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 first entering the university or in any subsequent catalog published while 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.
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 false information in a graduate admissions application or any component of an application portfolio, the application will be reviewed by the Campus Safety Committee in the Office of the Dean of Students. The Office of the Dean of Students will contact the applicant seeking permission to conduct a criminal background check and to afford the applicant an opportunity to present additional information. After evaluation of the evidence and consultation with any parties involved with the application deemed relevant, a decision regarding the disposition of the application will be made by the Campus Safety Committee.
- 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 university. As a consequence of the administrative withdrawal, all forms of financial assistance from the university will be terminated and any outstanding debts to the university will be the student’s responsibility.
In all cases where a termination of the application process or dismissal from the university has occurred, there is no opportunity for appeal and 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 one of the approved language proficiency examinations (list published on gradschool.ecu.edu), through completion of the ECU Language Academy, or submit evidence of at least 1 year of college/university study in the United States. 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 W according to university policy and may be 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(email will suffice) 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 and the dean of the Graduate School. Degree credit for repeated courses will be given only once, but the grade assigned for each enrollment is permanently recorded and used to calculate the program and overall GPAs. 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 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 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 specialist 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 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 specialist 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 specialist 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 specialist 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 on the Graduate School website.
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, music, and social work.
Course work successfully completed at other colleges and universities recognized by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 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), Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) will be considered for transfer credit. College level course work completed at other US Department of Education nationally accredited colleges/universities which are not listed above may be considered for transfer credit.
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 an ECU approved institutionally accredited college or university. Military experience and training documented on a Joint Services Transcript with American Council on Education (ACE) credit recommendations may be used as transfer credit. Credit may be awarded in accordance with ACE recommendations provided the credit recommended is at the graduate level. 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. Programs may set lower transfer hour limits. Master’s degree students in public administration and social work; and doctoral students are governed by statements in degree requirements. Program directors and students should discuss transfer credit options. For more information about degree requirements, view Colleges/Schools and Associated Programs .
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 an ECU approved institutionally 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 used 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 ECU approved institutionally 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 and is not allowed to take any tests or examinations. However, 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 student should obtain written permission (email will suffice) from the course instructor. The student should send documentation from the course instructor to the Office of the Registrar at email@example.com with the request to be added to the course as an auditor. The Registrar’s Office may add the student on the last day of the add/drop period. Students must 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 and the course instructor.
Students who have received an offer of admission from the Graduate School should contact 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 completing degree requirements and is allowed to self-register. To register, a student must consult an advisor, if necessary, and register via the Registration and Planning app in PiratePort. To complete the process and be officially registered and entered on the class roll, students must pay tuition and 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 consult with an advisor if necessary and register via the Registration and Planning app in Pirate Port. The student should consult the cashier’s office website to obtain the tuition and fee schedule, payment deadlines, and the refund schedule.
A graduate student may add a course or courses through the last day to register for the semester (fall/spring semesters this is the fifth class day), also called the course adjustment period. The student should utilize Self-Service Banner for schedule changes during the course adjustment period.
A graduate student may drop a course via the Registration and Planning app in Pirate Port if dropped by the last day of the course adjustment period. Drops after the course adjustment period are called course or term withdrawals. See the “Withdrawal” section in the Admission and Readmission section of this catalog. Students who experience a medical emergency or other emergency of such a serious nature that it is impossible or extraordinarily difficult to withdraw prior to the last day to drop a course should consult with the dean of students about an extenuating circumstances withdrawal. If after the deadline for course withdrawals as published in the academic calendar, the dean of the Graduate School will review the request for extenuating circumstances withdrawals. If it is determined that such an emergency existed, approval will be given for the student to be withdrawn from all courses taken during that semester. As a matter of policy it is not possible to select and retroactively drop individual courses. For additional information, see the university’s graduate student withdrawal policy in the Admission and Readmission section of this catalog.
Course drops, course withdrawals, and term withdrawals can impact graduate student eligibility for tuition assistance, assistantship support, continued enrollment within a program, as well as have other consequences. Graduate students should consult graduate program directors or academic advisors prior to changing enrollment. Students contemplating withdrawal due to extenuating circumstances should contact the dean of students.
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.
The last day for a graduate student to withdraw a class with a transcript notation of “W” will be as close as practicable to 5:00 pm on the class day after 60% of the class days are completed for the term.
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, B, C and F. Other transcript notations include I, AU, NR, 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
||Grade Points Per Semester Hour
Other Transcript Notations
- AU (Audit)
- I (Incomplete) The grade of “I” is given for a deficiency in the quantity of work done in a course, as opposed to quality of work done in a course. It may only be awarded in extenuating circumstances. A student must have completed a substantial proportion of the course work and be passing the class. The grade is considered temporary. Courses marked incomplete must be resolved within one calendar year or a grade of “F” will be automatically assigned; instructors have the prerogative to require a shorter period of time to complete the remaining requirements. No student will be allowed to graduate with an incomplete on their program of study. The notation of “I” cannot be given for theses or dissertations. No exceptions to this policy will be granted.
- NR (Not reported by faculty)
- S (Satisfactory progress) A special grade reserved for thesis and dissertation research, internships, practica, and similar 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) A special grade reserved for thesis and dissertation research, internships, practica, and similar courses. The grades in these courses are not included in meeting the cumulative grade point average of 3.0 required for graduation.
- W (Withdrawn) The withdrawal policy is found in the Withdrawn section of the Graduate Catalog.
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 previously articulated, written standards, in determining the grade, without notifying students.
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.
- If, at any time during the grade appeal process, the instructor of record is unavailable, the dean of the Graduate School may appoint another faculty member to serve in lieu of the instructor of record.
- The first step to resolve differences between an instructor and student concerning a grade should be an informal discussion with the instructor.
- If informal resolution is not successful, formal grade appeals must be initiated by the student to the department chairperson (email will suffice) by the end of the fourteenth calendar day of the (next) semester after the grade was awarded. The written appeal must include: a) a statement indicating informal resolution was attempted but not successful; b) how the appeal meets one or more of the three criteria necessary for formal appeal; c) any relevant additional information or documents the student would like to be reviewed as part of the appeal process; 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 seven 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 still no mutually agreed upon resolution between the student and the instructor, and the student wishes to pursue the matter further, the student has seven calendar days to submit the written appeal to the dean of the school or college where the program resides.
- The dean or designee shall form a Grade Appeal Committee within seven calendar days. This committee shall include three graduate faculty members from the school or college: one selected by the student, one selected by the instructor of record, and one appointed by the dean of the school or college in which the program resides. The dean or designee shall provide to the committee the written materials pertaining to the appeal. The committee may next meet with the student and/or the instructor of record, but it is not required to do so. 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, which is final and unappealable, and provide both parties with copies of the Committee’s written justification.
- In the case of a change of grade, if the instructor of record does not implement a change of grade decided upon by the Committee within seven calendar days after being informed of the Committee’s decision, the dean of the school or college 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 shall forward a written record of the results of all grade appeals to the appropriate vice chancellor and the dean of the Graduate School within fourteen calendar days. The dean of the Graduate School shall also provide an annual summary to the Graduate Council 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 for Equity and Diversity 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 for Equity and Diversity 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 in their program of study.
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 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.
Students who are readmitted to a graduate program (certificate or degree) three years after withdrawal or dismissal from the same graduate program may request academic renewal. The student must agree not to have any prior credit earned toward their initial graduate program count in the second attempt. Only the courses taken since readmission to the graduate program will count towards the minimum required GPA. The program coordinator should request academic renewal on behalf of the student by submitting a memo (email will suffice) with justification to the dean of the Graduate School or designee. If approved, the student will have nine credit hours attempted to establish a GPA of 3.0. Courses taken prior to readmission will not count towards the completion of the new graduate program. Failure to establish a GPA of 3.0 after nine credits attempted after readmission under academic renewal will result in immediate dismissal from the graduate program and the university. Academic renewal may be used once in a student’s academic career at the graduate level regardless of the certificate or degree program. Requests for exceptions will not be approved.
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 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.
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, 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 provost 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, 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 provost, and any other university official who the dean of the Graduate School determines should be aware of the decision in order to properly execute 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 https://gradschool.ecu.edu.
(b.) Regarding student disciplinary matters, contact the ECU Division of Student Affairs at https://studentaffairs.ecu.edu/.
(c.) Regarding discrimination or harassment, contact the Office for Equity and Diversity at https://oed.ecu.edu.
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 Colleges/Schools and Associated Programs .
Advancing to Doctoral Candidacy
Candidacy is defined as that period in a doctoral student’s studies when the student 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 online form and subsequent approval from the Graduate School.
- The online form is available on the Graduate School website at https://gradschool.ecu.edu/thesis-dissertation/.
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 the student’s school or department and the general requirements of the Graduate School. These requirements are specified in ECU Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Submission (LibGuide). The LibGuide 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 chair of the department. The Master’s Pre-Thesis Research Approval form is electronic and available on the Graduate School website. All appropriate signatures are collected electronically and the form must be approved prior to the student beginning research. The student will receive an email when the form has been approved by the Graduate School. At the doctoral level, the Advancement to Candidacy form is required before the onset of dissertation research. Students whose research involves human subjects, animals, biohazards, or radiation must have their research proposals approved by the appropriate compliance committee before beginning 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 ensure compliance.
Copies of the thesis/dissertation must be presented by the student to the student’s 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/dissertation. At this oral defense of the thesis/disseration, 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 Vireo Electronic Submission Process according to directions found on the Graduate School website. 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 License (NEDL) 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 online form is completed by the student and signed by the thesis/dissertation director. The student will receive a PDF of the document via email once it is complete. This PDF should be uploaded through the Vireo submission process. The student also completes an online signature page which is routed to all committee members, the department chair, and the Dean of the Graduate School. The student will receive a PDF of the document via email once its complete. This PDF must be uploaded into the Vireo submission process. The student also uploads a PDF of the entire thesis or dissertation. A blank signature page is included in the appropriate place in the PDF of the document. The thesis or dissertation will be checked for formatting and reviewed by the Graduate School. Once revisions requested by the Graduate School are completed and resubmitted by the student and the final document is approved by the dean of the Graduate School, the Graduate School will notify the Office of the Registrar and the department of completion. Upon verification of student’s graduation, the Graduate School will submit the final approved document to Joyner Library for inclusion in the ECU Institutional Repository, The ScholarShip. The library will also submit the thesis or dissertation to the ProQuest Database, for greater availability, dependent upon embargo choices. Students wishing to order bound copies of the thesis or dissertation should contact commercial binderies.
For any other requirements and procedures for PhD dissertations, see Colleges/Schools and Associated Programs .
Change of Program
To change graduate degree programs a student must file a petition to change programs using the online form available on the Graduate School website. Once the online form is submitted, the graduate program directors from the new and former program review and approve. The form is then routed to the Graduate School and the Office of the Registrar for notation in the student’s record. The student is also notified via email. 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. Programs are not required to accept previously earned credits.
To change from a degree program’s thesis option to a non-thesis option, the student must complete the Thesis to Non-thesis Change form available on the Graduate School website. This form should be signed by the student’s thesis director and the student’s graduate program director who submits the form to the Graduate School. Thesis courses (7000) are not allowed to count as electives in a certificate or degree program except in the judgment of the dean of the Graduate School.
Dual Degree Programs
Dual degree programs are those in which a student can enroll concurrently in two degree programs offered in two different academic departments. A limited number of credit hours may be counted toward both degrees. Initial application for dual degrees is required. Dual degrees will not be awarded if application occurs after the curricular requirements have already been met. While such programs offer the advantage that some course work may count for each degree, the requirements for each of the two degrees in a dual degree program must be substantially equivalent to the requirements for a student taking only one of the degrees. While SACSCOC must approve dual degree arrangements, these arrangements are considered by the UNC System Office as articulation agreements among existing degree programs and do not require additional approval by the UNC System Office or the Board.
There are two types of dual degrees: formal and individualized.
Formal Dual Degrees
Some dual degree programs have been formalized and appear in the Graduate Catalog (e.g. MD/MBA). Formalized dual degree programs are approved through the university’s normal graduate curriculum approval process and listed in the Graduate Catalog. They include a plan that describes the curricular requirements, courses, and credits that count towards both degrees.
Individualized Dual Degrees
Individualized dual degree programs may be designed in response to student requests. However, the academic programs are required to propose and receive approval from the Graduate School for individualized 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 developed and approved by the appropriate hierarchy in each participating unit. Materials required include: a) A listing of the two academic units and the degrees being sought; b) a program of study with a timeline; c) a listing of the courses that will count towards both degrees with the associated credits; d) a summary of the total credits required for each degree; e) a statement that the student is in good academic standing; and f) names and signatures showing approvals from both units, typically the graduate program directors.
Double counting of courses will be handled as follows:
1. In cases where the double counting of courses involves less than 30% of the total credits to be earned, the dean of the Graduate School or designee will review the proposal and approve it.
2. In cases where the double counting of courses is greater than 30%, but less than 50% of the total credits to be earned, the dean of the Graduate School and the Graduate Council Executive Committee will review and approve the proposal.
3. No more than 49% of the total credits to be earned can be counted in common between both degrees.
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. Dual degrees will not be awarded after the curricular requirements have already been met. 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/MBA 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 Integrated Coastal Sciences, PhD). 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. All graduation requirements must be met before the first day of the subsequent term. Students who only have the remaining degree requirement of resolving course grades of Incomplete do not have to register for credit while completing the work for the course(s) and will be eligible for graduation during the term the incomplete grade(s) is resolved.
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. Students who attend ECU on a visa (e.g., F1) may have different enrollment requirements and should consult with the Office of Global Studies for requirements specific to their type of visa.
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 which must be completed by the Graduate Program Director, not the student.
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. 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, 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 Graduate School in its discretion may request additional relevant information before making a 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 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 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. Additional time extensions are considered by the Graduate Council Executive Committee (GCEC) in rare, extraordinary circumstances. The graduate program director submits the request to the Graduate School utilizing the same requirements and procedures as set forth above. A strong rational justifying the request most be included. Requests to the GCEC are reviewed at their monthly meetings.
Application for Graduation
The application for graduate graduation should be completed at least one semester prior to completion of the requirements of the degree or certificate. Application for graduation must be completed online through the Student Self Service Card in PiratePort. If there are curriculum changes after the student has applied to graduate or if the semester of graduation changes, it is the student’s responsibility to notify the Office of the Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org to have the graduation application updated. All graduation requirements must be met before the first day of the 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 the student’s 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 https://pirateport.ecu.edu/portal/, 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 their 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 their 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 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 requested to 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 the My Information card in PiratePort (https://pirateport.ecu.edu/portal/) 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: student’s name; address; major field of study; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; dates of attendance; weight and height of athletic team members; degrees and awards received; and most recent previous educational agency or institution 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.