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    Bridgewater State University
  Dec 22, 2014
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Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog 2011-2012 [ARCHIVED CATALOG] See drop-down menu above to access other catalogs.

Graduate Academic Policies

Graduation Requirements

General Policies and Procedures

Students are responsible for all information given in the latest edition of the catalog. Students who have questions regarding the graduate regulations presented in this catalog should contact the College of Graduate Studies.

Academic Integrity Policy

The College of Graduate Studies at Bridgewater State University, like all institutions of higher learning, considers academic integrity to be an important hallmark for graduate students and scholars. The importance of academic integrity and honesty, which is taught at the undergraduate level, continues to be even more vital for scholars and researchers at the graduate level, who find themselves writing seminar papers, research papers and theses. All graduate degree programs at Bridgewater State University require courses in research where conventions of documentation are taught. Graduate students, who are acquiring scholarly habits and skills in degree programs, must rely on the scholarship that has preceded them, and they must acknowledge the scholarship in their own academic work by adhering to the time-honored conventions of their discipline. In short, graduate students are entering a community of scholars and must respect the rules and traditions of that community. Sometimes, however, graduate students violate the accepted principles and policies of academic integrity and honesty. The dean of the College of Graduate Studies reviews any infractions of academic integrity. The following examples represent a partial list of serious breaches of academic integrity:

  • Plagiarizing any published or online source, including “Blackboard” and other online discussions, and claiming them as one’s own;
  • Not properly documenting quotations and paraphrases in one’s texts, i.e., not using footnotes, end notes, parenthetical citations or other conventional methods of documentation;
  • Inadequate paraphrasing, with or without proper documentation;
  • Copying portions of Internet sources without proper documentation and citations;
  • Creating false documentation, i.e., purposely fabricating information used in references, end notes and footnotes;
  • Using or copying from another student’s written work with or without the student’s permission;
  • Taking an examination for another student;
  • Cheating on an examination;
  • Purchasing a paper or assignment from an online source or another student and claiming it as one’s own;
  • Writing a paper or report for another student;
  • Altering or falsifying data.

Serious violations of academic integrity are not limited to this list. Penalties for academic misconduct may include the following:

  • A grade of “F,” “N,” or “U” (as appropriate) in the course;
  • A grade of “F” for the assignment being evaluated;
  • The assigning of additional course work;
  • Suspension from graduate programs;
  • Dismissal from graduate programs.

The procedure for implementing a penalty for academic dishonesty or misconduct, which includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism and cheating, is as follows:

  • The professor will notify graduate students of any alleged violations of the Graduate College’s Academic Integrity Policy, and they shall discuss the matter in person, via e-mail or by phone within seven business days of the discovery of the alleged misconduct. (The professor may invite a third party to the meeting, if warranted.) If it is determined that academic dishonesty or misconduct has occurred, the students’ advisers, the graduate program coordinators, department chairpersons, the appropriate college deans and the dean of the Graduate College will be notified by the professor in writing of the misconduct, the proposed penalty, and the outcome of the discussion with the students. A record of the case, including the letter from the professor, along with any supporting documentation, will be kept in students’ files at the College of Graduate Studies.
  • If the matter is not resolved through the initial process described above, students may file letters of appeal within five business days to the dean of the College of Graduate Studies, attaching any relevant documents. The dean will submit appeals to the Graduate Education Council (GEC). The professors and the students will be notified of the meeting times and dates and invited to attend a meeting of the Graduate Education Council, at which time matters will be reviewed. In conducting its reviews, the Graduate Education Council will follow the requirements of due process. Both students and professors can attend the meetings with representatives, who may serve as advisers or advocates.

Under the direction of the chair of the Graduate Education Council, the GEC will review student appeals and make its decision, which shall be forwarded in writing to the dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Based upon the allegations or evidence received, the Graduate Education Council may recommend further sanctions, no change in sanctions or a reduction in sanctions. The Graduate Education Council will take into account any previous infractions only after it concludes its investigation of the present case. Further sanctions may include suspension or dismissal.

Students and professors involved will receive copies of the decision letter from the Graduate Education Council, and copies will be provided to the students' advisers, graduate coordinators, department chairpersons and appropriate college dean.  A copy of this letter will also be placed in the students' official files in the College of Graduate Studies.

Academic Probation

Any graduate student whose cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 will be notified that they are on academic probation. When graduate students are placed on academic probation, they will receive a letter from the College of Graduate Studies. This letter informs students that they should be mindful that their GPA has fallen below a 3.0. Students should discuss the matter with their advisers.

Academic Review/Dismissal 

If students’ grade point averages (GPAs) remain below a 3.0 for two consecutive semesters, their academic progress is in jeopardy. The student is subject to academic review by the dean of the graduate college and the student's program coordinator. It is at this time that the decision is made whether to have the student remain on probation or be academically dismissed.The College of Graduate Studies makes every attempt not to dismiss students from academic programs, though prolonged GPAs below 3.0 may result in academic dismissal. 

Academic Standing for Graduate Students

In the courses used to satisfy degree requirements, the minimum standard for satisfactory work is a 3.0 average.


Graduate students who experience problems pertaining to graduate policies, including academic performance, program requirements or other academic issues, may petition to have the matter considered through the established review process of the College of Graduate Studies:

  • Submit a written appeal to the course instructor if the issue is course-related or to the academic adviser if the matter is program-related.
  • If unresolved, submit a written appeal to the department graduate program coordinator.
  • If unresolved, submit a written appeal to the appropriate college dean.
  • If unresolved, submit a written appeal to the dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
  • The dean of the College of Graduate Studies will submit graduate student petitions to the Graduate Education Council for review. (The Graduate Education Council consists of representatives from the university’s graduate faculty, administrators and graduate student body.)

Change of Grade

If students believe that a mistake was made in the original grade recorded for a course, they may petition instructors for a change of grade no later than the last day of final exams of the following academic semester (not including summer sessions) in which the grade was recorded. A change of grade will not be considered after this time.

Change of Name and/or Address

Students must promptly notify the Registrar’s Office of any change in name or address by using the appropriate form. Official legal documentation (i.e., marriage certificate) must be presented. Forms may be printed from the university Web site,

Comprehensive Examination

In most graduate programs, graduate students must take comprehensive examinations that reflect the full ranges of their programs. The comprehensive examination is based upon the students' major areas of study, as well as related areas, and may include work done on a thesis. Students must give evidence that they can integrate information and ideas from the various areas in which they have studied. The comprehensive examination may be written, oral and/or Web-based, as determined by the students’ departments.

To be eligible for a comprehensive examination, students should be near completion of the course work specified by their major academic departments. Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA or satisfactory academic standing or progress to sit for the exam. Students who plan to take the comprehensive examination must file a Comprehensive Examination Request form in the College of Graduate Studies. There is a nonrefundable comprehensive examination fee of $60 for master’s degree candidates and $75 for CAGS candidates. Students who fail to sit for the exam or fail the exam must reapply and are charged an application fee.

The comprehensive examination fee will be charged to the student's account. The completed forms with necessary signatures and fees must be filed in the College of Graduate Studies on or before the appropriate application deadlines:

Oct. 1 for November comprehensive examinations
Feb. 1 for March/April comprehensive examinations

Ordinarily, comprehensive examinations are given during the months of November and March/April. The academic departments set the specific date of the comprehensive examination.

All students who take the comprehensive examination will receive their results by mail in a timely fashion.

Students who fail the comprehensive examination shall be given one additional opportunity to pass. Students should meet immediately with their faculty advisers or designated personnel to review weaknesses of their performances, and prescribed programs of study should be designed to help students prepare for the second examination. After students have made substantial progress in the additional work prescribed by the department, students will be allowed to retake the comprehensive examinations. Students will be required to notify the College of Graduate Studies of the exam date and repay the comprehensive examination fee. Students who fail a second comprehensive examination are subject to academic dismissal.

Continuation or Interruption of Course Registration

Graduate students have six years to complete their degree programs. Should graduate students not enroll in courses during the fall or spring semesters, students will be considered inactive. If students are deemed inactive and wish to register for courses, they must complete a reinstatement form available at or by calling 508.531.1300 or by Fax to 508.531.6162. This policy is designed to ensure appropriate academic advising and counseling for all graduate students enrolled in degree programs as well as nondegree students.

Course Drops and Adds

The Drop/Add schedule is as follows:

  • The Drop/Add period for 15-week semester courses ends after the sixth weekday of the semester.
  • The Drop/Add period for seven-week quarter courses ends after the third weekday of the quarter.
  • The Drop/Add period for five-week summer courses ends after the third weekday of the session.
  • The Drop/Add period for 10-week summer courses ends after the fifth weekday of the session.
  • The Drop/Add period for non-regular courses ends one weekday after the first class meeting. However, students cannot add intensive – e.g., weekend or one-week – courses after the first class meeting.

No adds or drops will be permitted after these deadlines. Drop/Add forms are available at the Registrar’s Office during the drop/add period. It is advisable that students discuss changes in their schedule with their adviser.

If students fail to drop courses appropriately, a grade of “F” will be entered on their academic record. This grade will be used in computing the GPA.

Course Load

Full-time graduate study for master’s degree and CAGS students is defined, for academic purposes only, as being enrolled in nine or more graduate credits in a given semester. To be considered full-time, postbaccalaureate program students must carry a course load of at least 12 credits each semester, as defined under “Course Loads ” in the "Undergraduate Academic Policies " section of this catalog. (The Accelerated Postbaccalaureate program does not fall into this category.)

Full-time graduate students may register for up to 15 credits during both the fall and spring semesters and up to six credits during each of the two summer sessions. Students wishing to register for more than the maximum credit load must receive permission in writing from their graduate advisers and graduate program coordinators.

Full-time graduate students: see Immunization Requirements for Graduate Students section.

Note: Intersession credits are included in the spring semester in determining the student's time status.

Course Registration

Prior to the registration period for the fall and spring semesters and summer sessions, a course schedule is available online through InfoBear at Graduate students are not required to have registration forms signed by their advisers; however, graduate students should consult their advisers on a regular basis regarding their course schedules. Degree-seeking graduate students who register on-line will be billed for their tuition and fees by the Of ice of Student Accounts. These bills are e-mailed to graduate students.

Graduate course work is offered on either a full- or part-time basis. Students should realize that it is not always possible to set an absolute deadline for completing a graduate program due to such factors as the university’s need to reserve the right to cancel any course for which there is insufficient enrollment and the need of the departments to offer courses on a rotating basis. The university and academic departments, however, make every effort to schedule courses in a timely manner.


Graduate students are reminded of their responsibility to consult the College of Graduate Studies Web site at for deadlines and dates for admission, comprehensive examination requests and applications to graduate.

Directed or Independent Study

Graduate students are allowed to undertake a directed or independent study under the supervision of a faculty member. The course Directed Study XXXX 503 (1-3 credits) is designed for graduate students who desire to study selected topics in their fields. Directed study may not be used to substitute for courses that are required in the program or to study topics that are covered in required or elective courses in the program.

Directed study follows the same registration procedures as all academic course work on campus; that is, arrangement for directed study must take place prior to the time of registration with all forms completed and on file at the appropriate departmental office. Enrollment in directed study is limited to students who have been accepted to a graduate program at Bridgewater State University and who have completed a minimum of 15 approved graduate credits.

Grading System

The College of Graduate Studies requires that degree-seeking graduate students maintain a high level of academic standing as they advance in their degree programs. The grading system for graduate students at BSU is different from that of the undergraduate programs. Graduate course achievement will be rated A (4.0), A- (3.7), B+ (3.3), B (3.0), B- (2.7), C+ (2.3), C (2.0), C- (1.7), F (0),W (Withdrawn), IN (Incomplete), or AU (Audit). Some courses are graded on a P (Pass)/N (No Pass) or S (Satisfactory)/U (Unsatisfactory) basis. Refer to the “Course Descriptions ” section in this catalog.

This grading system puts more pressure on graduate students to perform at a higher level than undergraduate students. Though graduate students may earn less than a B in a course, the overall GPA must be a 3.0 at the time of graduation.

Graduate and Undergraduate Credit

Courses at Bridgewater State University with 500- and 600-level numbers carry graduate credit and are open only to graduate students.

Undergraduate students may request to enroll in a 500-level course for graduate credit, or they may request that the course be applied to their undergraduate program. Approval is based upon the following criteria:

  • Students must be seniors in their last semester of course work.
  • Students’ GPAs must be a 3.5 or higher.
  • Students’ written requests must be approved by the chair of the students’ major departments, academic college dean and the dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

Certain designated 400-level courses may be taken for either graduate or undergraduate credit. The College of Graduate Studies guidelines for faculty teaching these courses indicate that advanced work must be required of graduate students taking 400-level courses. The guidelines recommend more rigorous examinations and preparation of longer, more sophisticated research papers, so that graduate students may take into account the different quantitative and qualitative standards associated with graduate study. It is the responsibility of graduate students to register for the graduate-level section of 400-level courses.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are available to full-time, matriculated degree-seeking students who are admitted to a graduate program and who maintain good academic standing during the time of the assistantship. The total assistantship equals more than $13,500 per academic year. Graduate assistants receive full tuition and fees remission, for up to 24 credits total, during the fall, spring and summer sessions and a stipend earning up to $6,500 paid out during the fall and spring semesters. Graduate assistantships are competitive and are determined on the basis of undergraduate and/or graduate grade point averages, experience, educational preparation and interviews, or a combination of these factors. Graduate assistants work in an academic department or administrative office of the university for 20 hours per week. Assistantships are intended to encourage and assist superior students in pursuing graduate study and in completing the requirements for graduate degrees in the minimum possible time.

Graduate Research Assistantships

Admitted full- and part-time graduate students may apply to the Graduate Research Assistantship program. The total research assistantship equals more than $8,000 per academic year. Graduate Research Assistantships are designed to link a graduate student together with a professor in a meaningful research project, which will be one semester or one academic year in duration. During the assistantship period, a graduate research assistant will work directly with a professor on a joint project, which will lead to a presentation at a professional conference and/or a joint publication. The research assistant will have the equivalent of a “half” assistantship, in that the student will work ten hours per week with a professor. Graduate research assistants also receive full tuition and fees remission, for up to 15 credits total, during the fall, spring and summer sessions and a stipend earning more than $2,500 paid out during the fall and spring semesters.

Immunization Requirements for Graduate Students

Immunization requirements apply to all full-time graduate students, regardless of age. To achieve full-time graduate student status, according to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Immunization Laws, students must be enrolled in nine or more credits from one institution in any one semester, regardless of the location of the course or the actual dates that the course or internship is held.

The Health Services staff can assist you in meeting the requirements by offering immunizations and advice on how to be compliant with the law. Failure to comply places future registration for classes on hold until all requirements are met.

Please call Health Services at 508.531.1252 to arrange an appointment or see "Immunization Requirements" at for further information.


An incomplete (IN) may be given at the discretion of the instructor. The time by which missing work must be completed is also at the discretion of the instructor; however, this time period may not extend beyond the last day of classes of the academic semester following that in which the incomplete was earned. Courses that are not successfully completed by this deadline will automatically be changed to a grade of “F” (Failure) or “N” (No Pass). Candidates for graduation should note, however, that all work must be completed prior to graduation, including resolution of any grades of incomplete, since as of the date the degree is conferred the record is finalized.

Program and Course Prerequisites

Program and course prerequisites may be required to ensure adequate preparation for graduate work in the area of study. In certain cases, program prerequisites may be fulfilled after the applicant’s acceptance by the College of Graduate Studies. Certain advanced courses may require that students have completed specific prerequisite courses.

Repeat Course Policy

The College of Graduate Studies will allow graduate students to repeat only one graduate course for which they have received a grade of B- or less. Although all courses and grades will appear on the student's transcript, credit for the course will be awarded only once unless otherwise stated in the university catalog. The higher grade will be used to calculate the GPA. Only courses taken at Bridgewater State University and repeated at Bridgewater will be eligible for use under this policy.

Notes: Repeating courses taken in a previous semester may affect certain federal and state benefits, various financial-aid programs, loans, scholarships and social security benefits, in addition to athletic eligibility and veteran's benefits. The Veterans Administration will not pay for a repeated course in which a passing grade has been previously earned. Satisfactory academic progress requirements must be met for continued financial-aid eligibility.

Students with more than one failed course should meet with their adviser.


A graduate program may require enrollment in the course Research XXXX 502 (credit to be arranged) or PSYC 504  for Psychology for completion of original research undertaken by graduate students in their field. The students’ investigations ordinarily culminate in theses. The number of credits awarded for the research may vary and students may repeat the course until a maximum of nine credits in a MA program and six credits in a MAT, MEd, MPA, MS or CAGS program is earned toward the minimum credit requirements for the degree or certificate. Consent of department and formal application required.

Satisfactory or Reasonable Progress

Graduate students must make satisfactory or reasonable progress toward completion of their degree programs within the university’s statute of limitations. Students who are not making such progress are subject to separation from their programs.

Statute of Limitations – Program and Courses

All graduate program requirements, including the comprehensive examination, must be completed within six years of the date of the student’s first matriculation. In addition, no graduate course offered for master’s degree or CAGS credit may be more than six years old at the time program requirements are completed.

If graduate students cannot complete degree requirements within the six-year limit because of extraordinary circumstances, they may file written appeals, requesting a reasonable extension from the College of Graduate Studies.


A number of departments require or recommend theses in master’s degree programs. Theses, which represent original research in disciplines, are especially recommended if students have future doctoral plans. At the same time, theses allow graduate students, working closely with theses committees, to spend serious academic time researching a narrowly focused topic in depth and produce an original text of publishable quality. The culmination is often a text that gives students great academic pride and satisfaction.

Students writing master’s theses must adhere to the following policies:

  1. All graduate students writing master’s theses must have theses committees, consisting of a thesis committee chairperson and two faculty readers. The thesis committee must be approved by the graduate program coordinator.
  2. Students writing a thesis must submit a Thesis Proposal Form, with a detailed proposal and signatures of the thesis chairperson, the two faculty readers, the graduate program coordinator and the dean of the College of Graduate Studies. (The Thesis Proposal Form is available for download on the College of Graduate Studies Web page.) This form must be completed and signed in order for students to register for the appropriate research course, which is always the departmental XXXX 502 or PSYC 504 - Research  course. Students must register for at least six credits of XXXX 502, but the credits can be broken into smaller credit segments and taken over multiple semesters, particularly if students need a full academic year to write their theses. Otherwise, students can register for the full six credits during one semester.
  3. After students obtain the necessary signatures, they then take the theses proposal forms to the Registrar’s Office to register for the XXXX 502 or PSYC 504 - Research  course.
  4. Students who have registered for the XXXX 502 or PSYC 504 - Research  course and do not complete their theses in a semester will receive an Incomplete, which will be changed to a letter grade by the theses committee chairpersons once the theses are completed.
  5. When the theses are written and fully approved by the three members of the theses committees, the chairpersons and readers sign the “approval page” of the thesis, which are placed in the text of the manuscripts.
  6. The theses committee chairpersons will acquaint graduate students with the manuscript form and style used in their respective disciplines; graduate students writing theses should examine recent theses in their academic departments.
  7. Students must provide the College of Graduate Studies with a minimum of four copies of the theses to be bound: one for the Maxwell Library, one for the College of Graduate Studies, one for the students’ academic department and one for the student. (Sometimes departments request an additional bound copy.) Students may also request additional bound copies of their theses.
  8. Copies of completed manuscripts must be brought to the College of Graduate Studies, which will arrange for the binding of the copies. A charge of $12 for each copy will be paid by the graduate students. Students pick up their bound copies in the College of Graduate Studies.
  9. Theses must be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies before students are approved for graduation.
  10. The Maxwell Library, which will catalog all theses, acts as the official archive for all theses written as part of graduate-degree programs at Bridgewater State University.

Transfer Credit

Transfer credit at the graduate level is defined by the College of Graduate Studies as appropriate graduate credit taken at an accredited institution other than Bridgewater State University prior to or after acceptance to a Bridgewater State University graduate program.

Prior to matriculation, students can enroll in up to 6 credits in programs with 39 or fewer credits. In programs requiring 40 or more graduate credits, students may enroll in up to 9 graduate credits. This policy allows interested graduate students to sample a BSU academic program before making a full commitment to graduate study.

Students are encouraged to contact the appropriate graduate program coordinator of choice.

Not more than six graduate credits, taken both prior to and after acceptance, can be transferred from other graduate schools. Students should make every attempt to enroll in Bridgewater State University graduate courses. These credits include any credits earned in courses in which students are enrolled at the time of acceptance. It does not include prerequisites. Program exceptions are noted in the appropriate department sections of this catalog.

Approval of transfer credit is subject to the following conditions: 1) that not more than six credits being transferred are from an accredited institution other than Bridgewater State University; 2) that a grade of B or better has been earned in all courses being transferred; 3) that courses being transferred have not been used to fulfill the requirements of another degree and 4) that graduate transfer credits may not be more than six years old at the time program requirements are completed.

All courses to be used as transfer credit in a graduate program must have the approval of the students’ advisers and graduate program coordinators prior to submitting for final approval to the College of Graduate Studies. Transfer credit should also be properly recorded on the students’ Graduate Program Proposal forms. An official transcript of courses taken at another accredited institution must be on file in the College of Graduate Studies.

The Graduate Transfer Credit Approval Form is used for courses being requested to transfer from an accredited institution other than Bridgewater State University.Students are strongly urged to process their form for transfer credit early in their graduate program.

Withdrawal from Courses

Students may withdraw from courses following the drop/add period if they submit a Course Withdrawal Form to the Registrar’s Office by the appropriate semester deadline date, which is posted at If graduate students fall below full-time status after withdrawing from a course, they should be aware that eligibility for some sources of financial aid and health insurance may be affected.

The course withdrawal schedule is as follows:

  • The withdrawal period for 15-week semester courses ends the weekday following the completion of the tenth week of the semester.
  • The withdrawal period for seven-week courses ends the weekday following the completion of the fifth week of the quarter.
  • The withdrawal period for five-week courses ends the weekday following the completion of the third week of the session.
  • The withdrawal period for 10-week summer courses ends the weekday following the completion of the seventh week of the session.
  • The withdrawal period for nonregular courses typically ends one weekday following the point when approximately 70 percent of the course has been completed. Students should consult the Registrar’s Office for exact deadlines for withdrawal from these courses.
  • Students who are taking a course online or off campus must meet established deadlines and procedures.

No withdrawals will be permitted after these deadlines unless students can demonstrate that extraordinary circumstances have prevented them from withdrawing from the course by the published deadline. Course withdrawals will be indicated on students’ transcripts with a “W” and will not affect the calculation of students’ grade point averages.

Withdrawal from the College

Students who decide to withdraw from a graduate program must notify the College of Graduate Studies of their intentions in writing as soon as possible. Students should also consult course withdrawal procedures and refund policies indicated elsewhere in the catalog. Withdrawal forms are available at

Graduation Requirements

Graduation Application

Students who are nearing the completion of their graduate program requirements and who plan to receive a master’s degree or CAGS in January, May or August should complete an Application to Graduate form. These forms must be completed by students, approved by the students' advisers and graduate program coordinators, and submitted with the candidates’ Graduate Program Proposal forms to the College of Graduate Studies on or before the appropriate application deadline. Students should check with their advisers regarding exit requirements for their academic program, as requirements vary for each program.

Feb. 1

for May graduation

June 1

for August graduation

Oct. 1

for January graduation

Failure to file an application before the deadline may postpone degree conferral. Any questions regarding graduate commencement and requirements should be directed to the College of Graduate Studies at 508.531.1300.

Graduation Dates

Though graduate students have a separate annual commencement ceremony in May, the university has three graduation dates (January, May and August). Students graduating in January and August are encouraged to attend the May commencement ceremony. In order to participate in the graduate commencement ceremony, all required course work and exit requirements must be completed. No degree or certificate will be conferred, and no graduate transcripts will be issued unless all outstanding financial balances have been paid in full.

Graduation Requirements

In order for students to exit from a graduate program, they must satisfactorily complete all credit requirements (with a minimum GPA of 3.0), and, in most programs, pass a comprehensive examination. See the Academic Programs  section of this catalog for graduation requirements of individual programs.

For additional information concerning graduation see .