Sep 16, 2021  
Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 
Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Policies


General Requirements for Master’s Degree

Admission, Progression and Degree Candidacy

Graduate students under regular admission criteria are considered degree-seeking candidates and must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00, on all graduate courses. Masters’ students must complete all graduate courses with no more than two classes with a letter grade below B-. Classes with a grade below a C are not counted toward the master’s degree. Doctoral students must complete all graduate courses with no letter grade below a B.

Students under provisional admission status may be permitted to enroll in specific classes until admission requirements are met. Under provisional status, students may take up to twelve (12) semester hours and must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.00.

Schools and programs may have requirements for continuation, or graduation, in addition to the minimum requirements set forth in this catalog for all graduate programs. It is the student’s responsibility to be familiar with the specific requirements of the School or program.

Credit Hours and Course Load

University courses are expressed in semester hours. A semester hour is consistent with the Carnegie Unit of one hour of faculty directed instruction and a minimum of three hours of academic work for graduate (G) level courses. A nine-semester-hour graduate load stipulates 9 hours of faculty-directed instruction and 27 hours of student academic work each week. Student academic work contributes to established learning outcomes and is verified by evidence of student achievement.

An equivalent amount of work is required for lectures, labs, internships, summer courses, online courses, independent study (G), or other course types leading to the award of credit hours. Schools may determine contact time over the minimum requirements as needed. A full-time graduate course laod is nine hours per semester including the summer session.  Except by permission of the office of the Graduate Dean, a student may not register for 12 or more semester hours.

Credit and Course Requirements and Limitations

All master’s degrees require a minimum of 30 hours of graduate credit. Students are responsible for meeting the semester hour requirement for the chosen degree.

Under special circumstances the school may allow a maximum of six semester hours from courses numbered 450 or higher to be applied to a graduate program. A minimum grade of B is required, and students may not receive both undergraduate and graduate credit for any given course.

Validation Examinations

Upon the approval of the school dean and the graduate dean, students may obtain credit for curricular requirements by successfully completing a validation examination-written, oral, manipulative, or otherwise, as determined by the school involved.

Credit obtained by validation examination is considered earned credit and maybe permitted only as part of an established course of study. Credit for experiential learning, credit by challenge examination, and other categories of non-traditional credit does not apply to a graduate degree.

Students may earn a maximum of six hours of credit by validation examinations. All examinations are given on a pass/fail basis. Scores will not be placed on a student’s permanent record and are, therefore, not transferable. An examination and recording fees will be charged.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate, a candidate must:

  1. Submit an application to graduate which must be filed with Records and Advisement two months prior to the anticipated graduation date.
  2. Complete all coursework with a minimum GPA of 3.00. Masters’ students must complete all graduate courses with no more than two classes with a letter grade below B-. Classes with a grade below a C are not counted toward the master’s degree. Doctoral students must complete all graduate courses with no letter grade below a B.
  3. Pass a comprehensive examination and/or a defense of a thesis/research project, portfolio, or case study, as may be required by the respective school. Specific requirements for each degree are listed under the school.

Responsibilities of the Student

Students are responsible for regulations and procedures published in this bulletin and in school entrance materials. Advancement in the program is contingent upon the adherence to the decisions of the Graduate Council and the policies and procedures as published in this catalog. To avoid unnecessary delay or interruption of study, the student must assume the initiative in such matters as securing approval of a program of study and arranging for required tests and examinations.

Second Master’s Degree

Courses of study for students already holding a master’s degree are arranged individually. Some class work from the previous degree may be applicable to the current program. Southern Adventist University requires that theory courses taken ten years previously and technology application courses taken five years previously must be repeated or waived by a validating examination. For a second degree, at least 2/3 of the credits required (including independent study and excluding graduate prerequisite credits) cannot overlap with the first degree and must be completed at Southern either online or on campus. A thesis or research project may be required. The GRE/GMAT is not required for a student pursuing a second master’s degree if the first master’s is from a U.S. accredited institution.

Student Records Privacy Policy

A student’s record is regarded as confidential, and release of the record or of information contained therein is governed by regulations of the federal law on “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.” Only directory information, such as a student’s name, photograph, address, e-mail address, telephone listing, birthplace and date, major fields of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended, may be released by the institution without consent of the student unless the student has asked Southern to withhold such information.

The law also provides for the release of information to university personnel who demonstrate a legitimate educational interest, other institutions engaged in research (provided information is not revealed to any other parties), and certain federal and state government officials. 

A student may inspect and review records and is entitled to challenge the content of records. Students may access online a history of their coursework, grades, and degree audit. 

A more thorough explanation of records may be obtained from the Records and Advisement Office. The Director of Records and Advisement will further explain and clarify the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to students, parents, or interested parties upon request. A FERPA tutorial and quiz is available at

Thesis Requirement

When a thesis is required, the topic and research design must be approved and supervised by the school.

Student must submit to the school, two copies of the approved thesis, one of which will be placed in the McKee Library.

DNP Scholarly Project

For the DNP degree, a student is required to write a scholarly project and successfully defend it in an oral examination at an officially designated time and place.

Time Limit for Degree Completion

The time allowed for degree completion is listed for each school/degree in the table below.

9 Religion (MS & MMIN)
7 Education and Psychology (MS & MS ED)
7 Social Work, Business (MSW & MSW/MBA)
6 Business, Nursing (MSN/MBA)
5 Business (MBA)
5 Computing (MS)
5 Global Community Development (MS)
5 Nursing (DNP)
5 Nursing (MSN)
6 Social Work (MSW)
3 Post-Master’s Certificate

Transfer Credit

Transfer students must complete 75 percent of the degree program at Southern Adventist University. Transfer credit may be applied toward the degree requirements for courses from an accredited institution of higher education with a minimum grade of B upon approval of the School.

Veterans Educational Benefits

VA benefits will be terminated if the student’s cumulative grade point average falls below 3.00. Practical training or Internships required for graduation may be certified to VA and must meet the same standards of progress as students pursuing resident courses.

Withdrawal from a Course

Withdrawals at 80% tuition refund automatically receive a W. The grade for any withdrawal during the final two weeks of a class will be an F. 



Each graduate student enrolled under regular and provisional admission status is assigned an adviser who provides academic counseling, approve course scheduling, and supervises research.


Students must comply with the attendance policies for courses in which they are enrolled.

Course Load for Intensive Classes

No more than one credit hour per week for any given course may be earned. For every week of class instruction a maximum of one credit hour may be earned.

Enrollment Status

A semester load of nine graduate hours constitutes full-time status; five hours constitutes part-time status. Graduate students may enroll in a maximum of 12 hours unless special permission is obtained by petition to the Dean of Graduate Studies. Enrolling in a combination of graduate and undergraduate classes may affect compliance with status, loan deferment, and health insurance policies.

Independent Study

A maximum of six semester hours may be taken as independent study within the graduate degree.

Medical Records

Students attending on-campus classes are required to submit a completed Health Information form available at the University Health Center or online at Registration is not complete until this form is submitted.

Online Programs

Graduate programs are available online from the School of Business and Management, the School of Education and Psychology, the School of Nursing, the School of Computing, the School of Social Work, and Global Community Development. Course offerings and their information are available at


A Southern graduate student who has not registered for courses at Southern for three consecutive terms (including summers), or two consecutive terms for summer intensives, must apply for admission. An admission application should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies at least two weeks prior to the desired reentry date or the application deadline required by the respective school. An official transcript showing all coursework taken in the interim at other institutions is required. The student is notified when Office of Graduate Studies and the School have taken action.


A student who wishes to change a program of study must submit a Request for Change of Graduate Program form, which is available online at The form requires the signature of the Dean of the School in which admission was previously granted. No signature is needed if a student requests to change from non-degree status to a degree program or from one degree to another within the same School. The student must be in good standing for a revision to be processed. Acceptance into a new degree program is contingent upon review and recommendation by that School. If the student is not accepted into the program requested, he/she remains in the former program. The results of each request for program change are communicated to the student by mail or email.


Students must register online or on campus no later than the beginning of the second week of class. 

Reinstatement Policy

Students not meeting progression and graduation candidacy requirements may appeal to the Graduate Council for reinstatement to a program.

Repeated Courses

Up to two courses may be repeated for the purpose of improving the GPA. This does not apply to students under provisional admission status.

Second Emphasis

Courses may be taken online or on campus toward a second emphasis; transfer credit does not apply. Each emphasis consists of additional credits totaling at least one-third the amount of credits required for the degree. Refer to the School for clarification. Credit hours may apply to only one emphasis.

Grade Policies

Grading System

Course syllabi describe evaluation methods and the grading system for each course. The following equivalencies are used:

  4.00 A
  3.70 A-
  3.30 B+
  3.00 B
  2.70 B-
  2.30 C+
  2.00 C
  0.00 F
  0.00 CR-Credit
  0.00 I-Incomplete
  0.00 IP-In Progress
  0.00 NR-Not Reported
  0.00 P-Pass
  0.00 S-Satisfactory
  0.00 W-Withdrawal

Minimum Grades

Grades below C do not count toward graduate earned credit. A maximum of two courses with earned C grades may count toward a master’s degree. Students accepted under provisional status are permitted one C grade providing the overall GPA is 3.00 or above.

Requirements for the DNP degree are:

1. No grade below a B is allowed during the DNP program.
2. A course with a grade below B must be repeated.
3. One course may be repeated in the DNP program.

Petition and Academic Grievance Procedures

Academic Grievances

The student who believes that he or she has been unfairly treated or disciplined, may enter into an academic grievance process. The student shall first discuss the grievance with the instructor, within two weeks of the grievance, in an informal conference. If the student believes that the solution is not appropriate, the student may submit the grievance, in writing, to the Dean of the School within four weeks of the informal conference. If the student believes that the resolution facilitated by the Dean is not appropriate, the student can appeal to the Dean of Graduate Studies within six weeks of the informal conference. The Dean of Graduate Studies will ask the Graduate Council to appoint a Grievance Committee, chaired by the Dean of Graduate Studies or his designee, and including threeother faculty members and two students selected by the Graduate Council.  Both the student and the professor involved in the case are entitled to appear before the committee or to present a written statement of the case. The decision of the Grievance Committee shall be presented in writing to the individuals involved within three days of the committee meeting unless both parties agree upon a later time. The decision of the committee is binding and will be implemented by the professor involved or the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to practice academic integrity. The penalties for dishonesty including plagiarism may include the following:

  1. Receive a failing grade on the exam, assignment, or project.
  2. Receive a failing grade in the class.
  3. Resubmit the assignment with a reduced value for the completed work.
  4. Complete a paper, project, or activity that improves the student’s understanding of the value and nature of academic integrity.
  5. Dismissal from the University.

Disability Services

Southern is in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973) and is dedicated to the elimination of architectural and prejudicial barriers which prevent any qualified person from attending. Southern has designated Disability Support Services (DSS), located on the third floor of Lynn Wood Hall, to provide academic disability services according to the provisions of applicable disability law.

The university does not assume the responsibility of identifying students who qualify for accommodations or special services. The student must 1) voluntarily and confidentially identify to the Disability Services Coordinator (DSC) as having a qualifying disability and 2) provide appropriate documentation to be certified to receive accommodations.

Students with physical or academic disabilities that could impact their learning experiences at Southern must contact DSS, by phone (423.236.2574) or in person (LWH 308), to schedule an appointment with the DSC. Students are to make this contact no later than the first three weeks of the semester. Otherwise, the process of certifying eligibility and arranging for reasonable accommodations might not be completed in time to meet their needs before mid-term. Students who make initial contact with DSS after the first month of the semester should not expect to receive accommodations for that semester.

More information about services, as well as the requirements and processes involved in qualifying for accommodations at Southern, are available online at


Students may petition the Graduate Council for policy exceptions. Petitions should include reasons for the request. Petition forms are available online at or at the Records and Advisement Office.