thesis/dissertation on the submission site: www.etd.admin/ecu for format check and review by the Graduate School. Once revisions requested by the Graduate School are completed by the student and the final document is approved by the dean of the Graduate School, the Graduate School will notify the registrar and the department of completion. Upon verification of student’s graduation, the Graduate School will submit the final approved document to ProQuest and Joyner Library Institutional Repository. Students may order bound copies of the thesis/dissertations from ProQuest at the time of submission or later through other commercial binderies. Both ProQuest and Joyner Library are the repositories for the final electronic versions of theses/dissertations.
For any other requirements and procedures for PhD dissertations, see Academic Programs/Colleges, Schools, and Departments .
Change of Program
In order to change graduate degree programs, a student must file a petition to change programs on forms obtained from the Graduate School. The petitioning student will be notified by the program concerning the outcome of the petition. The accepting program will notify the Graduate School, the Office of the Registrar of a change of program. A student who petitions successfully for transfer to a new degree program must complete new program requirements in force at the time of the change of program. Any courses credited from the old program must meet the time frame requirements for completion of the new program.
Dual Degree Programs
Dual degree programs are those in which a student can enroll concurrently in two degree programs offered in two different academic units. A limited number of student credit hours may be counted toward both degrees.
Many dual degree programs have been formalized and appear in the Graduate Catalog (e.g. mathematics and mathematics education). Individualized dual degree programs may be designed in response to student requests. However, only academic programs have the authority to propose and receive approval from the Graduate School for new dual degree programs. Dual degrees will not be awarded after the curricular requirements have already been met without initial application.
Individualized dual degree proposals should first be created and approved by the appropriate hierarchy in each participating unit. Materials should include: a description of the participating units/degrees, an overview of the existing academic course of studies, the rationale for the new dual degree, guidelines for academic eligibility and meeting Graduate School regulations, and any other supporting materials to assist with a thorough review of the request. A letter of support from the chair or director of each participating unit must also accompany the proposal.
Double counting of courses will be handled as follows:
1. In cases where the double counting of courses involves less than 20%, Graduate School senior staff will review the proposal and approve it.
2. In cases where the course credit exchange is greater than 20%, but less than 30%, the Graduate Curriculum Committee will also review and approve the proposal.
3. In cases where the exchange is greater than 30%, the Graduate Curriculum Committee and the Graduate Council Executive Board will also review and approve the proposal.
Students must apply to and be accepted by both programs individually before beginning in the dual degree program. An application to the Graduate School must be submitted for each degree. The application fee need only be paid once. Students who do not apply to both programs before beginning the curricular requirements will be subject to the 20 Percent Rule. No credit hours completed as part of a previously earned master’s degree can be counted towards a second master’s degree.
Students in officially recognized dual degree programs, other than the MD/PhD program, must apply to graduate for both degrees at the same time, even if the requirements for one degree are completed sooner than the second degree. Academic programs are asked to provide flexibility so students may be able to walk ceremoniously with their cohort even if they do not earn the degree that semester.
Interdisciplinary Degree programs award a single degree for courses of study that involve work in multiple disciplines, but are not identified with any specific academic unit (for example, the PhD in Coastal Resource Management). Academic units are encouraged to develop new interdisciplinary programs that respond to changing social, economic and circumstances. Proposals must be originated by academic units and follow the regular institutional and UNC system processes for the approval of new degree programs.
Joint Degree Programs
Joint Degree programs are those from which a single degree is awarded by two or more UNC constituent institutions or a UNC institution and a non-UNC educational institution who are participating in a joint degree program (e.g., PhD in Technology Management with Indiana State University).
Proposals must follow the regular institutional processes for the approval of new degree programs at each participating institution within the UNC system before being submitted to the Board of Governors for approval.
A joint degree will carry the name of each participating institution on student diplomas. Each student who will receive a joint degree must be approved by the institutional process for certifying a student to receive a degree by each UNC institution whose name will appear on the diploma. Information regarding UNC System policies on joint degrees may be found at: http://intranet.northcarolina.edu/docs/legal/policymanual/400.1.1.pdf.
Residence and Graduation Requirements
Continuous Enrollment (or Registration)
Graduate students who have previously registered for all credits in a graduate degree program but who have not completed all requirements (e.g., thesis, professional paper, internship, etc.) must continue to register each semester (except summer terms) until all degree requirements are completed and filed with the registrar. Students must be enrolled for at least one credit hour during the semester of graduation except summer, if registered for the prior spring semester. Students who do not complete all degree requirements prior to the published commencement date of the intended term of graduation but complete all degree requirements prior to the first day of class of the subsequent term may petition the Graduate School for a waiver of the registration requirement for that term.
In special circumstances, students may request a leave of absence from their program of study. They must notify their graduate program director and file a readmission application prior to returning. During a leave of absence, students will not be permitted to utilize university resources. Students readmitted after a leave of absence will be required to meet the continuous enrollment requirement.
For information on leave of absence, view Absence and Readmission .
Research Skills Requirement
Programs require completion of a research skills component. How the research skills requirement is completed is defined by the academic program.
Time Limits for Completing Graduate Programs
While faculty and staff may advise the student on applicable time limits, it is solely the responsibility of the individual student to know and meet all time requirements. Extenuating circumstances for failing to meet time limits do not include incorrect oral information from faculty or staff where the correct information was set forth in a program publication or other document made available to the student. While reasonable efforts will be made to protect students who have already entered a program from the effects of subsequent changes in time limits, all graduate programs reserve the right to change time limits at any time without prior notice to students.
The time limit for completing all degree requirements (including transfer credit) in nondoctoral programs is six calendar years, unless a more restrictive time limit has been established by the degree program. All students in research based doctoral programs must achieve candidacy for the degree within five calendar years or 72 credit hours attempted, whichever occurs first, and complete all requirements of the degree within ten calendar years unless a more restrictive time limit has been established by the program (see Advancing to Doctoral Candidacy for more information).
A student’s time limit for completion starts with the first course approved for inclusion in the degree plan (including transfer credits) or the date of admission to the program, whichever occurs first, and includes planned and unplanned leaves of absence. Students who do not achieve candidacy or do not complete their degrees within the required time limits will be dismissed from their degree program and the Graduate School unless a time extension is granted. All requests for time-extensions must be received by the Graduate School prior to expiration of the degree program’s time limit and must use the official Request for Time Extension to Complete Graduate Degree Requirements form.
Time Limit Extensions
The Graduate School may grant extensions to the above time limits for a period of up to one year. Requests for extensions must be submitted by the graduate program director to the Graduate School on behalf of, and signed by the student, setting forth the applicable time limit, the extenuating circumstances which caused the student to be unable to meet the time limit, the tasks remaining to complete the degree and a realistic work plan and time frame during which those tasks will be completed and eligibility for award of the degree achieved. Requests for extensions will be reviewed and acted upon by the Graduate School. The Graduate School, in its discretion, may request additional relevant information before making its decision. Factors the Graduate School will consider in making its decision include, but are not limited to, 1) the strength, or lack thereof, of any extenuating circumstances offered for the student’s failure to meet the time limit; 2) currency of the coursework and/or research effort falling outside the allowed time limit window; and 3) the likelihood that the student will be able to complete any required work within the next year. Requests for extensions longer than one year will not be considered. If approved, the student will be bound by the terms of completion outlined in the request. In the alternative, the Graduate School may condition its approval on written modification(s) to the request, in which case the request shall not be deemed granted until the student signifies acceptance by signing the written modification(s). Failure to follow any approved plan and meet the deadlines therein will result in dismissal from the degree program and the Graduate School.
A request for a second one-year time-extension may be granted only under extraordinary circumstances, and must be approved by a majority vote of the Graduate Council Executive Committee (GCEC). Requests for second one-year extensions must be signed by the student, submitted on the student’s behalf by the graduate program director to the Graduate School and received prior to expiration of the first one-year time extension. In order to be considered by the GCEC, the request for a second time-limit extension must contain all of the following: 1) a statement of support from the graduate program director and thesis or dissertation committee, where applicable; 2) the extenuating circumstances which caused the student to be unable to meet the one year extension; 3) the tasks remaining to complete the degree; and 4) a realistic work plan and time frame during which those tasks will be completed and eligibility for award of the degree achieved. The GCEC, in its discretion, may request additional relevant information before making its decision. Factors the GCEC will consider in making its decision include, but are not limited to 1) the strength, or lack thereof, of any statements of support with from the graduate program director, and, where applicable, the thesis or dissertation committee; 2) the strength, or lack thereof, of any extenuating circumstances offered for the student’s failure to meet the one year extension; 3) currency of the coursework and/or research effort falling outside the allowed time limit window; 4) the likelihood that the student will be able to complete any required work within the next year; and 5) the impact the proposed extension would have on the student’s knowledge and research. If approved, the student will be bound by the terms of completion outlined in the request. In the alternative, the GCEC may condition its approval on written modification(s) to the request, in which case the request shall not be deemed granted until the student signifies acceptance by signing the written modification(s). Failure to follow any approved plan and meet the deadlines therein will result in dismissal from the degree program and the Graduate School. Except under extraordinary circumstances, the GCEC will not consider a second one-year extension. A second, and any subsequent, request for a one year extension shall be subject to the same requirements as set forth above in this paragraph.
Application for Graduation
Application for graduation must be completed online through Banner Self Service at least one semester prior to completing the requirements of the degree. Directions on how to apply online can be found on the Office of the Registrar website. Students who complete the degree requirements after the last day of final exams in the intended term of graduation will be certified for graduation in a subsequent term.
Withdrawal and Readmission
For information on withdrawal and readmission, view Admission and Readmission .
Student Educational Records
Policy on Posting Grades
As soon as they are determined at the end of each semester or summer term, grades are posted electronically. Students may secure their grades via Self Service Banner. In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, faculty are not allowed to post grades by social security number or any other personally identifiable characteristic. Upon receipt of a written request to the Office of the Registrar, a report of grades is sent to the student at his or her permanent home address. Questions about final examination grades should be directed to the instructor who determined the grade.
Transcripts of Records
Requests for transcripts of a student’s record should be submitted electronically via OneStop, addressed in writing or in person with a photo ID to the Office of the Registrar. For each copy, there is a fee of $7. A transcript will not be issued for a student who is financially indebted to the university.
Privacy of Student Educational Records Policy
The university policy for the administration of student educational records is in accordance with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also known as the Buckley Amendment or FERPA. This policy provides that the student has a right of access to student educational records maintained by the university or any department or unit within the university. The policy also protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information in student records. Except to the extent allowed by applicable law, personally identifiable information contained in a student educational record will not be disclosed. A copy of the university policy regarding the privacy of student educational records is maintained by the University Registrar. Each member of the faculty should be thoroughly familiar with this policy and comply with its provisions.
Access to Student Educational Records
In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, it is the policy of the university that students have the following rights in regard to official educational records maintained by the university.
- Each student has the right to inspect and review official educational records, files, and data maintained by the university and directly related to the student and not related to other students. Some exceptions to this include: sole possession notes, law enforcement or campus security records, employment records (unless employment is contingent upon student status), records relating to treatment by physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, etc.
- The university will comply with the request from a student to review his or her records within a reasonable time, but in any event not more than forty-five days after the request is made. Any inquiry pertaining to student records should be directed to the Office of the University Registrar.
- Students may request a hearing to challenge the content of his or her education record on the grounds that the information contained in the education records is inaccurate, misleading or in violation of the privacy rights of the student. Any complaint pertaining to student records should be made directly to the Office of the University Registrar, telephone 252-328-6747.
- Legitimate educational interest is a demonstrated “need to know” by those officials of an institution who act in the student’s educational interest. They include: faculty, administration, clerical and professional employees, student workers, and other persons who need student record information for the effective functioning of their office or position. The following criteria shall be taken into account in determining the legitimacy of a University official’s access to student’s records:
- The official must seek the information within the context of the responsibilities that he or she has been assigned, and
- The information sought must be used within the context of official University business and not for purposes extraneous to the official’s area of responsibility to the University.
- The university will not release any information from student records to anyone (except those agencies noted in item below as permitted by the Act – 34 CFR § 99.31M) without the prior written consent of the student. The consent must specify the records or information to be released, the reasons for the release, and the identity of the recipient of the records.
- Information from the student’s records may be released without the written consent of the student in the following situations:
- in compliance with a court order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- requests from school officials who have a legitimate educational interest in the information (a school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position, as determined by the Office of the University Registrar, including student workers);
- requests from other departments or educational agencies who have legitimate educational interest in the information, including persons or companies with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, collection agent, Higher One or The National Student Clearinghouse);
- requests from officials of other colleges or universities at which the student intends to enroll or has enrolled, provided the student is furnished with a copy, if he or she so requests, so that he or she may have an opportunity to challenge the contents of the record;
- requests in connection with a student’s financial aid;
- requests from parents of a dependent student as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; or
- requests from appropriate persons in connection with an emergency if the knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons.
- Additional circumstances may exist to permit the release without student consent within the applicable regulations.
A student has the right to file a complaint at any time with the US Department of Education. However, it is expected that the student normally would exhaust the available administrative remedies for relief according to the university grievance procedures before filing such a complaint.
Change of Name and Address
It is the obligation of every student to notify the Office of the Registrar of any change in name or address in writing. Students may change their address via Self Service Banner (www.onestop.ecu.edu, then click on the Banner Self Service link) using their Pirate ID and passphrase. Failure to do so can cause serious delay in communication with the student.
Release of Directory Information
The university routinely makes available in an online directory certain information about its students. This policy is for the convenience of students, parents, other members of the university community, and the general public. In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the university will continue this policy of releasing directory information, including the following: the student’s name, address (including e-mail address), telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institute attended by the student. If any student does not wish this directory information released without prior consent, the student must notify the Office of the Registrar in writing within seven days after registration day of the current term of enrollment.