2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
    Apr 16, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Academic Policies










Academic graduate programs are sponsored by an approved academic department or unit within Academic Affairs through the Office of the Provost.  Operations across graduate programs, graduate offerings, and graduate affairs are coordinated by the Graduate Division and the Office of Graduate Studies through the Graduate Dean.  The Graduate Standing Committee provides faculty oversight for academic offerings and recommendations for graduate affairs.

For questions or guidance regarding graduate affairs, students may obtain additional information and forms on the Graduate Studies section of the VTSU website.  For academic concerns, students should contact their program director or advisor.  Program Directors are listed with the description for each program.  For issues with an enrolled course, contact the course instructor.  For general information, operational guidance, appeals, etc., contact the Office of Graduate Studies.  For broader institutional concerns, contact the Graduate Dean. 

Sandra Hall, Coordinator, Office of Graduate Studies: sandra.hall@vermontstate.edu
David, McGough, PhD, Dean of Graduate Programs: david.mcgough@vermontstate.edu


Academic Integrity

Vermont State University upholds high standards of academic integrity from all community members.  Academic integrity encompasses honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and the courage to act on these fundamental values (International Center for Academic Integrity [ICAI], 2021; The Fundamental Values of Academic Integrity, 3rd ed.).  A student who fails to uphold these values may experience academic consequences including a grade of F, indicating no credit, for assignments or courses, or dismissal from the University.  Examples of failure to uphold academic integrity may include using unauthorized aids to complete or enhance academic work, copying another person’s work on exams, quizzes, or assignments, or engaging in other forms of plagiarism.  To plagiarize is to use someone else’s words or ideas without full and proper citation and to present them as one’s own.  The sharing of VTSU password and login credentials to misrepresent oneself in online learning is a violation of academic integrity.  Violations need not be intentional in nature.  All members of the VTSU community are expected to investigate and understand their responsibility to act with integrity, and to seek assistance when uncertain.

Institutional Review Board

The VTSU Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews faculty, student, and staff proposals involving research with human participants to ensure the safety and protection of the participants.

The IRB will review the proposed project(s) and communicate any concerns to the primary researcher, who will then be responsible for ensuring that all members of the project team are informed of the comments and appropriate steps are followed.


Program Director and Advisors

Each graduate program is managed by a program director, coordinator, chair, or faculty advisor, collectively referred to as the program director.  Graduate program directors serve as the primary advisor for matriculated students and guide for non-matriculated students.

Plan of Study

Each graduate program and sequence has an approved curriculum and procedural requirements.  The curriculum is displayed as a Program Plan on the Self-Service “Progress” page for matriculated students.  Non-matriculated students may examine the Program Plans for Graduate Certificates on the Graduate Studies page of the VTSU website or request a copy from the Office of Graduate Studies.

The Plan of Study or program curriculum is approved by the program director.   If personalized plans are required, they are subject to review by Graduate Standing Committee and the School or Graduate Dean.  Special circumstances related to alteration of the approved Program Plan or exceptions to graduate policies may require approval by the Graduate Standing Committee and School or Graduate Dean.


A graduate student may petition their program director to include a degree-approved VTSU graduate course as an elective or a substitution for a course on their Program Plan.  


A graduate student may petition their program director to have a specific course on the Program Plan waived when they can demonstrate that they have acquired the learning objectives and academic skills for the required course through previous or professional experience.  The course would be waived, but no credit would be awarded, which may result in the need for additional coursework to achieve the approved credit count for the program.  

Transfer Courses

Upon applying to enter a graduate degree or Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) program, students seeking matriculation must request official transcript(s) be sent to Vermont State University for their undergraduate degree and all related graduate coursework. To register for graduate courses, non-matriculated students must verify on the registration form that they have completed an undergraduate program and have been awarded a bachelor’s degree.

A matriculated graduate student may petition their program director to have specific degree-approved courses completed outside of the VSCS be considered for transfer to their Plan of Study.  Graduate credits awarded for continuing education workshops or professional development experiences that do not demonstrate advanced academic content and materials are generally not appropriate for application to a graduate program.  As a standard protocol, graduate programs may consider transferring credit from other colleges and universities. Some graduate programs have additional criteria, may limit transfer courses, or may not accommodate transfer courses due to program-specific considerations, such as professional or accreditation requirements.

  • The requested course must demonstrate content related to the program, similar description and objectives to the course to be replaced, and advanced academic materials and assignments.
  • The issuing institution must be accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • The course must have been completed at the graduate level within five years of the date of matriculation or start date for non-degree programs and carry a grade of B or higher. At the discretion of the program director, the 5 year limit may be waived.
  • While earned grades are used in determining transferability of credits, grades issued by outside institutions are not included in the calculation of a student’s GPAs.
  • Courses for which transfer credit is granted cannot be repeated for additional credit.
  • Use of transfer credits should be limited; a suitable guideline is a maximum of 30% of the total credits for a VTSU degree or non-degree program up to 12 credits.  Some programs may set a lower maximum.
  • Non-degree programs such as graduate certificates, post-baccalaureate sequences, and CAGS may not accept transfer credits or may limit the quantity.
  • Consortium or affiliation agreements with other colleges or universities may specify transfer arrangements which supersede the criteria listed above.
  • Articulation agreements with non-accredited third-party providers, such as internal extension offices or external educational organizations, may define the protocols for transfer credits.
  • Exceptions to the standard protocols listed here must be submitted to the Graduate Standing Committee for review and approval.  Exceptions are subject to review and approval by the Graduate Dean and the Provost.

Special Topics, Independent Study, Extension, and Continuing Education Courses

Special topics, independent study, extension, and continuing education courses are often not applicable for graduate degree programs.  Until, or unless, such courses are approved as regular degree-approved courses through a full review process and are included as options for an approved curriculum, their inclusion on a Plan of Study should be avoided or limited.  

Time Limits 

The standard time limit for matriculated graduate students to complete a program is five years from the date of acceptance.  Some programs maintain a longer program-specific time limit and some programs are open-ended to support continuous graduate professional learning.  See Standing for additional information. Federal financial aid has guidelines concerning acceptable time to degree completion and GPAs.  Student should contact financial aid office for details.


Matriculated graduate students register for courses through the Self-Service tool found on the VSCS Portal.  Course adds and drops are done through Self-Service.  Community members who have earned a bachelor’s degree and professionals seeking graduate-level professional development courses or certificates may enroll in designated graduate courses as non-matriculated students if space is available and permission is granted by the program director or designee.  Individuals seeking non-matriculated registration may visit the Graduate Studies section of the website or contact the Office of Graduate Studies.


Course dates and registration deadlines are published prior to each registration cycle.  
Students must properly register for each of their courses in order to receive academic credit for work completed.  Class attendance does not in itself signify registration.  All students who attend classes on campus, or who reside on campus, must meet state immunization requirements.  Students must complete a financial information form through Self-Service prior to registration and must not have financial holds on their account. Contact the Office of Graduate Studies for assistance.

Undergraduate and Co-Scheduled Courses

Graduate students may enroll for undergraduate courses to meet specific requirements for their graduate program such as program prerequisites or supplemental content study.  In such cases, the undergraduate course should appear on the student’s Plan of Study.  Undergraduate courses may not be applied to the required credit count for a graduate program.

Graduate students may complete graduate courses that are co-scheduled with undergraduate sections in accordance with the stipulations of their approved Program Plan.  Co-scheduled undergraduate and graduate courses are not considered academically equivalent.  In all cases, graduate courses must have separate syllabi with a distinct graduate-level description, expectations, assignments, and assessments.  Instructors of co-scheduled courses are expected to demonstrate the qualifications for graduate-level instruction. 

Undergraduates Enrolling in 5000-level Courses

Matriculated undergraduate students who have achieved senior standing and a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher may petition the instructor and their advisor to register for certain 5000-level courses. Undergraduate students may appeal to earn either undergraduate credits toward their undergraduate degree program or graduate credits.  Earned undergraduate credits for a 5000-level course may not be applied to a VTSU graduate program.  Earning graduate credit for a 5000-level course requires remittance of the graduate tuition.  Undergraduate students are limited to earning 15 credits of 5000-level courses for graduate credit.  Successfully completing 5000-level courses does not constitute admittance to a graduate program.  If a student is admitted to a VTSU graduate program, they may petition to have the credits applied to their Plan of Study.  
Note: Some UG pathways to graduate programs may have exceptions to this policy.

Adding, Dropping, and Withdrawing

The policies in the paragraphs below apply for full-semester courses.

Students may add full-semester courses through the first week of the semester without instructor permission; matriculated students may do so through Self-Service, non-matriculated students may do so through the non-matriculated registration procedures outlined on the Graduate Studies section of the website.  Students who add a course during the add period are encouraged to contact the instructor immediately.  After the add period, students may use the Graduate Registration Adjustment form to add a course upon obtaining the instructor’s permission.  After the second week of a full-semester course, the instructor and program director for the course must approve a late add.

Students who drop a full-semester course within the first two weeks will have the course removed from their transcript.  Students are encouraged to contact their advisor and the Office of Financial Aid regarding the ramifications of dropping courses.

Students seeking to withdraw from a full-semester course after the drop period, but before the 60% point of the semester (usually the 9th week in a 15-week semester), must submit a request using the Graduate Registration Adjustment Form.  Withdraws will be assigned a grade of “W” on the official transcript. A “W” will not impact a student’s grade point average.  After the 60% point, the student may not drop or withdraw from a course and will receive the grade earned at the end of the semester.

However, students compelled to drop or withdraw from courses outside of standard timelines due to circumstances beyond their control may petition the program director for an exception to this policy.  

The policies in the paragraphs below apply for courses that do not meet for the standard term duration.

Course duration is the number of calendar days between the start and end date of the section. 
The add period is 6% of course duration.  Students may add the courses through Self-Service during the add period.  The Graduate Registration Adjustment form and instructor’s permission is required to add after the 6% mark.  The program director must approve a late add after 13% of the course duration.

Students may drop a course within the first 13% of the course. The withdraw period is between 13% and 60% of course duration. Withdraws require the Graduate Registration Adjustment form.  A grade of “W” is assigned.  After the 60% point, students are not permitted to drop or withdraw unless they petition for a late drop or late withdraw due to exigent circumstances.  Petitions should be submitted through the Office of Graduate Studies to the program director.  Late drop or late withdraw petitions will be reviewed by the Graduate Standing Committee.  Decisions may be appealed to the School or Graduate Dean.


If space is available, matriculated or nonmatriculated students with a bachelor’s degree may audit a graduate course with the approval of the course instructor.  Those auditing a course are not required to take examinations or prepare assignments, and no grade or credit is conferred.  Select the audit option when registering.  After the add period, no change will be made either to allow credit for a course audited, or to change a course to the status of an audited course.  For the tuition rates of auditing, see Tuition and Fees.

Pass/No Pass Option

Courses may be available as (a) graded only, (b) pass/no pass only, (c) student option to be taken either as graded or as pass/no pass.  Some programs may not allow pass grades to fulfill requirements; students should verify that their program will accept P/NP courses before registration.  Internships may be available as P/NP or for a letter-grade.

Credit is received for P grades, but the grades do not affect the student’s grade point average (GPA). Failing work is recorded as NP (No Pass).  NP grades do not earn credit nor does the grade affect the student’s GPA. 

Changes in the grade option may be made only during registration and will not be permitted after the add period for the course.


Attendance and participation expectations are developed for each course and described on the course syllabus.  If a student experiences obstacles to full participation in a course, it is their responsibility to inform the instructor and to make satisfactory arrangements for completing coursework.  Students experiencing difficulties in attending multiple courses may also contact the Office of Graduate Studies or Disability Services.


Some courses are designated as repeatable for additional credit as indicated in the Course Descriptions section of the catalog.  Students may repeat a course that is not designated as repeatable two times for an improved grade, except Independent Study, Special Topics, or other new, piloted courses.  When an undesignated course has been repeated for an improved grade, the initial grade remains on the transcript, however quality points and credits awarded are removed from the student’s GPA calculations.  The most recent grade will be computed in the student’s cumulative and program GPA.  Credit for repeating an undesignated course may be earned only once.  If the credit value of the course has changed, the student earns the credits of the repeated section.  Some programs may have more stringent course repeat policies.


Credit Guidelines

Vermont State University adheres to the federal guidelines for the issuance of academic credit.

  1. One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks, or the equivalent, constitutes one semester hour of credit.
  2. Academic work carrying course credit that does not fit into the in-class and out-of-class structure as described above (e.g., laboratory sections, internships, studio sections, practicums, intensive field courses, etc.) must meet the equivalent per credit work commitment as described in #1 above.

Credit hours for field-based, practice-based, immersive, intensive, and other nonconventional courses are arranged in accordance with Guideline #2 above.  Special topics, independent study, extension and continuing education courses must meet the credit guidelines to be approved for graduate credit.

Graduate Grading

Students in graduate courses are graded on a continuum from A through F. Graduate credit is granted when grades of A through C+ are earned; however, courses with grades of C+ do not meet program or graduation requirements.  Performance at the C through F level is graded as F (unsatisfactory) and earns no credit. A Pass/No Pass option is available for some courses.  All courses within the MFA degree program are graded Pass/No Pass.

Matriculated graduate students must maintain a GPA of 3.0.  A student with a lower program GPA may be placed on probation status.  Some programs have specific grading policies to meet the requirements of their accrediting agency.

The Vermont State University Graduate Grade Scheme is posted below.

Grade Quality Point Value Credit earned toward graduate degree?
A 4.0 Yes
A- 3.7 Yes
B+ 3.3 Yes
B 3.0 Yes
B- 2.7 Yes
C+ 2.3 No
F 0 No

Transcript notations for graduate courses other than quality point grades.

Grade Legend Quality Point Value Credit Earned
P Pass 0.00 Y
NP No Pass 0.00 N
AU Audit 0.00 N
TR Transfer Credit 0.00 Y
I Incomplete 0.00 N
NG Not graded yet 0.00 N
W Withdrawn 0.000 N


An instructor may assign a grade of Incomplete (I) if the student is unable to complete the work of the course for reasons beyond their control, provided the student’s work in the course to-date is of satisfactory quality.  An Incomplete grade should only be considered when the student has completed a substantial portion of the work for the course.  The instructor issuing the Incomplete, in consultation with the student, shall specify the length of time for completing the supplemental work, not exceeding the end of the seventh week of the following semester (excluding summer).  The grade of ”I” will not be used in calculating the GPAs.  The final grade for the course is determined by the quality of the original work and the supplemental work.  If the student fails to complete the supplemental work, the instructor will determine a final grade based on the original work.  If the instructor does not specify a final grade, the grade may default to F when the Incomplete grade expires.  Students who are not in good academic standing, or who are requesting more than two Incomplete grades for the semester require additional approval from the program director.

When a grade of Incomplete is replaced by another grade, the previously recorded grade of “I” is removed on the transcript and replaced with the final grade

Grade Point Average (GPA)

A Grade Point Average (GPA) provides a customary metric of a student’s academic achievement across a set of courses.  A GPA can be calculated for a variety of course sets.  VTSU graduate programs use three forms of GPA calculation: cumulative, semester, and program.

To calculate a VTSU graduate semester GPA, first determine the total quality points earned across all the graduate courses on a transcript for a specific semester that have been assigned a final letter grade.  See the quality point value for each letter grade in the Graduate Grade Scheme table.

To determine the total quality points earned for the semester, multiply the quality points for each course’s final letter grade by the credit count for that course.  For example, a letter grade of “A” for a 3-credit course produces the following calculation: 4 quality points X 3 credits = 12 earned quality points.  A “B” for a 3 credit courses yields 9 earned quality points.  Conduct this calculation for each course completed in that semester, then add-up the earned quality points for each course to determine the total earned quality points for the semester. The two example courses in this paragraph would sum to 21 total quality points earned for the semester. Next, calculate the sum of credits for all the graduate courses completed for the semester.  In the example above, the total attempted credits are calculated as, 3 + 3 = 6. Finally, divide the total earned quality points for the semester by the total attempted credits: 21 ÷ 6 = 3.5, which is the graduate semester GPA.  Tracking a semester GPA may reveal useful trends.

To determine a cumulative GPA, use the same procedure outlined above but base the calculation on the entire set of VSCS graduate courses across all semesters, including those completed for the current program, any credits from a previous program, and any extension or continuing education credits on the transcript.  A program GPA uses the same procedure across only the set of courses on the Program Plan or an approved Plan of Study, which includes degree-ready electives but excludes transfer courses.

If a transcript shows only courses for a current program, the program GPA will be the same as the cumulative GPA.  If the transcript includes courses from a previous graduate program or unrelated graduate continuing education courses, the program GPA provides an accurate metric for progress in a current program while the cumulative GPA provides a metric across an entire set of VSCS graduate credits.  The program GPA is determinant of one’s academic standing.

Grade Appeals

A student with questions or concerns about a grade should discuss the issue with the instructor and as needed the program director.

A student who wishes to appeal a recorded grade may submit a petition to the program director and sponsoring academic unit.  Further appeals may be submitted to the Graduate Standing Committee through the Office of Graduate Studies and the School or Graduate Division Dean.  An alteration will only be considered with clear and substantiated evidence to demonstrate problems with the original grade.


Academic standing refers to a matriculated student’s academic status as they progress through a Program Plan or Plan of Study toward completion.  Standing is assessed at the end of each semester to support a student’s academic advancement and success.  Standing is identified in categories such as those described below.

Active Status

A student’s matriculation status in a program remains current and active during the program’s time period unless they withdraw from the program, are dismissed, or exit the University.

A matriculated student is expected to complete the Program Plan in effect at the time of initial acceptance, which is referred to as their catalog year, unless accreditation requirements have necessitated a shift in requirements.  Students who exceed their program’s time period may need to satisfy the requirements of a later catalog year.

Students are expected to make steady progress toward completion in accordance with their Plan of Study, which may indicate part-time and irregular enrollment.  An extended period without enrollment may result in the deactivation of a student’s registration account.  Matriculated students may reactivate their registration account and continue progress on their Plan of Study within the time period for their program without reapplying or changing catalog years.  Petitions to reactivate a registration account should be submitted to the program director through the Office of Graduate Studies.

Students who have not completed requirements for their program during the program’s time period and have not requested and been granted an extension, may be dismissed from the program.  Petitions for extensions should be submitted to the program director through the Office of Graduate Studies. 

Students may apply for a leave of absence or medical leave to avoid dismissals due to an absence of enrollment.

Dismissed students may consult the program director about reapplying under a new catalog year. 

Good Standing

Good Standing is a category for matriculated graduate students with current enrollment, a program GPA of 3.0, and academic progress in accordance with their Plan of Study.  Programs may implement other specific requirements for Good Standing including completion of other indicators such as program prerequisites, midway benchmark assessments, and fieldwork or licensure obligations.


Academic probation is a category identifying students who may benefit from additional assistance, an altered Plan of Study, or a reconsideration of their academic goals.  Probation will be enacted for a student whose cumulative program GPA falls below 3.0 Academic probation will block registration and may impact scholarship eligibility, graduate assistantship arrangements, and financial aid.  Students will be notified of probation status. 


Upon two consecutive semesters without Good Standing in their program and progress on an improvement plan, a student will be subject to academic dismissal from a program or the University.  At the end of a student’s first semester in regular program courses or degree-approved electives, a student without a program GPA of 2.3 or above, or other criteria for Good Standing, will be subject to Early Dismissal from the program and the University. 

Students who have been dismissed may submit an appeal to their program director through the Office of Graduate Studies.  

Some graduate programs have criteria that exceed the requirements of the University.  In such cases, students may be dismissed from their degree programs even when they are otherwise in good academic standing. 

Students who have been dismissed from a program may apply to a different program.  Students who have been dismissed from a program and wish to reapply to that program should consult the program director and the School or Graduate Dean.  Students who have been dismissed from the University may reapply to Vermont State University after at least one semester away. 

Leave of Absence

Matriculated graduate students are expected to demonstrate steady progress through their Plan of Study with consistent enrollment.  

Graduate students in good academic standing who wish to pause their enrollment for an extended period of time may submit a request to their program director.    Leaves of a year or more are subject to review by a School or Graduate Dean.  In special circumstances, a leave may be extended. Requesting a leave may affect the student’s Program Plan and catalog year, particularly if it extends beyond the time limit for the program.

Financial aid recipients considering taking a leave of absence should contact the Financial Aid Office to determine the impact of such action on their eligibility for financial aid. 

Active-Duty Deployment

If a student enlisted in the armed forces is called to active duty during the semester, they should notify the program director. The student should provide a copy of the official orders and, if possible, an indication of the length of the tour.  With the program director’s approval, the student will be withdrawn effective to the beginning of the semester; the student’s semester charges will be adjusted to zero, any financial aid will be returned to the source, and the student will be fully refunded any personal payments made to the University.

If the deployment takes place near the end of the course, the student has the option to discuss with their instructors the possibility of being given a grade of “Incomplete” and an extension to complete the remaining assignments.  In this case, there is no need for financial adjustments.

Service members returning from a leave of absence due to active-duty deployment will retain their academic standing and may continue their coursework if they return within the terms of the official leave of absence. The University will make reasonable efforts to accommodate students in programs that have caps, are being phased out, or have been suspended.  Students on extended leave may encounter difficulty when program course changes have been made.  The student retains the right to use either the degree requirements in the catalog in effect at the time of admission or the degree requirements of any other catalog published during the period of active enrollment.

Change of Program

Matriculated graduate students in good standing may change their program without reapplying to the University by petitioning the program director of the anticipated program.  

Students completing two programs simultaneously may petition to alter the program designated as their primary program, students may petition to switch their concentration in a program, or students may petition to change their catalog year.

University Exit

A student may withdraw from the University prior to the time limits for their program by completing an exit form.  

Transcripts for students who exit the University will reflect courses and grades consistent with the course Add/Drop/Withdrawal Policy.  Students who exit the University after the 60% point of their term of enrollment will receive earned grades for their courses unless they appeal for late withdraws.  A student who stops attending classes after the drop period, and doesn’t inform the college, will receive earned grades for their courses.

Students who have voluntarily exited the University and have completed an exit form may petition the program director to return to the University under their original catalog year without re-apply through admissions with the following conditions:

  • Student is returning to the same program.
  • Student earned VTSU credits prior to exiting.
  • Student was in good academic standing upon exiting.
  • Student reactivates their matriculation status and re-enrolls within the time limit for the program.


Graduate students may appeal an academic regulation or decision to the instructor, program director, and Graduate Committee.  Further appeals may be made to the School or Graduate Dean and the Provost.  In all cases, the decision of the Provost will be final.  Information on procedures for submitting an appeal may be obtained from the Office of Graduate Studies.


Application for Graduation

VTSU students may track their academic progress for their Program Plan through the “Progress” page in Self-Service located on the University portal.  Students should frequently review their Progress page and their Plan of Study with their advisor. 

To initiate program completion, students apply for graduation in Self-Service.  Upon receiving a student’s application, the Registrar’s Office will conduct a program audit to determine if all requirements for the approved Program Plan have been satisfied.

The final responsibility for fulfilling the requirements for any academic credential granted by Vermont State University rests with the student.

Graduation application is due no later than the start of the student’s final semester. 

Requirements for a graduate degree or CAGS include the items listed below. 

  • Hold standing as an active matriculated graduate student.
  • Have no grade lower than a B- or P in any course to count toward completion of a program and a program grade point average of no lower than 3.00 for all courses submitted to fulfill the program.
  • Submit an Application for Graduation in accordance with the timeline established by the Registrar’s Office.  Students missing these deadlines must have their graduation request approved by the School or Graduate Dean.


Matriculated graduate students who meet the requirements listed below may participate in the Commencement ceremony.

  • Students who have successfully completed all graduation requirements for their program, and
  • Students who have successfully completed all graduation procedures by the appropriate deadline.

Students who do not meet the requirements listed above may petition to walk in the graduation ceremony under certain conditions.

  • Students needing seven credits or fewer to complete their program, or
  • Students who are within two courses of successfully completing all graduation requirements.

A petition to the Provost (or designee) for permission to participate in the commencement ceremony must be accompanied by the student’s plan of study (approved by the student’s program director) showing the plan to complete the remaining credits.  Petitions are due no later than April 1st.