Policies & Procedures

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Academic Policies

The university's research, scholarship, teaching, and community service are central to its mission. To achieve that mission, it is critical that the highest standards of academic integrity are articulated to all members of the university community: faculty, students, and staff. All members of the community are expected to interact professionally in those endeavors which promote and facilitate the university's common mission. Adherence to professional Codes of Ethical Conduct can and do play a central role in the matter.

Students, faculty and administrators share responsibility for the determination and preservation of standards of academic integrity. Each must adhere to their own personal code of integrity and must be prepared to educate others about the importance of academic integrity, to take reasonable precaution to discourage violations of academic integrity and to adjudicate violations.

For students, education about the importance of academic integrity begins during the admissions process. The centrality of integrity to the academic enterprise is reinforced during new student orientation when students engage in discussion about academic integrity. Specific mention of academic integrity and course-specific guidelines also may be presented in all classes. Programs and instruction about academic integrity guidelines are available throughout students' graduate school career.

Students are expected to uphold standards of academic integrity by taking reasonable precaution in the academic arena. Reasonable precaution involves implementing measures that reduce the opportunities for academic misconduct, but do not inhibit inquiry, create disruption or distraction in the testing environment, or create an atmosphere of mistrust.

The vitality of academic integrity is dependent upon the willingness of community members to confront instances of suspected wrongdoing. Faculties have specific responsibility to address suspected or reported violations as indicated below. All other members of the academic community are expected to report directly and confidentially their suspicion of violation to a faculty member or a dean or to approach suspected violators and to remind them of their obligation to uphold standards of academic integrity. To the extent possible, the identity of individuals reporting academic misconduct will be kept confidential.

Download the full text of the Academic Integrity Standards and Policies.

To report academic misconduct, submit an Academic Integrity Violation Report and supporting evidence to the Senior Associate Dean, Lynmarie Hamel.

The university should concern itself with matters of authorship, author-university relations, and copyright in order to stimulate faculty interest in creating learning materials and ensure that the learner, the author, and the university appropriately share the benefits of the creativity, money, and energy expended.

To fulfill these purposes, the university policy must be highly flexible and must be incorporated in an administrative process responsive to the needs of the learner, the author, and the unit of the university which sponsors and/or produces the learning material.

The complete university guidelines on authorship and policy on copyright can be found on page 77 of the Faculty Handbook.

The purpose of this policy is to allow students pursuing graduate degrees to take courses beyond their degree requirements without additional financial burden to the student and little or no cost to the University. Such courses, referred to as “fellowship” courses, can broaden the educational experience of graduate students by allowing them to pursue studies according to their own intellectual needs. 

  1. A student pursuing a graduate degree shall be charged tuition at the standard hourly rate for all of the credit hours which are intended to count toward the degree. In the fall and spring semesters for which students are registered for a minimum number (as determined by the school) of credits that will be applied toward the degree, fellowship courses will not incur a tuition charge. In the summer semester, there is no minimum registration required to qualify for the fellowship tuition policy.
  2. In order to enroll in a fellowship course, the student must be in good standing, if applicable, have a PPOS on file (check with your department) with the School of Graduate Studies office, meet course prerequisites, and obtain consent of the instructor. A Fellowship Course Application Form must be submitted to School of Graduate Studies; the Form must be signed by the instructor, his/her advisor, and the School of Graduate Studies. Up to eight fellowship courses may be permitted in aggregate (total).
  3. Thesis research (651 and 701) and similar courses cannot be taken as fellowship courses and prior rules for 701 (dissertation research) are not changed by this policy.
  4. Fellowship courses cannot be audited. The grade that a student receives in the course will not count toward the degree program GPA.
  5. Fellowship courses cannot be used toward a degree program at Case Western Reserve University.
  6. Fellowship Course Application Forms must be submitted before the end of the Add/Drop period.
  7. Notwithstanding any of the foregoing provisions and policies, the rules, regulations, and terms of tuition and credit enrollments for each school shall remain in full force and effect.
  8. Registration for fellowship courses within the College of Arts and Sciences is not permitted in the summer term.

Departments or faculty members may design a joint degree program, which will generally result in two degrees, or a multidisciplinary degree, which will generally result in a single degree which has a broader perspective than similar existing degrees. Such programs should meet challenges of new interdisciplinary knowledge and/or developments requiring new combinations of talent. In addition, such programs or degrees should enhance and not duplicate existing programs in the University. Individual students with specific multidisciplinary interests that desire to pursue them at Case Western Reserve University and faculty members who wish to run pilots for joint degree programs or multidisciplinary degrees are encouraged to do so, even if no official joint or multidisciplinary degree program currently exists, by organizing an individual joint degree or an individual multidisciplinary degree. Such degrees require faculty and departmental support. Guidance for the design and approval of both such programs and such individual degrees is available from the School of Graduate Studies.

A student maintains good standing in the School of Graduate Studies by registering each fall and spring semester unless on an official leave of absence which has been approved by the School of Graduate Studies. A student is in good standing who meets the standards set by the academic department and the School of Graduate Studies to ensure normal progress toward the fulfillment of the stated requirements at levels of quality without warning or probation or extension of the allowable time limit for degree completion. Students whose quality point averages fall below minimum standards  will automatically be placed on probation until the minimum standards are achieved. In addition, a student will be subject to separation from the University for any of the following reasons:

  1. Failure to achieve a quality-point average of 2.50 or higher at the completion of 12 semester hours or 2 semesters of graduate study.
  2. Failure to achieve a quality-point average of 2.75 or higher at the completion of 21 semester hours or 4 semesters of graduate study.
  3. Failure to receive a grade of S in thesis research 651 or dissertation research 701. A student who receives a grade of U in thesis (Course 651) or dissertation research (Course 701) will be placed on probation and be subject to separation. The probationary status will be recorded on the student’s transcript. The student must be removed from probation by the end of the semester immediately following receipt of the grade of U by repeating the course for the same number of credit hours, and achieving a grade of S. The tuition and associated fees for the repeated course may be the responsibility of the student. Although removal from probation restores the student’s good standing, the grade of U received will not be canceled or substituted by the grade of S subsequently received. Separation will occur if the student placed on probation receives another grade of U in the following semester; or, if the School of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the academic unit, determines that the student is unlikely to be successful in working independently and productively toward the completion of the thesis or dissertation research.
  4. Failure of a conditionally or provisionally admitted student to satisfy the conditions or provisions stated in the letter of acceptance by the end of the first academic year (2 semesters) or after 18 credits of course work.
  5. Failure to make progress towards degree completion. If the student is not making progress towards degree completion, and it has been judged that the student is unlikely to be successful in working independently and productively toward the completion of clinical requirements, thesis or dissertation research the department and/or the dean of graduate studies (in consultation with the department) can recommend academic separation.
  6. In addition to disciplinary actions based on academic standards, on recommendation of the student’s department or school, the School of Graduate Studies can suspend or separate a student from the University for failure to maintain appropriate standards of conduct and integrity. Such a suspension or separation will be implemented only for serious breaches of conduct that threaten to compromise the standards of a department or create concern for the safety and welfare of others. In the event of such suspension or separation, the student will be entitled to an appeal through the grievance procedure of the Graduate School.

In calculating the quality-point average, courses taken as a student in the School of Graduate Studies at the 400 level or above as well as any courses accepted toward fulfillment of degree requirements for which quality points are given will be counted, including courses which may need to be repeated. Unless otherwise stated by the department, a minimum cumulative quality-point average of 3.00 is required for the awarding of the graduate degrees from the School of Graduate Studies. Any department, school, or curricular program committee may choose to establish quality standards higher than those stated above if such additional requirements are made known in writing to the students upon matriculation and are recorded with the School of Graduate Studies. In that case, the departmental standards supersede the minimum standards. Students who do not maintain the minimum quality point average will be placed on academic probation until the minimum standard has been achieved.

Students are expected to attend all classes for which they are registered.  Online students are expected to log on and participate in class at the expected pace outlined by the instructor.  If a student is unable to attend class, they must let the instructor know in advance or as soon as possible. The policy regarding attendance should be stated in the course syllabus and students should be informed of the policy at the start of the course.  If a student misses a class, the student is responsible for making up any missed work and for obtaining any other information that was disseminated in class.  Course requirements are not waived due to absence from class.  If a student anticipates an extended absence, they should consult the School of Graduate Studies for assistance in managing their situation.

The School of Graduate Studies adheres to the University policies governing religious holidays and, for students that are registered with the Office of Disability Resources, the flexible attendance policy.

Graduate students may petition their department chair to repeat a maximum of two courses during their degree program in order to improve their performance. When a course is repeated, the first grade will remain visible on the transcript but will be removed from the calculation of the cumulative grade point average and the grade point average for the semester in which the course was first taken. The new grade will then be used for calculation of the cumulative grade point average and the grade point average for the semester in which it was earned, regardless of whether the new grade is higher or lower than the first grade. The student’s transcript will show the comment “Repeated: No credit awarded” directly below the original grade. However, if the first attempt of the course resulted in a passing grade, but the second attempt results in a failing grade, then the original grade will remain. Similarly, if a student withdraws from a course that is being repeated, the Course Repeat Option will not be applied and the original grade will stand. Course repetition may be exercised according to the following conditions:

  1. The course repeat option can only be used on a course in which a C or lower was earned. Courses with a grading basis of P/NP are not eligible under this policy.
  2. A student may not use the Pass/No Pass Option on a course that is being repeated.
  3. A student may only use the repeat option on the same course.
  4. Research based courses 651, 601 and 701 are exempt from this repeat policy. Thesis research course 651 and dissertation research course 701 grading policies can be found in this bulletin.
  5. The course repeat option may not be exercised after a degree has been awarded.
  6. Course Repeat Request Form must be signed by the student's advisor and department chair. The Form must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies for approval.
  7. The tuition and associated fees for a repeated course may be the responsibility of the student.

In order to achieve excellence in student mentoring in doctoral programs within the School of Graduate Studies at Case Western Reserve University, an annual review of student progress toward the degree is required for every doctoral student. This review has two purposes: i) to support mentoring of students by providing regular and timely feedback that will enhance their success at CWRU and their career goals and professional development, and ii) to evaluate progress toward completion of the degree. To achieve these goals, the review should evaluate the previous year’s progress, detail the student’s strengths and areas that need improvement, and make recommendations for future action to complete the degree.  

Each doctoral program shall develop its own annual review format and timing within these minimal guidelines:

  1. Every doctoral student will submit an annual progress report to their program, department, or school. The report should describe progress toward the degree in the past year, future plans for completing the degree, career goals and progress toward professional development. 
  2. Faculty of the program, department, or school will review the student reports to evaluate student progress in the program. The review process shall include at least two faculty members, such as the faculty advisor, dissertation or thesis chair or committee, graduate student director, or other subset of faculty designated by the department. Additional faculty members may be asked to provide input to help the review process.
  3. The findings of the evaluation shall be communicated to the student in a written report and, whenever possible, discussed in person, that details the student’s current status in the program, progress towards completion, career goals and professional development, and makes concrete suggestions for future actions. 
  4. Master’s level students may be evaluated in a similar fashion at the discretion of the program, department, or school.

If a doctoral program already has an annual review policy in place, the program shall inform the School of Graduate Studies of what form that review takes. For programs that do not have an annual review policy, the School of Graduate Studies requests that they create an annual review policy within a year from the approval of the policy. This policy does not mandate the use of one student review format. For some programs, the annual report can be coordinated with other reporting needs (e.g. NIH grants) so as to eliminate redundancy in reporting for the student.

Compliance with this policy will be monitored by School of Graduate Studies. Programs shall provide an annual list of names of students who have been reviewed by June 30th each year. A template of the department review form shall be provided to School of Graduate Studies. Copies of an individual student’s annual reviews will be made available to School of Graduate Studies upon request. 

The doctoral residency requirement is intended to insure a period of intensive academic interaction with faculty and peers and of sustained independent research. Graduate students are considered to be in residence when they are fully engaged in academic work. As resident students they may teach at the University, take graduate courses, assist in course development, and engage in research or in other scholarly activities at the University. Regardless of the nature of the work, the student’s regular presence at the University is expected during fulfillment of the residency requirement.

The formal fulfillment of residency requires continuous registration in at least six consecutive academic terms (fall, spring and/or summer) from matriculation to a period not exceeding five years after the first credited hour(s) of dissertation research (701). The period while students are on a leave of absence do not count towards fulfilling the residency requirement. Within the context of continuity of registration, departments may enact other restrictions. In such instances, the departmental requirements take precedence and must formally be disclosed to the student at matriculation. This is meant to be a reflection of the appropriate reality that departments and fields have different norms and traditions of graduate study.

All the requirements for the master’s degree must be completed within five consecutive calendar years after matriculation as a graduate student, including any leaves of absence. Doctoral students have five consecutive calendar years from the semester of the first credited 701 registration, including leaves of absence, to complete all requirements for the doctorate. Any graduate student who fails to complete the requirements within the five year limit for his or her degree program will be subject to separation from further study unless granted an extension by the School of Graduate Studies with the recommendation of the faculty advisor or advisory committee and approval by the department chair. An extension may be granted if the student and his or her advisor work out a plan of action for degree completion within a specified time frame which must be endorsed by the department chair. Students will be expected to meet all the specified deadlines outlined in the plan of action. The minimum acceptable registration during this extended period for each semester until graduation is three credit hours of 651 or 701. Plan B master’s students must register for at least three credits of appropriate course work.

These policies apply to graduate students in the School of Graduate Studies who receive stipends that support their effort toward earning a degree during the period when they receive support. They represent the minimum to which graduate students are entitled.

If a graduate student receives a stipend, they will receive support for holidays, parental leave, sick leave, , unpaid leave, unused leave, and vacations, as set forth below. The stipend support for those days will be at the same rate as for normal work days. For all anticipated leaves longer than two weeks, appropriate departmental approvals must be obtained and paperwork submitted to the School of Graduate Studies prior to the start of the leave.

These policies do not supersede other University policies concerning attendance or residence at the University (e.g. participating in classroom activities as a student or teaching assistant). These policies only apply to student effort toward earning a degree.

Holidays

Graduate students are entitled to observe all University closings for holidays and other recognized events.

Parental Leave

Graduate students are entitled to paid parental leave for the adoption or birth of a child. The primary caregiver is entitled to 6 weeks leave and the other parent or domestic partner is entitled to 3 weeks leave. When both parents are supported graduate students, the leave may be used consecutively or together. The leave must be used within 12 months of birth or adoption. Parental leave must be approved in advance in writing by the Program. It is permissible to add parental leave and sick leave together for the adoption or birth of a child.

Sick Leave

Graduate students are entitled to two weeks (10 traditional work days) of sick leave per year, with no year-to-year accrual. Sick leave may be used for medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. Under exceptional circumstances, additional sick leave days may be granted following receipt of a written request from a physician, and prior written approval by the program.

Unpaid Leave

Students who require additional leave beyond what is stipulated above must seek prior written approval from the School of Graduate Studies for an unpaid leave of absence. Approval for a leave of absence must be requested in advance by the student and the student should provide documentation for the leave request and obtain approval. Conditions for the leave and approval must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies. Continued coverage of health insurance is allowable as permitted within the guidelines of University Health Services and with written approval by the program and School of Graduate Studies.

Unused Leave

A student is not entitled to receive any form of compensation for any unused holidays, vacation days, sick leave, parental leave, and/or other accrued time off.

Vacations

Graduate students are allowed two weeks of vacation per calendar year (10 traditional work days) if they receive full support during a 12-month period. Students who receive less than 12 months of support are not entitled to vacation during the period of support. The dates of vacations must be approved in advance by the student's research mentor to ensure that time-sensitive work is not disrupted.

Vacation days can be accrued from one year to the next year only with the prior written approval of the program and only up to a maximum of 20 traditional work days, to allow for international travel, for example. There is no terminal leave.

The times between academic terms and the summer are considered part of the active training period and are not to be regarded as vacation time.

Disclaimers

These policies do not supersede any HR policy. In addition, these policies do not create a contractual relationship with any student and the policies may be amended at any time by the Faculty and the School of Graduate Studies.

The School of Graduate Studies policies regarding continuous registration and leave of absence still apply.

Maintenance of leave records is the responsibility of the academic department.

Students undertaking graduate work are expected to pursue their studies according to a systematic plan each year whether registered for full or part-time study. Occasionally a student finds it necessary to interrupt his or her studies before completion of the graduate program. A leave of absence is not to be requested unless the circumstances are such that the student cannot continue graduate study. Under such circumstances the student must request in writing a leave of absence for a period not to exceed two consecutive regular academic semesters. Leave of Absence Forms can be found at the School of Graduate Studies website or can be submitted electronically in the Student Information System. The reason for the leave must be stated clearly, and the request must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies with the written endorsement of the student’s academic department. In exceptional circumstances, the leave can be extended for another two semesters. However, the maximum amount of leave permitted per graduate program is four semesters.  During a leave of absence the student may complete outstanding work in courses (subject to the established Graduate Studies policy on Incomplete Grades). The student may not, however, fulfill, any other degree requirements during the time on leave. Students also may not seek aid from faculty members on theses or dissertations and may not take exams or defend.A leave of absence does not extend the maximum time permitted for the completion of degree requirements, and a leave cannot be taken while students are on extension of the five-year limit. At the expiration of the leave the student must resume registration unless formally granted an extension of the leave. Retroactive leaves are not permitted. A student who fails to obtain a leave of absence, or who fails to register following an official leave, must petition the School of Graduate Studies for reinstatement in order to resume work as a student in good standing at the University.

A student who is granted a maternity or paternity leave of absence related to infant care, as well as those who must fulfill military duty obligations, can petition to extend the five-year time limit associated with completion of the degree. The length of the extension may not exceed two years. International students must check with International Student Services before petitioning for a leave of absence, as such a leave can affect their visa status.

To add or withdraw from courses or to change registration from credit to audit, a student must submit the Drop/Add Form signed by their advisor, to the School of Graduate Studies in accordance with the dates  and deadlines published each academic term for such actions to be taken. Students must make appropriate changes to their schedules by the end of the second week of classes in order to avoid paying full tuition for a withdrawn course. Only complete withdrawal for the semester entitles a student to a percentage refund of the withdrawn courses after the second week of classes. Failure to attend class or merely giving notice to the instructor will not be regarded as official notice of withdrawal or change. When making changes in registration, an international student must be aware of maintaining full-time status. Full-time status requires registration for a minimum of 9 semester hours per semester (or 1 semester hour of 651 or 701). Students financed by federal loans must remain registered for at least 6 semester hours (defined as half-time) each semester to maintain continued eligibility for that funding or to initiate such a loan.

Students must maintain continuous registration in the fall and spring semesters throughout their degree programs unless granted an official leave of absence. Students who fail to register for any academic term will be automatically withdrawn from their programs. Students who are withdrawn from their programs must petition for reinstatement in order to continue graduate study. The petition must be approved by both the student’s department and the School of Graduate Studies before the student may register for further course work as a student in full standing. In each case of readmission with full standing, the official letter will state the terms of readmission, including future time limits for the degree program, and the past course work that will be credited toward the degree. If more than 24 months have elapsed since the last registration, students may have to resubmit file materials if requested by the School of Graduate Studies.

It is a requirement of the School of Graduate Studies that a student be registered for credit in the semester in which he or she completes all the requirements to graduate in accordance with established deadlines for that semester. For a student engaged in thesis or dissertation research, the completion of all requirements to graduate is not easily predicted, making it difficult to adhere to scheduled deadlines. If a student will not be able to meet the degree requirements to graduate in one semester, but will finish before the next semester begins, students can apply for a waiver of the requirement to be registered in the semester of graduation. To be granted a waiver of registration, students must be registered for the appropriate thesis or dissertation credit hours in the semester (or summer session) immediately preceding the semester of graduation, complete all degree requirements including a current application to graduate, and submit all required materials to the School of Graduate Studies by the end of the Drop/Add period of the next semester, including the Waiver of Registration Form.

A student who qualifies for the waiver will be awarded the degree at the next graduation without the need to be registered. If a student fails to meet the waiver deadline, they will be required to register for the appropriate thesis or dissertation credit hours in the next semester, and to reapply for graduation in that semester.

Transfer of credit from another university toward master’s and doctoral degree requirements is awarded for appropriate course work (not applied to another degree program) taken prior to admission. Transfer of credit must be requested in the student’s first academic year and must be appropriate for the student’s planned program of study. For master’s candidates, transferred credit is limited to six semester hours of graduate-level courses, and no credit for master’s thesis may be transferred from another university. No transfer of credit will be awarded towards the PhD degree except by petition, and no credit for the doctoral dissertation may be transferred from another university. Such courses must have been taken within five years of first matriculation at Case Western Reserve University and passed with grades of B or better.

Students who wish to receive credit for courses taken outside the University once they are enrolled must petition for approval before taking the classes. All transfer of credit requires approval from the student’s advisor, the departmental chair or graduate committee, the department for which credit is being granted, and the School of Graduate Studies. The Transfer of Credit Form can be found on the School of Graduate Studies website.

Transfer of credit does not include the transfer of grades and therefore can not be used to fulfill GPA or percentage of graded coursework policies.

Internal Transfer of Credit

Students of exceptional ability in the undergraduate programs of Case Western Reserve University who have the approval of the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the School of Graduate Studies may apply to receive credit for graduate courses completed in excess of the undergraduate degree requirements.

Graduate students who internally transfer to another degree program may seek approval to transfer coursework from the original degree program by a petition on a Transfer of Department Form.

A candidate for a degree awarded by the School of Graduate Studies must make application for the degree to the School of Graduate Studies by the deadline established for that semester. Students are encouraged to visit the School of Graduate Studies  website at the beginning of the semester in which they intend to graduate to obtain a packet of graduation materials for either the Master's or Doctorate degree. The candidate must meet all the deadlines for completion of degree requirements set forth in the calendar. All candidates must be registered for credit and in good standing during the semester in which the degree is awarded. The diploma and official transcript reflecting the conferral of degree will not be released to the candidate until all outstanding tuition, fees, and fines are resolved.

Students have the right to petition for exceptions to these regulations. Such a petition should be addressed to the School of Graduate Studies. In most cases the student’s department or program committee must endorse the petition.

Requirements for master’s and doctoral degrees beyond those set forth in these regulations may be established by departments or curricular program committees with the approval of the dean of graduate studies. Individual students may be required to take courses beyond the published requirements in order to successfully complete their degree programs. In such instances the student must be notified in writing upon matriculation by the chair of the department or curricular program, with a copy to be filed in the School of Graduate Studies.

It is the responsibility of the student to become familiar with the general rules and regulations of the University, not just those of the School of Graduate Studies. These are including but not limited to the University Policies and University Code of Conduct. A member of the University community who is accused of violating any of these rules and regulations is subject to University disciplinary action. Due process procedures of adequate notice of all charges and a fair hearing will apply. Case Western Reserve University has established a mechanism whereby students may express a grievance against the actions of other students or members of the faculty and staff. The Academic Integrity Policies and Proceduresto be followed in the case of academic infractions by graduate students may be obtained through the School of Graduate Studies. The policies and procedures governing all other infractions are detailed in the University’s Case Student Handbook. The University Office of Student Affairs should be consulted for non-academic infractions.

It is also the responsibility of the student to become acquainted with the general regulations and administrative procedures governing graduate study, together with the departmental or school regulations which apply to the student’s course of study, and, in consultation with the faculty advisor or advisory committee of the supervising unit, to plan the program and carry out the work in accordance with these regulations and procedures.

It is the responsibility of the School of Graduate Studies to ensure that all students enrolled for graduate credit at Case Western Reserve University have adequate access to faculty and administrative consideration of their grievances concerning academic issues. A three-step procedure has been established for graduate students to present complaints about academic actions they feel are unfair.

  1. Students with complaints should first discuss their grievances with the person against whom the complaint is directed.
  2. In those instances in which this discussion does not resolve a grievance to the student’s satisfaction, a complaint should be presented in writing to the department chairperson. If the complaint is against the department chair and is not resolved with this individual, the complaint should be presented to the dean of the school/college.
  3. In the event that a decision still appears unfair to the student, the student may bring the matter to the attention of the dean of graduate studies. The dean may ask the student to put the complaint in writing. The dean will then discuss the case with the student and the department chair to evaluate the particulars and to make a ruling on it. As the situation warrants, the dean may appoint a Grievance Committee to recommend what action should be taken. In this event the Committee will be composed of two faculty members selected from the Committee on Graduate Studies of the Faculty Senate and two graduate students selected either from the Executive Committee of the Graduate Student Council or from the student members of the Committee on Graduate Studies.

The dean of graduate studies has the responsibility for the final decision, and the ruling from the School of Graduate Studies will be considered final and binding on the persons involved in the grievance. Additional information about the grievance procedure can be obtained from the School of Graduate Studies.

It should be understood that this grievance procedure relates solely to graduate student complaints concerning academic issues. The procedure for handling complaints about other matters is detailed in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Graduate students accused of violating the University’s standards of conduct, which are detailed in this Academic Integrity Policy, are entitled to adequate notice of all charges and to a fair hearing and may subsequently be subject to disciplinary action. The process that is outlined in the Academic Integrity Policy will apply to academic infractions, e.g., cheating on examinations, plagiarism, and other forms of dishonesty in academic activities. Additional information is available from the School of Graduate Studies.


Academic Requirements

In recognition that the objectives of master’s degrees differ for various departments and for individual students, especially in the importance given to research, two general plans for master’s degrees may be followed. Master's Thesis option (Plan A) is for MA or MS degrees with a thesis based on individual research and a final oral examination. Master's Non-Thesis option (Plan B) is for MA, ME, MFA, MPH, MSA, or MS degrees without a thesis but requiring a comprehensive examination and/or a major project to be administered by the academic unit.

Within the framework of these general regulations, it is expected that a relevant program of study will be planned for each candidate for the master's degree by the student and the faculty advisor or advisory committee. If applicable, a planned program of study (PPOS) must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies by the end of the second semester. Check with your program to determine if a PPOS is required.  Such a program should include appropriate courses, thesis, and/or project hours, and may also include, where relevant, such experiences as field work or practicum. Guides to submitting and updating the PPOS through the Student Information System (SIS) are available from the University Registrar.  Some departments have the degree requirements coded in the Student Information System and do not require a PPOS.  The academic requirements report in the Student Information System replaces the PPOS.

The master's degree under the thesis option requires a minimum of 30 total semester hours, with 18-21 regular hours of course work, plus a thesis equivalent to at least 9-12 semester hours of registration. At least 18 hours of coursework must be at the 400-level or higher. Courses taken at the 300 level should only be allowed when no 400 level course is available, or under unusual circumstances, both of which must be approved in advance via a petition to Graduate Studies.  At least 12 semester hours of course work must be graded. Once registered for thesis credit (Course 651), a student must continue 651 registration each succeeding regular semester until graduation. However, if a student is registered for course work or research toward the doctorate in the semester in which the thesis examination is expected to occur, concurrent registration for 651 is not required.

Each student must prepare an individual thesis. Joint theses are not permitted. The written thesis must conform to regulations concerning format, quality, and time of submission as established by the dean of graduate studies. Detailed instructions can be obtained from the School of Graduate Studies website.

For completion of master’s degrees under the thesis option, an oral examination (defense) of the master’s thesis is required. This examination is conducted by a committee of at least three members of the University faculty. The candidate’s thesis advisor customarily serves as the chair of the examining committee. The other members of the committee are appointed by the chair of the department or curricular program faculty supervising the candidate’s course of study. The examining committee must agree unanimously that the candidate has passed the thesis examination. Because theses are made public immediately upon acceptance, they should not contain proprietary or classified material. When the research relates to proprietary material, the student and advisor are responsible for making preliminary disclosures to the sponsor sufficiently in advance to permit timely release of the thesis, and these plans should be disclosed when the thesis is submitted to the School of Graduate Studies.

The minimum requirements for the master’s degree under the non-thesis option are 30 semester hours of course work with at least 12 semester hours of letter-graded course work, and a comprehensive examination, approved project or other culminating experience. At least 18 semester hours of course work must be at the 400 level or higher.  Courses taken at the 300 level should only be allowed when no 400 level course is available or under unusual circumstances, both of which must be approved in advance via a petition to Graduate Studies.

Each candidate for the master’s degree under the non-thesis option must pass satisfactorily a comprehensive examination, project or other culminating experience to be administered by the department or curricular program committee. The examination may be written or oral or both. A student must be registered during the semester in which any part of the comprehensive examination is taken. If not registered for other courses, the student will be required to register for one semester hour of EXAM 600 Master's Comprehensive Exam before taking the examination.

Case Western Reserve University awards University Certificates as a credential for completing a set of courses (possibly in combination with other learning experiences) that focus on a specific topic or theme.  A graduate certificate program contains courses taught at the graduate or professional level. The program must include a minimum of 15 credit hours. The student must earn a minimum GPA of 3.00 in order for the graduate certificate to be awarded. Certificate programs may be embedded within degree programs and offered as an option for degree-seeking students, or can be stand-alone programs to which students apply and are granted admission.  Courses taken as part of a certificate program may be double counted for degree programs. Certificates are recorded in the Student Information System and will appear as awarded on the student’s official University transcript upon final confirmation from the School of Graduate Studies. 

Students admitted to the School of Graduate Studies through the IGS, BS/MS, or BS/ME program should refer to the Acceleration Toward Graduate Study page, maintained by the Office of Undergraduate Studies, or the Integrated Programs page maintained by the School of Graduate Studies, for additional requirements for the completion of their degrees.

The policies and procedures related to integrated undergraduate and professional degrees are under review and may be different from what is described on the pages linked above for students who matriculate at Case Western Reserve University during the 2020-2021 academic year and thereafter.

Within the framework of these general regulations, it is expected that a relevant program of study will be planned for each candidate for the doctorate by the student and the faculty advisor or advisory committee. This planned program of study (PPOS), if applicable, must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies before the end of the second semester. Guides to submitting and updating the PPOSthrough the Student Information System (SIS) are available from the University Registrar.

Although specific requirements vary among departments, students entering with a bachelor’s degree will satisfactorily complete a minimum of 36 semester hours of courses (which may include independent study/research, course 601), tutorials, and seminars. All course work must be at the 400 level or higher, and at least 24 semester hours of course work must be graded. For students entering with an approved master’s degree, completion of at least 18 semester hours of 400-level or higher course work and at least 12 semester hours of this course work must be graded. A minimum of 18 semester hours of dissertation research (Course 701) is required for all doctoral students.  For students matriculating in Summer 2019 and later, in order to accurately reflect the time and effort accrued in completing the dissertation,  36 hours of advanced dissertation research will be posted to the PhD/DMA student's record upon successful completion of the dissertation defense and submission of final certification paperwork.

In order to meet the requirements for the doctorate, a student must pass satisfactorily a general examination (or a series of examinations covering different fields) specified and administered by the student’s department or supervising committee. The examination generally precedes advancement to candidacy. A student must be registered during the semester in which any part of the general or qualifying examination is taken. If not registered for other courses, the student will be required to register for one semester hour of EXAM 700 PhD General/Qualifier Exam, before taking the examination. A student who fails the examination on the first attempt may be permitted to take the examination a second time within one year at the discretion of the department. Except in unusual circumstances, a student who fails the examination a second time will be separated from further graduate study within the same department or program.

The formal acceptance of a student as a candidate for the doctoral degree is the responsibility of the student’s department or the committee supervising the doctoral program in accordance with the written procedures of the academic unit. Generally, advancement to candidacy allows the student to enter the dissertation research phase of the degree program, and occurs after all course work and exam requirements are satisfied. At its discretion the supervising unit may require a student to pass qualifying examinations before candidacy is granted. Students are expected to make regular and continuous progress toward the degree. Advancement to candidacy in a PhD program should occur within a maximum of 6 years post-matriculation with a bachelor’s degree (no later than at the completion of 36 semester hours of graduate study) and 4 years post-matriculation with a master’s degree (no later than at the completion of 18 semester hours of graduate study). Students may continue in pre-candidacy status beyond this time on a limited basis by means of a petition to the School of Graduate Studies by the student and program director, based on evidence of student progress toward the degree. Individual programs can require advancement to candidacy before the time limit set in this policy.

The School of Graduate Studies must promptly be notified in writing of the decision concerning a student’s advancement to candidacy, and a copy of the notification must be sent to the student concerned. A student who is refused candidacy status may not undertake further study for credit toward the doctoral degree within the same department or supervising unit. With the approval of both the department concerned and the School of Graduate studies, such a student may:

  1. Take additional courses, if required, in order to complete an approved master’s degree in that department.
  2. Seek admission to the graduate program of another department.

When a student has been advanced to candidacy, he or she may begin dissertation research by formally registering for course 701 credits. At the point at which students begin registering for course 701, the department must identify a University faculty member who will serve as the doctoral student’s principal research advisor and formally notify the School of Graduate Studies. Students who have been advanced to candidacy may register for 1-9 credits of course 701 each fall and spring semester (or up to 6 credits for the summer when needed). In certain cases, students who have not advanced to candidacy may begin registering for up to a total of 6 credit hours of course 701 at the discretion of the department and upon written notification to the School of Graduate Studies. Pre-Candidacy 701 hour(s) may be taken concurrently with course work. Once a student begins registration of 701 hours, he or she must register for at least one credit hour of 701 each semester until graduation. Doctoral students have five consecutive calendar years from the semester of the first credited 701 registration, including leaves of absence, to complete all requirements for the doctorate.

Although there is no general foreign language requirement for the doctorate, each department or supervising committee may set such requirements as are appropriate to the student’s program of study. It is the student’s responsibility to ascertain the foreign language requirements approved by the supervising unit. Each department must notify the School of Graduate Studies in writing of the specific language(s) required and the date of examination determining the student’s proficiency in the required language(s).

All candidates for the PhD degree must electronically submit a dissertation as evidence of their ability to conduct independent research at an advanced level. The dissertation must represent a significant contribution to existing knowledge in the student’s field, and at least a portion of the content must be suitable for publication in a reputable professional journal or as a book or monograph. Students must prepare their own dissertations. Joint dissertations are not permitted. The dissertation must conform to regulations concerning format, quality, and time of submission as established by the School of Graduate Studies, see the Electronic Theses and Dissertation Guidelines here. Research work connected with a dissertation is to be carried out under the direct supervision of a member of the University faculty selected by the student in consultation with departmental faculty and approved by the chair of the department.

Approved dissertations are to be uploaded to OhioLINK before certification for the doctorate. Because dissertations are made public immediately upon acceptance, they should not contain proprietary or classified material. When the research relates to proprietary material, the student and advisor are responsible for making preliminary disclosures to the sponsor in advance to permit timely release of the dissertation. These arrangements must be disclosed when the dissertation is submitted to the School of Graduate Studies in the graduation packet on the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Document Approval and Certification Form.

 

Each doctoral student is responsible for becoming sufficiently familiar with the research interests of the department or program faculty to choose in a timely manner a faculty member who will serve as the student’s research advisor. The research advisor is expected to provide mentorship in research conception, methods, performance, and ethics, as well as focus on development of the student’s professional communication skills, building professional contacts in the field, and fostering the professional behavior standard of the field and research in general. The research advisor also assists with the selection of the other faculty to serve as members of the dissertation advisory and defense committee.

The composition of each student’s dissertation committee must have formal approval by the School of Graduate Studies on recommendation of the chair of the department, division, or curricular program committee. The dissertation committee must consist of a minimum of four members of the University faculty (any tenured or tenure-track Case Western Reserve University faculty member, and any CWRU full-time faculty member whose primary duties include research who is authorized to serve on a PhD dissertation committee by the school or college through which they are affiliated with the University). At least one of these CWRU faculty must hold a primary appointment that is outside of the student’s department, program, or school. The chair of the committee must be a CWRU tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the student’s program. The student’s dissertation research advisor must be a member of the committee and may serve as chair if consistent with departmental policy.

Persons who are not members of the University faculty may serve as additional members of the defense committee, subject to approval by the School of Graduate Studies. A petition with the rationale for the request must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies along with the proposed member’s curriculum vitae.  Under special conditions, a former faculty member whose time of leaving the University has not exceeded 18 months may be approved as a committee member by the School of Graduate Studies.

Throughout the development and completion of the dissertation, members of the dissertation advisory committee are expected to provide constructive criticism and helpful ideas generated by the research problem from the viewpoint of their particular expertise. Each member will make an assessment of the originality of the dissertation, its value, the contribution it makes, and the clarity with which concepts are communicated, especially to a person outside the field. The doctoral student is expected to arrange meetings and maintain periodic contact with each committee member. A meeting of the full committee for the purpose of assessing the student’s progress should occur at least once a year until the completion of the dissertation.

Each doctoral candidate is required to pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation. The examination may also include an inquiry into the candidate’s competence in the major and related fields.

The defense must be scheduled with the School of Graduate Studies no later than three weeks before the date of the examination. The chair of the examining committee should give approval to schedule the defense when the written dissertation is ready for public scrutiny. The candidate must provide to each member of the committee a copy of the completed dissertation at least ten days before the examination so that the committee members have an opportunity to read and discuss it in advance.

Scheduled defenses are publicized by the School of Graduate Studies, and any member of the University may be present at that portion of the examination pre-designated as public by the chair of the dissertation defense committee. Others may be present at the formal defense only by invitation of that chair.

It is expected that all members of the dissertation defense committee be present at the defense. Exceptions to this rule: a) must be approved by petition to the School of Graduate Studies and only under extraordinary circumstances; b) no more than one voting member can ever be absent; c) the absent member must participate through real-time video conferencing at the department’s expense; however, if such video conferencing is not available, the absent member may participate through telephone conferencing; and d) the student must always be physically present.

The dissertation defense committee is responsible for certifying that the quality and suitability of the material presented in the dissertation meet acceptable scholarly standards. A student will be certified as passing the final oral examination if no more than one of the voting members of the committee dissents.

The promotion of scholarship and the discovery of new knowledge through research are among the major functions of Case Western Reserve University. If this research is to be meaningful and beneficial to humanity, involvement of human subjects as experimental participants is necessary. It is imperative that investigators in all disciplines strive to protect human subjects. University policy and federal regulations demand compliance. Per federal regulations (45 CFR 46), all research involving human subjects requires submission of an IRB application prior to initiation of research to the Case Western Reserve IRB.

Each IRB application must have a faculty member noted as the Responsible Investigator. Applications that are not fully completed as instructed will not be accepted. See the University IRB Policies and Procedures on the involvement of human participants in research for guidelines under which investigations involving human subjects may be pursued.

Courses numbered 100 to 399 are undergraduate-level courses. Courses numbered 400 and higher are graduate-level courses.

Graduate Students are expected to take courses at the 400-level or above. Some departments do allow courses at the 300-level to be used for master's programs, however this should only occur when no graduate-level course is available or under unusual circumstances, both of which require a petition to Graduate Studies. Departments are strongly encouraged to create cross listed graduate-level courses to accommodate this need. Graduate-level versions of courses must require additional work beyond that which is assigned to the undergraduate students in the course.

See the University Registrar section of this Bulletin for a list of valid grades for the School of Graduate Studies and their appropriate use in assigning to graduate students. The only grades that can be changed after they have been assigned by the instructor are Incompletes (I). All others will remain permanently on the student’s academic record. Additional work cannot be done to change an existing grade to a higher grade.

There are some grading schemes in the School of Graduate Studies that have important policy implications. They are:

Incomplete (I)

Grades of I can only be assigned for letter-graded and Pass/No Pass courses for extenuating circumstances and only when a student who is passing the course fails to complete a small, evaluative segment of the course. Students may not sit in the same course in a later semester to complete the work required for the original course. All work for the incomplete grade must be made up and the change of grade recorded in the Student Information System (SIS) by the date specified by the instructor, but no later than the 11th week of class in the semester following the one in which the I grade was received.

In exceptional circumstances a student may petition for an extension of the incomplete deadline of no more than one additional semester.  The petition should be submitted by the original deadline date, and must contain the reasons for the extension, a proposed new completion date and a letter from the instructor supporting the extension. 

When a student fails to submit the work required for removing the Incomplete by the date established, the instructor will enter a final grade that assumes a failing performance for the missing work. In the absence of the assignment of a grade by the instructor, the Registrar will convert the I to F when the deadline for making up Incomplete grades from a previous semester has passed.

Pass/No Pass (P/NP)

Some graduate courses are graded on a pass or no pass basis, and students need to be aware of the regulations governing letter graded and pass/no pass credits. Of the minimum credit hours required beyond the bachelor’s degree to complete course work requirements, at least 12 credits must be letter graded for the master’s degree, and at least 24 credits must be letter graded for the PhD degree. For students with approved master’s degrees who are admitted to PhD programs, at least 12 credits of the required minimum of 18 credits of course work must be letter graded. Letter graded courses should be the courses most central to the student’s plan of study. Additional credit hours of letter graded course work may be specified by departmental policy. Performance evaluation for course 601 (Independent study/Research) is limited to P/NP grading.

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U)

Grades of Satisfactory (S) and Unsatisfactory (U) are to be used exclusively for two 651 thesis research and 701 dissertation research. Satisfactory indicates an acceptable level of progress towards completion of the research required for the degree, and Unsatisfactory indicates an unacceptable level of progress towards completion of the research for the degree. Any student who receives a grade of U will automatically be put on academic probation, and if a second U is received, the student will be separated from further study in his or her degree program. Students who receive a U must repeat the course for the same number of credits the following semester.  The M.S. Project course (695) in the School of Engineering is also graded on a S/U basis.


Admissions Policies

Applicants with good academic records from fully accredited universities and colleges will be considered for admission to graduate study at Case Western Reserve University. Admission must be recommended by the department or professional school of the university in which the applicant proposes to study and must be approved by the dean of graduate studies. Prospective students apply for admission through the School of Graduate Studies. The full list of programs offered through the School of Graduate Studies can be found here

The admissions criteria for international students are the same as U.S. residents except for the following:

  1. Applicants whose first language is not English must be able to speak, read, write, and comprehend English. English proficiency must be demonstrated by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum score to be considered for admission, depending on the format of the examination, is 577 (paper-based) or 90 (internet-based). IELTS test scores are also accepted with a minimum score requirement of 7.0, as well as the Pearson Test of English-Academic (PTE) with a minimum score of 61. Note that some programs have higher minimum language scores to gain admission. For only Course Focused Masters Programs within the School of Engineering, the minimum language scores to be considered for admission are an 80 TOEFL or a 6.5 IELTS. 

    Applicants are exempt from the TOEFL requirements if they:
  • speak English as their native language
  • have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher at a foreign university where the instruction was in English
  • have a earned a bachelor’s degree or higher at a U.S. college or university

Please note that we are not able to offer "conditional admission" to students who do not meet the English language requirement.

  1. To obtain a student visa, international students must demonstrate financial sufficiency by submitting bank statements and other financial documents indicating sufficient funds to support the tuition and living expenses for one academic year.
  2. For those students who are to receive financial aid from the department, the amount of funds required will depend on the amount of the aid award. In some cases it will be living expenses, and in others more funds will be required.

When a letter of acceptance for an international student has been issued, a copy is sent to International Student Services where the I-20 is processed and sent to the student who must then obtain a student visa in order to begin study in the U.S.

Individuals with earned bachelor’s degrees who want to enroll in classes for personal enrichment or to satisfy prerequisite course requirements for later admission to graduate programs must enroll as non-degree students through the School of Graduate Studies. Prospective non-degree students should apply for admission through the School of Graduate Studies and submit an official transcript to verify their bachelor's degree. Students may enroll in undergraduate and graduate level courses. Continuation in non-degree status is at the discretion of the School of Graduate Studies. Non-degree students are not permitted to enroll in more than 21 hours of coursework in one program. In order to continue taking courses in that program, the student must apply and be accepted into the graduate degree program. More information about enrolling as a non-degree student can be found at the School of Graduate Studies website.

Applicants who are interested in transferring course work into graduate degree programs are encouraged to seek early advice from the departments to which they intend to apply to insure that courses taken as non-degree students will satisfy departmental requirements. Non-degree students cannot assume that they will be admitted to any graduate degree program, or that all course work taken will transfer into the program. Only 400 level and higher course work will be considered for graduate transfer. The term of the earliest approved, transferred course will establish the date of entrance into the degree program. Courses transferred from non-degree status must have been taken within five years of the first term of matriculation as a degree seeking student and passed with a grade of B or better. Students considering transfer into a degree program will need to meet a minimum matriculation requirement of two semesters and six semester hours of course work.

Postgraduate Audit Program allowing registration for coursework is available to individuals who hold a doctoral degree such as MD, DNP, DDS, or PhD and are involved in research or clinical programs at Case Western Reserve University. Additional information is available on the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs website.

Applicants are guaranteed admission only for the term specified in their admission letter. If unable to enroll then, they may request postponement up to two regular semesters. The department may accept or reject that postponement request.

Terms of readmission may differ from the original offer. If entry is delayed more than two semesters, the applicant's file must be reviewed and reevaluated. If entry is delayed more than two years, the applicant must reapply. Then, because files are kept for a maximum of two years, all new documentation must be resubmitted.

If you would like to defer your enrollment, please email gradadmit@case.edu to request the deferment. We will verify with your department if they approve or deny the deferment and we will update your file accordingly.