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Policies Governing Graduate Programs

Policies Governing All Graduate Programs


A graduate major is the area of academic specialization in which the student chooses to qualify for a graduate degree. Upon completion of a graduate degree, the degree awarded and the graduate major are listed on the student’s transcript. Find a list and description of graduate program offerings in the Catalog.


All graduate students must file a program plan within the first 9 credits of coursework. This plan lists all courses needed for a particular graduate program.

  • The proposed program plan must be completed with the assistance of the appropriate adviser and submitted to the Graduate Office for final approval. Financial Aid receives program verification once the program plan is on file.
  • Conditionally admitted students, complete requirements for admission as a regular graduate student, including providing a program plan.
  • Students who have not filed a program plan after completing nine credits of coursework will have a hold placed on registration until the form has been filed with the Graduate Office.

The steps listed above must also be completed by graduate students seeking additional endorsements, preparations, licensure, certificates or specializations. (ADD DOCTORAL LANGUAGE)


A graduate area of concentration is a subdivision of a major in which a strong graduate program is available. Areas of concentration are not listed on the student’s transcript.


Students who earn two master’s degrees at Western Oregon University must complete all degree requirements for each degree. This requires filing separate programs of study forms for each degree, filing separate commencement applications for each degree, and completing separate exit evaluations  for each degree. For additional information, please refer to the Transfer Credit section of this catalog.



To allow qualified WOU undergraduate students that wish to pursue a graduate program at WOU immediately after completing their undergraduate degree the opportunity to apply graduate coursework towards the completion of their undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Criteria for acceptance and continuation in the AUMP:

  • Fully admitted undergraduates of senior standing

  • Cumulative WOU GPA of 3.2 or above

  • Pursuing an undergraduate program identified as participating in an approved AUMP

  • Meets any requirements set by the graduate program that is more than the stated minimum requirements

  • Undergraduate students who have been accepted to an accelerated undergraduate master’s pathway must complete all of their bachelor’s degree requirements and graduate within 12 months of the first day of the term in which they begin taking graduate courses as part of the accelerated program. Students who fail to do so will undergo a progress review and may be dismissed from the accelerated program.


  • 500- and 600-level courses that may count toward both the undergraduate and graduate programs will be determined through collaboration of designated faculty members in each program.

  • AUMP students may take a maximum of 16 graduate credits while classified as an undergraduate.

    • Minimum grade of B (3.0) or better is required for a course to apply in the graduate level program

    • Courses graded on a Pass/No Credit or Satisfactory/No Credit basis are not eligible for use in AUMP programs.

  • The number of graduate credits earned in the AUMP program that can be applied to a graduate program will be determined by the graduate program and academic regulation G-18.

  • The number of graduate credits earned in the AUMP program that can be applied to an undergraduate program will be determined by the undergraduate program.


Undergraduates accepted into AUMP will pay at the undergraduate rate for the approved AUMP courses they take while still an undergraduate.

Upon full admission as a graduate student applicable graduate tuition rates apply.


Students enrolled in professional degree studies may seek concurrent admission to a graduate degree at the masters or doctoral level. For more information, contact the professional program involved. (SHOULD AUMP GO HERE?)


A graduate certificate program is a structured progression of graduate-level courses that constitute a coherent body of study with a specific defined focus within a single discipline or a logical combination of disciplines. It is designed for a student who has completed a baccalaureate degree and is in pursuit of advanced-level learning. Graduate certificates reflect the educational mission of the university.


Internal transfer credits are credits from courses completed at Western Oregon University prior to full admission to the certificate or degree to which they will be applied; internal transfer credits may be earned in non-degree graduate status, undergraduate or post baccalaureate status, in the Accelerated Masters’ Program, or while the student is enrolled in a different certificate or degree other than the one to which the student wants to apply these credits.

Credits from graduate coursework completed at institutions other than WOU are considered for use on WOU credentials as external transfer credit.

Students may only transfer course credits from regionally accredited institutions (or equivalently recognized institutions outside the U.S.). Students who wish to transfer graduate credits from other schools must provide transcripts for courses already completed to the Graduate School prior to the submission of a study program. Undergraduate students at WOU may receive credit for graduate courses (500 and 600 level) in excess of the requirements for a baccalaureate degree. Graduate courses taken at WOU while the student was a non-degree graduate student, a post-baccalaureate student, a professional degree-seeking student, or an undergraduate student, are considered transfer courses.

Courses to be transferred must be graduate level. It is the responsibility of the student wishing to transfer the course to provide the necessary documentation to satisfy the WOU guidelines.

Transfer credits are those taken pre-admission to a graduate program at WOU or at another regionally accredited university.

Transfer credits, outside of a defined Accelerated Undergraduate Master’s Pathway, must be documented with an official sealed transcript from a regionally accredited university, approved by the student’s adviser, and should be submitted and approved early in the student’s program to the Office of Graduate Programs. Transfer credits are subject to approval by the dean of graduate studies and research.

Graduate students must earn a minimum of 2/3 of the credits required for their graduate degree at WOU, after formal admission to the graduate degree program. Individual programs may have stricter limitations. Pre-admission and transfer credits for master’s degrees must meet the following requirements: must be a letter grade of B or higher and must total no more than 1/3 of the required credits for a master’s degree. Eligible WOU credits applied toward a completed graduate certificate can be applied toward a subsequent master’s degree without counting toward the pre-admission limits.

Credits from non-accredited colleges and universities cannot be used in a master’s program.

A maximum of 15 credits of non-admit graduate coursework can be applied to an endorsement or degree program with adviser approval. (G-12)

Credits earned in fulfillment of a graduate certificate program may be applied to a graduate degree, so long as they meet the appropriate standards for use in the degree and the criteria to transfer credit as defined herein. Courses completed for a degree program may likewise be applied toward a certificate program, so long as they meet the appropriate standards for use in the certificate and the criteria to transfer credit as defined herein.


Graduate courses cannot be challenged. If a graduate student has extensive background in an academic area, the graduate student’s adviser can determine other graduate courses that can be substituted for the course in question on the plan of study. A substitution form must be submitted to the Graduate Office. (language needs to be changed to reflect what this policy is)



The full-time course load for graduate students is nine graduate credits, including coursework portfolio, professional project, field study or thesis. The maximum course load for graduate students is 16 credits with any combination of courses (graduate or undergraduate) during fall, winter or spring term. Twelve credit hours is the maximum load for graduate students during the six-week summer term.

Full-time status (i.e., a minimum of 9 credits per term) may not be sufficient to qualify for purposes of veterans’ benefits, visa requirements, external fellowships, or federal financial aid.

Continuous Enrollment (Talk of replacing G-3) with this language

      • Minimum Registration Degree-seeking graduate students are required to register for a minimum of three credits each academic year until all degree requirements have been completed. Unless on an approved leave of absence, degree-seeking graduate students who fail to maintain the minimum enrollment requirement will be regarded by the university as having resigned from the program. Students who later wish to resume study toward the degree must reapply for admission to their graduate program using the Re-enrollment Application. Readmission cannot be guaranteed and is subject to program review. Graduate students involved in activities requiring any faculty time or use of University facilities are required to register for a minimum of one graduate credit during each term in which these activities occur. This includes students engaged in any phase or aspect of research, exit project, or thesis. A minimum of one graduate credit of registration is required any term (including summer) when students are completing a major milestone for the degree such as submission of a final project, thesis defense, taking comprehensive exams, and graduation. Graduate programs may have additional enrollment requirements relative to the amount of time required of the faculty or University facilities.
      • Leave of Absence Graduate students in good standing may request a leave of absence to suspend their program of study for a good cause (i.e., illness, temporary departure for employment, family issues, financial need, personal circumstances). Students must submit a Leave of Absence form (to be created) indicating which term(s) they intend to be on-leave. Students may request more than one leave, but combined leaves cannot exceed six terms. The request must be reviewed and approved by the Program Coordinator, Division Chair, and the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. Students who are granted leave of absence may not use university resources or faculty time. A leave of absence does not waive or extend the time limit for completion of a graduate program.
      • Student Fees Students with approved on-leave status are not required to pay tuition or fees. However, students who must register as per section I, “Minimum Registration,” must pay both tuition and student fees.
      • Unauthorized Break in Registration A graduate student who takes an unauthorized break in registration by failing to maintain continuous enrollment or by failing to obtain a leave of absence will relinquish his or her graduate standing in the university. Students who wish to have their graduate standing reinstated will be required to apply for readmission and pay the application fee. The readmission application must be approved by the student’s major professor, department/school/program chair, and graduate dean. Acceptance back into a graduate program is not guaranteed even if the student departed in good standing. The petitioner for readmission will be required to meet university and departmental admission requirements and degree completion requirements that are in effect on the date of readmission. Review of the Application for Graduate Readmission may also result in a change of residency status from resident to nonresident.
      • Appeal In the case of extraordinarily extenuating circumstances, students may appeal the provisions of the continuous graduate enrollment policy by submitting a detailed request in writing to the dean of the Graduate School.


All graduate students, excluding most certificate-only students, including those enrolled prior to XX, are subject to this policy. 

All graduate students should be enrolled for a reasonable number of credits sufficient to represent their use of university space, facilities or faculty time. Minimum enrollment is three credits per term.


Students who have not enrolled in courses for more than three terms will have their student status inactivated. They will be required to submit a re-enrollment application along with adviser approval and a $15 fee in order to enroll in courses or have their degree, endorsement, specialization or certificate recorded with the Graduate Office. (MAY NEED TO BE RE-EXAMINED IF WE DO CONTINOUS ENROLLMENT)


Although grades of C+, C and C- are below the graduate standard, up to eight hours may be counted as credit toward a master’s degree if the course(s) was/were taken through Western Oregon University. Grades below a B- cannot be transferred into a WOU graduate program from another accredited university or college. A maximum of 15 credits of non-admit graduate coursework can be applied to an endorsement or degree program.

The graduate student must always maintain a B (3.00 GPA) average on the courses fulfilling the degree requirements (courses listed on the student’s graduate program plan of study). A department/program can establish more rigorous policies concerning the use of C grades in a degree program and/or overall minimum GPA requirements. Grades of D or F indicate unacceptable work and carry no graduate credit. A graduate student whose overall GPA falls below 3.00 or receives a grade of D or F must submit a petition with a plan of remediation to the Graduate Studies Committee. The petition and plan of remediation must be approved by the student’s adviser or program coordinator.

A grade of P/NC can be used by only a limited number of degree programs that have received special authorization and that can be counted as credit toward a graduate degree. (Should we make this more rigorous? Is this sufficient for doctoral programs?) 


The following grading scale is employed at the graduate level:

Normal graduate performance:
Below graduate standards:
Unsatisfactory performance:

The following marks are also used. These grades are disregarded in the computation of grade-point averages.

P Satisfactory completion (B- or better, special conditions apply)
NC No Credit, unsatisfactory
I Incomplete (see Incomplete Grades (W-2c) and Special Regulations Concerning Incomplete Grades (G-11))
RP Regular Progress (see Regular Progress Grades (W-2d) )
W Withdrawn
X No grade received/no basis for grade (see X Grades (W-2e) )


Calculation of the final cumulative GPA for graduation for a graduate student will include all 500-, 600- and certain 700-level courses determined to be eligible for use on a graduate program of study. Undergraduate (100 to 400 level) courses taken, even if taken while a graduate student, will not be used in the cumulative GPA calculation for graduation. A graduate student is required to attain a 3.0 GPA in all graduate-level coursework, both cumulatively and on the program of study, for graduation.


All graduate courses will be designed to help students achieve well-defined objectives or student learning outcomes. Student learning outcomes encompass the range of student attributes and abilities that students should be able to demonstrate after successful completion of the course.

400/500 courses

Courses bearing dual-listed numbers (400/500) must provide students who are enrolled for 500-level credit with graduate-level learning. Expectations for learning outcomes in the graduate component of dual listed (400/500 level) courses are the same as for stand-alone 500-level courses. A distinction must be made between learning outcomes for students taking the course for undergraduate credit (400 level) and those taking the course for graduate credit (500 level). In most cases this distinction should include emphasis on developing skills in analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation for the 500-level credit. The differences in student learning outcomes should be accompanied by appropriate differences in learning opportunities and evaluation procedures.

500-level courses

These courses are graduate courses in support of graduate certificate/endorsement/specialization or master’s degree programs.

Undergraduates of exceptional scholastic achievements may, outside of an Accelerated Undergraduate to Master’s Pathway (AUMP), program be admitted to these courses on the approval of the instructor and they may, if admitted, under some conditions, use a limited number of these courses toward a graduate certificate/endorsement/specialization or a master’s degree program. These courses have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • They require upper division prerequisites in the discipline.
  • They require an extensive theoretical base in the discipline.
  • They increase or re-examine the existing knowledge or database of the discipline.
  • They present core components or important peripheral components of the discipline at an advanced level.

600-level courses

These are graduate courses available for use by graduate and AUMP students, for graduate certificate/endorsement/specialization or master’s degree programs. In addition to exhibiting the characteristics of 500-level courses, these courses typically have increased level of sophistication on developing skills in analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation.

At least 50 percent of coursework in a master’s degree program must be 600 level.

700-Level Courses

These are advanced professional or technical courses that may be applied toward a first professional degree (e.g., DVM, PharmD). They make up the bulk of the coursework for these professional degree programs. In general, these courses are not considered graduate-level courses, and may not be applied toward graduate certificate, master’s level or doctoral level (PhD or EdD) degree programs. However, selected 700-level courses that have been deemed equivalent to graduate-level learning may be used on doctoral programs of study upon approval of the student’s graduate committee and the Graduate School.

800-Level Courses

These courses are in-service courses aimed at practicing professionals in the discipline. These courses have an in-service or retraining focus and provide the professionals new ways to examine existing situations or new tools to treat existing problems. These courses generally have none of the characteristics of 500-level courses. They are not graduate-level courses, and they may not be applied to graduate certificate or graduate degree programs nor to professional degree programs.

Blanket-Numbered Courses

Blanket-numbered courses have a zero middle digit. Those that carry graduate credit may be repeated up to the maximum totals indicated below.

      • Research (601 or 701) is for research that is not part of the thesis. Data obtained from such research should not be incorporated into the thesis.
      • Thesis (603 or 703) covers the thesis research and writing. A student may register for thesis credit each term.
      • Reading and Conference (605 or 705)
      • Professional Projects (606 or 706) are used for special work not given under a formal course number.
      • Seminar (607 or 707) is used both for departmental seminars and for special group work not given in a formal course.
      • Workshop (608 or 708) is usually a special, short-term course covering a variety of topics.
      • Practicum/Interships (609 or 709) is used for courses whose emphasis is the application of academic theory to the work environment.


A maximum of 15 credit hours of workshops, special arrangement and practicum courses may be applied to a master’s degree program. These courses must be pre-approved by the appropriate adviser. Fifteen credit hours of 506, 606, 507, 607, 508, 608, 509 and 609 (ADD IN 700 LEVEL COURSES) courses may be included in a program. Additionally, there is a limit of nine credit hours of any one number.


See university regulation Incomplete Grades (W-2c)

  • The instructor of a course has the final decision regarding the appropriateness and willingness to award a grade of incomplete.
  • A graduate student with more than nine (9) hours of uncleared incomplete coursework (except for student teaching, internship, thesis, field study and/or professional project) will have a hold placed on registration until a petition has been submitted to the dean of graduate studies and research and a remediation plan approved.
  • A student requesting a grade of incomplete and the course instructor issuing a grade of incomplete must both sign a contract that specifies:
  1. The course assignments still needing to be submitted to remove the incomplete grade.
  2. A timeline for completion of course requirements:
    • A student who has a grade of incomplete in a course that is a prerequisite for a subsequent course may not enroll in the subsequent course until the grade of incomplete is removed or must receive the permission of the instructor to be allowed to enroll into the subsequent course.
    • Any graduate program can decide to not allow a student to register for their final professional field experience (student teaching, internship, etc.) on the basis that incomplete grades have not been cleared before the beginning of the final professional field experience. (make more involved for doctoral)
    • The Graduate Office will not allow students to sit for their final comprehensive examination until past incomplete grades have been cleared.


The RP grade is reserved for specific courses which extend past the regularly scheduled term. In no case shall they extend beyond 12 months after the end of the term. Instructors must designate a course to be eligible for the RP grade in the course description approved through the Faculty Senate curriculum process.

When coursework is completed within the 12 month time frame, instructors must replace the RP grade with the appropriate grade through the standard grade change method. The replacement grade must correspond with the final grading method established for the course (A-F or Pass/No Credit).

When a regular progress grade is submitted, the instructor will also submit a default grade as if no further student work was completed. If the student doesn’t complete the work within 12 months, then the default grade will automatically become the permanent grade for the course.

At the time of graduation, a student’s academic record is closed and any outstanding regular progress grades will permanently revert to the instructor’s default grade. An unresolved regular progress grade may prevent graduation because the default grade may lower a student’s GPA or prevent a needed requirement from being met. Students are strongly encouraged to resolve regular progress grades within the shortest possible time to prevent problems closer to graduation.


A student who does not attend class or turn in course assignments will receive a grade of X, which indicates that there is no basis for assigning a grade. Students who receive an X in any course will have to register for the course again to receive credit.

A student who has participated in a course but has failed to complete essential work or attend examinations and who has not communicated with the instructor, will be assigned whatever grade the work has earned.


The Graduate Programs Committee includes membership representing each graduate program on campus and serves as an extension of the Faculty Senate on matters concerning graduate curriculum and university admission standards. It makes recommendations to the Faculty Senate concerning a) graduate courses; b) graduate program changes; and c) university graduate policies. In addition, the Graduate Programs Committee serves as an advisory committee to the Director of Graduate Programs. It reviews and decides upon graduate student petitions and advocates for graduate programs at WOU. (Effective 2010)


    Students that receive more than 8 total credits of C’s, more than 9 credits of incompletes, a GPA lower than 3.0 or a D/F grade will be removed from their program and required to petition for re-enrollment. This process is conducted at the end of each term and students will be notified immediately of their academic standing via email to their student account. Students are required to submit a petition via the General Graduate Student Petition form to the Graduate Office by the deadline given. Students that fail to meet the deadline can petition afterwards for reinstatement in the following term pending approval by the committee which is composed of three members of the graduate studies committee. (MAY NEED REVISION FOR DOCTORAL STUDENTS IF G-9 IS REVISED)


    Final evaluation procedures:

    Apply one term prior to completion of final coursework.

    1. Application for completion of master’s degree (need to change name) must be submitted to the Graduate Office.
    2. Final evaluation procedures must be completed, either written examinations or alternative evaluations by Wednesday of finals week in the final term of course study.

    Conferring of degree:

    Students may participate in Commencement if they meet the following requirements:

    • Are within one to two courses of completing degree requirements
    • Have written approval of their graduate adviser
    • Have a plan on file in the Graduate Office to complete degree requirements the following term

    Each graduate student must file an application for completion of the master’s degree with the Graduate Office. This application also serves as the application to complete the final evaluation procedures. This is due one term before completion. Additional general information is available on the website at

    Students receiving their specializations, endorsements or certificates only are not eligible to participate in Commencement. Commencement is held for master’s students receiving graduate degrees.


    A graduate student graduates from WOU when the Office of the Registrar determines that all university requirements have been met. Graduation occurs at the close of any academic term. Upon graduation, a student’s academic record is closed.

    Commencement exercises at WOU take place once a year in June. Graduate students who are within one to two courses of completing degree requirements at Western Oregon University may participate in the Commencement ceremony if they have a plan on file in the Graduate Office indicating that those courses will be completed during the subsequent summer term and have approval of their adviser. Students must also have completed comprehensive exams. (Does Amy Clark want to make this formatted like UG?)

    Definitions: Graduation vs. Commencement (U-8b)

    Graduation and commencement are not the same. A student graduates from WOU after applying to graduate and after the Office of the Registrar determines that all university academic requirements have been met. Students may graduate at the end of any academic term.

    Commencement is WOU’s annual ceremony in June that recognizes students’ completion of degrees. Students who are eligible and wish to participate, must submit all required information by the deadline posted on the Office of the Registrar’s online calendar. Failure to submit necessary information by published deadlines may result in the student’s name not being included in the published Commencement program.

    Commencement Attendance (U-8h)

    Students are required to declare their intention to participate in June commencement according to the deadline specified on the Academic Calendar on the Office of the Registrar’s website.

    Students who have graduated in the previous summer, fall or winter terms are eligible to attend the Commencement ceremony. Students who have applied to graduate in spring or in the summer or fall term immediately following spring term may also participate in the ceremony.


    The WOU IRB is a group of WOU faculty, staff, and community members charged with providing oversight for all human subjects research conducted in association with WOU. The purpose of IRB oversight of research is to assure the protection of the research participants, the researcher, and the university. The research community has a responsibility to ensure that the treatment of human participants in research meets the highest ethical standard.

    All faculty and staff must submit for IRB review any research project involving human subjects. IRB approval for these projects must be granted prior to the initiation of any study activities, including recruitment or analysis of existing data.



    Students wishing to apply for Graduate Assistantships must apply via the Graduate Assistant Application directly to Graduate Programs Office by the posted deadline. The Office of Graduate Programs processes applications, posts recruitment announcements, and handles all employment procedures for Graduate Assistantships across the university.

    Graduate Student Assistant Positions are a form of student employment, earning a compensation package including both salary and tuition remission for the performance of research or teaching services to the university as part of the student’s academic and professional training and development. Graduate Assistantships provide fee remission of the instructional fee portion of tuition (up to 12 credits) and a monthly stipend for the service provided each term of the appointment. You must be a full-time graduate student, fully admitted to a graduate degree program, and in good academic standing to begin an assistantship.

    Graduate students are required to register and remain enrolled in a minimum of eight/nine credits of graduate coursework in order to receive graduate tuition remission. Graduate students in their last term of courses may take less than the required 8 credits in order to finish their degree. Any courses taken beyond 12 credits are the financial responsibility of the student.

    1. If a student falls below this course load, they will not be awarded subsequent tuition remission.
    2. Students must notify the graduate office, via email within 24 hours, documentation of any course substitutions or additions to the original Graduate Assistant Approval Request.
      • If within the first week of courses a student adds additional courses, the remission difference will be applied by payroll, providing that student notifies the Graduate Office via email.
      • If a student drops any combination of courses so that his/her credits are reduced from the amount covered by fee remission for the term (e.g., 12 to 9, 12 to 10, etc.), that amount will be deducted from his/her fee remission the following term.
    3. If a student withdraws from all courses, the refund will be returned to the fee remission account.
    4. Students will not be invited back to their position if they do not honor their signed contract.
    5. During the last term of enrollment, you will be billed back 50% of remission for that term if you fail to successfully complete your program.
    6. Conditions of employment include keeping a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 


    Advanced-degree students and graduate certificate (regularly, conditionally, and provisionally admitted) are expected to make satisfactory progress toward a specific academic degree or certificate. This includes maintaining a GPA of 3.00 or better for all courses taken as a graduate student and for courses included in the graduate program, meeting departmental or program requirements, and participating in a exit requirement.

    If a student is failing to make satisfactory progress, as determined by the major department/program or graduate regulations, the student may be dismissed from their graduate program.

    Academic dishonesty and other violations of the Student Conduct Code (link) may serve as grounds for dismissal from their graduate program.


    Graduate students enrolled at Western Oregon University are expected to conform to basic regulations and policies developed to govern the behavior of students as members of the university community. The regulations have been formulated by the Student Conduct Committee, the Student Activities Committee, the university administration, and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. Violations of the regulations subject a student to appropriate disciplinary or judicial action. The regulations and the procedures for disciplinary action and appeal are available via the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards website. (link to WOU)

    Policies Governing Graduate Certificate Programs


    The Graduate Certificate Program at Western Oregon University is a structured progression of graduate-level courses that constitute a coherent body of study with a defined focus within a single discipline or a logical combination of disciplines. It is designed for a student who has completed a baccalaureate degree and is in pursuit of advanced-level learning. Graduate certificates reflect the educational mission of the university. Students desiring a graduate certificate must be admitted to the university as a credential-seeking graduate student. There is no formal committee requirement for graduate certificates. Certificate students are subject to all general policies governing the courses for the master’s degree, unless specified within the Graduate Catalog.


    The graduate certificate curriculum consists of a minimum of 12 graduate credits.  No final examination is required.


    Students enrolled in graduate certificate programs with 27 or more credits may qualify for federal loan and work-study financial aid. Students must complete the federal FAFSA form to begin the financial aid application process.


    If all other requirements for transfer course eligibility are met,

        1. Up to 9 quarter credits maybe transferred into an WOU Certificate Program.
        2. No more than half of the credits used for a certificate program may be counted in any other certificate program.


    Policies Governing Master’s Degree Programs


    All master’s degree programs require a minimum of 45 graduate credits including thesis (6 to 12 credits), research-in-lieu-of-thesis (3 to 6 credits), or an integrative capstone experience (3 to 6 credits). Exceptions to this capstone requirement are specified under the degree descriptions that follow these universal master’s degree requirements. All graduate student programs of study submitted to the Graduate School must consist of, at a minimum, 50 percent graduate stand-alone courses. The remaining credits may be the 500 component of 400/500 slash courses. General regulations for all master’s programs are cited here, with certain exceptions provided for master’s degrees in the professional areas listed on the following pages.

    Each graduate student at WOU is expected to meet the following objectives pertinent to their specific graduate program:

    • Demonstrate the advanced competence and skill in the mastery of concepts, principles, systems and practices which are in the context of the student’s specialty.
    • Demonstrate advanced competence and skill in reading, interpreting and applying the research and literature of the professional studies component of the student’s graduate program.
    • Demonstrate awareness and understanding of ethical, philosophical and cultural issues that apply to the professional component of the student’s graduate program.
    • Demonstrate the ability to synthesize and apply program skills and knowledge through the program’s exit requirement.


    All graduate programs will include at least 30 graduate credits from WOU.


    All work toward a master’s degree, including transferred credits, coursework, thesis (if required), and all examinations, must be completed within seven years. Time in which the student is on a leave of absence is included in the seven-year limit with the exception of approved Family Medical leaves.


    All graduate students must complete one or more final exit evaluations. The type of exit evaluation is determined when the graduate program plan is approved. Common exit evaluations consist of written comprehensive examinations, thesis, portfolio, action research projects, field studies and professional projects or combinations of two exit evaluations. The Graduate Office will determine the type of exit evaluation(s) based on the graduate student’s program plan.

    Graduate students who elect to write a thesis, professional project or field study must follow the procedures outlined in the guidelines which can be found on the web at A final oral examination will be required of all graduate students who write a thesis, professional project or field study. The oral examination is not limited to the thesis, field study, portfolio or professional project, but may cover any aspect of the student’s program.

    Graduate students who prepare a portfolio should contact an adviser for information regarding specific portfolio requirements for that program.

    Some divisions at WOU require comprehensive written examinations based on coursework in the student’s content area in addition to the completion of thesis, field study, professional project or portfolio.

    Final written comprehensive examination will be based upon areas of study in the approved program. Subject area questions will be based upon the statement of components, objectives and requirements outlined in the statement of program objectives. Graduate students who fail one or more areas of the written comprehensive examination may be given a program of self-study by their adviser(s) and may retake the area(s) failed at another regularly scheduled comprehensive examination.

    Students may retake the written comprehensive examinations only once. Graduate students who score unsatisfactorily (below C-) on any component of the comprehensive examination will be required to take a final oral examination on the unsatisfactory section. Final oral examinations will not be required of students who score a pass or above on all areas of the written comprehensive examination.

    A graduate student is eligible to complete final evaluations only after all coursework has been completed or the student is in the final term of enrollment. Per policy, they can also participate in comprehensive exams spring term if they have two or fewer courses to finish during the subsequent summer term. All incomplete grades must be changed to a letter grade before a student will be allowed to take his or her comprehensive examination. An exception is made if the outstanding incomplete grade is for a current student teaching grade, exit project or special individual study course. Examinations are offered every term except summer.


    Thesis attempts to share with the professional community information that may be used to enhance the common knowledge base of a particular profession. The focus of the thesis research is to answer a question that is of interest to the general profession. The results of thesis research are generalized to an entire field. Candidates who elect to write a thesis must follow the procedures outlined in the guidelines which downloaded here.

    The master’s student must show familiarity with previous work in the field and must demonstrate ability to organize data and explain results. The format is:

    • Rationale for the Project that includes a detailed description of environment for which the study was designed
    • Review of Literature
    • Statement of Hypotheses
    • Methodology
    • Analysis
    • Results

    Policy for Accepting and Binding of Thesis or Project

    The final thesis will be presented to the student’s thesis board. A student is required to submit one copy of the thesis to have on file in the library. Students may provide additional copies to be bound for themselves.

    • The thesis must be submitted to the Graduate Office (Administration building, room 107) the Wednesday of Finals Week.
    • The cost for binding is $30 per copy. All binding costs will be charged to the student’s account.
    • It takes 4-6 weeks to process the bound copy of the thesis and it can either be mailed directly to the student or arranged for pick up at the Graduate Office.

    Action Research Projects

    Students in the Master of Arts in Teaching: Initial Licensure program complete an Action Research Project as part of their exit requirement. This project is a study of the student’s own practice. This document includes the following:

    • Philosophy of Education/Teaching
    • Review of the literature
    • Methodology
    • Results and discussion
    • Summary, conclusion, and implications

    The structure and format of the Action Research Project should be established by the student’s advisor.

    Comprehensive Exams

    Final written comprehensive examination will be based upon areas of study in the approved program. Subject area questions will be based upon the statement of components, objectives and requirements outlined. Comprehensive written examinations are taken during the student’s last quarter of study or after all courses have been completed for a particular degree. The examination is designed to be taken in two morning sessions. The dates for comprehensive examinations are established by the University each term. Individual test dates for comprehensive examinations are not allowed. Comprehensive exams are not offered during the summer. Students that are enrolled in a fully online program such as Criminal Justice will not be required to attend this campus session; sessions requirements will be determined by your individual advisor.

    The examination is seven (7) hours in length. Most examinations have a general education component that requires three hours to complete, and a subject matter/specialty component that usually requires four hours to complete. (The readers/evaluators of your examinations will not know who wrote any particular answer.) All candidates will be identified by code numbers picked at random by the Graduate Office.

    Written comprehensive examinations will be graded as follows:

    • With distinction
    • Pass
    • Unsatisfactory
    • Fail

    If you receive a failing grade, you must retake that section of your examination in a subsequent term. Students only get two attempts to pass their comprehensive exams. If you receive an unsatisfactory grade, a committee of two or three faculty members will schedule a one-hour oral review with you. The oral will focus on the section(s) that were evaluated as unsatisfactory. Every attempt will be made to have at least one member of the oral committee from your program.

    Your advisor and/or professors who usually teach courses listed on your Program Plan often write the subject matter or specialty area questions. These questions are based on courses taken as part of your degree. The faculty member who wrote the questions in the subject matter or specialty area usually reads and rates the response.

    Professional Projects

    A Professional Project’s focus is to share with the professional community information that may be used to enhance the common knowledge base of a particular profession.

    The Master’s student must show familiarity with previous work in the field and must demonstrate ability to organize data and explain how the end product will add to the previous body of knowledge. Examples of a professional project may include but are not limited to:

    • A curriculum design for a particular discipline
    • Training programs, or
    • Computer programs for a particular application
    • Action Research Project

    The professional project is a professional paper, which is accompanied by the finished product. The general format of the Professional Project is:

    • Introduction
    • Review of Literature
    • A statement or reason explaining the need for the Professional Project
    • Rationale for the design of the Professional Project
    • Attachment: Professional Project


    Policies Governing Doctoral Degree Programs


    A minimum of 81 credits. Usually requires three years or more of graduate-level coursework level requiring an original research thesis or project.  Professional doctoral degrees with emphasis on application of knowledge in the field normally require three or more years of carefully prescribed graduate level coursework. 


    All work toward a doctoral degree, including coursework, thesis (if required), and all examinations, must be completed within nine years. Extensions of this time limit may be requested by submitting a petition to the Graduate School. 


    All graduate programs will include at least 30 graduate credits from WOU.

    For the doctoral degree, the residence requirement consists of two parts:

        1. a minimum of 36 graduate Western Oregon University credits must be completed; and
        2. the student must spend at least three terms of full-time graduate academic work (at least 9 credits per term) on campus or at an off-campus site approved by the Graduate School. The latter requirement of three terms of full-time enrollment does not have to take place in consecutive terms.

    Adequate fulfillment of the residence requirement shall be determined by the Graduate School.




    If you haven’t found the information you need or are still not sure where to direct your question, contact Amber Deets at or 503-838-8492.

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