List of Academic Policies: A - E

Academic Common Market

The University of North Carolina ended its participation in the Southern Regional Education Board's Academic Common Market (ACM) program on June 30, 2012. Students admitted and enrolled under ACM status prior to ending the program will be eligible to continue under ACM provided they continue to meet the conditions below.

  • remain a resident of the home state;
  • complete a full-time schedule in each academic semester (summer enrollment in optional, but full-time enrollment is required to receive the benefit);
  • remain in good standing;
  • remain enrolled in the declared major/concentration.

Adding a Second Major - See Double Major

Admission to Candidacy for Degree Seeking Students

Some graduate programs, including the doctoral program, require admission to candidacy upon completion of a set of courses or other requirements.

Students who have demonstrated their ability to succeed as outlined below may apply for Candidacy, if required, using the Admission to Candidacy form or the Thesis/Dissertation Committee Form, which requires approval of the student's advisory committee and the Department Chair or Program Director. Students must be in good standing academically (3.0 GPA minimum) to apply for candidacy. It is the student's responsibility to request to be considered for candidacy if required.

  • Candidacy in a Doctoral Program (required): Candidacy requires satisfactory completion of the Qualifying Exam and Dissertation Prospectus.
  • Candidacy in a Master's or Specialist Program:
    • Thesis programs (required): Candidacy requires at least one semester of successful graduate study at Appalachian. Admission to Candidacy is contingent upon the recommendation of the applicant's advisory committee, and a student cannot register for thesis hours until candidacy is granted.
    • Non-thesis programs: Requirements and deadlines for admission to candidacy vary by program; please see the relevant program description in this bulletin for more information.

Denial or revocation of candidacy: If the student is denied candidacy or if candidacy is revoked, the advisor will inform the student in writing regarding the reasons for this action. If the student does not qualify for candidacy by the deadline set within the program, the student will not normally be permitted to continue as a degree-seeking student.

Appeals Processes

Students have the right to appeal any decision concerning course grades, termination from their graduate program or termination from their graduate assistantship. Appeals involving grades or other faculty-related issues are handled through the department and the dean of the academic college or school housing the department. There are detailed procedures and strict timelines for grade appeals. See "Grade Appeals" for more information.

Appeals involving termination from an assistantship or termination from a graduate program (e.g., denial of admission to candidacy, denial of a probationary term, etc.) are handled through the program and the Graduate School. The steps in this procedure are as follows.

  • Appeal to the program through the Program Director and/or the Department Chair.
  • If the situation cannot be resolved at the program level, appeal to the Graduate School by submitting documentation in writing to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. The program will also be given an opportunity to provide written documentation about the situation.
  • Appeals denied by the Graduate School will automatically be sent to the Graduate Council's Appeals Committee for review. The Appeals Committee is an ad hoc subcommittee of the Graduate Council consisting of graduate faculty from three departments other than the student's home department; the Committee meets only on demand and does not usually meet with the student or the program. The Committee's decision is binding.

Assessment of Student Learning

Appalachian State University routinely defines and measures academic and administrative programs and services. To that end, students should be aware that throughout their careers at Appalachian they will be expected to respond to surveys, complete evaluations, and provide artifacts that the faculty will use to document the institution's success in fostering student learning.

In some cases, students' responses to assessment inquiries will be anonymous, but in most cases student responses and artifacts will bear unique student identifiers that will allow cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of assessment results by program. In that the aim of assessment at Appalachian is program improvement, the analysis of results will always focus on programs and not on individuals. Students should also understand that this type of information is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), and, except in statutorily specified circumstances, individual student responses will never be reported without explicit permission from the student.

Attendance Policies

Graduate students are responsible for regular class attendance. Individual faculty have the option of setting attendance requirements, which may impact a student's grade in a course. A student whose attendance in classes is unsatisfactory to the instructor, the advisor, or the Dean of the Graduate School may be excluded from a course, a final examination, or a graduate program.

Auditing a Course

Students enrolled at the University or students admitted with satisfactory records of experience and education may enroll for specific courses as auditors. Students who audit courses must register in the Registrar's Office, pay regular fees, be regular in attendance, but will not receive grades or credit. A "Request to Audit" form is available in the Registrar's Office. It must be completed by the student, approved by the faculty member teaching the class, and submitted to the Registrar's Office by no later than the end of the "Drop-Add Period" indicated in the published Schedule of Classes.

Graduate courses audited by graduate students may not be used to meet a requirement on a graduate program of study.

Cancellation of Courses

The University reserves the right to cancel any course for which there is insufficient enrollment. See also the "Weather Policy" for information on canceling a class meeting.

Certificate Programs

Appalachian offers certificate programs in numerous disciplines. The academic requirements for these programs are detailed in the sections on programs in this Bulletin.

These certificate programs are not degree programs; students who complete the required coursework will receive a "certificate of completion." The primary purpose of these programs is to provide a student seeking additional expertise with the opportunity to complete a cohesive program of coursework that is less than a graduate degree, but provides advanced training in a specific area.

Applying ASU Graduate Certificate Credits Toward Degree Programs: Hours completed to meet the requirements of an earned Appalachian State University graduate certificate may potentially be applied toward a graduate degree within the same or closely related discipline. The hours must be applied in the degree Program of Study on a course-by‐course basis and must meet the appropriate standards for use in the degree. Certificate hours transferred may not exceed 50% of the total degree program requirements. If these hours are equal to or exceed 50% of the degree program requirements, additional transfer credits are not allowed.

Changing to a Different Bulletin

Graduate students may, with approval of the advisor, elect to graduate under any Graduate Bulletin issued after entry into the University and prior to graduation provided they were enrolled in the University during the time when the bulletin was in effect. Graduate students electing to graduate under a new Graduate Bulletin must meet all requirements of the bulletin under which they wish to graduate. In order to change the bulletin under which they intend to graduate, graduate students must notify the Graduate School.

Changing Grades

Once an instructor has reported a grade to the Registrar, it cannot be changed except in the case of an error in either computing or recording the grade. The grade is changed through the Department Chair communicating the change in grade to the Registrar.

Changing Majors

Students are admitted to a major when admitted to the Graduate School. Students who wish to change to another major must have the approval of the of the department housing the new major and the Graduate School before the change may be made. This approval is not automatic; students are reviewed as applicants to the new program and may be refused admission to the second program. Students interested in changing majors should contact the program to discuss their situation. Change of Major request forms are available from the Graduate School.

Commencement Ceremonies

Commencement ceremonies are held twice a year to honor graduates from degree (master's, specialist, and doctoral) programs. The Spring ceremony honors Spring graduates and is held in May; the Fall ceremony honors summer and fall graduates and is held in December. Candidates for graduate degrees are encouraged to be present at commencement.

Comprehensive Examination

Most master's and specialist programs require acceptable performance on a comprehensive examination. In some programs, the thesis defense constitutes the comprehensive examination. The product of learning is required for candidates seeking advanced licensure in teacher education programs and may either replace the comprehensive examination or be required in addition to the examination, depending upon the particular program. Please see the section in this bulletin on the specific program for details. Several rules govern the timing and approval process for all comprehensive exams:

  • Students must be admitted to candidacy, if required for the program, before scheduling comprehensive examinations.
  • Comprehensive examinations must be completed in the last 1/3 of the program.
  • Comprehensive examinations must be evaluated by at least 3 members of the graduate faculty, all of whom must sign the Report of Comprehensive form prior to submission to the Registrar's Office.
  • The report of successful comprehensive exam completion must be received by the Gradaute School no later than the day before final exams begin in the term of graduation.

Course Loads and Full-Time Enrollment

The maximum course load for a graduate student during the regular academic year (Fall and Spring semesters) is 15 hours per semester for a student without an assistantship and 12 semester hours for those holding assistantships.

For each Summer Session, the course load maximum is six (6) semester hours in a four- or five-week term and one course in a two- or three-week term. Graduate students may not earn more than 12 hours over the course of one summer.

To be considered a full-time student, graduate students must be registered for a minimum of nine (9) semester hours during a Fall or Spring semester. During the summer sessions, students may be considered full time in one of two ways: six (6) semester hours in one summer session or a total of nine (9) semester hours over the course of the entire summer.

Coursework Requirements

The minimum number of courses required when establishing a program depends upon the level of the program and whether the program has a thesis option. All coursework on a graduate program of study must be at the graduate level (courses numbered 5000 or above). Each program lists the number of hours required for completion; see the specific program for details. The following rules apply.

  • Master's degrees that include a thesis component: Minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework; some programs require more.
  • Master's degrees without a thesis component: Minimum of 36 semester hours of coursework, except the MS in Accounting, which requires 30. Master's degrees in professional areas or those that lead to licensure typically require more than 36 hours. In some cases, students pursuing a second master's degree may be exempt from some of the required semester hours for the second degree. Please see the "Second Master's Degree" information in this section.
  • Specialist degrees require a minimum of 30 hours of coursework beyond the master's degree.
  • Doctoral degrees require a minimum of 60 hours of coursework beyond the master's degree. Students holding the Education Specialist Degree from Appalachian may be exempt from some hours in the Ed.D. program. This exemption is not automatic, and must be approved through the program director. Note: This exemption is not allowed for students holding the specialist degree from another institution.
  • Graduate Certificates require 12-18 hours of coursework, depending on the subject.
  • Graduate Minors require 8-12 hours of coursework, depending on the subject.

Credit by Examination

Upon the recommendation of a graduate student's committee and with the approval of the chair of the department in which it is listed, one graduate course may be challenged by examination. Credit by examination may not be used to repeat a course. Anyone seeking to pursue credit by examination must be a degree- or certificate-seeking student at Appalachian or must be working towards credit for teacher licensure.

If arrangements can be made with the appropriate department chair, a fee of $50.00 is charged for the examination. A receipt from the Student Accounts Office must be shown to the department chair before final approval can be given and the examination can be administered. If the examination is passed, credit without grade will be noted on the student's transcript. The department chair will notify the Graduate School using the credit by examination form, to prompt the Registrar to enter the credit on the permanent record and notify the cashier to reimburse the faculty member who administered the examination. If the examination is not passed, no notation is made on the transcript.

Cross-Listed Courses

Certain courses are cross-listed with multiple departments using the same course number and covering the same content (e.g., CI/SPE 5045 is both a curriculum and instruction course and a special education course). Cross-listed courses are noted at the end of the course descriptions as follows: "(Same as SPE 5045.)"


Degreeworks is an advising tool that allows students to track their progress through their program of study. The default program of study represented in Degreeworks displays the standard curriculum followed by most students in the program. Customization (specific elective choices, substitutions of required coursework, etc.) will not be reflected in Degreeworks until the program has notified the Graduate School that the program of study has been reviewed and approved.


Appalachian offers programs of study leading to the degrees of

  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Library Science
  • Master of Music
  • Master of Music Therapy
  • Master of Public Administration
  • Master of School Administration
  • Master of Science
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Social Work
  • Education Specialist
  • Specialist in School Psychology
  • Doctor of Education


A dissertation is required of all doctoral students. The dissertation should represent the culmination of an independent research project conducted by the student, and will show command of the literature and research methodology of her/his specialty. The dissertation is expected to be written in grammatically correct English and conform to accepted standards used in research writing. In special cases, languages other than English may be used; the substitution is not permitted as a matter of the student's convenience, but may be allowed when the student has sufficient skill at composition and has a dissertation topic that is, in the judgment of the advisor, especially suited to treatment in the second language. Graduate School approval of the use of a language other than English must be obtained in advance.

The student must have passed qualifying examinations and presented a prospectus to the dissertation committee and received approval of the proposed topic before being permitted to register for dissertation hours. The candidate's dissertation advisor and at least two graduate faculty members will constitute the dissertation committee. No more than one member of the dissertation committee may be from another institution.

Dissertation grading: Students who are judged by the dissertation committee chair to be making satisfactory progress in the term of enrollment will be assigned a grade of IP (in progress) by the chair for that term. Students who are not progressing satisfactorily will be assigned a grade of U. Students who receive a grade of U will not be permitted to continue.

Completion of dissertation: The dissertation defense should be completed at least 10 calendar days before the last regular class day, and the final draft of the dissertation must be submitted to the graduate school no later than 7 calendar days prior to the last regular class day. The Graduate School will review the dissertation for style and format, and return the manuscript to the student within 15 business days of submission.

Students may be required to make modifications and resubmit for additional review prior to signature by the Dean of the Graduate School. Once the Dean has signed the dissertation, the dissertation requirement is met, and the grade in all dissertation hours will be changed by the Registrar from IP to S. This entire approval process must be completed by the day before the next academic term begins or the student will not be eligible to graduate until the next term. For detailed information on the dissertation process, the student should refer to the Thesis and Dissertation Handbook, available from the Graduate School (

Distance Education Programs - See Field-Based Programs

Double Concentrations

Students wishing to pursue two or more concentrations within the same major must seek permission from the program and notify the Graduate School of the addition. Students with two or more concentrations must complete all required courses for all concentrations. Specifically, a required course from one concentration may not substitute for a different required course in another concentration.

Double Major and Double Degree

Students wishing to pursue a double major or double degree simultaneously at the same level (master's or specialist) may either apply for both programs simultaneously or petition the Graduate School for consideration to add the second program after beginning the first. Both the Graduate School and the admission committee for the second program must approve the addition. The form to add a second major or degree is available on the Graduate School website.

Students approved to pursue two programs will be subject to the following requirements:

  1. A committee composed of a minimum of one graduate faculty member from each program and one additional member appointed by the Graduate School will review and approve the two programs of study before submission to the Graduate Records Staff.
  2. Both programs of study must be reviewed and approved simultaneously. Students who add a second program after submitting a program of study must resubmit.
  3. The two programs of study must meet all requirements for both majors including all admission to candidacy, proficiency, exit (thesis, product of learning), and comprehensive requirements (and associated paperwork), with no more than 50% of the courses from one program of study counting on the other.
  4. Students must complete both programs within 7 years of the initial admission term and must graduate from both programs in the same term.
  5. Students completing a double degree will be responsible for submitting and paying for two applications to graduate (one for each diploma to be issued). Students completing a double major will receive one diploma listing both majors, and so must apply only once.

Dropping a Course

During the Fall and Spring semesters there is a nine-week drop period beginning with the first day of classes. Within the first week of this period—i.e., the first five days of classes—a student is allowed to drop courses without either academic or financial penalty. Within the last eight weeks of this period—i.e., weeks two through nine—a student is allowed to drop courses without academic penalty. Note that there is no refund or adjustment of charges if a course is dropped after the first five days of classes. A student who holds a North Carolina Tuition Scholarship must pay back the prorated remission or award if that student withdraws from courses.

After the nine-week period a course can only be dropped for exceptional circumstances and with the approval of the instructor, the Department Chair, and the Dean of the college/school housing the department. Courses that required Graduate School approval to enroll also require Graduate School approval to be dropped. A drop approved for exceptional circumstances will not be computed in the grade-point average.

A course not officially dropped will receive a grade of "F" or "U"; the "F" will be computed in the grade-point average if the course is listed on the student's approved Program of Study. The drop periods for the summer terms are much shorter due to the accelerated schedule and are available from the Registrar's Office.

Dual-Listed Courses

Some courses are noted as being dual-listed. Each dual-listed course has a concurrent undergraduate equivalent, and students in the two courses meet in one classroom. Graduate students who are enrolled in a dual-listed course are expected to complete extra assignments above and beyond those that are assigned to the undergraduates in the class. The syllabus for a dual-listed course will clearly state the learning outcomes for both constituencies, as well as identifying any differences in the assessments. Undergraduate participation in these courses is restricted to seniors. Juniors may petition the department for permission to enroll in these courses.

No more than 12 semester hours of dual-listed courses may be included in a student's program of study for a 36 semester hour or longer program. Dual-listed courses are noted in the course descriptions as follows: "[Dual-listed with XXX 4xxx.]"

Exit Requirements - See Thesis, Dissertation, Comprehensive Examinations or Product of Learning