2022-2023 Academic Catalog 
    Jun 18, 2024  
2022-2023 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Arts and Sciences - 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. Research misconduct includes alteration or fabrication of data, such as the submission of fabricated data or fabrication to deceptively selective reporting, including the purposeful omission of conflicting data with the intent to falsify result, and covers both primary (data collected by the researcher) and secondary data sources (data collected by someone else). Severe, willful or repeated IRB protocol violation is also considered a research misconduct.

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

An alleged violation of academic integrity can be reported by a professor, graduate/teaching assistant/proctor for the class, or another student in the class that is aware of a violation.

Reports of alleged academic integrity violations in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are shared with the Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies in Arts and Sciences, with the exception of IDCE, for which a separate procedure has been established [link to IDCE procedure]. The Assistant Dean communicates with the parties that have brought forth the academic integrity violation report and collects information and evidence regarding the violation. In some cases, if a faculty member has communicated with a student and the student has already accepted responsibility for the violation, the Assistant Dean will consult with the faculty member on sanctions and the faculty member will issue the sanction.  In all other cases, the Assistant Dean will meet with the student who is charged with a violation of the academic integrity policy to present the information and case. If the student claims responsibility for the violation of academic integrity, the Assistant Dean will conduct an administrative disposition which includes determining an appropriate sanction. There is no appeal of an administrative disposition. If the student does not accept responsibility, evidence will be shared with a committee made up of Arts & Sciences faculty and one student appointed by the Graduate Student Council and a hearing will be convened.    

When an alleged violation of academic integrity is reported, the student may not withdraw from the course in question while the case is being investigated. If a student accepts or is found responsible for an academic integrity violation they lose the option to withdraw from the course.

When a student accepts or 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 alleged to have made a second offense of the academic integrity policy, 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


An appeal of a committee decision in an academic integrity case must be filed in writing within 10 business days of notification of the committee’s decision. Exceptions to this limit may be made at the discretion of the committee, if circumstances warrant.

Appeals must be based either on new information not available at the time of the original hearing or on flaws in the procedure of the original hearing. Appeals may not be based solely on dissatisfaction with the decision.

  1. Appeals of the decision based upon submission of new information are filed with the Assistant Dean and will be reviewed by the committee.
  2. Appeals based upon a perceived flaw in the hearing process are filed with the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies.  Appeals are heard by the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies or by the Dean’s designee(s).

When appeal is heard by the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, all documents and recordings of the hearing will be made available to the Dean or the Dean’s designee(s).

The decision of the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies or the Dean’s designee(s) will be final.

Academic Standing and Dismissal

Departments determine their own regulations for good standing.  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.  Minimum standards for retention of graduate appointments (i.e. Scholar, Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant) are set by the individual departments.

In addition, good Academic Standing is subject to regulations regarding minimum levels of achievement set by the Graduate Board.  Failure of two graduate courses will, in all cases, result in dismissal from the graduate program. 

Students who do not maintain Good Academic Standing are dismissed from the graduate program.  For doctoral students, student may be dismissed when they are unable to find a faculty advisor to direct his/her dissertation.  The departmental decision for dismissal will result in an immediate withdrawal from the university, including any graduate (teaching/research) assistantships.  

To appeal the departmental decision and request a reinstatement, a written statement and all documented evidence must be filed within 10 business days of notification of dismissal by the department to the area Deans/Director.[1] Exceptions to this limit may be made at the discretion of the area Dean/Director. Appeals must be based either a) on the new information not available at the time of the departmental decision or b) on flaws in the procedure of the departmental decision. Appeals may not be based solely on dissatisfaction with the decision of the department nor on academic standards set by individual departments.  Only appeals that clearly state the grounds a) or b) above are reviewed by the area Dean/Director.  The Dean/Director may choose to convene a subcommittee of the Graduate Board to consider the appeal. When appeal is considered by the Dean/Director, all documents are made available to the Dean/Director or their designee(s). The decision of the Dean/Director on reinstatement is final.


[1]SOM students fall under the SOM Dean, SPS student under the Dean of SPS, and IDCE students under the Director of IDCE.  Doctoral students, master’s students in Arts and Sciences as well as in Education and English fall under the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies. When the student is being advised by one of the Deans/Director, or when the Dean/Director is responsible for the departmental dismissal decision, an alternative Dean is selected by the Provost to make decision on an appeal.


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 Other Clark University Colleges/Schools

Department chairs must approve all courses to be used for credit in the Graduate School before a student registers for a course within another Clark University College/School. Chairs of graduate departments must gain approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies before a graduate student registers. Courses outside of the students College are not eligible for tuition remission without prior approval from both Colleges/Schools Dean/Director.

Cross Registration with WPI

The objective this Curriculum Reciprocity Understanding is to permit Clark University physics graduate students to register for and attend  Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) graduate level courses, and similarly to allow WPI physics graduate student to register for and attend Clark University physics graduate level courses.  This will allow both departments, and the student involved in these programs, to enhance their academic opportunities.

Any student wishing to register for a course offered by the partnering campus must first obtain approval from their departmental advisor or Department Chair/Head (or appointed designee) on how the selected course would enhance the student’s progress toward completion and their educational degree/program.  The student must then obtain an approval email from the partner campus Department Chair/Head (or appointed designee).  If seating for a course is limited, students of the host campus will be given preference in registration.

Courses that can be taken at the partner institution would be those that are part of a degree program at the partner institution and are offered during the academic year (i.e. fall and spring semesters/terms only).  Continuing education courses or non-credit courses are not eligible for enrollment.  Graduate students are eligible to register for direct research, thesis and dissertation credits with instructors having an appointment in the Physics Department at the partner institution during fall, spring and summer semester/terms.  A student will be limited to a maximum of three (3) courses per semester at the partner institution (including any “term” based courses at WPI).  Students will be seen as non-degree students at the partner institution and the student will be charged tuition and fees according to their host school’s policy.  For additional regulations and registration procedures, please consult with the Registrar’s Office.

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 status is 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

The minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) for graduation is 3.0 (B). Individual departments or programs may impose higher GPA standards. Programs in which all courses are graded pass/fail are excluded from this rule as they do not have a GPA.

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-, 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 are acceptable for graduate credit. Any grade lower  than a B- is not acceptable for graduate credit. While they don’t earn credit, grades of C+, C, and C- are recorded as is, ,  and are calculated in the GPA. 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 on May 30 for fall IN grades and December 30 for spring and summer IN grades. 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. End-of-course grades may only be changed with the permission of the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies (or  IDCE, Director) 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 Research and Graduate Studies (in IDCE, SOM or SPS granted by the Dean/Director of the department) 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. One extension beyond the initial leave of absence is permitted, after which time the student will be withdrawn from the university. The University Leave (including Medical Leaves) of Absence policy is for internal purposes only, students will be considered withdrawn to any all external agencies, including the Federal Government.  Students receiving federally or state funded aid, should consult with their financial aid counselor to understand how this may impact their aid.

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 returns 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.

Prior Experiential Credit

IDCE Students with significant profoessional experience may be awarded academic credit for that work.  This option is limited to the Department of International Development, Community and Environment.

The process includes the following:

The student prepares a portfolio outlining their experience.  The portfolio shall map the student’s experiences directly to the learning outcomes of the course and provide evidence of how those outcomes have been met or exceeded.  The evidence in achieving the outcomes can include (but is not limited to) industry certifications, professional job descriptions, documented professional development, training sessions etc…

An evaluation of the student’s portfolio is conducted by an academically qualified individual within the academic unit.  The evaluation should focus on the intersection of the student’s professional experiences and the curriculum’s learning outcomes. The evaluation should result in a clear and unambiguous assessment of the file and recommend that the student receive 0, 1 or 2 course equivalents. The evaluation may include interviewing the student and calling upon professional references to triangulate and verify the information presented. 

The assessment is submitted to the dean or director of the academic unit for final approval.  Award of academic credit cannot proceed without this approval.

A documented review of the assessment is submitted to the student in a timely manner.  In the case where the student has shown evidence of academic merit for credit, the evaluator shall also notify the Clark Registrar of the award of credit.

Credits assigned through this process shall be treated as transfer credits and therefore do not apply as university residency requirements. 

Students will be assessed a fee for each portfolio submited.

The following steps should be taken:

Step 1: Student must be an accepted student and actively taking courses in their degree program.

Step 2: Student completes application for Prior Learning Credit available from the academic advisor. Application covers employment and job related training both formal and informal as well as other Professional experiences such as volunteering, community advocacy, etc.

Step 3: Student meets with academic advisor to discuss correlation between curriculum offerings and his/her Professional experience to gain approval to proceed with the application.  Professional experience and job training outcomes must map to the learning outcomes for the particular course that the student is seeking for credit.

Step 4: Student works with advisor reviewing pertinent syllabi from the Clark Catalog of Course to determine Professional experience related to graduate course learning outcomes. 

Step 5: Student submits completed application to the academic advisor for review to assess if the application documentation is sufficient to award credit. Job experience must clearly demonstrate in the narrative the alignment with learning outcomes.

Step 6: If the application is in order, the academic advisor will arrange for a review meeting with IDCE Program Directors.  The student may be asked to present his/her case for Prior   Learning Credit.

Step 7:  The decision for approval will be made by the IDCE Director and the Associate Dean.  The decision will be sent by academic advisor to the student within 3 days of the meeting.

Step 8:  Upon approval, the approval for Prior   Learning Credit forwarded to the Registrar’s Office for inclusion in the student’s transcript.

Step 9:  Student Accounts will assess a fee for the processing of the prior learning credit if approved.


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 Dean of Research and Graduate Studies (or in IDCE, SOM or SPS the Dean/Director is the final action). 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 for financial reasons or failure to register by the registration deadline.  Students who are required to withdraw from the University may not be eligible for a refund, but may be eligible for reinstatement.

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.  Please see the Graduate Academics and Information  page regarding graduate certificates and residency requirements.

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 Research and Graduate Studies (or the Director for students in IDCE) on the recommendation of the department. 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. Students must request that an official transcript be sent to the graduate program at Clark for evaluation. Only graduate courses taken at an accredited institution with a grade of B- or better will be considered for transfer. Please note that courses that counted toward another previously earned degree cannot be transferred. Individual programs may have limits on the age of courses that are eligible for transfer.

Withdrawal from Courses

A student may drop a course at any time during the add/drop period without having a W recorded on their transcript. After the add/drop period ends, a student may withdraw from courses through the final day of regularly scheduled classes (i.e., prior to Reading Period) in any given semester by completing a course withdrawal form. For course withdrawals taken before the last day of classes deadline, a final grade of a W will be recorded. The W grade will not be calculated into the GPA and no credit will be awarded toward earned units