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Graduate Academic Policies

Below are some of the most common graduate policies along with information about navigating the policies. For the official source of academic policies, please consult the Academic Catalog.

For the Master's Thesis Policy for pre-Spring 2016 theses, please click here. For the Master's Thesis Policy for 2016 or later, please click here. For the Grade Appeal Policy, please click here

Catalog Year

A graduate student’s catalog year is the academic year when the student is first enrolled after being admitted to a graduate program. A student’s catalog year is not affected while the student is on an approved leave of absence. A re-admitted student is subject to the catalog year requirements based on the semester of his/her re-admission (see Inactivation/Re-admission Policy below).

Change of Catalog Year

An active student may change his/her catalog year to a later catalog year if it is to the student’s benefit. A completed Change of Catalog Year form should be submitted to Enrollment Management Services to update the student’s record.

Grade Point Average

A graduate student’s Grade Point Average (GPA) is determined based on the grades received in all graduate-level courses taken, beginning from the term of initial enrollment in graduate status at Northeastern. All grades received, including those of courses that were taken multiple times (see Repeating Courses policy), will count toward a student’s GPA and will appear on a student’s transcript. A graduate student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 to be awarded his/her degree or certificate.

Leave of Absence

A graduate student is expected to maintain active status from the time he/she begins the graduate program to the time that he/she graduates. According to the Inactivation/Re-admission Policy, a graduate student who has not enrolled for three consecutive semesters (including summer) will be moved to an inactive status. Circumstances sometimes require that students interrupt their studies for longer than three semesters. Such students can apply for a Leave of Absence to avoid inactivation.

  1. Only an active graduate student is eligible to apply for a leave of absence.
  2. A graduate student may request a maximum of six consecutive academic terms of absence, including summer.
  3. A graduate student is not expected to make any academic progress towards his/her degree while on a leave of absence.
  4. A graduate student may not use any University resources while on a leave of absence.
  5. A graduate student’s academic status will not change during a leave of absence.
  6. Students applying for a leave of absence must submit to their graduate program the Graduate Leave of Absence Request Form, located on the Registrar Services’ forms page.
  7. An international student must also gain approval via a signed memo from his/her International Programs advisor. The approval memo must be included with the form submitted to the graduate program.
  8. Programs submitting a Leave of Absence Request form to the College of Graduate Studies and Research Dean’s office must include a memo of support explaining how the student will complete his/her requirements within six years of his/her initial enrollment.

A graduate student finishing a leave of absence must register for coursework the semester of return as specified on the form. Failure to register for coursework the semester the student is scheduled to return will result in being moved to inactive status that semester. An inactive graduate student must reapply to the University for readmission to his/her graduate program. Readmission is not guaranteed. A readmitted student is subject to the catalog year requirements based on the semester of readmission (see Catalog Year policy above).

graduate degree credits

  1. All graduate credits are at the 400 level or above, except for a limited number of 300 level courses that have been approved for graduate degree credits in a specific master’s degree program (referred to as “300-starred” (300*) courses). Programs may permit students to apply up to three 300* courses, to a maximum of ten credit hours, to fulfill program requirements. Students should consult with their program advisors for details concerning graduate degree credits for 300*-level courses. Graduate students may only take the graduate level of 300* courses. 
  2. A maximum of two courses with grades of “C” may be counted toward satisfying program requirements. Courses with grades below “C” do not count toward satisfying program requirements.

repeating courses

A student can take a specific course a maximum of two times (excluding course withdrawals), unless the course is formally approved as “repeatable.” 

6-year program completion

A graduate student has six years to complete his/her program. Courses that are more than six years old do not count toward fulfilling the requirements of a graduate program. It is the responsibility of the student, in collaboration with the program, to plan for a course of study that will be completed within the six-year timeframe.  

If you know that you are going to take longer than six years to complete your degree, you can petition the College of Graduate Studies and Research for an exception to this policy. Please fill out the Time Extension Request form with your graduate program advisor and submit it, along with the required memos, to graduatestudies@neiu.edu. Your petition will be reviewed by the Graduate College Advisory Committee, which then will make a recommendation to the College of Graduate Studies and Research whether to approve an exception to the policy. Any courses more than six years old that are not approved by the College of Graduate Studies and Research cannot be counted towards a Master's degree. 

academic standing

To remain in good academic standing, a graduate student must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. In addition, a graduate student in a degree or certificate program must make satisfactory progress toward his/her degree or certificate. A student must be in good academic standing to graduate.

academic probation

A graduate student whose cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation.  If, in subsequent terms, the student earns grades that restore his/her cumulative GPA to 3.0 or above, he/she will be returned to good academic standing. If a student needs to be placed on academic probation for a third time after he/she returned to good academic standing in two previous probation instances, he/she will be dismissed. A student whose cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 will be dismissed without academic probation.

A student who is on academic probation and who does not restore his/her cumulative GPA to 3.0 in subsequent terms will be permitted to remain on academic probation as long as he/she earns at least a 3.0 GPA for the term. If, in any subsequent term, the student on academic probation fails to earn a 3.0 GPA for the term, he/she will be dismissed.

dismissal for academic reasons

A student may be dismissed from his/her program for the following academic reasons: sub-standard GPA (see Academic Probation policy); failure to make satisfactory progress toward completion of his/her program; or receiving more than six credit hours of unsatisfactory grades (C, D, or F). A student may also be dismissed as a consequence of acts of academic misconduct (see the University Code of Conduct).

To "rescue" a student from dismissal, a program advisor and a student who has experienced extenuating circumstances may meet to develop a plan outlining the course of action the student must follow to return to good academic standing. This meeting must occur immediately upon a student's dismissal, and the plan submitted to the College of Graduate Studies and Research within a week of a student's dismissal. This plan must be created and approved by both the program and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research or the Dean’s designee. Failure to meet the terms of this plan may not be appealed and will result in dismissal. The form for the Graduate Academic Progress Plan can be found here

inactivation/Re-admission policy

A student who does not register for coursework for three consecutive semesters, including the summer term, will have his/her graduate status changed from “Active” to “Inactive” and will not be allowed to register for additional classes. To register for additional classes, a student has three options:

  1. Apply for readmission to his/her original program;
  2. Apply for admission to a new program; or
  3. Apply for admission as a graduate student-at-large.

Readmission to a student’s original program is not guaranteed. All re-admitted students are subject to the catalog year requirements based on their semester of re-admission and enrollment.

To avoid becoming inactive, a student who knows they must be absent from their program for three or more terms should request a leave of absence. The Leave of Absence Request form should be filled out by the student and his or her advisor. 

Graduate Transfer Credit Policy

Graduate transfer credits are any credits used to fulfill Northeastern Illinois University graduate degree requirements which are:

  1. earned at Northeastern prior to the term of admission to a graduate program; OR
  2. earned at a regionally accredited college or university or recognized international college or university. These transfer credits may be earned either prior to or after admission to a Northeastern graduate program.

All graduate transfer credits that are used to fulfill degree requirements need to be approved by the program.

Students should submit their transfer credit request form before the completion of 9 credit hours after admission to the program. Any delay in the completion of the transfer credit request may impact the student’s graduation date. Credits transferred in the final semester before graduation will delay graduation until the credits are posted. Credits earned for thesis hours are not transferable. Coursework credits are eligible for transfer credit only if they meet the following criteria:

  1. Credits must be for graduate-level work;
  2. The course grade must be a “B-” or higher;
  3. Credits must have been completed within 6 years of expected graduation;

Coursework taken at Northeastern prior to admission to a graduate program: Credit for coursework taken at Northeastern prior to admission to a graduate program, which the student wishes to count towards that graduate program, is limited to no more than 50% of the program requirements, except in the case of credits from an earned graduate certificate. The entirety of credits from an earned graduate certificate can be counted towards a graduate degree program. No additional transfer credit is allowed if credits from an earned certificate represent 50% or more of the total program requirement credits.

Coursework taken outside of Northeastern: Graduate transfer credits can be earned either before admission to the student’s program or after admission to the program, provided that the total number of transfer credits (regardless of when they were earned) does not exceed 9 hours. All transfer credits earned after the student has been admitted to his/her program must be approved by the advisor, program advisor, and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research prior to enrollment at the other institution.

waiver of course requirements

Students considering applying for a waiver of specific course requirements based on demonstrated competence may petition the appropriate graduate program advisor(s). If a waiver is approved, the student must complete alternate credits equal in number to those waived.

Graduate Studies

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