2018-2019 Academic Catalog 
    Mar 02, 2024  
2018-2019 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Academic Policies

Absence Due to Religious Beliefs

According to Massachusetts state law, any student who is unable because of religious beliefs to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study or work requirement on a particular day will be excused from that requirement. The student will have an opportunity to make up any examination, study or work requirement missed because of such absence, provided the makeup examination or work does not create an unreasonable burden on the University. No fees will be charged by the University for making such opportunities available. No adverse or prejudicial effects will result to any students availing themselves of these provisions.

Academic Integrity

Clark University maintains standards of academic conduct that have preserved integrity and excellence in institutions of higher learning over the centuries. All work submitted to fulfill course requirements is presumed to be the student’s own, unless credit is given for the work of others in a manner prescribed by the course instructor. Cheating, plagiarizing, and falsifying data constitute violations of academic integrity, as does submitting the same paper in different courses without prior approval of the instructor to do so.  It is the student’s responsibility to consult the faculty when in doubt whether a particular act constitutes academic misconduct.

Several violations of academic integrity are outlined below. If you have questions concerning academic integrity, contact the professor teaching a course and/or your academic advisor. 

1. Cheating has three principal forms:

  • Unauthorized use of notes, text, or other aids during an examination or in performance of course assignments
  • Copying the work of another
  • Handing in the same paper for more than one course unless the faculty members involved gives their explicit permission to do so.

2. Plagiarism refers to the presentation of someone else’s work as one’s own, without proper citation of references and sources, whether or not the work has been previously published. Submitting work obtained from a professional term paper writer or company is plagiarism. Claims of ignorance about the rules of attribution, or of unintentional error are not a defense against a finding of plagiarism.

3. Unauthorized collaboration refers to work that students submit as their own that was arrived at through a process of collaboration without the approval of the professor. Since standards on appropriate or inappropriate collaboration may vary widely among individual faculty, students should make certain they understand a professor’s expectations before collaborating on any class work.

4. Alteration or fabrication of data includes the submission or changing of data obtained by someone else or not actually obtained in the performance of an experiment or study, except where allowed by the professor. It also includes the changing of data obtained in the performance of one’s research.

5. Participating in or facilitating dishonest activities includes, but is not limited to:

  • Stealing examinations
  • Forging grade reports or grade change forms, or altering academic records
  • Sabotaging the work of another student
  • Selling, lending, or otherwise distributing materials for the purpose of cheating
  • Forging or altering senior clearance forms
  • Forging letters of recommendation
  • Forging signatures on any official university document

Reporting, investigating, appealing

When a student is found responsible for violating academic integrity, sanctions will be imposed. Sanctions for a first offense may include but are not limited to one or a combination of the following responses:

  • Letter of warning
  • Grade of zero for the particular assignment
  • Grade of F (failure) for the course
  • Academic Probation
  • Notation of sanction on the student’s academic record
  • Suspension from the University
  • Expulsion from the University


If a student is found responsible for a second offense, a hearing may be convened and harsher sanctions will be imposed. These may include one or a combination of the following:

  • Grade of F (failure) for the course
  • Suspension from the University
  • Expulsion from the University


Academic Standing

Academic Good Standing is subject to regulations regarding minimum levels of achievement set by the Graduate Board, departments determine their own regulations for good standing. Failure of two graduate courses will, in all cases, result in required withdrawal from the graduate program. Students who do not maintain academic good standing are required to withdraw from the graduate program. Departments determine their own minimum standards for number of courses passed, grade point averages, timely passing of preliminary or qualifying examinations, written theses or dissertations, and oral defenses. It is the department’s responsibility to act as judge of standards of performance. Departments shall develop regulations for the number of times a student may attempt the various qualifying examinations, but this shall not normally exceed two attempts. Failure to achieve satisfactory progress will result in required withdrawal from the program. Appeals against the department’s decision should be addressed to the Dean of Graduate Studies, clearly stating the grounds for appeal. The Dean may choose to convene a subcommittee of the Graduate Board to consider the appeal. Minimum standards for retention of graduate appointments (i.e. Scholar, Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant) are set by the individual departments with the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies.


There is no university-wide class attendance policy. However, many individual instructors do set attendance requirements for their courses and have the right to issue lower or failing grades for a student’s lack of attendance, based on the attendance requirements stated in the course syllabus.

Audit Status

To audit a course in a given semester, a student must maintain full-time enrollment status in that semester (that is, must be registered for at least three (3) units of credit, excluding the course to be audited). Full-time resident graduate students* may audit one undergraduate or graduate course per semester with permission of instructor and based on course availability.  Students registering for credit will be given preference during the pre-registration period; audit requests will be permitted during the add/drop period only.  Faculty reserve the right to deny audit requests.  Courses that are audited may not be taken again for credit except in cases where the course is repeatable for credit and the content differs.  Students who audit a course are required to adhere to the instructor’s attendance and participation requirements to receive a transcript designation of “AU” for the course.  The audited course will not count as earned units and does not get factored into the GPA.  During the final grade submission period, faculty may request to the Registrar’s Office that a student not receive a transcript audit notation in cases where students do not meet the requirements of the audit.

*Non-resident and less than full-time graduate students may not audit courses

Courses in School of Professional Studies

Graduate-level courses taught through the School of Professional Studies (formerly COPACE) must be approved by the Curriculum Committee. Department chairs must approve all Professional Studies courses to be used for credit in the Graduate School before a student registers for the course. Chairs of graduate departments must gain approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies before a graduate student registers for any Professional Studies course. The School of Profesional Studies courses are not eligible for tuition remission without prior approval from the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Courses in GSOM

Graduate-level courses taught through GSOM are approved by the department. Department chairs must approve all GSOM courses to be used for credit in the Graduate School before a student registers for the course. Chairs of graduate departments must gain approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies before a graduate student registers for any GSOM course. GSOM courses are not eligible for tuition remission without prior approval from the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Enrollment Status

At Clark, academic credit is expressed in terms of course units. Most Clark courses are awarded one unit which is equivalent to four semester credit hours or 180 hours of engaged academic time.  

Enrollment status is determined on a semester-by-semester basis based on actual registration. A student is considered to be enrolled as of the first day of classes of that particular semester.  Registration enrollment statuses and criteria are defined as follows:

Enrollment Status Unit Criteria
Full-Time 3.00 and up
Three-Quarter Time 1.75 to 2.75
Half-Time 1.50
Less than Half-Time 0.25 to 1.25


Enrollment statuses are used to determine financial aid eligibility, loan deferment, FICA exemption, health insurance, and for international students, immigration status.   After each term begins, enrollment statuses are reported to the National Student Clearinghouse several times in the semester to ensure that loan agencies have accurate and up-to-date enrollment information, as is required by federal regulations.  

General University Graduation Requirements

In addition to meeting all academic requirements, a student’s disciplinary record must be in good standing in order to be eligible to receive a degree from the University. Clark may place a hold on the conferral of the degree along with other student records if any of the following exist with regard to a student’s disciplinary record: any pending disciplinary proceeding, any pending appeals of a disciplinary proceeding or sanction, or any pending or active sanctions.

Graduate Grading

Valid letter grades are A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, F. The faculty has determined that the grade of “A” indicates work of distinction (exceptional quality), and the grade of “B” indicates good work, but not of distinction. The grades of A and B (with “+” and “-“) are acceptable for graduate credit; anything lower than a B- is not acceptable. While grades of C+, C, and C- are recorded as is, they are not accepted for academic credit toward a graduate degree. P/F (Pass/Fail; P=B- or better): May be used in lieu of letter grades at the instructor’s discretion. This option should be uniform for all graduate students in that course. IN (incomplete): Instructors may assign incomplete grades to graduate students at their discretion.  Incompletes that remain unchanged will be converted to F grades by the Registrar’s Office. IP (In progress): Instructors may enter In Progress (IP) grades only for master’s thesis or dissertation courses. W (Withdrew): The grade of W is recorded by the Registrar’s Office upon receipt of a Course Withdrawal Form from the student or approval from the Dean of the Graduate School. WR (Withdrew with Reason): The grade of WR is recorded by the Registrar’s Office upon approval from the Dean of the Graduate School. End-of-course grades may only be changed with the permission of the Dean of the Graduate School when a professor has made a computational error or has reevaluated work submitted before the grading period ends.  Unless an incomplete has been previously authorized, grades may not be changed on the basis of work submitted after the grade period or rewritten papers turned in after the grades are due.

Leave of Absence

Leaves of absence may be granted by the Dean of Graduate Studies on the recommendation of the department for a designated period.  A student may apply for a voluntary leave of absence for a period up to 180 days (typically one semester at a time) during periods of enrollment, most often Fall and Spring. Summer is not considered part of the leave of absence period if it is not required for the student’s specific program. At the end of the requested leave of absence, the student may re-enroll; file a request for an extension of their leave of absence; or withdrawal from the university. Two extension periods beyond the initial leave of absence are permitted, after which time the student will be withdrawn from the university. Likewise, if a student fails to re-enroll or file for an extension, the student will also be withdrawn from the university.

A student may apply for a medical leave, based on the leave of absence policy and medical documentation that supports the medical necessity for the student to be away.  Medical documentation will also be required when the student to Clark to support the student’s readiness to return to Clark.

Whether a leave is voluntary or medical, the student is considered a degree seeking student who has temporarily separated from the University and is expected to return at the end of the leave period to resume their studies.  While on the leave, the student is not considered an enrolled student because no registration exists; benefits available to enrolled students are not available to students who are on a leave.

Posthumous Degree

The University may grant undergraduate and graduate degrees posthumously. To be eligible for consideration for the awarding of a posthumous degree, the deceased student must at the time of death:

  • be an enrolled student in good standing with the university;
  • have completed 75% of the degree requirements based on normal academic progress (have achieved senior status as an undergraduate; completed 75% of course requirements for a Master’s degree; have a draft of a dissertation/degree paper and completed all other degree requirements for the Ph.D.).

When a request to award a posthumous degree to an eligible student is received, the President will consult with the Provost, Chair of the Faculty and the Chair of the Board of Trustees prior to deciding whether to proceed with the awarding of the degree.


After a period when a student is neither enrolled or on an official leave of absence from the University, a student may apply for readmission to seek permission to continue pursuing a degree for which they were admitted.  Readmission is at the discretion of the academic department and the Graduate Dean. Any requests received after 5 years will require the student to go through the admissions process again to ensure the student continues to meet the admissions standards.   A readmitted student is subject to the degree requirements in the academic catalog at the time of readmission; course equivalents and substitutions from the original enrollment period will be made at the discretion of the academic department.

Repeat Course

It is the policy of Clark University to allow students to repeat a course. However, credit will only be earned once, the most recent course occurrence.  Both courses will appear on the transcript and both grades will be computed into the term and cumulative GPA.  Students receiving any federal or institutional aid should consult with the Office of Financial Assistance to determine if the repeated course/s will affected their aid eligibility. Note: some courses (e.g., directed studies) may be considered repeatable for credit; in those cases, students will earn credit for each occurrence up to any limits that may exist for the specific course.

Required Withdrawals

Students may be required to withdraw from the University due to failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress, for financial reasons,  failure to register or for failure to adhere to University rules and regulations. Students who are required to withdraw from the University may not be eligible for reinstatement and in some cases may not be eligible for a refund.

Residency Requirement

An academic year or a minimum of eight (8) Clark units is the minimum residency requirement for students in graduate programs. Individual departments or programs may require longer periods of residency.

Transfer Credit

A maximum of two full units (equivalent to 8 semester hours) of graduate course work at another institution may be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies on the recommendation of the department for candidates in a Master’s program. Approved courses for transfer are posted on the transcript, however grades for course work completed at another institution are NOT posted on the student’s Clark transcript or calculated into a student’s Clark GPA.