Dates of Entry and Matriculation
Students accepted into a graduate program matriculate on the first day of the term in which they enroll in a graduate course at the 500-level of higher. For five-year integrated students, this matriculation date is the first course taken as a fully admitted graduate student and not as an undergraduate student taking graduate level coursework. All course work and other requirements for each master’s degree must be completed within five years after a student’s date of matriculation (see Time Limit for Degree Completion). A student retains this date of entry, and follows the terms of the catalog then in effect, as long as he or she does not drop out for more than one term, not including summers, or receives approval for a Leave of Absence as described below. A student who is not in attendance for two or more consecutive terms, not including summer, and who does not obtain a Leave of Absence), must enroll under the terms of the catalog in effect on the first day of the term in which he or she is readmitted to the graduate program at North Central College.
The following classifications apply to graduate students:
- First year graduate student: earned fewer than 18 graduate credit hours.
- Second year graduate student: earned more than 18 graduate credit hours.
- Full-time graduate student: enrolled in six or more graduate credit hours per term.
- Part-time graduate student: enrolled in less than six credit hours per term.
Leave of Absence
It may be necessary from time to time for a student to interrupt his or her studies for two or three terms in order to accommodate a heavy work schedule or other demands. Under such circumstances, a student may apply for a Leave of Absence. The main advantage of being granted a Leave of Absence is that the student retains the program requirements that were in effect at the date of entry with consideration to any additional licensure requirements that may apply. Without a Leave of Absence, a student who interrupts course work for two or more terms, excluding summers, must be readmitted under the requirements of the catalog in effect at the time of readmission. The maximum Leave of Absence time period is one calendar year. For a degree candidate, the Leave of Absence is not counted as part of the five year program time limit. A student must apply for a Leave of Absence during the term prior to the beginning of the Leave of Absence. Application is made through the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. A student on Leave of Absence must notify the School of Graduate and Professional Studies if his/her intention is to resume graduate study.
Withdrawal from North Central
A student considering withdrawal from North Central must contact the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. The amount of refund due upon complete withdrawal is determined by the date that permission to withdraw is received from the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. See Refunds.
The unit of credit used at North Central College is the credit hour, which is equivalent to one semester hour or one and one half hours of credit under quarter plans.
A maximum six credit hours of graduate courses from other schools may be transferred into a graduate program. Such work must have course grades of B- or higher, be appropriate to the program and must have been completed within the five year period immediately preceding admission as a degree candidate. In addition, the work must have been completed for graduate credit or designated for possible graduate credit, and taken in excess of credit required for the student’s undergraduate degree. Transfer credit is granted by the Office of the Registrar, in consultation with the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies and/or the specific Program Coordinator. Graduate work taken elsewhere and accepted as transfer credit is included in the computation of cumulative grade point averages.
Registration for graduate courses is normally completed prior to the beginning of a term through the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. After a term begins, all enrollments in courses and withdrawals from courses are governed by published deadline dates. Informal attendance in a class is not recognized as constituting registration in the course. Informal absence from class is not recognized as constituting withdrawal from the course. A student who wants to withdraw must contact the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. This responsibility falls on the student and the student alone. See the sections below, “Dropping Courses” and “Withdrawal from North Central.” Please complete all registrations in writing and forward via fax, e-mail, mail or submit directly to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. Some On-line registration capabilities are allowed through Merlin at https://merlin.noctrl.edu.
After the first day of a term and up to the first class meeting, a student may enroll in new courses only through the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. After the first class meeting, the consent of the instructor must also be obtained. The instructor’s signature is required to add a class through the add/drop period.
A student may drop courses as follows (excluding summer term):
- Through the eighth calendar day of a term, a student may cancel enrollment in a course without a grade or notation on the record, by request to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.
- From the ninth calendar day of a term through the end of the sixth week of class, a student may withdraw with the notation WD on the record by request to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.
- After the sixth week of class, any student who withdraws from a course will receive an F in the class.
- The official date of withdrawal is the date when the School of Graduate and Professional Studies completes withdrawal procedures. The amount of refund is determined by the official date of withdrawal. Consult current tuition and fee information for details. Absence from class does not constitute withdrawal from a course.
Students should contact the School of Graduate and Professional Studies for official drop dates for summer terms.
A student who wishes to repeat any 500- or 600-level course where a grade of “C+” or lower was earned may do so. Both grades will appear on the student’s transcript. However, only the most recent grade will be used in calculating the student’s cumulative grade point average.
If a student repeats a course in which the original grade was a C+ or lower, and the subsequent grade is also a C+ or lower, the student is subject to academic probation and/or dismissal policies. For advice on repeating coursework, a student should consult the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.
Students may audit courses by registering through the School of Graduate and Professional Studies or online. No credit or grade points are earned in an audited course, and such courses cannot be used to meet graduation requirements, to fulfill a prerequisite or any other requirement. Audited courses are noted on the official transcript with a grade of AU. Students must register for an audit during the first two weeks of a term. After the first two weeks of a term, students may not change their registration from an audit to a regular course or from a regular course to an audit. Audit fees apply, see the Student Expenses section of this catalog.
Undergraduate Students Enrolling in Graduate Coursework
A maximum of six credit hours of graduate coursework may be available to seniors with the approval of their faculty advisor and special permission from the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. An approval form, which must accompany the registration, is available in the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.
If an undergraduate course is not available, a parallel graduate course may apply toward an undergraduate degree. A maximum of six graduate credit hours counts toward the 120 credit hours required for an undergraduate degree. Graduate courses taken for credit toward an undergraduate degree will not later be applied toward a graduate degree at North Central College.
Alternatively, graduate coursework taken as an undergraduate may apply toward a graduate degree at North Central. This coursework will not be applied toward the 120 hours required for an undergraduate degree or any other undergraduate requirement.
Grades and Grade Point Averages
North Central uses the following letter grades: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D and F. A grade of PR indicates a course in progress, but not completed by the end of the term. Grades of P (Pass) and NP (No Pass) may be used for the Master’s Projects or Thesis. A grade of AU indicates the course was audited. A grade of WD indicates a course withdrawal between the ninth calendar day and end of the sixth week of the term, or the third week for a course which is five weeks long. Grades of PR, P, NP, AU and WD have no effect on the grade-point average.
An “I” grade is used to indicate incomplete work and is calculated as an “F.” It may be given to a student who carries a course at a passing level until near the end of the term and then, because of circumstances beyond the student’s control, is unable to complete it on schedule. A final grade must be reported by the middle of the following term or the grade lapses to an F. All remaining work for an incomplete course in Spring Term must be completed by the middle of the following Fall Term.
To compute grade-point averages, the College uses a 4.000 scale: A = 4.000, A- = 3.700, B+ = 3.300, B = 3.000, B- = 2.700, C+ = 2.300, C = 2.000, C- = 1.700, D = 1.000 and F = 0.000. Each course earns grade points by multiplying the points corresponding to the letter grade by the number of credit hours for the course. A student’s grade-point average equals the number of grade points divided by the number of credit hours attempted. For example, if a student earns an A-, a B+ and a C in three 3-credit hour courses in one term, he or she would be credited with 27 grade points (11.1 + 9.9 + 6 = 27) and the grade-point average for the term would be a 3.000 (27 ÷ 9 = 3.000). If those grades were A, B and F, the grade-point average for the term would be 2.333.
Courses in which a student receives grades of D or F cannot be used to meet the course requirements of the graduate program and must be repeated.
A student who believes that the final grade the student received in a course does not reflect the quality of the work performed has the right to meet with the instructor of the course and be given a review of the manner in which the grade was determined. Either the student or the instructor or both may bring a peer or a third party to this meeting. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, the student may appeal the instructor’s decision to the Dean who supervises the instructor concerned. The Dean of the appropriate college/school will consult with the instructor and with the Department Chair of the instructor’s department, will determine whether there is a basis for appeal and may recommend a grade change to the Associate Provost and Dean of Academic Services. Appeal of a grade given by a Dean will be made directly to the Associate Provost and Dean of Academic Services. Grade appeals must be made within a ninety (90) day period following the last day of the term in which the grade was received. Students who wish to appeal grades must understand that except for clerical errors or miscalculation, grades will be changed only in extremely rare instances.
Academic Probation and Dismissal
Every graduate student must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in North Central College’s graduate program to maintain good academic standing, and must make satisfactory progress towards degree completion. If a student’s cumulative GPA drops below 3.0, he/she shall be placed on Academic Probation. A student who has more than two grades below B- on the transcript will be academically dismissed.
The Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, with recommendations from the Committee on Graduate Academic Standing, will decide on cases of academic probation and dismissal, as well as on appeals. The Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies may waive specific requirements in exceptional cases.
Academic Probation is a status warning the student that serious academic performance problems exist and that these problems must be diagnosed and remedied. In these cases, the School of Graduate and Professional Studies actively intervenes to work with students on probationary status to develop action plans and strategies to boost their GPA and succeed in the program.
Probationary status impacts a student in several ways:
- A hold will be placed on the student’s account and the student must meet with the academic advisor prior to beginning the next term.
- A student has either three terms in attendance or nine credit hours, whichever is shorter, to raise his/her GPA above 3.0. At the end of any term where the student has raised the GPA to 3.0 or above, the student will be removed from probation. If the student’s GPA remains below 3.0 upon completion of the additional nine credit hours or three terms in attendance, he/she will be academically dismissed.
- No more than two courses in which a C+, C, or C- was earned may be applied to a graduate degree.
- A dismissed student may apply for readmission after one year, upon demonstrating an improvement in motivation or preparation for graduate work. In the case of academic dismissal, an appeal may be made to the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies.
Any instructor who has assembled evidence of plagiarism will first offer the student a chance to provide an alternate explanation of the evidence or to admit fault. If the inference of plagiarism remains, the instructor may choose one of these options, listed in order of increased severity according to the extent and evident deliberateness of the deceit.
- Reprimanding the student and requiring either a revision of the work or an additional paper or exam
- Lowering the grade for the paper or exam (even as far as F) without opportunity to regain the lost credit The remaining three options come into play if the plagiarism is extensive, if it gave the student substantial academic advantage, or if the student had previously been warned against it.
- Directed withdrawal of the student from the course
- Failure of the student for the course
- Referral of evidence to the dean of faculty for appropriate disciplinary action (which may go so far as suspension or dismissal)
The first two options suppose that the plagiarism is not extensive, that it would not have given the student substantial academic advantage such as full course credit or high course grade, or that the instructor has clear reasons to believe that the plagiarism can be accounted for by ignorance, which, though subject to discipline, is genuine.
Any sanction beyond will be reported to the Dean of Faculty for notation in the student’s file. The record of past plagiarism for a given student may affect the disposition of any new case. No notation will appear on the student’s permanent transcript, nor will any notation be sent off campus with the student’s records.
General Degree Program Guidelines and Graduation Requirements
- Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 27 credit hours at the graduate level (any course at the 500 or 600-level or any course allowed to count for graduate credit by the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies) in the discipline offering the degree program. Each program has specific requirements for completing the individual degree.
- A culminating experience is required for each student earning a graduate degree. The form of the experience (capstone course, master’s project, master’s thesis or other culminating experience) is determined by individual programs and must be approved by the College Graduate Studies Counsel and the faculty. A student is only allowed to complete one such culminating experience per degree. A student earning a dual master’s degree need only complete one such capstone experience, not one in each degree area, unless a specific program chooses to require otherwise.
- At least one interdisciplinary support course (at the graduate level) outside the discipline must be included in most degree programs, with exception to the Master of Nonprofit Management and Leadership. These courses focus on human, ethical or societal issues of concern to the discipline offering the degree program.
A student must pass the Master’s Project or Thesis with a grade of Pass or Pass with Distinction. If the Project or Thesis course cannot be completed by the end of the first term, the student will be assigned a grade of PR, indicating a course in progress. Students should consult their program coordinator or advisor regarding the maximum number of terms allowed for completion. Students are automatically registered for a second term (or more if program rules allow) unless a formal leave of absence is requested and approved. A student must complete the Project/Thesis within the time length allowed, including summers, or receive a grade of No Pass. Lack of contact with project/thesis advisor does not constitute a withdrawal or leave of absence from the project/thesis.
A cumulative grade average of B (3.00) or higher is required for graduation. No more than two courses in which a C+, C, or C- was earned may be applied toward a graduate degree. No grade below C- may be applied to a degree program.
Time Limit for Degree Completion
Graduate degrees must be completed within five years from the date of matriculation. The requirement preserves the integrity of the degree, as the subject matter at the graduate level reflects ever-changing developments within the fields of study. The five years, includes any required prerequisite or foundational course work. The time limit also includes the time for the final project, internship, portfolio, capstone or thesis as required by the degree program. An approved leave of absence is not included in the five year completion timeline. Programs with external accreditation may have different policies. Students should consult with their academic advisor regarding the time limit for degree completion for their program.
The School of Graduate and Professional Studies will approve only one request for an extension of time to complete degree requirements.
Note: This policy will not apply to students who are unable to take courses due to institutional offering constraints.
Exceptions to Time Limit for Degree Completion
A. Extension Requests
In rare and unusual circumstances, the School of Graduate and Professional Studies may grant an exception to the time limit. An application for an extension of time to complete degree requirements may be requested by any student who has maintained steady progress toward degree completion and has not been absent from the program for more than one term at a time (summer excluded) unless granted an approved leave of absence. The student must submit a written petition to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies and include the following:
A proposed plan of work, including a plan for completing all remaining degree requirements;
A timeline for completing the degree;
A letter of support from the director of the academic program, the advisor or a thesis/project/capstone primary professor;
A statement documenting the circumstances that justify the request for a time extension; and
A statement of the impact the proposed extension would have on the validity of the students’ course work;
The extension, if granted, will be for no more than one academic year. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the School of Graduate and Professional Studies of any further delays or changes to the anticipated graduation date. Any significant departures from the agreed upon date of completion may invalidate the outcome of the request.
B. Readmission to a Degree Program
Students who have been out of the program for two or more terms, excluding summer, without an approved leave of absence must apply for an exception to the time limit requirements. The written request must include the following information:
- A proposed plan of work that includes the proposed graduation date and the schedule for completing the remaining coursework;
- A list of all coursework that either does or is expected to fall outside the time to degree limit at the date of the proposed graduation;
- For all courses that will fall outside of the time limit, a detailed description of how the student has maintained currency in the field of study during the time that has elapsed since the course was completed. Currency may be demonstrated by work-related experience, professional development activities, etc.;
- A letter of support from the director of the academic program, the advisor or the thesis/project/capstone primary professor; and
- A statement documenting the circumstances that justify the request for readmission.
If the request for readmission is approved, the student will be readmitted under the catalog currently in effect. Based on the appeal and a review of the coursework, up to 12 hours of coursework outside the time-to-degree limit may be considered. The decision on the inclusion of previously completed coursework will be made by the program director/coordinator or the appropriate academic department. The readmitted student will be required to complete any requirements in place at the time of readmission and will be required to pay the readmission fee.
If the request is approved for the student seeking an extension of time after a non-approved leave of absence of two terms or more, then the student must apply for readmission. Upon acceptance, the student is bound by the terms for completion of the degree as outlined by the work plan and the degree requirements in place upon readmission.
If the Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies denies the extension, the decision may be appealed to the Graduate Academic Standing Committee who will review the appeal in a meeting with the program director.
Writing and Speaking Proficiencies
Good writing and speaking skills are emphasized throughout all graduate degree programs. Each Master’s Project or Thesis must be presented in both written and oral form. A Project or Thesis will not be judged acceptable until both the written content and oral presentation are evaluated as satisfactory.
The College has developed a support program to identify and remedy deficiencies that a student might have regarding written and oral communication skills. Based on evaluations, either at the time of admission, or in early course work, the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies or a Program Coordinator may require a student to improve communication skills through the Writing Center, tutoring, additional undergraduate course work or other means.
Degrees and Commencement
An application for graduation must be submitted to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies prior to the term in which a student’s degree program will be completed. Contact the School of Graduate and Professional Studies for current submission deadlines.
A student completing all degree requirements in any term will receive a diploma on completion of that term and will be recorded as a member of the graduating class of that academic year. All work for the degree must be completed and documentation received by the School of Graduate and Professional Studies by the last day of the examination period for that term. All graduates of the master’s programs are encouraged to participate in the June Commencement ceremony. If a student has completed the Project or Thesis by the end of the spring term and has only one class remaining, he or she may participate in the Commencement ceremony.
Exceptions to Academic Regulations
Students seeking exceptions to academic regulations must file a General Petition with the Office of the Registrar, explaining the reason for the request. General petitions must be signed by the student and the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, and all supporting documentation (e.g. from the instructor, a physician and/or the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies) should be attached.
Learning Outcomes Assessment
In order to provide for continual improvement in the quality of a North Central education, the College has developed an Outcomes Assessment Program, not just to find out how much and how well students learn, but also how and where they learn. Information and data discovered through the assessment program are used to make decisions about everything the College does, from curriculum planning to student activities to support services.
While not all students participate in every aspect of the assessment program, each student at North Central is expected to participate as needed in this important effort. Student contributions provide a clearer picture of what it means to be a North Central College graduate. Consequently, the College can communicate to employers and others the qualities which they can expect in a North Central graduate.