All students should be familiar with the regulations and procedures described below. Please note that none of these regulations or procedures shall preclude the development of more restrictive regulations and procedures by any individual graduate program.
- General Academic Regulations
- Degree Requirements
General Academic Regulations
Graduate Course Numbering System
500-599: These are graduate courses equivalent in workload and standards to 600-level courses. 500-level numbers are assigned (a) to graduate courses offered by departments that do not grant a graduate degree; examples are 500-level courses in Mathematics and Spanish that count toward the Teacher Education Track with Professional Licensure; or (b) as a signal to the Registrar that a course given by a graduate degree-granting unit does not normally count toward that degree. 500-level courses are most characteristically found in interdisciplinary programs and certificate programs. The transferability of these courses into a particular degree program, if not indicated in that program’s section of this catalog, should be checked with the program director.
600-699: Master’s or doctoral graduate courses within degree programs.
700-899: Doctoral graduate courses within degree programs.
900-999: Post-terminal degree courses.
691-694, 791-794, 891-894: Seminars, variable titles
695-696, 795-796, 895-896: Independent Study
697, 797, 897: Special Topics, variable titles
699: Master’s thesis
899: Doctoral dissertation
Graduate Degrees and Certificates
The University of Massachusetts Boston offers graduate degree programs at the master’s and doctoral levels, certificates of advanced graduate study, and graduate certificates.
- A degree program is a coherent course of study of at least 30 credit hours leading to the master’s degree or at least 60 credit hours leading to the doctoral degree. A track is a coherent course of study within a degree program; the track curriculum will consist of at least 30 credit hours for a master’s degree or 60 for a doctoral degree, a core portion of which is normally shared by other tracks in the same program. A course of study leading to a degree may further include one or more concentrations of at least nine credits each. Such concentrations are open only to students matriculated in the program.
- A separate course of study of at least 30 credits beyond the master’s level may lead to a certificate of advanced graduate study (CAGS).
- A coherent course of study of at least 12 hours, but fewer than 30, leads to a graduate certificate at either the post-bachelor’s or the post-master’s level. Graduate certificate programs may be either independent or connected to a degree program.
All students wishing to enroll for graduate degrees, tracks within degrees, certificates of advanced graduate study, or graduate certificates must file applications for admission to those programs through the Office of Graduate Admissions. In some cases, students already matriculated in a graduate program may be admitted to an additional certificate program without filing a formal admissions application through Graduate Admissions.
Academic Honesty Policy
It is the express policy of the university that every aspect of graduate academic life, related in whatever fashion to the university, shall be conducted in an absolutely and uncompromisingly honest manner by graduate students. For complete information on university policy in this area, see Code of Student Conduct.
Graduate Grading Policy
For graduate students, the university has used a system of letter grades that are equivalent to numerical “quality points,” according to the following table:
||Quality Point Equivalent
The quality points for each grade are multiplied by the number of credits for the course, and the totals for all courses are added; this result is the student’s cumulative quality point figure. The cumulative quality point figure is divided by the number of cumulative credit hours carried; this result is the student’s cumulative quality point average. Graduate students may also be given grades of “NA” (Not Attending), “Inc” (Incomplete), “Y” (In Progress), “SAT” (Satisfactory), “AUD” (Audit). Explanations of these grades appear below.
The lowest passing grade for a graduate student is a “C.” Grades lower than “C” which are submitted by faculty will automatically be recorded as “F.” This graduate grading policy also applies to graduate students enrolled in undergraduate courses.
The instructor of a class has full responsibility for grading and is the best judge of student performance; there may, however, be instances in which a graduate student believes that a grade has been assigned unfairly. In such cases, the student should discuss the grade with the instructor. If they are unable to resolve the issue between them, the student should make a written request to the graduate program director asking for a formal meeting among the three parties to explain, discuss, and/or reconsider the grade. Although the graduate program director serves as mediator in this meeting, the faculty member remains the final authority for any grading decision.
Not Attending (NA)
The Not Attending (NA) grade signifies that, although a student registered for a course and appeared on the class roster, the student never attended the class. The NA grade is not a substitute for dropping or withdrawing from a course. A student is still responsible for all tuition and fee charges for courses designated NA on their record. The NA grade has no effect on the student’s cumulative grade point average.
The NA grade designation may be replaced on a student’s record by a “W” (withdrawal), provided that the student submits a withdrawal form to the Office of the Registrar before the withdrawal deadline.
The grade incomplete (INC) is reported only where a portion of the assigned or required class work, or the final examination, has not been completed because of serious illness, extreme personal circumstances, or scholarly reasons at the request of the instructor. If your record is such that you would fail the course regardless of your missing work, you will fail. Permission of the instructor must be obtained and the Incomplete Grade Contract must be completed. If you are receiving the grade of incomplete (INC), you are allowed up to one year in which to complete the course. The new grade must be submitted to the Registrar by the grading deadline for that semester depending on the grading deadline set by faculty member. The grade for any course not completed by this deadline will be converted to the grade of ‘IF’.
“Y” and “SAT” Grades for Practicum (698), Thesis (699), Dissertation (899), and Capstone Credits
The required number of practicum, thesis, dissertation, and capstone credits varies by program. While in progress, these credits will be graded Y (in progress) for thesis and dissertation credits and, at the discretion of the program, for practicum and capstone credits. Normal tuition rates will apply. Upon satisfactory completion of these projects, these credits will be converted to SAT (satisfactory).
A graduate student may audit any class on a space-available basis, but may not use an audited course to complete any degree requirement. Registration for audits is not permitted during pre-registration.
To register as an auditor, a student must complete the regular registration or add/drop form (including written permission from the instructor to audit the course), write “AUD” in the course credit column, and submit the form to the One Stop Student Service Center by the end of the add-drop period. Once the course is designated “AUD,” the student cannot receive a grade for it. Students are assessed full tuition and fees (including lab fees) for an audited course. Conditions for the audit are negotiated by the student and the instructor.
In some graduate programs, graduate students may take a maximum of three upper-level (300-400) undergraduate courses from UMass Boston toward their graduate degree, with the prior permission of their graduate program director. These courses must include additional work in order for graduate students to receive graduate credit. Lower-level (100-200) courses may be taken as prerequisite or preparatory courses but do not count toward the graduate degree. Please note that individual programs may set more stringent requirements regarding undergraduate courses. For information about such requirements, please refer to individual program descriptions in this publication or the program’s handbook.
Academic Average for Graduate Degrees and Certificates
A student must maintain a cumulative average of at least 3.0 during their studies. The computation of the grade point average will include all graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses (taken as a matriculated student) that are eligible to count toward the student’s graduate degree or certificate program. Grades for any courses taken at UMass Boston as a non-matriculated student but later transferred into the program are also included in the calculation of the GPA; grades for courses transferred into the program from other institutions are not calculated into the GPA. Graduate students with a cumulative GPA lower than 3.0 will not be eligible to graduate until they raise their GPA to a 3.0.
Satisfactory or Reasonable Progress, Academic Probation, and Academic Dismissal
A student must make satisfactory or reasonable progress toward completion of a degree program within the university’s policy on time limits for that degree. A student who is not making satisfactory or reasonable progress is subject to probation and dismissal upon the recommendation of the graduate program director to the Dean of Graduate Studies.
Graduate probation and dismissal decisions are based on the criteria stated below. Individual graduate programs may establish more stringent quality standards, which are stated in the program section of the Graduate Catalog and enforced for all students in that particular program.
- Graduate students whose cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0 will automatically be placed on academic probation and are not considered to be in good standing academically. Both the student and their graduate program director will be notified of this probationary status.
- A student who in any two semesters, consecutive or otherwise, has semester grade point averages of below 2.8 is subject to academic dismissal for failure to make satisfactory progress, upon recommendation by the program director to the Dean of Graduate Studies.
- Any graduate student who has accumulated four (4) or more INC or IF grades will be considered not to be making satisfactory progress toward the degree, will be placed on probation, and will normally be barred from registering for additional classes until the INC/IF grades are cleared.
- Students may also be placed on probation for failure to meet program requirements upon the request of the graduate program director.
While on academic probation, a student shall be ineligible to hold office in any recognized student organization or recognized professional association, or to represent the university in any sense on or off campus. Students on probation will normally not be allowed to hold a graduate assistantship. Students will be removed from academic probation either when their cumulative grade point average meets or exceeds 3.0 or upon approval of a formal request by the relevant graduate program director to the Dean of Graduate Studies.
A student who has been placed on academic probation in any two semesters, consecutive or otherwise, will automatically be dismissed from the program and the University. The dismissal decisions will be initiated by the Office of Graduate Studies, in collaboration with the Registrar’s Office, after reviewing transcripts of graduate students who, based on approved program criteria, are subject to dismissal. The Office of Graduate Studies will then refer cases for dismissal to the appropriate Graduate Program Director for review and recommendations. A recommendation for dismissal can be waived by the Graduate Program Director upon request to the Dean of Graduate Studies. A request for a waiver should include the basis for the recommendation and the terms for successful continuation in the program. Final dismissal decisions will be made by and communicated to the affected graduate student, the Graduate Program Director, and the Office of the Registrar by the Dean of Graduate Studies.
Graduate students may appeal dismissal decisions in writing to the relevant Graduate Program Director. Program directors in consultation with their dean who support reinstatement for the student will forward a written recommendation, stipulating the terms for successful continuation in the program, to the Dean of Graduate Studies who makes a final determination as to whether to rescind the dismissal. In addition, the Dean of Graduate Studies may add further stipulations to the reinstatement. All students for whom the dismissal is rescinded automatically remain on academic probation. Failure to meet any terms identified within the probationary letter will result in automatic dismissal without recourse to appeal.
Statute of Limitations Policy
Achievement of a master’s or doctoral degree or a certificate of advanced graduate study signifies mastery of one’s chosen discipline. Rather than being merely a collection of courses, a graduate degree requires intense commitment to scholarship and practice within a specific period of time. Such focus and coherence is lost if the degree is not completed within a reasonable time period. Therefore, each program requires that students complete their course of study within designated time limits.
Each program has established its own time limit, approved by faculty governance. A student who fails to complete a program within that established time limit is subject to dismissal. Specific information about time limits is available from each program office.
In exceptional cases, an extension of the time limit may be granted by the Dean of Graduate Studies. In such cases, the student must submit a request to the graduate program director with a letter of explanation accompanied by a detailed schedule for completion. A letter from the student’s graduate program director concurring with the request must be submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies with the student’s request.
Each degree-seeking graduate student must maintain continuous registration until the degree sought by the student has been formally awarded. If in any semester, for any reason, the student does not register for course, thesis, or dissertation credits, they may maintain continuous registration by paying a program fee. For further information, see under “Program Fee” in the “Tuition and Fees” section of this publication.
Leave of Absence Policy
A student who has been accepted into a graduate program is expected to remain in continuous enrollment until graduation, either full-time or part-time. However, if circumstances arise that cause an interruption in graduate study, a student may apply for a leave of absence (LOA). Leaves of absence are generally granted only in cases of substantiated illness or disability of the student or family member, military service, or one semester maternity or paternity leave. A student should document the basis for the leave.* A leave of absence must be approved by the graduate program director and the Dean of Graduate Studies using the form available here.
- Leaves of absence are granted in yearly increments, and students may not be granted more than three years total LOA.
- Time spent on leave approved by OGS does not count toward the Statute of Limitations (SOL). The “SOL clock” is stopped for the period of the leave.
- Students on LOA will not be covered by the health insurance plan until they return to registration
- Students on LOA do not pay the program fee while on leave and a leave of absence does not make a student eligible for student loan deferments.
* If a student is providing medical information on another person as the basis for a medical leave of absence, the student must have the permission of that person to release the information.
Transfer of Courses and Credits
Applicants who have completed graduate course work at other accredited institutions may transfer towards the completion of a UMass Boston graduate degree up to the equivalent of 6 credits from courses in which the applicant received a grade of B or higher, provided these are courses that
- have not been used to fulfill requirements for another degree, and
- were earned no more than seven years before matriculation in the program into which the student wishes to transfer credit.
Transfer credit is subject to the final approval of the graduate program director and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
Transfer of UMass Boston courses and credits taken over and above credits earned for a bachelor’s degree
A University of Massachusetts Boston undergraduate student in the senior year who will earn during this year more credits than needed for the bachelor’s degree may register concurrently for graduate credits at the University of Massachusetts Boston, after securing the permission of the graduate program director and of the graduate course instructor. A maximum of six credits earned in this way will be accepted, provided that they are from courses in which the student received a grade of “B” or better. After completing such a course, if the student wishes to transfer its credits to a graduate program, the graduate program director should submit a transfer credit approval form to the Office of Graduate Admissions and the Graduate Registrar. The student should obtain from the undergraduate registrar a statement certifying that the course was not used to fulfill requirements for the bachelor’s degree. Please note: Pass/fail credits may not be transferred.
For intercampus programs (Biology, Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology, Marine Sciences and Technology PhD, Nursing PhD and DNP, and Professional Science Master’s™), courses taken at other UMASS campuses will not be subject to the 6-credit or 12-credit limit, but will require the approval of the graduate program director for transfer.
Both newly accepted and currently enrolled students must begin the course registration process by conferring with their graduate program directors. New student registration is scheduled by each individual graduate program. Currently enrolled degree-seeking (matriculated) students register, using WISER, during the advanced registration periods beginning in April (for the fall semester) and November (for the spring semester). An “add/drop” period, usually five days in length, is provided at the beginning of each semester for students wishing to make changes in their schedules. All changes must be approved by the appropriate faculty member and graduate program director.
Full-Time and Part-Time Status
For most purposes, full-time graduate study is defined as nine or more credits, part-time as eight or fewer credits, and half-time as six credits. Doctoral candidates engaged in dissertation research may be considered full-time students for some purposes regardless of the number of dissertation credits for which they register, provided their graduate program director certifies that they are working full time on dissertation research. Students seeking financial aid should be certain to obtain detailed information about full-time and part-time status requirements from the Office of Financial Aid Services.
Maximum Credit Load
A graduate student may register for up to 12 credits during the fall and spring semesters and nine credits during the summer. Any student who wishes to register for more than the maximum credit load must secure written permission from the graduate program director.
A student may repeat any course, provided the student has not taken and passed a more advanced course for which it is a prerequisite. The course may be repeated regardless of the grade received, but there may be only one such repetition per course. If a student repeats a course, both grades will appear on the student’s transcript, but only the second grade will be computed in the student’s cumulative average.
Course Changes and Withdrawals
Adding or Dropping Courses
During the “add/drop period”—usually five days at the beginning of each semester—a student may add, drop, or change courses without penalty; that is, no entry will be made on the student’s permanent record. No courses may be added after this period. Please note: a student enrolled in only one course and wishing to drop that course must either pay the program fee to remain active in the program, or withdraw from the program.
Withdrawing from Courses
After the add/drop period, a student may withdraw from a course by completing a course withdrawal form before the withdrawal deadline noted for each term in the academic calendar. Withdrawal forms are available from the Graduate Registrar and must be submitted to that office by the published deadline. A grade of W will appear on the student’s transcript for a course the student has withdrawn from.
Withdrawing from the University
The effective date of withdrawal from the university is that on which all forms are completed, signed, and returned to the One Stop Student Service Center. The last day students may withdraw is the last day of classes of the semester. Students withdrawing receive a W for each course in which they are enrolled. Failure to complete a withdrawal form will result in the recording of the grade of F (failure) for all courses at the end of the term. To withdraw from the university, a student must do the following:
- Consult with the graduate program director.
- Receive clearance from any university office in which financial charges have been incurred.
Refunds and Reductions
Please note: Students receive a full tuition refund for each course dropped during the add/drop period. No refunds are given for course withdrawals after the add/drop period. Students withdrawing from the university may receive partial refunds depending on when the withdrawal takes place. For complete information, please see the university’s graduate bulletin.
Graduate degree candidates must maintain continuous registration, either by enrolling for course, thesis, capstone or dissertation credits; or by paying a program fee. Any student who has failed to maintain continuous registration and who wishes to resume their pursuit of the degree must apply for readmission, and will be subject to the policies and requirements in effect at the time of readmission. The applicant must complete a readmission application form and pay readmission and all back program fees before the application will be considered. Before the applicant can be readmitted, the application must be approved by the appropriate program director and the Dean of Graduate Studies. The deadline for readmission applications is one month before the beginning of the semester for which application is being made.
Readmitted students must meet the program requirements that pertain at the time of their readmission. Courses older than seven years at the time of rematriculation cannot be used toward the degree, except with the prior written permission of the graduate program director at the time of readmission. In addition, it is within the program director’s discretion to disallow any previously taken courses from counting toward the readmitted student’s degree program.
Any student wishing readmission should contact their Graduate Program Director and the Graduate Registrar for further information. Eligibility for readmission is limited to students who were in good standing at the time of their withdrawal, and who are still in compliance with the statute of limitations policy governing the completion of the degree. The Graduate Readmission Application can be found here.
Administrative Withdrawal and Reinstatement
See policy in Student Rights & Responsibilities .
Applying for Graduation
In order for a student to graduate, an application must be completed by following the procedures outlined by the Office of the Registrar.
The format requirements for master’s theses and doctoral dissertations are published in a booklet available here.
Foreign Language Requirements
Each academic program may establish foreign language requirements for its own advanced-degree candidates. The program determines both the number of foreign languages and the level of competence required. A foreign language is defined for this requirement as a language other than the candidate’s native tongue, in which there is a significant body of literature relevant to their academic discipline. The term “foreign language” does not include computer languages.
Master’s Degree Requirements
Please consult individual program descriptions for complete requirements.
For programs that include a master’s thesis, it shall be the responsibility of the thesis committee to approve the thesis project, to supervise its execution, and to arrange for the final examination of the student, including public notice. This final examination, which will be at least partly oral, will be conducted by the thesis committee and will be primarily concerned with, but not necessarily limited to, the candidate’s thesis. This examination shall be scheduled when all thesis committee members agree that the thesis is sufficiently complete to undergo defense; approval of the thesis, passing the defense, and/or recommending the degree, however, are not implied by scheduling this examination. Most programs require the student to deliver a public lecture on their research, usually on the day the final oral examination takes place. The final oral examination itself is attended by the candidate, the committee, and any invited guests. Only the committee members may vote. If all committee members cast positive votes, the student shall be deemed to have passed the final oral examination. If there is one negative vote, the degree will be held up pending satisfactory resolution by the student of the objections of the dissenting member of the committee; final program approval is represented by the signature of the graduate program director. If two or more members cast negative votes, the candidate will be informed that they have failed the examination.
Doctoral Degree Requirements
After completion of their course work and other program requirements, doctoral students are required to pass a preliminary comprehensive or qualifying examination conducted by the program, or successfully complete a qualifying paper. Any student who fails the comprehensive examination may, at the discretion of the examining committee, be permitted a second and final examination. On successful completion of the preliminary examination the student will be admitted to candidacy.
Doctoral Candidacy and Dissertation Requirements
As soon as possible after the student has been admitted to candidacy, the graduate program director of the candidate’s program shall recommend a dissertation committee to the Dean of Graduate Studies. The dissertation committee shall consist of at least three members. At least two members of the committee shall be faculty members in the candidate’s program. Ordinarily, the dissertation committee shall also include a member who is external to the candidate’s program. The external member may come either from within the university or outside of the university. When there is uncertainty about whether a nominee is sufficiently independent of the candidate’s program to serve as the external member, the Dean of Graduate Studies shall determine the nominee’s eligibility. The graduate program director will be responsible for any additional nominations that may be necessary. On a case-by-case basis, graduate program directors may appeal to the Dean of Graduate Studies to approve a dissertation committee consisting of three faculty members in the candidate’s program. Additional resource guides for the formation of dissertation committees and formatting of dissertations are available online.
The Dean of Graduate Studies is asked to provide the Graduate Studies Committee with a report annually on both the number of cases in which an exception is made to permit dissertation committees to be made up entirely of faculty in the candidate’s own program and, more generally, on how well the dissertation committee system is functioning.
Policy on Qualifications of Chairs and Members of Dissertation Committees
Qualifications of faculty to chair dissertation committees:
- To qualify to chair a dissertation committee, a faculty member must be a full-time faculty member and must have:
- A doctoral degree (typically a PhD or EdD, but in some instances a degree such as a JD, MD, or DBS may be appropriate); and
- A record of scholarly publications and/or professional achievement within a period of five years prior to the formation of any dissertation committee that the faculty member chairs.
- Individual programs may establish additional criteria for eligibility of faculty to chair dissertation committees.
- Individual programs are to provide graduate students each year with the names of faculty who are qualified to chair dissertation committees.
Qualifications of faculty and/or outside professionals serving as members of dissertation committees:
- Members of dissertation committees must have an appropriate terminal degree (typically a PhD or EdD, but in some instances a degree such as a JD, MD, or DBS may be appropriate).
- A record of scholarly publications and/or professional achievement within a period of five years prior to the formation of the dissertation committee.
- Individual programs may establish additional criteria for eligibility of faculty to serve on dissertation committees.
- Students establish dissertation committees with the advice and approval of their Graduate Program Director and Dissertation Chairperson.
It shall be the responsibility of the working dissertation committee to approve the dissertation project, to supervise its execution, and to arrange for the final examination of the student, including public notice. This final examination, which must be at least partly oral, will be conducted by the dissertation committee and will be primarily concerned with, but not necessarily limited to, the candidate’s dissertation. This examination shall be scheduled when all dissertation committee members agree that the dissertation is sufficiently complete to undergo defense; approval of the dissertation, passing the defense, and/or recommending the degree, however, are not implied by scheduling this examination. Most programs require the student to deliver a public lecture on their research, usually on the day the final oral examination takes place. The final oral examination itself is attended by the candidate, the committee, and any invited guests. Only the committee members may vote. If all committee members cast positive votes, the student shall be deemed to have passed the final oral examination. If there is one negative vote, the degree will be held up pending satisfactory resolution by the student of the objections of the dissenting member of the committee; final program approval is represented by the signature of the graduate program director. If two or more members cast negative votes, the candidate will be informed that they have failed the examination.
The graduate program director will supply documentation to the Office of Graduate Studies of each of the following stages in a doctoral student’s progression. Those marked with an asterisk must be approved in writing by the Dean of Graduate Studies or their delegate:
- acceptance to candidacy
- formation of dissertation committee*
- acceptance of dissertation proposal
- declaration of intention to defend dissertation
- successful defense
- completion of the dissertation according to the university’s guidelines for dissertation preparation*
Requirements for the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS)
Please consult individual program descriptions for complete requirements.