Jun 25, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Admission and Readmission


Admission to a graduate program at East Carolina University is based on an evaluation of an applicant’s overall record, experience, personal qualifications, and proposed area of study.  Inquiries related to the graduate admission process should be directed to the Office of Graduate Admissions via phone at (252) 328-6012 or email gradschool@ecu.edu.

Applications cannot be considered until all required materials have been submitted. Applications and supporting credentials are reviewed by the Office of Graduate Admissions and the graduate program to which the applicant is seeking admission. The criteria used for admission decisions vary according to programs and schools/colleges and reflect an evaluation of the applicant’s potential for graduate work. Although admission decisions are typically made by the individual graduate program, Graduate School regulations govern the criteria for the classification of graduate student status.

All applicants must submit the online ECU application form. Application is made for a specific degree program and term of enrollment. Specific application requirements may vary for graduate degree programs, but all require a completed online application form, official transcripts, and a nonrefundable application fee. Applicants should consult the Graduate School website to determine specific requirements for their desired program.

Prospective students may apply simultaneously for more than one graduate degree program, but a separate application is required for each degree program. The online application is available at the Graduate School website. Any transcripts and test scores submitted will be used toward both applications; duplicates are not required.

Any individual applying or enrolled in the Graduate School must promptly notify the dean of the Graduate School in writing if any of the following occurs: any criminal charge; any disposition of a criminal charge; any type of military discharge other than honorable; or any school, college, or university disciplinary action against the student. Failure to report any of the above actions is grounds for denial or withdrawal of admission to ECU, as well as dismissal after enrollment.


Applicants are subject to the following university deadlines and reflect the final dates an application and fee can be submitted to the Graduate School for the specified terms. Many graduate programs have deadlines earlier than the university deadline, admit only once per year, or review applications only at fixed times during the year. Applicants are encouraged to inquire about individual program deadlines and submit applications early, particularly if application for an assistantship is contemplated. The completed application packet must be received in the Graduate School by the program-defined deadlines to ensure that the application is given full consideration. Late applicants cannot be assured their application will be processed and/or reviewed in time for the desired term of enrollment.

Session               Deadline                  Session  Deadline             
Fall August 15 First Summer/11 Week Summer May 5
Spring December 20 Second Summer June 15



Master’s degree candidates planning to enroll in the fall who wish to be considered for out-of-state tuition waivers must submit applications by February 1. If applications are received after that date, waivers will be considered only as funds are available.

Admission to a Graduate Degree Program

The university seeks to admit graduate students who show evidence of being able to succeed in and benefit from academic programs of the rigor offered. To qualify for admission to a graduate degree or certificate program (or as nondegree), an applicant must have a baccalaureate degree or higher from a college or university recognized by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association of Schools and Colleges, The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), or an international university deemed to have equivalent credentials as determined by one of our pre-approved foreign institution evaluation servicers. Admissions decisions are based on consideration of undergraduate academic record, graduate record if applicable, admission test scores, written statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and any other program specific requirements.

Each individual graduate program decides on the admissibility of its students, although Graduate School regulations govern the criteria for the classification of graduate student status. Applicants offered admission to the Graduate School may be admitted under the following statuses.

Admission Statuses

Regular Admission
Regular admission indicates that the applicant has met all requirements identified by both the graduate program and the Graduate School. 

Admission by Exception
Some programs may recommend admission by exception for a limited number of applicants who do not qualify academically for regular admission, but have other offsetting strengths. Admission by exception requires the student to earn a minimum 3.0 GPA in the first 9 or more completed hours to remain in the program. A hold is placed on the student’s registration for the subsequent term until grades are posted and can be evaluated by the Graduate School. Students admitted by exception can attain full graduate standing after completion of 9 or more graduate credit hours with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Provisional Admission

Applicants also may be admitted under provisional admission status. This designation indicates that one or more required final documents has not been received by the Graduate School at the time of admission. Most often, this refers to an official final transcript with the degree and conferral date posted or a copy of a license required by the program. The student is allowed to register for the first term of admission and is able to apply for financial aid, but the aid will not be applied until the required document is received by the Graduate School. Registration for future terms is restricted pending receipt of the final document. Students admitted provisionally can attain full graduate standing and receive their financial aid award after submitting the required missing document(s). Applicants who are uncertain about the strength of their application or the documents required for admission are advised to consult with the program director or the director of graduate admissions about their admissibility.  Early contact with the university can be helpful in preparing the application and providing all required information. Admission criteria and required supplementary materials may vary by individual graduate program.

Conditional Admission
International applicants may be considered for conditional admission without the submission of an acceptable score on one of the approved language proficiency examinations (list published on the Graduate School website). Conditional admission requires successful completion of the ECU Language Academy or program in the US prior to full admission to ECU. Applicants pursuing conditional admission still must submit all other required items to be reviewed, such as GRE or GMAT score if required. Upon completion of a language academy, the applicant will receive full admission and may begin taking graduate courses at ECU. 

Detailed Application Requirements

1. All applicants are required to submit a completed online application with a nonrefundable application fee.

2. If the student’s graduate program of interest requires an entrance exam, the official score reports are required from the testing agency and must be sent directly to the Graduate School.

     a. Some programs may offer standardized test waivers. Students must consult with the graduate program director for their programs of interest to determine if waivers exist and if they qualify. 
     b. ECU’s GRE code is 5180 and MAT code is 1354.
     c. The university will accept examinations taken within the past 10 years; however, individual programs may have more specific time requirements.

3. Official transcripts are required for all earned post-secondary degrees and all post-secondary course work completed within 5 years of the date of graduate application. Additional transcripts are required for transfer credits in excess of 50% of the credits required for a post-secondary degree. Post-secondary degrees and courses work includes all educational work completed at the bachelor’s level or higher.

4. Official transcripts are required from all foreign institutions attended unless a course-by-course evaluation of the transcript from a NACE accredited agency is submitted. Instructions regarding foreign transcripts are on the Graduate School website.

5. English proficiency is required of all applicants whose native language is not English. Applicants can demonstrate proficiency in a number of ways at the graduate level. Details regarding English language proficiency are on the Graduate School website.

6. Letters of reference, if required by the program, should be sent from persons who can attest to the applicant’s academic competency or ability to do graduate work.

7. A completed Statement of Purpose essay, if required by the program.

8. To learn about individualized requirements for each program (references, personal statements, admission exam exemptions) please see the Find Your Graduate Program search tool or contact the department that offers the program.

9. Please contact the program director to learn of any supplemental application requirements, such as auditions, interviews, portfolios, narratives, etc.

Admission Examination Details

The Graduate School does not require a standardized exam score for applications. Instead, each graduate program makes the decision whether an entrance exam test score is required. Graduate programs may have varying entrance examination requirements. Applicants should consult the Graduate School website to determine the specific test requirement for each program.

Exceptions to the Admission Examination Requirement

1. Exam scores are not required for

     a. applications to the master of fine arts program
     b. most certificate programs
     c. nondegree applications
     d. ECU Honors Students with early assurance admission
     e. students seeking admission under the professional admission policy.

2. Individual graduate programs may choose to waive the test score requirement for high-performing students that meet alternative prerequisites. 

3. To learn about individualized admission exam exemptions, please contact the department that offers the program.

Professional Admission Policy

Applicants who have extensive professional experience (minimum of 5 to 7 years) in a field related to the intended program of study who earned their undergraduate degree 5 or more years ago may be eligible to seek admission through the professional admissions policy upon recommendation of the graduate program director. Interested applicants should consult with the program director of their intended degree program for more information.

Admission to Certificate Programs

The admissions requirements for graduate certificate programs vary by program. Many certificate programs are designed for any person holding a baccalaureate degree, while some certificate programs require that the applicant be enrolled in a degree program. Credit earned while enrolled in a graduate certificate program may be transferred into a degree program with the approval of the department offering the degree program.

Nondegree Admission

1. Nondegree admission is an enrollment category in which the student is not accepted into a specific degree or certificate program but is approved to take courses that have no catalog restrictions. This is intended for applicants interested in taking one or more courses at ECU, but not necessarily interested in obtaining an ECU degree or certificate at the time of application. It may be used by students matriculated at another institution who wish to enroll as visiting students, individuals wanting to take courses for personal/professional enrichment, and individuals wanting to take prerequisite course work for later application to a degree program.

2. To apply for nondegree enrollment, prospective students must submit an online nondegree graduate application at https://gradschool.ecu.edu. An official transcript or other document showing an earned bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution is required. A nonrefundable application fee is required.

3. A maximum of 9 semester hours of course work taken as a nondegree student may apply towards a masters or doctoral degree.

4. Nondegree students are not eligible to take graduate courses in all programs. Nondegree students should seek the permission of the graduate director in the department offering the course(s) prior to attempting to apply.

5. Requests for degree credit for courses completed as a nondegree student are considered after admission to a graduate degree program. All nondegree course work accepted for degree credit must be approved by the chair of the student’s department and the dean of the Graduate School.

6. Course work taken as a nondegree student carries with it no implication that the student will be admitted to a degree program in the Graduate School.

7. If credit for course work taken as a nondegree student is to be applied to a degree program, it must be satisfactorily incorporated within the applicable time frame for completion of all degree requirements.

8. Nondegree students are expected to familiarize themselves with Graduate School policies and to seek further advice or clarification.

Early Admission to Graduate Studies

There are a variety of ways that ECU undergraduate students may take graduate courses before completing the requirements for their undergraduate degree.

Accelerated Programs

ECU undergraduate students with advanced academic standing (3.0 minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA) may apply to accelerated bachelor’s/master’s programs. Individual accelerated programs may specify additional or higher standards, including GPAs above 3.0 as the minimum requirement. Students who meet minimum admission standards are recommended for provisional admission to the Graduate School by the graduate program’s graduate admission committee at the time they apply as undergraduates.

Students admitted to these highly selective accelerated programs may count up to 12 s.h. of approved level courses towards the completion of both the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree. Upon completion of the bachelor’s degree requirements, students meeting the requirements for admission in the accelerated program are enrolled in the corresponding master’s degree program.

Accelerated Program Guidelines

1. Students interested in an accelerated program should meet with the graduate program director or other representative to discuss opportunities and implications. Students typically begin this process in their sophomore or junior year of undergraduate study.

2. If the graduate program director believes the student is a good candidate, they complete the electronic Request to Pursue an Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Program form on behalf of the student.

    a. On the form, the graduate program director identifies which approved graduate level courses may double count towards both the undergraduate and graduate degree requirements.  A maximum of 12 semester hours may be double counted.

    b. The form is electronically routed to the Registrar’s Office for review and confirmation of eligibility and then routed to the Graduate School.

    c. Once the form is received by the Graduate School, a special attribute code is placed on the students Banner record and the approved request form is saved to the student’s Banner record.

3. Students who are granted permission to participate in a bachelor’s/master’s accelerated program may begin taking graduate level courses while an undergraduate student.

     a. Permission to participate in graduate courses does not constitute admission into the graduate program.

     b. Students must maintain a 3.00 cumulative GPA to remain eligible for participation.

     c. Program representatives will need to register students for graduate level coursework due to course level Banner restrictions.

     d. Students cannot take additional graduate courses beyond the 12 semester hours allowed by this policy. 

4. Students should apply for undergraduate graduation one semester prior to completing the undergraduate degree requirements and should apply for formal admission into the graduate program by the advertised application deadline for the desired term of admission.

     a. Students self-identify on their graduate application that they are part of a pre-approved bachelor’s/master’s accelerated program

     b. The GRE or other graduate admission exam requirements may be waived for students that meet the accelerated program’s advanced standing requirements. Students should double check with their graduate program director to confirm whether this waiver has been granted. 

     c. Students granted permission to participate in a bachelor’s/master’s accelerated program who maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or better at the time of undergraduate graduation will matriculate into the master’s program in good academic standing. Approved graduate courses completed as part of the accelerated program with a grade of B or higher as an undergraduate student will be counted as transfer credits in the master’s program.

     d. Students granted permission to participate in a bachelor’s/master’s accelerated program who have a cumulative GPA less than 3.00 at the time of undergraduate graduation will be placed on academic probation in their first semester in the master’s program and will be subject to dismissal from the program if they do not achieve a graduate level GPA of 3.0 in courses related to their program of study after 9 semester hours of graduate credit attempted.

Six-Hour Rule

ECU seniors who are within 6 s.h. or less of completion of all undergraduate degree requirements may apply for admission to graduate degree programs. If admitted prior to the semester or summer term during which 6 s.h. or less and any remaining requirements must be completed, they may enroll in 5000- or 6000-level courses applicable to graduate degree requirements. Graduate courses taken under the “six-hour rule” do not double count toward completion of the undergraduate degree.

No more than 12 graduate credit hours may be taken prior to the conferral of the undergraduate degree unless specific written approval is given by the dean of the Graduate School.

Undergraduate/Nondegree Graduate Dual Enrollment

Senior undergraduate students at East Carolina University who possess at least a 3.5 GPA in their last 30 semester hours of completed ECU course work are eligible to enroll in the Graduate School as a nondegree student and complete up to 9 semester hours of graduate-level course work. Graduate courses taken under the dual enrollment arrangement do not count toward completion of the undergraduate degree. These courses are eligible to count toward the graduate degree upon approval of the department offering the degree program. This form of dual enrollment is intended to give a student contemplating future admission to a graduate program the opportunity to take graduate courses while still an undergraduate. Permission must be obtained from the student’s undergraduate advisor, the chairman of the department offering the courses, and the Graduate School prior to admission into the Graduate School.


When a graduate student drops all university courses in a semester in which he or she is enrolled, the student must officially withdraw from the university. Students seeking to withdraw for reasons other than extenuating circumstances must notify the Office of Registrar of their official withdrawal (Regis@ecu.edu). A graduate student withdrawing from the university by the last day for graduate students to drop courses without grades will not receive grades in university courses for the semester. A graduate student withdrawing after the last day for graduate students to drop courses without grades will receive a grade of F for all university classes which he or she is failing at the time. The last day for a graduate student to drop a class without grades will be 5:00 PM on the class day after 60% of the class days are completed for the term.  No retroactive withdrawals will be granted after classes have ended for the semester in which the student was enrolled.

Students withdrawing for extenuating circumstances must apply for an extenuating circumstances withdrawal to the Office of the Dean of Students (https://deanofstudents.ecu.edu/home/withdrawals/). No retroactive extenuating circumstances withdrawals will be granted after classes have ended for the semester in which the student was enrolled, except in the case of extraordinary medical, personal or family emergency, in the judgment of the dean of the Graduate School.

Leave of Absence and Readmission

Students enrolled in graduate degree programs who take a leave of absence of one or more semesters (excluding summer terms) 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. Readmission to a graduate program is not guaranteed.

Students who take a leave of less than three years may file an application for readmission online at https://gradschool.ecu.edu. Students wishing to change graduate degree or certificate programs after a leave of absence must submit a new admissions application.

Students who take a leave of absence of three or more years must submit a new complete application to be considered for admission to their former program or any other graduate program within the university. Students readmitted after a leave of absence of three years or more will be required to meet new or changed degree requirements. East Carolina University course credit will be evaluated for applicability towards degree requirements in accordance with established time limits.

For information on time limitations, view Residence and Graduate Requirements  .

Readmission Following Academic Dismissal

A student dismissed from the Graduate School for poor academic performance must wait one year (including summers) before being considered for readmission. A new complete application will be required for readmission. Readmission to a graduate program is not guaranteed. If the student is accepted for readmission in the same graduate program, credits earned while previously enrolled will be included for the purpose of determining academic standing and meeting graduation requirements. If the student is accepted into a different program, grades and credits earned in the previous degree program from which the student was dismissed will not be included for the purpose of determining academic standing and graduation in the new program; however, the student’s transcript will show all courses and grades including those earned in the previous program.

For information on probation and dismissal, view the Probation and Termination Policy .

For information on academic renewal, view Academic Eligibility Standards in the Academic Regulations  section of this catalog.

Medical History/Immunizations

All newly admitted students must submit the report of medical history form which is available at https://studenthealth.ecu.edu/. Online/off campus/satellite students/ or students taking four credit hours or less are exempt from the immunization requirement. The exemption is automatic at the time of registration.


The chair of the department or director of graduate programs in which the candidate wishes to enroll will consult with the student concerning any deficiencies in his or her undergraduate program. Required make-ups may be completed at East Carolina University or at any other institution accredited by a regional accrediting organization.

Prerequisites are stated as integral parts of various programs, entrance requirements for degree programs, and sequential progression into subject matter. Students are not allowed to enroll in courses for which they have not met the prerequisites.

Program Modifications for Individual Students

It is important to note that published descriptions of college, school, or departmental graduate programs establish only minimum requirements. Every school or department possesses and reserves the right to require individual students to enroll in additional courses or perform additional tasks in order to meet school or departmental requirements for breadth and quality in the completion of graduate programs.

While such modifications are ordinarily made a matter of record at the beginning of a student’s program, schools and departments have the prerogative to make changes in a student’s program at any time prior to graduation.